Principal's November Newsletter

Mrs. Phelan, Lowell Elementary School


Lowell School's Webpage on WPS Website Click Banner to Open

Lowell School Presents Parent Teacher Conferences

On Wednesday, November 13th from 6-8 pm we will have evening conferences. On Thursday, November 14th we will have Early release at 12:15 pm for parent conferences. If you have not signed up for a slot, please see the link below.

What to Expect During Conferences

Dear Parents and Guardians,

This newsletter intends to outline what you should expect and receive during your child's parent-teacher conference this month. You should receive two reports during your meeting. First, you will receive a Progress Report. Secondly, you will receive your child's i-Ready Parent Report. These two documents will help frame your discussion with the teacher.

The Standards-Based Progress Report will illustrate where your child is falling within the standards taught at his/her grade level. The marks on a standards-based progress report or report card are different from traditional letter grades. Letter grades are often calculated by combining how well the student met his/her particular teacher's expectations, how he/she performed on assignments and tests, and much effort the teacher believes he/she put in. Letter grades do not tell parents which skills their children have mastered or whether they are working at grade level.

Included in the progress report is information about your child's classroom and community skills, as well as how they perform as a learner.

Standards-based progress/report cards should provide more consistency between teachers than traditional report cards because all students are evaluated on the same grade-level skills. Parents can see exactly which skills and knowledge their child has acquired. Keep in mind the goal is to have students master the standard by the end of the school year. It is likely standards will be marked as progressing and some will not be introduced yet this term. That is because we've only been in school for two months.

The second document you will receive is the i-Ready Parent Report. Lowell is excited to continue using the Mathematics and Reading program called i-Ready. Last year we began using i-Ready as a diagnostic tool, and later in the year started using the online instruction component. After spending a year looking at our students' results and learning how to use the program best, we feel confident our students will see greater success this year. Below, you will find information about the application and how we will be using it in the classroom.

What is i-Ready?

i-Ready is an online program that will help us determine your child’s strengths and areas for growth, personalize their learning, and monitor their progress throughout the school year. i-Ready allows us to meet your child where they are and provides us with data to inform instruction.

The i-Ready Diagnostic is an adaptive assessment that adjusts its questions to suit your child’s needs. Each item a student receives is based on their answer to the previous question. For example, a series of correct answers will result in slightly harder questions, while a set of incorrect answers will yield slightly easier ones. The purpose of this is not to give your child a score or grade but to determine how to best support their learning.

i-Ready Instruction provides students with lessons based on their individual strengths and areas for growth. These lessons are interactive and offer strategic supports to keep your child engaged as they learn.

To support your child’s learning in Online Instruction, you can:

· Discuss your child’s progress in their i-Ready lessons.

· Celebrate your child’s learning and growth.

· Encourage them to use i-Ready at home.

They will need access to a computer or iPad, internet, and their login information. To check if your system meets the i-Ready system requirements, please visit. to run a system check.

Thank you for your continued support and for being a partner in your child’s learning! I look forward to sharing i-Ready information with you throughout the year. If you have any questions about i-Ready, please do not hesitate to contact me or the school. You can also learn more about

i-Ready by visiting

Overview The intent of the i-Ready Diagnostic is to help identify the specific skills each student needs to develop, determine each student’s areas of strength, and measure academic growth through the school year. The Diagnostic provides comprehensive insight into student learning across multiple domains.

The Diagnostic covers these mathematics domains:

Number and Operations Number and Operations in Grades K–8 refer to the mathematics skills often thought of as arithmetic, from reading and writing numbers to add, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing different types of numbers. This includes whole numbers, decimals, fractions, integers, and irrational numbers.


Algebra and Algebraic Thinking:

Algebra and Algebraic Thinking in Grades K–8 refers to mathematics skills related to seeing number patterns, understanding the meaning of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and using symbols to write and solve equations including those used to solve word problems. In the high school grades, this domain covers the Algebra topics related to using functions, equations, and inequalities to model mathematical situations and solve problems by reasoning quantitatively, and extending the understanding of operations beyond the real number system.

Measurement and Data:

Measurement and Data in Grades K–8 is a wide range of mathematics skills related to collecting, organizing, and interpreting numerical information, from telling time or using a ruler to measure the length of an object to use formulas to find volume or surface area. It also includes understanding tables and graphs and in later grades, statistics, and probability.


Geometry in Grades K–8 refers to a variety of skills related to analyzing two- and three-dimensional shapes. These include naming and classifying shapes using characteristics such as symmetry, number of sides, and angle measures, and in later grades, using congruence and similarity. In the high school grades, this domain covers Geometry and Measurement topics related to developing spatial geometric reasoning, connecting geometric properties and equations, writing proofs, and using statistics and probability concepts to analyze data.


Phonological Awareness:

Phonological Awareness is the understanding that a spoken word is made up of different parts and that each of these parts makes a sound. For example, the word bat includes the sounds /b/, /a/, and /t/, and the word batter can be broken into two syllables that make the sounds /bat/ and /or/. Phonological Awareness is an essential building block for Phonics. Readers need to be able to distinguish or make out, and the individual sounds in spoken words before they can fully master matching sounds to the letter.


Phonics instruction teaches children how to connect the sounds they hear in spoken words to the letters they see in written words. For example, a student who can connect sounds to letters knows to read “th” in then as a single sound /th/, rather than the sound /t/ and the sound /h/. Students have to learn many different connections between sounds and spelling patterns. There are so many connections that learning Phonics can feel like learning the rules to understand a hidden code. But this skill is mastered by taking one step at a time, learning one rule and then another, and so on. Once students can make these connections quickly and easily, they can start to read for meaning.

High-Frequency Words:

High-Frequency Words are the words that appear most often in what children read. Words such as the, and, and they are high-frequency words. Because these words appear so often, readers must learn to recognize them automatically. Also, these words are often spelled in ways that can be confusing. Words such as could and there do not follow the rules that connect sounds to letters in most words. Learning to recognize these words automatically helps students read more quickly and easily, which gives them a better opportunity to understand what they are reading.


Vocabulary is the name of the words a student knows. The more words a student knows, the easier it is to understand what the student reads. Good readers know the meanings of many words. Students grow their vocabularies by hearing and learning new words, talking about words, and being taught specific words.

Literature Comprehension:

Literature Comprehension describes a student’s ability to understand types of writing that are usually made up or fictional. Stories are the literary texts that students read most often, but plays and poems are also examples of literary texts. A student who understands literature might identify the sequence of events in a story, discuss the meaning of a poem, or explain the lines a character speaks in a play. As a student develops as a reader, the student can understand stories, plays, and poems that are increasingly complicated.

Comprehension Informational Text Comprehension:

Informational Text describes a student’s ability to understand the types of writing that are usually true. Books about science or history are examples of informational text, as are newspaper articles or magazine articles. This kind of writing is often structured differently than literary texts. The informational text often does not tell a story, and it is usually organized into sections with headings. Additionally, it might contain charts, diagrams, and graphs that are important to understanding. A student who understands informational text might identify the main idea and supporting details, describe the way the writing is organized, or draw information out of a photograph or diagram.

Big picture

Tips for Parents on Parent-Teacher Conferences Article: National Education Association

How Should Parents Navigate This All-Important Meeting? Educators Show the Way!

A key ingredient for educational achievement is the parent-teacher conference, and to make sure they're successful for both parents and teachers, we've come up with a list of what educators would like parents to know.

The first on the list: Show up, please!

“We know parents are busy, but it is important to carve out time to invest in your child’s education and ensure success at school,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “To get the most out of parent-teacher conferences, parents need to take an active role in their child’s education year-round and come prepared to discuss how their child can reach their full potential.”

Here are the rest of our tips for parents:

Get Ready. Do your homework prior to parent-teacher conferences. Prepare by writing notes to yourself concerning:

  • Any questions about the school’s programs or policies.
  • Things you can share with the teacher about your child and his life at home.
  • Questions about your child’s progress.

Ask Important Questions

Don’t be afraid to engage in a frank conversation with your child’s teacher. Your goal is to develop an action plan for your child’s success at school. Good questions to ask the teacher include:

  • What are my child’s strengths and weaknesse.
  • How does my child get along with classmates?
  • Is my child working up to her ability? Where could she use improvement?
  • What can we do at home to support what you are doing in the classroom?

Initiate the Action Plan

Start immediately on the action plan you and the teacher put together. Discuss the plan with your child and track his progress. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher throughout the year with regularly scheduled “report card” conferences that can keep the communication lines open.

“Parents are the best resource for a child to make the grade,” said Van Roekel. “When teachers and parents work together, we can help a child have a successful school year.”

Early Release

Thursday, Nov. 14th, 12:15pm

175 Orchard Street

Watertown, MA