December Newsletter

Westwood Elementary School


Westwood Families,

I hope that everyone had a fun and relaxing fall break spent with friends and families. It’s hard to believe that winter break is just a few short weeks away. As you know, many families travel over the holidays and often, snow and ice make it difficult to get from one place to another. Unfortunately, both of those things provide challenges for schools and can have a negative impact on student attendance. Especially during the months of December, January, and February.

When a student is absent for any reason, they are missing important direct teacher instruction in their classroom. This significantly impacts student learning and their grades. The Kansas State Department of Education and USD 475 recognize that student school attendance and academic achievement have a direct correlation. Therefore, KSDE now requires that Kansas school districts track and report chronic absenteeism of students.

Chronic absenteeism is the percentage of students in a school that have missed more than 10% or more of the days that school has been in session at any point in the school year. This includes loss of instructional time for any reason, excused or unexcused.

At the end of November, our Westwood data would indicate that:

· 56% of our Westwood students have good regular attendance

· 23% of our Westwood students have missed anywhere from 5-9% of the total days school has been in session

· 21% of our Westwood students are chronically absent, missing 10% or more of the total days school has been in session.

As a school community, it is my hope that we can work together to improve these percentages at Westwood Elementary. With cold and extreme weather approaching in the upcoming months, please plan ahead to ensure that your child is at school, on time each and every day. Communicate in advance with friends and family for assistance when possible and ensure that your child is properly dressed to prevent illness.

If you know that your child is going to be gone for any reason, please contact the office at 785-717-4150 and make the secretaries aware of the absence.

As always, if the school or I can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or the school counselor.

We sure miss your child when they are gone and love having them here every day. Thank you for your dedication and ongoing commitment to make school and your child’s academics a priority.

Mrs. Dressman, Westwood Principal

Thank you!

Thank you to Linda Gibson and the House of Ruth for their generous coat donation!


Hello and Happy Holidays to Everyone!

We are so excited for all of the different Holiday activities we have planned in the library! Mrs. Stanton has started doing a lot of "Breakout Boxes" or Escape Room type of games with the classes. She is so proud and excited about how well the students are doing with critical thinking and teamwork. Way to go, Wildcats! Also, the students have been doing SO many Reading Counts quizzes. We finally filled out our "Mystery Mosiac" picture and it looks awesome! We will start a brand-new picture in December and Mrs. Stanton can't wait to have the students start filling it up with stickers.

Mrs. Stanton will also be sending home reminders about overdue books. Please make sure you are searching everywhere for a book before you say that it is lost forever. Books are expensive and we need to make sure we are taking good care of them for all to enjoy.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun filled Holiday Season and of course I hope everyone reads lots of good books with family!


I hope you all had a great Fall Break. Only 3 ½ weeks of school and it will be Winter Break! The school year is nearly half over and I’m not sure where it has gone!

December is going to be a crazy month! We will be learning the letters F, H, D, and R. We will continue counting to 10 in math and learning how to make 10 in various ways. We will be learning about mixtures in science and talking about once we mix things, if we can separate them again. In our social emotional unit, we will continue to talk about our emotions and ways we can handle them and tell how others may be feeling just by finding clues from looking at their faces.

On top of all our learning, we will be making Christmas ornaments for our classroom Christmas tree. We will be doing Christmas crafts and I have some fun Christmas centers planned.

Also, this month, it is time for our quarter 2 assessments! This month is going to be awesome, and it is going to fly by! I look forward to it and thank you for letting me enjoy the time with your children!


Reading: During the month of December, we will be learning and working on the following:

● Letters: Cc, Oo, Dd

● High Frequency Words: go, you, do

● Reading Concepts: What places do you go to during the week? What do people use to

do their jobs? Who are your neighbors?

● Writing: various informative/persuasive/narrative pieces

Math: During the month of December, we will be learning and working on the following:

● Understanding (1) More

● Comparing Within 10

● Sorting & Counting Objects

● Making 10

2nd Step: (social emotional lessons)

● Sometimes We Feel Sad

● Sometimes We Feel Mad

● We Can Feel Calm

● Performance Task: What are they feeling?

Kindergarten Celebrations in December:

● Winter Break: Thursday, Dec. 22 - Sunday, January 8th

Ms. Sowell & Mrs. Harmison

First Grade

Ho Ho Ho! We hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving break and are looking forward to time spending family time together over winter break (December 22 – January 6). Here is what we will be learning in the weeks to come!

Reading: We have started our new Unit 3 in reading. Our big idea in this unit is “What can happen over time”? We read a book called “A Second is a Hiccup” by Hazel Hutchins which explores seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, days, months, and years. We encourage you point on different models of time you may see in the community or your home (examples: digital time on microwave, oven, watches, phones OR analog clocks hanging on the wall at school or in a hospital). We introduced the long a sound as in bake or cake. We will learn the long i sound (as in bike or five), soft c (city) and g (gentle), and long u sound (as in tune).

Math: A few weeks ago we started Unit 2 in math. In Unit 2 we focus on adding, subtracting, and representing numbers within 20. One of the main focuses is finding a partner to 10 to help us in adding. For example, what is 8+5? You can borrow 2 from the 5 to change the equation to 8+2+3. This helps us to find a 10, then add 3 more. We will end our Unit 2 with focusing on the skill of adding 3 addends together.

Writing: Our writing skills consistently involve checking back to see if there is an upper case at the beginning, punctuation at the end, and finger spaces in between. We are encouraging our students to writing multiple sentences. We also want them to add more details to their sentences!

Science: We recently finish our Air and Weather unit. Students will begin discussing what sound and light are. We will interact with what makes sound and how light travels!

Social Emotional: Each Monday we have a SecondSTEP meeting. We discuss many topics ranging from how to understand our emotions to conflict resolution. This week we talked about feeling “calm” emotions. Leading up to winter break, we will talk about feelings of frustration and noticing clues for various feelings.

We wish you ALL a very happy holiday and new year. See you “next year, 2023”!

~Mrs. Mills & Mrs. Bascue

Second Grade

Hello parents & guardians! It was so nice seeing everyone back from Thanksgiving Break. We all got some much needed rest & we are ready to get back into it! We are absolutely loving our Second Step lessons that we do the first day of every week. The kids really enjoy developing their social skills & learning new things. In Reading, we just finished learning about the genre Narrative Nonfiction & will be starting Fiction this month. In Math, we are wrapping up learning about money & about to start learning time. It’s a great idea to talk to your student about counting money & helping them read the clock to tell time. In Science, we just finished learning all about solids & will be starting the Pebbles, Sand and Silt unit before break. The kids are PUMPED!

Don’t forget if you are able to read with your student(s) at home, reading 20 minutes a day helps them so much! You might start to see an increase in math homework being sent home. This is so the students can get some extra practice in at home to work on certain skills.

We kick off the month of December with some Fastbridge testing so make sure your student is getting lots of rest during the first couple weeks. Let’s end the 2nd Quarter strong! We appreciate all of you so much!

Ms. Riley & Ms. Witt

Third Grade

3rd Grade Wildcat Families,

We are nearing the halfway point of third grade – hard to believe, right!?

Thank you to everyone who came to our Westwood Family Reading Night; we had such a blast and I hope you all are enjoying your new books!

In Reading we have analyzed some poetry by talking about figurative language such as similes and metaphors. We discussed how people figure out problems and invent solutions. After that we read about Earth and its neighbors in our solar system. We practiced identifying main idea and supporting details and making meaning from suffixes. In the coming weeks, we will read a folktale and discuss what makes animals unique. In writing, we are investigating caves and answering research questions to write informational paragraphs.

We just finished our Unit 2 test in Math all about multiplication and division. Students are encouraged to continue practicing their multiplication facts 0-10 because it will make the higher-level math easier for them when they have those memorized. We recently introduced area and how to find square units, as well as relating it to multiplication when we are working with rectangular shapes.

In Science, we are working with plants structures and functions, and putting our knowledge to use in the greenhouse. Hopefully, we will have lettuce to eat very soon! In Social Studies, we have been comparing the transportation and architecture of historical Kansas to the Kansas we live in today. Students will be researching a famous Kansas and making a presentation about them.

Since we are approaching the halfway point of third grade, we will be completing our mid-year testing, including the practice state assessment, in the first couple weeks of December. We have a small window to get these complete, so it’s more important than ever that students are present and ready to show how much they have learned this year! As always, thank you for your support and always feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Miss Staley and Mr. McCallister

Fourth Grade

We cannot believe that we are halfway through the school year!

In math, we are diving right into long division. Working on dividing single-digit numbers by 3-4 digit numbers. This is one of the most exciting times for the fourth graders and a skill they really look forward to learning. We continue to remind you to keep pushing those multiplication facts 2-12 at home as they help in the classroom too. We are also hitting the extra practice and review during WIN time.

In reading, we are still working on the main idea and key details, as well as comparing two texts and finding similarities and differences. We are going to jump into some biographies and realistic fiction stories and writing this month. We are excited to continue to meet our goals during our reading WIN time. We ask you to try to have your student read for at least 20 minutes every night!

In Science, we are jumping into our soil, rocks, and landforms unit. We will study different types of soils and rocks and do some really fun experiments with them. Social Studies has now taken us to the Southwest Region, and we are learning about the economy, climate, and different resources we can get in this region.

We also are so excited to see our students’ growth on their Fast Bridge and iReady testing this month. We know everyone’s hard work will pay off! Please encourage your student to do their best and show their best effort!

Miss Dill and Mr. Hall

Fifth Grade

Hello Bestwood Families!

It’s hard to believe it is already the end of 2022! We have so many exciting things happening in December! In ELA, we are going to continue learning how to write expository texts by studying different cultures and sharing facts about each one. In math, we are continuing to deepen our understanding of fractions and decimals by learning how to multiply and divide with decimals before break. In Social Studies, students will be learning about the effects of European Explorers and colonization. And in Science, students will continue learning about Mixtures and Solutions by conducting multiple experiments.

We are so excited to have the opportunity to visit Starbase in Manhattan this year! During these 5 visits, students will participate in STEM activities, like testing gravity, building rockets, and even playing with robots. We will also be able to visit Ft. Riley and get a tour of some helicopters and talk to pilots! If you would like to volunteer to attend any of the 5 trips to Starbase, please contact your student’s teacher!

We hope that over break you continue to encourage your student to practice their math multiplication and division facts as well as push them to read at least 30 minutes a day. We hope you have a fantastic break and a happy holiday with your families!


With only 3 full weeks in December, we will be having a week of playing some old games, a week of scooters, and will finish up with a December favorite in speed stacks.


Hello Westwood Families!

In STEM we have been learning about animals and have been doing various projects with our youngest grades. We also have been learning about material properties and purpose by building different feats of engineering. This includes designing marble runs, KEVA planks, and ROK blocks. With our older grades we have been practicing our wireless computer coding skills with Spheros. Our goal is to program and complete an obstacle course with these robots in the coming weeks. We have also started using IPads to make stop motion videos with various materials to tell a story.

Mr. Harman

We love our Para Squad!

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