To the Point

Prairie Point Staff Newsletter

Volume 3, Issue #3: Friday, September 1, 2017

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I know that it has been a few weeks since we all had the opportunity to watch Paper Dragons at Convocation. We will be following up on the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences during our September 22nd Institute Day.

Dr. Sparlin shared the following article, What Happens When a Regular High School Decides No Student is a Lost Cause. This article had many similarities to the school highlighted in Paper Dragons. I found it to be an easy read that reinforced many of the important messages and themes from the movie.

AVID - Advancement Via Individual Determination

I have shared our AVID goals for the year a few times. You may recall that in several goals we touch on opportunities for teachers to begin to learn WICOR strategies that could be incorporated into the classroom. We will spend a few minutes of each faculty meeting learning about WICOR strategies and even, at times, practicing them.

If you don't recall, WICOR is an acronym for Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization and Reading. Obviously, there isn't an order to the acronym, as each of these disciplines and strategies are equally important to our instruction.

At our faculty meeting on Wednesday, we will spend a few minutes diving into Inquiry and talking about Costa's Levels of Questioning and Thinking. To prepare for Wednesday, please take a few (or 15) minutes to watch the video below. We will build upon this information with an activity on Wednesday.

Important Information

Curriculum Night

Curriculum Night is Wednesday, September 6th from 6pm - 7:30pm. This is the time that was set by the district. Home and School will be serving dinner at 4:30pm. In continuing with our theme "Better Together", Home and School will be providing Spaghetti and Meatballs!

As in previous years, we will continue with two sessions.

  • Session 1 - 6pm - 6:40pm
  • Session 2 - 6:45pm - 7:25pm

I have also included links to the PowerPoint presentations that the district provided for Curriculum Night. Be sure to click on the links below for that information.

Field Trip Information

There have been several changes to Field Trips this year. We are in the process of finalizing the approved field trip list. Once that has final approval, I will share it with you.

Please note that there are a few changes to the entire field trip process this year. First the process for pre-approval has changed. There is a google form that must be filled out. It is likely that Kim will provide you with the paper copy of the form first. Then either you or Kim will enter it into the google form. Second, the cost for field trips has significantly increased, as the district is no longer covering the cost for transportation. All field trips must be fully funded by the students. Finally, there is a new standard permission slip that will be used by all students when attending a field trip.

Here is a review of the new guidelines and procedures for all field trips.

1. Field trips must be related to the approved district curriculum or co-curricular activity and benefit the well-being of each participating student.

2. In order for a field trip to be considered, at least 30 days prior to the intended trip, the staff member in-charge must complete and submit a Field Trip Request Form via google forms. The form will be emailed back to the individual who submitted it by the next day with costs calculated. At this point the building should print the form and submit it as well as the Field Trip Request Packet to the building administrator for approval. Those not submitted by the deadline may not be approved.

3. Once the field trip is approved by the administrator, the trip may be entered into Trip Tracker. Entry into Trip Tracker is not indication of final approval.

4. Scan/email the completed Field Trip Request form to

5. FINAL APPROVAL will be emailed to building from the Associate Superintendent's office.

6. The staff member in-charge must receive building AND district approval before notifying students of the field trip, proceeding with any non-reversible arrangements , or posting/advertising regarding the field trip. Once approval has been granted, all necessary arrangements and notifications will be made by the sponsoring staff member.

a. All students attending the field trip are required to sign and return the "Authorization for Participation in a Field Trip" form

b. No chaperone/supervisor is allowed to accompany any field trip with out a verified, successful background check by he Associate Superintendent's office.

Partnering with Parents

If the following article looks familiar to you, it is because I copied it out of the To the Point that I sent you last year at about this time. I copied it here, because I always like to review thoughts before curriculum night. I do find them to be helpful as we prepare to meet parents (some for the first time) and partner with them this school year!

With Curriculum Night right around the corner, I wanted to take a minute to touch on the importance of parent communication. As I mentioned during our first faculty meeting this year, I have great appreciation for the role that parents play as the primary educator. I know that every parent is doing the very best that they know how to do and only wants the very best for his or her child.

As educators we have the great privilege of partnering with parents to build upon that foundation that has been nurtured in the home. Some of our parents have backgrounds in education and are running a "mini school" at home, others rely on technology to fill the gap by providing access to educational games and apps and some have their own unique ways of promoting literacy and helping with homework. As a parent, I am able to best help my child at home when communication is strong between school and home.

Here are a few things to consider as we conclude our 3rd week of school and prepare for our first formal meeting with parents:

1. Parents want to know who is teaching their child - I hope that by this point, everyone has sent out initial communication introducing yourself to our families, sharing a little about yourself and your experiences and sharing your love and passion for teaching and for our students. If this got by you at the start of the year, Curriculum Night is a great opportunity to share a little of yourself.

2. It is important to parents that you like their child - Each parent is sending us the single most important person to them. They unconditionally love, and regardless of their shortcomings, think that their child is AWESOME! Parents want to know that you do as well. I know it might seem funny, but over the years I've talked to parents and one of their concerns on parent-teacher conference day is wondering of the teacher likes their child. I also hope that your first communications with parents have been positive. I know that none of us want our first phone call home or note home to be one that shares bad behavior or a problem. While we certainly have students who will test the limits at the start of school, please consider how you have or will communicate with parents so that their first message from you isn't a negative one.

3. Do parents know what to expect? Parents can best support what we do in the classroom when they know the expectations. If you have a weekly test or assessment that you give every Thursday - make sure that parents know. If you want students to read 20 minutes every night, be sure to reinforce this with our parents. I know that our planners serve as a tool for writing down daily homework, however, some of those ongoing expectations might need a little more attention.

4. Our kids learned nothing today! Many of our students are guilty of telling their parents that they didn't learn anything at school today. I certainly hope that our parents hear this and know that it is ridiculous. We work tirelessly to engage our students, tap into prior learning, make math and science come alive and spark excitement through literature! If we, however, are not out there sharing the good news and awesome works in our school, some parents may believe that we did nothing today! How are you sharing the good news in your classroom?

5. How do you plan to continue the great communication that kicked off the school year? I am as guilty as the next. I plan to send out biweekly and monthly newsletters...but as the weeks get busy and I'm pulled in so many different directions sometimes biweekly can slide to triweekly. Following my communication plan is a huge goal for me this year. I am prioritizing communication and making sure that slide to next week does not happen. One way that I do this is letting everyone know when they can expect this communication. By setting a deadline and letting everyone know, I am holding myself accountable. Do your parents know when they can expect to hear from you? Are you sticking to sending weekly emails, putting a newsletters in a take-home folder or posting classroom communication? This might look different in every classroom or grade level - but one thing needs to be consistent: Parents should know how you will communicate with them and where they should look for this communication.

I am excited for Curriculum Night and know that we will continue to partner with our parents! Thank you for all that you do!

Social Emotional Learning Resources

We will continue to use the SEL resources, Second Step and Inner Explorer. I will work on getting Inner Explorer accounts up and running next week, if you are not already able to log into them.

I thought it might be helpful to review the Second Step curriculum scope and sequence. I emailed that out to you earlier today.

It is excited to have two social workers to support students and classrooms this year. I hope to be able to provide even more SEL support throughout the building.

In Every Issue...

Wednesday Morning Meeting Schedule

The Wednesday Morning Meeting Schedule has been shared with you and is available by clicking below.

Wednesday's Faculty Meeting

We will have a faculty meeting on Wednesday, September 6th. We will provide an update on MTSS and then focus on WICOR Strategies (Inquiry with Costa's Levels of Questions).

Prairie Point Family Celebrations

Requesting Summer Updates

Still requesting updates of our extended Prairie Point Family. I know that weddings were had, grandbabies were born and lots of exciting accomplishments took place over the summer months...send pictures my way!

This is the part of our news letter where we can share exciting updates and pictures of ourselves or our family. I loved sharing some of the exciting accomplishments of our faculty members' children last year. Let's keep it going. If you have something exciting to share from the summer (weddings, grandchildren, academic, arts or sports accomplishments...) send them my way and I will include them in our next newsletter. I love when our celebrations include pictures!!!