Saturday, September 27, 2014

Thanks for the Ice Cream, PTA!

     It was a perfect night.  Clear skies, good friends, a freshly-mowed lawn, and ICE CREAM!

     The Horace Mann PTA provided another terrific opportunity for the school community to come together and enjoy one another's company with the annual ice cream social.  Attendance was strong from grades K-5 (and even a couple alums who now attend Harding Middle School).  

     Thank you to Ice Cream Social Chair Federica Pasquali and the other PTA volunteers who had tables for various fundraisers such as Market Day, Target Red Cards, Coke Points, etc.  Thanks, too, to our assistant custodian, Kathy Pandos, for helping with set up and tear down.

    In my mind, gatherings like the ice cream social are critical to the success of our students.  While we may show up for the ice cream, chocolate sauce and sprinkles, we gain so much more.  With greater familiarity with Horace Mann staff and a chance to bond with each through casual conversation, we are building a bond of trust and camaraderie.  I believe that these fuller relationships will allow us to succeed as a school community beyond our wildest expectations.

   So, please continue to attend the PTA events at Horace Mann.  And if you know of families who were not able to be with us for ice cream, please encourage them to attend the Family Dance next Friday (October 3rd from 7:00 - 8:00 pm).  Here are a couple photos of the fun:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Doughnuts for Dads and a Math Resource

The Horace Mann PTA continued the tradition of Doughnuts for Dads this year with events on Thursday and Friday last week.  Especially with the Cuyahoga County Father's Walk on Thursday, we had an excellent turnout for this social time.  It was wonderful to see father figures connecting with their kids and with each other, strengthening the relationships that make the Horace Mann community the great place it is.  One dad said, "We should do this every Friday!"

Many thanks to Laura George, the PTA Committee Chair for this event, as well as to her helpers, Federica Pasquali, Wendy Hoppel, Anne Schleicher, and Nora Katzenberger (not pictured).  If I missed any other helpers, my apologies!

Have you heard of LearnZillion?  It is a fantastic, free video-based resource to help kids, teachers and parents build their content knowledge in math.  So many parents have found it useful that  LearnZillion just designed a promo  aimed specifically at parents:

Check it out!  Your child's teacher and I would love to know what you think.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Review of the Week of September 8, 2014

Safety Patrol Badge
This week, the new brigade of the Horace Mann Safety Patrol reported for duty.  Fifth grade students who are good citizens of our school are eligible to participate in this time-honored program.

Mrs. Kelsey Robinson is the advisor for this club, and she has trained the group on their role in guiding younger students to be safe during arrival and dismissal.  She also assigns and rotates their posts around the school (both inside and out), as well as helps problem-solve when younger students may not respond to their requests to follow the rules.

Please support our 5th Grade Safety Patrol by asking your children to follow directions from them just as they would an adult.  By all means, if your child ever expresses a compliment or concern about one of our Safety Patrol members, please let us know right away.

P.S.I was in Safety Patrol at Edison Elementary School in Willoughby, Ohio, back in the day.  Do you have any Safety Patrol memories?

On the academic side, this was fall benchmarking week.  What is benchmarking, you ask?  Well, it simply means teachers use brief screening tools that take from 1-3 minutes to administer that give us a quick snapshot of each child's reading and math skills.  The scores on these screeners are then compared to national norms--and especially when combined with other data we have gathered in the classroom--allow us to see whether students are in need of enrichment or intervention.

In the past, Lakewood has used the Diagnostic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy (DIBELS) for reading screening.  This year, based on better features available, the AIMSweb system will be used not only for math, but also for reading.

Data team meetings will take place next week.  At these meetings, teachers and specialists (and I) will review the assessments to determine interventions to be provided to students.  This is all part of the Response to Intervention (RTI) model with which you may be familiar.  Importantly, it helps us make sure that we are providing additional research-proven instruction to students who need something extra.

While parents do not receive their child's benchmark scores, you will be contacted if your child is recommended for small group intervention during the school day.  This intervention takes place during Intervention/Enrichment Block (also referred to as I/E Block) on a daily basis.  Then, several times per year, we re-screen (winter and spring benchmarking) to be be sure the right interventions are provided.

Please feel free to ask your child's teacher--or contact me directly--if you have any questions about AIMSweb benchmarking or I/E Block.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Class of 2027 has arrived!

Following the lovely Labor Day Weekend, the big headline at Horace Mann:  The Kindergarten Students Have Arrived!  Following kindergarten screening during the last week in August, kindergarten teachers Ms. Sessin and Mr. DiFilippo (as well as intervention staff members Mrs. Phillips and Ms Suarez) helped Horace Mann's youngest stars get settled in their classrooms this week.  Even after just a few days, we can already see that they are catching on to the way to be successful schoolgirls and boys.  Thank you to all the parents who not only attended kindergarten screening, but also escorted their children into school on September 2nd and returned that evening for Meet the Teacher Night.

On Friday afternoon, a Horace Mann tradition had its first session of the year.  Book Buddies is an activity that takes place most Friday afternoons.  Fifth grade students pair up with kindergarten students to read favorite books.  It is a joy to watch our pre-adolescent students with the wee little ones, as it often brings out the softer side is sometimes camouflaged as the older kids experiment with their own identities.  Thank you, Mrs. Cali and Mrs. Robinson for working with the kindergarten teachers to continue this valuable social learning experience.