Sailing Through the Week

Belle River Staff Memo for the Week of January 18, 2016

Important Dates

Monday, January 18

  • Team Landon T-shirt Day
  • Conga Line at 3:15
  • Staff Meeting (Regular and Record-keeping) at 3:45

Wednesday, January 20

  • Popcorn Day

Thursday, January 21

  • Third Grade Michigan Breakfast (8:45-9:30)

Friday, January 22

  • School Store
  • School/District Spirit Day

Upcoming Dates

Monday, January 25

  • Purple Day (Pink Halo Week)
  • Student Success Team Meetings in P.M.
  • Board of Education Meeting at 7:00

Tuesday, January 26

  • Pink Day (Pink Halo Week)

Wednesday, January 27

  • Landon T-shirt Day (Pink Halo Week)
  • Half Day, Dismissal at 12:02
  • Nacho Bar/Desserts for Lunch (Thank you, Social Committee!)
  • Skyward Window Opens

Thursday, January 28

  • Pink Halo T-shirt (Pink Halo Week)
  • Half Day, Dismissal at 12:02
  • Rachel at RESA in Morning: Elementary Principals Meeting

Friday, January 29

  • Records Day

Monday, February 1

  • 504 Forms Due to Carol

Wednesday, February 3

  • Popcorn Day
  • Dr. Skalka Visit
  • Skyward Window Closes
  • Lockdown Drill at 10:10 a.m.

Thursday, February 4

  • PTO Meeting at 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 9

  • Data Digs

Wednesday, February 10

  • Popcorn Day
  • Pupil Count Day

Friday, February 12 - Tuesday, February 16

  • Mid-Winter Break

Wednesday, February 17

  • Classes Resume
  • Popcorn Day
  • Third Grade to Dr. Brieden's Office (10:15-11:45)
  • Conga Line at 3:15

Thursday, February 18

  • Third Grade Pollution Solutions (10:30-11:50)

Friday, February 19

  • School Store

Staff Meeting Agenda for Monday, January 19

1. Belle River Homework Policy

Goal: Develop a statement that communicates our collective belief about homework.


2. Family Technology Night – Kelly Robbins

Goal: Determine breakout sessions and set date (Feb. 9th or 10th).


3. Record-Keeping

Goal: Work on assessing student work, inputting data, or general classroom organization in preparation for end of second quarter.

Student Success Team Meetings

Our next Student Success Team Meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 25th, in the afternoon. If you have a student that is not demonstrating success in the general education setting despite accommodations and interventions that have been put in place, please list that student's name in this Google Doc. https://docs.google.com/a/ecsd.us/document/d/1-DofWGNnp4HAC62gURkhrHRC9w6ift8sBBg2URcFXTY/edit?usp=sharing Please limit the number of students to one or two.

Site Visit at Meyer Elementary in Croswell-Lexington School District

While reading through my Twitter feed, I recently discovered this video created by Edutopia. I was drawn to the topic of applying RtI in a collaborative way to individualize instruction because it fill so well with our mission and vision at Belle. When I began to watch the video, I was surprised to discover that this school was in Lexington, Michigan. (The principal possesses a southern accent, so initially I thought that the school was in Kentucky.) In addition to close geographic proximity, the school shares similar demographics with Belle River. It is a Title I building with over 50% of students receiving free/reduced lunch, and the racial demographics are almost identical to our student population.


I shared the video with Robyn, and asked Catherine if we could visit the school on Records Day. Both Robyn and Catherine were enthusiastic, so I contacted the principal, Donna Barrier, and made the arrangements. I know Records Day is extremely important in catching up on all that you need to do to prepare for the end of the first semester, but you are welcome to join Robyn and me on the visit if you want to go on a "field trip". This opportunity might results in new ideas that we can implement at our school.

Edutopia Video

Response to Intervention: Collaborating to Target Instruction

Information about Meyer Elementary

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The Great Homework Debate

After receiving many responses from teachers regarding homework, it seems like the staff shares similar philosophies on the subject. At our next staff meeting, we will focus on our school vision (Belle River is an inviting, caring school community that meets the needs of every 21st century learner, by using Best Practices to facilitate positive behavior support and high expectations for lifelong learners.) and develop some common expectations for homework. A statement about our expectations, including the rationale behind them, will be published in the February edition of The Belle Ringer, and you can share the message individually in your classroom communications.


While we are raising expectations about homework, think about other areas that can be revisited to "raise the bar". For example, do we have similar criteria for choosing our Students of the Month, and are they communicated with students and parents? Do we need to publicly celebrate success in other ways so students and parents see models and understand the type of citizenship, leadership, and work ethic we expect? What can I do to model, facilitate, and support high expectations?

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March is Reading Month

Thank you to all who met last week to discuss our plan for March is Reading Month. We generated a list of many fun and exciting activities that will motivate the students to read. Here is an overview of our plan:


  • Purchase 1 copy of Charlotte's Web per family and develop calendar with reading assignments to send home just before March. Include a spot on the calendar where students can record minutes read. Students will receive lunch with the principal and/or a special prize for returning calendars.
  • Order theme-related shirts for staff.
  • Ask daily trivia question read during morning announcements, and students will place response slips in a "trough" on the cubbie in the hallway.
  • Also during morning announcements, call down the students whose answer slips were drawn the previous day to receive theme-related prizes.
  • Decorate cubbies to reflect farm/Charlotte's Web theme.
  • Heather Hatcher, the parent who created the Christmas mural, will create a Charlotte's Web mural.
  • Set up a Charlotte's Web resource area in the staff lounge where teachers can share instructional materials.
  • Create "web" bulletin boards in the lower and upper elementary hallways. Students will cut out interesting words from magazines/newspapers/packaging and bring to school each Monday in March to staple to the web.
  • Wednesdays in March will be "Read a T-shirt" days.
  • There will be a special event each Friday (mystery reader, older/younger students read together, stuffed animal & pajama day & watch Charlotte's Web cartoon/movie, dress like a farmer day).
  • Post pictures on Facebook. Encourage families to send pictures of students reading Charlotte's Web at home to post on Facebook and our web site.
  • PTO will arrange a book swap during March.
  • Possibly book a "petting farm"?

If you have any additional ideas or ideas for carrying out the items on this list, please let me know.

School Improvement Team Meeting

I would like to hold a School Improvement Team meeting on Wednesday, January 20th, at 8:00 a.m. This will likely not work for all interested staff, so perhaps we can alternate between before and after school from now through the rest of the school year. Of course, I will share what was discussed with the entire staff.


Following is a tentative agenda:


1. Examine parent and staff survey data and analyze for patterns.

2. Brainstorm ideas for preparing students for M-STEP.

3. Review goals and strategies and discuss progress and possible changes for next year.

Our Mission: Working Collaboratively to Ensure All Students Learn

Our Vision: Belle River is an inviting, caring school community that meets the needs of every 21st century learner, by using Best Practices to facilitate positive behavior support

and high expectations for lifelong learners.