Staff Weekly Update

For the Week of March 21st, 2016

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Such truth and wisdom from Kid President! HAPPY SPRING!!!! Sunday 3/20 was our first official day of Spring and while the weather was a bit on the chilly side, it was still so nice to see the sun and a few daffodils start to bloom.

Spring break is just four instructional days away! I hope that whatever your plans may be, staycation or out of town, that you ALL get lots of rest and recharge! This last part of the year moves at a very frenzied pace.

Since Thursday 3/24 will be our last day of the week, please feel free to wear jeans on this date, since we won't be at school on Friday. Let's make these next four days FANTASTIC!!

*UPDATE* - Buddy Bench

Sam Parker (see picture below) was at SGE on Friday afternoon to meet with Martha and me about the Buddy Bench. He will be working on it all summer long and it will be ready by the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

What an impressive young man! He was very prepared for our first official meeting. Below are the details that was fully prepared to share:

  • It will be approximately 5 feet long
  • It will be a wood grain + Zionsville green pattern
  • It will be secured into the ground for permanent placement
  • It will be sealed and coated with a special treatment to ensure there will be NO splintering, paint will not fade, any "graffiti" can be easily removed. This special treatment will allow for the bench to be about 99% maintenance free for years to come!
  • "Stonegate Elementary Buddy Bench" will be clearly engraved on it

We showed him the location of where we would like it (see picture below) and we also asked if he could please engrave his name + date of creation on the bench as well so that we can remember him for years to come. He was hesitant at first . . . but then he humbly agreed!

SPECIAL THANKS TO ALLISON SPILLMAN & MARTHA FARLEY! About a year ago, Allison had heard about this idea and brought it to me. From there, Martha got involved with Allison and, voila! Here we are! What a great way to start our year off next year!

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New Favorite Office Product: Frixion by Pilot

As you are all working on your supply order (or if you're just naturally in love with office products, like I am!), I just had to share out my newest favorite office product!

FriXion by Pilot is their newest line of ERASABLE GEL PENS, MARKERS, AND HIGHLIGHTERS!

Sounds great . . . but do they work??? I ordered the gel pens from Amazon and I AM OBSESSED! They are amazing!!! They don't erase like the "stick-gooey erasable ink pens." Instead, they rub off to be about 99% invisible. As for the markers and highlighters, the reviews from Amazon have been good, but I personally do not have them (yet). The markers have gotten better reviews than the highlighters. They use a special eraser and apparently, it is the "friction" (hence the name) or the heat that is caused by the rubbing that helps to erase the gel pens, markers, and highlighters. And as I have just typed this last sentence out I cannot believe how nerdy I must sound right now over office products. Geesh! #SGEprincipalneedstogetalife

If you want to test out the gel pens come on to my office and I'll be happy to loan out one of mine!

Last but not least, I just can't stop thinking of all of the uses you could get in your classroom + students for these products! It would be great for Writer's Workshop editing, changing around appointments with ease on a paper calendar, running records, used for final copies of stories and/or illustrations, etc . . . .

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thank you breakfast this Thursday, March 24th for our *wonderful* Cafe Staff, Custodians, and School Bus Drivers!

Friendly Reminder: An Evening with Jacqueline Woodson . . .

On the heels of our Kindness Concert, I found out that Jacqueline Woodson (author of Each Kindness and many other beautiful books) will be speaking at Northview Middle School auditorium on Friday, April 15th @ 7:00PM. This is *FREE* event.

If anyone is interested in attending, please let me know! I'd love some company with me and then getting a bite to eat in the Traders Point area afterwards would also be fun!

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Family Science Night - Your help needed!

Friends, just a friendly reminder that on Wednesday, April 13th, we have our annual Family Science Night! Ryan is in need of more staff volunteers in order to make this school-wide event.

If you are interested but weren't able to attend last Friday morning's meeting, PLEASE reach out to him.

Emails with future meeting dates will be sent out again soon! THANK YOU!

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If you can believe it . . . it's time to start thinking about this event! Here are the details:

  • SGE KDG Round Up date is: Thursday, April 7th (it's much earlier this year)
  • Rooms used will be the gym + the music room
  • Music on this date will be held in room 127
  • NO staff meeting on this date . . . NEW date for staff meeting will be Thursday, April 28th. Please mark your calendars accordingly!
  • Also, our MAY staff meeting will be changed to Friday, May 27th - Teacher Record Day
  • Our format for this date will be the same as last year.
  • You will ALL get the full details once they have been finalized - just in case parents as you questions about it.
  • Soon, you will all get a blurb to copy/paste and also place in your parent communication newsletters. As soon as we get the information + sign-up link ready for the Friday Flyer, we will also send out to teachers, too. Thanks!


Vocabulary knowledge is one of the best predictors of reading comprehension, as well as reading performance in general and school achievement. (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002, 2008)

As we think about teaching vocabulary, it is important to keep in mind that according to Kamil and Heibert (2005), there are four types of vocabulary:

  • Oral- the words we understand when we communicate orally or when someone reads aloud to us
  • Print- words we know when we read or write
  • Receptive- words we understand when we listen or read
  • Productive- words we use when speaking or writing

Words in receptive vocabulary tend to be “less well known” and “less frequently in use” when compared to productive vocabulary. Words used when speaking or writing, on the other hand, then to be “well known, familiar, and used frequently”. Receptive vocabulary is larger overall that productive vocabulary and plays an important role when children learn to read.

Sophisticated Word Use and Word Consciousness

Children learn an enormous amount of words each year, between 3,000 and 4,000 (Graves & Watts-Taffe, 2002). Word Consciousness involves being aware and interested in words and word meanings. Helping students become word conscious is crucial for vocabulary teaching across grade levels.

One way teachers can help build word consciousness is taking advantage of incidental vocabulary learning, which has been identified as a main cause of vocabulary growth in children. (It is important to note that it is necessary but not sufficient for the vocabulary learning that occurs in school. It needs to be accompanied by explicit, extended instruction over time.) These incidental learnings can occur through modeling sophisticated vocabulary. This takes place when a teacher frequently models sophisticated labels for familiar concepts.

To use the strategy of modeling sophisticated vocabulary, teachers should do the following:

  • first need to choose carefully which words to introduce. Think about your school day and classroom routines and curriculum, and the words associated with those things.
  • Then select more sophisticated substitutes for those words, starting with the most familiar concepts first.
  • For instance, instead of saying, “I am looking for a person who can help me pass out these papers,” you could instead say, “I am searching for a volunteer to help me distribute these materials.”
  • Teachers can model sophisticated substitutions for words like “nice” and “happy” when referring to students. With younger students, new words can be introduced explicitly, asking students to pronounce the word as well. Older students can take more responsibility for using sophisticated words on their own. After repeated modeling, these words become routinely used by students in various classroom activities.

Even though we work with children, we do not have to use simplistic language with them (baby talk or immature language). Once students develop a basic understanding of a new concept, it is time to elevate our instructional language to enhance our students’ vocabularies. To help you with that, I have attached a sheet with some sophisticated word lists to use with classroom routines, behavior, and content area. To read some further research on this topic, check out this article.

7-Day Forecast: Spring Is Becoming More and More Prevalent!

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Tornado Drill on Tuesday, March 22nd! . . . details will come out in an email but in the meantime, PLEASE double check where your class goes for this drill. Some teachers were given *NEW* spots from our last practice!

We will also have a FIRE DRILL this week! :-)

Wednesday, March 23 . . . students will be eating on the cafe FLOOR due to the Drama Club's Spring Play!

Here are our beautiful birthday friends for March 2016!

*If you are NEW and we do not have your birthdate, please email Alison so we can recognize you on your special day! Thank you!*


17th - Vicki Watson

2015-2016 Lifelines

August - Cooperation

September - Respect

October - Flexibility

November - Gratitude

December - Generosity

January - Responsibility

February - Friendship

March - Perseverance

April - Self-Control

May - Integrity


Great tweet sent out by Matt Doublestein today! His tweet links you to a pin on Pinterest that describes Tootling. Check it out and try it out! Let me know what you think!

  • Tootling is when students write a positive note about their classmates or teacher and stick it up on our tootling board. They love doing it, and it helps promote a cohesive classroom community!

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