North Side Paw Prints

Staff Newsletter

November 1, 2013

Volume 5, Issue 12

Mission Statement: "Maximize potential in all people every day"

Vision Statement: "To create a culture in which all children can learn lifelong skills to succeed"

Congratulations Keeley Ebert, Laura Stoll, and Linda Potter for Going the Extra Mile this Month!

Weekly Quote

"You do not know your true limits until you choose to overcome the fear that holds you back from greatness."

Coach K

Weekly Reflection

As you are evaluating your students and entering grades for your students -Are the grades reflective of the skills that you are asking the students to learn? If you look at your grade book, do you keep enough grades to accurately convey to parents and students current levels of mastery - or are there just a few grades that do not give a good picture of the overall grading period? Do you grade and record student work in a timely fashion - within a day or two - so that students and parents understand their performance as well as yourself so that you can modify instruction to meet your students' needs?

Upcoming Dates


Nov. 5th - Picture Retakes in room 112; Band Concert 6:30

Nov. 6th - Jeans for Troops (pay $5 and wear jeans to school)

Nov. 7th - Staff Meeting at 3:10 in the library

Nov. 11th - Veterans Day Program 1:45-2:15; SOM Names Due to Venita

Nov. 12th - PTO Meeting at 5:30 in the library

Nov. 14th - Blood Draw for Health Screenings before school for those signed up; Fundraiser delivered (lobby will be open until 6 for late pick-ups)

Nov. 20th - Progress reports due to the office; Philharmonic Performance (4th-6th grade) at 1:00 and (K-3rd grade) at 1:45

Nov. 21st - Progress reports issued; 2nd Grade Concert 6:30 Cafeteria

Nov. 21st-22nd - Section 125 representative, room 112

Nov. 22nd - Fundraiser money due

Nov. 25th - Acuity B (LA and Math) Window Opens

Nov. 26th - Going the Extra Mile Nominees due to the jar in the office.

Nov. 27th-29th - Thanksgiving Break


Dec. 4th - Acuity (Science/Social Studies) Window Opens

Dec. 5th - Staff Meeting 3:10 in library

Dec. 6th - Father/Daughter Dance 7:00-8:00pm

Dec. 9th-13th - 3rd Grade go swimming 9:00-10:00am

Dec. 10th - Acuity B (LA & Math); Window Closes PTO Meeting 5:30 in library

Dec. 16th - Leadership Meeting 3:10 in conference room

Dec. 17th - Acuity B (Science/Social Studies) Window Closes; Winter Program grades K-1, 6:30 pm

Dec. 19th - Fundraiser Prize Assembly 1:30 in gym

Dec. 20th - End of 1st Semester

Dec. 23rd-Jan 3rd - Winter Break

This Week's Case Conferences

11/5 at 7:20: Sibert and Kneller

11/7 at 7:30: Savage, Stoll, Kneller

11/8 at 4:00: Moore

Featured Instructional Strategy of the Week

Teaching Main Idea!

Build background knowledge without always pre-reading

Dr. Robert Marzano was one of the first educational researchers to cite the value in building background knowledge in learners. The data reveals that the more prior knowledge you have on a topic before reading about it, the better you would comprehend the new information about the topic.

For this reason, it has become commonplace in classrooms to execute a variety of pre-reading activities prior to reading a difficult text about an unfamiliar concept.

But now the authors of the ELA Common Core are encouraging teachers to "sharply curtail"

pre-reading activities to increase rigor and simulate real-world reading.

"Perhaps one of the mistakes in the past effort to improve reading achievement has been the removal of struggle. As a profession, we might have made reading tasks too easy" (Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading, D. Fisher, N. Frey, D. Lapp, p. 11).

The authors contend that such a "productive struggle" teaches students to persevere through complex text.

Expecting students to pre-read independently

Don't misunderstand. We should teach pre-reading skills to students, especially in the early elementary grades. However, at some point we need to expect them to execute these habits independently and proficiently.

Eventually, we should provide a text and give students 1-3 minutes to independently preview the text. They can skim the text features, note the boldface words, make initial connections, and develop predictions all on their own. This allows teachers to focus more on strategies to read the text and less on strategies to prepare to read the text.

Building background knowledge with alternative texts

So... We shouldn't conduct whole-class pre-reading activities? What about building background knowledge? There are a lot of ways to build background knowledge without actually previewing the complex text in question. For example:

  • Reveal photographs (or illustrations, diagrams, maps, or other visual texts) from outside the main text that provide necessary information/background on the topic. Whether it's through projected images from the Internet or printed stills, we can give students a visual to tuck into their backpacks of background knowledge.
  • Show related movie clips or website videos that will provide some necessary background knowledge.
  • Read a nonfiction picture book that depicts a single facet of the concept or defines essential vocabulary that will be referenced in the complex text. (A great resource for identifying picture books sorted by content-area and concept is Lester Laminack's Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum.)

Grasping the big picture

Consider collecting a combination of text types to be read before the main, complex one. This is the concept of building a text set. By doing this, you scaffold students' knowledge on an unfamiliar topic without pre-reading the complex text. (Not to mention that this text variety--visual, printed, digital, multimodal--has students reading more!)

The Common Core merely asserts that pre-reading alone is not an effective strategy for teaching kids to tackle complex texts. In fact, a regular diet of summarizing the text before reading can inadvertently ruin the reading experience for the students.

CCR.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Featured Video of the Week

In this video, Kristina Smekens does a book review for Fox by Margaret Wild. Great for inferring! (We have this book at North Side)


Character Counts Pillar of the Month

November: Citizenship