March 19, 2013 MCAS begins with Grade Four long composition
(see calendar for all dates)
March 21, 2013 Buddy Classes Meet
March 28, 2012 All School Meeting
March 28, 2013 Theme Day: Favorite Hat Day
News from the Principal…by Mr. Martellone
While the year progressed, many students communicated to parents and the school that they did in fact wish that we would continue Learning Buddies again, and that they missed having it. Based on that feedback, I brought that information to our School Leadership Team and we discussed what we could do to reinstitute this activity.
After discussing it with the SLT (school leadership team) we then brought it back to see if staff would support re-implementing Learning Buddies. Consensus among staff was that they could support having Learning Buddies again and in January/February, we started to hold buddy classes again.
Our hope is that by having teachers direct the buddy opportunity rather than following a scripted activity from a book, that our older students won’t feel as though they have done the same activity for several years and therefore, will be more invested in the mentoring/community building opportunity.
Adding Learning Buddies back into our schedule did not deter from our work around intervention as we are still offering intervention blocks four days per week for 30 minutes each.
Be sure to ask your child who their buddy class is and what they have done as Learning Buddies!
Science Fair Thank You!
Once again, students in grades 2-5 enjoyed a very successful science fair, despite an impending storm! There were many group projects on display in the gym and visitors got to listen to students share their research and show what they learned as a result of their projects and investigations.
Many thanks to the parents on the Science Fair Committee who helped coordinate the event and thank you to all the parents that supported, encouraged, and helped with projects. It truly was a great learning experience for both the participants and those of us who attended!
Principal Tweeting and Blogging
After attending several professional development opportunities in the fall which had a strong focus on using social media to promote education and professional growth, I have begun to write weekly blog pieces and have been trying to Tweet items of educational interest in general or things that are going on at Fiske! Be sure to visit my Principal Page under the About Our School tab on the Fiske Home page or follow me on Twitter. @Fiske_Principal
Parental Tips to Help Prepare Your Child for Important Tests
All parents want to see their child(ren) perform well in school. Parents play an important part in helping their children give their best performance on a test.. As you know the MCAS Tests are upon us. The dates of each test and the grade level participating can be found on the Fiske School Website. The ideas presented below may serve as a guideline for parents when helping their child(ren) prepare for important tests.
The night before:
Help your children get to bed on time. Research shows that being well rested helps students to perform better.
Help children resolve immediate arguments before going to bed.
Keep your routine as normal as possible. Upsetting natural routines may make children feel insecure.
Mention the test to show you’re interested, but don’t dwell on it.
Plan ahead to avoid conflicts on the morning of the test.
The morning of the test:
Get up early to avoid rushing. Be sure to have your child at school on time.
Have your child eat a good breakfast but not a heavy one. Research shows that students do better if they have breakfast before they take tests.
Have your child dress in something comfortable.
Be positive about the test. Acknowledge that tests can be hard and that they’re designed so that no one will know all of the answers. Explain that doing your best is what counts. The important thing is to make your child comfortable and confident about the test.
After the test:
Talk to your child about his or her feelings about the test, making sure you acknowledge the effort such a task requires.
Discuss what was easy and what was hard; discuss what your child learned from the test.
Discuss what changes your child would make if he or she were to retake the test.
Explain that performance on a test is not a condition for you to love your child. You love your child just for the person he or she is.
The administration and staff of Fiske School are very proud of the hard work and dedication that each and everyone member of our student body puts into his/her schoolwork and testing each and everyday. We have no doubt that each student will do his or her very best. We thank you in advance for all of your help in preparing your child(ren) to be as successful as possible.
Our kindergarten classrooms have numerous scientists at work! All of our classes recently went on our Winter Big Backyard Walks. Thank you to our parent volunteers for making these walks fun, meaningful and enriching for the children. We all explored the outdoors and learned about how things have changed since our fall walks.
We are currently culminating our magnet unit. The children enjoyed various experiments and made many discoveries about magnets. For example:
They recorded all of their discoveries in their Magnet Journals. We are so fortunate to have the Museum of Science coming on March 7th for a wonderful Magnet and Electricity demonstration.
Chicks are coming! Each kindergarten classroom will become even more exciting during the week of March 11th, with the arrival of 12 chick eggs! We will place these eggs in our incubators and then count down the days (21 to be exact) until “hatch day!” The children will learn about the life cycle of the chick with firsthand experience!
The First Grade students have spent lots of time thinking about and working with some of the important words we have been learning to read and write: high frequency words. They also got to played many high frequency word games. We know that it is important to be able to read high frequency words quickly and easily in order to be a better reader.
Secondly, the students are learning about vowel sounds in class, and the sounds that the vowels make in words. They have learned that there are short vowel and long vowel sounds:
* If a vowel sounds like its name, such as the sound the letter a makes in the word take, then it is called a long vowel.
* If it makes a sound that is different than its name, then it is called a short vowel, such as the letter a in cap.
Throughout our math lessons the children have addressed place value: Tens and Ones, and relations Greater Than, Less Than and Equal To. The students have learned “What’s my Rule?” which is naming an operation and number pattern. In March, we will work on Fact Families, explore with Pattern Blocks, Attribute Blocks, Polygons, and three dimensional shapes such as Spheres, Cylinders, Rectangular Prisms, Cones and Cubes.
We celebrated Lexington’s 300th birthday with a PowerPoint lesson comparing the Hancock Clarke House with the homes of today. We looked at the similarities as well as the differences.
Lastly, we will be starting our Balls and Ramps science unit in which the students learn, build, and experiment with many different balls and ramps. It is truly a hands-on learning experience.
Greetings from Grade Two! We can hardly believe how quickly the year is going by! Before we know it the students will be on their way to third grade! What a busy month February has been… 100th Day of School Celebration, Valentine’s Day, Read Across America and of course February vacation!
In math, the students have continued to work on place value and their overall number sense. They have really come a long way and we are pleased with their progress! A new topic introduced this month has been Partial Sums. We would like to thank the parents who attended the morning meeting with the 2nd grade team, which taught you how to solve addition problems using the special algorithm.
Language Arts has really created some “experts” in grade 2. The students worked on and presented their All About Books to demonstrate their knowledge of a particular topic. After completing this project, the students now are able to recognize the characteristics of informational/nonfiction writing.
The students are also beginning to take a closer look at characteristics of an author series as well as the characters in those series. This skill allows the students to think about a book in a series before, during and after their reading. As you know, this is what a good reader does to benefit his or her comprehension.
It’s hard to believe that Lexington is celebrating its 300th birthday this year. This celebration has helped bring our town’s history to life. We have shared where our families originated. We will also be looking at photos from the past while we compare and contrast life then and now.
What is matter… What is matter… you may have heard this song in your home recently. Matter has been the main topic of our science unit. We explored different states of matter, how matter changes from one state to another. The highlight of the unit was all of the hands-on experiments that the students participated in. The excitement from the experiments motivated many of the students to participate in the upcoming science fair.
March is going to be a very busy month. We will be going on a field trip to the Peabody Museum at Harvard. We will be learning about biographies and creating timelines of our own lives. Prepare yourself as the students perfect their powers of persuasion through opinion writing.
If you haven’t already please remember to respond to the upcoming spring conference schedules. We look forward to meeting with you to discuss your child’s progress in second grade!
Sincerely, The Grade 2 Team
Winter may be coming to a close, but the third grade students are keeping their minds open to the wonder of poetry! Through being careful observers, deep thinkers, and living with a “poet’s eye,” our young writers are crafting poems that would make Shel Silverstein gush! Look for beautiful published poetry in the weeks ahead.
March is the month where third graders also experience their first MCAS testing. This should be a great chance for them to show what careful readers and writers they are! Students have impressed their teachers by going back in the text to find specific reasons, evidence, and details to support their ideas about what they have read. Students also continue to read books and shorter passages from a variety of genres in their quest to become well-rounded readers and thinkers!
Geometry is the current topic of study in math. One of the focuses will be to become comfortable and competent at using precise and mature mathematical vocabulary. Those triangles will soon be known as three-sided polygons that also have three angles and three vertices. How’s that for a mouthful!
Finally, third graders are taking part in Lexington’s 300th anniversary celebration as they learn about local history. They have enjoyed some focused lessons on how farming has changed in Lexington over the years. They will also be studying the events leading up to the American Revolution, and their impact on the lives of Lexington’s citizens. How lucky we all are to go to school in a town with such a rich historical tradition!
We hope that our Fiske families had a restful, enjoyable February vacation! In math we recently wrapped up our unit on long division with a focus on the partial quotients method. In addition, students analyzed real-life division situations and determined how to interpret remainders by either creating fractions/decimals, rounding up, or ignoring the remainders. While we continue to work on the genre of persuasive writing, the Long Composition MCAS will be coming up soon on Tuesday, March 19th. On March 19th the students will have the entire day to craft the best possible piece of writing they can produce. We will encourage our students to make productive use of the time they’re given and strive for best effort. Ensuring that your child goes to bed early the night before and has a hearty breakfast will help our students to do their best on the test! We’re really excited about our upcoming field trip to the Museum of Science to explore the Solar System in the newly renovated planetarium. It’s sure to be out of this world!
The Spaghetti Supper is a tremendously successful event that helps to fund the Fifth Grade camping trip, student go on each year. Here is what some fifth graders’ think of it -
Everybody feels that it is hard work serving and setting up tables, but it is enjoyable because they feel “large and in charge”. It is nice meeting other Fiske families and getting compliments. We learned new skills and strengthened our teamwork with other peers. One of our fellow students learned “The water jug handles are quite flimsy”, and others realized what they don’t want to do for a living. We had the privilege of waiting on our families and teachers and we realized we had numerous responsibilities on our shoulders. Every child should get to experience such an event!
- Parvati, Armaan, and Jesse
10 Parenting Tips for Raising Responsible Children
By:Jane Warren (momitforward.com)
Here are 10 ways you can teach responsibility to your kids:
1. Start young. Young children can help us set the dinner table or put their toys in the toy box.
2. Show children how tasks should be done. Be clear with your expectations. Kids are imitators and they do much better when they are shown how to do something. Let’s use those imitation skills to our advantage!
3. Let kids show someone else how a task should be done. Nothing reinforces a skill like teaching it to another person.
4. Be trustworthy and dependable. Children watch us like junior reporters, monitoring our every move. If they see us being responsible, trustworthy, and dependable on a regular basis, they are more likely to conclude being responsible is just a given.
5. Apologize when you make a mistake. Kids already know we make mistakes, so we might as well admit them when we do. If we own up to our mistakes without blaming someone or something else, we show our children there is no shame in being wrong or falling short, especially when we accept responsibility for it.
6. Give children a role or responsibility within the family. It’s important to give them a task that really matters and let them know exactly why it matters. If you have a dog, changing out the puppy pad is important for both the family and the dog— both sides are thankful!
7. Expect them to make mistakes. It is so easy to forget, especially with older children and teens, that even though the body looks like an adult on the outside, the inside still has an incomplete operating system, i.e. their brains are not yet fully developed.
8. Avoid nagging, yelling, and criticizing. As hard as it might be, we have much less conflict when we avoid nagging, yelling, criticizing or other emotional displays when we are teaching or correcting.
9. Work together as a family. Our children are not here to do the chores we don’t want to do ourselves. Everyone in the family can take a turn doing the “yucky” chores, such as cleaning the dogs teeth at home or cleaning out the litter box.
10. Provide friendly reminders to your children. Remind our children that everybody has to do things they don’t like at one time or another; raking leaves is not your hobby – you do it because it needs to be done – and so should they.
Talking with our children about what it means to be responsible, and the opportunities it affords is the first step to raising responsible children. People who are responsible have better reputations, more educational options, and the freedom to work at a job they like.
Grade K – Look for one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish fish – painting of a fish bowl emphasizing texture.
African Kufi hats with symbols from Ghana. Pattern snakes.
Grade 1 – Group project - Funny things are everywhere emphasizing line, texture, details, cooperation and imagination.
Grade 2 – Clay animal pinch pots, then the ultimate dream house.
Grade 3 – To celebrate, Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday” we will be looking and designing a Mardi Gras Mask.
We move on to a 3D self-portrait.
Grade 4 – Poetry and illustration come together in our Chinese scrolls. We will also create a chopstick ceramic dish before we leave China.
Greetingsfrom the Gym!
Allstudents have been actively involved in their gymnastic unit during the monthof February. They have performedactivities on the vault box with use of a springboard, tumbling skills androlling skills with the use of wedge mats and have done well improving theirbalance on the low and high balance beam. Safety and proper techniques have been of great concern this month andall students have done a wonderful job of respecting and following the safetyrules of this unit.
InMarch, improving overall fitness will be the focus. For grades 3-5, Fitnessgram will beimplemented. It is a program that allowsto students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses in regards to theiroverall fitness. Grades K-2, will alsobe concentrating on fitness stations. All grades will receive introductory Health lessons which will touch onthe importance of healthy eating habits. We look forward to the Spring and the return of nice weather that allowseverybody to get outside and be active!
Thanks, Mr. Spiller and Mr. Cuzzupe
Mathematics for the Month:
The Standards for Mathematical Practice: #6 Attends to Precision
The 2011 Massachusetts Mathematics Frameworks, based on the Common Core, were written not only to provide a scope and sequence for mathematics learning in pre-kindergarten through high school, but also to provide a way to develop mathematical habits of mind in students. While there continue to be content standards that differ from grade level to grade level, there are also Standards for Mathematical Practice that tie together mathematics in all grade levels. These standards reflect the essential habits of mind and skills that all mathematicians, regardless of their level, use in their work. This month we will investigate Standard #6: Attends to Precision.
When I saw the title of this standard, Attends to Precision, I immediately thought about accurate, efficient calculation. This is part of the standard but only one part and the standard is much more. It encompasses the way that mathematically proficient students communicate to each other through mathematics. In their communications both verbally and on paper they:
•Communicate with accurate and precise mathematical language
•Select symbols and explain them
•Calculate correctly and efficiently and with a degree of precision needed for the context of the problem at hand
•Can give carefully formulated explanations of their work
What does this look like in action? Say a student is approaching the following problem:
A store sells baseball caps at 4 caps for $12. How much do 8 caps cost?
Recently I saw a student solve this by writing 12/4 = 3 and then 3 x 8 = 24. For this student to be attending to precision, she would need to identify what these numbers mean. Are they dollars, caps, or something else? A student who is attending to precision can explain the relationship between the numbers in their work and the problem at hand.
When a student is precise in mathematics they use correct mathematical language to describe a situation. In geometry this will mean referring to squares as quadrilaterals or quadrangles in classifying problems or referring to an angle by its name (right, obtuse, or acute). In fractions this will mean referring to fractions as being simplified rather than reduced since reduced implies a change in quantity.
If you’ve read the Standards for Mathematical Practice you’ll notice that # 6: Attends to Precision is closely connected to #4: Models with Mathematics. The interconnectedness of these practice standards is a key feature of them. No single standard is completely separate from the other standards. In these articles over the next few months you will see the connection between them.
Remember, your child is learning different mathematical skills, concepts and ideas at different points in their school career. We do not expect kindergarten students to be naming angles and we don’t expect fifth graders to talk about quadratic equations. We do expect, however, that students will be precise about the mathematics that they know at any given grade.
This article and links to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks as well as fun math for you and your child are on the Fiske Math Specialist website at http://teacherweb.com/MA/LexingtonPublicSchools/FiskeReading/links2.aspx
This month Fiske welcomed four newcomers! We are happy to have them as part of our school community. Welcome! ELL classes have resumedand we are hard at work continuing with our Avenues and Reach programs. To encourage language acquisition we use many tools such as: close reading of text, the use of personal dictionaries, journal writing, and classroom discussion. Many of our ELL’s are also using RAZ-KIDS, which is an independent internet-based reading program.
Greetings from Room 129. All grades are busy learning, practicing and playing. Some of the sounds and sights you may encounter if you’re walking by the room are:
-Kindergarteners are playing the xylophones up and down to the King Of France (“The King of France went up the hill…”).
-First graders are playing the Valentine Delivery Game and playing rhythms on drums.
-Second graders are playing mirroring games. Ask your second grader be the leader and show you how to move.
-Third graders are all about recorders. They have started learning their performance songs (Over My Head, Goodnight, Ladies and more). Their concert is on Thursday, May 23rd at 11:30 in the Fiske Gym; YOU’RE INVITED!
-Fourth graders are starting to learn their songs for their performance. It will be on Thursday, May 9th at 11:30 in the Fiske Gym; YOU’RE INVITED! Ask them about learning the xylophone part to The Deaf Woman’s Courtship.
-Fifth graders are being creative with scarves and are starting to learn the chorus songs for the Spring Concert (June 5th, at 9am and 7 pm).
Kindergarten: We have been studying author and illustrator Jan Brett, including her books Trouble with Trolls and The 3 Little Dassies. This week we explored http://www.janbrett.com/index.html, which contains many activities and coloring pages your child may be want to check out. On the website, we watched an interview with Jan Brett where she described her trip to Namibia that inspired the Dassie book, as well as how much work she puts into her illustrations. Did you know she spends about an hour per inch on her book illustrations?
First Grade: Celebrations in February and March include Chinese (or Lunar) New Year and Dr. Seuss’s birthday, so shared Sam and the Lucky Money and Horton Hatches an Egg.
Second Grade: In second grade we have been studying biographies, including Martin’s Big Words, Wilma Unlimited, and I Could Do That. In addition, students have learned the importance of captions and how to distinguish important versus interesting information in a biography.
Third Grade: The last few weeks we have been sharing Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies, the story of a sister and brother competing to see who can make the most money selling lemonade. In addition to amazing math skills, the third graders have astute business minds. Look out corporate America!
Fourth Grade: What makes a story a tall tale? In coordination with the fourth grade social studies curriculum, we are examining many different tall tales and brainstorming a list of characteristics that we notice in all the tales.
Fifth Grade: Fifth graders have been enthusiastically participating in the MCBA program. In January we began using Open Classroom to blog all about MCBA books and in March fifth graders who have read at least five of the books will be eligible to vote for their favorite. Which MCBA book will win at Fiske? Stay tuned for the results!