Weekly Update: February 1, 2016

Hope you enjoyed the gray days and all your plants enjoyed the rain.


Beginning on Monday, I will make brief morning announcements at flag salute each week. Please let me know if there is anything you would like me to share with our students. Also, our student council will make daily announcements most days. Announcements will occur between 8:05 and 8:15. Thanks for your support.

Performance Task Assessments (PTA):

Administration Dates: February 1-16. Enter scores by Friday, February 19. 

3rd– 6th grade: directions to access the online assessment as a teacher, preview the assessment, and login as a student. USE ONLY SIMPLE LINED paper for TK-2 Assessments. Videos and job aides to access assessmentmaterials and scoring are available on the Units of Study websites. Visit the Educational Services website to view Anchor Papers for your grade level.

To better coordinate support for our students with disabilities, please communicate when you intend to administer the PTAs with Tracy. She and Nora are available for pull out or push in support.

Response to Intervention/Multi Tiered Systems of Support/Intervention/Learning Center/Co-teaching Task Force:

We would like to establish a team to explore best practices related to intervening for our students without disabilities and emerging and best practices for students with identified disabilities. If you are interested in participating in a release day on Monday, February 22 or in learning more about what this all means, please let me know.


PBS/Connect with Kids Lessons/Character Education:

Monday we will use Connect With Kids to work with our students on developing patience. We will revisit this theme each week in February as we teach our familiar lessons. The video is available at (http://sbusd.connectwithkids.com/).  Our organization code is 601ELM. The video can be reached by going to Student Resources-> Elementary->Character/Life Skills. Lesson plans to use/modify are right below the video and the K-2 lesson plans are available on the previous page. Contact Lindsay for assistance.

I will be in the lunch area on Friday, February 5th distributing prizes from the wagon. Please bring your blue slips to lunch on Friday.

Discipline and Contacting Parents:

When we find that our students are not making appropriate (safe, respectful, responsible choices), I strongly encourage you to call home. I find that when I take the time to personally connect with our families, we have a conversation about how we both want the child to be successful, but need their behavior to change. Making the call, allows for the parent to ask questions and get clarification. We ensure that they hear our version of the incident and not from their child what happened. Also, when we mail things home, the concern is rarely communicated in a timely way and may feel impersonal.




During the winter months, the bad weather and common illnesses that keep kids from getting to school can boost absenteeism. That is why during the winter months it is even more important to remind parents about the value of school attendance. Just missing two days each month, even if they are excused, can make it hard for children, starting in the early grades, to keep up with the learning in the classroom. Click here for more resources to share with families.

We will initiate two new programs to support student attendance. Dani will share details this week.

Family/Parent Involvement:

Thank you for all that you do to welcome and support our families each and every day. I learned that we have had the most families (in the entire district) submit Connect to Compete reduced cost computer applications. Thank you for promoting the program! Please keep in mind that this program is only for families of limited incomes who do not currently have technology. We had more than 35 family members at our school on Tuesday. 20 attended coffee with the principal and 15 attended the San Ysidro Health Center self esteem class. Please let me know if you have anything that you would like shared with our families. Our next coffee with the principal is Thursday, Feb 25th. 

Please continue to promote Remind text message notification service. Click here for the full instructions or see below (this is on the Emory School web page). This is a way for us to text message our families.

Sign up to receive text message reminders from Principal Grondek. See instructions below. Send a text message to the number 81010 with the message @jgron

Coach’s Corner:

From the time that I have spent in teaching writing and (unfortunately) helping with our guest teacher shortage, I am reminded how quickly instructional time goes.  Sometimes, the lesson doesn’t go exactly as planned.  This is very stressful.  What can we do to make sure we get to our objective in the time we have allotted?  I have thought about using a timer.  The alarm would remind me that my time is over and now it’s the students turn.  Something I want to get better at is to stick to the time I planned for direct instruction.  I need to get kids to participate in the learning faster.  Any suggestions?


Thank you for promoting our current Cheesecake Fundraiser. This will continue through Wednesday Feb. 17th and will provide funds for new library books. Pennies for Patients  Feb 15-March 4 will collect money to prevent leukemia. See emails from Angelica for more detail. Beginning March 7 and lasting through March 7-18 we will also participate in a fundraiser for the Jose Montano foundation called Change for Change. Details to follow.

Quote of the Week:

Question of the Week:

As we prepare for our English Learner Task Force meeting on Tuesday, what sort of assistance, professional development resources etc, would you like to better meet the needs of our English Learners?

Weekly Update: January 25, 2016

Happy Monday! Have a great week.

Staff Meeting:

No staff meeting this week. Plan, prepare for the Performance Tasks, read something interesting or practice one of the wellness activities we discussed last week.

Fountas and Pinnell:

Thank you all for working so hard to learn how to use the Fountas and Pinnell assessment and to find time to assess your students. I think that as we are looking to refine our RTI/MTSS/Intervention program, it will be very helpful to have this data in Illuminate. Please let us know if you would like Chris or me to visit your PLC and show you how to do this. It’s really pretty easy.


Performance Tasks:


You and your students


ELA and Math Performance Tasks which follow the model used in Smarter Balanced Testing and Depth of Knowledge(DOK) recommendations published by Smarter Balanced. Both math and ELA are aligned to our Units of Study and Common Core State Standards.


The window for our second performance task in BOTH ELA and Math is February 1-16. In order to populate the report cards, scores need to be entered by Friday, February 19. Please preview the assessment at a PLC or on your own before administering.



Why your classrooms, of course


Classroom Level: As we are shifting our instructional thinking to align with Common Core we are learning a lot about assessments and data. Performance Tasks are meant to give students an opportunity to perform what they know.  The task data give us good insight as to how our students are applying the knowledge they are learning in your classrooms.

School Site Level:  Sites use the Performance Task data to inform decisions about student needs around the building. Using the data at a site level helps with creating student support groups for language, reading, and math intervention.


3rd– 6th grade: directions to access the online assessment as a teacher, preview the assessment, and login as a student. USE ONLY SIMPLE LINED paper for TK-2 Assessments. Paper should NOT include any writing supports or scaffolds printed on the paper (e.g., sentence frames, sentence stems, editing checklist, etc.). All materials are posted in Illuminate with the assessments. Videos and job aides to access assessment materials and scoring are available on the Units of Study websites. Visit the Educational Services website to view Anchor Papers for your grade level.


Coach’s Corner:
This past week I have been able to spend a few days in a classroom trying some informational writing instruction.  The teacher and I are using mentor text to show students the writing expectations that are outlined in the ELA standards.  I appreciate the students’ eagerness to read and talk about what the author did, but also the topic of the article.  In three days, they really haven’t done any writing at all.  We’ve spent most of the time immersed in the mentor text and talking.  It feels a little uncomfortable, but spending the time enjoying text and examining the writing will hopefully lead to a deeper understanding.   We plan to go through the writing process together, then have students write on their own on a topic of their choice.  We’ll see how it goes.  If you are interested in doing something like this, please let me know.  I’d welcome the opportunity.

Paper and Supplies:

Thank you so much for your hard work in conserving paper and other supplies. I know that it is hard and I appreciate your efforts. Please  click here to see our site use since we received the new machine. You may wish to chat with colleagues from different grade levels to learn how they conserve paper and still meet their students’ needs.

Sea World:

Sea World offers a free teacher pass to all credentialed teachers. The pass includes three guest passes that you might use for your family.  Click here to sign up.


Question of the week:

As I prepare to develop materials to invite new families to Emory, what are some of the things that you think make Emory great?

Video of the week:

As some of us will have the opportunity to visit with Dr. Mohammed (thanks for your interest, I am sorry that we cannot bring everyone), here is a clip about school culture. Click here to view. 

Quote of the week:




Weekly Update: January 18, 2016

I hope that you enjoyed the long weekend. Let’s be sure to have the very best week having fun and learning with our students.

Staff Professional Learning:

We will be meeting together this Wednesday from 1:45-3:15 in room 23. I can’t wait to see you all there!

Coach’s Corner:

It was a challenge but I was able to kickstart my journey into reading.  Becoming a reader is a difficult.  Choosing to read instead of watching TV, surfing the web or going to the gym was hard.  I enjoyed revisiting The Missing Piece, by Shel Silverstein.  I also read a book from Nancy Krulik’s series “How I Survived Middle School”; I really didn’t enjoy that one as much, but I could see it appealing to some kids.  When I read these books, I automatically thought  about ways to incorporate them in instruction.  I also did this when I read The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey and the autobiography I am Malala (I am halfway done).  One of the things I noticed while I read was I had a urge to share what I was reading.  I wanted to talk about it.  I can’t be the only one who feels like that.  So, when I had the chance, I read an excerpt from I am Malala to a class.  I think it piqued some interest.  I enjoyed sharing it at least.  The more we can share our reading experiences with kids; the more they will be exposed to the love of reading.  I am excited to see so much reading going on in all of your classrooms.  I even saw 6th graders reading to 1st graders during recess.  Our students are becoming readers thanks to your efforts.  Let’s keep the momentum going.  Any suggestions on other books I should read?


Many of you send home newsletters (paper or virtual). Please share with your parents information about Remind text message notification service. Click here for the full instructions or see below (this is on the Emory School web page). This is a way for us to text message our families. (yes, it’s free). 

Sign up to receive text message reminders from Principal Grondek. See instructions below. Send a text message to the number 81010 with the message @jgron

ELD and Report Cards:

As you meet with your ELD groups, please be sure to use a qualitative measure to track your students’ progress. The SELD ongoing assessment log is a great tool to use. Please let me know if you would like more information about it. Having a qualitative measure will help your design/refine  your instruction and support the report card process.

Changes to the Payroll System:

Please see this Letter from Superintendent McNamara, SWTA President Lorena Garcia, and CSEA, Chapter 59 President Beth Gillen regarding the transition to our new Human Resources/Payroll system. In other districts who have made the transition, there have been some problems on the first payday. Please be sure to have reviewed your past pay check stubs and take a look at your pay stub/check/deposit on our next pay day. (January 29th). If you notice any problems, please alert me and Eunice ASAP. We will direct you to the appropriate district office personnel to quickly address the problem.

Shade Structure:

During the week on Jan 25-29, they will place the poles for our new shade structure (out on the lower playground.) They will return the following week to install the shade (just in time for this very cloudy winter).

Optimist International Oratorical Contest:

I encourage you to participate in the Optimist International Oratorical Contest!  The topic for this year is, “How my best brings out the best in others.”  Students under the age of 18 may enter.  The deadline for entries is February 2016 and the event is scheduled for March 2016.  For more information, please see the application.

PLNU Art Students:

Our friends from Point Loma are back and I am looking for partners teachers. Some of you may have participated in the Arts Education partnership with Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU). You may recall that students visiting from PLNU have had limited experience in front of a class. As there are only 8 PLNU students available to visit our school this semester, please let me know ASAP if you would like to participate. See additional information below.

The three dates the spring semester for the visit to Emory are:

Tues. March 15 – Planning Meeting with Teachers,  2:30PM
Tues. April 5 – Teaching Day #1,  1:30PM
Tues. April 12 – Teaching Day #2,  1:30PM

Reading, Reading and More Reading:

Thank you for assessing your students, diving into differentiated small group reading instruction, book clubs, building stamina etc. (wow– you are really making changes to meet our students’ needs!!) You may remember reviewing this document (Getting Started: The First 20 Days of Guided Reading) at a recent staff meeting. Don’t forget it, as it lays out a plan for for what you might do after you obtain your reading assessment results. (For those of you following along closely, yes, this is a repeat, but a good repeat and certainly won’t hurt–bonus point to you for your close attention 🙂

San Diego County Fair:

The San Diego County Fair provides educational programs for San Diego schools, including Plant Grow Eat, field trips, and school tours.  For more information, visit here.

Health Alert Lists:

You may have seen a previous email from our nurse Timea. In it she asked that you be sure to either have your health concerns list accessible to a sub or leave very clear directions for your sub to locate this information.

South Bay Unity Games:

Reminder– The SBUSD Unity Games will be on Saturday, May 21.

Quote of the week:

Video of the week:

Most Likely to Succeed movie trailer

Question of the week:

What is something that you do or have done to promote a positive school culture at Emory?