Monday, December 14, 2015

Updates from the Leadership Team

Dear families and community,

Next week, we'll be closing our the calendar year with classroom winter parties and our second Principal's Pride assemblies. Grades K-2 will hold their assembly on Monday, December 14th and grade 3-4 will take place on Tuesday, December 15th. Both assemblies will begin promptly at 8:00. We invite parents to attend this celebratory event!

Celebrations

Robotics Competition
Spicewood students won big at Saturday's First Lego League robotics competition, December 5th, 2015. Spicewood had over thirty five students represented at the FLL 2015 Trash Trek, each participating in programming and design challenges as well as research, performance, and teamwork challenges. The students showed great commitment and perseverance throughout the season and it sure paid off! Spicewood's team won the Teamwork award for exemplary problem solving and decision making to help the team achieve their goals. Our all girls 4th grade team, coached by parent volunteers, won the 1st Place Championship Award and will be moving on to the Central Texas Regional Invitational Tournament held in February. We wish them luck in advancing and the opportunity to represent Central Texas in the First Lego League robotics competition!

Hour of Code
The Hour of Code was a great success! Students and teachers throughout the week experienced computer science in a variety of ways, including playing the Robot Turtles board game, programming and playing with robots, using the drag and drop block style coding with Star Wars and Minecraft, and even beginning to script in Python and Java! This week highlights the importance of incorporating STEM activities into our students' learning experiences. We hope that your child shared with you the different activities they enjoyed this week, and together, as a family, you can spend some time coding with your kids!   

Spicewood Students Receive Reflections Art Competition 
The results are in from the District Level Reflection’s Art Competition. All of the Spicewood student's did a fantastic job and showed immense creative talent. The District Level competition included entries from all of the elementary school's in RRISD. Congratulations! We're so proud of you!

The following Spicewood students received an Award of Excellence:
Ayaan M. – “The Boy Who Healed” 
Anella M. – “Jetpackin’ Turtle to Pluto” 
Sahana J. – “I Imagine a Playground of Fun!”


The following Spicewood students received an Award of Merit:
Baker T. – “An Invitation to Imagination”
Claire L. – “Imaginary Friends in Your Day”
Joan A. – “Butterfly Up in the Sky!” 
Scott S. – “Texas Sunset at 30,000 Feet”
Hudson G. – “Open Minded”
Nikki S. – “Candy Freedom” 

The following Spicewood students received an Honorable Mention:
Aspen G. – “My Hand Is My Cheerleader” 
Joan A. – “My Village”


The following Spicewood students received Participation:
Oliver B. – “Imagination! Mini-comic” 


Ayaan M.’s story, “The Boy Who Healed,” won an “Overall Award of Excellence,” and will be going on to the state level in the spring. Good luck, Ayaan!

4th Grade Field Trip to San Antonio
In connection to their Where We Are in Place and Time Unit of Inquiry (Central Idea: Migration and exploration cause and exchange of ideas and culturesour fourth grade went to San Antonio for a field trip last Friday. They visited the Institute of Texan Culture and the San Jose Mission and learned about the different groups of people who have contributed to the Texas areas, making connections and reflecting on their learning in the classroom.  


IB PYP 101
This portion of Mrs. Kim's letter is contributed by Mrs. Vance, our PYP Coordinator.
Last year Mrs. Kim focused on looking at each transdisciplinary theme from the different grade level perspectives, giving our community an insight as to how each of these themes are explored in different ways in each grade level. Throughout this year, we'll continue to take a look at each of the the units, and focus our attention on how teachers and using the different stages of in inquiry cycle to drive their Unit of Inquiry in the classroom.


Kindergarten: Kindergarten is currently exploring the central idea, Games are unique to the time and place in which they are played, in their Where We Are in Place and Time unit. Through play-based inquiry, the students play and experience different games found around the world. Some examples of some games were hockey (from Canada), ga-ga ball (originating from Isreal), and Skippy Roo Kangaroo (commonly played in Austrailia). These learning experiences also gave the students an authentic opportunity to explore the transdisciplinary skills (thinking, communication, social, self-management, research). At the end of the session, the class spent time debriefing with one another about how the games were played and what transdisciplinary skills and Learner Profile Attributes were used to successfully play and enjoy the games. 
First Grade: 1st graders also just launched their Where We Are in Place and Time unit about migration (Central Idea: Migration affects personal histories) with finding out about different migration stories from first hand family accounts. Over the next few weeks, students will listen to stories about reasons why individuals and families moved, or migrated, to different places around the world. The students are given an opportunity to ask questions to learn more about the experience. Afterwards, classes debrief and sort the information they learned, making connections to their central ideas and generating more questions about the concept.  
Second Grade: Our second graders are beginning to warp up their Sharing the Planet unit, exploring the central idea, Living things share natural resources. This week they simulated an oil spill in their classrooms, asking students to work together with the given materials to "clean it up". Students made predictions and wrote about their findings in their science notebooks. Later, students reflected on the process and extended their thinking about the responsibility that humans have with our environment.
Third Grade: To support the How the World Works unit (Central Idea: Inquiry changes our understanding of the world), the third grade students participated in a Nepris session (Going Further) with a scientist in Colorado who shared how he uses the scientific process to guide his experiments, keeps his scientific notebook throughout the process and how he uses different types of questioning in his profession.  
Fourth Grade: The fourth graders are currently in their Where We Are in Place and Time unit. They will be taking a field trip to San Antonio to visit the San Jose Mission and Institute of Texan Cultures. The central idea, Migration and exploration cause and exchange of ideas and cultures, allows students to inquire about both migration and exploration and its effects. Students will explore different ways migration of cultures has affected the Texas area in addition to the ways that the natives were impacted by these changes. 
Fifth Grade: 5th Grade just launched their How We Organize Ourselves unit. To tune in to students prior knowledge of organizations and leadership, the students were asked to get into into a line (no particular order was assigned) and then, without talking, they were instructed to get in order by birth month. The class debriefed afterwards and shared out the reasons why the group faced so many challenges. A recurring conversation topic was a of lack of organization, system, and leadership. 

Over the winter break, how can you add to your child's learning in the classroom? What connections can you make? How can you extend and challenge your child's thinking?

Here are a few quick tips you can use to support the learning that is happening in the classroom:
1. Ask you child about the theme and central idea their class is focusing on.

2. Encourage your child to "find out", rather then telling them the answer. Help your child uncover the answers through questioning and research. 
3. Think about ways you can extend the learning in the classroom by taking "field trips" and getting out into the community to experience some of the concepts being explored at school.

We'll check back in with all of the classrooms after the holiday break to see how their units are progressing and what connections and questions students are generating!

Want to be more involved? How can you support your child at home? Be sure to keep up with our keep up with all things IB related at our PYP Spicewood Blog
This Week's News 

Gifts for Teachers & Staff Members
Parents, we so appreciate that you all shower us with gifts and kind words throughout the school year. We wanted to take a moment to inform you of the district policy that our teachers and staff members are to abide by. 

Employees of the District may accept the following:
  • Gifts that are of nominal value (less than $50) given for the purpose of advertising, ceremonial occasions, or official events.
  • Infrequent business meals of nominal value (less than $50).
  • Infrequent entertainment or social invitations, provided the entertainment or social invitation is not directed to the District or a select group of area school districts.
  • As used in this policy, nominal value is defined as $50 or less from an entity
When purchasing a gift for your child's teacher or a staff member, please do not exceed the value of $50, including a gift card. No class gift is allowed. It should be left up to individual parents to choose the way they show appreciation. Infrequent can be defined as 1-3 times a year at max. 

No Parking in Fire Lanes
With winter parties and other class activities this week, we are expecting a large number of visitors on campus. Please take the time necessary to find parking in designated parking lots or on-street parking locations near campus. Vehicles cannot be parked and left unattended in a fire lane at any time as it can prevent the timely arrival of first responders. Please help us keep our students safe by leaving the fire lanes open. Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Lost and Found
Around this time of the year, our  lost and found is always overflowing with jackets, gloves, water bottles, etc. Beginning December 14th, all lost items will be set out on tables in the main hallway, for students to claim. Students will have until Dec 16 to look through and claim lost items. Anything not claimed by Dec 16th will be gathered and donated to Goodwill and the clothes closet at Anderson Mill Elementary.  

Other Campus Activities

School Garden - Volunteers Needed!
The PTA approved a portion of funds from the 2015 Live & Silent Auction for the creation of a school garden at Spicewood Elementary.  Want to learn more? Or maybe you, or someone you know, would like to be involved with this grassroots program? Please visit Garden at Spicewood page for more information about this exciting new resource.

Clothes Closet
The Clothes Closet is a service project conducted by the Round Rock Council of PTAs which provides gently used clothing as well as new socks and underwear to RRISD students who are in need.  There is a ‘Coats and Jeans’ drive that will run from November 30 – December 17.  Please bring any clean, gently used coats and jeans to the school and deposit them in the donation bins in the hallway near the library and PTA volunteer room. Your donations benefit RRISD students and are greatly appreciated by those who receive them! Please visit the Clothes Closet page to learn more or contact Brittiany Johnson at mike.and.britt@sbcglobal.net with any questions.

One World One Night – Save the Date!
What would be better than to give our students and their families a passport to cultures around the world?  Would you like a chance to travel the world without buying a plane ticket?   If so, please consider helping with the One World One Night at Spicewood Elementary on Tuesday, March 1, from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. Please visit the One World One Night page for more information. 


MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Monday, December 14
8:00 AM K-2nd Principals' Pride 

Tuesday, December 15
8:00 AM 3-5 Principals' Pride 

Wednesday, December 16
No Parking at Hope Church

Thursday, December 17
No Parking at Hope Church
Classroom Winter Parties 
Last Day of Fall Semester

Friday, December 18
Student Holiday- No School Monday

Monday December 21 - Monday January 4
Winter Break 

Monday, January 4
Staff Development /  Student Holiday

Tuesday, January 5
Classes Begin


Monday, December 7, 2015

Updates from the Leadership Team

Dear families and community,

As we visit classrooms and move about the campus, the Leadership Team continues to see engaging learning activities, phenomenal student performances and committed Spicewood teachers and students. We are looking forward to another enriching week!

Celebrations

Spicewood Silent Auction
The results are in...Spicewood PTA made a net profit of $47,100 for our students!  PTA has approved these funds to create a school garden for Spicewood Elementary, purchase 1 cart of 24 iPads, and purchase 1 water fountain with bottle refilling capabilities. Please visit the PTA website for updates on these additions to our campus.

2015 U.S. Class Chess Championships
Congratulations to Raghav Aggarwal and Niko McMullen who recently represented Spicewood at the U.S. Class Chess Championships in Houston. Raghav won 2nd place for K-5, and Niko won 7th place for K-2. 


3rd Grade Choir Concert 
In connection to their Where We Are in Place in Time Unit of Inquiry, our third graders gave an amazing, standing room only performance last week . Students and parents enjoyed an entertaining and educational evening! Kudos to our music teachers, Ms. Tess and Ms. Mary for all of their hard work and successful shows this first semester! We look forward to seeing what they have planned in the spring time for our primary grades. 

IB PYP 101
This portion of Mrs. Kim's letter is contributed by Mrs. Vance, our PYP Coordinator.


How do children best learn?
A powerful and thought provoking question to say the least! Most simply put, children need an opportunity to construct their own meaning about ideas and concepts. Then, they need the guidance and support to transfer their own meaning. Finally, they need a chance to apply their understanding. These three phases are fluid and children move back and forth through them in an on-going cycle.


One way our teachers help students construct meaning is to make their thinking visible. As students learn new ideas, it's essential for them to notice the parts and pieces before being able to describe and explain, conversely being able to identify and break down an idea is a critical aspect of analysis. 

Each Unit of Inquiry has a central idea, or focus for the unit. There are also three lines of inquiry that helps guide the inquiry towards the central idea (check out a previous post that further explains these areas of a unit planner). Our goal as PYP teachers is to plan and create learning experiences that allow students to come to answers on their own, in turn synthesizing the ideas and concepts presented in their classrooms. Throughout the year I'll share different ways both primary and intermediate grades. This week we'll focus on both Kindergarten and First grade and take a look at how some of the teachers have used different tools/strategies to help their students construct meaning of their Unit of Inquiry.

In their How the World Works unit, the Kindergarten was focusing on the following central idea, Resources are useful and have properties that can be observed and described.

As students read and learned about different rocks and resources, one classroom collected their thinking on a RAN (Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction) chart. 

While participating in class discussions, students first brainstormed things they thought they knew about natural resources (pink far left column). This information was then resorted, throughout the unit, as different books were read, experiments were conducted or short video clips were viewed. The RAN chart is an interactive tool used by both the teacher and the students, moving and adding sticky notes. Students were encouraged to ask new questions (blue), sharing new learning (purple) and confirm their initial thinking (orange). The chart is a valuable tool for both the teacher and the student. It gives the teacher information about how he/she needs to guide the inquiry and instruction and, additionally, models for the the students how thinking changes and progresses over time. As teachers explicitly teach and model reading and writing strategies, it is as equally essential that thinking strategies are modeled, practiced and applied in a similar manner. You'd probably find it hard not to find sticky notes on the walls of all of our classrooms here at Spicewood. All of our teachers use sticky notes as a way to document and organize student thinking throughout their Units of Inquiry. 

In first grade, the students just completed their How We Organize Ourselves unit in which they were focused on the central idea, Organizations exist to meet people's basic needs. As new learning of different organizations, wants and needs unfolded, Ms. Sanchez helped make thinking visible in her classroom by devoting a bulletin board with different graphic organizers, charts and sticky notes. This is not a traditional bulletin board that displays the final product of student work, however. 

The bulletin board has the transdisciplinary theme posted at the top to guide beginning thinking towards the unit. Initially, the first graders then broke down part of the transdisciplinary theme and central idea as they investigated the role and purpose of organizations. Then, students helped gather and sort new information about wants and needs through classroom discussions and interactive group assignments. This was followed by several different learning experiences and speakers over the next few weeks who were involved in organizations in and out of our community. Throughout the unit, Ms. Sanchez thoughtfully added student created reflections, thinking maps and important vocabulary. She helped students document their learning in one communal place that they could use during classroom discussions and final written reflections. By making student thinking visible, she supported her class as they constructed new meaning about the structure and function of organizations on our world. At the end of the unit, this bulletin board will be cleared to prepare for their next unit of inquiry. Through her own reflection, she plans on adding a few different elements to continue to extend student thinking in her classroom. It's so amazing to see the progression of student thinking that comes about when the right structures are put into place! 
Want to be more involved? How can you support your child at home? Be sure to keep up with our keep up with all things IB related at our PYP Spicewood Blog
This Week's News 

Computer Science Education Week- The Hour of Code!
We live in a world surrounded by technology and we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. But only a tiny fraction of us are learning computer science and less students are studying it than a decade ago.

That’s why our entire school is joining in on the largest learning event in history: The Hour of Codeduring Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 7-11).  More than 100 million students worldwide have already tried an Hour of Code. Our Hour of Code is a statement that Spicewood Elementary is ready to teach these foundational 21st century skills. To continue bringing programming activities to your students, we want to make our Hour of Code event huge. I encourage you to volunteer and ask your child to share with you what they've learned during this week. During this week, they will be participating in coding activities with their classroom teacher as well as:
  • Viewing computer science informational videos on morning announcements
  • Participating in a Photo Contest - teachers will snap pictures of their class coding for a chance to win cool prizes! 
  • Video Blogging at our Kids React Video Booth - kids can record a 30 second video about their unique coding experience.

December Spirit Night Cancelled
The Spirit Night scheduled on Dec 10th has been cancelled. It has been rescheduled for May 17, and will be at MOD Pizza. We look forward to seeing you there. 

Lost and Found
Around this time of the year, our  lost and found is always overflowing with jackets, gloves, water bottles, etc. Beginning December 14th, all lost items will be set out on tables in the main hallway, for students to claim. Students will have until Dec 16 to look through and claim lost items. Anything not claimed by Dec 16th will be gathered and donated to Goodwill and the clothes closet at Anderson Mill Elementary.  

Other Campus Activities

Scripps Spelling Bee 
Spicewood Elementary PTA is thrilled to announce participation in the Scripps National Spelling Bee during the 2015-2016 academic year. All 3rd-5th graders have the option of participating. Please follow the Scripps Spelling Bee Link for information regarding  study material, volunteering and competition dates.  All interested students must register by December 11th. 

Clothes Closet
The Clothes Closet is a service project conducted by the Round Rock Council of PTAs which provides gently used clothing as well as new socks and underwear to RRISD students who are in need.  There is a ‘Coats and Jeans’ drive that will run from November 30 – December 17.  Please bring any clean, gently used coats and jeans to the school and deposit them in the donation bins in the hallway near the library and PTA volunteer room. Your donations benefit RRISD students and are greatly appreciated by those who receive them! Please visit the Clothes Closet page to learn more or contact Brittiany Johnson at mike.and.britt@sbcglobal.net with any questions.

Spicewood Science Fair
Our Spicewood Science Fair will take place January 25 - 27.  All 4th & 5th graders are required to enter the Science Fair with an experiment.  They will receive detailed information from their teachers just before the Winter Break and throughout the month of January. Students in grades K – 3 are encouraged to participate as well and we will have a Parent Information Meeting on Tuesday, December 8th at 6:30pm in the Library to answer any questions that you might have.  Our PTA is able to order Science Display Boards at a discounted price by ordering in bulk.  If you would like to take advantage of this, please see the form in the Friday Folder

One World One Night – Save the Date!
What would be better than to give our students and their families a passport to cultures around the world?  Would you like a chance to travel the world without buying a plane ticket?   If so, please consider helping with the One World One Night at Spicewood Elementary on Tuesday, March 1, from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. Please visit the One World One Night page for more information. 


MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

Monday, December 7 - Friday, December 11
Computer Science Education Week - Hour of Code

Tuesday, December 8 
6:30 PM Science Fair Parent Information Meeting 

Thursday, December 10
5:00 PM Spirit Night @ Pei Wei is Cancelled. 

Monday, December 14
8:00 AM K-2nd Principals' Pride 

Tuesday, December 15
8:00 AM 3-5 Principals' Pride 

Wednesday, December 16
No Parking at Hope Church

Thursday, December 17
No Parking at Hope Church
Classroom Winter Parties 
Last Day of Fall Semester

Friday, December 18
Student Holiday- No School Monday

Monday December 21 - Monday January 4
Winter Break 

Monday, January 4
Staff Development 

Tuesday, January 5
Classes Begin