The Toll Gate Tidings Tana

February 7, 2016 Edition

Important Dates to Note


2/8 - 5th Grade Campfire Program

2/8 - K-5 Grade Level Meetings (*K-3 meets at SB)

2/10 - Faculty Council - please send me agenda items!

2/11 - Valic Representative during lunch periods

2/11 - TG Valentine's Day Dance

2/12 - Grades available for parents to view online

2/15 - SGO review deadline

2/15-16 - Presidents Day/Mid-winter break - No School

2/17-2/19 - 5th Grade Family Life

2/17 - Faculty Meeting

2/18 - Family Math Night

2/19 - 1st Grade 100th Day Gallery

2/23 - Spirit Day! 1980's Day!

2/26 - Reading Rocks! Assembly


3/2 - Read Across America Day

3/2 - Dr. Smith's monthly visit

3/3 - Parents Advisory Council meeting

3/3 - PTO meeting (4th and 5th grade updates)

3/4 - 3rd grade trip to Howell Farm

3/7 - Early Dismissal

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Valentine's Day

Just a reminder - we do not run a special schedule for Valentine's Day celebrations. Feel free to celebrate whenever works for you in your schedule!
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Reading Rocks Assembly - 2/26

We will be following a Gator Gathering schedule for our February 26th "Reading Rocks" assembly. We will meet in the gym and be called down as we do for other assemblies. The program should last about 45 minutes.

Here is the link to their site:!about/cee5

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From the Arts Council of Princeton

Sara Graja sent this out earlier this week - it would be great to have some TG submissions!

Dear Educators,

The Arts Council of Princeton’s aMuse is an annual anthology of poetry, prose and artwork by students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Sponsored by the Arts Council of Princeton, preparations are now underway for the 28th annual volume to be published in June 2016.

Attached to this email are the submission guidelines for aMuse 2016. We invite each teacher to submit their top ten students' works of art, prose, or poetry (one entry per student). We appreciate your participation and look forward to another successful year of aMuse. Please do not hesitate to email me at anytime so that I may be able to answer any questions or concerns.


Meghan Blair

aMuse Coordinator

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Please make sure you are checking over your SGOs to ensure you are on-track and your goals/data are appropriate. All changes must be made by February 15th. If you think you need to modify or edit your SGO, please send me an email (if I am the administrator checking your SGOs) or your supervisor, and let them know of your need to adjust your previous goals/data. OnCourse has just updated their system so that the admins can now edit and approve your new goals quickly, rather than having to go through Tricia Pinelli or Tony Suozzo.

If everything looks alright and no changes are needed, please send me an email (or your supervisor) so that you can be moved into the "Final Implementation" stage of the process.


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With Math I Can

Amazon has launched a campaign to change the way students think about their frustrations with math and foster the development of growth mindset in children and adults. They are sharing free resources about growth mindset on their website.

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Bucket Filling - Nurturing Genuinely Kind Kids

A school counselor/therapist recently interviewed me to discuss a question she often hears, "How can I get my child to be nicer?" During the discussion, she told me what a huge impact our books had on her students' kindness levels.

"That's the answer," I said. "Teach them. Treat children with kindness and then give them ideas and opportunities to express kindness themselves. Let them experience first-hand the feel-good benefits of being kind." Our books teach, "When you fill someone else's bucket, you fill your own bucket, too."

Basically, children do what they are taught to do. Children learn to read by being taught how to read with coaching and practice. The same is true for any subject. Children learn to be responsible when adults give them developmentally appropriate responsibilities and help them develop these capabilities. The teaching process includes know how, encouragement, patience and practice.

Kindness is no different. Kindness is learned. Involved parents, grandparents, teachers, and other caregivers have the greatest influence on a child's life and what he learns. Our books give adults another tool to teach kindness by explaining, "the key to being happy is in this choice you make . . . will you fill a bucket or be mean and dip and take?" The choice is ours. If kindness is not valued and taught, then society's influence takes over.

One standard: "We are Bucket Fillers . . . we treat all people, including ourselves, with respect," gives children a rule of thumb to live by. This powerful group affirmation is about who we are. We're not perfect but we strive to be bucket fillers every day.

Kindness feels good to the receiver, giver, and observer. Talk about what kindness looks like, sounds like, and feels like. Talk about whose bucket you can fill today and you will nurture genuinely kind kids.

Happy Bucket Filling!

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Spring HVEF Grants

You can now submit forms for an HVEF grant! Click here for more details. Think of outside the box, cool things that might work great for your grade level or the building. Shoot for the stars!

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Using Twitter for PD - You can do it!

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Couch to Pennington Day 5K!

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to organize a training program for staff members who would like to train to run the Pennington Day 5K on Saturday, May 21, 2016. Highlights of the training program are listed below. Please utilized the survey link below to help me determine if there is enough interest.

Training Program highlights:

  • 10 weeks beginning week of March 14.
  • 3 training sessions per week-
    • Tues & Thurs right after school.
    • one weekend training session on your own. (I'll coordinate the weekend training session for anyone who is interested in joining me.)
  • walk-run-walk approach to gradually increase endurance.
  • length of training sessions gradually increase from 20 minutes to 30-35 minutes.
  • Group support and motivation.
  • Pride in your accomplishment.
  • A cool tee-shirt!

Please join me in the faculty room for a brief meeting immediately following dismissal next Friday, 2/12. I would like to share some initial information that will help you when we start training next month. Please RSVP to me directly so I can plan accordingly.



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Digital Tools to Support Effective Literacy Teaching

In this Literacy Today article, Detra Price-Dennis and Sarah Schlessinger (Teachers College, Columbia University) recommend digital tools that enhance teaching and learning in three key areas:

Collaborative learning – These tools help students learn with and from each other and enhance conceptual learning, creative problem-solving, and classroom community:

- Google Docs – Students work simultaneously on one document from different devices and comment on shared documents.

- Padlet – Students work simultaneously on a shared digital “corkboard” from different devices, adding images, videos, text, PDFs, links, and audio messages.

- Coggle – Multiple students use this concept mapping tool to edit content simultaneously from different devices.

- VoiceThread – Students work independently or with a team to add images, videos, text, and their own audio, video, and typed or drawn annotations to a presentation-like format.

Each of these tools allows students to contribute individually to shared creations involving inquiry, peer feedback, and collaborative composition.

Universal design and multimodal representations – These tools allow teachers to share information in interactive ways and get students producing their own narratives:

- Glogster – A platform that allows students to create digital posters including text, video, audio, photos, animations, and voice.

- iMovie – Voice-editing software that lets students create their own movies or book trailers.

- Storybird – A story-writing site that gives students access to professional illustrations.

- Educreations and ShowMe – Digital whiteboards that allow students to record as they draw and narrate image or video on a topic of their choice

Accessibility – These tools support students who need accommodations and modifications to participate fully in the classroom:

- Read&Write – Tools for text-to-speech, speech-to-text, smart predictive text, highlighting organization, vocabulary support, translation, and voice commenting.

- NewsELA – Current-events articles, each written at five different Lexile levels.

- Readability – This app simplifies the screen by removing all distracting ads and images.

- Blendspace and Nearpod – These multimodal platforms allow teachers to input content and activities for students to work through as they view and respond to questions for each segment.

Price-Dennis and Schlessinger stress that the teacher plays a key role in getting the most from each of these tools.

“Digital Tools for Inclusivity: Our Top Recommendations for Reaching All Learners” by Detra Price-Dennis and Sarah Schlessinger in Literacy Today, January/February 2016 (Vol. 33, #4, p. 30-31), no free e-link available; the authors are at and

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Quote(s) of the Week

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