Happy New Year!
Challenge, Inspire, Empower, & Serve
Important Upcoming Dates
Jan 7-10: Math Benchmarks Given
January 6: Staff Work DayJanuary 7: Students Return
January 8: Faith Formation @ 3:30
January 9: All grades finalized
January 10: Grade Cards Available
January 14: PTO Meeting @ 6pm
January 15: Staff Meeting @ 3:30 - Discuss CSW, Mass, Open House
January 16: Kaci - Principal's Meeting in Staff Lounge @ 9am
January 20: No School, MLK Day
January 22: Kaci - Parish Staff Meeting @ 1:00; Staff Meeting @ 3:30 - Finalize CSW; PD (Topic TBD)
January 25: FLL Regionals
January 26: Catholic Schools Week Mass@ 11 - Student Led; Open House Lunch and Learn -
January 27 - 31: Catholic Schools Week (Activities TBD)
January 31: Grandparents Day, Noon Dismissal
Please Add To Your Parent Newsletters
Grade Cards Available: January 10
PTO Meeting: January 14 @ 6pm
Catholic Schools Week: January 26-31
CSW Student Led Mass - January 26 @ 11:00
Open House Lunch and Learn for Prospective Families: January 26 from 12-1 (please encourage parents to invite family/friends who might be interested in learning more about our school)Grandparents Day - January 31 from 8:30 - 11:30am
Be Thinking About....
* Students who struggle to turn in homework/class work
* Students who aren't mastering concepts/skills
* Students who are struggling emotionally or lacking grade level maturity
In the next week or so, it would be a good idea to reach out to these parents and set up their conference time. We have a half day on the 13th, so I would plan to schedule them sometime between 12-4 or after school throughout the week.
Differentiating for Gifted Learners
1. Write! Gifted learners often don't enjoy writing. They don't want to explain their thinking, because work has been so easy for them, they've grown used to writing an answer and moving on. Yet, one of the easiest ways to differentiate for an advanced learner is to provide questions that require higher level thinking versus fill in the blank or one word responses. Don't give students an "extra" assignment, just give them a more appropriate assignment that requires deeper level learning. Instead of adding on math problems, ask a student to write out the steps to solve a problem versus solving the problem itself. (Think....odd numbers solve, even numbers write out the steps).
2. Coding - Instead of "reading a book" every time a student finishes early, allow students to practice coding. Check out this link for the top 5 coding websites for kids: https://codemoji.com/blog/best-coding-websites-kids.php
3. Readtheory.org - This is a great test prep website. Even your most advanced kids will find it hard to just breeze through these stories and questions, yet I found that it was a very good indicator of how a student will handle the Iowa test. Give students time to practice. The great thing is that once you set up your class, you can track their progress and learn what types of questions your students are struggling with. Students also earn points, so it's a great way to keep them motivated.
Do you have strategies you use for gifted learners in your classroom? Write about them and share with your colleagues!
Individual Learning Plans
The start of a new semester is a great time to pull out that plan and re-evaluate. What can you do to truly individualize learning for the students in your classroom? Now that you know your students really well, you know their strengths and struggles, what could you change on the plan to make it more effective and easier for you to use daily in the classroom?
If we are truly promoting ourselves as a school that caters to the individual student, it's important that we are living up to this standard. Doing this gives us a means of making our small numbers a positive in parents' minds versus a deterrent. It makes parents think twice about choosing a larger school over our school when we are able to provide their child with a more individualized approach to learning.
I know this is hard whether you have 20 students or 5 students. It's tough to think about creating a plan for every single student in your classroom. How could you possibly manage this??
The ILP is not about teaching 20 different lessons to 20 different students. It's about coming up with strategies that help each child learn to the best of their ability. It's not adding or taking away anything, it's knowing what works well for each student and allowing him/ her to do what works.
For example: You have an upcoming test in Science. Student A might do really well using a study guide to study. Student B might work best by creating note cards to study. Student C might work best by writing out notes and taking them home to study. Student D might do best with a game.
Instead of telling every student they have to complete a study guide for the test, you provide options. You have a study guide available, you have a set of notes available, you have some printable notecards available, and maybe you have a kahoot game available. It's all the same information laid out into 4 different formats - which you are typically doing anyway in the classroom. Then, you give students the option of which choice works best for them.
But how will I grade that, you ask?
You won't! A test review is practice. It shouldn't be graded. It's like basketball. Players show up to practice every day to learn plays, learn strategies, practice how to shoot and pass so that they are ready for the game. A test review is much the same. They are given the test review to practice and learn and prep for the test.
But what if they don't do it?
Then they won't do well on the test. That's a choice the student is making and when you go to the parent and you talk about all of the choices you gave students to prepare for the test and ask the child which choice he chose it is very easy to defend. Just like with basketball, if you don't show up to practice, you don't perform well. If you don't complete some form of test review, you don't perform well on the test.
The trick is teaching students what helps them learn most effectively. If studying for 6 hours the night before a test results in failing a test, the student will feel defeated, the parent will be angry, and learning has not occurred. If the point of "tests" is measuring student learning, our goal should be to do everything we can to help the child learn before it's ever time for the test.
I encourage you to look back at your ILP's as we start second semester. What can you change? What can you add? How can you personalize learning for your students now that you know them really well?