Keowee's Friday Flash Forward

News from Your Assistant Principal, Rhonda Grant


You can feel the electricity in the air! Lights are twinkling, carols are playing, and

visions of sugar plums are surely dancing in their heads. Nothing like life in an elementary school the weeks prior to Christmas break! I admire and appreciate each of you for being able to find a balance between keeping students in engaged in learning and embracing the fun of the this special time of year. I know the days are long and tiring, but I hope you find joy this season through the eyes of your students.

Today we wrapped up our final day of Shop 'til You Drop. With nearly 300 shoppers in 2 days, it's been busy, busy, busy, but fun, fun, fun! This year marks our 7th annual STYD event, and every year I comment, "They shop--I drop," but it's the best tired I know. Thanks to all who donated items and/or their time to help make this year's event a success.

MAP testing begins Monday. Students in grades 2-5 will be testing in reading next week. Josh & I have begun our individual goal setting conferences with students and will complete these meetings before each student's initial testing session.

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A Gift of Words

Below is an article I read recently on Edutopia. Once I read it, I knew I wanted to share it with you. The author, Jane Hancock, is Co-director of the UCLA Writing Project following her public school teaching career. She provides professional development to teachers in the field. Hancock believes that, "to teach writing you must write yourself--and as you go through the process, you then know what students need to become writers." The article details the creative classroom activity where students package their favorite line from a book, poem, movie, or song to "gift" to another classmate.

Originally Published: November 12, 2014 | Updated: November 23, 2015

I belong to a book club, one that has continued since 1990. Think of all the books we have read together. And we're serious about this, too. We're not one of those clubs that gather together to eat and then never talk about the book. We talk about the book. One month a year we read a play out loud -- assign parts, read from beginning to end. We are not a group of actors and it's a cold reading, but we enjoy it. Sometimes we read and then go to the play; sometimes we see the play first and then read. Once a year, in December, we each buy a book of poetry, mark in some way a poem or two that we particularly like, wrap it attractively and bring it to book club. We have this crazy little ritual where we put all the books on the dining room table and then walk around the table. At some unknown signal that we all recognize we stop and take the package in front of us. And then we open our gifts, one at a time, and read the chosen poem out loud to the whole group. What a wonderful evening of words, a breathless barrage of ideas, images, stories. We enjoy meeting our old favorites, delight in exploring new poets. Twenty-five years equals 250 books read, 25 plays acted out, and 25 evenings of poetry.

In the Classroom

"How can I replicate this poetry experience in my classroom?" I wondered as I drove home that first December of the book club. "I can't ask my students to spend 10 dollars or more but they have to experience what I just experienced." And out of that came what I call "the gift of words."

Okay, class, here's what I want you to bring with you on the last day of school before winter break. I want you to find a poem, a saying, a paragraph you like -- something that speaks to you because of its message, its beauty, its format. I want you to copy it onto a piece of paper, put it into a box, and wrap it. Be sure to include, before you wrap it, the name of the author and your name as the giver.

When the day came, students placed their packages on my desk. They varied from huge to tiny, from carefully wrapped to hurriedly tossed together. And yes, there were those who forgot, who scribbled "Just do it" on a piece of notebook paper, folded it like a paper football, and added it to the pile. I provided a few extra, just in case. How to start. "Whose birthday is closest to Christmas? Okay, you're first. Pick any present you want." Suspense. What would she get? I was not disappointed. The contents varied -- favorites from "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein to Bible verses, song lyrics, and short sayings like "Just do it." The experiment was a success. Everyone in the class had a gift and I had the greatest gift of all.

Since that December in 1990 the idea of a gift of words has spread out of the classroom -- into professional development meetings, into family gatherings. When my school wanted to "celebrate" my pseudo-retirement, my first words were, "No gifts." "How about a gift of words?" was their response. And that is what I received: a basketful of little boxes, beautifully packaged, each holding a precious gift -- words just for me. I savor each message. My favorite was by James Michener: "I love writing. I love the swirl and the swing of words as they tangle with human emotions." I have watched the words swirl and swing in my book club, in my classroom, in my writing groups. I could not ask for a better gift

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Core Essentials Trait for Decmber is...

COMPASSION--caring enough to do something about someone else's need

Compassion is one of the most important qualities to foster in our students. Not only is it important for developing world citizens, but it helps students develop understandings of other cultures and perspectives. A large component of Social Studies education is the study of humans: society, history, anthropology, human nature. In order to understand and study these things, it is important to have compassion for the perspectives and the people you are studying.

In a bigger picture, compassion is also a value and a trait of human beings that is crucial for a well-funcitoning society. In a smaller one, fostering compassion in students is believed to reduce bullying and create a safe and respectful learning environment for all students and people in a school, classroom or community.

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Word of the Week...

The WOW for the week of December 7-11 is VERSATILE. Two students from Mrs. Black's 5th grade class will be sharing their original sentences on the news Friday morning!

John Collins FCAs for December

K Word choice: content & academic vocabulary (content)

1 Use comma in dates & in items in a series (mechanics)

2 Word choice (content)

3 Word choice (content)

4 Content specific word choice (content)

5 Best word choice (content)


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Laughter is a great stress relief, and that's no joke. Enjoy these funny holiday scenes, and lighten your mental load for the weekend!
Funny Christmas Fails Compilation
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December 7-18 Winter MAP (see schedule for details)

December 10 SST @ 12:00

December 10 PTO Pictures w/ Santa & Spaghetti Dinner @ 5:30-7:00 PM

December 15 KES chorus presents "North Pole Musical" @ 9:00 AM

December 18 Early Dismissal

December 18 Staff Luncheon & Holiday Painting