Frequently Asked Questions: This page contains answers to common questions of
students and parents.
- A to Z of Room 3 2013-14
A to Z of Room 3 2013-14
Absences: Be sure to call the office to let the school know that your child will be absent and the reason for the absence. When you call to report your student's absence of at least 3 days, you may also request a homework pick-up in the office or classroom. The student has as many days to make up the work as s/he was absent. If you (parents) are going out of town, please let me know.
Book orders: Book orders are entirely optional but they are a fun and inexpensive way to expand your child's home library. Order forms are sent home about once a month, and you will have a few days to go over them with your child. Place your orders online with Scholastic by the date hand written on the book order forms sent home. On that date I will confirm the aggregated order, which will be shipped to Argonaut. I could use a parent to distribute book order forms and books.
Communication: You may reach me by calling 867-4773, ext. 203, leaving a voicemail message, or by writing a note. Leave time sensitive messages with the office, and they will contact me. Of course, you may reach me by email: email@example.com, and I will respond within 48 hours.
Conferences: We meet formally once a year the week of November 4, and conferences will be optional the afternoons of March 12 and 13 in the afternoon. I am available to meet with you at a mutually convenient time as concerns arise throughout the year. This is easiest to arrange by email.
DEAR Time: We have Drop Everything and Read Time every day from 1:10-1:30. It is best if children read a book they are interested in and it is a "just right" book at their level. Students should be challenged by no more than 5 words on a page, or their fluency and comprehension will not improve. To develop oral fluency and expression, it is advisable to have your child read aloud to an adult 2 or more times a week. A fun way to check comprehension is to sign up your student on www.bookadventure.com. You can generate a book list according to your child's interests, and after they have read the book, they can take an online quiz. Soon we will use the Scholastic Reading Counts program of quizzes here in school.
Discipline: Saratoga District and Argonaut School have a discipline policy that is firmly enforced. All students are reminded of common sense safety practices throughout the school year. Violent or threatening verbal and written language or physical violence is not allowed. Should problems arise in the classroom, you will be notified. The 2013-2014 classroom rules were generated by last year’s students the first week of school.
1. Listen to your teacher and your classmates.
2. Be patient, respectful, and take turns.
3. Be kind and say nice things.
4. Be a bucket filler.
5. Be safe.
6. Learn a lot, and have fun.
If a conflict arises between two children, they are encouraged to use "Stop, Think, and Make a Plan" and
"Talk It Out" methods to resolve it. In a kind and positive social-emotional environment students learn more. I encourage the students to celebrate the successes and growth of their classmates. There are group points and super stars for outstanding behavior. Fun Friday is a free playtime in the afternoon before dismissal. Students who have finished all of their weekly work and behaved well, will enjoy the full free playtime. Project Cornerstone will continue with parent ABC readers in each classroom.
Email: You can best reach me via email. My email address is charris@saratogausd. I will respond within 48 hours. Time sensitive messages such as a change in a pick up plan, should be left at the office.
Field trips: Trips are being planned to Filoli, the Acme Bakery, and the Tech Museum. We are planning school visits from the Bay Area Marine Science Institute, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, San Jose Art Museum, and Opera San Jose. Confirmed dates will be listed on Mrs. Harris' website under Calendar. Drivers will be needed.
Grading: All class work and homework is seen by me. Most of the time there will be stars, happy faces, and/or comments. I also use a plus + (excellent work), check plus (good work), check (just good enough), check minus (needs improvement), and minus - (start over again). Second graders do not receive letter grades. The report cards are filled in according to the progress your child has made from the beginning of the school year towards mastery of second grade standards as outlined by the report card. Children are not compared to other students, and the students are not ranked. Developmental readiness can affect the time at which a child masters a standard, and individual differences are honored.
Homework: The Saratoga Union District Homework Policy states that second
graders should spend 20-30 minutes doing homework each night. The second
grade teachers meet often to discuss and coordinate homework for the week, and
mine is posted on my website,
The purpose of homework is to:
-practice or review content previously studied
-motivate individual study of particular interests
-complete unfinished classroom work
-do research related to classroom studies
-ensure recreational reading time to increase the enjoyment of reading
-foster use of community resources, such as libraries and museums
-develop the student's sense of responsibility
-encourage creative work--writing, composition, art, etc.
Twenty to thirty minutes should be spent doing the daily assignment. Your student may require more or less time. Please notify me if the homework is taking too long. Be sure to have your child read daily. Independent reading is one of our goals. Reading to your child with expression is engaging and provides a positive model.
Please read over your child's homework assignment each day. After checking the completed homework, don't forget to sign the homework cover sheet. The weekly homework schedule is (roughly...):
Spelling: Alphabetize the words and write sentences using them.
Language Arts/Social Studies homework (Homework Connections)
I Search (oral sharing from a written researched preparation with source citation (ongoing).
Be sure to provide a quiet time and place for your child to do homework. Schedules may vary, but allowing your child a snack and some playtime before homework is beneficial. Encourage your student to think about what s/he is doing. If s/he asks a question, try asking a question in return to guide his/her thinking--resist the urge to provide a quick answer.
Ask your child to try his/her best on spelling, but don't expect every word of the spelling sentences to be spelled correctly--it is actually better for me to see their progress in spelling on homework, too. Spelling the first hundred words by the November conference is a goal, and these words should be spelled correctly as well as the weekly spelling words, and they are laminated on the inside of the Homework folder.
Homework cont. Try to promote creativity. Praise any efforts. Encourage him/her to do his/her best work. Is it neat? Is there anything to change or add? Is your child proud of it? Is it in his/her backpack?
I Search: As a part of Homework, students give a 5 minute sharing assignment, I Search (Sharing with an Information Search). Students should consult books, articles on the internet (with parental guidance), or a bona fide expert on a subject, and write down the source at the beginning of the report. Guidelines are pasted into the cover of your student's I Search Journal. If a student is absent or forgets his/her sharing on the appointed day, Friday is make-up day. There will be an I Search preparation week, and the following week will be an I Search presentation week. Please let your child take the lead in choosing a topic as this will encourage ownership of and enthusiasm for the topic. A book report is not research. Copying is not allowed. Have your student write in their own words, and practice aloud, so he/she will be able to pronounce all words used. Reports should NOT be memorized, and may be read from the journal. To make sure everyone is listening, children should prepare 2-3 questions for the audience from the material presented. The students love to see pictures drawn or cut out, artifacts, books, or brief, simple, experiments done in class (please provide all materials necessary for an experiment - no matches)! No reports on toys, and please choose topics that will not scare or make other students uncomfortable.
Just Right Books: At Back to School Night I will give you a handout on choosing books that are just enough of a challenge for your child's reading enjoyment. I will also include a list of favorite second grade authors.
Knowledge: Everyone has a special hobby, talent, or interest. If you or your child would like to come into the classroom to read a story about or demonstrate any special interests or talents, please contact me. We can set up a time for you or your child to read, share, or teach us something!
Library: We will be going to the school library in the afternoon once a week on Thursdays from 1:15-1:45. Students will be expected to check out two - three books when we visit the library, and only one is to be brought home (the other two are for DEAR time). No cartoon style books are checked out. Please send back the book on time, so your student may check out new books the following week.
Meetings: School is dismissed every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. for staff meetings. Please be on time as the teachers need to be on time as well. There are other meetings for me after school on different days, but I will always schedule time to meet with you.
Music: We have SEF funded music class again this year on Fridays before lunch. Half of the class goes with half of another 2nd grade class, and we have small group instruction in the classroom with the remaining half for most of the year.
Notes: Most notes will be sent by email. I often write notes on assignments that need revision or correction; please have children return them in one or two days. Please check assignments carefully. There is also a comments section on the weekly homework cover page and I check any comments you have made and for parent signatures.
Oops!: No one is perfect. The students have been assured that they are not expected to have every lesson perfect. When we make mistakes, we can learn from them. Also, no students are teased or laughed at for their mistakes. Also, I can be politely told if I make a mistake as well.
P.E.: Please be sure to have your child wear closed shoes and comfortable clothing on Wednesdays, our P.E. day. This is another small group instruction opportunity for your child for most of the year.
Parties/celebrations/activities: will include Halloween, Gingerbread House Building, Friendship (Valentine's) Day, and an End-of-the-Year Lunch. I encourage celebrating your child's birthday in class with a small healthy treat; just let me know in advance. You might even consider just a goody bag and no treat, and we will be sure to sing "Happy Birthday". Do not send in foods with nuts, please.
Questions: If you should have any questions for me, write me a note, or call the school (867-4773 ext. 203) to leave a message. I'll get back to you within a day or so. You can also look it up in the A to Z or go to my website to check for answers.
Recess: We have recess from 10:15-10:30. Students are encouraged to eat their snack at the tables near the multi-purpose room, use the restroom, wash their hands, and then play. It is a l-o-n-g time between breakfast and lunch. PLEASE provide a simple snack of fruit, veggies, cheese, crackers, a granola bar, etc. for your child, everyday, whether they bring a lunch or buy one.
Language Arts: We are using the Houghton-Mifflin literature textbook, and enrichment materials that come with it. Spelling, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and grammar activities will complement stories from the text and Core Literature. Eduplace is the Houghton Mifflin website and has some games for practicing language arts skills. In addition, we will be using some Slingerland (multi-sensory) techniques and reviewing manuscript printing. On Wednesday mornings, we will work on writing activities, and a parent facilitator/helper is needed.
Mathematics: This year we are using the updated Envision Common Core math program. At the beginning of each unit, there is a family letter explaining the concepts to be mastered. Math centers will take place on Thursdays from 11:30-12:30 and 2-3 parent volunteers are needed for this time, as this is a time for "hands-on" discovery with manipulatives, with about 1 to 6 ratio (adult/student). The students can move ahead at their own skill level on many of these activities. Also a parent will be needed one day a week (Tuesday (10:45-12:00), is very useful to the students) to provide math support on the weekly lessons.
Science: This is our 5th year using the FOSS Science Program from the Lawrence Hall of Science. Second graders study Earth Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. The units will include many hands on activities, and parent assistance with materials preparation and science experiments, will be appreciated on Tuesday afternoons from 1:15-2:20. The students will be integrating reading, vocabulary, spelling, art, and writing in their science studies by recording data, making graphs and charts, and keeping journals.
Social Studies: We will continue with the Social Studies program from Scott Foresman. Students in second grade develop an understanding for geographic locations of people and their environments. They explore their family histories and discover the ordinary and the extraordinary people who have made a difference in our lives. Students look at the themes of courage, responsibility and contributions to safety, welfare and happiness of others as they learn their roles as citizens of the larger world.
Enrichment: The district and the Saratoga Education Foundation are funding weekly P.E., music, and library time.
Tests: All students will take a spelling test every Friday. There will be periodic tests during math, science, and reading units to assist in assessment and understanding of individual student needs. So far STAR tests are still on the books for May. The results are usually mailed to you during the summer.
Unique: Each child may have a special interest or talent. Encourage your
student to excel in what they like to do by reading books about their favorite
subject, doing experiments with multiple materials, immersing him/her in the
Volunteers: Volunteers are appreciated! Parents can help with assembling and distributing homework packets, copying, field-trip driving, gardening, materials preparation, partying, Tuesday Math Support and Science, Wednesday Writing time, Thursday Math Centers, etc. There are certain things a volunteer can even work on at home! Remember that student confidentiality is required when one is a volunteer in the classroom. This year we are trying Sign-Up Genius as for sign-ups.
Website: I renewed my website with TeacherWeb.com, where I post homework and
the address is http://www.teacherweb.com/CA/ArgonautElementarySchool/Cindy Harris/ .
eXtra fun: Learning can be fun -- and we will have a lot of that here in Room 3!
Young children are easily discouraged so please be supportive. Often, if they see you or an older sibling doing something, they can't understand why they can't do it. Encouraging words, signals, and hugs are great motivators! Please keep in mind that every child learns at a different rate. Your student will need your guidance throughout the year. Please help read directions, ask questions, and engage your student in the assigned homework --but don't do it for them! It isn't expected to be perfect!
Zoom!: The year will zoom by before you know it. It's going to be a great year as we work together as partners in the education of the hearts and minds of your children.