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44 days of school so far… 13 November, 2007

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Every Thursday afternoon at our staff meeting, the teachers all share their success stories of the week. We nominate students from each other’s classes for the “pizza award” which recognizes excellent student performance. Then, at assembly on Friday, the school gives a deserving student this high honor, complete with the pizza placard, which is good for a slice of pizza at lunchtime.

Congratulations to Darian, who is my class’s first pizza award of the school year! He was nominated by two different teachers for his consistent good attitude and always being helpful during schoolyard clean-ups and after break and recess. Great job Darian, you make us all proud!


This week we started another word-study poem called “Take Care of Yourself” that goes beautifully with our Health lessons! The poem goes like this:

Take care of yourself!
You’re the only you you’ve got!
Eat healthy foods
and exercise a lot.
Get lots of sleep
and you’ll see your body grow
Take care of yourself.
Let your best you show!

There are 3 activities that go with the words in the poem: word scrambles, practice pages, and word sorts. Each of these help students with word building, letter-pattern recognition, and reading and writing in general. You can see how your child is doing when the graded packets come home. The poems that go along with the activities are kept at school in their Poems Folders so students can practice reading them at school during Language Arts time, but feel free to come in and have your child read to you from their folder.

I see lots of sight words in all those poems, so we can see why it’s so important for students to memorize them. They glow with pride when they recognize them! Sight word tests for list 1 will be done from the 19th to the 23rd of November, then we will move on the list 2, which can be found here on Mrs. Perkins primer list.

After our visit from Dr. Xima and Nurse Eleanor, many students have decided to bring in their toothbrushes and toothpaste so they can brush after lunch. Their little toothbrushing clubs meet in the bathroom for 2 minutes so they can brush, brush, brush while singing their favorite toothbrushing songs. I often hear them repeating to each other: “Remember what the Dentist said… away from the gum, away from the gum!” I must also commend them for cleaning out the sinks when they are done… good job, students!


We have finished our work with basic addition and subtraction, and have moved on to addition strategies, like counting on, number line, and memorizing doubles. The students enjoyed our ever-popular “number-line jump” activity in the palapa- ask them about solving addition problems by jumping on the number line! We will do many other activities that will help us learn (and memorize) our addition facts… your child can expect flashcards, sticker pictures, activities with dice and dominoes, and more!


As we come to the end our our plant study, your child should be able to tell you the following:

– What are the parts of a plant?
– What do plants need to survive?
– What part of the plant makes the food for the plant? How do you know?
– What part of the plant brings water to the leaves and flowers? How do you know?
– What part of the plant makes the seeds? How do you know?

All these questions will prepare them for their test on plants, which will be on Thursday or Friday. The test will be half oral and half written. After that we will move on to our bird study, beginning with penguins.

To spark the childrens’ interest, we made a KWL chart to find out:
–What the children KNOW about penguins,
–What the children WANT to learn about penguins,
…and when the study is done…
–What the students LEARNED about penguins. (to be completed when we’re done)

On that subject, does anyone have the movie “March of the Penguins” and a DVD player that we can borrow to enhance our learning?


On Friday, Teacher Lisa announced that we will begin practicing for the pageant this coming week. The official date is Friday, December 14th, the time to be announced.


Student: “Teacher, you look pretty today.”
Teacher: “Thank you! Better than yesterday, huh?”
Student: “Yup, Teacher Melissa was the pretty one yesterday.”

Here’s another great one that came when discussing that plants need water to survive…

Teacher: “Where does the water come from?”
Student: “It comes from the thunder and lightning.”
Teacher: “And what exactly do we call it when the thunder and lightning come and water falls from the sky?”
Student: “Ummmm… loud?”

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, and of course, feel free to email with any questions or concerns.


20 days of school so far… 7 October, 2007

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For three weeks, we have been studying our sight words in class. Sight words comprise 50% to 75% of the words in childrens’ books. When students memorize the words by sight (rather than sounding them out) they will become extremely confident, successful readers.

By the end of this week, I will have completed the students Level 1 (Pre-Primer) sight word pretests. We do this one-on-one in class. Look in the ever-important home folder to find the list with a pretest score on it. Please do not be alarmed if your child only knows 10 or 15 of them… it’s just a pretest. My goal is 100% by the end of November. We study them 4-5 times a week during class, and I encourage you to copy the words on to index cards and practice them at home. All students learn at different levels, and some students have reached 100% already, so I will be moving them up to the Primer level.

Here are 2 websites you can use to sharpen your child’s skills:

This is where I get all my classroom resources. It is a great source for lists, printable flashcards, and a downloadable program that we use in class:

Also, this Dolch words website has a wonderful explanation of sight words, and some more printable lists.

If you feel like you’re tangled in a complicated spider web of lists, websites, etc. please come in and talk to me. Sometimes it’s just easier face to face!


I thought I would take a moment to explain my grading system. First, we should remind ourselves that there were no formal “grades” in most of their previous Beginners classrooms. Getting a “grade” can be tough concept for students to understand. In my experience, Infant I students don’t care at all about those little red numbers that I put at the tops of their papers. But, as the school year rolls on, they become more accustomed to them and gain a greater understanding of what exactly goes onto their report cards. Then, in turn, they care about improving them. Bingo!

When your child gets a paper back, there is a (red) fraction grade on the top, for example, 10/10 or 4/6. I have explained to the students that the bottom number (the base) is how many problems they had to do, and the top is how many they got right. If it is a more involved project, they will get a slip of paper called a RUBRIC, which is printed and filled out by me, and stapled to their projects. This rubric is a way to show both students and parents exactly what they are being graded on. It’s a very fair system that tells them what they’ve done correctly, and what they can do better on next time; rather than just giving them a percentage. Look for a rubric attached to our 2-week-long Language Arts Poem project, which had a 40 point base; and our Social Studies project called “A Book About Me” that will come home on Monday. I encourage you to look over these things with your child and get to know what they are doing right, and what they can improve.


When we start our Science study of solids, liquids, and gases, I would like to have a hot plate to work with as a heat source. Does anyone have one we could borrow for a few days? Just a single-burner plug-in-to-the-wall one would be great. Thanks for checking!


So far, I am very happy with the students homework and folder organization. Those home folders are getting a little heavy though, so have your child empty them out on the weekends. Graded papers are on the left, and homework is on the right.


Classes will resume on the 16th.


In my experience, our Math and Language Arts books have always been at a reading level that is quite difficult for most of the kids at the beginning of the school year. Be assured that this will improve as the year moves on. When you help your child with homework, be as patient as you can, and point to the words as you read them. This especially applies to the little word problems that are at the bottom of the math pages. I tell the children to find the numbers and look for familiar words like “more”, “less” or “in all” that are part of our math vocabulary, and solve the problem as best as they can.


Darian is working hard passing out books and papers, and Faith Noel is proud to count out little blue cubes to represent how many days we’ve been at school. Rhyan loves to remind me that it’s time for him to go out and clap out the erasers at the end of the day. Ask your child what jobs he/she had had, and which they’re looking forward to. Having a classroom responsibility, whether big or small, builds a sense of community and tests the children on their skills and memory!

Thanks for reading! Feel to email me regarding anything at all: rubrics, sight words, compliments, complaints, etc. Let’s keep communication strong and show the kids that we are genuinely interested in their schooling!

Only 2 days, and so much to say! 8 September, 2007

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I would like to start out by saying thank you to all the parents and students who made the effort to come to our Orientation morning, which seems like so long ago already! I really appreciated you all being there and showing such interest in your child’s Infant I year, which has been amazing so far!

I am proud to say that the first 2 days of school were a great success for my students, and very satisfying for me. The first few days of school are often spent reviewing rules (please raise your hand!) and social graces (please cover your mouth when you cough!) and introducing routines that will last all year. In this website update, I will explain some of these routines.

After assembly, we begin every day with a “welcome ceremony”, which is a morning ritual my former students have loved! We do a welcome ceremony for 3 reasons:

• to listen to music from all over the world
• to move our bodies
• to practice reading and following directions

The students think of movements (wave your hands, bend your knees, etc.) that I write on the chalkboard, and do them along with the music when the welcome ceremony leader (it’s Faith Noel this week) points to them. One of the most popular jobs in our classroom is to chose the music for welcome ceremony. Nathan is the lucky one this week! He chose fast-paced punta music, and the sing-along favorite “La Bamba.” The students really enjoy being able to shake, twist, bounce, and dance first thing in the morning… and so do I! They also learn to appreciate music from around the world each day. Don’t be surprised if, one day, your child hears classical music and says “Hey Mom, that’s Vivaldi’s Four Seasons!”

Or math routine begins with Rhyan filling in the calendar, counting the days, and saying the date. We have many different songs that help us learn the days of the week and the months of the year. Next week, when they have heard them many times, ask your child to sing them for you! After calendar, we complete our daily pattern, and chart how many days we have been at school. Again, I encourage you to ask your child about these routines as the days pass, as they will be quite familiar with them, and confident in explaining them to you. This week, the rest of our math time will be spent learning how to do all of our windowsill activities that sharpen math skills! Charles and Emil enjoyed stringing attribute beads in patterns, while Darian and Matthew built geometric shapes (and a giant starfish) with the magnetic sticks. Ask your child about the ladybug clips also!

Our Language Arts time this week and next will be spent doing individual reading assessment, word study work, and windowsill activities. Hailey’s favorites are the fill-in-the-missing-letter picture pages! I will go into greater detail on all these in the future, and email schedules of consistent homework assignments.

The students will be given a list of 6-8 spelling words at the beginning of every week, and tested on Friday. They will be instructed to bring their list home and put it somewhere it won’t get lost, so they can study the words for Friday’s tests. This coming week’s words all have the “an” chunk: can, ran, man, pan, sand, hand, and one of their choosing. Check your child’s home folder on the first day of every school week for the list and any related homework.

This week we began our Belizean Social Studies book, “Tapir.” Our first unit is called “My Family and I.” This small yellow textbook will sometimes come home in your child’s home folder for homework, which will be printed on a slip of paper marking the proper page. Please remind your student that this book must come back to school the next day!

Next week, your child will choose one of their folders to be used as the all-important “home folder” which travels to school and back home every day. I cannot stress enough that you should please please please check your child’s home folder every night for homework, notes, spelling lists, etc. Also, here is one of those things I can be picky about: please do not allow your child to switch folders! The folders are always a part of our daily routines, will be labelled by me, and the students will often work with each other’s folders (passing out papers, etc.) so it’s very hard when someone gets a new folder. If the folder gets lost, left out in the rain, or is worn beyond repair, please let me know if you must get a new one so I can label it properly.

Ask your child what it means to put a token in the bag or lose a stick. These are methods that I have explained to my students, and they have been effective so far. I will, of course, contact you if there are any behavioral or academic issues (positive or negative) that you should know about.

On Wednesday afternoons, the students have art class with Teacher Melissa! Sometimes the projects involve paint or other colorful things that don’t look great on a school uniform, so make sure your child has an art smock, cooking apron, or old, oversized shirt to keep in their cubby all year long. ALSO, Teacher Melissa has asked that your child please bring in a photo of him/herself for their first project on Wednesday, the 12th of September. The photo should show the student’s face well. It will be cut out and glued to a poster for a collage of classroom friends!

Starting Tuesday, the 11th of September, we will have classes until 4:00 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Having lost so many days because of the hurricanes, this is the only way to make up the time without cutting into our holiday break. Thursdays and Fridays we will dismiss promptly at 3:00. This schedule will be observed until our holiday break in December.

I’ll do this 2 or 3 times a month, so keep checking back! If you need to contact me regarding your child’s schoolwork, please feel free to email so we can keep communications flowing! Thanks for reading, and feel free to drop a comment in the box.

Our Class Rules 8 September, 2007

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We come to school prepared to learn, and we make good choices all day.

We raise our hand when we want to say something, and we do not interrupt! We use inside voices.

We raise our hand when we need to leave our seats.

We respect white flag areas. (Ask your child what this means)

We follow directions so we can learn and be safe.

We help keep our school neat and clean.

We are respectful and kind to one another. We give hugs and have fun!

We’re starting tomorrow! 5 September, 2007

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The first day of school will be tomorrow, Thursday, September 6th.

I hope to see everyone there!

In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen… 3 September, 2007

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Hip Hip Hooray for Rhyan, Mel, and Aaron!

“My Fair Lady” is the answer I was looking for.

I guess Rhyan gets a token in the bag for that one!

Bonus points go to the student (or parent!) who comes to me on the first day of school and tells me what classic movie the above line is from!!!! I like to teach the students to speak properly… that’s a clue.

There’s no news about school yet. I just posted this because I am home, bored, waiting for hurricane updates, sitting endlessly at my computer, and writing lesson plans. I’ve already burned through Sepember and October!

Again, keep checking back. I’ll post when I talk to Dixie.

Here comes Felix! 2 September, 2007

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Hi Everyone!

NO, WE ARE NOT STARTING SCHOOL TOMORROW, Monday, September 3rd, because we seem to be sitting at the end of a Category 3 bowling alley.

Keep checking back for updates.

This is getting frustrating! All my wonderful lesson plans are just sitting here, unused, begging me to tell them when they’ll reach those bright little minds…

Best Regards,
Teacher Jen

Hurricane Update! 22 August, 2007

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Hello Island Academy!

I hope this finds you all well in the wake of the storm! I have been here in San Pedro the whole time, at the Alliance Bank building, and all is well.

I thought you should all know that Ms. Dixie plans to hold student and parent orientation this Friday, August 24th, at 10am. Since the schoolyard is unsafe for students (the fence is down and there is a lot of debris in the yard) WE WILL NOT BE OPEN for the first day of school on Monday, as planned. We will begin next Monday, September 3rd.

School is Rapidly Approaching! 18 August, 2007

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Here is our Infant I school supply list for the 2007-2008 school year:

Student Items:
• 5 folders
• 3 hardcover journal-style notebooks or “composition books”
• scissors
• ruler, preferably with both inch and centimeter measurements
• markers- thin or thick line- your choice
• a small box of crayons
• watercolor paints
• a small calculator
• plastic drinking cup
• a smock or an old, oversize shirt for art class to stay in the student’s cubby all year
• and the #1 essential item for an organized student: a plastic pencil box, measuring about 5x8x3 inches. Please no soft plastic zipper cases.

Classroom Items *** these go into our classroom baskets for all students to use throughout the year ***
• 1 pack of yellow #2 pencils
• 2 pink erasers
• 2 container pencil sharpeners (the ones that hold the shavings inside)
• 3 large glue sticks
• 1 pack of photocopy paper
• construction paper, assorted sizes if possible

155 days later… 26 May, 2007

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and school is almost over. Where did the time go?


Do you have any? If so, please bring them in. Any size is welcome! We have lots of supplies to pack up for the summer and I could certainly use some boxes to make sure our things stay in order. Thanks!


As you can see, I sent the students home with what remains of their math textbooks. Leyla said to me, upon observing the almost-empty shell of her book: “Teacher, did this used to be heavy?” Yes it did sweetie, yes it did.

There are some pages in the back that I have titled “Summer Work” and assigned the kids for their academic stimulation in June, July, and August. Please, parents, do you best to make sure your children’s brains stay sharp over the summer.


This week we reviewed all the sound chunks that we worked on this year. T-i-o-n remains the favorite… I wonder why?

We also went back through all of our past poems (which I have on an easel, on large chart paper for full-group reading) and reviewed all the subjects we’ve covered. It was so much fun to see their little faces light up so brilliantly when one of their favorites was displayed on the easel! “Earthland”, “Colors”, and “I’m a Scientist” for example, brought hoots and hollers and wonderful reading and singing!

I will also send home a VERY IMPORTANT PAPER with our entire collection of Infant I and II sight words on them. Read more about sight words and why they’re important here: http://www.mrsperkins.com/dolch.htm


I like Mrs. Perkins’ website because you can download her Power Point presentation, and use it like sight-word flash cards right on your computer. PLEASE do this for your child over the summer, perhaps twice a week, so they can stay fresh and focused!

Warning: political statement to follow… Wouldn’t it be nice if we had computers at The Island Academy so the students could do this in class?


We finished our insects and the writing assignments that went with them… weren’t they wonderful? Who knew Styrofoam egg cartons could be sooooooo cute!


Ms. Carrie will be back to sell yearbooks on Wednesday morning after assembly. The cost is $60 and it is well worth it, as the books are fantastic and truly capture the spirit of our students!


Our annual beach day will be on Tuesday, May 29th. The students should come to school dressed in their beach wear at the usual time. We will go to Ramon’s Village Resort at 10:00. Your child can bring a pack lunch or purchase a lunch at Ramon’s for approximately $15. Please have them pack a water bottle. Because our children are young and adventurous, I encourage parents to come and help supervise, so please let me know if you are available to do so.

We are also asking students to bring beach toys and “floaty things” because Ms. Dixie has ruled that we not swim out too far, and we are not allowed to go out on the pier for safety reasons, of course. We will go back to school around 2:00. You can pick up your child from Ramon’s at 2:00 or from school at 3:00.


~Every student, at one point or another, this week: “Teacher, I don’t want to graduate, I want to stay with you forever!”