March 5th

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Dates to Know

Tuesday, March 7th - REGISTRATION BEGINS

Thursday, March 9th - 5th Grade to Emerson for musical

Friday, March 10th - NO School - Records Planning Day

Monday, March 13th - IAR testing begins for 3rd-5th Graders (One test a day for 6 days: 3 ELA/3 Math)

Thursday, March 16th - 4-7 Parent Teacher Conference (Teacher-Requested)

Thursday, March 16th - 7:00 pm Board Meeting with Carpenter Presentation

Monday, March 27 - Friday March 31st - No School - Spring Break

School Functioning and Executive Functioning

The phrase “executive function” refers to a set of skills. These skills underlie the capacity to plan ahead and meet goals, display self-control, follow multiple-step directions even when interrupted, and stay focused despite distractions, among others. Executive Functioning has become part of school language and one of our new often talked about "educationese" phrases. Given those set of skills, I'm sure everyone can understand its connection to learning and classroom management. It also, though, is important for us to talk about it with our parents given our partnership. That's why I titled this section "School Functioning and Executive Functioning."

Let me start with the executive functioning. Given all that we went through with Covid and just the developmental age of our students, it is important to understand that many of these skills need to be continually taught and reinforced throughout a child's day, both at home and school. There are sometimes we might have the tendency to assume that kids just know how to do things, because, well, they just should. In order to help kids establish stronger executive functioning skills, we have to help them learn to apply it in all areas of their lives and provide them with the strategies, rationale of importance, and help them to understand cause/effect and consequences to choices. Not consequences as in punishment, mind you, but consequences of a behavior or an absence of a behavior. For example, if a child forgets to bring a water bottle to school for example, their consequence is that they don't have their water bottle that day and they drink from a fountain if they're thirsty. If a child misses a soccer practice because they don't feel like going and their coach doesn't play them that much in the game, that's part of the consequence of making the choice to not go to a practice. If they have a long-term project due that they procrastinated on, even given prompts, reminders, etc, that last day working on the project won't be an easy one. However, it is in those moments, the uncomfortable ones, that children learn the rationale on their own - I probably shouldn't leave future projects until the last minute. There are many times as adults (I have two boys, both older, so I've lived these moments) that we want to solve our kids' problems because we don't want them feeling distressed or we don't like to see them upset. But we also have to remember, that some of those moments become the learning moments for the future and help to shape their executive functioning skills. If, as parents or educators, we "save" or "fix" or "limit" our kids' ability to experience distress or the results/consequences of poor planning or poor choices, we're taking away the opportunity to learn from the situation. Then as they get older, and faced with perhaps more challenging circumstances, they may not have the necessary strategies or endurance or coping mechanisms to face the adversity of their situation, and it may not be one that one of us can fix. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we not support or guide our kids, quite the opposite. But, what I would ask us all to do is to think though different circumstances that our children might face and how we might respond. My first suggestion is that we look for every opportunity to teach executive functioning skills. How do your kids respond to multiple-step directions at home? (I want you to go upstairs, brush your teeth, put on your pajamas, and pick out a book). Practice. When cooking a meal, ask your child to get you multiple ingredients to help. Play their favorite game with them and don't let them win. How do they handle the loss? Have them set goals at home - daily, weekly, monthly. Do they keep them? How do they commit to those goals? Tell them that they have to do one thing around the house a day to help the family and chart it on the refrigerator. Do they do it? Do they keep doing it or does it stop after a couple of days? These are very natural types of things that can simply be added into the day to help address and discuss. What about their daily routines? Do they have a set place/time in the home to do schoolwork/read? For our 2nd-5th graders, do they charge their chromebook everyday in the same place? Do they have a schedule/routine that they follow in the morning? Do they pack their school bag and put it in the same spot every day so it's ready to go in the morning? As we are continuously reviewing how we address planning and executive functioning at school, I thought it was also a good time to share with our parents to help support our kids with their generalizing of their skills.

Why did I bring up school functioning? Well, it's related, I guess. The first being is that we are noticing a lot of drop-offs, kids forgetting things at home and parents bringing items to school. We are also noticing a lot of returns to school after-school to get things. So, from a partnership standpoint, we want to maybe think about what we are doing when kids forget things and the critical aspect of "dropping off or picking things" up when they forget. Is it critical? Are we just preventing discomfort or distress or is it something that the student truly needs (i.e. a lunch). But if you ask me, does a student need a water bottle if they forgot it? I'd say no. If the student is upset about not having the water bottle, my guess is they'll use that feeling to not forget it the next day and in the future. But what can we do? Maybe suggest placing the water bottle near their backpack at night so they don't forget it, you know, strategies like that.

Also understanding, the school functioning aspect that during a school day, we're rolling. We're learning, teachers aren't looking at their emails, kids are busy, we're in all different areas of the building/outside, etc. We do not want to be calling into a classroom interrupting regularly. Wherein there are times it is necessary, and will be critical, I just wanted everyone to think about it. It's also important to talk with kids about their after-school schedules. Are they or are they not taking the bus? Where are they meeting you and if it isn't you, who is it? Obviously, emergencies or changes of schedule come up, but if it is known in advance, it is important to review with your child before they come to school, because unnecessary late relays of info to students become difficult. (For example, 3:25 pm, can you please let my child know....) Again, emergencies/crises happen, but I'm referring to all of our best efforts to be proactive. Our goal is to keep our kids' safe and to be the best possible parental surrogate while they are in our care. Unlike a family circumstance, where you may have one to a few children, we have 437. So, I thought it would be helpful to share a small glimpse into the school functioning aspect as we all make up this wonderful partnership. Thanks for reading! This brought me back to my social work days. :)

Gr 3-8 IAR schedule - Help your child be ready

The Illinois Assessment of Readiness Test, an assessment for all students in Illinois in grades 3-8, will be administered in District 64 from March 13-March 24.

The best preparation for the IAR has been the quality instruction our teachers have provided this school year. However, there are things you can also do to promote your child’s success:

  • Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and eats a healthy breakfast before each day of testing.

  • Provide your child with words of encouragement. While we don’t want our students to feel anxious about any assessment, we do want them to do their best.

  • The IAR is an online assessment and students will be using their Chromebooks to complete these tests. Please make sure your child brings his or her Chromebook to school each day, fully charged.

Pictured below is our school’s tentative schedule for test administration.

If you would like to learn more about the IAR tests, sample tests are available for your review. Thank you for your support in helping your child be prepared for upcoming testing.

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Recycling Plastic Bags

Did you know? A plastic bag doesn’t degrade, it only breaks down into smaller pieces and has negative impacts on ecosystems and food chains if not contained. Only about 2% of bags are actually recycled. Support the Maine South Environmental Club by bringing in your plastic grocery, ziplock/sandwich, newspaper, bread and cereal bags. Their goal is to collect 500 pound of plastic bags to build a bench near their front pond. Send your child with clean plastic bags and will ensure your plastic bag goes to a good cause! ~ Carpenter Green Team.

CoVid Communicating

This year, instead of sending out an email for CoVid cases, we will be updating a slide on our website. Please bookmark this page if interested in keeping tabs of our current cases and associated homerooms. I'll leave this in my weekly updates as well, but I'll gradually move this towards the bottom of the reading material.