Staff Weekly Update

For the Week of December 14th, 2015

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Mark your calendars for this Wednesday, December 16th @ 8:10 AM in the Staff Lounge! The office staff will be hosting a Holiday Breakfast to honor the November & December birthdays. Please come with empty stomachs and full hearts! It will be a perfect time for festive fellowship before we depart for Winter break!

Last but not least . . . be sure to check for your team's responsibilities from the Joy Club!

Tuesday Take-Aways from Allison Spillman!

We all know that Allison Spillman has an incredible amount of knowledge to share! In case you haven't noticed, she has started a weekly email called Tuesday Take-Aways in order to give you "professional tips in smalls sips," and avoid having to drink from the fire-hose! THANK YOU, ALLISON!

Here is a repeat of her Tuesday Take-Aways from last week:

Writing Tip for K-1 Teachers:

  • To help primary learners keep track of topics, create a Writing Topic Form!
  • This form can be full-sheet or a half-sheet
  • Create a table of blank boxes - box sizes should be a little smaller than a post-it note
  • Send this form home with students for them to fill out with parents and then return to school.
  • Leave some boxes blank in case new ideas pop up during the unit.
  • Students cross off the topic once they have written about it, which may help to keep from having 10 books about Mine Craft . . . :-)
  • For a narrative unit, have students add 2-3 character names to the box to help keep the writing focused. (The topic may be Thanksgiving, but the characters are going to be Sally and Tommy.)

Reading Tip for 2nd-4th Grade Teachers:

  • Strategy is called: Infer to Figure It Out
  • When students come to a word they haven’t heard before or for which they don’t know the meaning, teach them to pick up on clues in the text or from the pictures that might help them figure out the meaning of the word. They can also use what they know about the story, such as setting or mood to help them as well.
  • Here are some prompts you can use with your students:
  • · Check the picture.

    · What might this word mean?

    · Reread what comes before. Does that help?

    · Keep reading past the word. Can you figure out what it means now?

    · Say back what you think the clues are.

    · Yes, I think that meaning makes sense with the clues you collected.

Source: The Reading Strategies Book, by Jennifer Serravallo. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!

ZCS 2015-2016 District Priorities

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BUCKETS OF SALT AROUND SGE EXIT/ENTRANCES . . . soon after we return from Winter break, you will notice buckets of salts & a scoop by certain doors around the building. Lids and "Do Nout Touch" labels will be on them, however - PLEASE LET STUDENTS KNOW THEY ARE NOT TO TOUCH OR OPEN THIS CONTAINER. Having these materials nearby strategic exit/enter doors will help to get the salt distributed faster during times of inclement weather. Thank you!

AM CAR RIDER "DROP-OFF HERE" SIGNS . . . these signs will be temporarily gone during the months of January, February and possibly part of March. As we prepare for snow, our maintenance department will need our sidewalks as clear as possible in order to plow the snow. We will be letting parents know in our newsletters but please feel free to also mention this in your parent communication as well! This does NOT mean that our car drop-off procedures have change. They have not - parents will still need to pull all the way up to where Mrs. Spillman or another staff members tell them to so that we can have multiple cars drop students off safely at once.

WITHAM FITLIFE ASSESSMENT - What is this? . . . I will be sending out a separate email with further details, but in short here is what this is:

  • Witham Health Services will be coming to SGE the week we return from Winter Break (Jan. 4th - 8th) to conduct "FitnessGram" for each child.
  • What is Fitness Gram? It's a county-wide fitness assessment and reporting program for youth.
  • Once the assessment is complete, parents will receive personalized information on his/her own child's fitness as it relates to good health, not athletic ability.

PLEASE HELP NURSE TWITTY . . . by doing your best with the following requests below:

  • Notify her and Connie/Martha if you have a confirmed case or suspicion of a student with lice. Our school policy is to check that one student first, but personally, I will ask Hailey to also check the cubby mates as a pro-active measure! :-)
  • Attempting NOT to send students down during her lunch time, from 12:00 - 12:30. I realize this is also 1st grade's recess time and that during this time, we are not immune to higher medical attention issues. Certainly, if something does occur, please call the office and we will do our very best to help support you and the student! THANK YOU!
  • Avoid walking through the clinic in order to get to your final destination. Actually, it is our parents and ME that is most guilty of this offense! :( However, I thought I would mention it so that it helps to eliminate all unnecessary traffic. We have to remember that this is her "classroom" and we must be sensitive and protective of HIPPA violations.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE . . . No, I'm not pregnant (I'm simply too old) and I'm not leaving SGE (you can't get rid of me just yet), but the Largent's have bought a new home! I have been ready to move for about 10 years now and FINALLY, we have found the right home! Our current home has been wonderful, but it's quite small. How small? The kitchen has no dishwasher . . . ok, actually it does, but the brand name is not Kenmore, it's Connie. :-/

We are planning to take possession in late January and will start doing some renovations before officially moving in. Our goal is to have the home ready for a May or June move-in date! When it's all ready, I would love to have a fun staff get-together and to welcome you all into our home! Until then, I AM IN NEED OF BOXES, PLEASE! Drop them off outside my office anytime! THANKS!

2015-2016 SGE & PTO CALENDAR

Please refer to the second Smore email right after the Staff Weekly Update has been sent out. This email will soon have our entire 2015-2016 Calendar of Events for SGE & PTO!

Please read the information on the "Smore SGE Calendar" for further details. Thanks!

Here are our beautiful birthday friends for December!

*If you are NEW and we do not have your birthdate, please email Alison so we can recognize you on your special day! Thank you!*


1 - Jen Skura

13 - Holly Fitzpatrick

21 - Angela Bourff

2015-2016 Lifelines

August - Cooperation

September - Respect

October - Flexibility

November - Gratitude

December - Generosity

January - Responsibility

February - Friendship

March - Perseverance

April - Self-Control

May - Integrity

Do We Teach Decoding in Small Groups or Whole Class? By Timothy Shanahan

GREAT ARTICLE - and it's short!! Click here for full article.

Cliff Notes Version:

Teacher question: You are confusing me. You have said that we should “never do in small group what could have been done as well as whole class,” but you also say that phonological awareness and phonics instruction are more effective when they are taught in small group. What should be taught in small group and what can be taught in whole class?

  • Frankly, I see too much done in small groups. Teachers often present the same information over and over. If she has four comprehension groups, she’ll explain how to predict or when to summarize four times. My preference would be for the teacher to explain the strategy or skill to the whole class and then guide the student practice later in small groups. Similarly, when a teacher has two groups reading the same selection, I’d combine them, though it would make them larger.
  • Now what about my phonics and phonological awareness statement? . . . That one is a little trickier . . .

    The conclusion was that studies that had looked at small group phonics teaching had bigger outcomes. Phonics and PA teaching work either way, but the small group delivery really magnifies those outcomes (perhaps because it facilitates the children seeing the teacher’s mouth movements and hearing the sounds clearly).