Friday, September 23, 2016

September 26, 2016

Quiz: What's Your Child's Learning Style?
Knowing your child's learning style is key to his school success. Take this quiz to find out what kind of learning is best for your kid!
By Sharon Duke Estroff

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.

Cognitive Skills
Most kids have a natural way of picking up new info — they learn best either by listening, looking, or doing. Once you know your child’s learning personality, you can sidestep a lot of academic agita. Take the quiz below to reveal how your kid’s brain works best, then play to his strengths to maximize his school potential.

1. You let your child pick out one toy at the dollar store. Which is he most likely to choose?
a) Paint-by-number set
b) Play microphone
c) Hula hoop or football

2. If your child could only pick one after-school activity, which would he choose?
a) Art lessons
b) Music lessons
c) Sports or drama lessons

3. You’re out to dinner and there’s a 10-minute wait. How does your child occupy himself?
a) Doodling
b) Talking your ear off
c) Digging in your purse while bouncing in place

4. When your child picks the family activity, which is he most likely to choose?
a) A movie
b) A concert
c) Mini golf

5. When your child reads a book to himself, he:
a) Sits quietly, immersed in its contents
b) Mouths the words aloud or asks you to read it to him
c) Fidgets frequently

6. Which of these iPad activities is your child most drawn to?
a) Looking at photos
b) Listening to music
c) Playing Angry Birds or another video game

Mostly A’s: Learns by looking
Your kid responds best when new material is in lists, charts, graphs, and diagrams. A little color goes a long way: He can write spelling words or state capitals in different colors so they’re easier to memorize. Abstract math homework goes faster when you give your visual kid objects to help him think through the problem. (If I had 12 M&M’s and Mom ate 7, how many are left?)

Mostly B’s: Learns by listening
If your child is one of the 10 percent of kids who are auditory learners, she does well with verbal instructions and shines in discussions. She’ll learn faster if she has a voice recorder: Saying things aloud can help her retain info, and re-playing the recording boosts comprehension even more. If she turns a book’s dialogue into a puppet show, she’ll remember the story.

Mostly C’s: Learns by doing
Like the majority of children, your kid absorbs info best when she’s physically engaged on some level. Many kinesthetic learners have trouble sitting still for long stretches. So turn homework into a sporting event: Let her shoot a foam basketball into a laundry basket every time she answers a question correctly or give her a squishy ball to squeeze and manipulate.

Good Luck,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 14, 2016

What is MAP testing? (taken from the NWEA website's Parent Toolkit document)

MAP was first introduced to students in grades three - five during the 2005-2006 school year. First and second grade students now also participate. MAP, or the Measure of Academic Progress, is a computerized adaptive test which helps teachers, parents, and administrators improve learning for all students and make informed decisions to promote a child's academic growth.

When will my student be tested and how often? 

During the first weeks of school, students will participate in two MAP testing sessions to assess Reading and Mathematics. When taking the MAP test, the difficulty of each question is based on how well a student answers all the previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions become more difficult. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions become easier. Although the tests are not timed, it usually takes students about one hour to complete each test. Students will repeat the tests two more times during the year to continually assess student progress and adapt learning as needed. The mid-year test is a shortened version.

Do all students in the same grade take the same test?

No. This assessment is designed to target a student's academic performance in mathematics, reading, and science. These tests are tailored to an individual's current achievement level. This gives each student a fair opportunity to show what he or she knows and can do. Because the computer adjusts the difficulty of the questions as the test progresses, each student takes a unique test.

What are the MAP test results used for? 

MAP is used to measure a student's progress or growth in school. The testing information is important to teachers because it indicates a student's strengths are and help that is needed in any specific areas. Teachers can use this information to help them guide instruction in the classroom. If you have ever used a growth chart in your home to show how much your child has grown from one year to the next, it will help you understand the scale MAP uses to measure your child's academic progress. The measurement system is called the RIT scale (Rasch unIT), and is an equal-interval scale much like feet and inches on a yardstick. The scale is used to chart your child's academic growth from year to year. RIT scores typically start at the 140 to 190 level in third grade and progress to the 240 to 300 level by high school.

How can I help my child prepare for MAP testing? 

  •  Meet with your child's teacher as often as needed to discuss his or her progress. Working together as a team benefits your child. 
  •  Provide a comfortable, quiet place for studying at home. 
  •  Make sure that your child is well-rested on school days, especially the day of the test. Children who are tired are less able to pay attention in class or to handle the demands of a test. 
  •  Give your child a well-rounded diet. A healthy body leads to a healthy, active mind. 
  •  Provide books and magazines for your child to read at home. By reading new material, a child learns new words that might appear on a test. Ask your child's teacher or media specialist for a suggested outside reading list. Where can I go for more information about MAP testing? You can talk with your child's teacher, go directly to the NWEA website at, or read the whole Parent's Toolkit document at

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Friday, September 9, 2016

September 12, 2016

Reading is a vital foundation for educational and life success, and it must start early!

Reading is the gateway to learning, opening doors to faraway adventures, new possibilities and promising futures. Without strong reading skills, children will face a host of difficult challenges throughout their lives. That’s why we know Reading Matters. And that’s why SMART helps thousands of Oregon children each year develop the skills and self-confidence they need to read and succeed.

For years, the consensus in early childhood education has been that reading aloud is the most important thing you can do for your child’s academic success. And, new research is proving that how you read to your child can also have a major impact on learning.

A story from National Public Radio explores how bringing preschoolers’ attention to the print – not just the pictures – while reading books can have positive impacts on their literacy development. Here’s a short summary:

For the past 15 years, education researchers such as Anita McGinty of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education have studied what behaviors help children learn to read. Their research included eye-tracking studies to observe children’s habits. They found that, when you simply read a book to kids, they tend to ignore the print on the page. “More than 90 percent of the time the children are focusing on the pictures, or they are looking up at the parent,” says Shayne Piasta, a professor at Ohio State University. In other words, they’re not paying attention to the printed letters.

So how do we shift a child’s focus from pictures to text? The answer is surprisingly simple! McGinty, Piasta, and researcher Laura Justice conducted a study focusing on modest changes to the way preschool teachers read to disadvantaged children. Two groups of teachers received 30 weeks worth of books to be read four times a week. One group read the books normally. The other group was instructed to ask questions that would require the child to pay attention to the print in the book. Children read to by the second group of teachers had better literacy outcomes by the first grade than those in the first group.
It’s important to keep in mind that no single intervention by itself will permanently sustain positive results. Children need continued intervention over time, especially if they come from impoverished families and weak schools. However, we believe this simple change to the way you read to your child can increase his or her success down the road.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sept. 5, 2016

For years I have enjoyed the books written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, even the volumes that have not been chosen as award winners. His newest picture book, Waiting, is delightful and fun. The waiting theme made me think of the years I was a kindergarten teacher.

Prior to coming to kindergarten, many children experience a strong build-up by family members. Everyone exclaims, “You get to go to kindergarten in the fall. You must be so excited!” The anticipation for a five-year-old must be enormous. More than once, I had a child express concerns after the first few days of kindergarten. “Is this it?” they would say. It always kept me on my toes to make sure that my classroom was an engaging and exciting experience. I knew I had to live up to the big build-up kindergarten had received, because I wanted them to feel, “WOW! This IS it!”

Waiting also made me think about the number of times I have been in classrooms and watched children waiting…Waiting for other children, waiting for the teacher, waiting for their turn, waiting for their snack, etc. We know that when children are not engaged, the chance of them displaying negative behavior goes up dramatically. A smart teacher will be organized enough to minimize any waiting time for their students, especially early childhood age children. Here are a few things that worked in my classroom to help children avoid waiting:
  • ·         There was always something to do. Whenever the children were engaged in a project, there were always more activities to do when they finished the planned activity. I often posted picture of each activity on the board so that the children could look up and know what to do next. This way, they never waited for other students to finish.
  • ·         There was a procedure for everything. The children knew the procedures for going to the bathroom, getting a drink, getting a sharpened pencil, getting paper, staying put when the teacher was giving directions, etc. I reminded the children often about the procedures and used those reminders as teaching tools.
  • ·         “I’m next” name tags. I created (thanks to a suggestion from my friend, Sharon MacDonald) some nametags that said, “I’m Next.” Whenever taking a turn was the procedure (using the computer, iPad, sand table, play dough table, etc.), I had the child(ren) who would be next wear the necklace. That way they knew they were next and didn’t keep asking me about it. ALSO, the other children in the classroom didn’t waste time waiting, because they knew they were not next.
  • ·         A daily visual schedule. I found it important to have a daily schedule posted so the children knew what was coming next. I was always surprised at the number of children who waited for the next activity. I always told the children that we would move to the next scheduled part of the day when we finished the one we were working on. I would give them a signal when we were ready. I do think that this visual reminder gave them a sense of security and a strong feeling that they didn’t need to wait.

These were the main strategies that helped children avoid waiting. Teachers should always strived to make their classroom an engaging, joyous environment, where the children are never waiting and the activities met their high expectations for kindergarten.

Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)9500-1720(school cell)

April 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the School Year The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadne...