To the Point

Prairie Point Staff Newsletter - November

Volume 4, Issue #5: Monday, November 5, 2018

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As we head into the Thanksgiving season, I find myself wavering between taking the time to be thankful and recognize the many blessings in my life and feeling completely overwhelmed with the upcoming holidays (which in the Groves house includes not only Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also a December birthday for Mattix and a January birthday for Molly). I'd like to take a minute and focus on the first one - being thankful.

Two and a half years ago we worked as a faculty to write our belief statements. I take time periodically, to review these statements. As I read through them and celebrate the things that we are passionate about as a school, I can't help but to be thankful for these things as well. I've included the list that we created in August 2016, only I changed out the word "believe" with "am thankful". What a powerful list!

I am thankful that...

I am thankful that every child is a gift!

I am thankful that not any one of us can do this job on our own.

I am thankful that we all can learn from one another.

I am thankful that everything is more wonderful with a song!

I am thankful that every child deserves a fresh start each day and each year.

I am thankful that kids learn best when they feel safe to take risks.

I am thankful that learning should be enjoyable.

I am thankful that all students should be afforded the opportunity to learn and grow at their own levels.

I am thankful that learning is a lifelong journey.

I am thankful that all students deserve to be heard and validated.

I am thankful that SCHOOL is the happiest place on Earth!

I am thankful that everyone can be an artist, a musician, an author ….

I am thankful that kindness makes the world go around.

I am thankful that we are stronger, smarter, happier and healthier when we work together.

I am thankful that one of my students will someday be the President of the United States.

I am thankful that our school is the safest place for a child both physically and mentally.

I am thankful that, for some children, that we are the only stable part of their lives.

I am thankful that children thrive best when there is consistency and expectations.

I am thankful that when teachers work together toward student growth, there is real change.

I am thankful that every child can succeed.

The Growth Mindset Coach

Our focus in November is: I am a valued member of the Prairie Point Family. If you are following along in The Growth Mindset Coach, you will notice that our mantra is a little different than what is written in the book. This is to make it a little more "kid friendly" and specific to our school. I really like this chapter because it ties so nicely into the work that we are doing with ACEs.

Our goals for November will focus on:
1. Developing strategies to build relationships with students.

2. Developing strategies to build relationships with parents.

3. Developing strategies to build relationships with colleagues.

As you think about these goals, you are probably thinking - YES! I am already focusing on and doing these things. Because of our strong focus on ACEs, I am betting that you are already doing most - if not all - of the strategies listed on pages 80-81.

If you get a chance, check out the matrix on page 85. This looks at three types of classrooms: the coddled classroom, the nurtured classroom and the disconnected classroom. All of the work that we do, helps keep us in that nurtured classroom column!

Having spent last week connecting to parents through parent-teacher conferences, you have just spent some time building relationships with parents. If you are looking for additional strategies, the ones listed on pages 90-91 can be good reminders. If you are anything like me, you have the best of intentions when it comes to communications. As the year progresses, it is harder and harder to stick to those communication deadlines. I am always scrambling to get parent newsletters, the Weekly Update and To the Point out in a timely manner. It is important for me to continue to send it out - even if it is a day or two late, because I know the importance of consistent communication.

I liked reflecting on the importance of connecting as a staff. One of the things that stood out to me was the importance of coming together as a faculty to celebrate (and eat!). I heard really positive feedback from Crocktoberfest and know how positive these events can be for our faculty. Noelle and I will continue to look for ways to build community. We are always open for ideas if someone has an idea for bringing us together.

Our faculty meeting is jam-packed on Wednesday, so we won't be diving into this chapter. That said, so much of what is covered in this chapter are things that we are doing already!

Trauma Informed Schools

"One caring and committed adult in the life of a child can change the course of an entire life. Be the healing in a child's story."

We are coming up to the end of the 1-5-9 challenge. We will set aside time at our next faculty meeting (in December) to dig in and talk about how the challenge went. Before that meeting, I encourage you to be thinking about what went well, areas that were challenging and how we can improve this program, if we choose to continue it.

If you haven't had a chance to see Josh Shipp, check out the short video. I find it pretty powerful in realizing the difference that we can make. Josh has a really powerful message in that, "Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story." I've included a short video (warning, there is one word in it that is not for kid's ears) as well as the link to his website. It is definitely worth a visit!


As we have shared, our AVID goals this year are on focused note-taking (FNT) and collaboration. We spent our faculty meeting time, during our October SIP Day, introducing note-taking. We will also spend part of our December Faculty Meeting diving into collaboration.

Right now, I wanted to provide you with more FNT resources that you might use. The first two resource provide an overview of the five steps of FNT and different types of notes. The third resource are examples of FNT from kindergarten through sixth grade. While we are only implementing FNT in 5th grade, it is valuable to see when we can do in the younger grades to support this implementation. These resources were shared during my sessions on October 19th with one grade level rep.

Important Information

Functional Classroom and DHH Changes

As many of you know, we have restructured our DHH program a bit. These changes were driven by the specific needs of our students and will hopefully allow us to better meet these needs. We have opened a new classroom, called the Functional DHH Classroom, that is geared toward supporting students who may require a more specific functional skills curriculum. This classroom will have a lower student to teacher ratio and will focus on academic skills as well as some more life skills. Many of the students within this classroom have multiple needs. Becky is currently teaching this class in Room A139.

Andrea is working with our K - 2nd grade students in the DHH program and Shelley is currently working with the 3rd - 5th grade students. This is a change for both Andrea and Shelley, as they have added a grade level to their case loads.

Thank you to all for being flexible as we have opened this classroom. It is extremely exciting to be able to create a space that will better meet the needs of students. That said, it is still a work in progress. I am grateful to all for being flexible, understanding and supportive as we get this classroom up and running!

Welcome Jane Schaeflein to EC!

I am happy to share that Jane Schaeflein will be joining the EC team as a classroom TA with Dar Howell. Today is Jane's first day (back) in EC! Jane previously worked in EC as a 1:1 TA in Beth Gioiosa's classroom. Jane has a passion for early childhood and is excited to back with our 3, 4 and 5 year olds!

This does leave a TA opening in our DHH program. If you know of any candidates who would like to work in DHH Functional Classroom, please let Katie, Noelle or me know.

In Every Issue...

Field Trip Information

There is new field trip information on the district website. You can access this through the intranet in the Teaching & Learning (T&L) tab. Click on Field Trips and then 2018-19 Elementary Field Trip Information.

On this page, you can select their specific grade level to see the available field trips and the cost. If a bus is needed, the cost per student is highlighted in yellow. Please reach out to the contacts on the sheets if you have questions about the field trips.

MTSS Information

We will be following the same MTSS process that we followed last year. I have included the Problem Solving Request Form below. You are also able to access information on the intranet by going to the Teaching & Learning (T&L) tab and downloading the School District 308 MTSS Plan.

I do want to let you know that we are reviewing MTSs throughout the district this year. We have a lot of good things in place at Prairie Point, as well as at the elementary level. Our hope, through our committee work, is to assure that we have a solid continuum of interventions from elementary through high school to support students at all levels.

In our building Tena and Noelle facilitate our MTSS process. If you have any questions, please reach out either Tena or Noelle.

Wednesday Morning Meeting Schedule

The Wednesday Morning Meeting Schedule has been shared with you and is available by clicking below.

PLC Information

Please remember to share agenda's with Noelle and Jennifer. Agendas and resources are located on the intranet. Click on the Professional Development tab and then on the PLC link. There are agenda templates, as well as videos and information about making the most of your PLC time.

As a building, we are shifting our focus back to data. During our August Faculty Meeting, teams shared information about their comfort level and needs as it relates to looking at data. We will be working, as an admin team, to support these needs. I shared our first data resource in this week's Weekly Update. If you haven't had a chance to check out the State Standards Report in STAR it is a really good one to gauge where your students are in terms of the standards. I will continue to share different reports or data sources with you each month. If you ever have a question about one of them, please reach out to Noelle, Tena, Maureen or me. We are happy to help you navigate the sites!