Dear Sprague Community,
We had a great turnout for our Ice Cream Social last week and also the first “Walk to School” day of this school year. We counted 316 participants for Walk to School day!  If you are new to Sprague, you should know that we will have one day each month when students who walk or bike to school can sign in and receive a “footie” charm. Be sure to save the colored chain so your child can add a charm each month that he or she participates. The kids just love the charms and are proud to wear them! Mark your calendar with the Walk to School days for the rest of the year:
            October 8
            November 4
            December 4
            January 9
            February 4
            March 3
            April 9
            May 8
            June 2
We have made a commitment to having school gatherings twice each month. I’d like to make a distinction between a school gathering and an assembly. School gatherings are community-building gatherings where we may share, learn together, and have some fun. Typically, our 5th graders act as leaders and help to run the gathering. At each gathering, we will acknowledge birthdays by singing “Happy Birthday” to students who have a birthday within that two week window, do an activity together, and reinforce our HEART values. We awarded the first set of HEART awards this year at last Friday’s school gathering. Students who received an award were recognized in front of the whole school. Assemblies are different in their purpose and are designed to entertain and/or convey a message. We will also have 3-4 school assemblies during the year as well.
Speaking of HEART awards, we hope to reinforce all of the HEART values by focusing on one each month. During the month of September, students may be nominated for a HEART award for helping. During October, they can be nominated for a HEART award for effort for excellence, and so on. I think you get the idea. It is my hope that students will think more deeply about each value that the letters represent and recognize those characteristics or behaviors in one another. It can be very easy to notice helpfulness, but less obvious to notice or understand what it truly looks like to put forth effort either in academics or the social arena. Likewise, recognizing acceptance, respect, responsibility, and teamwork can take a little more thought but we hope students will be able to notice these qualities as well.
It seems early, but Ms. Stabnick has once again extended her ‘Halloween Challenge,’ to encourage creativity and homemade costumes for the Sprague parade. The Halloween parade will take place in the morning on October 31st.  Please see her note at the end of this one.

From the Nurse:
       Often a parent apologizes to me when notified that a child is ill requiring dismissal. I feel there’s no need to apologize, since we aren’t able to predict that our children may become sick. When your child has a good night’s sleep, eats breakfast and tolerates it well, and doesn’t have a fever or other objective signs of illness, then the child should attend school. Some mornings he or she may complain of nonspecific discomfort, but we all know these complaints usually resolve as the student participates in the daily routine. On the other hand, if your child was clearly ill the previous day or evening, required fever-reducing medicine in the preceding 24 hours, had interrupted sleep, vomiting or diarrhea, or is unable to eat breakfast, it is advisable to keep him/her home from school.
       At school when a child visits the nurse I make an assessment according to the specific complaint; as an example, if a student complains of a sore throat I visualize the throat using a flashlight and palpate for enlarged tender neck glands. I listen to the quality of the voice, ask if he or she ate breakfast (or snack), and check for a fever. I provide a drink of water and watch for signs of pain with swallowing. Often I am told if family members are home sick with a similar complaint.
       If the child does not have a fever or any objective signs of illness, I recommend a return to class. I suggest comfort measures, such as increasing fluids, telling the student, “Keep your throat wet today. Be sure to drink lots of water.” I ask what his/her after school plans are and if the child says he feels fine to go to soccer practice, I send him back to class, since he clearly is okay. Please be mindful that if I do make a call to you, your child has already been through this assessment process.      
       This is where I can use your help. If your child has a complaint in the morning before school, it’s quite useful for me to know. I appreciate a heads-up call with a message saying your child complained of a stomachache or headache (or whatever) in the morning, but seemed fine to come to school. Then I know to call you if your child comes to see me complaining of not feeling well at school. Otherwise, I would likely send your child back to class.
       Sometimes a child is not feeling well but doesn’t have a fever or other easily measurable sign of illness. Obviously if I see a child four times in a morning or if the student is clearly unfit for the classroom, I will call a parent or designated caretaker.  As a parent myself, I know I would want to be informed if my child was having such a bad day.
       This is another way you can help. It is essential that we have the correct phone numbers to reach a parent or designated caretaker. If you change your work, cell, or home number, or have a new babysitter, please be sure to let us know here at Sprague so we can keep your information current and reach you or your designee quickly.
       Please call me if you have any questions. 
Many thanks to our PTO and all parents for their support of all things Sprague. It can be tricky to pick and choose initiatives that are worthy of PTO funding given the myriad of ideas and the district commitment to providing core instruction that maintains a fair and balanced access for all students at all schools. We appreciate the fundraising efforts that so many parents support in order to provide the best possible education at Sprague. Thank you!
As I mentioned last week, I plan to touch on curriculum topics a few times each month. This week, I’d like to share a little about our approach to literacy. The Wellesley Public Schools believes in a balanced approach to literacy. Students are assessed at least 3 times per year to determine their instructional and independent reading levels. Teachers teach students how to choose ‘just right’ books so they derive the most benefit from their time reading these texts. When a student tries to read a book that is too difficult, it is nearly impossible to teach important comprehension strategies and they get bogged down in decoding the text. We want students to understand that we read for meaning and be able to think about what they read more deeply. Teachers often frame units of study in reading by helping students recognize the author’s purpose. Sometimes the purpose is to entertain, other times the purpose is to inform or persuade. By understanding why an author chose to write a book in a certain way, students are able to stretch their thinking and their ability to talk and write about what they have read. Students will learn that authors use expository text to inform the reader, poetic and narrative prose to entertain the reader, and persuasive prose to persuade the reader. Teachers use the Reader’s Workshop model and guided reading groups during instructional times. Teachers use assessment data to inform their instructional planning and create instructional groupings.  Your child’s teacher will share reading assessment information with you during parent conferences.

Mark your calendars:
September 25: No school, Rosh Hashana
September 29: Parent Coffee in the lobby from 8:45-9:15 a.m.
September 30: School Picture Day
October 8: Walk to School Day
Parent conferences: October 22, 29, November 5

It is very early, but I wanted to post the testing dates for MCAS testing for grades 3-5. Please make every effort for your child to attend school on testing dates and avoid scheduling vacations during the testing window.
Spring MCAS Dates:
Grade 3 ELA: March 23, 25
Grade 4 ELA: March 24 (long composition), March 30, 31
Grade 5 ELA: March 26, 27

Grade 3 Math: May 4, 5
Grade 4 Math: May 11, 12
Grade 5 Math: May 7, 8
Grade 5 Science: May 14, 15

The Sprague
 Halloween Challenge
Halloween is probably one of the most creative holidays of the year, so it should come as no surprise that it is one of Ms. Stabnick’s favorite days.   The Sprague Halloween Challenge is to make your own costume this year for our school parade on Friday October 31st.  Halloween is not about buying a costume; it is about getting a little creative and a little silly to invent a character for one super celebration.  Please look through your art supplies, closets, and recycling or even go down to the Wellesley Swap.   Over the years, parade spectators have enjoyed seeing robots made from boxes and even a plate of spaghetti and meatballs fashioned with yarn and nerf balls. If you already have a store bought costume – make a prop!  If you have a pirate costume, build a parrot.  If you are looking for ideas….. see Ms. Stabnick.
                                                                       All children who capture the creative spirit of Halloween will receive a prize at the parade.
Happy, Happy Halloween –  Go get clever, creepy and creative!
Ms. Stabnick
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Weekly note from Ms. Snyder 9-23-14
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