March 2013

posted Mar 4, 2013, 10:21 AM by Anna Saunders   [ updated Mar 4, 2013, 10:21 AM by PFC Webmaster ]

Hello Walnut Acres Parents,

Happy March to you all! We have about one month until Spring vacation and we will spend it busily supporting student learning. I'd like to share with you a few of our learning plan and event highlights. 

Last month I mentioned to you that we were piloting a new formative, computer-adaptive assessment, and thus far it appears that the reports generated from that assessment will be useful to consider as one measure of a multiple measurement process to inform instruction. We are focused on analyzing the data reports this month. There are online lessons that were provided to us to explore along with the assessment and we are also investigating those during the month of March. Your child may access those lessons at home, as well, so you may want to take a look at them. Ask to see your child's label (hopefully in a binder) titled that indicates his/her user name and password. (It's the same information your child uses to access IXL.) 

Our 21st century growth efforts continue as we learn more about the Common Core Standards and create student opportunities for deeper thinking through the strategies that we implement at school, including the use of technology devices. I hope you are beginning to see some of our efforts at home through student products and/or student conversations. We will be asking you in an end-of-year survey about your observations of our efforts. 

I spend quite a bit of time reporting to you about safety challenges and solutions. That is because we can't focus on learning if we don't have a safe and secure environment for our children. Recently our safety committee has completed an update of our Walnut Acres Emergency Plan and they have developed goals for continued safety enhancement. Those goals will include CAP services for 2013-14, a structured process known as the Peace Path (through Soul Shoppe) to empower students in playground problem solving, and 2 small areas of fencing behind the K rooms near the garbage containers and near the gate backing Cedro. Once the district approves our Safety and Emergency Plans in April, they will be placed on the district website as public documents.

There are 2 recent changes to current safety practices. First, Student Messenger attendance calls are being made earlier. If your child is not at school and you have not called in the absence, you should receive a call at 9:30 a.m. (There is a later call for late kindergarten friends.) Second, our doors will remain locked each day, but Mr. DeLeon has fashioned a wonderful little "tie" that can be placed in front of each latch, effectively preventing the lock process. If there is a lockdown, the tie can be shifted slightly and the door will lock. This practice allows us to have the doors readily in position for an emergency, while allowing traffic flow in and out of classrooms so as not to distract busy teachers and students. 

So what noteworthy events are happening in March? 

Our PFC is sponsoring a Food Drive from March 11-15, 2013.Donating to the drive is a great way to model good citizenship, our March life skill focus.

March 15, 2013, is noteworthy for 3 reasons. The Student Council has decreed that day to be PJ Day. Secondly, and much less excitingly, March 15th is the end of our second trimester. 

And the third event of March 15th? It is the evening of the PFC Havana Night gala that preserves our assistants working with students, keeps our science lab humming, helps us to differentiate, and provides funds for our 21st century transformation, despite continued financial cuts within the district. I thank you in advance for your participation and your financial contribution at our annual auction! 
Click here to join the fun!

Child Assault Prevention (CAP) workshops will be presented to students in kindergarten, 1st grade, 3rd grade and 5th grade in April. Last year the workshops were successfully implemented in every classroom. We hope to continue that developmentally appropriate conversation each year with our youngest students and biannually with our 1st-5th grade students as recommended by the CAP trainers. (Their research strongly concludes that to keep children safe, it is crucial for parents and educators to have ongoing conversations about empowerment.) The sessions will unfold as they did last year and non-permission forms are being sent home this week so that parents who do not want their child to participate in the workshops may indicate that choice. If you have not had an opportunity to learn about the workshop sessions, please attend the parent workshop scheduled for Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in A-1 from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and bring any questions you have. 

Speaking of upcoming events, the Walnut Acres Student Council is planning a special family evening of fun on Friday, March 29, 2013.Starting at 6:30 p.m. there will be a free family movie night in the MUR. Come enjoy the movie, Brave, with your family and purchase some tasty treats as you relax and laugh together! Watch Enews for details about RSVPing for the event.

On March 29th, you can also look forward to receiving a Progress Report. Your students can anticipate a Walnut Acres Sing-out (8-8:20 a.m. for 3rd-5th grades and 8:30-8:50 a.m. for K-2nd grades) and a yummy barbecue lunch! 

A wonderful presenter once commented to our staff that we need to ask ourselves, "How great are our kids really?" Let me give you one example of how great they are... The 4th and 5th graders secretly practiced a Macarena dance and last week created a flash mob performance that took my breath away and tickled everyone who was lucky enough to watch it. I tell our students routinely that they are very special; I encourage you to do the same. 

"No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure."

~Emma Goldman, author

Colleen Dowd