Sipley School Weekly Newsletter

Week of January 11, 2016

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.

Japanese Proverb

Schoolwide Updates Shared with Students

I met with students in grades two through six to welcome them back from the break and shared some things I did over break to connect with them on a more personal level. I also shared with them, and now sharing with you, some areas of focus as we enter the second half of the school year. Our students have many strengths. Overall, they are very good children who work hard and are respectful to their classmates and our staff. They follow our school-wide expectations. I believe that our diversity adds to the overall positive culture and climate of our school. I am a very proud principal. There are some areas that we need to improve upon as a school as we work towards raising individual student growth and progress toward college and career readiness.

Overall, we need to make sure that the independent reading assigned as homework each night, is being done. I am leaving it up to teachers as to how they validate or gain evidence of student reading. That can come in the form of tracking Accelerated Reader's Average Engaged Minutes, a reading log initialed by a parent, conferring or talking with students about what they are reading, a short response related to what they are reading, a task, etc. I have seen the growth that students who read often make compared to the growth that students who do not read often make. The difference is significant as readers build vocabulary, fluency, and background knowledge, which are all important and beneficial. I am asking teachers to hold students accountable for their reading. Accountability is not limited to Accelerated Reader. Please make sure that students are reading each night or that you are reading with your child for our emerging readers in kindergarten and first grade. If we work together on this, all of our students will grow.

We are focusing more on math facts. One of the shifts in the Common Core Standards is related to procedural skills and fluency. The standards call for speed and accuracy in calculation. Student must practice core functions, such as single-digit multiplication, in order to have access to more complex concepts and procedures. Fluency must be addressed in the classroom or through supporting materials, as some students might require more practice than others.

Each grade has fluency goals based on the Common Core Standards and District Expectations that we are going to focus on:

Kindergarten - Add/subtract within 5

First - Add/subtract within 10

Second - Add/subtract within 20 (memorization) and add/subtract within 100 (pencil and paper)

Third - Multiply/divide within 100 (memorization) and add/subtract within 1,000 (More practice subtracting over zero's is needed - such as 709 - 438).

Fourth - Add/subtract within 1,000,000 (many students are struggling when subtracting over zero's - such as, 340,087-125,645).

Fifth - Multi‐digit multiplication

Sixth - Multi‐digit division and Multi‐digit decimal operations

Our students must have mastery of these concepts. We currently see a schoolwide gap in this area that we need to improve upon.

Our theory of action is that IF we identify students’ mathematical fluency deficiencies based on their fluency assessments then students will receive differentiated support for their deficiencies and we will see this result in increased fluency on their math fluency assessment taken each quarter.

Our math fact fluency assessments can be found online at

We will work with students in small groups to focus on needs specific to the students, such that 100% of our students leave their grade with mastery and memorization of their math facts. This will accelerate learning time in later grades as remediation of skills will no longer be needed and we should see greater growth on unit math assessments, STAR Math, and PARCC. Small group math work will begin on January 25. There will be a 20 minute session each day for students in grades 1 and 2 and a thirty minute session for students in grades 3 through 6. Our work will go well beyond rote learning and will help students decompose numbers, split numbers, and work with tens. Gone are Math Facts in a Flash, Rocket Math, Xtramath, and other online computer tools that basically rely on practice. We want to develop math thinkers and use our time differently. Those programs may be used to check for understanding and to practice, but will not be used extensively in the classroom. Here is a video that will give you a small glimpse of how we will build number sense with students -

Parents, you can help by ensuring students are doing any math fact work assigned as homework. I thank you in advance.

Student behavior is a key piece to our overall school environment. Following expectations will lead to greater time on task and improved teaching and learning along with the overall emotional well-being of all our stakeholders. Our goal is to make expectations clear to students and to help them learn from poor choices when they are made. The final area I am asking of teachers is that we improve our consistency and follow-through when we identify poor behaviors that should result in time in my office. Our students are aware of the classroom and school expectations. I provided staff with situations when I want to see students to discuss behaviors versus them handled in the classroom. These behaviors consist of but are not limited to, continued non-compliance (not following the directions of a teacher or staff member), any use of profanity, any physical altercation while on campus, any disrespect toward a student or a staff member, theft, or any sort of bullying or harassment. I want to remove any investigatory work associated with those more major issues and take care of that for teachers in an effort to optimize the work done in classrooms. Teachers are being asked to complete an office discipline referral form when they send a child to my office. If a child is sent to my office, I will contact the parent (e-mail or phone, depending on the severity) and assign a consequence to the student.

So in recap, I brought to the forefront, a greater focus on independent reading, which is assigned as homework and something that all students should have been doing this year, the focus on math fact fluency and how will we work to improve this area, and the importance of handling behaviors in a consistent manner.

Sipley School is Getting a New Playground!

The Woodridge Park District has a rotational cycle where each community park is renewed over time and we are up for renewal. The playground is funded by the Woodridge Park District and provides schools with the opportunity to collect funds to improve any portion of the playground, specific to their desires. At our next STP meeting, the STP will determine if any fundraising should go toward enhancements to the future playground.

The playground will be installed this upcoming summer. Our swings that are fairly new will remain.

We will put together a Playground Committee that will consist of some staff, our student council, and STP Board Members. The meeting will take place on March 10, at 2:00. This committee will be presented with information and review options to gain feedback. Based on the feedback, the Woodridge Park District will offer several choices, which I am hoping we can bring to a vote via Survey Monkey where we can gain the vote of the students, staff, parents, and community members.

One way to reduce costs, use money to enhance the future playground, and to bring our community together is by doing the demolition of the existing playground ourselves. I am going to commit to this where we bring volunteers in on a Saturday, likely in June. More information will follow on this.

Great news for the Sipley community!

Gifted Programming - Nominations are Due

Completed nominations must be received in the school office or postmarked no later than Friday, January 29, 2016.

Here is a link for additional information -

Dates to Remember

Monday, January 11 - School Board meeting at JJHS at 7:30

Monday, January 11 - ACCESS testing begins for English Language Learners (State Test)

Tuesday, January 12 - January 22 - STAR Testing

Thursday, January 14 - January 15 - AIMSweb Testing

Monday, January 18 - No School - MLK Jr. Birthday

Tuesday, January 19 - We will follow a Monday schedule

Tuesday, January 19 - New D.E.B. Groupings Begins

Tuesday, January 19 - After School Programming for session 2 begins. Information will go out for students in grades 3 - 6. Clubs will consist of S.T.E.M., photography, and a really cool math club that uses exploration to learn and enjoy math.

Wednesday, January 20 - STP Meeting at Sipley - 6:45

Thursday, January 21 - STP Assembly - Magician

Friday, January 22 - End of Quarter 2

Monday, January 25 - Math Groupings will begin focusing on small group math fact fluency

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