North Side Paw Prints

Staff Newsletter

September 20, 2013

Volume 5, Issue 6

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 Cherri and Denise for Going the Extra Mile this Month!

Quote of the Week:

"A student needs to be loved the most when he deserves to be loved the least."

~ Author unknown

Weekly Reflection

How do you plan your instruction to meet the needs of all students? Are you meeting with small groups of students as the teacher in the classroom after whole group instruction to meet the needs of all learners?

Upcoming Dates


  • Sept. 23rd - School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library, Acuity Testing Window Opens for ELA and Math, Mclass Math window opens; Leadership Meeting 3:10
  • Sept. 24 - Picture Day; CPR Class offered at North Side
  • Sept. 25th - Fundraiser Kickoff
  • Sept. 27th - PD Day 1/2 Day;
  • Sept. 30th - School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library


Oct. 2nd - 6th Grade to Biztown

Oct. 3rd - Staff Meeting In Library 3:10

Oct. 4th - Acuity Window Closes

Oct. 7th - School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library

Oct. 8th - PTO Meeting in Library 5:30

October 9th - Fundraiser Ends; Mclass Math Window Closes

Oct. 14th - School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library

October 17th - End of 1st Nine Weeks; 3rd Grade Focus on Health at South Side

October 18th - No School (Fall Break)

October 21-22nd - No School (Fall Break)

October 23rd - Report cards due to the office

October 24th - Report cards issued

October 28th -School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library; Leadership Meeting 3:10 in conference room

October 29th - Parent/Teacher Conferences 3:00-7:30

October 30th - Parent/Teacher Conferences 3:00-6:00

This Week's Case Conferences

9-25 at 3:00: Johanson and Moore

9-25 at 3:30: Stoll and Morr

Featured Video of the Week

"Do not spell words for kids during writing time because when you do you are feeding what Ralph Fletcher calls the Writer's Welfare System." Kristina Smekens explains strategies for building independent spellers.

Building Independent Spellers

Featured Instructional Strategy of the Week

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Teach constructed-response writing explicitly

All the work you do to teach students to read independently and comprehend proficiently is ultimately assessed in the form of a constructed reading response. This brief writing assesses the level of a student's thinking about the reading and his ability to support his conclusions with text-based evidence.

Don't have formulaphobia
Constructed responses (CR) have their own unique formula that requires explicit instruction. The nature of "constructing" something implies that it is carefully and deliberately put together. This is true of a CR, too. Within 2-4 sentences, students must provide essential information. Providing students with an organized approach can aid students in writing stronger responses that demonstrate deeper thinking. A formula not only ensures the essential components are included, but also that they are communicated succinctly and concisely.

STEP 1: Understand the prompt.
Before students can successfully write a constructed-response, they need to know how the prompts work. Most constructed-response prompts include three basic parts. It's important to help students understand how to break down the 3 components of a constructed-response prompt.

  1. Background knowledge: Typically the first sentence establishes a little context or offers a quick reminder of the passage.
  2. Petition: Each prompt includes a task or request for the reader to accomplish. Usually written as a command, this is where students identify what they must do to complete this required element. Look for words like explain, analyze, compare, etc.
  3. Proof: The last sentence in the prompt often specifies that students must include details from the text. This requires students to find multiple text-based evidence to support their answer to the petition or task required.

STEP 2: Restate the question.

Students need to know that the scorers only read what is written/typed. They don't read the original prompt. Thus, constructed responses have to make sense all by themselves. Teach students to restate the question by rearranging the words in the original prompt. Model how to do this; then invite students to participate orally.

TIP: Require that students avoid pronouns in their responses. Use specific nouns, rather than he, she, it, etc. This helps bring context to the response when the scorer is assessing it.

STEP 3: Provide a general answer.

The first sentence should include a restatement of the prompt and a general answer with no details. This sentence serves as a topic sentence to the specific details and examples that will follow. (Students often give too many details in their opening sentence. When they do that, there is nowhere for their thinking to go. Encourage them to slow down.)

TIP: After introducing the concept of a general or broad answer, then outlaw the use of "because" in any first sentence of a CR. If students include "because," they will likely reveal details that should be saved for the supporting sentences.

Click here to read the entire article, including Steps 4-7.

CCR.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Character Counts Pillar of the Month

September: Responsibility