Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23, 2016 Preschool and Elementary

PK-6 Principal
Sara Grimm
Twitter: saramarleygrimm
SKYPE: saramarleygrimm

Dear Parents and Students,
Your child has nightly reading homework. What should YOU be doing?  

Have you ever wondered how you should be helping or not helping? Many parents have the same questions.  Here is some advice from a blog that I read recently that has some great information.  The  author is Carolyn Wilhelm of the Wise Owl Factory and the blog is posted here.  A YouTube video of the blog post is available here.

Kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers often give children a nightly assignment to read aloud for 10 to 20 minutes. This can be supervised by parents, grandparents, or family members. Usually, a certain level of book or page of text is sent home in a reading folder with a chart for recording book titles or length of time spent reading. Here are some tips to help parents understand how best to use the nightly reading time at home.
1. Do not skip this time. A half hour every week does not begin to help as much as a few minutes each day. The long-term effects of skipping nightly reading homework are well established, as described in this article by Edudemic. This fact is well-known by teachers who have studied reading pedagogy, and parents can easily find the research online if they need to be convinced.
2. Choose the right time. Always try to find a time when your child will cooperate, when neither of you are pushing to just finish the homework. The best time might not be right after school as some play time may be needed first, and certainly just before bed is not opportune. Find a time that works for you and your family.
3. Sit side by side with your child. This is not the time to iron or catch up on email. Teachers know what parents are doing during the nightly reading time, if the child starts making up the story as he or she reads aloud to the teacher. This is a clue the parent isn’t watching the words. Children want to please adults and will try their best to sound knowledgeable while reading. If the assignment is to read silently, actually sit by your child and read silently at the same time. Elbow to elbow and knee to knee is the best sitting position.
4. At the emergent level (when the child is learning sight words, short vowels, and mostly individual letter sounds), allow the child to use all the resources of the book, including pictures. Parents sometimes tell me they are proud of the fact they covered the pictures in emergent readers to force the child to read the “big” words. At this point in early reading, it is not possible to read the big words. The point of emergent readers is to learn sight words, use left to right reading orientation, and realize each word is separate, to utilize the pictures, and to experience reading success. Books that say things such as, “I like the ball, I like the car, I like the bird” are only helping reinforce the words I and like. Here is a link to a free emergent reader printable if you are wondering what they look like.
5. Do not “tell” words at the developing level as the child reads. When the child has progressed from the emergent level to the developing level (learning letter blends, long vowels, and word solving strategies), he or she should be able to stop pointing to words. When children stop dead in the middle of a sentence or paragraph when reading to the teacher, the teacher knows the parents are trying to help by telling the words. Instead, help the child learn to rely on word solving strategies outlined at the end of this blog post.
6. Do not stop reading aloud to your child. It is a mistake to think that now the child can read on his or her own, the parent is out of the picture. Reading aloud to children should continue through grade four or higher. Why? Adults can read such a great variety of stories and expose children to a huge amount of vocabulary that children cannot access on their own. Children need to be reminded that reading is interesting.
7. Discuss what was read.  Help your child understand the point of reading is to understand, not just “word call.”  Here is a link to my free PDF that explains how parents can help develop their children’s reading comprehension.

Many parents also struggle with when to tell their child a word that they are stuck on.  While telling them to "sound it out" is a natural reaction for many of us, there are ways that you can help your child work at "word solving".

What is word solving?

This is the missing piece of information for most parents. Because English is not a completely phonetic language, relying on the sound-it-out strategy is not the most effective way to support a child’s reading. To become a fluent reader, more strategies are required. Here are some of them:  [For a full description of these strategies, please see this FREE 162 page printable.]
Auto the Otter: This means some words cannot be sounded out and just have to be learned by memory, such as sight words. Good readers need a memorized word bank for automaticity and fluency in reading.
Chunky Monkey: This means to use letter blends and “chunks” of words such asing, or ed. I remember one mother saying the homework came home for her to help her child chunk the sounds, and she said, “How am I supposed to know what chunking is?” This is really beginning syllabication, but what we say in school is how many times does your mouth open when you say a word like hippopotamus? In that word, your mouth opens five times (five syllables)! A child’s name may have one, two, or three syllables. Of course, we do not expect children to know what that means.  We clap as we say words in school, four claps for happy birthday. Also, children can find little words in big words to help them read longer words.
Crabby Connector: This means to make connections between similar words to read a new word. For instance, if you know the word cake, you can more easily read the word lake. Or if you know the word cook, it is easier to connect that to the word cookie, than to completely sound it out over again.
Eagle Eye: This means to look over the entire word. Many times children will stop reading if a word looks difficult, making no attempt to word solve. One trick teachers use is to put a red dot under the middle of the word to get the child to look all the way through the sounds. This will often help the child figure out the word.
Elephant Ears:  This means to try a word and see if it makes sense. Sometimes children will read a sentence saying a word that doesn’t fit. We ask, “Did that make sense?” Children need to learn to trust themselves by thinking about the sentence, not just the word. We ask, “What would make sense in this sentence that also begins with that letter?”
Fix-up Bear: Fix-up bear means it is alright to go back and reread and fix an error.  We do not have to race through reading just to be done. We read to understand. If we make an error, it should be fixed.
Flippy Dolphin: This is sort of an amazing strategy. If a child reads a long vowel word with a short vowel, or a short vowel word with a long vowel, we say, “Flip the sound.” Somehow children seem to instinctively know to try again with another sound. At the emergent level, though, children do not know the long vowel sounds so this doesn’t apply.
Helpful Kangaroo: This strategy may be used when a few others have been tried without success. It means to ask another person for help!
Lips the Fish:  This means to ask a child stuck on a word to get his or her “lips ready” for the first sound. By making an attempt to really notice the first sound, it is often enough for the child to try to finish the word.
Skippy Frog: This strategy is second best to Stretchy Snake. Skippy frog is using context to figure out a word, but what we tell children is to skip the word and keep reading the sentence. Most often, they realize they can figure out the word by using this strategy. They somehow do not think this strategy is OK, so we tell them good readers use Skippy frog, too.
Stretchy Snake: This is the whisper it out strategy. Sound it out uses strong, separate sounds the child is trying to connect together. When we whisper, we naturally connect sounds as they should be connected in reading. It is the best strategy, but it doesn’t work for all words.
Tryin’ Lion: Keep trying! Try another strategy! Try again!  Of course, this isn’t for a tired or frustrated reader. Another strategy might be more useful in those cases.
If you have any questions about your child's homework or how to help them, please reach out to your child's teacher.  We are your partners and want to work together to help your child have a great educational experience!

Emergency Drills

Fire drills, tornado drills, and lock down drills are conducted several times during the year. For fire drills, each class has an escape route to an outside area a safe distance from the building. During tornado drills, each classroom goes to a designated area within the building. Children are moved to these designated areas in a safe, quiet and orderly manner. Teachers conduct practice sessions under guidelines developed for their building before building-wide drills are conducted. We will be conducting emergency drills (fire, tornado, and evacuation) soon, so please discuss this with your child. 

Planning ahead is important in most of the activities that we do and is also important for emergency situations. At Crestwood Elementary, we have developed an emergency evacuation plan that will be implemented in emergency situations. In an actual emergency, students may be forced out of the school quickly without jackets, hats, boots, or mittens. Having a pre-arranged location and plan available will do several things to reduce the trauma of an emergency evacuation.

The emergency plan will proceed in the following steps:

1. The school building will be evacuated as soon as the emergency situation occurs such as a fire, bomb threat, etc.

2. Students will be escorted by staff members to emergency locations.

3. District administration and local emergency responders will be advised of the emergency situation.

4. Students will be assembled at the first available emergency location.

5. Bus transportation will be arranged through the district transportation director's office.

 6. Parents will be able to pick up students in person.

Field Trips

Various classroom teachers throughout the school year schedule field trips. These trips are designed to supplement different aspects of the classroom curriculum and to introduce students to the resources of the community. Parents will receive notices of field trips in advance of the scheduled trip date. Teachers may ask a few parents to accompany the class to act as chaperones.  Each student must have a field trip permission
form completed and signed by his/her parents before participating in these trips. Students will conduct themselves on these trips in the same manner as in the classroom.

Substitute Teachers and Associates Needed
Do you like working with children and helping them learn? Do you enjoy working in a high-energy, creative learning/working environment? If your answer is "YES," we need you! Howard-Winn is looking for substitute teachers and associates to work in our classrooms. In the absence of the regular classroom teacher or associate, substitutes would be helping students to learn subject matter and/or skills  required for curriculum lessons and providing meaningful instruction for our students in their classrooms. If interested please submit a letter of application and a resume to Superintendent, 1000 Schroder Drive, Cresco, IA 52136

Classroom Redemption Collection
The Crestwood Cadet PTO continues to sponsor a Classroom Redemption Collection. Students are encouraged to ask friends, neighbors and out of town and in town relatives to start collecting on their behalf.  Funds raised from these efforts are used to purchase materials, supplies, and other things for the building and students.  Please be generous in your support for our PTO.

Here's what we've been up to this week . . .


Preschool students celebrated Dot Day. They watched the story on BookFLIX. Parents can access BookFLIX at home. Go to the Keystone Click on the tab for Online Resources. Click Book Flix on the left hand side of the page. Username: kaea 337 password: kaea 01 (zero one). 

Preschoolers read the Positive Behavior Instructional Strategies-PBIS-social story “Tucker Turtle”. Now they know if they have a problem they “Think like a Turtle!” 

Students enjoyed learning about the parts of an apple: stem, core, seeds, and peel as they prepared apples to make applesauce. Students observed apples using their five senses. The students also enjoyed eating the applesauce at snack time. They made it into a taste test by comparing store bought applesauce to their homemade applesauce.

Mrs. Merkel's class published their first classroom book. It is called OUR BIRTHDAY BOOK. Check it our here.

Learning about insects through observation

Transitional Kindergarten

Our study of insects continues. This week we cut apart and put together insect pictures. Some students chose to make new insects by mixing and matching their bodies. We talked about where insects might live. Students drew pictures of the habitat they would find the insects they made living in.

Fall has officially begun. Students colored trees and will add some fall leaves using finger paint. Coloring and cutting skills have been a focus of our fine motor work in TK during the first quarter.


We celebrated Grandparent's Day by inviting in our grandparents for smoothies and a tour of our classrooms.

We are using counters and number decks to match quantities to the written number.

We used Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom to learn about letters, words, and sentences. Here students help each other recreate a sentence.

First Grade

We are learning about vowels. These very tricky letters make it difficult to read and write. With a lot of effort and practice, we will learn all of the tricks and become amazing readers and writers!

This is what Daily 5 looks like! This classroom has launched Read to Self, Listen to Reading, and Word Work.  Students are reading, listening to reading, working with words and letters, spelling, sorting words by ABC order, and putting words together to form a sentence that makes sense!

Students practiced Word Work with the apps SpellingCity, Magnetic ABC or even used a whiteboard. The kids did great for the first time practicing!

Practicing Word Work stamina with Magnetic ABC

Second Grade

In math, students took a closer look at the coins. They were able to choose between 6 different centers to work on counting coins, recognizIng each, showing a specific amount, and solvIng stories involving money.

We have been reading many books written by author, Kevin Henkes. Today, before our comprehension test over Chester's Way, students listened to the story on the website, Storyline Online. This is a free site with many children's books from which to listen.

We are writers!

Third Grade

In math, we have been reviewing telling time to the quarter hour, in 5 minute intervals, and to the minute! Here we are practicing telling and writing time to the minute!

In writing, we are reviewing the differences between complete and incomplete sentences. Today we learned that complete sentences have a subject and a predicate. The subject is "who" the sentence is about and the predicate is "what" is happening. Here we are identifying subjects and predicates in a sentence match up activity!

Our Cadets are working hard!

We enjoyed a visit by our county naturalist today to learn more about insects.

Fourth Grade

Team day for Homecoming 2016

Hard work throughout the week and outstanding effort scored these four 100% on their simple solutions quiz!

Fifth Grade

Borlaug Inspire Day
5th Grade students went out to the Borlaug Farm for a day of learning.  They rotated through many stations and learned about being educated in a one room schoolhouse, plants and farming about Norman Borlaug's life, work, and travels, about insects & bugs, and about bio fuels.  The students had a great time and were extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend.

Sixth Grade

Even as 6th graders we still love to be read to

Growth Mindset Check Up in 6th grade today


Elementary staff at our Growth Mindset inservice. Connected and Focused.
This is what PD looks like at Howard-Winn.

Crazy Costumes for Homecoming Week!

These students were caught showing great "Cadet Pride" 
by cleaning up the recess shed during recess.


September 23    4th Grade Farm Safety Day
                           12:00 Pep Rally
                           1:30 Homecoming Parade
                           2:20 Dismissal

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