Monday, April 20, 2015

Updates from the Principal

Dear families and community members,

This week our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students will be participating in the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in various subject areas (see Mark Your Calendar section for details). Please reassure your child(ren) that they know everything they need to for this assessment and that there is nothing to worry about. This assessment is just one of many ways to see how much our students have learned and mastered concepts and skills they have been exploring throughout the school year. Encourage them to relax their minds and just try their best. 
STAAR testing day is no different from our regular school days so our campus WILL NOT shut down. Spicewood will operate as usual, with a slight change in lunch schedule. 


Destination Imagination State Tournament: 5th Grade Team
Two of our 5th grade students, AJ Darwin and Pablo Vidrio, advanced to and participated in the DI State Tournament last Friday and Saturday in Dallas, Texas under the guidance of Mrs. Darwin. The team did a great job and received recognition for their commitment, perseverance and dedication. All the time invested during the last 6 months came through in their performance and Instant Challenge results. The team (Awesomers) received two awards:
1. DI Spirit of Discovery and Imagination Award- This award is offered for exceptional Spirit, Teamwork, Volunteerism and Sportsmanship demonstrated by the team/individual. The award recognizes those who act as superior role models

2. Gold Medal for winning first place in Instant Challenge for their category. They solved the advanced level Instant Challenge quickly and effortlessly, resulting in the highest score for their category - a perfect score - 100 pts. out of 100!

We couldn't be more proud of their achievement along with their dedication and perseverance! 

Annual Fun Run
We had a great turn out at our Annual Fun Run event last Thursday. I was SO IMPRESSED with our students; they took it very seriously as they ran 4 or more laps and paced themselves the entire way! Big thanks to Mr. Gere for organizing the event and to Mrs. Williamson for being a huge part of it as well! 

IB PYP 101

5th Grade Exhibition-Vol.3
In addition to exploring different ways to express themselves as our 5th grade students rotated through specials over three weeks, 4-5 students are grouped and assigned to a teacher mentor. They have been meeting with their mentor since February every other week for half an hour each to reflect on their PYP journey in a very structured and in-depth manner. They have 6 mentor sessions beginning February all the way into May and each session has a focus topic of discussion, pre-outlined by our IB Coordinator, Mrs. Marvel. This is just a glimpse of the Exhibition Mentor Meeting Plan that was devised by Ms. Marvel. 

Meeting 1 on February 5: Review portfolios with your group (Transdisciplinary themes)
Essential questions to discuss with students:
What was the most meaningful unit and why?
What is the value of each transdisciplinary theme?
What were your major “learnings” under each theme?
How do all the units work together to build your knowledge of the world?

Meeting 2 on February 17: The Learner Profile
Read the IB Mission Statement with students first. 
Essential questions to discuss with students: 
How does each trait of the LP develop us as an internationally minded thinker? (be specific)
Discuss the value of these skills as a student, and in the world outside of school. How will developing these attributes make us better world citizens. 
How would the world be different if more people demonstrated these attributes.

Meeting  3 on March 3: Transdisciplinary Skills and Review Social Skills Rubric
Essential questions to discuss with students:
What is the value of each set of skills? WHY?
Social skills
Research (do last, if at all)
How have you/will you use each set in the exhibition process?
What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?

Meeting 4 on March 24: ACTION
Discuss with students that the exhibition is one way that Spicewood students take ACTION. 
Essential questions to discuss with students:
Yesterday you reflected on different types of inspiration when you were in your specials classes. Can everyone share one examples of an inspiration they discussed?
How are inspiration and action related?
What types of ACTION have you taken during your PYP journey at Spicewood?
Why is ACTION important?

Meeting 5 on April 14: Concepts
Essential question to discuss with students:
Explain how each key concept is related to the historical/current event you have chosen personal exhibition project (please go through all the concepts one by one as a group). They have a recording sheet for their questions/thoughts.

Meeting 6 on April 28: Knowledge and complete Social Skills rubric
Essential questions to discuss with students:
Reflecting on what we know...
Choose a color that you think best represents the essence of the PYP
Create a symbol that you think best represents the essence of the PYP
Sketch an image that you think best represents the essence of the PYP

Final Meeting on May 5, students will present their final exhibition product to the mentor teacher or to his/her entire class. This gives a great early exposure to younger grade level students at Spicewood and it becomes something they look forward to in their final grade level. 

As you can see, what you will get to see, hear and experience on Wednesday, May 6 at the Exhibition is a product of scaffolded thinking, facilitated thinking process, independent interest and research, and hard work to exhibit the whole learning of IB learners as their final evaluation assessment. I will assure you that you will be amazed by what our students will showcase as their Exhibition project. So please come join us and partake in our celebration of learning on Wednesday, May 6 from 8:30-10AM!

This Week's News

STAAR Testing- Monday, 4/20-Thursday, 4/23
Again, Spicewood will NOT be closing down the campus for visitors on STAAR Testing days. The rest of the school will follow their regular instructional schedule as usual. If you wish to eat with your child on STAAR Testing days, you can do so but please refer to the adjusted lunch schedule for the four testing days. Per Texas Education Agency guideline, no person, including students, teachers, staff and parents, is allowed to ask questions or hold discussions regarding STAAR with students on the day of STAAR Testing.

Spirit Night at Buch's Chicken hosted by PTA
Please join us for dinner at Bush's Chicken this Thursday between 5PM and 8PM. 2nd Grade teachers, Mrs. Haney (ITS), Mrs. Marvel (IB Coord.), Mrs. Reeb (Librarian) and Mr. Berry (PE Teacher) will be there for part of the night. Money raised from the event will be spent towards educating and enriching our students at Spicewood. 

Sharing the Planet Video Contest
As Spicewood prepares to celebrate Sharing the Planet Week on April 27th,  we are inviting all students to enter the 2nd annual Sharing the Planet Video Contest! Show us how you take action and stand up for our beautiful Earth! All entries must be no longer than three minutes and clearly demonstrate a commitment to sharing the planet! Please see the flyer for detailed information. All necessary forms are placed in the electronic Friday Folder

Optional Parent Input Form
Optional Parent Input Form has been placed in the electronic Friday Folder. I ask that all parents respect the expertise of our staff and leadership and not request a specific teacher for your child. To briefly explain how class lists are made, we first begin with grade level team teachers getting together and placing them in groups for next school year as they know their students and their needs best. Then we come together at a faculty meeting and we go through a refining process again vertically. Leadership then refines the lists several times over the summer based on student services, needs and teachers' certifications/specialties to best serve all of our 808 students. The form is due Friday, May 1 to your child's teacher or the front office. No late forms will be accepted. 

New Point of Sale in the Cafeteria
All RRISD school cafeterias will be getting a new Point of Sale meal checkout system. Transitioning to this advanced level of service will be completed by Monday, April 27. There will be no disruption to service and students will continue to use their current IDs or PIN to purchase their meals and food items. The change in POS system will also mean a change in the online payment service system. PayPams will be replaced with MySchoolBucks which will launch in coordination with the new POS system. All balances will be seamlessly transferred from the previous system to the new system. For more information, including key transition dates please visit the RRISD Food Service website.

Order Your Spicewood Yearbook
If you would like to receive your child’s yearbook by the end of the school year, you must place your order by Monday, April 20th!  To view directions on ordering your yearbook, please visit the Yearbook page. Additionally, if you order by April 20th you can customize 2 pages of your child’s yearbook pages for free! Step by step instructions for customizing your yearbook pages can be found on the Yearbook page. Please contact RuthAnn Gaede  with any questions.

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Visit Mrs. Kim's Blog for previous Updates from the Principal newsletters.


Monday, April 20
STAAR Testing
5th Grade Math

Tuesday, April 21
STAAR Testing
3rd Grade Math
4th Grade Math

Wednesday, April 22
STAAR Testing
3rd Grade Reading
4th Grade Reading

Thursday, April 23
STAAR Testing
5th Grade Science

Spirit Night at Bush's Chicken on 620 (hosted by PTA)
5:00-8:00PM 2nd Grade teachers, Mrs. Haney (ITS), Mrs. Marvel (IB Coord.), Mrs. Reeb (Librarian) and Mr. Berry (PE Teacher) will be there for part of the night. 

Monday, May 4- Friday, May 8
Teacher Appreciation Week
Please note that the gift must be worth less than $50 of value.
No class gift is allowed. 

Monday, May 4
Mustang Express for 5th Grade Students

Wednesday, May 6
National School Nurse Day
Early Release Day- Dismissal @ 12:45PM
8:30-10:00AM   5th Grade Exhibition Day
1:00-3:00PM   Spring Conference Day [See the Detailed Schedule]

Thursday, May 7
6:30PM   4th Grade Concert

Thursday, May 14
Family Gallery Night
Food trucks will be on site as well.

Friday, May 15
Field Day

Monday, May 18
8:00-9:00AM   Coffee with Canyon Vista MS Principal @ Spicewood Library
(Only for 5th Grade Parents)
Come with questions! Mrs. Hagerty will be here at Spicewood to answer your questions.
If you're a parent of a 5th grade student, please join us in the library. 

Wednesday, May 20
8:00-9:00AM   Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast
More detailed information TBA. 

Monday, May 25
No School- Memorial Day

Tuesday, May 26
8:00AM   Principals' Pride Kinder-2nd Grade

Wednesday, May 27
8:00AM   Principals' Pride 3rd-5th Grade

Thursday, June 4
8:00-9:00AM   5th Grade Promotion Ceremony

Friday, June 5
Last Day of School!