September 30, 2013

By Allan  

Hello Howard Staff,

Now that we’re in our fourth week of school, the school year definitely feels like it’s in full swing. It’ll be nice to get a short respite this week and next week with two four day weeks with students.

Fifteen items of note for this week:

• Oct. 4th PD Day, 8:00-12:30 – Attached is the agenda for Friday’s professional development day. The first half hour will be for a Morning Meeting activity (let me low if you’d like to volunteer) and few business items. One of our workload Spring Cleaning ideas last year was to cancel Staff Meetings on months when we have PD days, so let me know if you have any Staff Meeting items to add to the agenda. After a few business items, we’ll begin fall writing benchmark scoring, doing some norming activities first to align our scoring. After that, you’ll want to bring out you laptop because Kim Ketterer’s crew will be show staff how to create a classroom websites using WordPress, the new district preferred website building tool. WordPress is what I use for my weekly announcements and also for the school website. It’s pretty clean and straightforward. Classified staff are not required to attend this PD, so please connect with your primary cooperating teacher beforehand on how you can help this day.

• Optional Intervention Schedule Meeting, Tuesday at 2:30 – Coming out of our stand-up meeting last week, one area staff wanted to address was revisiting the intervention schedule. I’ve set up a meeting to do this on Tuesday, October 1st at 2:30 in Room 8. To be clear on this meeting’s purpose, there appeared to be two main schedule issues discussed at last week’s meeting. One was around SPED providing consistent schedules that meet required IEP minutes and the other was to revisit the intervention schedule (primarily Title 1) to see if we should provide more support to some grade levels in place of others. This meeting will be to address the latter. If there are grade levels feeling they need more group time, please come with ideas about which groups or grade levels you are proposing be replaced.

• New Counselor, Jennifer Harris – I’m pleased to announce that we’ve hired Jennifer Harris for our 0.5 counselor position. Jennifer did her practicum here at Howard and this past year was the counselor at River Road and also at Madison. She comes with stellar recommendations and I’m sure will be a great addition to Howard! The schedule I’ve worked out with River Road is as follows:

Monday River Road
Tuesday Howard
Wednesday Rotates every other week (starting this week)
Thursday River Road
Friday Howard

Mellissa and I have spoken and we would like to change the IPBS meeting dates to Tuesdays so that Jennifer will be able to regularly attend. This week’s IPBS meeting will be on Thursday, but future meetings will be on Tuesdays. New dates are on the Howard Google calendar. I moved Collaboration time to Thursdays and put IPBS meeting in their place. There are also a few IPBS dates that conflict with Site Council, but Mellissa and I felt we could work around this for staff on both teams. Jennifer will be be our 504 Plan Coordinator and I’ll continue doing TAG Coordinator duties. Lastly, to help with Jennifer’s transition, Lee has offered to come back to let her know about the duties staff have expected from the counselor in the past. Please welcome to the Howard family!

• Curriculum Night this Thursday – Curriculum Night is this Thursday. Students may be dropped off in the cafeteria beginning at 5:45. Session 1 will run form 6:00-6:30 and Session 2 will run from 6:35-7:05. I will record a short welcome video for teachers to show parents at Session 1. I wrote out my script this weekend and will email the video or a link early this week. The three topics I will cover are an overview of Howard’s technology immersion, Caring for Kids and some information on the new building construction and design. I’d like to keep my part of the evening short, but let me know if there are other areas I should mention. I considered discussing how homework is looking different this year, but I decided to leave it out since it’s not the same across all levels and I also didn’t want to open a can of worms for teachers to have to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing with families.

• Safety Week
– This week is Safety Week and we’ll be able to take care of our monthly fire drill requirement for both September and October all in the same week. The schedule for Safety Week will be:

• Monday, Sept. 30- Fire Drill, 9:30
• Tuesday, Oct. 1- Room Clear, time decided by teachers
• Wednesday, Oct. 2 – Lock Down (Code Blue and Code Red), 10:30
• Thursday, Oct. 3- Earthquake/Fire Drill, 8:15

If it’s raining at hard at the scheduled time for the fire drills, I’ll wait for a break in the weather and do the drill later that same day. All of these drills are listed in the “Emergency Procedures Manual” which is the rainbow tabbed notebook that should be hanging in every classroom. I won’t be making any announcement before the drills, so it’s okay for staff to prep your students before these drills take place. For the Lock Down drill, please review the Code Blue and Code Red procedures. There are steps in the Howard procedures for this drill that are different from the general ones in the Emergency Procedures Manual. Please let me know if you do not have a manual or if you have any questions.

• SMART Goals Committee Meeting, Wednesday – If you’d like to help wordsmith our building-wide SMART goals for Writing, Math and Caring For Kids, we’ll be meeting on Wednesday, October 2nd at 2:30 in the Library.

• October PBIS Focus: Bully Proofing – The October PBIS monthly focus is Bully Proofing. The PBIS team created a PBIS/CFK cheat sheet that matches our monthly themes with corresponding Caring for Kids class meeting lessons. Bully Proofing actually has more corresponding CFK lessons than any of the other monthly themes for both primary and intermediate grades, so you’ll have plenty to choose from.

• Fall Writing Work Sample Due Monday, Sept. 30th – A quick remember that all student final copies are due to me Monday, September 30th. Copies should have the scoring sheet (K-3, 4-5) on top of your students’ work (no names, just numbers).

• Emergency Sub Plans – A reminder to teachers that two days worth of “Emergency Sub Plans” are due to the office no later than two weeks after the start of school. This folder should contain at a minimum:

• A daily schedule, current seating chart, recess/lunch/bus or other duty

• Procedures for arrival/dismissal, classroom rules/routines, school procedures

• Lesson plans and the location of materials needed for the lessons
• Bell schedule

• Map of school including the locations of helpful staff members

• Pertinent information regarding children that need medication, have special needs, or receive special services

• Names of responsible students who can be counted on for assistance
• Important characteristics of the class

Teachers may also include special assignments or projects that a substitute could use if a lesson does not go as planned. The inclusion of “canned” lessons is also suggested in the event of an unexpected illness or emergency on the part of the teacher. For class

• Architects in Schools 13-14! – Architects in Schools has for over 40 years matched professional architects and structural engineers with 3rd through 5th grade teachers. It’s a 6 week FREE classroom residency. The program is based on a curriculum guide that teachers and their partner design professional can incorporate into existing curriculum. The curriculum guide uses architectural concepts to teach math, science, social studies, language arts and other disciplines, includes sustainable design concepts and can incorporate the engineering and design state standards. Participating teachers receive a free training that links the program to Oregon State Standards and can receive graduate credit through PSU. See the attachment if you’d like more information or if you want to sign-up.

• Papa’s Pizza Student Incentive Award – Papa’s Pizza is offering achievement awards that can be given to students for good behavior or reaching other teacher set goals as an incentive. The students receiving the awards can redeem them at Papa’s Pizza for a free mini pizza. If you you’d like some of these for your class, please let me know by end of the week how many you’d like. Papa’s said they can provide them all school year long.

• Willamette Resources and Educational Network in the West Eugene WetlandsWREN offers classroom outreach programs and field trips for students of all ages. Programs are designed to engage students in hands-on, minds-on learning, meet Oregon State Content Standards, and provide an interpretive approach. For more information contact Susanna Hamilton at 541.338.7046 or

• Author Makes Case Against High School Sports – This doesn’t directly impact the elementary level, but I found it an interesting challenge to a dominant paradigm. Journalist Amanda Ripley wrote an article for The Atlantic examining what role high school sports might play in the United States’ low academic international standing.

• Humor As an Important Tool in the Classroom – In this article in Foreign Language Annals, Peter Swanson explores whether teachers’ sense of humor affects student learning. Citing previous research on humor, Swanson theorized that using humoring the classroom helps students relax and be better listeners and more diligent workers, improves rapport and classroom climate, increases motivation, enhances self-esteem, promotes higher-level thinking, and facilitates retention. I think this is probably true of adult work environments as well.

• Schedule of Events for the Week – See the Google Calendar for future events, but here are the events of note for this week:

September 30 (M)
K-5 Writing Work Samples Due in Office
TalentEd Self Assessment Due
Cookie Dough Sale Continues Through Wednesday
9:30, Fire Drill (weather pending)
2:30-5:00, Robin and Allan to Title I Principal and Coordinator Meeting (Ed Center)

October 1 (T)
Room Clear Drill (Classroom Teachers Set Time)
Monthly PBIS Focus: Bully Proofing
2:30-3:30, Optional Scheduling Meeting
5:30-7:30, Allan to Technology Bond Crossroads Committee Meeting (Ed Center)

October 2 (W)
10:30-10:45, Lock Down Drill (Code Blue and then Code Red)
2:30-3:30, Optional Building SMART Goals Committee Meeting (Library)

October 3 (H)
8:15-8:25, Earthquake/Fire Drill (weather pending)
2:30-3:30, IPBS Meeting (Room 4)
3:00-4:30, Design Committee to Kick-Off Meeting (Ed Center)
5:45-7:05, Curriculum Night

5:45 Student Drop Off
6:00-6:30 Session 1
6:35-7:05 Session 2

October 4 (F)
8:00-12:30, Howard Professional Development – No School

Have a nice four day week!