Parkdale Elementary Weekly Update


This Week...

Dear Staff,

Hopefully the three day weekend was enjoyable for you. Have a nice week.


Reminder - Teacher Mid Year Growth Forms Due

Dear Teachers,

We talked about the mid-year growth forms the other day. Please plan on completing these by Feb. 18th. I’m not so concerned about a specific set of data. Please just use whatever information you have to update me on how you feel your students are progressing toward your goal. I'm also interested in hearing about your progress toward your professional goal.

Thank you

Language Support Strategies

Here is the update:

Third Round:

Choral Response: 4.2 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes
Sentence Starters: .36 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes
Precision Partnering: .36 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes
Language Objectives: .46 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes


First Round:
Choral Response: 3.7 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes
Sentence Starters: .27 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes
Precision Partnering: .27 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes
Language Objectives: 0 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes

Second Round:
Choral Response: 2.1 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes
Sentence Starters: 1.3 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes
Precision Partnering: .9 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes
Language Objectives: .3 opportunities per ~ 10 minutes

Thanks for your work to increase practice opportunities.

A Massachusetts Teacher Works to Understand His ELL Students - An article review from the Marshal Memo, Issue # 624

A Massachusetts Teacher Works to Understand His ELL Students

(Originally titled “Empathy Is the Gateway”)

In this Educational Leadership article, Massachusetts high-school teacher David Saavedra remembers what it was like being a Peace Corps volunteer for three years in Mozambique, and realizes that the experience provides specific ideas for connecting with his immigrant students. Saavedra believes that the greater a teacher’s empathy for what students are going through, the better they will learn.


Treat silence gently. “When a person arrives in a country where he or she doesn’t speak the language,” he says, “observation is the first instinct. Silence is a coping mechanism during this adjustment phase as a newcomer focuses simply on taking in information.” Saavedra remembers arriving in Mozambique and being overwhelmed by unfamiliar words, sounds, gestures, people, devices, customs, and routines. “Imagine how overwhelming this must be for a child,” he says. Teachers need to respect this “silent period” and create a nurturing environment that scaffolds learning experiences and encourages students to speak when they are ready. Some key steps: talking one-on-one with new arrivals, welcoming them, learning how to pronounce their names, getting a feel for their mental state, and perhaps negotiating non-verbal signals for participating in class.

Offer content. Saavedra remembers being shouted at by a woman in a Mozambique market when he didn’t understand that something he was buying needed to be weighed (“PESAR!”). “Not having sufficient context to understand what’s going on around you is incredibly frustrating,” he says. “I felt stupid and believed everyone around me was judging me as such.” Teachers of ELLs need to create a context-rich environment in which students can get the support and cues they need from pictures, objects, exemplary work samples, and, of course, oral instructions.

Give them breaks. “Functioning in a second language is incredibly mentally taxing,” says Saavedra. “For me, this mental exhaustion came and went for months… At times, I felt an unusual need for sleep, probably because my brain just needed a break.” Teachers of ELLs need to understand this, check in privately if students’ heads are on their desks, and give them down-time when they need it. It’s comforting and helpful just telling students you understand and asking them to do their best.

Understand being “in between.” Saavedra remembers a point 7-10 months into his Peace Corps experience when he was struggling to integrate his new experiences with his American identity. “Cultural expectations no longer seemed novel, interesting, or exciting,” he says. “They just seemed wrong, and it made me angry.” He’s watched ELLs in his school get to this point and become withdrawn, less studious, and disruptive. Cultural and personal integration takes time, usually longer than a school year. “One small but powerful way to help students through this transition is to simply acknowledge the student’s reality,” he says, “even if you haven’t experienced it and don’t fully understand it.” A teacher might suggest talking to a trusted individual, drawing pictures, or keeping a journal (with no emphasis on grammar or syntax).

Build trust. Saavedra’s experience in Africa was extraordinarily helpful in empathizing with his immigrant students, but he knew there was a big difference: he had chosen to move there as an adult, whereas most of his students were uprooted and brought to the U.S., sometimes without even having the chance to say goodbye to loved ones. “The trauma associated with this lack of agency demands empathy,” he says. “And effective teaching for language learners demands empathy, the fuel for relationships, too. At its core, good teaching is about relationships – because students allow themselves to learn from people they trust.”

“Empathy Is the Gateway” by David Saavedra in Educational Leadership, February 2016 (Vol. 73, #5, p. 66-69), available for purchase at; Saavedra can be reached at

Growth Mindset at Parkdale Elementary

The Growth Mindset strategy of the week this week is...

* Say, “You must have worked really hard on that”, rather than, “You are really smart or good at that”.

Other ideas that we came up with as a staff are linked below:

Teaching the Mountaineer Expectations: Month 5, Week 3

Problem Solving - student message

The “E” in our Second StepProblem-Solving Steps stands for “explore the consequences.” A consequence is something that might happen if we chose to do one of our solutions. A consequence can be positive or negative. Exploring consequences helps us pick the best solution for our problem! This week, remember to ask yourself “If I did this solution, then what might happen?”

Events This Week...

This Week:

Monday 2/15


Tuesday 2/16

2:15 PM - BEST Meeting

2:15 – 3:15 PM - Ukulele (Grades 4 – 5 ONLY)

Wednesday 2/17

GREEN DAY – Anna Osborn - Gym


Rover/Patty Gilkerson


Mara/Katlin Cody

Elise/Jeanie DK

Rhonda/Nancy Waller

2:15 PM – PLC Leader Meeting (Office)

2:25 PM – OAKS Science Testing Training Ziegner’s RM

2:45 PM – Growth Coach Meeting

Thursday 2/18

2:20 PM - IEP Meeting

Friday 2/19

2:15 PM – Reading Intervention Meeting

2:20 PM - SBAC Testing Training (Ziegner’s RM) Modules 3 &4

Upcoming Dates

· 2/23 7:00 AM - Safety Meeting

· 2/23 2:20 PM - IEP Meeting

· 2/23 2:20 PM – Fun Committee Meeting

· 2/23 2:15 – 3:15 PM - Ukulele (Grades 4 – 5 ONLY)

· 2/24 GREEN DAY

· 2/25 GR. 1 NORDIC MEADOWS – Wiley/Valentine Field Trip

· 2/25 2:20 PM – BEST Problem Solving Mtg. – Rosie’s RM

· 2/25 5:30 – 6:30 PM – Family Internet Safety Class


· 2/26 Classified Timesheet Due

· 2/26 2:15 PM – Reading Intervention Meeting

Have a great week!!

Parkdale Staff Feedback Form - Click Here!

Use this form to give Gus feedback about how things are going and what you need.