Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Holidays at The Mann

     Over the past few weeks, the festive winter holidays provided a cheery background for all the usual things that happen at Horace Mann Elementary School.  Early in the season, there were toy and food drives with amazing student participation and K-Kids leadership.

     Recently, the Morning News--under the direction of Mrs. Kathy Ott, Library/Media Assistant--got into the mix.  The Project Wisdom Daily Messages took on a holiday tone and following the broadcast, holiday music and children's artwork were displayed for a few minutes each morning.

     Many take-home decorations and parent gifts were created in the children's classrooms, ranging from gingerbread houses in kindergarten to 3-D snowflakes in 5th grade.  Who says kids don't get to have fun in school anymore?

     The staff at The Mann had some great treats this week, too.  Thank you to all the parents who provided baked goods for the cookie walk--our busy staff members appreciate the work that goes into making those items!  We also had a generous donation of Bruegger's Bagels (and 7 kinds of cream cheese) for the staff on Thursday morning--thank you Bruegger's!

     It all culminated with the terrific Winter Concert on Friday.  The children performed for each other in a morning dress rehearsal and then for families in the afternoon.  They were adorable, funny and talented :-)  Thank you, again, to all the music teachers (Mr. Waryk, Mrs. Tabaj, Mr. Griebel and Ms. Mallchok) for directing the performance, as well as to many behind the scenes adult helpers (especially Mrs. McCafferty and Mr. Vargas) who made it all run so smoothly.

   It has been a wonderful 2014, and I look forward to so much more in 2015!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Focus on Close Reading

 What is close reading?  Trust me, it is NOT what is happening in this picture!

     As defined by Fisher and Frey (2015), close reading consists of:

  • Short, complex passages
  • Repeated reading
  • Annotation ("reading with a pencil")
  • Collaborative conversations about the text
     Additionally, the same authors suggest there are four phases of close reading that "begin with establishing the literal meaning of a text and ends with an exploration into the deeper meaning and a plan as for what should occur as a result of the reading" (p. 7).  These phases, or umbrella questions, are:
  • What does the text say?
  • How does the text work?
  • What does the text mean?
  • What does the text inspire you to do?
     In grades K-5, all elementary students in Lakewood are being instructed in strategies for close reading.  It is the focus of our Continuous Improvement Process this year and is expected to expand reading skills for ALL readers.  Some learning goals within the area of close reading include:

  • Asking and answering questions by citing evidence in the text
  • Determining central themes and summarizing key details
  • Analyzing the how and why of the development of ideas, characters, events and relationships in text 
  • Interpreting words and phrases to determine their meaning
     At Horace Mann, teachers are participating in a year-long book study related to close reading.  We are reading and discussing--with the help of Mrs. Brenda Budzar, Coordinator of Teaching & Learning--Text -Dependent Questions:  Pathways to Close and Critical Reading (Fisher & Frey, 2015).  Through this professional development, we hope to expand our common knowledge about the important topic of close reading, not only through reading the book, but also by talking with one another.  

     If you have any questions about close reading or any other aspect of curriculum and instruction, please contact me or your child's teacher.  What can you do at home?  Keep reading to and with your child...and be sure you do some reading of your own!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tech Talk

     In Lakewood City Schools, one of the "Top 20 by 2020" goals set out by Superintendent Jeff Patterson is for technology to be integrated into the teaching and learning in every classroom.  Here at Horace Mann, we are utilizing ever-changing resources to do just that.


     One neat example of using web resources for education is the Glogster Virtual Field Trip poster created for 4th and 5th graders by Mrs. McCafferty (our Speech/Language Pathologist, also known as Mrs. Mac).  Mrs. Mac not only provides speech services for students with speech difficulties, but she also does classroom lessons for all students to help them develop their language and communication skills.  Click the link to see poster she created using Glogster related to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

     As families know, most of our students are very interested in technology in all settings.  It is exciting to learn about and try the new applications and tools available.  At the same time, all of the changes in technology can be overwhelming.  If you ever have questions about how to access or use technology for your students' education, please contact me or your child's teacher.  If we don't know the answer, we will find someone who does!