Thursday, April 25, 2019

Laps at Recess


We are all in new territory with our children.  The amount of screen time is physically changing how they behave with respect to their focus, social skills and response to tackling difficult tasks.
As a teacher here at FCE for 16 years I have seen dramatic differences in student behaviors and growth mindset.  As a teacher, I am with your child about 7 hours a day in which I am teaching, coaching, pushing them as a learner.  As parents we do not spend that amount of consecutive time with our kids, and we don't do it with the added dynamic of a group of 21.

I start my conversation with that because I want you to consider what tools you use with your children to guide behavior.  You use positive reinforcement - same!  That is a huge part of teaching.  But what do you do if your child repeatedly ignores your guidance or is disrespectful?  In my toolbox as a parent I could use bribery (and to some extent I do that in the classroom), I could also withhold preferred activities or send my child to her room for some think time.

What is in my toolbox as a teacher?  Positive reinforcement is the biggest.  Peer pressure is effective but not entirely within my control.

After redirecting a student multiple times (which interrupts the learning as much as the student's behavior) I will warn that they are going to do laps at recess.  For most students this switch from reminding to a consequence is enough to stop the behavior.  For some, they have to earn that first consequence.  And I say "earn" specifically.  If your child got a lap from me, they were not redirected one time but at least four.

Usually a child that is frequently talking or off task is doing it during a non-preferred task.  What are non-preferred tasks?  Anything that they are not mastering easily.  This is when they definitely need to be working.

I generally give two laps as think time.  It takes the kids about a minute and a half.  And here's the thing:  they are not missing recess.  Really.  This entire year, I generally have given my class 30 minutes of recess daily (I'm an advocate of adding a second recess time as well), but they are only scheduled for 20 minutes daily. 

Take away laps and think time at recess and my only other carrot for kids is Friday fun time which is extra play time, a culminating unit activity (like the fraction pizza party or poetry picnic) or a STEM activity.  I absolutely hate the idea of a kid missing that time.

So, to say I feel strongly about this is an understatement.  As teachers we want the very best for all of our students.  We want them focused and we don't want them to distract others.  As parents, I believe you can help by supporting us when speaking with your children and holding them to high behavior standards while they are here at their job.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Upcoming Dates/Details

4/5 JDRF envelopes due, walk during specials.

Next week 4/9-10 - NO VISITORS TO CAMPUS, We are a closed campus to support our fourth and fifth graders taking STAAR this week.

4/15-5/3 End of Year Aimsweb Benchmark taking place
4/17 - Carnival Basket Donations Due
4/18 - Rising Star pieces due ... see below:

Are you a Rising Star?  Do you love to write poems, stories, and expository pieces?  Do you love to do art work?  Now is the time for you to shine and get published in our FCE Rising Star Book.

Each grade can submit about 3 pieces from each category.


You can work on the pieces at home or at school.  You can enter as many times as you'd like.  You can enter a piece already created this school year or a new piece.  You are encouraged to conference, revise, and edit with your teacher.

The teachers for each grade level will choose which pieces are going to be published in our FCE Rising Star Book.  Those chosen will present their work to family and friends on Rising Star Night on Thursday, May 9.  

Submit your artwork to Ms. Arnold by April 12 and your poems, narratives, and expository pieces to your teacher by April 15.

Be creative! Be a Rising Star!

Contact Mrs. Bartholomew at

4/19 - School Holiday
4/25 - Tentative Date set to celebrate all UIL participants
4/26 - Spring Carnival!!
5/3 - Science Day
5//16 - Field Trip
5/17 - Field Day
5/23 - Class Party and Last Day of School

Friday, February 1, 2019

Spiral Notebook Shortage

If you are able to send an additional spiral notebook to school for your student, that would be great.  We are nearing the end of our writing and our word work notebooks and I neglected to stock up when they were so affordable at the beginning of the year.  Walmart has them for about 88 cents. 

Thanks to the generous gift of a parent for Christmas, I replaced the class dry erase markers -- those puppies are expensive!

Let's Tie our Shoes!

I'm so old there was only one way to tie our shoes... the old circle method.  Now there's criss-cross bunny ears and this way that I've linked below that is supposed to be the "easiest" for kids to learn.

Second graders are becoming self-sufficient in a lot of areas.  Why not help them starting at the bottom up?  I do not have time to practice daily but will be showing some kids this method.

Learn to Tie your shoes

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Season of Caring

This is a wonderful and busy time of year for all families.  We're all excited about the upcoming holiday break and so I wanted to just give you an overview of my thoughts (which are always too long).

With respect to religion
I am a Christian and I share that fact with my students.  We do not discuss the core beliefs of Christianity.  My position is that the Christmas season is a season of caring and I am modeling that with random acts of kindness.  I will be giving your kids small winter themed gifts because I care about them.

We will be doing a Holiday's around the world unit that will include a lot of reading about Christmas, how it is celebrated in several countries.  I have selected countries that represent my student's heritage if not their religion and others to highlight the spirit of kindness.  We are also learning about other holidays that are not at this time of year to cover a variety of religions.  I am writing some of the material myself, so please forgive me for any inaccuracies.  They are unintentional.  Again my intent is inclusiveness.j

About Santa and elf on the shelf
That is your family's decision.  I think love and kindness is a magic all its own.  I will not encourage or discourage belief.  I will intercede when I think a student is going to ruin the mystery for another.

We will be doing some ELF writing ... and this is not the secular elf who works for Santa.  It is an acronym for Empower, Like myself and Focus on Strengths.  I think this is a great reflection for kids and will be a nice lead in for setting goals and resolutions in the new year.

Our current Math unit is geometry.  We'll start with 2-D plane figures and area and move on to 3-D solid figures in the new year.  All kids are great at geometry, but have difficulty with the vocabulary.  I plan to get a reference sheet to families before the break, any review in the car games would be appreciated.

In reading we are continuing to think deeper about fictional texts and have started a new readaloud "The Boy in the Girls' Bathroom" which is proving to be much more engaging that our last.  There's lots of great vocabulary and description. 

In science we have moved from rocks to natural resources and water.

Please, please, please hold your kids accountable for their reading over the long break.  They have grown so much since the beginning of the year and it breaks this teacher's heart when they backslide.  Reading for children is a muscle and it needs to be used!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Thanksgiving Lunch

Forest Creek Elementary will be hosting lunch for students and families on Thursday, November 15, 2018.  If you would like to join your student for lunch, please RSVP so that we may have your badge printed in advance, when possible.  This RSVP is separate from the meal RSVP you may have returned earlier.  This RSVP is to have your badge pre-printed.
If you have previously ordered a Thanksgiving meal through the cafeteria, the visitor price is $3.65, payable upon arrival. Your child's class will eat lunch during their regularly scheduled lunch time.
The opportunity to RSVP using this link for your pre-printed badge will end at noon on Wednesday, November 14.