Why do you use Riggs Markings?
The markings are a mnemonic system to help children analyze the words they are spelling and reading. It creates a visual cuing system for them as they read back words. For Riggs help, including a guide to the marking system, please visit our Riggs page under 'Resources'.
How do you celebrate birthdays in the classroom?
So as not to disrupt our learning, we try to keep birthdays as simple but celebratory as possible. We will sing happy birthday, share positive words of encouragement, and give a birthday sticker and homework pass. If you are planning a birthday party outside of school, please do not send invitations to school unless the entire class is invited so as to be sensitive to the feelings of others.
Why don't kids get to play on the play structure every recess?
With a strict no-food-as-reward policy, a firm belief in homework (homework passes are RARELY handed out), and a day already packed full of art, music, physical activity, crafts, and sensory immersion learning, we don't have a lot of other rewards. Children LOVE their play structure day. Children learn at Cascade Heights that it is the small, simple pleasures that make a day go from good to great.
Also, there are typically 50 to 75 children out at a given recess, and those numbers are overwhelming for supervision and safety.
Finally, restricting access to the play structure encourages children to engage in a variety of activities with a variety of friends. Imaginative play, team play, and other aspects of play are encouraged when their immediate go-to (the play structure) is not an option.
The schedule for the play structure is as follows:
Monday: Kindergarten during lunchtime
Tuesday: First grade during lunchtime
Wednesday: Second grade during lunchtime
Thursday: Students who stayed on green all week during lunchtime
Second grade also gets to use the play structure during their afternoon recess each day of the week.
Why do you use pen for all writing, including math? (The only exceptions are Riggs notebooks and final drafts).
It is our school policy that students use pen for nearly all their work, including their homework and math. We do this for several reasons. First, it is important for students to focus on process over final product. Pen doesn't allow for erasing mistakes, so even though sometimes their homework will "look" messier, it will show twice as much of their thinking and allow both me and the student to see their processes. Sometimes, students spend more time making their paper "perfect by erasing and re-erasing than they do actually getting work done. We are not seeking perfection, and in fact, perfection is unattainable, undesirable, and boring. However, many children can be rigid and perfectionistic. If they fall behind, they get stuck (resulting in frustration, tears, and tuning out of learning). "Cancel out and keep going" is what we tell them. Just like anything, practicing letting go gets easier, and allows these children to loosen up. It's not just about the right answer, it is about how you got there. Secondly, brain-based research shows that erasing mistakes activates the part of the brain used for drawing rather than analytical work. We want to make sure that they keep these two activities separate as they learn to write and think.
How do we know which spelling words in the Riggs notebook are new words and which ones are missed words?
We learn new words each day (4-6 of them) depending on how the students do on their test that morning. If the majority of the class are struggling with a word or two, then we do not learn new words so that they can practice the ones they missed. I give time in class for the students to write their missed words, but I leave new words for homework. That said, if a student doesn't do his/her missed words in class, they must do them for homework. Missed words are noted in the Riggs notebook with either a red dot, or a red "m". The dot means that they misspelled the word. The "m" means that they spelled it correctly, but didn't get the markings right. When they get that same word right on the next spelling test, I erase the red markings. (However, the red pencil doesn't erase easily, so you will have to decipher it...sorry!)
Students should know which words are new words. They are generally the last 4-6 on the list. In addition, if they write the new words each day as they are given, students/parents will know which ones they have already done, therefore which ones are new.
Can you post the spelling words online in case my child forgot to bring his/her Riggs notebook home?
No. Although as first graders, students had access to Riggs words last year, this is not the norm across the grade levels at CHPCS as we desire students to grow in independence and responsibility. Therefore, we are training second graders to take their Riggs notebooks to and from school on a daily basis (just like their planners) so that they can complete their homework.
My second grader forgot her/his homework! What do I do?
Please don't stress about it, especially if it is a rare occurrence. However, don't let them get away with no work because they forgot. Also, don't fall into the trap of making tons more work for yourself because of your child's forgetfulness. While you are scrambling to make work for them, have them do some chores around the house for you! However, if this becomes a habit, let's come up with a plan as a team to help him/her to become more responsible. Here is some suggested work for your student to do so that they maintain the rhythm and learning of doing homework.
We're headed out of town for a long weekend/short vacation. Can we get our child's homework/class work?
"Absence due to vacation or other non-emergent events is strongly discouraged. We offer a challenging and rigorous curriculum and each day is important. Remember: the multisensory nature of our school makes it impossible to replicate classroom time. When students will be absent from school for reasons other than illness, parents are asked to inform the teacher at least two weeks in advance. Missed work will be waiting for them upon return.
Background: An incredible number of families were scheduling vacations during the school year and requesting work packets for their children, often at the last minute. We believe if a family must take a vacation so urgently, then it is also their responsibility to ensure that they enrich their children's time. This may be done through visiting museums, reading aloud, taking along flash cards, etc. This allows teachers to focus on the children who are still in class." (Taken from extended version of Handbook)
I would like to help in the classroom. What can I do?
Thank you so much! Volunteering in the classroom benefits everyone--
That said, I would ask that you follow the steps that are outlined on the school's volunteering webpage. The investment of your time and money is a small price to pay for the involvement you will be able to have in your child's academic life. Then, please let me know when you are available and what types of activities you would like to participate in so that we can maximize your time in the classroom.
How much time should my child be spending on their homework each night? Sometimes it feels like too much.
Besides 15-20 minutes of reading each night, I expect that second graders spend an additional 15-20 minutes on their homework. That said, each situation will be different. If you find that your child is struggling to get their work done, consider the following:
1. Is your child using their class time wisely?
Students receive class time daily to write their missed Riggs words, to complete the front side of their math homework paper, to complete their IEW (writing), and to do Core Knowledge assignments. If they do not finish these items, they will need to finish them for homework. Additionally, if students are paying attention in class and actively engaged in their learning, assignments should come easy to them. Homework is generally a review of class learning.
2. Is your child's after school activity schedule superseding homework priorities?
Getting homework done first thing after school or shortly after having a snack creates good study habits and gives the best brain power to homework completion. I know this is not always possible, but waiting until right before bedtime (after video games, sports practices, and other activities) may mean longer processing times and greater frustration for both parents and students.
3. Is your child a slow or distracted worker?
Students are highly individual and work that is quick for one student may not be for another. Make sure that your child has a homework space that is set up free from distractions (the tv is not on, siblings aren't bugging them, etc.). It is best if they do their work at a kitchen table, coffee table, or desk so that they are upright and focused.
If your child is a diligent student, but just takes a long time to complete their work, please let me know and we can modify their assignments. I also understand if there are special family circumstances that need to be attended to and I can make some accommodations. I don't want any students or families to feel frustrated or overwhelmed by homework. Let's partner together to figure out solutions.