Please refer to the sidebar on the printed version for the calendar of events for this week. You will receive detailed instructions on Monday regarding the upcoming concerts and field trips for this week and next. You can also find the information at the "Performing Arts and Music Program" tab. Many events are occurring in October!
I trust everyone received progress reports last week and that parents of fourth graders and above received the letters concerning FAIR (Florida Assessments of Instruction in Reading). Third graders will be assessed Monday, Oct. 6. We use these scores to indicate where each child is successful and where they need support.
Monday night (10/6) is the third "Back to School Night", this time for parents of middle schoolers. It is very important that you attend. Even though you have a child that has been in school for six years or more, teachers, methods, and materials have changed. It is important that you know what the teachers expect and are aware of the changes in instruction so that you can best support your child.
It seems everyone is talking about "common core" and testing. Florida is not part of the national testing program and pulled out of common core last year. We are aligning our curriculum to the new Florida Standards. We have been using Next Generation Standards for several years now, but there are some changes in expectations and, therefore, some changes in the way subject matter is delivered.
Fifty percent of our instructional funding must be spent on digital materials. This means your child uses the interactive white boards, computers, and other technology in the class and, hopefully, has access to it at home. There will be assignments that are computer-based. This may be classwork or homework. As a charter school, we pay for e-sources through Sarasota County Schools. Because we have this access, the cost is less than if we have to buy directly from the vendors. But for this to be beneficial to the students, the resources need to be used. I will send home another brochure with the internet addresses and passwords. Also, every student has access to a digital version of the textbooks online (except for middle school math). If you do not have the access codes, please contact your child's teacher. You should all have access to your child's grades through the parent portal for gradebook. Please call us if you need help with that. Kathy can help get you started. The district is moving to digital report cards so you will need that access.
Another area we need to address is a phenomenon we refer to as "academic endurance." We often hear the term "endurance" used in sports. Just as you wouldn't start a race without knowing where the finish line is, you wouldn't want to start an assignment or project without having a goal or purpose in mind. "Academic endurance" is the ability to start a project and actually finish it. Recently the term has been modified so it applies to an assignment or even a particular test or homework question. It means really reading the question, figuring out what is being asked, and setting about getting the answer. It means not giving up because the question is long - not giving up without trying.
I remember walking into my final graduate exams, being handed three envelopes, each containing one question. I looked at them and thought, "I don't know remember any of this!" But I settled down, thought about it and successfully wrote for three hours. Yes, that was graduate school and today we're asking - expecting - even the kindergartners to persevere, to think about what is asked and try to give an answer. It may not be 100% correct but it is an attempt based on thinking.
YOU are so important to the process. Encourage your child not to give up. If the question really is too hard and he or she cannot get an answer after putting forth an effort, send an email or note to the teacher. I assure you they will attack the problem another way. We want every child to be successful!
There truly is more expected of the students today. We all - parents, students, and teachers - must work together for academic success. The teacher must teach the material in a way that students understand. The students must attend (physically and mentally!), read at least 20 minutes each night, and complete assignments. Parents must monitor and encourage and see that the students read and learn basic math facts. together we can achieve great things for our students.
See you at the lunar eclipse party 6:00 AM Wednesday! Breakfast will be served. Have a great week!