Lower EleMiddle Life

A monthly glance at the "methods behind our madness"

December 2015/ January 2016

Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas break with your family. However, we are happy to have all of our smiling students back in the building :) The teachers and students have not wasted any time getting back into the swing of things. I'm excited to see what this next semester brings!



Mrs. Shelly Wallin

PK-4 Vice-Principal

Clever EleMiddle School

Learning Targets

I hope the words "learning targets" have become a familiar phrase in your household. If not from your student, I'm sure you've heard about them in teacher blog postings. The incorporation of learning targets has been an initiative at Clever Schools for the past 2-3 years. We began with a book study of "Learning Targets" written by Susan Brookhart and Connie Moss, then after a year of experimenting with targets we invited Susan Brookhart to come in and train our staff. We continue to establish daily learning targets for our students in each content area throughout the day and it has helped to keep learning intentional and focused.


In a nutshell, a learning target is a student-friendly statement that clarifies the learning that will take place in each lesson, each day. Using these statements allows both the teacher and student to focus their energy on the same learning target and allows students to pursue their own learning rather than complying with teacher's requests.


Learning targets help the students to recognize what is important to learn, how they will know when they've learned it and how they will be expected to demonstrate their learning.


So, at the end of the day, instead of asking "what did you learn in school today?", you might try asking "what was your learning target in Math, Writing, etc. ?". You might be surprised what they can tell you :)

Why is Math Different Now?

If you have helped your child in math lately, you have likely experienced a little or a lot of frustration. As we teach to our current Missouri Learning Standards, (explained more fully in my October publication https://www.smore.com/mvmg8) we are teaching for deeper understanding.


Most of us learned mathematics from a very procedural point of view. Our teacher gave examples of the steps one takes to solve a problem. Then a few of us came to the board and worked two or three other examples. Then we were given a problem set of 30-40 problems to work on alone. Then we would get to the story problems and they would throw us for a loop. We had no idea how to interpret them or what to do. Then the next day we would correct our papers by handing them to the person behind us while the teacher gave the answers. They were just right or wrong and we didn't know why.


One of the many flaws in the traditional "sit and get" approach is that algorithms were taught without understanding. The emphasis was on getting the right answers. A great deal of research in the last 20 to 30 years, however, has indicated that instructional programs that "emphasize understanding algorithms before using them have been shown to lead to increases in both conceptual and procedural knowledge" (Fuson and Briars, 1990; Fuson, Hiebert, Murray, Human, Olivier, Carpenter, Fennemma, 1997; Hiebert and Wearne, 1996).


In light of this research, we now have our current Missouri Learning Standards that were designed around 8 mathematical practices:


1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

3. Construct viable arguments and critique reasoning of others.

4. Model with mathematics.

5. Use appropriate tools strategically.

6. Attend to precision.

7. Look for and make use of structure.

8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.


Since math instruction is very different, we understand that helping with homework and extra practice can be difficult. Our EnVisions Math Series has a great component that allows students and parents to access the lesson videos as well as complete lessons and additional practice online. The website can be found at www.pearsonsuccessnet.com. You should have received a username and password earlier in the year. If you have misplaced this information or have additional questions, please contact your child's teacher to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!


For more information, you may want to check out the video link below.

Why is Math Different Now

SOAR TO 94

You have probably seen the signs around the building that say “soar to 94”. That is in reference to our 94% goal for attendance this year. Mr. Fenske sent home a letter in September outlining our attendance goals this year. Here is one of the paragraphs in that letter:


We have also set an expectation that students should meet the 94% threshold in order to participate in clubs, field trips, dances, etc. Participation in these types of events is a privilege, and this is earned, in part, by showcasing good behavior and maintaining excellent attendance. If participation is jeopardized due to attendance issues, a student and his or her parents may appeal the decision by using an Attendance Waiver Request that will be reviewed by the Attendance Committee. These waivers can be obtained through the K-4 or 5-8 office.


Please keep in mind that tardies also accumulate and affect student attendance.


We celebrated our 94% goal attendees in December with a cookie decorating activity!


Stay tuned for our next opportunity to recognize our students with outstanding attendance...

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Reading Journey

Students are currently reading to earn their 3rd quarter "passports". The journey will end on March 9th and the read-a-thon reward will be held on March 10th. I hope to see 100% of our students on the "Journey to Awesome Passport Wall"!

Want to stay connected at Clever? The following buttons will help you stay informed so you won't miss a thing!

Clever School District Website

Provides access to the district event calendar, lunch menus, School Board policies, etc.

Clever EleMiddle School

The Clever R-V School District exists to prepare individuals to reach their potential while becoming productive life-long learners.