Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Video:  How to Help Every Child Fulfill Their Potential

I've linked a video below that I found very interesting.  It explains the difference between having a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset and how this affects the potential to learn and grow as a student. It gives some great advice for promoting Growth Mindset, which is key for overcoming obstacles and having a good attitude about learning.  I think you'll find it applies to adults as well!

Our Published Writing!
Every year the Benton County Star Press newspaper asks 2nd graders to write about What Christmas Means to Me and New Year's Resolutions.  This year, my class wrote What Christmas Means to me and Mrs. Bridgewater's wrote their resolutions.  If you want to see your child's published piece of writing, be sure to read the Star Press!  They should be in the next edition, right before Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

December 13

We started two-digit addition last week (like 36 + 8) and I can see that the work we’ve done on mental addition has helped prepare them.  Our math curriculum uses the phrase “regroup ten ones for one ten” instead of “carry the ten” like you may have been taught.   Today, we stress the understanding of what place value really means (having enough ones to make a new ten) and not just “put a 1 up there and add” like I learned!

Many of their papers will ask them to tell how they used regrouping to solve the problem.  A lot of them missed that question on a paper last Friday, so I thought I’d let you know what would be an acceptable answer. 

For the problem 36 + 8, they should be able to explain that they added 6 ones and 8 ones to equal 14, which is enough to make a new ten, or “regroup”.  There are lots of different ways to say that, but as long as I can see that they know to add the ones to make a new ten, or regroup, then I’ll know that they know what the process is.  Try to use these words with them when you’re looking at their math papers together!  If you want to talk to me more about this, we can do that at the Parent Resource Night this Wednesday.

Dates on Deck
Wednesday, December 16  1:00 dismiss (professional development) & Parent Resource Night 6:30
Tuesday, December 22  Class Christmas Party (treats committe will be bringing home a note this week.  If you want your child to participate in the gift exchange, please send a wrapped book by the 22nd)
Wednesday, December 23  1:00 dismiss (Christmas break)
Monday, January 4  Classes resume

Thursday, December 3, 2015

December 3, 2015

Christmas Program is Tomorrow Night!  

·  It begins at 7:00 (be here by 6:45.  Kids can go straight to their chairs in the gym)
·  We are asking that your child wear dress clothes - no blue jeans, sweatpants, or shirts with logos.  We would also like to have them wear red and/or green if possible. You may mix with black, white, or khaki.  Colored jeans and shirts/sweaters with holiday logos are acceptable.
·  When choosing a seat, you may want to go to the right side (north) of the gym since that's the side that our class stands on to sing.
We hope you enjoy "Christmas On Candy Cane Lane"!

Santa's Workshop Christmas Store
A note will come home tomorrow reminding you of the Christmas Store on December 11.  It's a chance for your child to go shopping for Christmas gifts at the cost of $2 per gift.  

Pizza Hut Book It Program
I'm excited that so many of you are participating in keeping track of minutes read each month to earn a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut!  Keep it's not that hard to reach 300 minutes and pizza is a great incentive!

Parent Resource Night
On Wednesday, December 16, we will host a Parent Resource Night at Keystone Elementary from 6:30-7:30.  It's a chance to come and get ideas for literacy and math activities that can be done at home.  Child care will be provided.

Classroom Christmas Party
We will have a Christmas party at the end of the day on Tuesday, December 22.  I'll be meeting with the treats committee soon and will send a note home with them about what they'd like to bring. Games and decoration committees don't need anything from home!  we’d like to have a book exchange. where each student who brings a new or gently used children’s book can participate in the exchange. Nice books can be purchased from our Scholastic Book order for $5 or less.  Stores such as Kohls, Target, and Half Price Books are also good places to shop. Please buy a book that is appropriate for a boy or a girl, wrap the book and label who it’s from.  Books can be brought anytime before the 22nd.

***Please help your child remember to bring shoes to change into when wearing boots to school.  

Dates on Deck
Mon., Dec. 7  PTO mtg. @  Atkins  6:00
Fri., Dec. 11 Christmas Store
Wed., Dec. 16 1:00 Dismiss;
Keystone Parent Resource Night 6:30-7:30
Tues., Dec. 22 Christmas Party
Wed., Dec. 23 1:00 Dismiss
Mon., Jan. 4 School resumes
Wed., Jan. 6  1:00 Dismiss

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday, November 13

Boxtops Challenge
We'll find out today if we've met the Boxtops Challenge of 4000 boxtops this week.  If we do, we will have a Crazy Socks day on Monday.  Look for a note in their mail today!

Bring a Toy to School
A note is coming home today about my students bringing a toy to school on next Tuesday, November 17.  It's a reward they chose for reaching a goal of 5 Golden Tickets.  Toys must fit in their school bags and not be taken out on the bus.  I'll allow a time during school for them to play with/share their toys!

If you haven't already done so, please call the school to schedule a conference on either Monday, November 23 or Tuesday, November 24.

Book Fair
There is a Book Fair in the library during conferences.  Here's a link for online shopping or to see what's available at the fair.

Communication Survey
Mr.  Junge has sent out an online survey for parents to fill out regarding communication between school and home.  If you haven't filled it out yet, here is the link to do so:

Dates on Deck

Wednesday, November 18  1:00 dismiss (end of elementary trimester)
Tuesday, November 24  1:00 dismiss
November 23, 24  Conferences
November 25-29  Thanksgiving break
Friday, December 4  Keystone Christmas Program 7:00

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thursday, October 22

Fire Safety

Yesterday, a volunteer from the Keystone Fire Department, came to talk to the kids about fire safety.  He suggested that families draw a map of their homes and discuss a plan of escape and having a meeting place in case of fire.  If kids want to participate in a coloring contest, they may make a picture of anything pertaining to fire or fire safety and bring it to school by November 9.  The fire department will choose a winner from each class!  Thanks to the Keystone Fire Department for this valuable lesson in fire safety.

Red Ribbon Week

Next week is Red Ribbon Week, a week we spend discussing the dangers of drugs and alcohol.  A note came home yesterday describing activities for each day:

Monday, October 26  Students will wear red and sign a pledge "I pledge to be drug free"
Tuesday, October 27  "Sock it to Drugs!"  Wear crazy socks
Wednesday, October 28  "Team Up to Whip Drugs"  Wear team shirt
Thursday, October 29  "I CAN make good choices to be drug free!"  Bring a canned food item for the local food pantry
Friday, October 30  "Tune Out Drugs"  Music will play during lunch

**Breast Cancer Awareness:  Next Thursday, October 29, Keystone Elementary will have a "Wear Pink" day to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness!

Fall Festival

Next Friday, October 30, will be our Fall Festival party!  Students may bring a costume to change into in the afternoon for a costume parade at the Keystone Care Center.  Afterwards, we will have recess and then a party in our classroom.  Students are divided into three groups to help plan the party:  Treats, Games, Decorations.  I'm meeting with the treat committee today, so if your child is on that committee, a note will come home today.  Games and Decorations will be taken care of here at school, so no home involvement is needed!

Benton County Naturalist

We are lucky to have the services of Karen Phelps and Aaron Askelson who are Benton County Naturalists.  They come teach a lesson once a month to each class and today's lesson was about the three species of frogs - hylidae, ranidae, bufanidae.  Three students were chosen to "dress up" like a the three kinds she described!  Here's a picture of Gage, Laurynn, and Javin, as well as the names of frogs she wrote on the board:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Holiday Parties Note

Saturday, October 17

Yesterday in my blog post I shared a link to the Holiday Parties note, but I hadn't allowed you access to it.  Hopefully this link will work now...

If it doesn't, let me know if you want an old fashioned paper copy!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday, October 16

No School on Monday!
Just a reminder that there is no school on Monday, October 19.  All Benton teachers will attend professional development at Grant Wood AEA in Cedar Rapids.

Wednesday,  October 28 is a 1:00 dismiss

Friday, October 30 is our Fall Festival party.  Students may bring a costume to change into for the afternoon activities.  In the afternoon we will walk to the Keystone Care Center in our costumes to entertain the residents there, then change back into school clothes for recess and end our day with a classroom party.  Next week I'll meet with the treats committee to decide what they want to bring for the party.  A note about our holiday parties was sent home with the October newsletter.  Here's a link to it:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 30


The Topic 2 math assessment (addition strategies) went home with kids today.  Attached to the test is the form showing how your child did on each part of the test.  I also asked each child to orally explain how to do two strategies that we've been working on in topic 2.  If "no" is circled on either of those statements, here's an explanation of the strategies so you can try to help them learn them at home:

Near Doubles:  Use a known doubles fact to help you figure out a near double fact.  For example, if the near double is 6 + 7, use 6 + 6 = 12 then add 1 more because 7 is 1 more than 6.  Of course, first the student has to know their doubles!

Make a Ten:  This strategy is a bit more confusing, but it works well for facts that have a digit close to 10, like 6 + 9.  You would need 1 more to make the 9 a 10, so take 1 from the 6, making it a 5. Then add 10 + 5.  We like tens because they are pretty easy to add!  To make this a quick strategy, they have to know how many are needed to make a 10, as well as keep track of taking away that number from the other digit.  It's a good strategy, but can be confusing for some.  We practice showing it with tens frames and counters, which can be sent home if you let me know you'd like to use them!

I want the kids to learn strategies like these for figuring out basic facts instead of just memorization, but if they already have them memorized, that's great!  Whatever works for quick recall of the basic facts!

When we were learning all the ways to make a ten, we watched a snappy little You Tube video that the kids really liked.  Here's the link if you'd like to watch it with them at home:

Standards Based Grading

Recently you received information on your child's beginning of the year testing data.  I know it's hard to wade through all the information...I'm still learning a lot myself!  My fellow teacher, Anna Upah, shared her blog post where she explained it to her first grade parents and gave them some graphics to help with understanding.  With her permission, I'm sharing her post with you:


Old habits die hard and I still feel the need to send home an old fashioned paper copy of my monthly newsletter that I've been doing for 26 years (hopefully I'll have it ready by Friday).  Attached will be a book order from Scholastic Books.  Please order online or send a check, as I cannot accept cash payment.  Scholastic is a great resource for children's books, and with your order I get bonus points to use to help me stock my classroom library!  Let me know if you love or hate the monthly paper-copy newsletter...I'd like to hear your feedback!

Dates on Deck:

Friday, October 2  Breakfast Buddies (7:30) and Bloomsbury Farm field trip
Wednesday, October 7  1:00 dismiss - Professional Development
Monday, October 12  Picture Retakes
Monday, October 19  No School - Professional Development
Wednesday, October 28  1:00 dismiss - Professional Development
Friday, October 20  Fall Festival class party - more info about treats, games, and decorations will be sent home soon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September 23

We've been keeping very busy at school with last week's Homecoming activities, Dot Day, collecting coins for the Alzheimer's Walk, and going on the walk yesterday!  Keystone students brought in over $600 in coins to donate to finding a cure for Alzheimer's, and unlike last Friday's rain that cancelled the parade, we had beautiful weather today for taking the Keystone Care Center residents out for a stroll. I hope to have other opportunities to interact with the care center residents this year.

Two important notes came home yesterday:  one about Bloomsbury Farm field trip and one about Breakfast Buddies, both events happening next Friday, October 2. The Breakfast Buddies note needs to be returned by THIS Friday, September 25, so we will know how much food will be needed for breakfast.  Just one guest per student, please!


We've been learning about Balance and Motion with some science activities. Ask your child to tell you about words like stable, counterweight, balance point. Here are some pictures of our latest experiment:


We're moving right along in math and nearing the end of topic 2, addition strategies.  Learning these strategies is vital to student's success in future math lessons.  Every day we also discuss strategies for Sticky Math, the white half sheets that have been coming home lately.  It's a daily 1 minute timing to see if they understand and can apply the strategy listed at the top of the sheet.  Next week we will take the topic 2 assessment, and I will send it home with a note attached showing the objectives they got wrong, if any.  Please make corrections (if any) with your child and return it to school so I know we've communicated about their math progress!

Dates on Deck:

October 2  Breakfast Buddies and Bloomsbury field trip
October 7   1:00 dismiss
October 19  No School (teacher professional development)
October 28  1:00 dismiss

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

We had a nice turn-out of about 60 parents for our Parent Partnership Night on Wednesday, September 9.  If you didn't make it and would like more information on any of the sessions, let me know!

Buddy Reading

Your child has been partnered with a buddy from another grade level to share books during Bobcat Time this week!  The kids have enjoyed going into other classrooms and being a partner with someone from another class.  Bobcat Time is from 11:00-11:20 each day when everyone in every classroom will be assigned to a group for some kind of literacy or math lesson.  The groups will be determined by the needs we identify for each student, and groups will vary throughout the year. We are utilizing almost every adult in the building (teachers and associates) to work with students for this 20 minute period.  We are beginning the procedure with Buddy Reading to have the kids get used to moving to another place in the building and working with a different teacher and students from other grades.  Here are a few pictures of Buddy Reading:


Benton Homecoming is next week, and we've decided on some fun dress up days.  Of course, it's always optional!  A note will be coming home about this, and here is a link to the same note:

On Friday, Sept. 18, we will travel to Van Horne to watch the Homecoming Parade and go to the high school gym for the Pep Rally.  We will leave Keystone at 1:00 for the 1:30 parade, and after that walk to the gym.  We'll return to Keystone in time for regular dismissal at 3:15.

Memory Walk

A tradition we have always had at Keystone Elementary is involvement with the Keystone Care Center conducting a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association and a Memory Walk.  Next week we will be asking kids to bring coins to donate to the cause and we'll present the money raised and go on the Memory Walk on Tuesday, September 22 at 2:00.  We will join residents from the Keystone Care Center who can walk or be pushed in a wheelchair for a walk around Keystone to raise awareness of the disease.  The residents love the interaction with kids and we feel very lucky to be in such close proximity to them!

Dates on Deck:

Wednesday, September 16  1:00 dismiss
Monday, September 21  No School - teachers have Professional Development
Saturday, September 26 - Bobcat DASH
Friday, October 2  Field trip to Bloomsbury Farm

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September 2, 2015

And we're off!  I'm extremely happy with how my class has adjusted to a new school, new classmates, and a new teacher!  They have been excellent listeners as we've discussed all sorts of things like expectations and procedures for recess, lunchroom, hallways, bathrooms, classroom, etc. The beginning of the year is also a time for getting baseline data on each student's skill strengths and weaknesses.  It's a lot of assessments, but we also do some fun stuff like team building games, science investigations (Balance and Motion is our first topic), and many reading and writing activities.

One team building activity we did was called "Saving Sam".  Sam was a gummy worm whose boat had capsized.  Groups of 3 students had to work together to get Sam into his life jacket (a gummy lifesaver), get his boat (plastic cup) turned back over, and get him back into the boat...sounds easy, right?  But here's the catch:  they couldn't use their hands to touch Sam...they could only use two paper clips!  It was fun to watch them work together to problem-solve!  Here are some pictures of them "Saving Sam"!

I sent my September Newsletter home on Tuesday of this week.  It's another attempt I make to keep you informed of the things your child does at school all day!  I'll try to post on this blog at least once a week, giving you more updates and reminders of things on the calendar.  One important date coming up is our Parent Partnership Night next Wednesday, September 9 at 6:30.  It's your chance to come and hear about things we think are important about your child's school experience.  We will have 6 breakout sessions for you to choose 3 of, as well as a session with your child's grade level teachers.  We'll have some high school kids here to babysit kids if you need to bring them along!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!