We’re heading into Thanksgiving break, a time to give thanks for all that we have received in life. As most of you know, it is my favorite holiday – all the eating without worrying about gift giving. For many of us, holiday shopping has begun and will continue through the next several weeks. Before it gets too crazy, I’d just like to say, “Thanks,” for entrusting Fiske School staff with your most precious resource, your child. We don’t take such responsibility lightly and are thankful for the opportunity to shape a brighter future through educating your child.
This leads me to one of my favorite quotes by noted philosopher and educator, John Dewey. “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
At today’s Friday Morning Meeting, I read aloud Mo Willems’ book My New Friend is So Fun! to the whole school. Many know Willems from his Pigeon picture books as in: The Pigeon Wants a PuppyThe Pigeon Drives the Bus, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, etc. My New Friend is So Fun! is from an early readers series featuring An Elephant and Piggie.
In today’s story Elephant and his friend, Snake, are worried that their best friends, Piggie and Brian the Bat are having too much fun together without them. The story continues with Elephant and Snake believing their two best friends won’t need them anymore, so they rush over to confront Piggie and Brian the Bat. The story ends happily with all parties feeling included.
Of course, in all Willems’ stories there are many funny moments of happiness and angst with a lot of exclamation marks to extenuate the emotions of his characters. There were quite a few laughs along the way as we presented the book on the big screen in the gym. (Thanks to my official book page-turner, teaching assistant Kristen Dolan.)
Each grade level classroom has a copy of the book and teachers have either read it aloud to their class or have plans to do so soon. This is the third book in our series of read alouds. I hope your child has come home and told you about our shared books. If not, feel free to ask, as many classrooms have completed assignments based upon our readings, as well as discussed the books’ messages.
As a resource to this month’s reading I am attaching a link on the importance of teaching children kindness. This link from George Lucas’ foundation, Edutopia, Why Teaching Kindness in Schools Is Essential to Reduce Bullying discusses the chemical reactions kindness produces in a child’s brain and its positive effects for self and others. I encourage you to read it, if you have the time.
Finally, while I’m on the subject of books, thanks to parent, Laurie Mattaliano and librarian, Pam Allen for organizing and running our annual Barefoot Books, Book Fair. It’s great to see the excitement children bring to the library as they shop for books, and Barefoot Books are beautifully illustrated, carefully crafted stories with multicultural themes – just like the Fiske School!
Thanks to the PTO in their support of both Raz Kids and Dreambox computer software programs. Through PTO generosity, Fiske makes these programs available to a majority of our students. Raz Kids allows students to hear, retell and answer comprehension questions to strengthen their reading. Dreambox is a math program that intuitively matches practice or challenge problems based on a student’s mistakes or correct answers. Both programs are used throughout the school and are a tremendous resource for our students.
If you would like to know more about these programs, please feel free to ask your child’s teacher. Not all staff use the programs based on the needs of their class, but these programs can be made available, if needed.
You can see a video of Raz Kids by clicking here and a video on Dreambox by clicking here.
While temperatures will rise next week before Thanksgiving break, please remember to dress your child comfortably and warmly for outdoor recess. We go out for recess if the temperature remains above 20 degrees, so a jacket, hat and gloves are essential for outdoor, winter play. 
Reminder: Individual makeup picture day and class picture day will be Thursday, December 4.
If you’re traveling over the Thanksgiving break, I wish your family safe and happy travels to and from your destination.
Anthony J. Colannino
Fiske Community News 11/21/14
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