A Note From Our Principal - April 2016

Growth Mindset

Dear Families -

April is upon us and our students' learning and engagement is blooming at Van Hise! After a well-deserved spring break, we are back to school and ready for action. Before I jump into things happening in April, I want to thank you for participating in your child(ren)'s conferences in March. Our children are getting stronger each time they have an opportunity to articulate their strengths and areas for improvement. This reflective and active process in which they are engaging will serve them well in their lives. Thank you again for being part of your child(ren)'s team with us!

Very soon we will be moving into our new Library space in mid-April! Everything is new and fresh - perfect for a spring move-in. Over the next five months we will see our school transform! The former Library is becoming 2 classrooms. The chorus room across from our current main office will become the Van Hise main office, as well as the health office, and work spaces for our Speech & Language Therapist, Social Worker and Psychologist. Over the summer, we will be getting a new address as well, making the Segoe side of our building the "main" entrance. You will be receiving more information about this shift over the next few months.

In addition to the exciting work done inside our school, you will be hearing more about our Parent Teacher Organization's efforts in improving our playground for our children and community. The plan for our playground has been designed in phases and not only provides a number of different play spaces for our students, it takes some of the issues we have with water collecting in various areas. There will be more information comin
g your way about our playground.

April is a time when our students engage in a number of assessments. The tools we have for assessment provides data so that we can better understand our students' current level of understanding related to the grade level standards. In grades K-2, our teachers will be assessing children's literacy development using the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) assessment throughout April and May. They have also done this in the fall and we will be able to see growth in our students' literacy development. The new Wisconsin Forward Exam will be taken this spring by our 3rd-5th graders for the first time. All students will take the English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics sections of the test. The ELA portion of the test contains a section of Reading, one of Writing, and one of Listening. The mathematics portion of the test contains two sections. Students in Grades 4 and 8 will also take Science and Social Studies portions of the test. To see sample questions, visit mmsd.org/forwardtest and click on the "online demo" link in the Online Test Demonstration section. Questions can be sent to Tim Peterson, Director of Assessment. In addition, these students will take the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) which gives us benchmark data showing growth over time (Fall-Winter-Spring) in math and reading at the end of April and into May. Our teachers use a number of other ways to know what a child understands; observation, listening to reading, asking questions, math fact interviews, etc. We are looking forward to seeing how our students are progressing and performing so that we can plan next instructional steps and school-wide goals. Your teachers will be giving you the assessment schedule and reminders through their weekly classroom newsletters.

I hope to see you on April 19th at 6:30 p.m. in our cafeteria where I will be presenting with Shari Nelson, our Instructional Resource Teacher about how to foster a "Growth Mindset" in ourselves and our children. We will be using information gathered from a recent conference on the topic, as well as a number of publications.

Enjoy this time with your wonderful children and know that we are committed to the important work of 'growing' the minds and hearts of our students with you.

Peg Keeler, Principal

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