Be Prepared- PARCC is coming

parcc is coming

 

 

In what is feeling like the dregs of a never-ending winter, we find ourselves faced with another formidable opponent- PARCC.  I am a huge Game of Thrones fan and can’t help but at times feel like we are the residents of The Land of the Long Summer preparing ourselves for the winter that is coming according to those who reign in the North.  PARCC is our winter.  Just as in Game of Thrones, however, we can look at this as an opportunity to realign ourselves with new opportunities rather than feel doomed.

 

What exactly is PARCC?

parcc defined

PARCC stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.  When stated like that it doesn’t sound so bad right?  We all want our kids to be ready for college and careers don’t we?  I personally think that the government should look into firing whoever shortened that lovely mouthful of a statement that most of us would readily embrace to the acronym PARCC.  I don’t know about you but anything that rhymes with the real word park causes me anxiety (have you ever tried to parallel park 10 times with a screaming child in the backseat?  The word park caused flashbacks for me!).   Had it been shortened to something like PACCS (partnership for assessment of college and career skills) I’d be able to correlate this to pleasant experiences like packing for trips or packing for college…..I digress.

 

What does PARCC test?

parcc breakdown by grade

 

PARCC is given at every grade level from 3-11.  In our elementary schools,  students will focus on Language Arts and Math.  The math section will focus on using math skills gained at each grade level in problem solving scenarios rather than straight forward math problems.  Visit http://parcc.pearson.com/practice-tests/math/ for more information and sample math problems.  Students in grades 3-5 will participate in 2 days worth of math during this first administration of the test.

The language arts section is broken into 3 days, with each day consisting of one section.  Students will both read for comprehension as well as read to gain information so that they can complete a short research based essay.  All sections contain a variety of question types. (see the graphic below for more information on question types)

question types

 

How are my child’s teachers preparing him/her for this?

 

Our way of teaching has been undergoing drastic changes over that last few years to prepare our students for these assessments.  First of all, we have implemented the Common Core State Standards which are the standards that these assessments are based on.  Secondly, our district has been focusing our efforts on increasing rigor in our classrooms by having students delve deeper into subject matter.  We have also incorporated technology into our lessons for years not only to prepare students for this assessment but also to help them develop skills that will help them throughout the rest of their school careers and into their adult lives.  This year, as PARCC is being implemented for the first time, we have been reviewing how to answer each type of question through lessons incorporated in our classes as well as workshops given to the students by the librarian and technology coordinators.  Classroom teachers have been reviewing how to read the questions thoroughly as well as strategies to eliminate known wrong answers.

 

What can I do to prepare my child?

First and foremost encourage your child to

relax

 

While this might seem impossible, if  we adults can present ourselves as relaxed and calm, the kids will pick up on these cues and relax.  Listen, I’m a busy mom, wife, full time teacher, part-time student- I know that this isn’t always easy!  If you could limit stressful extras the week your child tests that would help everyone relax a bit.  In fact that is everyone’s homework that week-  GO HOME AND RELAX!

Encourage a good night’s sleep.  The chart below shows the suggested amount of sleep for the children in grades 3-5.  If possible encourage lights out and electronics off at a reasonable time to ensure that they are well rested for the coming day.

sleep

 

Have your child eat a HEALTHY breakfast.  While Frosted Flakes happen to be my favorite cereal, I know that they aren’t the best option when I need to sit and focus for any period of time.  A good breakfast doesn’t have to mean a restaurant quality spread.  It could be a bagel and cream cheese, toast and jelly, Cheerios or other cereals low in added sugar, yogurt, oatmeal, or fruit.

eat healthy

Dress your child comfortably.  I always encourage my students to wear a light weight sweatshirt (preferably a zip up) in case they get chilly.  Sweats or loose comfortable jeans and comfortable shoes will make sitting for extended periods more bearable.

dress right

Make sure they come to school prepared!  If they need glasses for reading or computer use, please make sure that they have them!   There is nothing worse than ending the test with a headache because your eyes ache!

We will provide your child with paper, erasers, and pencils!

Please feel free to  contact your child’s teacher or school if you have further questions.  All we ask is that every student TRY HIS OR HER BEST!  That’s the best anyone can ever do!

Relax Testing Poster final

Learning Goals for Feb. 8-11

valentines day

Wow!  What a week we had last week!  Our school had our school spirit week leading up to today’s Super Bowl with themed days all week.  Our class really got into the spirit!  We also were contacted by a school in Canada that challenged us to complete their one week fitness challenge called Burp-it-On.  We gladly completed the challenge and made sure to pass the challenge along to all of the other awesome schools in the Millville School District.  Click on the Storify video below for a recap of our week:

 

This week is a shortened week due to a teacher in-service on Friday.  In addition to our academic goals this week, we also have the opportunity to participate in a very worth while cause, Jump Rope for Heart on Wednesday after school.  In order to participate, students need to have raised at least $5 in donations and have a signed permission slip.  Jump Rope for Heart will take place Wednesday starting at 4:00.
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We are also having our 2nd annual Valentine’s Day dance on Thursday, February 11th from 4-5:30.  Cost is $3 per student and must be paid by Wednesday.  ALL students must have someone to pick them up by 5:30!  I hope to see many of my students come and enjoy the fun in the gym!  During the afternoon on the 11th, we will be having our class Valentine’s Day celebration.  Students will be making Heart Healthy berry smoothies and sharing the love with classmates.  Please be sure that if you are sending in Valentine’s Day cards that you include all students!  A list with names and correct spellings was sent home last week.  If you need another, please let me know!
class dojo
On to the not so fun stuff… we have been having a hard time getting along in class these days.  I’m not sure of the cause, but I do know that being stuck indoors all the time due to the weather is not helping!  I have begun using Class Dojo to help students be more aware of their behaviors, both positive and negative.  On Friday, I sent home an information sheet for you to use to set up a parent account.  With the parent account, you will have the ability to keep tabs on how your child is behaving throughout the day.  You will also have the capability to message me with any concerns or questions.  Please be aware that I did activate a privacy setting that shuts messaging off between 10 PM and 7 AM, any messages sent during those hours will not be received until the following day.  All messages go straight to my cell phone Class Dojo App and I will respond as soon as possible.  So far, I have found that this is working very well and students are excited to know how they are doing each day.
Learning Goals for this week:
Reading:
We will be reading a story about record holders in nature entitles, “Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest.”  We will be focusing on use graphic images such as maps, pictures, captions, and graphs to gain information that will better help us understand the information.  Our vocabulary words are:  average, depth, deserts, erupted, outrun, peak, tides, and waterfalls.  We will be having a vocab quiz on Thursday.
Math:
We are continuing our study of fractions this week.  We will be using fractions strips to help us compare fractions with unlike denominators.  Fractions are always a tough concept for kids to get.  Here are some ways that you can help your child better understand their usefulness in real life:
1.  Include your child in cooking and baking recipes that use fractions.
2.  Have your child help you measure things around the house.
3.  Use common terms like half, third, fourths when having your child fill things around the house
Social Studies:
We are starting a mini unit this week learning about famous African Americans and their contributions to our lives.  Each day students will learn about a different famous African American.  At the end of the unit, students will have a book that they have made documenting the contributions of these important people.
Science;
We are beginning a mini unit on the water cycle this week.  The video below gives an overview of the complete water cycle:

As you can see though this week may be short it is PACKED with opportunities for learning and fun!  We are definitely earning that 4 day weekend!  Please remember there is NO SCHOOL on Friday the 12th or Monday the 15th.  Enjoy the extra time with your kiddos!  I know that I will miss them!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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While many are planning their shopping strategies already for the weekend, I’m a firm believer in taking time instead to give thanks for what I have already in my life.  This week is always one of my favorite as a teacher.  Not only do I get to help my students develop an attitude of gratitude through reflection activities and webquests about the first Thanksgiving, but I also get to spend time with parents during our annual parent/teacher conferences.  I really enjoy getting to meet and share the awesome things my students are doing with their parents!

In preparation for our conferences this year I did something a little different.  I found an amazing freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers that helped to make sure that our time in conferences was purposeful. The first image below is a questionnaire I sent home the week before conferences for parents to reflect on how they are seeing their child progress so far this year.  I was very happy to have the majority of my class return these!  This allowed me to have time prior to our assigned conferences to gather resources and materials to best be prepared for our meetings.  The second image below is another freebie find that I used to help me be more focused with my concerns (I tend to be easily distracted during conferences telling parents how awesome their kids are!) 🙂 )  This form is a take away that parents can take home and share with their child.  It breaks down their grades and areas of success and concern in classroom behaviors.  I must say that I did not create either of these forms, so please join me in thanking the lovely ladies who did create them and posted them on TPT for all of us to use!  Thank you!  Clicking on the picture will take you to each of their TPT stores to enjoy these FREE downloads!

Parent Questionnaire

Parent Questionnaire From Zanah McCauley

Teacher Forms to Help with Conference Preparation from More Time 2 teach

Teacher Forms to Help with Conference Preparation from More Time 2 teach

teacher form 2

 

This week we will be taking a virtual field trip back to the first Thanksgiving courtesy of Scholastic.com.  This webquest is very well put together and a wonderful resource full of videos and text resources to share with students.  Students love seeing how the pilgrims lived and hearing how they spoke.  As a culminating activity each year, I make hardtack with my class.  Hardtack was a food staple during the passage over on the Mayflower as well as when they first were setting up their settlement here.  The image below is a link to the Scholastic site.

First Thanksgiving Webquest from Scholastic.com

First Thanksgiving Webquest from Scholastic.com

Hardtack Recipe

Hardtack Recipe

Finally, I would like to leave you with a heart felt thanks for being a part of our classroom!  Below is a link to my annual Thanksgiving video.  Each year I choose a song that has a message of thanks and have students compose visuals to express their gratitude.  This year we worked with hashtags to develop a concept of how hashtags are useful in grouping ideas and concepts.  Please enjoy!  Our song this year is the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Theme.

 

And We’re Off!!!!! Learning Adventures for September 8-11

WOW! I am so excited about this year!  We got off to an AMAZING start last week!  Here are some high lights:

Welcome to our newest Bacon Bear!

Welcome to our newest Bacon Bear!

We celebrated our first birthday of the year healthy schools style!

We celebrated our first birthday of the year healthy schools style!

Trying out our new playground equipment!  Future Lacrosse players in the making!

Trying out our new playground equipment! Future Lacrosse players in the making!

We created class rule posters

We created class rule posters

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We learned about being Bucket Fillers and pledged to be a Bully Free Zone this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will be doing some pretty epic things this year and I have MANY surprises up my sleeves, but it’s going to be hard to top our first class music video (while it’s a little hard to hear them, we changed all the lyrics to Whip Nae Nae to relate it to school!)

Every Sunday, while I am planning our lessons for the week, I will also update this blog.   In each update I will post our learning goals for the week along with helpful videos or tips to make homework a breeze!  We will have homework every night except Fridays.  Also, please remember to check and sign your child’s agenda EVERY DAY (even Fridays).  On the front of your child’s homework folder you will see a communication sheet that I will update daily.  They receive a sticker or smiley face for each task they complete that day: have their agenda signed, turned in any homework, completed classrwork assignments and have had a good day behavior wise.  If for some reason you see a check mark any any of those columns, please peek in the folder for a note explaining the cause.  They will either have a “Sour Note” for forgetting their homework (they can complete it and turn it in for the next day. I accept late work within reason), a “Bitter Note” for any behavior issues (I will ask that it is signed and returned to show that you received it), or an “Uh-Oh Note” explaining why classwork was not completed (this work is then added to their homework to be completed that night).

remind

 

This week’s learning goals:

Reading:

We will be learning about the different genres (types) of literature we will read this year.  Below is a short video that defines each genre for you to review with your child.   We will be creating graphic organizers in our interactive notebooks to help us study and remember these throughout the year.  There will be a short quiz on Friday to test our skills at classifying fiction or non fiction pieces of writing.

Math:

We will be learning different ways to read and write numbers as well as reviewing place value. Good Luck getting this song out of your head!  (I’m sorry in advance for the many silly songs that you will be stuck singing this year!)

Science:

We will be doing a lot of experiments this year!  Before we can do any of them though, we need to review proper safety procedures.  We will be spending time this week creating safety posters to serve as reminders for us.

Social Studies:

This week we will be learning about how departments in the community work together to keep us healthy and safe.  Our class jobs are set up to model these community groups.  We will also be working on locating we in the world we live!  Sorry no cute video for this one!

 

Continue reading

Pay it Forward- A Lesson in the Gift of Kindness

pay it forward

 

February, albeit a short month, is one that is jam-packed with activities.  Many of our activities this month are focused around Valentine’s Day and our hearts.  We are going to take this to “heart” this month and begin a 2 week family project.  Many of us have seen the movie “Pay it Forward” which came out in the late 90’s. The premise of the movie is that if one person does an act of kindness for another it can start a chain reaction of events that can change the lives of thousands of people for the better.  We will be reading the novel, Pay it Forward  in class beginning next week as a read aloud.  The author of the original book recently released a child-friendly version this past August.  It is a beautifully written book that I hope will encourage my students to begin to look for ways to be kind and do kind things for others on a regular basis.  

Beginning the weekend of Valentine’s Day, February 14th, students will be given a kindness journal to keep track of acts of kindness they either see,  do for others, or have done for them.   The notebook will be divided in to three sections- things I have done for others, things I saw someone do for someone else, and things someone has done for me.   In addition to recording the act that was done or seen, they will also write a sentence or two or draw a picture to describe how they felt.  For example, my daughters made me a special snack and hid it in my lunch box the other day.  When I found it at lunch, it touched me and made me feel good that my girls were thoughtful enough to make me a healthy snack knowing that I had been rushing around that morning and hadn’t packed much of a lunch for myself.   If I were recording this in my kindness journal I would have recorded in the “Someone did Something Nice for Me” section.    I am asking students to write one act of kindness for each day.  The goal is that students will develop a sense of community through this activity and become more aware of the way we make others feel when we are kind.  This assignment will be due on February 27th.  I am requiring students to do this EVERY DAY- even weekends!

Please feel free to comment in your child’s journal as well or better yet, start a family kindness journal and have everyone participate!   Just like in the book and movie, I would love to see everyone “Pay it Forward” and cultivate a community where kindness grows and thrives!

kindnesskindness

Happy New Year! The Impact of Mindset on Goals

mindset 1

New Years is a time when many people reflect back on the past year and analyze their choices in life and begin to think about how to make the next year better.  I usually set goals for myself rather than resolutions.  Resolutions are defined as the answer to a problem.  I think we can all admit that there are problems in our lives we’d like the answers to, but just making a resolution is not the answer.  I’ve made what I thought were resolutions in the past (to go to the gym more, to eat healthier, to not procrastinate on assignments, to get the laundry done quicker, etc).  These are not answers to a problem though.  Technically they are goals I’d like to achieve.  I’d like to go to the gym more and in order to do that, I will have to take steps to make it happen such as schedule time, arrange childcare, and pack my gym supplies.  I’d like to eat healthier and in order to do that I will need to shop with purpose for healthier ingredients, prepare food at home instead of getting take out, and skip out on some of those not so healthy snacks.  

This week, we will be spending some time learning about setting goals for ourselves.  We will work to set goals for both school and home.  We will think about the steps we will need to take to ensure that we can follow through on these goals and be successful.  While we are doing this we will also examine a theory in a book that I read last year, Mindset.  In this book the author, Carol Dweck, identifies 2 different ways of thinking, or mindsets.

mindset 2

 

 

 The first is a fixed mindset.  Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are who they are, can do what they can do, and think the way the think because they are born that way.  For example if you always struggled with math that is because you were born with a limited knowledge of math and once you hit that point you couldn’t learn any more.  Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are the way they are and that is that.  They will continue to prove that they are what they believe until they experience a failure.  For example, if you always believed you were the fastest person and then you were beat by someone else you would be crushed.  Your beliefs were ruined!  You would start to feel horrible about yourself.  This mindset is not wrong- but it can be detrimental to learning.  If you immediately think that you are a failure because you fail one test think of how that can impact your willingness to learn more or different ways in the future!

The Second mindset is the growth mindset.  In this mindset, people believe that they can be and do anything that they want.  It may not be easy.  They may not be able to do it right off the bat.  It may require failing a few times before getting it, but with hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to try new and different ways to achieve their goal they will eventually get it.  I have been working very hard to develop my growth mindset.  

Let me give you an example from my life.  Many years ago, I had a teacher that told me I was not good at math.  I would never be able to be good at math because I just couldn’t get it.  I started to really believe this about myself.  I thought I was dumb.  She was right, I would never get it.  This impacted my career choices.  I had hoped to be an engineer like my grandfather.  If I wasn’t any good at math though, I could never do that.  I believed this until I was an adult.  I did very well in college math classes and could do all the math I needed in real life with no problem, but I still thought of myself as a failure.  When I was hired as a teacher in Millville, I was hired to teach 7th grade math- this was a nightmare for me!  How could I teach kids if I was a failure?!  Fortunately, I was working with an amazing team of math teachers at Lakeside.  They helped me to see that there are many ways to teach concepts and that not every student gets it the first time around.  Through teaching and working hard to ensure that all of my students were given the tools and strategies they needed to be successful in math class, I changed my mindset from fixed to growth.  I watched kids struggle but not give up and cheered with them when they finally got it.  If these kids could try and try and try until they were successful, then so could I.  I decided I would never limit or label myself as one thing again.  Now I look forward to someone telling me I can’t do something so that I can prove them wrong!  I never thought I’d achieve my master’s degree (neither did some other people) but I did.  I never thought I’d be getting certified to be a principal, yet by July I will be.  Next up on my challenge list- earning my doctorate degree.  I’m not a person who is going to be limited by others opinions of myself or limitations I used to believe about myself anymore.  MINDSETS CAN BE CHANGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We will be learning about the mindsets in class this week as we set goals for ourselves for this year.  We will be signing a contract as a class to promise to aim for growth and not become fixed in any one area.  The TEDX video below explains the powerful impact of mindsets on our lives.  It is a little long, but very much worth it!

So, will you join us and grow?

Making RM Bacon a Bully-Free Zone

bully free zone

 

Bullying is a hot topic issue in education.  Students learn best when they are in an environment in which they feel safe.  You can not feel safe if you are being bullied.  Therefore, it is a very high priority at RM Bacon Elementary School that we stop bullying in its tracks.

All staff members have been trained in how to spot, report, and respond to bullying when we see it.  The problem is bullies can be tricky and we don’t always see the behaviors.  Students also need to be trained so that they have the confidence to stand up for others and report what they are seeing.  We take bullying VERY seriously.  When bullying is reported it is investigated by our HIB (harassment, intimidation, and bullying) team.  This team consists of our guidance counselor, security guard, PBIS (positive behavior in schools) aide, and our principal.  Often the investigation ends with a positive outcome.  If the investigation proves that bullying exists, a plan of action is put into place including counseling, monitoring, and support for both the victim and bully.

We will be working with the CAP (Child Abuse Prevention) Team this Friday and next Monday to learn about bullying.  Students will learn about how to use their words wisely so as to not hurt others. They will also learn about different strategies to use when they feel that they are being treated unfairly.

How can you help?  Today bullying doesn’t only occur face to face.  Cyber bullying is a huge issue.  Please be aware of what your child is doing online or on their phones.  Texting mean messages has the same effect as saying them out loud.  Monitor your child’s internet usage.  Ask for passwords and usernames to keep tabs.  If they are on social media, insist on them including you as a “friend” or “follower.”  Below is a video defining cyber bullying and how you can help your child if they find themselves in this situation:

Here is a short music video that shows how bullying can impact a child and how having others stand up and speak out can change the direction of the bullying and give the child the confidence and support they need to stand up to the bully in an appropriate way. REMEMBER, BULLYING BACK IS NOT THE ANSWER!

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Class to Yours

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Thanksgiving is truly my FAVORITE holiday!  There are not pressures of gift giving or costume creating.  It is a time to celebrate friends, family, food, and gratitude for what we have instead of worrying about what we do not have.  Each year my classes learn about the 1st Thanksgiving thanks to virtual fieldtrips provided by Scholastic.  This experience helps to set the tone for our week of gratitude.  We have spent this short week focusing our efforts inward and learning different ways we can show our gratitude to others.  Some students wrote lists or essays about what and whom they are thankful for.  Others drew pictures or asked to visit old teachers with whom they’ve made lasting connections to show their gratitude.

I have created a video to express my gratitude to the parents of my students.  I am so very grateful for the time I get to spend with your children each day.  I am so honored to be one of the many professionals that has a hand in shaping them into the adults they will become.  I am especially thankful to all of you who came out to conferences this week so that I could meet and discuss your child’s progress with you.  This was a record setting year for me in terms of parental attendance at conferences.  Please take a few minutes to watch the video I created for you, the parents, as a way to express my thanks in entrusting your children to me each day.  It is not an responsibility that I take lightly, and I thoroughly LOVE my job!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Love,

Mrs. Sinone and family

Back to School Night Parent Information

Wow!  What a great turn out for our annual Back to School Night!  I was very happy to meet all of the parents who were able to make it up to our classroom.  For those parents who were unable to attend, please see the Prezi below to be up to date on our classroom procedures.  I also sent home a classroom “cheat sheet” with the important websites, email addresses, and policies on them in your child’s work folder.  Please be sure to sign up for the Remind 101 text updates to stay aware of the upcoming important dates!  Text @mrssino to 856-517-0666 (not my real phone number!)

Eggstra! Eggstra! Room 11 Needs your Eggsistance!

We will be holding an EGGsperimentally Awesome day next Thursday and could use some help!  We are in need of the following items:

Raw eggs (at least 6 dozen or more)

Vinegar (1 large bottle- think BJ’s size)

Egg dye kits (1 or 2 would be plenty)

Cotton Balls (1 bag)

Baking Soda (1 box is plenty)

1 bottle of soda (for experimental purposes only! Flavor does not matter)

1 package of large clear plastic cups

All of these ingredients will add up to a spectacularly scientific Eggstravaganza!  Any student who brings in one of the above items will receive 10 extra credit points on this week’s Science test.  If you would like to volunteer to help us on Thursday, March 28th, we would love to have you!  Please contact Mrs. Sinone to let her know you will be coming.  Also on Thursday, March 28th please dress your child in play clothes as some of these EGGsperiments are quite messy! 

We hope to see you for an EGGcellent time!