North Side Paw Prints

Staff Newsletter

December 6, 2013

Volume 5, Issue 16

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 Angie Sibert, Rhonda Baker and Rosie Barnum for Going the Extra Mile this Month!

Weekly Quote

"It’s not about the amount of time you devote, but rather, what you devote to that time that counts." Author unknown

Weekly Reflection

We all have new data ...... Now what do we do with that information to make the greatest impact for our students?

Upcoming Dates


Dec. 9th - Breakfast with Santa 7 - 8:30 am

Dec. 9th-13th - 3rd Grade go swimming 9:00-10:00am

Dec. 10th - Acuity B (LA & Math); Window Closes PTO Meeting 5:30 in library

Dec 13th - Staff Meeting with Ann Linson in Library 7:30 am

Dec. 16th - Leadership Meeting 3:10 in conference room

Dec. 17th - Acuity B (Science/Social Studies) Window Closes; Winter Program grades K-1, 6:30 pm

Dec. 18th - Fundraiser Prize Assembly 1:30 in gym

Dec. 20th - End of 1st Semester; Reading Program Movie beginning at 8:10 in cafeteria; Holiday Sing Along 1:30 in cafeteria

Dec. 23rd-Jan 3rd - Winter Break


Jan. 7th - Pint-Sized Heroes Talks Music Room

Jan. 8th - Mclass Reading and IRI Window Opens

Jan. 9th - Staff Meeting 3:10 in library; Report Cards Grades Due to the Office

Jan. 10th - Report Cards Issued, SOM Names Due to Venita by Noon

Jan. 14th - PTO Meeting 5:30 in library

Jan. 17th - Talent Show 6:00-8:00pm

Jan. 20th - No School (Possible Make-Up Day)

Jan. 27th - Leadership Meeting 3:10 in conference room

Jan 29th - Club Pictures starting at 8:30; Mclass Math Window Opens

Jan 30th - Blood Drive 2:00-6:00pm in Gym

Jan 31st - TinCaps Reading Program Kick-Off 1:45 in the gym

This Week's Case Conferences

January 10th @ 8:40 - Zollars, Stoll and Kneller

January 10th @ 2:30 - Kneller and Savage

January 10th @ 3:00 - Johanson and Wilder

January 11th @ 3:00 - Demske and Maag

Featured Instructional Strategy of the Week

Expect students to edit a first draft

Expect students to edit a first draft

When embarking on a large writing assignment across multiple days or weeks, it's fair to expect major improvement during the writing process and "just about perfect" conventions. This level of correctness is possible to achieve when the writer can put the piece aside for a day or two and then revisit it with fresh eyes.

But when self-editing a piece immediately after writing it, it is difficult to f

ind errors and omissions. Because the ideas are still so fresh in the writer's mind, it's easy to overlook punctuation mistakes, misspellings, and wrong words.

Teach Check & Change habits

Whether a first draft is written in writer's workshop or within a content-area class, it's still reasonable to expect students to reread their writing and make minor changes. I call this Check & Change. Here are a handful of practical strategies to help your students tackle this important part of the writing process:

  • Print out a hard copy of typed first drafts (if possible). Shifting the physical angle from the digital screen to paper can make it easier to spot errors.
  • Change the font size of typed first drafts (if possible). Larger text makes it easier to "see" errors, but it also adjusts the words-per-line. This can help students detect sentence or syntax mistakes that didn't stand out in the traditional 12-point font.
  • Whisper aloud while rereading. This causes students to slow down and articulate each word. No one can read aloud as fast as he can silently. Consequently, it's easier to find a missing word, forgotten punctuation, misspelled words, etc.
  • Read for 1-2 skills at a time. Rather than checking for all skills in a single rereading, encourage students to read aloud multiple times. Each rereading can be focused on a couple of skills, rather than a whole checklist of conventions.
  • Know your weaknesses. Some students are great spellers but tend to write run-ons. Some students capitalize all their sentence beginnings but forget about proper noun capitals. That said, help students identify a list of personal problem areas. This differentiated list per writer indicates which skills each should focus on during Check & Change.
  • Cross-reference names and numbers. Particularly in content-area writing, it's likely there are specific names (e.g., people, tribes, cities, chemicals, continents, titles, etc.). Students should reference the text to ensure they spelled each one correctly. Numbers (e.g., quantities, dates, figures, statistics, etc.) should be double checked, as well. Strong expository writing is only as good as it is accurate. In the rush of getting ideas down in a first draft, it's common to jot names and numbers incorrectly.

Primary writers can do this, too

Teachers at all levels--even K-2--should require students to re-read for errors. Because young writers are limited in their writing knowledge and ability, a quick look for word-wall-word spellings, capitalization omissions, sentence end marks, and word spacing is often the extent of the editing anyway. This is a perfect introduction to Check & Change.

Depending on the writing task and the grade level, teachers may have to adjust the level of correctness they expect. There are times the bar is set high and includes formal editing, and there are times the bar is lowered to only a Check & Change.

CCR.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Featured Video of the Week

In this video, Kristina Smekens does a book review for Q is For Duck by Mary Elting and Michael Folsom. Great teaching predictions!

Q Is For Duck: An Alphabet Guessing Game

Character Counts Pillar of the Month

December: Caring