Winfield Weekly

Little People, Big Dreams, Bright Futures (12-14-14)

Spotlight on Teaching and Learning

Teaching is hard enough, but add in the preparation for a sub (or worse- an unplanned absence) and it may send you right over the edge! We all have many responsibilities and on occasion need to be out of the classroom. What's important is that our students get on with the business of learning- and teachers take care of their own needs, too! Here are some points to consider when preparing for a substitute teacher:

1. The sub you have "chosen" may not be the sub who ends up in your classroom. Depending on the needs of the building, preferred subs may be moved to another location if the need arises. So, plan accordingly. Your plans should be easy to understand and follow for any sub.

2. Your sub likely does not have teaching experience. Preparing activities that can be implemented by all skill level subs is crucial. Don't leave a fancy lesson on the trait of "voice" for your writing block. Your sub may misinterpret what "voice" is in writing and your children will be reading their writing in all different dialects...

3. Kids aren't great at relaying information at when Johnny's mom wonders why you haven't returned her call/email/written is likely she isn't aware of the teacher's absence. If you are absent more than 1 consecutive day- I strongly suggest you communicate it to your parents. You don't have to give them a reason why, but just a heads up you will be out. It will be appreciated...and may cut down on calls/emails from them until you return.

4. Don't assume your sub knows the basics of your classroom. Leave a detailed time schedule, emergency plans (or directions to their location), seating chart, transportation list, and any other "no-brainers" that you automatically take care of each day.

5. Leave YOUR expectations for sub behavior in your plans. If you expect your sub to be actively monitoring the classroom (i.e. walking around during work time) then SAY SO! You know the saying about those who ass-u-me things....don't assume the sub will know how to properly monitor and support your kiddos.

6. Communicate info to your sub, without being too specific that it breaks confidentiality, about any "special friends" they need to be aware of. It can be as simple as, "Judy struggles to stay on task and gets support from Mrs. Henderlong and Mrs. Alonzo. Please call one of them if you are having difficulty with Judy's cooperation."

7. Realize your impact on your children. Though subs are necessary from time to time, and you will likely return to your students and find them just fine, remember that you have an ENORMOUS impact on their little lives each day. That can never be truly replicated.

Week-at-a-Glance (December 15-19)

Monday- School Board Meeting @ 7pm

Tuesday- X

Wednesday- Christmas Breakfast @ 7:50 am/ RTI Meetings

Thursday- SOTM Breakfast

Friday- Grade Level Meetings/ Staff Luncheon


  • Continue sending your WEEKLY Classroom Newsletters. Include me on your email if you send it electronically to your families. ALL teachers are expected to communicate to their families on a weekly basis.
  • Complete STAR assessments. The tests must be administered with fidelity. All students, unless they have an IEP or RTI plan provision, should be tested in the same manner. These allows for the comparison/standardization of results.
  • Before break, make sure that all extra appliances are unplugged and everything is completely shut down.
  • Drop off Angel/Pixie gifts all week.
  • Turn off lights when not in your classroom. Even if you are going for copies, shut them off. Every little bit helps with our energy bills!
  • Remember that I am here to support YOU. I know we have all been very busy with conferences, evaluations, and everything we do...if you need me--please ask. After evaluation conferences are complete I will be back in classrooms frequently. I may not always be completing an iObservation...I may simply be doing a quick walkthrough to see the great things you do.

Notes and Other News...

  • PLEASE JOIN ME at the School Board meeting on Monday night at 7 pm. It'll be brief--- Dr. Eineman is honoring all of the schools for a letter grade "A" with a commendation. Please attend to help accept the honor. You teachers are the ones who have earned it!! I promise you will be out by 7:30!!
  • I am at Winfield all meetings as of right now :)
  • If you are ill, put in for a sub ASAP. All through the district we are short subs...
  • We will stay indoors for recess when the temps with wind chill are below 20 degrees.
  • If you have a new referral for RTI, please make sure they are currently Tier 1 in RDS and you have conferred with parents. Email me their name and we will schedule a time to meet. Wednesday afternoons are reserved for existing students in RTI.


Get your guided reading on....
Guided Reading: How to Organize a Guided Reading Classroom
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Six Important Common Core Shifts in Math

(Originally titled “Teachable Moments in Math”)

***Even though we are IAS not Common Core, these skills are found in on!

In this Educational Leadership article, Linda Griffin and David Ward (Lewis and Clark University) say that successful implementation of Common Core math standards hinges on teachers understanding five significant shifts:

The equal sign (1.OA.D.7) – A common student misconception is that = is shorthand for “the answer is” – a prompt to solve the problem and write the correct answer. The meaning that students need to internalize in the early grades is subtly different: = expresses a relationship between quantities on either side, shorthand for “is the same as.” This lays the groundwork for future mathematical learning, especially in algebra (x + 5 = 11), opening the door to new strategies for solving complex problems. Griffin and Ward suggest that elementary teachers explicitly teach several synonyms for the equal sign (is the same as, has the same value as, balances, is worth the same), use a drawing of a balance scale or teeter-totter as a visual reminder, and vary the position of the solution blanks in number problems.

Cardinality (K.CC.B.4) – A kindergarten girl is asked to count five cubes and correctly touches each one, saying, “One, two, three, four, five.” The teacher can tell if the child understands cardinality by asking how many cubes there are. If the child says “Five,” she understands. If she starts counting again, she hasn’t yet grasped that the last number has a special meaning – the number of objects in the set. This gives meaning to the counting process and opens the door to addition and subtraction solutions. It’s important for primary-grade teachers to follow up counting tasks by asking how many – for example, “How many children ordered hot lunch today?” Teachers can also encourage students to use counting as a strategy to solve more-complex problems – for example, “How many would we have if we combined these two piles of cubes?” or “How many pencils would you have if I took two out of your basket?”

Properties (in several Common Core grade 1 and 2 standards) – Griffin and Ward suggest putting less emphasis on terms and abstractions (commutative and associative) and more on using them to make good strategic decisions to solve problems – for example, rearranging the numbers in the problem 6 + 7 + 4 into 7 + 6 + 4 makes the problem much easier to solve (adding 6 + 4 to make ten and then adding the 7). “Students who develop a habit of mind for problem solving that includes reflection and planning ahead will be able to use this skill to great advantage throughout their mathematical careers,” they say. “Students without this capacity have a tendency to plunge headlong into every problem without first taking a step back to identify the goal and consider multiple solution paths.” One teaching strategy to build this skill is giving students several problems with the same number combination reversed (for example, 5+2 and 2+5) and drawing attention to students who see that they have the same value, providing a shortcut in future problems with bigger numbers.

Composing and decomposing (these occur in six Common Core K-2 standards across three domains) – “Students who develop flexible thinking about numbers early in their schooling are poised to develop complex mathematical thinking as they progress through the grades,” say Griffin and Ward. “Students who can decompose and recompose numbers see many options when presented with a challenging computational problem.” For example, 27 + 19 becomes much easier when a student sees the three tens or the two twenties or the 25 and 10. Teachers should frequently get students breaking numbers down to simpler pieces and ask questions like, “If you take my number apart one way, you can see 25 and 25 and 5. If you take it apart another way, you can see 40 and 15. What’s my number?”

Unknowns (1.OA.A1) – A standard results-unknown problem – Dina had 12 marbles. She gave her cousin 7 marbles. How many marbles does Dina have left? – lends itself to students using cubes, drawings, or fingers to solve. But putting the unknown in a different position makes the problem more complex and challenges students to generate and apply more-sophisticated problem-solving strategies:

  • Dina had 12 marbles. She gave her cousin some marbles. Now Dina has 5 marbles. How many marbles did Dina give her cousin?

  • Dina had some marbles. She gave her cousin 7 marbles. Now Dina has 5 marbles left. How many marbles did Dina have at the start?

    Griffin and Ward suggest that teachers regularly give students problems with unknowns in varying positions and work on developing robust solution strategies.

“Teachable Moments in Math” by Linda Griffin and David Ward in Educational Leadership, December 2014/January 2015 (Vol. 72, #4, p. 34-40),; the authors can be reached at and