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Elementary News: January 28

posted Jan 27, 2011, 11:48 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 28, 2011, 4:06 AM ]

Dear Parents,

As I walk around the classrooms, there is a distinct work-like atmosphere that is all around. The students are into routines, new children have settled in, and as February approaches we often have new themes being introduced into the classes. Perhaps it’s a new Science unit, a different perspective on a Social Studies topic, the ever-developing Math concepts or refinements to reading, writing, speaking or listening skills. Not to mention all the growth from the specials the children attend. We can see the developments in the focal areas of reading, math and language usage through our MAP testing, which is approaching for Grades 2-8 in February. More below.

Other notes:

      1.  Faculty Professional Development: This afternoon, we are spending time working on our Social Studies and Math curriculum. We are looking especially at continuing to develop a balance of themes in the Elementary School, with regard Social Studies, and we are constantly looking for ways in which to draw links between different areas of the curriculum. This will involve discussions with the French, PE, Music and Art departments to find where they can add to the classroom work. With the Math, we are also looking at ways to strengthen the program.

      2.     Pre 3 Field Trip: I was a lucky parent on our Pre 3 field trip. We walked to Route de Ouakim to see the different vehicles moving up and down. We then returned to school and Jacques’ father let us look all over his car. This built on the children’s love of the book “Mr. Little’s Noisy car”. Finally, Ms. Marje showed us how she cycles to school! 

Pre 3 Field Trip

      3.     MAP Testing: We will begin our mid-year MAP testing program for children in Grades 2 - 8 on 7 – 17 February. I have included some background below for the benefit of new parents:

The MAP Test is Measures of Academic Progress and is created by the Northwest Evaluation Association. These tests determine your child’s instructional level and measure academic growth throughout the school year, and from year to year in the areas of math, reading and language.  This is our third year using these tests at ISD.  In addition to using our own assessments and report cards, ISD, like most schools, uses a standardized test to compare how our students are doing as compared to a larger pool of students.  The MAP test is especially useful to ISD as we receive the results within a week after the tests are complete.  Once we receive the test results, each parent will receive a test report. Students take these tests in three sessions, each lasting about an hour.  The tests are in reading, math, and language usage. 

MAP tests are unique in that they are adaptive tests your child takes on a computer. That means that the test becomes more difficult the more questions your child answered correctly. When your child incorrectly answered a question, the test became easier. Therefore, your child takes a test specifically created for his or her learning level.   We also receive very detailed reports on each student and each class, and this information is used for teachers to better tailor instruction to the needs of each child and each class, based on the reported areas of strength and weakness.

Please know that there is no need for your child to study in advance of these tests.  However, there area a few things you can do that will help your child be at his/her best when the test is taken:

·       Get a good night’s rest the night before the test.

·       Have a good breakfast before coming to school.

·       Help your child understand that he/she should not rush through the test.  It is not a timed test, and we know that students who take their time perform better on the tests than those who rush through it.

·       Relax.  This should not create any stress or anxiety for students.  It is not a “high-stakes” test by any means.  The purpose is for us to collect more data on your child and on our programs.

I will hold an informational meeting for any interested parents in early March, once we have received the data and you have received the results for your child.

      4.     Faculty Book Clubs: You may be interested to know of the three books the ISD faculty have been reading in Book Clubs. Each faculty member chose one of the following to read:

-        The Element by Ken Robinson

-        Educating for Global Citizenship by Boyd Roberts

-        A Biological Brain in a Cultural Classroom by Robert Sylwester

These books have stimulated lively discussions in our monthly book meetings. 

      5.     Back Playground & Pre 3 Playground After School: We have a Teaching Assistant on duty on the front sand playground until 4:00. However, there are often children playing with ropes, etc. on the back playground, or in the Pre 3 sand. As there is not a person there, this is not an area for after school play. In addition, the ropes and balls are only for recess use, not for after school. Children with an adult should be in the large sand playground, and if alone, they will be taken to the office to wait for pick-up. Thanks for your help with this.

      6.     Reading Buddies: Mr. Donauer and Ms. Linda’s Grade 3 and Pre 4 classes got together to share some books. The 3rd Graders had previously asked for their book choices, and Mr. D coached them on reading expressively. Here are some photos:      

Reading Buddies

      7.     Parentfurther.com: I just want to share a parenting web site that you might find interesting. Click here

      8.     Green Team: We have been working on sharing the word about what is “Green or not Green” on the ISD campus in our Green Team meetings. Most recently, we completed a bulletin board of our ideas. Next we’ll be trying to tackle the problem of after-lunch litter!

      9.     Board Elections in April: This is a heads-up to the year’s end when there will be board elections in April. It’ll be on us before you know it, so if you have experience on a school board, a valuable skill you might bring, enthusiasm and a little time, and want to be part of a team helping to constantly shape a school vision, please speak with a board member to express your interest.

      10.  4th Grade Trip to Gorée Island: Last week, a great time was had by the 4th Grade on a field trip combining French, History and Geography. Jasmeen and Celeste will cover this in detail in the Journal through a separate posting here.

      11. Book Month: This kicks-off on Tuesday, February 1 with an assembly, and children are requested to dress in their team colors if possible! More details on the month will follow from Ms. Siegel. 


Ian Clark


Ian Clark Ed.D.

Elementary School Principal

International School of Dakar