Sipley School Weekly Newsletter

Week of September 29, 2014.

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Don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration I don't think you can go wrong.

Ella Fitzgerald

Parent Attendance at Curriculum Night

Thanks to the parents who came out to Curriculum Night. We were hoping for high attendance, however, our attendance was poor. We may have had about 25% of our parents attend this night. I spoke with other schools in D68. Their attendance was better. Some had their Curriculum Night earlier. Some had it the same week as ours. The format of the meetings (general meeting and two separate meetings) were similar. I want to seek ways to increase attendance at future Curriculum Nights.

Parent attendance at Curriculum Night is important in my opinion. A study shows that "Positive effects of parental involvement have been demonstrated at both the elementary and secondary levels across several studies, with the largest effects often occurring at the elementary level." Here is the study -

I will share my personal story related to parent involvement. I as principal and my wife as teacher drop everything we have to attend school meetings. Both of us attend every parent meeting that we are expected to attend (Curriculum Night, Conferences, and any school performances the kids are in). Like many of you who have been to every parent meeting, we are familiar with the routine. We go for two reasons. 1) It gives us some familiarity with the teacher and what to expect so that we can support the teacher from home. We learn how to communicate with the teacher. 2) It sends a message to our children that we are involved in their school and their schooling is important to us.

I am going to review how we communicated the event and improve any area of communication. We are going to make it clear that children can attend this event. If you have any further input that will help us improve attendance, please share with me by e-mailing me at Thanks in advance.

Teaching, Learning, and Parenting Under the Umbrella of Educational Reform

Educational reform has required all stakeholders to make adjustments. The newer standards are designed to build upon the most advanced thinking about preparing all students for success in college, career, and life. Check out Facts vs. Myths from Common Core State Standards. As a result of this most recent reform, textbooks and curriculum guides have been written to align to the new standards. New assessments have been developed (PARCC). Teachers are being trained to teach in new ways. In many cases standards are being introduced to students earlier than they have in the past. The standards are more in depth, requiring students and teachers to go deeper into their understanding of subject matter. This has caused students to adjust the way they approach learning and it has altered the manner in which they work in classrooms. All of this change has left parents in somewhat of a lurch. Schooling doesn't look like it did when we went to school. The ways in which students are graded is changing in many districts. All of this change is hard and sometimes worrisome for parents as we (as parents) may feel disconnected. This may require us to take time to gain more information about teaching and learning happening in our school.

Here are a few suggestions to help ease that feeling.

  1. Talk to your child's teacher. If you feel that you don't have the information to help your child or if you do not know what they are learning, ask your child's teacher.
  2. Take time to look at assessments children will be taking. After all, the assessments are tied to the standards from which teachers teach. Teaching and learning then prepares students for success on those assessments. This may give you insights to what children are learning and why they are learning what they are being taught. Click on the web link and then go to "Practice Tests."
  3. Take time to view the math curriculum guide online. Click here to access the online math curriculum guide. Click on "math" under the departments tab, then click on the grade you want to review. Here you will find what students should be learning. For example, grade three is learning how to measure weight and liquid volume in metric units.
  4. When your child comes home and tells you, "That is not how my teacher is teaching us" offer them another way of doing math. Teach them your way. We want to stress the importance of learning multiple ways to come to a solution, not just one way. With that same thought, when they say that, tell them to share with you how they are being taught. If they are clear in their thinking and explanation, you can learn a new way of doing math. When fourth graders get into doing multiplication using area models, we will want them to use that model, as another way of doing multiplication. Using an area model doesn't mean that is how they will multiply later in life. They will use the most efficient manner to multiply. For now, using an area model can help them in their understanding of multiplication.

Please know this - We are striving to ensure that all students grow socially and academically. Our goal is to support that foundation of learning that places all children on a path toward college and career readiness. We know that the jobs that they will occupy may be jobs that do not exist today. So, we want them to be prepared to think critically, to be able to work successfully with others, to be able to communicate clearly, and to have the reading and math skills necessary for whatever lies in their future.

Lucy Calkins Writing Curriculum

Our District has launched a new writing program! Our students in grades 1 - 6 have 60 minutes of writing each day. Students in kindergarten are working up to 45 minutes of writing each day. So what does this look like? Open the following link and scroll down to your child's grade level and read the overview along with what Unit 1 looks like as all students are in unit 1.

Grades K - 5 -

Grade 6 + A Great Overview of all grade levels -

Here is a link for parents to view the entire program. If you scroll down there are links to all grade levels.

One thing that stands out is a great continuum of writing from kindergarten to 8th grade, which is great for our students. If there are any questions about writing, please contact your child's teacher.

Here is a Glance at the Week Ahead

Monday - Picture Day - Dress Your Best!

Monday - Board of Ed. Meeting - JJHS at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday - After School Programming Begins

No School on Monday, October 13

October 14 - 15 - Vision and Hearing Screenings

October 16 - Fun Run

October 16 - Robert Crown Parent Meeting (grade 5) at Murphy School at 6:30 p.m. Information is coming

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