Dear Sprague Community,
It was wonderful to see such a strong turnout for our Back to School night last week. I was glad to meet many of you and look forward to this week’s Ice Cream Social as well.
There will be a “Coffee with the Principal” on Monday, September 29th from 8:45-9:15 a.m. in the school lobby. Please stop by to say hello and chat for a few minutes if you have the time.  The PTO is organizing grade level socials and will be inviting parents to attend these ‘get togethers’ at the home of a Sprague family. If you are new to Sprague, this is a fun way to meet other parents without the stress of planning a play date.  Look for those dates in PTO communications.
I am glad to see so many students and families walking to school and/or riding bikes during this nice weather. Students have demonstrated good safety habits and wear helmets each day as required by law. I would ask those parents whose children bike to school to remind them to be very careful en route and also once they arrive at school   sidewalk areas. There are many walkers in the same areas and it can become hazardous if bikers are still riding on the sidewalk. Please remind your child to walk his/her bicycle on the sidewalk in front of the school and near the play structure if he/she uses the racks in that area. There are 3 racks: by the playground, by the bus circle, and by the Oak St. entrance. The Sprague School handbook states that students in grades 3-5 may ride bikes to school with parental permission and younger students may ride when accompanied by an adult, as recommended by the Wellesley Police.
Box Tops
We will begin collecting Box Tops for education once again this year. This can be a fun way to engage your child in helping to raise money for our school. Each box top is worth 10 cents. You can reinforce math skills by having your child calculate how much a bag of box tops is worth or you can use the new collection sheets that will be sent home later this week. The September collection sheet has spaces for 25 box tops. Collection sheets for most months have spaces for 10 box tops. Simply cut the box tops and have your child attach them to the sheet with glue or tape. Children can decorate or color the sheet as well. We will have a collection box in the lobby. This year, there will be a monthly raffle with prizes for students who submit box tops at each grade level. Be sure to have your child write his/her name on the collection sheet or baggie you use to submit the box tops so they will be entered into the raffle. Thank you for your support!
Our nurturing nurse asked to share the following note:

Health information from the Nurse:
As you may know, several members of our Sprague community are allergic to latex.  This is a serious condition and we need to follow recommended precautions to maintain safety.
         Briefly, latex is a major ingredient in many rubber products; only certain rubber products have been found to be a danger to the approximate one percent of our population that is allergic, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.  Someone allergic to latex doesn’t even have to touch the item; the rubber particles in the air can trigger a reaction.  The only effective strategy in the treatment of latex allergy is avoidance.  Therefore, we request that people do not bring latex balloons to Sprague, to prevent exposure to latex.  Mylar balloons (the shiny metal ones) are fine since they do not contain latex.  We appreciate your cooperation in this serious matter.
         Similarly, some members of our community have environmental allergies and are sensitive to chemicals and perfumes. Therefore, we ask that you be aware of these products and avoid their use or use them sparingly while at Sprague.
         Frequently students come to me to borrow clothing after spills or mishaps.  I ask that you launder and return these garments so we can maintain a supply of available clothing. When you are cleaning out drawers please keep in mind that we can always use socks, undies, and sweatpants of all sizes.
         As always, please feel free to call me at ext 2502 if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you,

I’d like to highlight some curriculum/state standard information for you periodically in my weekly notes. This week, I will talk just a little about Common Core standards for math. “These standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business. They are a call to take the next step. It is time for states to work together to build on lessons learned from two decades of standards based reforms.”  (From the Common Core State Standards for mathematics)
The new standards support improved curriculum and instruction due to increased:

  • Focus, via critical areas at each grade level
  • Coherence, through carefully developed connections within and across grades
  • Clarity, with precisely worded standards
  • Rigor, including a focus on college and career readiness and Standards of Mathematical Practice

So what does all this mean in daily practice for our teachers and our students? Some shifts are obvious. For example, in previous state standards, students were expected to master multiplication facts by the end of 4th grade. In the Common Core State Standards, students are expected to have those facts mastered by the end of 3rd grade. Other shifts seem subtle, but are based in mathematical thinking. On the whole, there is a HUGE shift in providing instruction to ensure that students have developed foundational skills in number sense before moving on to more complex mathematics. We want students to understand what they are doing mathematically, rather than memorizing a ‘shortcut’ to get a correct answer. Here are some examples of changes in the ways mathematics is conceived that require new thinking. This information is from an article in Kappan by Valerie Faulkner titled, “Adjusting Mathematical Language to the Common Core.”
Old habit: “Addition makes things get bigger.” The problem: When negative numbers are introduced, the old wisdom needs to be debugged. New wisdom: Addition is about combining.
Old habit: “Subtraction makes things get smaller.” The problem: As with addition, negative numbers make this wrong. New wisdom: Subtraction is about difference.
Old habit: “Multiplication ‘makes things bigger.'” The problem: This is only true when using positive whole numbers and will cause confusion later on. New wisdom: Teach the 3 structures of multiplication that rely on foundational number knowledge: repeated addition, using the area model or array model to ‘see’ 3 X 4, and finding the number of unique possibilities there are when matching one set to another.

Our school psychologist, Mr. Marder will be running some lunch groups to get to know students and work on social skills. He will invite students when there is a need and also seek to include students who may be good role models. Please see his note below and respond to him directly if you need to. Thanks.
Dear Sprague Families,
Starting this month, students throughout the grade levels will be invited to join weekly “lunch bunch” groups with their peers.  These groups provide an opportunity for students across classes to get together in a small group for lunch to meet new friends and discuss a variety of topics related to establishing positive friendships.  From year to year, the topics vary depending on student participation and presenting issues.  Lunch groups are designed to reinforce social thinking and social problem solving which is taught through the Open Circle/Social Thinking curriculums in the classroom.
While everyone is welcome to participate on a rotating basis, students are also invited to lunch groups based on a teacher or parent’s recommendation and sometimes by random draw.  However, this program is entirely optional and students are not required to attend.
If you have any questions about lunch bunch or do not wish for your child to participate, please contact your classroom teacher by Friday September 22, 2014.
Scott Marder
School Psychologist/Counselor
781-263-1965 Ext. 2575
The last day to sign up for Global Child foreign language classes after school is Friday, September 19th. Contact Ms. Snyder if you need scholarship information.
Ice Cream Social: All are invited to Sprague’s Ice Cream Social on Thursday, September 18th at 6:00 PM.
Friday, September 19th: International Walk to School Day. There will be a check in table set up for sign in and ‘footie’ walking tag distribution.
School Picture Day: September 30th

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Weekly note from Ms. Snyder
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