Message from Sarah
Hello Family and Friends of Amanda Rowe School,
It is hard to believe that there are only six more weeks of school! Every year at this time, it is jarring how quickly the time goes and how quickly all the children grow and change.
The interviews for Principal are being held over the next few weeks. The hope is to have a candidate chosen by late May. Assistant Superintendent, Jeanne Crocker is leading this work.
In the meantime, we have lots of news around Rowe School. Our playground is open and is a huge hit! The explorers of Rowe have checked out every inch of the new space. The tireless Playground Committee (Big thank you to Laura Newman for her incredible efforts on this) continues to work to realize the long term vision of the playground that will include a fully accessible sand table, a preK playhouse, another climber, a second disc swing and a water feature. One of the questions we have gotten a lot of is around the sway in the "red mountain" climber. The climber is designed to sway-it is not loose or dangerous. The bounce and sway of the big blue pole are part of the appeal! Please stay tuned for details on our official grand opening.
We are also getting excited to see our courtyard garden get up and running. The Garden Committee is hard at work coordinating with Portland Trails, (a huge thank you Daniel Bishop and the PTO) to set up two really exciting days to get our garden open. On May 16th, we have the Day of Caring and are planning to put together garden beds and fill them. Then on May 24th, we'll have a whole school greening day so all classes will have an opportunity to plant. Meanwhile, 3rd and 4th grade students will plant apple trees as part of the curriculum with Cultivating Communities. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
4th and 5th Grade Track
To support the PPS goal of equity and access for all kids to enrichment and sports, we have transitioned our before/after school track program to Recess Runners! Coach Custeau is holding track practices on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during recess until June 3rd. We have a great track set up! The kids run around the ball fields and it makes for a nice, safe loop. Thank you to Mr. Tom, our incredible foster grandparent who helps Coach Custeau keep an eye on kids on the far end of the loop.
The New Playground is Incredible!
We are so grateful for all the hard work of the Playground Committee for the vision of our beautiful new space.
Title 1 Math Update
After the April Break intermediate teachers jumped into studying the wonderful world of fractions! Staff worked with Tracy Zager, our district math consultant, to delve more deeply into the Common Core State Standards and bring engaging, meaningful experiences to students to support their conceptual understanding of fractions as numbers.
One strategy encouraged by our work is using images and simply prompting students with, “How many?” to open up math discourse that can span the breadth of students’ skills - another example of low floor, high ceiling instructional practices. This work supports students' flexibility and making conjectures toward building ideas using evidence. Third and Fourth graders were especially inspired by this avocado series of images from the book, How Many? by Christopher Danielson to elicit conversation and concepts related to unit fractions.
As students are immersed in sense-making around fraction representation, equivalence and comparisons, they are deepening that work by making conjectures about the patterns they notice, and working together to test their theories to make claims. Here’s an example from Ms. Mirisola’s class:
This work will support our final cluster standard in Measurement, Data and Geometry.
At our Math & Literacy Night and Heart for Heroes event there will be a parent presentation (5pm-5:30 in the Library with childcare in the Cafeteria) by Bianca Winship and Renee Carbone to offer more information about Portland and Rowe’s work with math instruction, and how we may partner to support your student’s math development.
Title 1 Literacy Update
We have been reviewing and analyzing our student reading data, looking at growth and areas of need. As a result of that, we have added some additional Title I reading supports where it is appropriate. In Kindergarten, we have implemented Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) for Title I identified students. In third through fifth grades we have also added LLI, as well in addition to push in classroom support. First and second grades have utilized LLI for many years with much success. We are happy to be able to offer this to other grade levels.
We have been grateful for our four Starting Strong reading volunteers who read with those first graders who could use a little lift once a week. This program is focused on early literacy support at the first grade level.
We hope to see you at our Family Literacy and Math night next Thursday.
District Budget Update and Staffing Update
We have a number of retirements to announce. We are very happy for our retirees but so sad for our school. We will miss them greatly and are so humbled by their dedication and years of service.
- Sherm Kendall, Art Teacher
- Heidi Litman, 1st/2nd Grade Teacher
- Chris Fricke, Librarian
- Annette Major, ELL Teacher
- Anne Taliento, Ed Tech and Crosswalk Extrordinaire
We have hired an art teacher! Jean Rank has accepted the position and will be starting with us in the fall. Jean brings tremendous experience in teaching art with a multicultural lens and experience as a professor at USM in the teacher education department. We are thrilled to have her as part of our Rowe family!
The current budget includes two staff cuts to Rowe School. We will still move from four teachers in 5th grade to three teachers next year. This is due to the policy that was approved last year regarding class sizes. Our fifth grade enrollment projections for next year do not justify a fourth teacher. This will require some shuffling of teachers as some teachers will need to change grade level to make this happen. We will not be losing a contracted teacher as Mr. Yates is a long term sub in 3rd and 4th grade and so his position will cover the cut; allowing us to keep all of our permanent staff. Please stay tuned as we work through teacher assignments and the ripple effect this cut will have for teacher placements.
We wanted to remind you about our policy around parent pick-up and dismissal changes due to business in and around the office. Our policy is purely about safety and to ensure that all children are where they need to be and to lessen confusion when last minute changes are made. We are no longer allowing parents to come to the office and dismiss students between 3:15-3:30pm (2:15-2:30pm on Wed.). Additionally, between 3:15-3:30pm (2:15-2:30pm on Wed.) all calls will go directly to voicemail as our office staff are fully focusing all students dismissal plans. Voicemails will be retrieved after 3:30pm. We appreciate your understanding of this policy.
K and PreK
April has allowed Pre-K and K to get outside to learn and play in many exciting ways! Probably the most exciting way is out on our incredible outdoor play spaces. Students have had many opportunities to visit the outdoor space with their classroom teachers and Mr. Custeau in gym class to learn how to use each piece of equipment safely. We have also had warm and sunny days perfect for taking bird watching and listening walks. We are learning that there are many different types of birds just outside our classroom windows with our bird feeders. It has been exciting to use our year long learning about birds as we explore bird life around Rowe School.
Speaking of exciting, this past Friday May 3rd Pre-K and K traveled to Merrill Auditorium to watch “Me….Jane: The Dreams and Adventures of Young Jane Goodall”. Leading up to our visit we have been learning about Jane Goodall and her work with Chimpanzees. Each student will be receiving the book “I Am Jane Goodall”. As you read this book with your child you can ask them something they have learned about Jane Goodall or something about their experience visiting Merrill Auditorium.
The month of May and June will be busy, fun, and exciting with many special events happening for Pre-K and K students. Please pay close attention to any notices sent home with your child with important dates and times to mark your calendar with!
1st and 2nd Grade
We recently wrapped up our Realistic Fiction writing unit. This unit seemed to be one of their favorites as they were able to use their imagination with every story! Our next unit, Opinion Writing and Writing Reviews, began this week. You can help by discussing opinions at home and by asking for evidence of why your child chooses one thing over another. Please also share your opinion and give evidence of why you prefer certain things. Modeling this will be so helpful when we ask them to include these details in their writing!
In reading we are focusing our learning on comprehension skills to support student’s reading growth and higher level thinking skills. Students will be reading at their independent level and completing a variety of “responses” to demonstrate deeper understanding of their texts.
In science we have continued learning about the solar system, including order and size of planets, phases of the moon, and constellations and have had a blast creating our planet cards. Not only have the students learned a lot of information as they conducted their research, but they have also learned valuable research and study skills.
Lastly, and most excitingly, children have been able to spend some extra time on our new playground learning and practicing the shared expectations for this big, amazing, new space of ours! They have been LOVING it!
Save the date for Tuesday, June 4 at 6:00pm! More info to come but we will be having a 1st/2nd grade performance that evening. Hope to see you there!
3rd and 4th Grade
Our third and fourth grade learners have been hard at work exploring immigration stories throughout history as part of our “I’m Your Neighbor” project based unit. We have been thrilled to welcome families and community members into our classrooms to share their immigration stories. We are so excited to use our observation journals to begin brainstorming a collaborative mural to welcome everyone to Rowe with Side x Side artist Laurie Downey.
Grade 5 students are continuing to work hard, have lots of energy, and be excited about the last 8 weeks of their elementary education. They had an amazing culminating experience working with Side X Side teacher, Gretchen Berg and Val Vassar, to show their learning of The Nervous, Circulatory, Digestive, and Skeletal-Muscular Systems of the body.
In Reading and Writing Workshops we are wrapping up our 2nd Non-Fiction unit, Argument and Advocacy, and moving on to 5th grader's favorite of the year...Fantasy! Please ask your children about their subjects they studied and felt passionate enough to research.
In Math Workshop students have been working on Fractions. On display in the upstairs hallway you can see evidence of their learning in the beautiful Fraction Quilt Squares project that they finished recently in Ms. Quimby's class.
Please be on the lookout for end of the year 5th grade happenings. (We will send home reminders.) We are busy, excited, and still have lots to look forward to.