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Principal’s Message: 0059 (2) Tara Pic-website
Dear Firwood Families,
It has been my honor to serve as the Firwood Principal for 5 years now.  I strive to work with staff and students to make Firwood the best school in our community.   Our school motto is that Firwood Elementary School is Focused, Fierce and Fighting for Excellence.   Something that I am very passionate about is making sure that every Firwood student is reading at grade level.  If students can read they can do anything!  At Firwood we are very focused on teaching your child to read and we devote the necessary time and energy daily into teaching reading.  In order to ensure that your child is reading on level we need your support at home.  Please make sure your child is reading every day for a minimum of 20 minutes and that you make time to read to/with your child.
As principal I am proud of many things about our school.  One thing in particular that I am very proud of is our improved state test scores the past several years in the area of reading. The overall improvement would not have happened if it weren’t for the hard work of our teachers, assistants, students and parents.  Our 2015-16 State Test Scores Indicate that we are Outperforming the state average by 15% in 4th Grade and 8% in 5th grade (66%of students are Meeting/Exceeding in both 4th & 5th grades).  Unfortunately our third grade test scores went down this school year by 17% to 46% of students Meeting or Exceeding in comparison to last school year 2014-15 with 63% Meeting or Exceeding in language arts.  This year’s 3rd grade data was affected by multiple factors but it is my hope that we will work even harder next school year to ensure that this improves and that many more students are reading at/above the 3rd grade level.
One thing that we need to work on as a school is improving our attendance rate.  For the past two school years our average attenders are only 88%.  I am hopeful that we can all work together to increase this rate for the upcoming 2016-17 school year to 95%.
My promise to you is to support teachers and staff to be the best they can be so that your child can learn and grow at their maximum potential.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me at tara.black@ortrail.k12.or.us if you have any questions.  Thank you for your continued support in making Firwood Elementary the best school in our community!
Respectfully,
Tara Black
Here are a few things that I put together for your information:
Attendance
Daily attendance at school is imperative.  We strive at Firwood to make sure our student’s are learning important skills and strategies in all subjects so that they are successful in their futures.  Every minute of every day is essential for your child so that they do not get behind in their learning. Please make sure to have your child to school on time and refrain from picking up your child early so that they don’t miss classroom instruction.   Thank you for your cooperation.

Firwood students need to practice reading and writing as much as possible. It’s imperative that you work with your child/children at home daily so that they can meet the rigorous common core grade level standards for reading, writing and math. As a parent or guardian there are many activities you can do with your child to help maintain and improve your child’s reading and writing skills:

Visit the local library in Sandy to check out books.

Sandy Public Library Hours:

Mon-Friday 10am-7pm

Saturday 10am-5pm

Sunday 1pm-5pm

City of Sandy Public Library web link:  http://www.ci.sandy.or.us/library/

Read to, with, and by your children: as often as possible but shoot for a minimum of 15-30 minutes a day.  Try to create a consistent time each day to read with your child or have your child read (i.e. before dinner time, right before bed time etc.). 

Read aloud picture or chapter books (depending on your child’s grade level).  While reading to your child stop and ask your child questions about what is happening in the book.  For example, ask him/her to make predictions (What do you think will happen next?), discuss characters in the story, and have your child summarize the main events of the story in his/her own words.

Reread your child’s favorite books (this promotes comprehension and vocabulary development).

Encourage your child to write often (if not daily, then at least every other day).  Have your child keep a journal or diary (The Dollar Store has great journals and diaries-or you can have your child make their own with construction paper and lined notebook paper). Ask your child to write letters to you or someone special, and/or to write personal narrative stories about their summer experiences (playing with friends, going to a special place, etc.) or about special people in their lives, their favorite hobbies, or special places.  In addition, ask your child to write in his/her journal about what they are reading about; ask him/her to write about their favorite parts of the story, to summarize the story, re-write the beginning or ending of the story etc.

If your child is an incoming kindergartner or first grader, he/she can write stories by drawing pictures.  Encourage him/her to tell the story out loud in sequence (This is what happened in the beginning, middle and end…). For beginning writers, children can begin labeling their pictures as they learn sounds and common sight words.

General Reading Suggestions by Grade Level from Florida Center for Reading Research:

http://www.fcrr.org/Curriculum/curriculumForParents.shtm

For Parents Grades K-2

“If you add a little to a little, and then do it again, soon that little shall be much.” -Hesiod

Listed below are some general suggestions for things that parents can do to help support the reading growth of their children. These are general suggestions, meant to be useful for almost any child, and there may be other things your child’s teacher will want you to do that are focused on the specific needs of your child. All of these suggestions come from research on the way children learn to read. If you do some of them regularly in a motivating and supportive way, they will help your child make faster progress in learning to read. Many of these activities, such as those that build vocabulary and teach children to think while they read, will also help your child ultimately be a much better reader than he or she might otherwise become.

Kindergarten

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to read to your child. Before you read each book, read the title and look at the cover and pictures inside. Ask your child what she thinks the book may be about (prediction). After reading the book, review her prediction. Was the prediction right? If not, what happened instead?

3. Plan to go to the school library, public library, or the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After reading each book, talk to him about what happened at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story.

4. Play rhyming games. Say two words that rhyme (e.g. cat, sat) and ask your child to say a word that rhymes with your words. Take turns. Ask your child to say a word and then you respond with a rhyming word. For example, child says “cat”, parent says “hat”; child says “chair”, parent says “pair”.

5. Take turns thinking of two words that begin with the same sound. Examples: mom, moon; dog, door; fun, fast; paper, pet.

6. Play the “say it fast” game. Say a word, one sound at a time and have your child say the word at a normal rate. For example, you say each sound in the word cat, “/c/ /a/ /t/.” Then your child says the word at the normal speed, “cat.” Play this game with about five to ten short words (e.g. am, is, it, in, on, sit, pan, sun, top, net, fin) each day.

7. Take every opportunity you can to help increase your child’s vocabulary. You can do this by pointing to things and asking the child to tell you what they are, or you can stop and explain the meaning of any words in your reading that the child may not understand. The more you talk to your child, the faster their vocabulary will grow.

First Grade

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to read with your child. Take turns reading a page at a time. Or, read a sentence and then have your child reread that same sentence until you read through the whole book.

3. Plan to go to the school library, public library, or the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After each story is read, ask her to retell the story to you. Go back to the story to reread sections if she needs help retelling the story in sequence.

4. Play the “say the word slowly” game. Say a word at normal rate and then have your child say that same word slowly, one sound at a time. For example, say the word, “mat.” Then your child will say that same word slowly, one sound at a time, “/m/ /a/ /t/.” Play this game using about five to ten short words each day.

5. Fold a piece of paper into three parts. Let your child draw a picture of something he did in sequence. Then help your child write one sentence under each picture explaining what he did first, next and last.

6. Take turns thinking of two words that end with the same sound. Examples: mom, some; dog, rug; fun, ran; paper, feather.

7. Take every opportunity you can to help increase your child’s vocabulary. You can do this by pointing to things and asking the child to tell you what they are, or you can stop and explain the meaning of any words in your reading that the child may not understand. The more you talk to your child, the faster their vocabulary will grow.

Second Grade

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to listen to your child read.

3. Go to the school library, public library, or to the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. Read the title then look at the cover and pictures inside. Ask your child to predict what the book is about. After reading the book, review prediction then ask about the characters, setting, problem and solution.

4. Fact or Opinion Game: The parent says a sentence to the child then asks whether it is a fact or opinion. Ex: The weather is nice. (Opinion) A dog can bark. (Fact)

5. Encourage reading fluency by having your child read and reread familiar books. It can also be helpful to have your child read a short passage over several times while you record the time it takes. Children often enjoy seeing if they can improve their time from one reading to the next, and the repeated reading helps to establish a habit of fluent reading.

6. Pick out a new vocabulary word from one of the books you are reading with your child. Talk about what it means then make up a sentence with the new word. Try to use the word again that week.

For Parents Grades 3-4

Third Grade

Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to listen to your child read.

3. Go to the school library, public library, or to the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After you read each book, ask your child what the main character did or felt like at the end of the story. Ask if he/she has ever felt like the main character in the book. Why or why not?

4. Encourage reading fluency by having your child read and reread familiar books. It can also be helpful to have your child read a short passage over several times while you record the time it takes. Children often enjoy seeing if they can improve their time from one reading to the next, and the repeated reading helps to establish a habit of fluent reading.

5. Highlight or underline words that you can sound out from the day’s “junk mail.” Ask your child to read these words.

6. Make a simple recipe with him, allowing him to read each direction to you step by step so you’ll “know what to do.”

Fourth Grade

Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to listen to your child read.

3. Go to the school library, public library, or to the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After you read each book, talk about how it is similar to other books you have read together.

4. Encourage reading fluency by having your child read and reread familiar books. It can also be helpful to have your child read a short passage over several times while you record the time it takes. Children often enjoy seeing if they can improve their time from one reading to the next, and the repeated reading helps to establish a habit of fluent reading.

5. Have him read a book to a younger sibling (or even to a pet), perhaps playing “teacher” and asking the brother or sister good questions as he reads.

6. Have your child tell you a new word he has learned every single day. This word could be from a book he is reading, something you or the teacher said, or even a conversation that he heard at school. Talk about what it means then make up a sentence with the new word. If needed, use the dictionary to figure out what the word means. Play a game where each of you have to use the word in a sentence at least twice that day. Try to use the word again that week. Maybe add the words to a “my new vocabulary word list” and post it on the refrigerator.

Internet Resources

The Partnership for Reading: Bringing Scientific Evidence to Learning

Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
http://www.pbs.org/launchingreaders/

Get Ready to Read: Tips and activities for parents with young children.http://www.getreadytoread.org/

Math Resources:
Our school also has a site license for Big Brainz.  The web site link is : www.bigbrainz.com
This is a highly motivating computational math program and our students seem to really like it.  Students take a placement assessment and the program levels students according to their math skill set. Please ask your child’s teacher for their log in information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 503-668-8005 or at tara.black@ortrail.k12.or.us