Sipley School Weekly Howl

Week of Monday, October 17, 2016

"When we only focus on our results, we miss what is important. When we judge ourselves (or others) based on results only, we miss life's extraordinary gifts, fail to see our own contributions, and discard many benefits along the way."

Daria Boissonnas

PARCC Data and the Mathematical Gap between Girls and Boys

As shared in our morning meeting, one gap that we need to focus on is the gender gap in the mathematical performance of boys and girls. Our boys are outperforming our girls in the percentage of students at benchmark and when overall growth is considered. This is near and dear to Cyndi, so she is beginning to take a deep dive into our data to begin developing questions to ask, which deserve answers. Her daughter is obtaining a degree in engineering and she is a hot commodity in the job market right now! Her daughter may come in and speak to our girls in an all girl assembly. Cyndi may take a group of girls and form an after-school-club, focusing on a growth mindset and placing girls in positions to embrace mathematical challenges.

Some things that can help in this area is conversation with our girls. Focus and attention on Dweck's work related to growth mindsets is highly recommended.

Here are some other tips I found:

  • Understand that girls generally begin processing information on the brain's left, or language, side. So, girls deconstruct math concepts verbally. Looking at something on a board or screen is not enough. They need to unpack the problem using language. They need to "talk it through". Kagan structures such as a Timed-Pair-Share, Talking Chips, or Rally Coach will provide space for students to "talk it through."

  • Girls are more responsive to color than boys. Color-code toys and blocks for sorting and patterning beginning at an early age. Buy colored blocks and when you build with them make patterns. Add color to visual representations of math models.

  • Never tell her the answer. Ever. The point of math is not so much to get the answer but to figure out how to get it. The more you do for your daughter the more you short circuit her self esteem. If she is stuck on something, keep asking questions. Ask her questions all the time in every context, especially domestic ones. "How do you think we should do this?" "Could there be another way?" Perseverance is key. Children need to acquire this love of discovery and embrace that journey versus giving up because they can't find an answer or a solution.

  • Never accept language such as "I can't do this" or "I'm bad at math." And so on. She can do it. MATH IS MEANT TO BE HARD. Tell her that. It stretches her brain, just as physical activities stretch her body. The more she stretches the easier it gets.

  • More for parents - Present our girls with positive role models. Find a female pediatrician, accountant, engineer, etc. Girls often say they hate science and math but they love medicine, for example. (The numbers of females entering medicine is increasing every year with women attracted by the empathic nature of medical science.) And never put down your own ability. Don't tell your daughter that you "are not good" at math, or anything else along those lines.

Check out the Link on Growth Mindsets

Kudos to Natalie Dunne!

Through reflection, I found that I am a bad listener. In the past, as I listen, I found my mind trying to come up with a response or a thought versus truly embracing the other person's thoughts and listening for understanding of another person. I found that this is fairly wide spread amongst people. I have been working on this in myself! I am finding my self-reflection and post-observation meetings are far better because I am an active listener now. I am tuning in to highlights more and more. This results in more questions that add to conversation.

In a conversation with Natalie during a self-reflection, I was in awe at some of her recent shifts. She has a tree in her room filled with leaves of positive moments of students. She assigns a "Mystery Student" where while focusing on all students, tunes into one student each class to observe closer than others. That student is then recognized at the end of the lesson for the positive things the student has done. The student is added to then added to the tree! As a result, she has heard students correct each other and say things like, "You might be the mystery student." They are respectfully correcting each other. She moved from a system of punishment to one of positivity. She still has consequences, which are visible and fair.

Kudos for such reflection and refinement in practice!!!

For more information on this, talk to Natalie! In addition, I am providing a link on a Mystery Motivator that you may incorporate into your instruction, perhaps aligning behavioral goals to what your Second Step curriculum. Mystery Motivator is different than what Natalie does, but along similar lines. I love Natalie's use of the Mystery Student. It works well for her and our students.

Family Literacy Night

We are finalizing plans for a "Family Literacy Night." It will take place on November 10 from 6:00 - 7:30. We have a number of staff who will participate. The purpose is to provide parents with information about how their child learns to be a reader and ways they might support their child at home. Parents will learn how to utilize the pacing calendar to see what their child is learning at any given time during the school year, parents will participate in a minilesson, and parents will learn a strategy that they can use at home to guide or question their reader. Parents will also have the choice to attend breakout sessions. These include information on Fundations, language development, interventions used at school, the PARCC test, understanding the STAR and PARCC parent report, word work in primary grades, the gifted learner, advice on getting children to read each night, and an open-ended Q and A.

This night will help strengthen our home and school connection. I am thankful to staff for volunteering their time!

STP Fun Run

This is our largest fundraiser. The Fun Run times will take place at:



8:25-8:50 - Ceresa/Pyburn

8:50-9:15 - Siran (AM)

9:25-9:50 - Goldman/Spear

9:50-10:15 - Holub/Zei

10:15-10:40 - Dorsey/Melonides (AM)

10:40-11:05 - Jackson/Graves

11:20-12:20 - Lunch/Recess

12:25-12:50 - Ley/Melonides (PM)

12:50-1:15 - Siran (PM)/Berger

1:15-1:40 - Maris/Serpe

Pumpkins with Parents

Pumpkins with Parents will take place on the morning of October 28. Thanks to staff who are finalizing plans on this! It will be a great opportunity to involve our parents and promote the literacy work our students have been doing during this recent unit!

A Glance at the Week Ahead

Monday - STP Fun Run

Monday - I am out of the office in the morning. I will attend an SEL Review 360 Training at the PDC

Tuesday - Nicole Dorsey's Birthday!!!!

Tuesday - DEB and Learning Lab is cancelled. Title I has a training.

Wednesday - Full Day Kindergarten Planning Meeting - Kathy Siran will attend.

Thursday - I will be out of the building attending Outdoor Ed. Mr. Engler will be on call for Sipley.

Friday - I will be out of the building attending Outdoor Ed. Mr. Engler will be on call for Sipley.

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