Fiske Monthly News

October 2016


Welcome to the home of the Fiske monthly news! We feature great news and updates by grade level and specialist teachers to help keep you informed about what our students are learning. Enjoy your reading!
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News from The Principal

Growth Mindset and Praise/Feedback:

Over the past couple of years, much research has been done around growth mindset (believing that the mind and learning are not “fixed”) and feedback. Staff at Fiske, on several occasions, have talked about how to provide feedback to students that will promote a growth mindset and new learning.

While positive intent is generally at the root of feedback for students, it can inadvertently diminish students’ ability to learn by creating and promoting a “fixed mindset”. I’m sharing a short and informative video here in my newsletter piece so that parents and the greater school community can hear the same message staff have heard and better know how to provide students with the most meaningful feedback that will help promote learning and a growth mindset. Our combined efforts in this area will support all of our students and their continued success!

Carol Dweck - A Study on Praise and Mindsets
Fiske Focus: A Monthly Parent Forum

Over the past several years, I have tried several forums for providing information for the greater school community on a variety of topics. My goal has been to be proactive in sharing information about our work at Fiske so that the school community is informed and also so that there is not potentially misinformation that is shared either. It is also a great way to share information to larger groups as opposed to one on one meetings, which I am never opposed to, but may not always be the most efficient in regards to time.

This year, I will be holding "Fiske Focus" meetings once per month from 8:45am to 9:45am. In the past, day meetings were better attended than night, and therefore, I've only scheduled meetings for days during the current school year.

Dates and Topics for Parent Fiske Focus Sessions:

September 30, 2016 8:45-9:45 PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports)

October 21, 2016 8:45-9:45 Readers and Writers Workshop

November 18, 2016 8:45-9:45 WIN (What I Need) time - Intervention

December 16, 2016 8:45-9:45 MCAS

January 20, 2017 8:45-9:45 Handwriting

February 17, 2017 8:45-9:45 Modular Classrooms/Space at Fiske

March 17, 2017 8:45-9:45 Student Placement

April 14, 2017 8:45-9:45 TBD

May 19, 2017 8:45-9:45 TBD

June 9, 2017 8:45-9:45 TBD

Each meeting will have a topic or focus that will be shared ahead of time, and time will be devoted to share information about that topic and then a time will be available for questions, comments, or other items that attendees may have questions about.

News from the Assistant Principal

Welcome back! I hope you children have enjoyed their first month of school!

To those families that are new to Fiske, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Brian Baker and I am the Assistant Principal of Fiske School. I am happy and fortunate, once again, to have been given the opportunity to work with the parents, students and staff of Fiske Elementary School, where great things are happening. I look forward to watching the success of the students as they are challenged to reach their full academic potential. Hopefully, this is done with many smiling faces!

I know that parents play a very important role in the education of their children, and without your support, academic achievement would not be possible. Parent support comes in many different ways, and it is greatly appreciated:

  • Making sure that your child attends school everyday

  • Making sure your child is on time – school begins promptly at 8:30

  • Making sure homework is completed and returned to school each day

  • Attending scheduled conferences

  • Making sure your child has a nutritious breakfast and a healthy snack

  • Following all school rules in and outside of the building

Parents want what is best for their children, and the staff at Fiske Elementary, myself included, are committed to giving the very best. I am proud to be a part of a staff that has made a great commitment to education. If I can be of any assistance or if you should have any questions please do not hesitate to stop by my office or give me a call. I look forward to getting to know each of you and to continue my work with you and the students.


Brian Baker

Assistant Principal

Kindergarten News

September was an exciting month in Kindergarten! The children transitioned well into their new school and classrooms. We have been focusing on classroom routines and getting to know one another. Building strong, trusting relationships and communicating classroom expectations are crucial during the first few weeks of school.

We place a tremendous emphasis on social and emotional growth in Kindergarten. We hope to create an environment in which every child feels safe, connected and important. Each class has created Classroom Promises/ Expectations together. Every child and teacher contributed his or her ideas. We are developing common language as we teach and reinforce social skills.

The children are learning about each other through the question of the day, Discovery Workshop, birthday celebrations, and eventually Important Person weeks. We look forward to a wonderful school year!

Grade One News

Welcome Fall!

Writing Workshop

The first graders are working on writing Small Moment Stories and focusing or “zooming in” to a seed story, not a watermelon or a chunk. So instead of writing about a whole trip to Disney, or the day at Disney, they are zooming in on one small moment from the trip, maybe a ride on Space Mountain! The collages that you all made and sent in have been extremely helpful! In the next few weeks, if you happen across a great “small moment”, it would be great to encourage your child to write about it during Writing Workshop! We have begun using writing partners to help us add details to our stories too! This an exciting new idea during our workshop time!

Reading Workshop

We are now working on independently “shopping” for just right books for our browsing boxes/reading bags. The children are practicing and are able to switch on their own or with a little assistance at this point. We are also working on buddy reading which we all learned a fun new song for! The children sound great singing it and it helps us transition from independent reading to buddy reading. We are also working on Habits of Good Readers and what good readers do. Ask your child some things that good readers do. I am sure you will be impressed with all they know.


We have been focusing on handwriting as a whole school during our WIN time. The children are enjoying using common language for letter formation and practicing their handwriting each day!


We have begun our Light and Shadows unit. This unit is an inquiry based unit where the students are given ample time exploring and figuring out the whys to their questions. We have talked about light sources and what an object would have to do in order to be a light source. We have named countless light sources. We are beginning to explore with how light travels and shadows too.


Much of our math work this unit is based on counting. We have lots of different stations that practice counting like Make a Train Race and Build a City. We have also talked about more and less with numbers as well as changing a number and describing those changes. We will wrap up our first unit shortly and move on to unit 2.

Grade Two News

The Second Grade teachers would like to welcome everyone back to school. We hope you enjoyed your summer vacation and had some time to rest and relax with your families.

Second Graders are already hard at work. They have been learning second grade rules and expectations. They have been getting to know their classmates and teachers as well!

In Writer’s Workshop, students are beginning to write narrative stories. They are using “Tiny Topic Notebooks” to brainstorm ideas on their writing. They will be using many writing strategies throughout the unit that we cannot wait to share with you!

Reader’s Workshop is underway with reading books at their “Just Right” level. We are already building reading stamina and learning many reading strategies.

Students are reviewing math games from first grade and building on their prior knowledge.

In Social Studies, students have begun “Mapping Skills” with learning about their immediate surroundings, their neighborhoods, town, state, country, continent and world. This will help them as they learn about the continents and other countries, like Ghana and India.

We will have our Second Grade Big Backyard walk hopefully in the upcoming weeks. The focus is on Soils and this will segway into our Soils unit for Science.

We enjoyed meeting all the Second Grade parents at the Fiske Back to School Night!

Grade Three News


This year started with a “Week of Inspirational Math,” a math approach (developed at Stanford University) that encourages a “growth mindset,” the idea that we can all learn math to the highest levels. Through these lessons the children learn that mistakes are valuable and help us learn, and that math is about creativity and making sense. You can learn more about Math and Mindset during Math Night on October 6th from 6:30-7:30.

Currently, we are in the midst of our first math unit: Routines, Numbers, Time and Money. Most of this unit is a review of what the children learned in second grade. Additionally, the children are learning the Open Number Line method for solving two and three digit subtraction problems. This method provides a structure that emphasizes understanding of number and place value. Please view the video below to see how this method is being taught:

Readers’ Workshop

During Readers’ Workshop we have been focusing on management and routines for independent reading. We have also been learning and discussing making good book choices, thinking and talking about your reading, abandoning books, different types of fiction and non-fiction, expectations and management of the Readers’ Notebooks, and thinking and writing about your reading. Reading is thinking!

Writer’s Workshop

The children have been introduced to their Writer’s Notebooks and have quickly become accustomed to the routines and expectations during Writers’ Workshop. We have been doing writing exercises to help them develop greater writing fluency. They have also been generating topic ideas for our first writing unit of study: Personal Narratives. Please ask them about their 1) Ideas from the heart; 2) map of a special place; and 3) list of important people. Hopefully, they will share many topic ideas with you!


The children have been introduced to their Scientists’ Notebooks where they will document their scientific observations and thinking throughout the year. We will be conducting experiments, reading books and learning what good scientists do.

Our first unit is Water and Weather. The children will learn about the water cycle, and how the weather conditions where we live affects how we live.

Thank you for a great beginning to our school year!

Grade Four News

Our fabulous Fiske fourth graders have settled into the new school year nicely and have been busy learning!

Reading is thinking, and fourth graders know that tuning into their thinking is really important as they read and develop their reading identities. They’ve been making predictions, connections, inferences, and asking questions as they go. The students are developing strategies to support their reading (and thinking!) as they encounter challenges in text.

Fourth grade is an important year for writing, and the students have revisited personal narratives as a way to launch Writer’s Workshop and build writing stamina. The students have discussed strategies for generating ideas and elevating the level of their narrative writing. Soon, we will delve into the genre of realistic fiction. Using the skills we have honed in our personal narrative writing sessions, the students will strive to apply these skills in the challenging genre of realistic fiction.

We kicked off math with a week of inspirational lessons focused on developing the concept of a Growth Mindset. The students worked collaboratively as a grade with our Math Specialist extraordinaire, Mrs. Rawding, to become creative problem solvers. Following this week of learning, we have been working on the concept of place value in large multi-digit numbers and addition and subtraction algorithms. Students have practiced expanded notation, rounding, and comparing numbers up to the millions. In addition, students organized and interpreted data using a line plot. Our upcoming unit will focus on multiplication. A major goal for fourth graders is to develop the automaticity of basic multiplication facts 0 to 12 by the end of the year. Any additional support our fourth grade families could provide at home would be extremely beneficial and very much appreciated.

In science, the students are focusing on animal adaptations following our exploration of the Lexington Reservoir. Our fourth graders will be learning about physical and behavioral adaptations and how these changes ensure the survival of their species.

In social studies the students discovered that there is so much more to the subject than just history and a study of the past. Through an artifact analysis, students learned that social scientists include geographers, political scientists, historians and economists. We are excited to launch our immigration unit. Any information you can share regarding your family history with your child will help them form personal connections during this unit of study.

Stay tuned for future updates on our fabulous fourth graders!

Grade Five News

Fifth grade is off to a fantastic start! The students are doing a fabulous job serving as the role models of Fiske School by showing respect, responsibility and best effort. They have stepped up to new privileges around the school and are doing a great job.

We kicked off math this year with a week of Inspirational Math. The students dove into math tasks that examined patterns and participated in rich conversation highlighting the connections and creativity found in math. We are currently wrapping up the next unit, Number Theory. We have modeled multiplication using arrays and even explored some square numbers and square roots.

In Social Studies, we have been studying the United States Constitution. We used this powerful document as a exemplar to develop our own classroom constitutions.

In reading we are developing our reader’s workshop and learning how to choose just right books and take care of our classroom library. We are working on developing good reading habits and reviewing the elements of reading. The MCBA books are coming soon. Students will get to read and write reviews for new books.

In writing we are working on our narrative unit, working hard to tell a small moment story using a storytellers voice to show what happened instead of telling the story like a news reporter would. We will continue to look for small moment stories as we live like writers.

We are all very excited about our upcoming 5th grade trip to Thompson Island in Boston Harbor. We leave on Thursday morning and return Friday evening.

Specialist News

Counseling News

A heartfelt welcome to those both new and returning to the Fiske community. We hope your child’s first month at school was a great success! We wanted to share with you some of the support programs available to you and your child to help create a positive and successful school year.

For those of you not familiar with the counseling program at Fiske, it consists of a variety of services and activities, including:

•Individual sessions to help students adjust to school.

•Groups to help children learn how to get along with each other better.

•Parent and teacher consultation.

•Workshops for parents to share and learn ways to assist children in reaching their highest potential.

•Classroom lessons to help children develop social competencies.

•Information and referral assistance to other programs and services in the community.

We had the opportunity to welcome all the new students in first-fifth grade personally. Your child was given an opportunity to meet other new children, share any questions they may have and meet some more friendly faces who can help at Fiske.

This year, we are very fortunate to have two interns joining the counseling team, Chloe Wheaton and Ojeny Kavlakian. Please help us to welcome them to Fiske. We are very excited that our department keeps growing and hope to utilize Chloe and Ojeny's skills to offer more support to our students, teacher and to all of you.

We look forward to another wonderful year and, most especially, getting to know your children. If you have any questions or wish to meet with either of us about your child please call or email:

Lysa Pirone-School Counselor 781-541-5020

Kerrie Donnelly Social Worker 781-541-5001 Ext. 3212

Art News

Welcome Back! We hope you had a great and relaxing summer with your families.

We have so many exciting projects slated for this coming year! All students have been working on posters that represent peace. Some of these will be printed to postcard size, and then sent out by mail, as an act of peace. This community project shows the students’ insights of world peace. Please check out all the amazing work by our talented students throughout the school.

A reminder to all students, please keep an old paint shirt in your classroom cubbies for those really messy art days. We usually will let each classroom teacher know when those days will be. Please ask your child (ren) what they did in art; often projects are carried over for a few weeks.

To 4th and 5th grade students, this year we decided to make the sketchbook class work or free time work. Students will take them to and from art. We hope students will actually look at what it is you are drawing. We think it is important for them to draw by observing objects. Parents, please take the time to view your child’s sketches, if they decided to bring them home.


Volunteers are always welcome, especially in the grades K-2. Please have your child ask for a volunteer form to take home.

Continue to be good recyclers! We also use other recycled materials like: clear egg cartons, 16oz. yogurt containers, plastic coffee containers, foil-type containers with peel off labels, yarn, ribbon, discontinued wallpaper books, empty spray bottles, magazines, paper and plastic bags and paper towel tubes.

Also feel free to email:

For Mrs. Gobiel’s class:

It was great to meet you all at Back-to-School Night!

Thank you and warmest regards,

Mrs. T. O’Leary and Ms. O’Connor

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ELL News

Welcome to all of our returning families and to our new families in the ELL Program! Fiske is fortunate to have a wide variety of cultures represented in our community. We have new families from Japan, China, Brazil, Russia, Portugal, and Spain. We look forward to having your children in our classes which offer dynamic English instruction that incorporates all four language domains: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Letters have been sent home to parents if your child qualifies to enter or to continue in the ELL program at Fiske.

This year we are proud to be offering staff and peer mentors to our ELL newcomers at Fiske, thanks to a generous grant from the Lexington Education Foundation. If your child has qualified, you will have the option of enrolling your newcomer in our program. This program is called the Peer Leadership Program at Fiske, and entails giving newcomers a staff mentor, who will meet weekly with your child before or after school. In addition, your child will have access to an iPad throughout the day that contains very helpful apps. A new addition to our program this year is the peer leader mentor, who will be a child at Fiske that will join the weekly mentoring sessions. During these sessions, the mentors and the newcomer will play games, or work on the iPad. The purpose of the mentoring sessions is to help the newcomer feel welcome in our community, and to help develop both social and academic English.

PE News

Greetings from the gym,

Happy Fall to all new and returning students! Ms. Murphy and I look forward to an action packed year of fun and excitement in our P.E. classes. Be prepared by wearing sneakers on days you have P.E. We kicked off our year with units of soccer and Frisbee skills in addition to focusing on our own individual fitness development.

Attention 4th and 5th graders, Before School Sports is ready to return and the time to sign-up is now. If interested, please return permission slips and check to Mr. Spiller as soon as possible!

Thank you,

Mr. Spiller & Ms. Murphy

Music News

News from the Music Room

Welcome back to school!

Performance dates are set for the 2016/2017 school year:

Fifth Grade Chorus/Band/Strings: Wednesday, January 18, at 9 am in the Fiske Gym

Wednesday, June 7, at 9 am and 7 pm in the Fiske Gym

Third Grade Recorder "Informance": Thursday, June 1, at 11:30 am in the Fiske Gym

Fourth Grade "Informance": Thursday, May 18, at 11:30 am in the Fiske Gym.

Here are some of the things you might see and hear if you looked into the music room this month:

Kindergarden: Singing Bingo Bongolo and jumping over the river, and making soup (“Chop Chop Chippety Chop”).

First Grade: Playing Monkey See and Monkey Do, and playing Hickory Dickory Dock with woodblocks.

Second Grade: Playing When I Was a Young Kid, and reading the Charlie Over the Ocean song.

Third Grade: Dancing La Raspa and starting to read the notes on the treble clef.

Fourth Grade: Improvising with Sigiti Sagiti SoPoPo, and singing and playing I Want To Rise…

Fifth Grade: Acting out creating movement patterns for The Pink Panther and starting our chorus songs.

Thanks from Mr. Hart and Mrs. Larson

Library News

  • Early mornings are a great time for students to visit the Fiske Library. Many students are taking advantage of the daily 8:30 – 8:50 book selection time. At this time, students may come to the library to exchange books and pick up saved books. It is also a great time to get advice from Mrs. Kishpaugh about "just right" books and personalized recommendations.

  • Kindergartners have been sharing books about libraries and reading. We have just begun a unit on apples and are learning about fiction and non-fiction texts.

  • First graders are celebrating Tomie DePaola's birthday (September 15) by enjoying such classics as Strega Nona, The Art Lesson, and Meet the Barkers.

  • In second grade we are sharing books about butterflies and comparing fiction vs. non-fiction texts.

  • Third graders are participating in the Call Number Challenge, a scavenger hunt activity to learn how to find books in the library.

  • Fourth and Fifth graders are honing their search skills by practicing with the online Fiske Library catalog.

Math News

3 cheers for another year of school!

2 important beliefs about math: Everyone is a Math Person & Math is about Creativity and Making Sense.

1 Parent Math Night coming up: Mathematics & Mindset: Inspiring the Fiske community to find and foster a passion for math, embrace challenge, and grow! Wednesday, October 5, 2016 ~ 6:30-7:30pm ~ Fiske Elementary Gymnasium Join in for a night of Math Fun!!

Presented by Fiske Teachers, we will explore Growth Mindset in Math along with strategies for supporting your child in problems solving. Parents from all grade levels are encouraged and invited to attend.

Literacy News

Welcome back, Fiske families! As we all settle back into the routines of school, we wanted to share some routines for promoting literacy at home:

  • Reading. Our goal is for our students to be avid readers! To nurture a love of books and reading, we encourage you to read to your children (or have them read to themselves) for at least 20 minutes outside of school. The goal isn’t to make this a chore or a punishment, but an activity that everyone can look forward to! Pick out a “Just Right Reading Spot” and make it a big event! One great resource for suggestions on books is the Cary Library website, accessible here:

  • Writing. We are all authors! Whether it’s making a grocery list or sending an email, we write all the time - encourage your children to see writing as something useful, joyful, and as a way to have their voices heard! Here are some ideas for encouraging writing at home:

    • Keeping a daily journal

    • Making a shopping list together

    • Telling stories at the dinner table

    • Write a letter or postcard to a relative or family friend

    • If you like going out to eat, write a review of the restaurant together afterward

Health Office News

Welcome to 2016-2017 at Fiske!

Staying healthy is most important to staying in school! Please remember to pack Healthy snacks for the students to enjoy at school. Getting enough sleep and a Healthy breakfast helps with beginning their day. Reinforcing covering mouth with a tissue or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow is good practice and helps to stop the spread of germs that makes you and others sick. Also, please reinforce Hand Washing! Head lice seems to “creep up on us” throughout the year. It’s good practice to “take a peek once a week”. This information is being shared with you so that you can become more knowledgeable about head lice.

Head lice (pediculosis) is a common problem unrelated to personal hygiene. Your cooperation in periodically examining your child’s hair as a precaution is essential.

· Use a bright light to examine your child’s hair

· Work in small areas, part the hair with a comb and look for eggs attached to the hair near the scalp

· Adult lice are about the size of a pinhead and will move quickly

· The eggs (nits) look similar to dandruff but will adhere to the hair. They may be gray or tan in color

· Excessive scratching may be a symptom

· It is recommended “Take a peek once a week” throughout the school year!

Lexington Public Schools does not have a “no nit” policy.

There are children with severe peanut/nut allergies in some classrooms. Strict avoidance of peanut/nut products is the only way to prevent a life threatening allergic reaction. We are asking your assistance in providing the student with a safe learning environment.

If exposed to peanuts/nuts the student may develop a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires emergency medical treatment. The greatest potential for exposure at school is to peanut products and nut products. Please do not send any peanut or nut containing products for your child to eat during snack in the classroom. Any exposure to peanuts or nuts through contact or ingestion can cause a severe reaction. If your child has eaten peanuts or nuts prior to coming to school, please be sure your child’s hands have been thoroughly washed prior to entering the school.

Since lunch is eaten in the cafeteria, your child may bring peanut butter, peanut or nut products for lunch. In the cafeteria there will be a designated peanut-free table where any classmate without peanut or nut products can sit. If your child sits at this table with a peanut or nut product, s/he will be asked to move to another table. This plan will help to maintain safety in the classroom while allowing non allergic classmates to enjoy peanut/nut products in a controlled environment. The tables will be cleaned with soap, water and paper towels after each lunch.

Please update any medications your child is taking at home or at school. Medication should be transported from home to school and back by adults. This is to prevent any accidents with medication among children.

It is important to note that a new medication form must be completed for any medication to be administered by the school nurse. New forms can be downloaded for your convenience.

All prescription medications must be submitted in the original prescription bottle, clearly labeled. Over the counter medications that are ordered must be in small, unopened, original container, marked with your child’s name.

We appreciate your support of these procedures. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us. Thank you for your cooperation.