Monday, January 12, 2015

Updates from the Principal

Dear families and community members,

 I hope everyone had a warm and safe weekend despite the cold weather. We have A LOT of important information being shared in This Week's News section today. Please take just a few minutes to read through the newsletter. Wellness Wednesday and WatchDOGS Friday are back on this week! We look forward to seeing many parents throughout the building this week! :) Oh, and don't forget to attend the Parent Information Night on ADHD this Tuesday at 6PM!  

IB PYP 101

Units of Inquiry: How We Express Ourselves
Today we will explore how the Unit of Inquiry: How We Express Ourselves unfolds in various classrooms at Spicewood ES. This unit is an inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic. 

Our 2nd grade students explore poetry on this unit as their Central Idea of the unit states that people express themselves through poetry. Students are asked to ponder upon different characteristics of poetry, the poet's purpose for writing the poem and the connection between the poet, poem and the reader. While it is important to learn the different types of poetry that exist, we feel it's more pertinent for our students to understand the big message that a poet is trying to express through his/her work. When I visited students last week in classrooms, I witnessed a variety of ways in which students explored poetry. One class listened to media poems and discussed what messages they carried. In some classes, students had various poetry books in their hands during their Read To Self time, digesting various types of poems by reading and meditating. In another class, students were writing their own poems to convey a message that they wanted readers to think about. Our second grade students plan to host a 2nd Grade Poetry Tea on Friday, January 30, 2015 where they will have an opportunity to share their authentic work in the world of poetry with parents and guests. How exciting!

On this unit, students in 3rd grade evolve their learning experiences around the Central Idea that states, people express themselves symbolically. 3rd grade teachers provide multiple opportunities for students to react, respond to, and analyze a variety of symbols (flags, anthems, pledges, directives such as punctuation, math operation symbols, safety, drama conventions, directional/map symbols, weather symbols, etc). In Language Arts, this is where our 3rd grade students discover and identify text features and punctuation marks, how authors use them to communicate, and how they help the readers understand. In math, students engage in explaining the representation of symbols in math problem solving (what is the group etc.?) This year students also made a connection to Digital Citizenship Week in October and created symbols to represent sound behaviors of digital citizens. 

Having a transdisciplinary theme truly brings the learning back in a full circle, allowing learners to make connections continuously across all subject areas. Rather than teaching contents and skills in isolation, IB PYP believes in developing the whole brain of a child by linking the contents and skills in a meaningful manner. 

This Week's News

Morning Drop-Off
Parents, once the weather gets cold (below 50 degrees), office staff allow students to enter the school building prior to 7:20AM. Rather than waiting in a parked car till 7:20AM in the circle drive, please drop off your child(ren) so it may alleviate the morning traffic. 

University Interscholastic League (UIL)
Spicewood Elementary will proudly participate in UIL A+ Academics competition.
These events are designed to complement and expand upon what students learn in the classroom, both through learning specific subject knowledge, and through learning skills that are valuable in many disciplines.

Spicewood Elementary will participate in the following events for the 2014-2015 School Year:

To promote varied participation, one student is allowed to enter for one category. For example, a 5th grade student will have to choose between Spelling and Number Sense. 

Spicewood will hold a preliminary campus competition during the school hours on Thursday, February 5, 2015 to select three finalists and two alternates in each category per grade level. 4-6 staff members will participate as judges for the in-house campus competition. Selected finalists and alternates will participate in the after-school coaching sessions (1-2 times a week) in preparation of the district level UIL competition, taking place on March 7, 2015 at Walsh Middle School. [Please note that this is the same day as the Robotics Competition and Explore UT] Alternate candidates will only be able to compete on Saturday, March 7, if one or more finalists cannot make it to the district competition due to unforeseen circumstances. 

If you are interested in registering your child, please fill out the Student Registration Form and turn it in to the front office by Tuesday, January 20, 2015

To find out detailed information on each category, please refer to Spicewood UIL Category Information document in the Friday Folder.  

Be a coach! We need volunteer coaches who want to involve in these wonderful events. UIL relies heavily on the participation of parent coaches. Without volunteer coaches, these events would not happen. If you want to be a coach for any events, please contact 

Report Cards Go Home This Friday
Report cards will go home this Friday. Please be sure to take a look and check in on your child's progress. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the child's teacher to set up a conference. 

WatchDOGS Friday This Friday!
This Friday, January 16, 2015 is a WatchDOGS Friday. Please be sure to sign up to volunteer throughout the day (Click on "click here for the on-line schedule" button). We appreciate your time devoted to helping our children and staff at Spicewood! 

A Message from the Spicewood No Place for Hate Coalition
Spicewood has a No Place For Hate Coalition, a group of fifth graders working on making our school the best place we can be by, and to be a No Place for Hate school each year, we must brainstorm three activities promoting peace and diversity. We are starting a new project called the Diversity Tree where we will celebrate the different languages of Spicewood. We hope it will help our school with inclusiveness. This past Friday, your child received a paper leaf in his or her Friday Folder which contains directions to complete the leaf. If your family would like to participate, please work with your child to complete the leaf and turn it in to his or her teacher as soon as possible. Completed leaves will be added to our big diversity tree outside the cafeteria. Thank you so much for helping to spread our message of appreciating diversity and the importance of inclusiveness!

Nike Reuse-A-Shoe
Spicewood is taking ACTION as a community of caring, global-minded thinkers to recycle old tennis shoes. 

Established in the early 1990s, Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program collects old, worn-out athletic shoes for recycling and transforms them into Nike Grind, a material used to create courts, tracks, fields and playgrounds. You can bring athletic shoes of any brand for recycling to the Spicewood Gym. Nike's recycling equipment is designed specifically for the material and dimensions of athletic shoes. For that reason, Nike cannot accept sandals, flip-flops, dress shoes, or boots. Nike also does not accept shoes containing metal, such as cleats or spikes. To find out what happens to the donated shoes, please refer to the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe Program Information document in our Friday Folder

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day!
The Women in Engineering Program (WEP) at The University of Texas at Austin invites you to promote math, science and engineering to girls through this great open house. Our upcoming Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day event will be bigger and better than ever and we hope you decide to join in on Saturday, February 28, 2015 from 2 – 5 p.m. at the UT Austin Campus. Registration is now open for 1st-8th grade students! For more information, please visit the official website

Parent Information Night on ADHD -Hosted by PTA
On Tuesday, January 13, a special guest speaker, Dr. Denbar, will be at Spicewood ES to speak on ADHD for any parents who would like to receive information the topic. There will be an opportunity for Q & A at the end of the session. Please join us in the library. 

Science Fair
Science Fair Handbooks went home with 4th and 5th graders before the break. The handbook is also  available on the Science Fair page. Parents of K-3rd graders are encouraged to download the handbook. Additionally you will find the Parent Info Guide 2015 which provides excellent guidelines regarding Science Fair Projects. Please remember that 4th and 5th graders must complete projects; K-3rd graders are encouraged to participate. Science Fair will be held from January 26 - January 29, 2015. 

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Tuesday, January 13
6:00PM   Parent Information Night on ADHD -Hosted by PTA
Dr. Denbar will be here to speak on ADHD for any parents who would like to receive information the topic. There will be an opportunity for Q & A at the end of the session. Please join us in the library. 

Wednesday, January 14
Wellness Wednesday Starts Back Again!

Friday, January 16
WatchDOGS Friday Starts Back Again!
Report Cards Go Home

Monday, January 19

Tuesday, January 20
UIL Student Registration Form Due [Front Office]

Monday, January 26- Thursday, January 29
Science Fair 

Tuesday, January 27
5:00-8:00PM   Spirit Night @ Cajun Pizza Place (hosted by PTA)

Monday, February 2- Friday, February 6
School Counselor's Week

Tuesday, February 3
Class Picture Day 
6:30PM   1st Grade Concert

Wednesday, February 4
Wellness Wednesday
Early Release Day 
All students are dismissed at 12:45PM. Please plan accordingly in advance.

Thursday, February 5
UIL Preliminary Campus Competition 

Friday, February 6
WatchDOGS Friday