Humanities Memo

The School Leaders' Edition: May 9th-15th


Planning Summer Homework

The last few weeks are some of the busiest ones for a school leader. Preparing and giving guidance to your teachers for what quality summer homework should look like is no easy feat with so much going on.

This week we are providing an outline of what should be in summer homework packets as well as resources, including an example of a homework packet, directions to teachers regarding summer homework packets, and cover sheets that a school leader has prepared for their staff.

To begin here, are recommendations for homework.

Must haves in Humanities Summer Homework:

  • Reading log- clearly names the number of minutes students should read each day. TK – G1: 20 minutes everyday, G2 – G3: 30 minutes everyday , G4-G5: 40 minutes everyday
  • Writing about their reading: Students answer questions that are aligned to STEP bottom lines.
  • Sight words for TK-2nd Grade and an updated list of affixes/roots across all grades (see the updated RSED list and note below)
  • TK & Kinder: Practice for letter identification and sounds (see examples in attached packet)
  • TK & Kinder: Name writing and Identification


  • Projects that students need to complete over the summer (scrapbook, journal,etc.)
  • Correlated Reading A-Z books and open response questions

It is so important to emphasize with your teachers that summer homework is not quantity but quality. Rather than providing students with simply a large packet of worksheets, making sure that students have the most strategic practice possible in the homework will ensure that they are most engaged and motivated to complete the work and be ready for the first day of school. Providing students with a large packet of worksheets not aligned to practice they have done or work they will need to do to be ready for the first day of school is frustrating for both teachers and parents.

For Resources

Notice how specific Kylie is with what should be in RSK's packets and how the responsibilities will divided up among the staff. She was clear about the number of days that teachers should plan for and reminding staff to consider holidays and weekends.

This is Amy's cover sheet for incoming student from last spring. Notice how she did not just introduce herself and the school but also included additional ideas for how parents can continue learning over the summer. For families that were new, summer homework included learning the creed and understanding RSED core values and expectations.

Affixes & Root Word Updated List

Next year, each grade will be expected to know a set list of root words and affixes by the end of the year, similar to high frequency words.

Summer is a great time to preview these lists for students. You may also want to provide students with the full set of grade level lists, as they differ from grade level to grade level and may be motivating for students who want to get ahead!

Attached is the list. Please feel free to share this with your staff. We will provide more updates on how these lists will be incorporated into instruction during summer PD.

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Important Note Regarding End of Year STEP Intermediate Testing

There are several schools that have opted to have teachers administer end of year STEP intermediate assessments. If teachers are using grey testing forms, please have them download updated scoring sheets (the first page of every assessment) at this link. The STEP team's previous forms had several incorrect correlations, and these updated forms will allow teachers to correctly manually score on the paper-based assessments. All questions and content, however, have remain unchanged!

Interested in Creating Assessments?

Are you interested in helping to create and refine next year's unit assessments?

We are currently looking for school leaders that would be interested in making narrative and/or nonfiction unit assessments for TK through 5th grade. This opportunity will not allow you to get knee deep into content that you will also be coaching teachers on next year but there is also a stipend.

If you are interested in hearing more about the expectations, time frame, and resources you would be provided with, please reach out to Sharon as soon as possible.

End of Year Plans: Review & Preview Units

As mentioned in last week's Highlights, planning specialists have created two week review or preview units to be used once teachers have completed all RA/RC units.

These lessons will be uploaded or linked in the same location that planning specialists have in the past. Please note below the differences between the grade levels and what material will be covered. Please also keep in mind that planning specialists have created these plans with their current data in mind, so it is strongly encouraged for you and your teachers to review if this captures your classrooms’ specific needs.

  • TK/K4: Will not need these additional lessons because SSM has these additional days already built in
  • Kinder-2nd Grade: Plans will include previewing material for next year. Each week will focus on a different STEP bottom line. Grade 2, Option 2 will continue to carry out their SSM until the end of the year.
  • 3rd-5th Grade: Plans will be reviewing material from the past year. They will also focus on bottom lines or comprehension skills that were noted to be challenging for students.

We are all quite excited about these plans. Our planning specialists have gotten quite creative, from teaching students about the electoral process to Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets that will definitely keep students engaged in these last weeks of school!

Please reach out to Brooke with any questions about plans or dates.

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Capturing Best Practices

In order to capture strong examples of physical space in humanities classrooms, Brooke will taking several photos and videos in the upcoming weeks.

We plan on using these for teachers next year as they begin setting up their classroom, have questions about particular parts of a lesson or need assistance as they analyze student work.

You may want to let your teachers know the purpose of our visit. Also feel free to share with us any examples that you think would be helpful for teachers next year.