Backhoes and City Workers!

 There were big doin's in our alley today!! On Thursday and Friday of last week, some of our students were treated to some preparation work being done by Seattle City Light to change how the power is supplied to our building.  That work was very LOUD, because they drilled a hole directly into the foundation of the building.  But today was much more fun!  Big yellow trucks, lots of hard hats, a back hoe, a concrete cutter, a jackhammer, and a lot of really fun workers who wanted to share a little of themselves with the preschoolers in our building.
This is David, the Electrician.  He is in charge of the project that will fix/change how power from the city gets into our building.  He was very happy to help Mrs. Coleman get pictures of the workers, and even offered to go to his truck to get his yellow hardhat.  Mrs. Coleman really liked David and his very helpful attitude.  Sometimes it can be scary meeting new people; and sometimes you meet someone like David who makes it all ok to take a chance making a new friend.
This is the driver man, who drives the truck with all the big supplies, such as a pipe threader, that helps to put ends on pipes that can help them to connect.
(Mrs. Coleman failed to get his name. Sorry.)

 OO-oo-OO-oo!!  Here's the backhoe!  Below is Tate's picture of the top of the backhoe, and another of the arm.  Patrick told me that's what you call that part, Tate!

Can you tell that Tate's perspective is from the top?? He was standing on a chair in his classroom, and drew pictures of what he saw.  Brilliant!
Here is the backhoe driver, Patrick!  He's waving because he saw our classmates and friends watching in the windows, and he was happy to be able to say "Hi!"
Here is Brighton's version.  Brighton's enthusiasm for this project was simply contagious!!

Zaid's picture is really quite detailed.  Look closely!

This is Logan's depiction of the events.  Patrick loved to see that he was represented in all of these pictures.
 This is Sam, the Jackhammer Operator.  He was ok about having his picture taken, but he was also ready to start his job, so not quite as happy about Mrs. Coleman's visit as Patrick was, so we snapped our picture and scooted back to school.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring?


Kindergarten Discussion at TCS

At today’s parent lunch bunch, facilitators Cecily Maguire and Lisa Hagan gave us a great overview about all things kindergarten. Cecily has two children in Seattle public schools, and Lisa’s daughter goes to Catholic school.
Because most of the attendees were planning on public school, the discussion focused on Seattle public schools.
Public schools
One important note: Seattle kindergarten is not free. The district offers full-day kindergarten, but the state only pays for half a day. For this school year, the fees are $272 per month, which will presumably increase next year.
If you want to find out or confirm what your attendance-area (i.e. neighborhood) school is, you can use Seattle Public Schools’ address lookup tool, at http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=5333510764b73611fc579578d641ba38&pageid=172265&sessionid=5333510764b73611fc579578d641ba38
There you can find your reference elementary school (as well as current reference middle and high schools), and your “option schools” with transportation. Currently, you are guaranteed a seat for your child at your reference school.
If you plan to attend your neighborhood school, you can enroll early now and avoid lines during the busier spring enrollment season.  You will need to download and complete a brief application, available at http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=39ec5b06dbadc164a7374588e0d04da2&pageid=192380&sessionid&sessionid=39ec5b06dbadc164a7374588e0d04da2
And bring the following:
·         Two documents verifying address. Must be dated within the past 60 days and include the parent’s name. Examples of documentation include telephone, utility, or cable bills; mortgage statement; insurance documents; DSHS or court documents; or residential leases (must include property address and the signatures of the parent and landlord).
·         Certificate of Immunization Status
·         Birth certificate, passport, or other legal document verifying the student’s date of birth
·         Photo ID of the parent or guardian
You can bring your paperwork to the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (2445 3rd Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98134) any weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are also several weekend and evening enrollment opportunities. (See http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=280541&sessionid=bb036d9ec44f6e503ee91f57825dea5a for details) One evening enrollment that might be convenient for TCS families is 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at Nathan Hale High School, Library, 10750 30th Ave. N.E., Seattle, WA  98125.
Whatever you choose, parents who have been through the process suggest that you request a stamped copy of your submitted application, because it’s not unheard of for the district to lose paperwork.
If you want to apply to a different school, you can submit an application during an “Open Enrollment” period in the spring. According to the SPS website, Open Enrollment information for the 2013-2014 school year will be available after the 2012 winter holiday break.
There are a number of “option schools” the offer different curriculums and educational methods. They don’t have geographical boundaries and admission is by application only. One local option school is Jane Addams, which offers an E-STEM curriculum, with a focus on environmental science as well as science, technology, engineering and math. Another is Thornton Creek, which offers an “expeditionary learning” model and uses a project and theme-based curriculum. For example, one recent school year students learned many academic subjects through coverage of the Silk Road.
Another option school is Pinehurst. We did not discuss that as much, as the program is in a state of flux and apparently is threatened with closure every few years.
Cecily mentioned it can be very difficult to get into a “choice” elementary school – particularly the language immersion schools such as McDonald, which offer half-day instruction in Spanish or Japanese. But many of the neighborhood schools, particularly those in the northeast cluster, are high quality.
However, many of the schools are very overcrowded. Some of the parents mentioned that some classes are having 28 to 30 students in kindergarten and first grade classes. What happens with capital improvements will be determined in part by a levy subject to the vote in February 2013, the Building Excellence (BEX IV) capital levy. The school board will vote on a list of recommended projects for the BEX IV levy in November and is taking comments now.
We discussed the advanced learning opportunities with the public schools. My understanding is that these programs don’t start until first grade, so while they are something to think about parents don’t need to worry about it right now.
Very briefly, those opportunities include:
·         APP, or Accelerated Progress Program, for academically highly gifted students (98/99th percentile range in cognitive ability and the 95th percentile range or above in both reading and math achievement). In this program, students would work at a grade level two grades or more above their current assignment. The program is offered at a limited number of sites.
·         Spectrum and ALO programs that provide advanced learning opportunities within more schools, and typically has students working at one grade level or more above their current assignment in reading and mathematics. Spectrum is offered at 10 elementary schools, including Wedgwood and View Ridge locally, and ALO is offered at many more schools. Seattle Public Schools’ advanced learning page has a list of program sites.
Cecily mentioned that one site to learn more about the workings of Seattle Public Schools from an activist/opinion perspective is the Seattle Schools Community Forum at http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/

Catholic schools
Lisa mentioned that Catholic school is an alternative that is less expensive than private schools, and is open to students of all faiths. Catholic schools may or may not have openings in a particular year. If openings are limited, in general, parishioners would be admitted before non-parishioners. A number of Catholic schools are providing information now. For example, Assumption-St. Bridget School in Bryant is holding a Kindergarten Information Night on Wednesday, October 24th at 7:00 pm in the Assumption Parish Social Hall. See http://www.asbschool09.org/Admissions/Default.htm for details.

Thank you to Deirdre C for this wonderful and helpful information!!


These are the coolest toys to build houses out of!!

If you build a house, or barn, you can put zoo animals inside!!  Here's another example!

Magnatiles - a preschooler's best building option!


From Your Pre-K Classroom

To Parents and Friends of our Pre-K Class, from Harper's Mom:

This is a quick roundup to the parents of the kids in the Pre-K class. I've copied Mrs. Banks and Mrs. Coleman in case I made a mistake, also because I don't think I have Emma's parents emails -- could you please forward this to them and/or send me their emails?

Those of you who were at the parent meeting may recall that one of the topics was that parents wanted to have a little more information about what the kids were up to in the classrooms. Here’s a little information about some of the activities the Pre-K kids are doing now:

General themes for the month of October will include fall leaves, spiders, pumpkins, and later in the month a more specific focus on Halloween.

1.      Number boards. The number board is a traditional Montessori activity in which kids place number tiles on a board to count by tens. It helps with number familiarity, counting and also with the fine motor skills of a thumb to finger pincer grasp, which is a pre-writing skill. Mrs. Banks told me that some of the kids have already counted up to 100, and that the teachers will be encouraging all the kids to try it. In additional to the traditional Montessori board, the kids are also using seasonal tiles. Right now they’re using small rubber Halloween icons. Earlier in the year they used bugs and butterflies and apples.

2.      Metal insets. This is another pre-writing activity in which the kids are using any one of about two dozen different metal shapes and tracing shapes onto paper with pencils. Once they’re done tracing the shapes they can use them as a basis for drawings – Mrs. Banks said some of the kids are turning the circles into pumpkins.

3.      The take-away game. This is another traditional activity in which a group of objects are placed on a tray and covered with a towel, and then one child takes an object away, hides it behind their back, and then whisks the towel away. The other players then have to guess which object is missing. This activity helps kids practice taking turns and waiting. It builds observation and memory skills and also builds their vocabulary. For example, this morning’s take-away tray contained objects including acorns and hexagons.

4.      This morning Brennan demonstrated color-mixing for me, which was fun because he explained it very carefully and seriously. There’s a muffin tray with a small amount of water in each cup. Mrs. Banks put a couple of drops of red food coloring in one cup and a couple drops of yellow in another, and then Brennan used a dropper to put a few drops of each color into a third cup and mix them together, and told me that they made orange. In addition to showing kids how colors work this is yet another way to practice those fine motor skills and pincer grip.

5.      This morning Emma was working with the rubber band board. She was stretching rubber bands from peg to peg on the board to make different geometric shapes.

6.      I almost forgot yesterday's visit from the red-eared slider turtles Pebbles and Neptune. If your kids are really into said turtles there are a tank of them at the pet store at the corner of 45th and the highway, aka the free mini zoo. Also Harper may be telling your kids the "Turtle Trouble" story, which is blatant ripoff of the Trouble with Tribbles, but please note the turtles did not actually escape and lay eggs in the dollhouses.

Thanks, Deirdre!  This is great information!!