West Hempstead Weekly Update

October 10, 2022

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Questioning, Problem Posing, and the Habits of Mind

“The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance.” - Albert Einstein

As students enter Chestnut Street, they run into the building and ask many questions. By the end of sixth-grade students are hardly raising their hands anymore. This is not a West Hempstead problem but rather a system problem. We want to create a mindset that allows students the opportunity to ask many questions and find possible solutions. Students should then be able to compare solutions, see which they believe is most viable, and "test" the chosen solution. During and after "testing," students should be asking even more questions and generating new solutions or posing new problems. Questioning and problem-posing are cyclical and continue throughout our lives.

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image attribution: whatboots.com/au

Chestnut Street

Rolling, Recording, Labeling, and More!

Our young learners were busy at work, learning to not only stop, drop, and roll (thank you, West Hempstead Fire Department!) but also to roll and record numbers. Roll and Record is a math activity for students to practice subitizing a familiar configuration to 6. Subitizing is the ability to recognize a number of objects without counting. Subitizing is an important conceptual skill for students to gain in early mathematical experiences.

Labeling a picture introduces students to the idea that they can add print to their pictures and begin representing objects and ideas with letters and sounds. Labeling pictures is an appropriate developmental stage for emergent writers at Chestnut Street. Students share ideas through pictures. They will then begin to use letters and sounds to represent objects in pictures.

Cornwell Ave.

Read, write, listen, and speak. You have heard us promote these ideas regularly. These four words are essential in our lives and critical to our student's development.

One way of developing these skills is phonics. Phonics teaching allows students to recognize how sounds are represented alphabetically and identify some letter sounds, symbols, and characters.

I also witnessed students building their foundational skills in mathematics. Quick Images can help students to develop an understanding of quantity. Being able to conceptualize a number in a variety of ways will help students to use numbers flexibly. Using "quick" images encourages students to subitize and discourages counting by ones. Students are asked by their teacher to identify the quantity and describe the image.

Quick Images promotes critical thinking, making connections, and creating discussions. This activity allows students to speak like a mathematician. The activity allows all students entry into the problem, which, in turn, allows them to solve and speak about the problem.

George Washington

On display at GW, this week were various literacies. From reading and writing to digital to mathematical, our students utilized their critical thinking skills to analyze and interpret the information they were engaged with.

Why is literacy so important?

A person needs adequate literacy skills to participate and function within society. A literate community can communicate and is a community that exchanges ideas and engage in respectful debate. Sharing ideas, perspectives and concerns also lead to greater understanding, caring, and, ultimately, a strong community spirit.

West Hempstead Secondary School

I witnessed several lessons and enjoyed several different instructional activities, including:

Debates in the classroom allow students to work in a collaborative and cooperative group setting. By having students discuss and organize their points of view for one side of an argument, they can discover new information and put knowledge into action. Classroom debates help students learn through friendly competition, examine controversial topics and strengthen skills in the areas of leadership, interpersonal influence, team building, group problem-solving, and oral presentation. (https://bit.ly/3yEp2Ma)

Teaching research in science class is not just about science. It is an essential part of the writing process; without the necessary skills, students will struggle to articulate their study, conclusions, etc. Research skills help students locate the required relevant information and evaluate its reliability. Developing excellent research skills ultimately enables the student to become a life-long learner.

Effective [presenters] combine the talents of scholar, writer, producer, comedian, showman, and teacher in ways that contribute to student learning.” - Wilbert J. McKeachie, Teaching Tips

One of our goals is to teach students how to present. Presenting is about communicating. Students must communicate content and style to address the audience (hopefully, an authentic audience). If a student does not communicate in a clear and engaging manner, their audience will not learn, and the message will be lost.


I am reading, Reading for Our Lives by Maya Payne Smart, and over the next several newsletters, some of the ideas she has shared in her writing.

At this stage, it is not the parent's job to teach their child how to read. Rather, nurturing conversation, book sharing, and creating a rich language environment are important.

Below are some milestones to be aware of for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Oral Language and Sound Awareness

  • Uses 1,000 words
  • Asks for clarification
  • Uses more pronouns: they, us, hers, his, them, her, my, me, mine, you
  • Uses possessives: dog's toy
  • Talks about objects and their functions
  • Notices syllables in words
  • Makes some letter-sound associations
  • Makes and identifies rhymes
  • Can isolate and compare initial letter sounds in words

Book Behavior, Print Awareness, Writing, and Letter Recognition

  • Follows the structure of a story
  • Makes predictions about what will happen next in a tale
  • Connects text to personal experience
  • Points to print as the source of information in a story
  • Recognizes and prefers favorite book characters
  • Understands that pictures are connected in a story
  • Recognizes their name in print, plus some familiar words
  • Names letters on everyday objects, signs, and posters
  • Makes letter-like scribbles to represent words
  • Attempts to print their name

Prereading from 4 to 5 Years

Children at this stage can introduce themselves by first and last name, sing a song or nursery rhyme by heart, and tell a story of their own. Four-year-olds are aware of cause and effect and have developed much sophistication around language and books. They begin comparing and contrasting favorite characters in different books. They come to see books as sources for answers to questions about the world.

It's time to build some print awareness by talking to your child about how books work, how print conveys meaning, and what words are. These are vital lessons because before a child can read print, they must notice it. Sprinkle in a few comments (max) before or during reading that direct your child's attention to how books are organized and how print mirrors spoken language. Use your finger to point to letters and words, which helps them connect the print on the page with the speech they hear and understand.

Examples of questions to ask and statements to say

  • These are the words. I need to read them from this side to this side. (Trace finger from left to right along the text.)
  • Where should we start reading? Here? (Point to the first word on the page.) Or here? (Point to the last word on the page.)
  • I know this is the top of the page. Show me where the bottom of the page is.

-Adapted from, Reading for Our Lives by Maya Payne Smart

Reading & Writing - Interactive Read Aloud

After participating in an interactive read-aloud of “How to be a Lion” by Ed Vere, second graders practiced thinking, speaking, and writing about reading. After turning and talking with their peers, students identified traits of their main character and used text evidence to support their thinking.

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Have you joined SEPTA, PTA, and PTSA?

Everyone involved is a volunteer focused on meeting student needs. The difference between a great school and a wonderful school community is the strong relationships between teachers, administrators, staff, and parents.

Why join?

  • You can have your voice and perspective heard.

  • You can fundraise to support programs and initiatives.

  • You can learn about the school community, and they can learn about you.

  • You can be “reflective.” Your children can submit their work to The National PTA’s Reflections program. This 50-year-old program provides opportunities for recognition and access to the arts. Students submit artworks in several categories based on the year’s theme.

Join today and follow on social media!

PTA Join: https://whepta.memberhub.com/store Twitter and Instagram @WHEPTA

SEPTA Join: https://1966.memberhub.com/store Twitter @WHSEPTARocks Instagram @WHSEPTA

PTSA Join: https://whptsa-10-285.memberhub.com/store Twitter and Instagram @WHPTSA

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Upcoming Events

10/18 BOE Meeting - BOE Recognition

10/21 CA Fall Festival

10/22 ACT Exam

10/24 7:30 PM PTSA - VCR SS

10/24-10/28 Red Ribbon Week

10/25 PSAT (Grade 11)

10/25 CA Fall Festival Rain Date

10/27 CS Fall Festival

10/28 7ht/8th Grade Dance

10/28 CS Fall Festival Rain Date