Save the Dates
September 7, 5:30-7pm. Welcome-back pot luck. This year, we will also have a book and clothing swap as part of the pot luck. A flyer with more details is coming home soon!
September 8, 9am-12pm. Family Garden Workday. Come back to school on Saturday and help us get our gardens in great shape for the new year. Enjoy some snacks, learn about our gardens (no green thumbs necessary), and meet some new friends! Check out the new Gardens tab at the top for more information.
September 13, 5:30pm. PTO Back-To-School Night. This is the night to come and learn about your child's curriculum and hear from the teacher about the great plans in store for the year.
September 14, 8:30am. First Student of the Week Assembly, honoring selected K-2 students.
September 21, 9am. Walk-a-Thon (rain date Sept. 28)
October 3, 8-8:30am. International Walk to School Day. We are making plans to walk to school together this day. More details to come!
October 5. Individual pictures
October 12, 8:00-8:45am. First parent coffee chat. Topic: Responsive Classroom
Last Minute Staff Changes
Our new school secretary who was introduced last August, Carmen McDonald, was unable to continue in the position this summer for personal reasons. We are pleased to announce that Christa Poindexter joined us on Monday as our new school secretary. Ms. Poindexter is a recent UVA graduate who brings to us great office, technology, and people skills. Please join me in welcoming her to Venable!
This year, we have arranged our specials schedule so that one day a week, students will go to three specials back-to-back right after their morning meeting. By doing this, we have created collaborative team planning time for each team during the school day. Our teachers will be meeting with specialists to continue the important work of designing lessons, monitoring student progress, and researching best practices to meet the needs of our All-Star learners.
"All-Star Days" are the days we've coined for the triple specials days. They are as follows:
Monday: Kindergarten and 1st Grade
Tuesday: 2nd Grade
Wednesday: 4th Grade
Thursday: 3rd Grade
On non-All-Star Days, students will continue to have one or two specials each day at a different time of day. Your child's teacher will tell you his/her specific specials schedule.
What's in Store this Year
Welcome back! and Welcome! to our new families. The beginning of school is always an exciting time for students and school staff. We look forward to the buzz generated by the energy and enthusiasm your students bring with them every day. We spent 7 days together before students arrived, making goals for the year and collaborating on plans that will help make those goals a reality. We are so pleased that last year 100% of our students passed the reading SOL! We want to build on that success and continue or efforts to ensure that all students maximize their academic growth, regardless of where they start the year.
One of the school-wide initiatives we are launching this year is called Responsive Classroom. It is a national model for creating supportive, caring learning environments that help students develop strong social and academic skills. Each morning your child will participate with his/her class in a morning meeting, where they will greet one another by name, have an opportunity for sharing, work together on a fun activity, and then focus their attention toward the learning goals of the day. Morning meetings will begin right at 8:30 this year, so please make sure your child is here and able to participate in this important morning ritual.
For more information about Responsive Classroom, you may visit their website at: http://www.responsiveclassroom.org/ In addition, your child's teacher will review morning meeting with you during Open House, and the first parent coffee chat with Mrs. Kershner (scheduled for October 12), will be about Responsive Classroom.
In line with Responsive Classroom's philosophy, we are aiming for each child to experience three important factors in his/her classroom and school community this year: Belonging, Significance, and Fun.
For the past few years, guided reading at Venable has taken place within a discreet 45-minute period where students were grouped according to reading level and may have been taught by a staff member other than their classroom teacher. This structure was one that had many benefits, but also many drawbacks. After much discussion and research, we have moved to a different structure for guided reading this year.
We have arranged our schedules so that every classroom has at least 2 hours of uninterrupted literacy time each day. The literacy block will begin with a whole group mini-lesson on a reading strategy that applies to all students, regardless of reading level (such as visualizing or making connections). Then, students will rotate through guided reading small groups and independent work stations or independent reading. Word study, handwriting, and writing instruction will also be folded into the literacy block.
Students will still be assessed to determine an instructional reading level and they will be instructed on this reading level with peers at the same level. However, this guided reading instruction will take place in the classroom with the regular teacher. Students who need additional support with reading will get a second exposure to reading instruction with a specialist, either during the independent reading, centers, or some other time in the day.
There may be situations where a student would need to go to a different classroom for a portion of the reading block for guided reading. If that happens, we will be sure to communicate with you about the change and the rationale for it.