October Newsletter

Feliz octubre!

I apologize for not sending out an official newsletter yet this year. With adjusting to PowerSchool and other events in school and out (I’m in grad school too now!), my newsletter hasn’t been at the top of the to-do list yet. But it is now!

Though I have a long list of things I want to talk to you about, I will limit myself to these 3 topics for now: PowerSchool, where you can find extra copies of homework, and learning strategies. Use the subheadings below to skip right through to the section you find pertinent and useful for you:

POWERSCHOOL:

I want to start off by explaining a little bit about the “grade reports” that you are probably getting emailed each week. I am attempting to use the gradebook like I have in the past to store information about the students’ homework, behavior, and participation. However, I have less control now over the way I use the gradebook. As a reminder, there are NO grades for Spanish. For this reason, you will see a lot of 0.0 points/0.0 points in these reports. Sometimes I forget to reset the point to 0, so if you see 10 pts one week, that’s just my oversight!

Even adding codes has been difficult, as I can only use alphabetic symbols for my codes. Here are the new codes that I use to provide you with information:

good = Your child is on target. Homework was turned in, their behavior met expectations, and they participated at least at an adequate level.

hw = Homework was not present or incomplete.

P = Participation needs improvement. (If we do not try, we cannot learn!)

B = Behavior needs improvement. (Students get 3 warnings usually before I give a behavior strike)

WOW = The student impressed me somehow, by an act of integrity, by using extra Spanish, by participating extra, etc.

abs = Absent.

EXTRA COPIES OF HOMEWORK:

I have linked copies of the homework to the assignments, but I think it’s still very confusing to find. Instead, I am linking it to our Spanish website, which is much easier to navigate. To access the extra homework folders first go to www.fcspanish.com, then look to the bottom navigation bar and click “Las Maestras (Profesoras).” On that page, scroll down below my picture (the 2nd one) and click on Senorita’s Homework/Tarea. This page will allow you to access the Google Docs folders for the three grade levels I am currently teaching – grades 3, 4, and 5. From there you can open, save, and print out the homework.

LEARNING STRATEGIES:

Why do we study? (This is the same spiel I’ve given several of my classes)…. Our brains are actually wired to forget things. It’s an efficiency issue. Think about it, if you remembered every thing you ever heard, saw, smell, tasted, and felt, your brain would be pretty overloaded, wouldn’t it? Our brains intentionally forget things that they do not think are important. But how do you tell your brain that something is important? You can attach it to a big emotion (fear, excitement, surprise), you can experience that “something” with several senses at once (hearing, seeing, body movement/feeling), and you can come across that “something” enough times and in enough ways that it becomes memorable.

Sometimes I feel like I am a learning strategies teacher and my sample subject is Spanish. This is because I have so little time with students (16 or 17 lessons per year) and I want them to learn as much as they can in as little time as possible that I choose to focus more on the “how” of learning rather than the “what.” Having a deep insight into how we learn (as an individual) as well as knowing several strategies and their benefit to us, will help students become independent learners. This is the overall goal of education anyhow – to become competent adults who can learn and adapt quickly in an ever-changing world.

I often tell the students how much easier it would have been for me had my teachers taught me the tricks I’m teaching them now. Especially when learning Spanish, I just had to put the time in to learn my vocabulary.  Though putting time in is still required to be a successful learner, I’m showing them how to look at pieces of words to gain meaning (like roots and suffixes with the 10s and 100s place numbers), how to use context to help them figure out new words in a sentence, and how to think about the challenge of studying difficult material (“If I tell you this is the hardest word on the list, how should that affect your studying?”) so that they do not have to put SO MUCH time in as I had to. Some of the students are totally on board with me, and others I’m still working on convincing. Applying strategies is a tough skill, and not all children are ready to do it on their own. By supporting their growth at home and by facilitating their use of many strategies and tricks, you will help your child move closer to being an independent learner.

In the future I will hopefully expand on some strategies that we are using in class or that you can use at home. Subscribe to this blog to get automatic updates as soon as I post to it.

Hasta pronto,

Señorita (Miss) Jessica Taylor

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