Orange Cluster Monthly News

Sept. News




THANK YOU:  First and foremost, thank you for such an amazing start to what we are sure will be a great year. Your generosity of time, wish list gifts, and spirit has really touched us.  It was lovely to meet so many of you on Back to School Night, and thank you in advance for signing up to volunteer and to donate needed items. We appreciate your support. It takes a village!

PARENT CONFERENCES:  Parent conferences are being scheduled through Sign-Up Genius. We sent the link to sign up via email and here it is again:

Sign-Up Genius link:


VOLUNTEERS: If you signed up to come into the classroom, come on in! We would love to see you. Like we said, if you can’t commit to a day, feel free to pop in anytime to volunteer. We can always use reading buddies in the morning. At other times, it may take us a minute to get you directed, but please know that we love and appreciate your support and involvement. We couldn’t do our program without the extra hands!

HOMEWORK: Below is a link to an interesting article. For the most part, the ideas behind it are how we feel about homework. The article is summed up in this quote:

“One of the real goals of the homework habit is to help teach a child to develop a balanced life. With the homework habit, there should be time for everything – play or sports time, friend time, family time – every day.”


As we talked about at Back to School Night, homework should not be a stressful event in your house. We would prefer you do not argue over homework (it is not worth the time and energy). Let us know if there was an issue and we will handle it in class.

Also, we are asking students to be responsible for their own homework – they need to bring it to school. If it is forgotten, then they will complete the work at Friday Fun. If homework is incomplete, please have your child bring it anyway. It will get done in class and they can go into the weekend free and clear. Again, it is their homework.



Classroom Update

The children have been divided into four groups for management purposes. When we divide the class to go to garden, PE, and art, we use these groups. The group names are the Ambassadors, Envoys, Diplomats, and Patriots. They created beautiful group posters that live on the wall behind the teachers’ desks.


• In Reader’s Workshop we are beginning to meet individually with each child, to assess their reading level and talk with them about what they are reading. With 48 students this will take us about a month. This month we will teach them lessons on choosing “just right” books and “just right” reading spots. We will also teach them word attack strategies. We teach them chunking, which is breaking the word into small chunks of 2-3 letters at a time and sounding it out. We also teach them to look for small words that they already know within a word (i.e. vegetable has table). Next, they’ll work on identifying prefixes, suffixes and roots. Finally, they’ll round out the month practicing using context clues (using the other words in a sentence to figure out what an unknown word means) and substituting a synonym or another word that helps the sentence make sense.

• During Writer’s Workshop, we are collecting story ideas. Our first focus is on personal narratives. The class has been brainstorming ideas around strong people, places or important memories. They will be picking a topic soon and will begin to write a rough draft. We will then teach them the writing process. Mrs. Granick will be modeling this process with her own writing along side the class.


• In math, we have passed out the students’ individualized math packets. These packets are given to the students based on how they did on an in-class assessment. For some of the students, it is review. They may have had some slippage over the summer especially in the more challenging areas of regrouping. We will meet with them on Mondays after recess to continue to challenge them in their specific area.

• On Mondays we also quiz them on their math facts. Last week, the addition flash cards came home as part of homework. Once they pass the addition facts (which is getting 100% on the 50 problem quiz in about 4 minutes or less) the subtraction flash cards will come home. When those are passed, the multiplication flash cards will come home. When the multiplication facts are passed, then the division facts will come home. Once they’ve passed all 4 operations, there is a challenge level with all 4 operations mixed up. To study for that, take all 4 flash cards and mix them up & review them.

• The goal of the math facts is automaticity. With that automaticity, the students have one component of math mastered. This in turn frees up their brain for concentrating on manipulating challenging numbers and solving more complicated problems. We assign 5-minutes/day of math facts practice as part of homework. It will help the students in all aspects of our math program and set them up for success in mathematics.

• We have also started our math concept lessons with the main focus on number sense. With Mrs. Granick, the class is working on measuring with linking cubes forcing them to count large numbers and developing strategies to count efficiently and effectively. With Ms. Maye, we are also delving into counting large amounts. With a partner, students are taking inventory of our classroom supplies. They are discovering the most efficient and accurate strategies to count, organize, and double-check their work. Our math congress (discussion)  of taking inventory will veer into the patterns of our number system.

• The kids were super excited to start ST Math on the computers this week. It is a research proven, comprehensive, grade level math program that utilizes Spatial Temporal (ST) reasoning to teach math concepts that are aligned to Common Core and state standards. We require 10 minutes of practice a night as part of homework each week. (We accidentally wrote 20 minutes on the HW sheet but we told the students to cross it out and write 10.) That said we have been having tech issues with ST Math homework. (If you haven’t had any issues -yay!) If you have, we’re working on it and it should be fixed this afternoon. If your child is struggling with ST Math homework, help them by asking questions about what they see on the screen. Do not give them the answer; the goal of ST Math is to promote problem solving, perseverance & a willingness to take risks.


• We’ve begun to learn about museums. The students shared about the various museums they’ve been to and what exhibits they saw. We are reading two books on museums. One book is teaching us about all the different kinds of museums out there. Did you know there is a Pez Museum in Burlingame, CA? The students enjoyed learning about that one. We’re also learning about the various people who work at the museum like the educators, as well as, the people who work behind the scenes such as a curator, exhibit designer, and director.  They are getting excited about creating their own museum this year.


• This month our focus is courage. It is a great way to start the school year! The class has been listening to different stories about courage and how we can learn to overcome our fears with courage. We brainstormed different ways in which we are afraid (primarily at school) and different strategies to “crush that fear” with courage. We wrote our fear on a card, physically crushed it in our hands and them painted the card. These cards will be put on display outside of Orange Cluster.


Upcoming Dates:

Tues., Sept. 17th             Picture Day

Sat., Sept. 21st                Open School Camp Out

Fri., Sept. 26th & 27th      Minimum Day Dismissal 12:50 – Teacher Retreat

Mon., Sept. 30th               No School – Unassigned Day

Thurs., Oct. 3rd                Governing Council Meeting at 5:30 & Friends at 7:00

Fri., Oct. 4th                     Friends Meeting Recap 8:15am

Tues., Oct.8th                  Picture Day Make-Ups

Wed., Oct 9th                   No School – Unassigned Day

Sat., Oct. 26th                  Fall Family Festival 11am

Expiration Date: 
Aug 9