Avoca West News

Week of November 1st

Homework Happenings at Avoca West

It was lovely seeing so many faces at conferences last week. Thank you so much for sharing your time and thoughts with our teachers so that we can plan for a successful rest of the 2017-2018 school year!

One topic that came up many times at conferences was the idea of homework, so I wanted to follow up with our parent community to share our expectations and philosophy about homework at Avoca West. The research itself it quite split on the effect size of homework -- some sources saying that it has no impact on student success, while other sources claim that the right kind of homework can be effective in the middle grades. What is irrefutable is the impact reading has on a child's success. Whether students are read to, read with, or read on their own, the exposure to language and the structure of text is powerful!

With this in mind, our teachers build those at-home reading habits and stamina early on. The general rule of thumb for homework at Avoca West is ten minutes per grade level. Because our grade levels all have expectations for reading each evening, the bulk of the time spent on homework should be reading and responding or thinking about what has been read.

There may be times where students will have word work, math homework, or other tasks/routines to tackle, but homework should not take more than ten minutes per grade level (ex: 2nd grade = 20 minutes; 4th grade = 40 minutes, etc.). Any additional homework should serve one of two purposes:

  • Homework can serve as practice for something that a student can do independently (or is on the brink of doing independently)
  • Homework ca serve as a primer for something that a teacher is getting ready to introduce.

This can feel very different to homework as we used to know it -- where we struggled through problems, worksheets, projects, etc. with the help of our parents. Please know that we truly hope that those days are over for your homes! Our hope is that we work the minds of our students during the day, under the watchful eye of the educators who can support their needs and interests, so that they can go home and enjoy their time at home with you. If you'd like your child to do additional practice beyond the recommended time, you are certainly welcome to do so! If, however, you need to carve out some much needed family or downtime, please know that we look to support the whole child and that's OK too!

We have spent time over the past four years collaborating with Marie Murphy Middle School so that the 50 minutes in 5th grade makes for a successful transition to middle school. The 6th grade team has also worked closely with our Avoca West 5th grade team to help with the transition so that students can effectively build up to the expectations of greater homework as they progress through Marie Murphy and on to New Trier!

Recent BRAVE Viking VIPs

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In case you don't follow Avoca West Elementary School on Facebook, #mightymatthew is a hashtag you’ll be seeing around Avoca for a while to come. Katie Morgan, one of Avoca West’s finest, is embarking on a journey no parent wants to be on. Her 18 month old little guy, Matthew, was recently diagnosed with cancer, requiring Katie to be out for the remainder of the year while he undergoes chemo and radiation through at least the end of March.

Our Avoca staff (and many of our families!) will be supporting both Katie, her family, and proud grandma Sara Bader during Matthew's treatment. Here’s to the power of our community to rally and send positive energy to the Morgan-Bader crew! #bettertogether

What's Next?

As we look to support Katie, we are also looking to revise how we will be supporting our advanced learners and math implementation for this school year. Diane Bilcer has already been coaching our advanced learners in the area of English Language Arts and is a natural fit for working alongside with Mrs. Jennie Winters to support our advanced learners in the area of math. A long term substitute will be hired to work during the morning (8:00-12:10) to fill the Encore Literacy position that Diane Bilcer currently teaches. If you know of anyone who might be interested in the position, please check the Employment Openings on the Avoca website.

Best Best Buddies at Avoca West

This year, Avoca West is welcoming a new opportunity to build a stronger student and sense of community and leadership. Best Buddies, typically in middle schools, high schools, and college campuses, is branching out to the elementary school level. At the older age/school levels, Best Buddies specifically provides 1-to-1 partnerships between students with intellectual and developmental delays (IDD) and other students on their school campus. As an elementary "promoters" chapter, our Avoca West chapter will focus on "promot[ing] awareness and bring[ing] awareness to disabilities" and empowering our students to become advocates for those with disabilities and including everyone on our mission of being BRAVE Vikings!

The chapter is being run by Mrs. Caroline Henson and Mrs. Erika Slagel, with Natalie Anthony (Abby, Danny, and Olivia) as our parent liaison. The group meets once a month for building friendship, cohesion, and an educational activity, but we will also put on two or three community events where all will be welcome to join us.

In order to help fund our community events, we will be selling t-shirts with the Best Buddies logo on them. We are waiting for the thumbs up from the Best Buddies organization to allow us to put our BRAVE stamp on their Keith Haring artwork. Stay tuned for news in our future newsletters!

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Mark Your Calendars!!

11/3 - 6:00-8:00pm - Intercultural Dinner & Talent Show at Marie Murphy -- SOLD OUT! NO TICKETS/ADMITTANCE WILL BE AT THE DOOR

11/10 - Annual Veteran's Day Breakfast at Avoca West - 8:30-9:30am

11/16 - Fall Student/Club Recognitions at Board of Education Meeting

11/20-11/24 - Thanksgiving Break - No Student Attendance (Teacher Institute Mon & Tues)

Check out the Avoca PTC's Updated Website

Don't forget to stop by the Avoca PTC website for updated information and dates to put on your calendar as well. There are many exciting events going on -- including our Spirit Wear sales!!

Follow Us This School Year!

Questions? Comments?

Please feel free to reach out to ask any of our office staff for help!