Parkdale Elementary Weekly Update


This Week...

Dear Staff,

I hope you all enjoyed the three day weekend.

This week includes a staff meeting on Wednesday and then a 2nd Step training on Thursday afternoon. This is a class through the collaboration grant. Please see Holly if you have questions about the class and how to get signed up.

I've included an interesting article on the importance of student questioning and how to encourage this for our students.

Have a great week everyone!


Question-Asking As a Key 21st-Century Skill - From the Marshal Memo #630

Question-Asking As a Key 21st-Century Skill

In this article in Mind/Shift, Katrina Schwartz says getting the answers to straight-forward information questions is just a mouse-click away on the Internet. “But while computers are great at spitting out answers,” she says, “they aren’t very good at asking questions. But luckily, that’s where humans excel. Curiosity is baked into the human experience.”

Questioning comes naturally to young children, but it “drops off a cliff” when they turn 5 or 6, says author Warren Berger. In school, he observes, “Time really conspires against questioning.” Classroom dynamics and curriculum coverage work against exploring thought-provoking queries. “Many kids don’t see asking questions as ‘cool,’” says Schwartz. “And the perception that question-askers are suck-ups or dorks probably also comes from fear. Many people feel vulnerable admitting they don’t know something. They are afraid to offer a window into their inner world by wondering out loud.”

But questioning is a highly valued skill for the 21st century – in companies, in day-to-day interactions, and as citizens asking questions about the world, policies, and the actions of our government. Schwartz suggests five ways to help students become better question-askers:

Make it safe. “Fear kills curiosity,” says Berger. “The two things do not exist very well together.” That’s why teachers need to be explicit in encouraging big-picture questions, letting students know that they’ll be on a learning curve as they get better at formulating good questions, and making it easier for shy students to get their questions out there by forming small groups or encouraging students to submit questions on cards.

Make it cool. “The people who are really breaking new ground are the people asking questions,” says Berger. “Questioners are the explorers, the mavericks. If you are a questioner, you are going against the grain. That could appeal to young people.”

Make it fun. Teachers can turn question-asking into a game by framing the process as a detective solving mysteries, puzzles, or riddles. Students can take closed questions and turn them into open questions and vice-versa and experiment with different lead-off words:

- Why… ?

- What if… ?

- How might we… ?

- How could we… ?

- How should we… ?

Make it rewarding. Some teachers respond to a thoughtful student question by saying, “That’s a great question” and moving on. Genuine interest and enthusiasm about a question may be all the reward some students need. Teachers could keep track of good questions and have students vote on the best question of the week, or add this question at the end of a test: What question should have been on this test, but wasn’t?

Make it stick. To become a lifelong habit, asking good questions has to be a regular part of the school day. The comedian George Carlin had a routine on “Vuja de” that celebrated his ability to look at familiar situations in a fresh way (see the video in the link below). Teachers might ask students to look at an object in the classroom or their everyday lives in an entirely new way. “If you can instill this habit of mind in kids,” says Berger, “this is the key to success for innovators.”

“Kids need to learn during their time at school that they have the right to know,” concludes Schwartz, “to challenge assumptions and to dig deeper. Fostering this mentality in students can be challenging for teachers who are often complicit in systems of control over students. But often when teachers open the space for these questions, value them and explore them with students, a deep trust is built.”

“How to Bring ‘More Beautiful’ Questions Back to School” by Katrina Schwartz in Mind/Shift, February 9, 2016,

Growth Mindset at Parkdale Elementary

The Growth Mindset strategy of the week this week is...

- Ensure tasks for students are within their zone of proximal development.

This is a reminder of the importance of making tasks just challenging enough for our students as well as making sure they aren't too difficult. This is tough because it means making sure you have scaffolding in place for students who perform below or above the average performance of your class.

Other ideas that we came up with as a staff are linked below:

Teaching the Mountaineer Expectations: Month 1, Week 2

Student Message - Being Safe

One rule we have at our school is “Be Safe”. Safe actions keep everyone’s bodies from being hurt. When we act in safe ways, we keep our hands to ourselves and don’t use them to touch others in hurtful ways. When we use safe words, we make sure nobody’s feelings are hurt. Safe words are kind and respectful. This week, think about how you can act and speak in safe ways in the classroom, hallway, and lunchroom and out at recess

Events This Week...

This Week:

Monday 4/11


Tuesday 4/12

4/5 Testing - Practice Day

Gus at PSU Educator Fair Today

7:45 – 2:00 –Kidz Dental K-5 (see schedule in office)

2:20 PM - PBIS Committee Meeting – Sischo’s RM

2:15 – 3:15 PM - Ukulele (Grades 4 – 5 ONLY)

Wednesday 4/13

4/5 Testing - First day of Testing

2:25 PM – Staff Meeting

Thursday 4/14

1:00 – 1:50 PM - ALL SCHOOL Assembly – Robotics

2:30 PM – BEST Review Meeting

3:15 – 5:15 PM – Second Steps (Holly and Inga)

5:30 – 7:30 PM – Internet Safety Parent Meeting

Friday 4/15

GREEN DAY – Grades 3/4 at Skiing - Other classes Tech

8:30 – 2:00 PM - GR. 3 & 4 SKI MT HOOD MEADOWS

2:15 PM – Reading Intervention Meeting

2:20 - OAKS Training - for Mara, Eler, Kristi, Debbie, Darla - in Book Room

Upcoming Dates

· 4/18 2:20 PM – Site Council Meeting

· 4/19 2:15 – 3:15 PM - Ukulele (Grades 4 – 5 ONLY)

· 4/19 2:20 PM – BEST Meeting

· 4/20 Grade 3 Testing through April 29

· 4/20 RTI (Book Room)

· 4/20 2:15 PM – PLC Leader Meeting

· 4/20 2:45 PM – Growth Coach Meeting

· 4/20 3:15 PM -

· 4/21 IEP Meeting

· 4/22 GREEN DAY - AM Anna OSU/PM Tech

· 4/22 2:10 PM – Reading Intervention Meeting

Have a great week!!

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Use this form to give Gus feedback about how things are going and what you need.