Elementary Newsletter

From the Desk of Mrs. Buchanan-Rivera

Dear Families,

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving break! Christ is certainly the reason for the season and it has been a joy to celebrate Christmas with students through worship. As a part of our Positive Behavior Support initiative, the students are learning about PATIENCE this month! Teachers are facilitating powerful discussions in regards to the Fruit of the Spirit. Make sure to ask your student(s) about those lessons at home! Thank you for also supporting the annual auction and Thanksgiving school lunch! It is always a pleasure to meet families and engage in moments of fellowship!

Friendly Reminders:

  • The TPCA Elementary Christmas program will be on Monday, December 7, 2015 at the Traders Point Christian Church Worship Center. K-2 students will meet their teacher in the worship center at 6:20pm. The program will begin at 6:30pm. Grades 3-6 (5/6 choir) need to arrive at TPCC promptly at 7:00pm. Their program will begin at 7:15pm.
  • As the temperature continues to change, please ensure that your child has the appropriate attire for colder conditions- hat, gloves, coat, boots, etc. Teachers will continue to send reminders of outdoor activity expectations. We want to maintain safety and diminish illnesses. Additionally, yoga pants and tights should not be worn as pants per our handbook. They are allowable if a shirt, sweater, or skirt is worn over them to finger-tip length. Thanks in advance for following these protocols!
  • Early pick-up: Families, if you intend to pick up your child early, please make sure to notify the office staff in advance. It is challenging to locate student in the midst of dismissal procedures. Your partnership in this effort will ensure a smooth dismissal process!

Did You Know TPCA has a Blog?

It is our goal to become a community of writers at TPCA. The elementary students have embraced this goal through daily writing practice in Writers’ Workshop. However, you may not have known that the TPCA administrative team demonstrates steps towards this school-wide goal through our new blog. There are a variety of entries already uploaded that describe learning, school initiatives, and Christian principles for families.

This is an excerpt from my blog, Upsides to Difficult Learning:

Upsides to Difficult Learning

We live in a society that projects value in solutions and instant gratification. If an item is broken, we find means to immediately fix it. When adversity emerges, we do all that we can to minimize the depths of our situation or avoid cumbersome circumstances altogether. We are naturally wired to peruse for resolutions rather than to endure an individualized process of problem-solving that leads to self-discovery. As lifelong learners, we will face unknown territories that build our schema and enhance our knowledge. When we encounter struggles, our approach outweighs the outcome.

How can we handle what life presents in productive ways?

The learning that takes place within classrooms yields to many challenges that causes one to exam their grit and mindset. When new information is introduced and there are difficulties to encode understandings, how can children advance as learners?

To read more from this entry and multiple other entries from administrators, please check out the link below. We are truly working hard to lead by example! If we want our students to value writing, we have to model our role as authors!


ISTEP and Knowing Your Child as Learner

The preliminary results of the Spring 2015 ISTEP+ demonstrated significant drops in student achievement across the state of Indiana. In 2014-2015, Indiana adopted new, rigorous educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade. The adoption of standards led to the development of an assessment that was devised to measure the mastery of new learning objectives. Indiana Superintendent of Public instruction, Glena Ritz, warned the board of directors that more rigorous standards and assessments would lead to lower test scores.

The decline in scores was anticipated to reflect as high as 20%-30%. In addition to the changes in assessments, many concerns arose in regards to the duration of the assessment as well as technological aspects of testing. Many school district personnel across the state reported and documented challenges pertaining to the delivery as well as the content of the Spring 2015 ISTEP+ assessment. Therefore, the delay in score retrieval has caused many educational leaders to question the validity of the assessment including the projected outcomes.

Please note that one test does not measure the academic abilities or strengths of all students. ISTEP+ should serve as tool for student progress; however, it does not paint the picture of a child’s innate capabilities. While remaining true to best practices and authentic learning, our staff will not make the pressures of ISTEP+ a priority or teach to the test in ways that diminish the joy from learning. We want our students to become critical thinkers who are able to navigate through struggles productively!

Here are some valid ways to know your student as a learner:

  • NWEA: This assessment is taken 3 times a year and indicates a student’s level of understanding specific standards within academic content. TPCA educators should have shared this information with families during conferences in October.
  • Common Assessments: Review unit examinations (quizzes, tests, project rubrics, etc.) of your child. Note the learning objectives for the unit of study and how your student answers questions. Are complete thoughts utilized? Do the answers make logical sense with deductive reasoning?
  • Conferences: Meeting regularly or talking with your student’s teacher will help to provide insights regarding their performance socially and academically.
  • Conversations: Does your student(s) openly discuss the learning that takes place within the classroom? If you inquire about learning objectives or goals within each content area, could your student provide adequate feedback?
  • Literacy: How does your student see himself/herself as a reader or writer? Does your student read or write daily beyond the instructional walls of a classroom? Oral and written communication indicates the strengths or weaknesses in fluency, processing, comprehension, expression, and the synthesis of information.
  • Problem-Solving: How does your student approach a problem? Do they use visuals or scientific reasoning while asking questions? Document your child’s process for reaching sound conclusions.
  • Level of Independency: Whether the task is a project or homework, it is important to gauge your child’s level of independency. How often do you guide your student to complete work?

The final ISTEP+ results should be available by December 22, 2015. Continue to keep all aspects of learning in mind upon the emergence of scores. Importantly, it is our mission to impact the world the Christ! Although assessments may present their flaws, there is always validity in the God’s word! We have excellent teachers who are working diligently to show God’s love to students daily via learning opportunities. We want our students to know that their lives are worth more than a test score. Therefore, consider the mentioned indicators for learning throughout the year and work closely with educators to determine the progress of your student!

Benefits of Writers' Workshop Through the Eyes of a Child

Students are enjoying their time as authors. They are learning many traits of writing including: voice, sentence fluency, organization, ideas, word choice, and conventions. Third grade student, Sarah Pfleeger, shares the benefits of a daily writing class as a participant in Writers Workshop:

“The benefits of having a writing class are varied. One of the benefits is that it shows you the different ways, or types of writing. We have six traits of writing. How would we learn all of the traits thoroughly if we didn’t have a writing class a day?... Writing also teaches you how to read. If you didn’t know how to write and your friend passed you a note, you wouldn’t be able to read the note because you were not familiar with the letters.

If we didn’t have a writing class a day, I would not be able to write this acrostic …


Writing is wonderful

Radiant action is in the written the book, Charlotte’s Web

It is incredible

Totally cool!

It takes me into a world of creativity

Necessary to have Every Day!

Great to learn

Reading is very important and if you cannot write, you cannot read. As I hope that you can see, it is very important to have a writing class a day.”

I value input from our students! Continue to write with your child daily!


Mrs. Erica Buchanan-Rivera

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