The Dash…

fallleavesDuring a most extraordinary learning experience this past week, I was reminded of this powerful poem, The Dash, by Linda Ellis:

 

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth,

And now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own, the cars…the house..the cash.

What matters most is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real

And always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives…like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile…

Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash,

Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?

Here’s your challenge from our learning community today:  Live your dash!  :-)

On the road against drugs…

Our annual Red Ribbon Week campaign in MISD is coming Red-Ribbon-Weekup the week of October 27-31.  Here’s a look at our LME themes this year:

Monday, Oct. 27:  We’re on the road to a drug-free life!  Wear your favorite college shirts and be ready to talk about future life plans.

Tuesday, Oct. 28:  Cap off your trip as a drug-free student!  This is our campus field trip day, so plan to bring along a cap or hat and wear your colored LME shirt for the trip we plan to take (field trip note coming home next week with details).

Wednesday, Oct. 29:  Lighten your load on the road.  Wear your brightest colors to attract attention about the dangers of drugs.

Thursday, Oct. 30:  RED Out the Road!  Warn others to stay away from drugs by wearing lots of RED.

Friday, Oct. 31:  Take your great character on the road!  It’s our fall party day, so pack up your book and come dressed as your favorite book character for the big day!

Our local REACH Council is coming to our campus on Thursday, Oct. 30th to present information to our students about the dangers of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol.  Presentations will be geared to each group accordingly.  Along with teaching strong character, early education on the dangers of substance abuse is a proactive approach to helping learners for brighter futures.  Please join us in dressing for each daily theme and by talking with your child about making healthy choices for a lifetime.  :-)

 

Know and Go!

With autumn comes the hustle and bustle of various family opportunities on our campus.  Here’s what you need to KNOW and GO about time-managementevents in the coming weeks:

Student holiday (Fair Day) on Mon; Oct. 13:  Elementary teachers will be meeting with parents at scheduled times throughout the day to talk about your child’s progress so far this school year.

Panther PINK-Out on Friday, Oct. 17:  Join us in the war on cancer by wearing your PINK-Out shirt at school and to the game that evening.

Midlothian Chamber of Commerce Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 9:00 to 4:00 at the MISD Multipurpose Stadium:  Vendors, food, festivities, and family fun ensue following the 5K Fun Run (racers need to be registered and ready to run @ 8:00 a.m.).

The Book Fair is coming; the Book Fair is coming:  LME will host our annual fall Book Fair Oct. 20-24 (next week).  Family Book Fair Night is Thurs; Oct. 23 with the library being open from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Trunk or Treat Family Event on Thurs; Oct. 23:  LME PTO is hosting this beloved family fun time.  Join us in the back circle drive area, dressed in costume, to receive treats from each of the decorated trunks.  Let’s fill the playground with treats, friends, and lots of family fun!

School Bus Safety Week is October 20 – 24:  Join us in recognizing and honoring our wonderful bus drivers and the work they do in MISD.

Red Ribbon Week is October 27 – 31 in MISD.  Daily themes and ideas will be shared soon.  Also, REACH Council is coming to LME to share their program on drug awareness with our students.

Fresh Fruit Fridays: Our CATCH Committee is once again instituting fresh fruit Fridays to encourage everyone to bring fresh fruit for snacks.  Our LME Cafe is also rolling Try-Day Friday where our students can stop by the campus veggie/fruit cart and pick up an item to try for free (more to come on this soon).

These are just a few of the many school and community family opportunities to KNOW and GO.  Here’s hoping we see you soon!  :-)

Homework?!

Like an actor rehearsing her lines or a batter working on his swing, each learner will have some homework to practice skills learned here at school.  Homework can bring challenges (especially in math), but here are some solutions to common concerns your child might face:homework

Getting Started:  When you finally get everyone home and the evening rush begins for supper, homework, chores, practice sessions, and more, establish the ground rules for completing homework.  You may need to try various methods like setting a timer for 20 minutes of “down time” before starting on homework.  Some children like to get home and just get it done in order to move on to other activities.  Try different strategies and keep notes with your child on works most effectively.  Working together you’ll know what’s best in your family situation.

Staying Motivated:  Does your child feel restless when he’s doing homework?  Suggest movement first and short breaks to keep the brain stimulated.  For example, he might finish his vocabulary assignment at the kitchen table (or other regular homework spot), and then read his science notes on the porch.  A planned break for a snack or short walk, can also give him a second wind.  “Chunking” study time into smaller blocks makes everything more manageable for everyone.  Encourage your child to work on more difficult tasks at the beginning of homework time.

Solving Problems:  Help your child make a list of strategies she can use when she gets stuck.  For a math assignment, she might try tools like a number line or her math journal with her class notes.  When she’s reading, she could look up words in the dictionary or reread the paragraph for clarification.  Many of our teachers use Edmodo online to assist with homework assignments; it’s easy for the student to ask the question and get several responses for assistance that evening online.

While I never advocate for lots of homework (learners have been working all day at their “school job” after all), I do believe in positive practice on occasion.  Help make homework rewarding by participating in it with your child.  Acting out a reading passage, drawing a math problem, or creating a game out of an assignment can turn into some quick family fun.  Have your child teach you the concept; we know it well when we can teach it to others!  If you have concerns about homework, please visit with your child’s teacher.  Like any skill in life, studying and homework practice must be taught; you are your child’s first and most important teacher too!  :-)

The POWER of Pirates…

IMG_5815Pirates took over the second grade today and raided the entire school using their GPS devices, clues, and cleverness to track down the stolen treasure.  While I have no idea how or even why the treasure mysteriously appeared in Captain Van’s IMG_5813quarters, it goes without saying there was some explaining to do…  :-)

Meanwhile, the POWER of Miller was heard and felt yesterday as everyone hit the gym with Hanz and Franz to enJOY a special POWER day of reward activities and interactive events.  Thanks Coach Rogers and the specials team for coordinating and keeping us safe during several fun station activities with great music to boot!

Speaking of the POWER of Miller, you are probably wanting to know some results:

Total raised so far = $11,600 (keep sending in $!)

Between the pirates and the POWER, this week is a wrap.  EnJOY a fabulous fall weekend!  :-)

Good Reader Habits!

While in conversation with a parent the other day regarding reading and our balanced literacy approach in MISD, we visited about the ninebva-7 habits good readers need in their toolbox to be successful lifelong readers.  Perhaps these sound familiar…

Before reading begins:

  1. Check it out!  Preview a selection before reading to anticipate content and plan how to read it.  For example, we do “book walks” during shared reading event where we “walk” through the book looking at clues, illustrations, and concepts in print to spark interest and pique curiosity.  When in the library, you can often see a child pick a book, browse/book walk it, and choose it.
  2. Think about what you know about the subject.  Drawing on personal experience or background knowledge relating to the selection helps to improve comprehension.
  3. Decide what you need to know.  Establishing a purpose for reading helps the reader to focus on the content or message.

While reading:

  1. Stop and ask, “How does this connect to what I know?”  Connecting content being read to prior knowledge or information helps the reader to organize ideas and identify relationships.
  2. Stop and ask, “Does this make sense?”  Using self-checking strategies helps the reader determine personal understanding of what is being read.
  3. Stop and ask, “If it doesn’t make sense, what can I do?”  Clear up confusing parts by re-reading, defining a new word through context clues, or using other learning strategies practiced with the teacher in small groups.  (It always amazes me what I see our learners using when they struggle; their coping skills are truly extraordinary!)

Finally, after reading:

  1. React to what was read.  Decide what has been learned, determine personal feelings, or think about other points of view (author’s intent).
  2. Check to see what is remembered.  Pause, reflect, react, and share what has been learned immediately after reading for better recall at a later time.  This is why you see students in classrooms talking and sharing about their reading; it’s part of the process to overall comprehension.  If you teach something to someone else, you know it better too!
  3. Use what was read!  Assign a value to what was read to better internalize the content so new ideas form.

It’s an exciting process, this learning to read and reading to learn!  The BEST way you can encourage your reader is to model and participate in the process daily–no exceptions and no excuses . . . READ, READ, READ!  :-)

Note:  I owe special thanks and praise to my parents, Sam and Brenda Folsom, who both always modeled good reading for me and with me…even to this day.  :-)

 

Parent Conference Time…

It’s the annual time of year to huddle up and talk about progress so far this school year…hard to believe it’s time again actually!  keepcalmkindnessWe all know our learners thrive best when they feel all the adults in their lives see them in a consistent way.  Personal conferences are a great way to interact, share, and problem solve together when discussing strengths and challenges while being one of the best ways to support each other in the home-school connection.  Here are some tips on how to build a working relationship to benefit everyone:

Be there:  Research shows children do better academically when both parents attend conferences and meetings together.  If you need to reschedule the appointment, no worries; just let the teacher know.

Remember this word…Focus:  The aim of a parent-teacher conference is for the adults in a the child’s life to build a mutually respectful alliance supporting the child’s journey through school.

Share insider information:  Tell the teacher what you know about your child as a learner.  YOU know what your child likes and dislikes about school, what motivates the child, and what has worked well in the past.  Share your hopes and fears for your child so instruction can be fine-tuned for maximum effectiveness.  You build a stronger relationship with the teacher when you take a moment to share your feelings about your child’s future.

Use the report card as a jumping-off point, but not as the center point of the conversation:  Turn any review of grades into an learning opportunity to get the teacher’s more detailed observations about what’s working and what’s not for your child.  Do not dwell on the grade itself and do not pressure a teacher to change a grade (if you believe a real issue exists, please bring this to Mrs. Bass or myself).  Grades are not always the final reflection of a child’s overall abilities.

Inquire about progress in areas beyond academics:  It’s important we raise loving, respectful, productive citizens in our learning community everyday!  They will, in fact, be the decision-makers of the future.  Ask about friends, socialization at recess, group work times, specials, lunch, and other times throughout the day.  How each child functions with others, in teams, and in small group settings is going to make a huge difference later in life!

Ask what you can do:  Be receptive to advice on how best to support your child without micromanaging or rescuing him/her from mistakes and valuable lessons learned.  This HARD to do as a parent; I know!  :-)

Trust your child’s development:  Relax a little and have faith in your child and your child’s journey through school.

Leave your own school baggage at home, please:  We all have memories and experiences of teachers and classes where we were not happy.  Please set those aside and approach your child’s teacher as a peer and learning partner.  Always assume the teacher WANTS your child to succeed in school and in life—just as you do!

I say it over and over, but it’s so true:  The days of raising a child are long, but the years are far too short.  The work you do today with your child’s teacher (especially during a conference) will finds its way back to your child in the long run.  EnJOY your conference time!  :-)