Power House Parent Newsletter

Welcome to 6th grade!

Power House Teachers

Power House is a two teacher house. Mrs. Challe teaches Communication Arts and Social Studies. She is starting the school on maternity leave. Mrs. Desautels is subbing for Mrs. Challe until early November. Mr. Rohde teaches Math and Science.

Power House Promise

We recently discussed the subject of house identity and what we want to stand for. We discussed what we can do to ensure that all students feel safe and comfortable in school, and what needs to be done so that everyone in the Power House can learn and be successful. Students sincerely shared so many big ideas in our brainstorms; it was wonderful. Below is the agreement all Power House students (and teachers) signed. Given the commitment students seemed to feel strongly about, we feel confident that we're going to have a great year!
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8th Hour Skills Development

Each student in Power House has an 8th hour class called Skills Development. You may be wondering what exactly this class entails. Thus far we have been doing several ice breaker and team building activities, as well as some housekeeping items. Since students have recently completed the Fall MAP assessment in math and reading, next week we are going to begin using this time as a way to individualize student instruction, meaning students are going to be getting math and reading instruction specifically at their instructional level. Students will be setting academic goals, and these goals will be monitored regularly. Khan Academy, Compass Learning, and Moby Max are some electronic tools that we will be using to help with this. When we begin using these tools we will share more information with you about each one. It's our hope that this personalized approach will result in increased growth and success for your child.

Power House Homework Philosophy

As teachers of Power House, we believe that homework (as in work that has to be done at home) isn't the best way to see if students are learning. We tell our students to expect to work hard at school. If they choose to do that, they should have little additional work to do at home, so don't be surprised if your child says he doesn't have any homework, especially if he/she has team study. You can expect that your child has a math assignment nearly every day, but our goal is to see our students completing that in Team Study, where we can help those who need it and allow students to help each other, as well. In the event that your child needs to work at home, there are resources available online to help. This CPM Homework Help link can be helpful with math homework. Keep in mind that your child's homework is his/her responsibility; while your support may be needed, please resist the urge to work harder than your child on school work.

On the subject of Reading--It's a simple fact that students who read daily develop strong reading, vocabulary, and writing skills. Reading at least 15 minutes per day is important. Students who struggle with reading should be reading books that are not above their reading levels; that's counterproductive. We'll help your child choose reading materials appropriate for them

Math fact practice--A child who has a solid grasp of basic math facts has an advantage in the classroom and is able to work more productively. There are lots of online websites with fun games to play while refreshing math computation skills, and there's always traditional flashcards if you don't have computer access at home.

Of course, if your child's been absent or doesn't make good use of time at school, you can expect to see work at home. You can check Skyward any time to see if your child is caught up or not. Click here for instructions for how to do that.

"Homework" Link

This document is updated daily with homework assigned and projects we are currently working on. Homework is always due the next day unless otherwise specified. If a student forgets what the assignments were for the day this a great resource for them. If your child is absent, this would be a great resource for them to see what they missed.

Fairness and Student Learning

One topic we feel strongly about is fairness. Our students all agreed that everyone in Power House should have an equal chance at success. In education, fairness does not mean that everyone gets the same treatment; it means that every student gets what he/she needs to be successful. Every student will not always have the exact same homework or test, but every student will be challenged to work up to his or her potential. We appreciate your trust in knowing that we will be fair with your child. If you ever feel that your child is not having his/her academic or emotional needs met, please let us know.

Using Google

We use Google products extensively. Google Apps work most efficiently on Google Chrome; a fast, free web browser for which Google has a free download. To avoid frustrations resulting from using other browsers, we recommend downloading Chrome (instead of using Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) when using the Google Apps on your home computer. Let us know if you have questions about this.


Curriculum: Power House has two regular ed teachers for core classes (math, science, social studies, and communication arts). What's unique about our house is that our approach to the curriculum is different. For example, although the schedule might read "Math" the work in that period will often be a combination of math and science. Communication Arts (reading and writing) will regularly cross over into social studies and science or vice-versa. This does not mean that our students will be learning different material than students in other houses; we just will be integrating the contents often and thereby engaging students in non-traditional ways. 8th hour is called Skills Development because that is a flexible period during which we will expand on a variety of lessons. Skyward doesn't know how to reflect this kind of flexibility, so we have to leave the grading system like it is but wanted to let you know that just because Skyward might read "science" a particular hour doesn't mean that's always what's going on that hour of the day.

Independent Learning: As teachers, we know that if we are doing all the talking and guiding of students, we are doing them a disservice. Power House students will be encouraged to explore and puzzle their way to solutions sometimes; this type of independent thinking is an important skill. We want to develop independent, confident learners who can explain their logic, because we know those skills are desired in today's world. Of course, every child is unique, and not everyone will be as ready as others for certain levels of independence; we'll work to meet every child where they are and take them as far as they can go!

The Growth Mindset: For generations, students (and teachers) have striven for "the right answers." Power House teachers wants students to value the process of learning as much as or more than getting "the" answer. If they get 100% of a math assignment correct but cannot explain how they got the answers, we've missed an important part of the learning process. A student who perseveres through a problem but solves it incorrectly (and learns from mistakes) will be celebrated for his/her efforts. We are going to spend some time teaching the students how the brain works and the importance of having a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. The poster below shares different ways of looking at the learning process.

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Time Management

Students in Power House will be challenged on a daily basis with activities/assignments designed to help them apply what they're learning and show what they know. In order to reinforce good time management skills, all work assigned will have due dates. If a student repeatedly turns in late work, we will work with him/her to help develop time management skills.

Because research shows that students who teach others learn more through that process, students who finish early will be invited to either take on additional individual practice or spend time supporting other students as they learn.


Speaking of time management, almost every Power House student has his/her locker combination down now! It obviously takes a while to get use to the new routines. Students who continue to struggle will have individualized support until they are feeling confident. From now on, though, students who are late will be marked tardy in Skyward. Too many tardies will result in a problem-solving meeting during recess and future success.


Although this year's Power House initiatives and policies are research-based, some practices are new to us; please bear with us as we embark on this adventure. We welcome your feedback and appreciate your support.

A great deal of Power House communication will be sent via email. We also have a Power House Facebook page, as well as a Power House Instagram and Twitter account. We will use these to share information about upcoming events, important house updates, heads-ups on bigger projects coming due, and also to share pictures that celebrate the learning that is taking place. Follow us on Twitter @PCMSPowerHouse and on Instagram at pcmspower.

This year, PCMS will be using Canvas, an online tool for communication between teachers, students, and (eventually) parents. It's kind of like an online binder. We are now in the beginning stages of using it, but will be using it much more 2nd quarter. Stay tuned!

If you need paper copies of information we share, please let us know.


We understand that there might be mornings where your son/daughter may not have time for breakfast at home. There may also be times when they have after-school activities and may not get home until later in the evening. Also, 6th graders eat last, 7th hour (12:43pm), and that may be a long time to wait for some students. Therefore, we are allowing students to bring in healthy snacks that they may eat in the morning during homeroom, during 5th or 6th hour, or during their Team Study, 9th hour. We also encourage your son/ daughter to bring a clear water bottle into all of their classes, so that they do not need to leave class to get a drink. Please note that the kitchen also serves breakfast each morning.

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to read this. We know you are busy this time of year. We are looking forward to a fantastic school year. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns.

Trish Challe (back in early November)



Lisa Desautels (here until early November)



Jonathan Rohde