• May 2016 Newsletter

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  • May 2016 Newsletter



    Hopefully, the weather will soon change for the better and we will begin to finally enjoy the spring season!  The last two months of the school year are filled with many activities and events, so please review the “Dates to Remember” handout that is sent home with students and that is also posted on our Website.


    Grades close for the 35th Week Progress Report on Thursday, May 26th.  This progress report will be distributed to students on June 2nd.  Please review your child’s report carefully.  The school year is quickly coming to a close and students should be focusing on their class assignments and homework to ensure the best final grades possible.


    We would like to acknowledge the hard working members of our Home School Association (HSA) who devote so much of their time and energy to provide activities for our students.  The many events supported through your efforts are appreciated and are an important factor in creating a supportive school environment. 


    It is hoped that everyone enjoys the Memorial Day “weekend” this month but that you also take some time to remember those who sacrificed so much for our freedom.



    Mr. Clemens







    We are working hard in Kindergarten.  With only a little over a month left of school, we are actively preparing for our very first graduation.  We are visiting the church, practicing our songs and trying very hard to get ready for our big day.   While graduation is on the horizon, we are also preparing to move up to first grade!  At this point in the year we can write sentences on our own, read independently, know over 50 sight words and most importantly know how to act responsibly in school. 


    In math we are learning how to add and subtract numbers.  We are learning how to read, write and decompose equations.  In literacy we are learning, through various read aloud stories, how to clarify and ask questions as we listen and comprehend the text.  In writing we are working on writing a report on various non-fiction topics. In phonics we are continuing our study of long vowel sounds and determining whether a word uses a short or long sound.  We are having lots of fun in science as we learn about plants and animal life cycles.  In Social Studies we are learning about economics and how goods and services contribute to society.  It’s May so we our beginning our devotion to Mary.  We will learn how to say the rosary and practice our prayers daily.     


    Remember Graduation is on Thursday, June 16th at 9am at St. Mark Church.  Be sure to save the date!

    Grade 1

    First grade continues to bloom in May! We had a successful Laps for Love Catholic Charities drive and raised over $1,000. We had a wonderful visit from Bishop Malone and he graciously gave us a day off on Friday, May 6th. We are sad to say goodbye to our student teacher Miss Erdman but don't worry she'll be around subbing and monitoring our students in after school. She has been such a wonderful asset to our classroom.

    In math we are finishing graphing and moving on to three-dimensional shapes. Soon we will be reviewing and getting your child ready for second grade. Continue to practice facts up to 100 each day. Our Reflex math program can help in this area. In reading we are continuing to strengthen our reading skills. The children have all grown so much since September. In science we have a critter corner that is housing ladybugs, caterpillars, and praying mantises. Right now they are in their early stages of development and we observe them everyday for changes. In Social Studies we are doing map skills with north, south, east and west. Also, recognizing map symbols and landforms.

    Coming up this month:

    -        Book Fair May 5th

    -        Mass May 5th

    -        No school May 6th

    -        8th Grade Play May 19th

    -        Spring Concert for First Grade May 24th 6:30pm



    Grade 2


    The second grade students have already begun welcoming Spring! We are honored to have had the opportunity to attend Mass with Bishop Malone and we are excited for our upcoming “Bishop’s Holiday Day Off,” on May 6th.The students will be completing the Journey’s Reading program this month. The students will continue focusing on applying their phonetic knowledge when reading text in isolation and their own written work. They will continue to develop skills to strengthen their comprehension. In Mathematics, the students are beginning a unit of study on the meaning of even and odd numbers, the formation of equal groups, arrays and data inquiries. In Science, the students have wrapped up their study of Earth, Land and Water. They are now working toward developing their understanding that the continuity of life is sustained through reproduction and development. The students will begin to study the major stages in the life cycles of selected plants and animals. The Social Studies area of focus will be on economics and needs and wants. This month the students will be expected to complete one book report. The book report will be due Thursday, May 26th. Information regarding this book report will be coming home with the students shortly! We hope all of our mothers and grandmothers enjoy a very special Mother’s Day Holiday!


    Grade 3


    This May our 3rd Graders will be very busy!  We are so proud of all of our students, especially those who just made their first Holy Communion.  We feel so blessed that we could be a part of their day and watch them receive such a beautiful sacrament.  We look forward to celebrating and fully participating at our school masses with our students. 


    During the month of May both third grade classes will be reading novels.  Mrs. Strohmenger’s class will be reading Charlotte’s Web while Mrs. Zaidel’s class will be reading Chocolate Touch.  Both novels will help the students use all the comprehension strategies we learned this year while reading and discussing the novel with their peers.  Be sure to ask your student about the novel they are reading.


    In Math, we are going to begin an in-class project on area and perimeter.  The students will design a “flower garden” and need to find the area and perimeter of each section.  Once we have finished our projects, we will move on to geometry and then preparing for 4th grade.  Even though our state assessments are through, we are still working hard!


    In preparation for our June final exams, study guides will be coming home the week before Memorial Day.  Please be on the lookout for those as well as information on our end of the year field trip!


    Grade 4


    It’s hard to believe that May is upon us.  Interesting things have been happening in all subjects.  The protractor has proven to be an invaluable tool, as we have become proficient in measuring and drawing angles.  Social Studies classes engaged in lively debates as students took on the roles of either the Patriots or the Loyalists.  Magnetism and electricity are the recent focus of Science and assorted hands-on activities are bringing the topics to life!  As we progress through the year, our goal in Religion continues to be to not only understand each of the Ten Commandments, but to incorporate them into our daily lives.  We see how following God’s Laws improves our relationship with both Him and others.      


    Among the numerous exciting things planned for the remainder of fourth grade is the Wax Museum Project in Social Studies.  We hope you will be able to join us on Thursday, June 2nd at 1:00 when the gym becomes transformed into a living wax museum!



    Grade 5


    We cannot believe it is already the fourth quarter! We’ve had such a positively wonderful year so far! In Math, students are preparing for sixth grade! They are working with fractions, decimals, and percents. In Reading, students will begin to apply their acquired reading skills in leveled reading groups. In Writing, the fifth grade students came up with an idea of a school newspaper. They are working on publishing the first edition this month! In Social Studies, we are focused on post American Revolution life, and how our country was formed.  In science, students are learning about different ecosystems and how organisms interact. In Religion, we are learning about the Sacraments at the Service of Communion. The students are very thankful to Bishop Malone for our day off! Our students have really shown what is like to be a Saint Mark’s fifth grader! We are looking forward to finishing the year strong, and showing off our Lion Pride!


    Grade 6


    It’s MAY! The 6th graders have started their fourth and final quarter of the year. As we approach the end of the year, here are some things we will be working on:


    We are currently reading the novel The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. Told from the point of view of Hannah the novel explores family relationships and friendships as the main character travels from present day USA back in time to Poland in 1942. The students will navigate through many intense moments as the story unfolds while Hannah discovers why remembering is so very important to her present day family.


    We are so proud of all of our students who did their very best on the NYS tests last month.  We are working on our Unit on VERBS or PRONOUNS. As always we are striving to improve writing skills.

    Social Studies

    We have finished up our Unit on Ancient Rome, and will soon be exploring the Dark Ages that befell Western Europe after the fall of Rome. This unit is always a crowd pleaser, as we explore exciting topics such as feudalism and castle life, knighthood, and cathedral building.


    Our Earth Science classes have been focused on the theory of Plate Tectonics. As we continue to explore and understand plate boundaries, the students will begin to understand other topics such as volcano formation and earthquakes.


    The students have completed the chapters on Algebra. Students have learned to write and evaluate expressions and to write and solve equations and inequalities. They have moved on to Geometry and are learning to use formulas to calculate the area and the volume of geometric figures. We will finish the year with a Unit on Statistics.


    Continuing our study of the Old Testament, we are learning about events during the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon. We are studying the Books of Psalms and Proverbs and will conclude by interpreting the messages of several of the prophets. 

    Lionheart Reminder

    Thank you to all who have sent in donation money for the Lionheart class projects. If you haven’t sent this in, please do so as soon as possible.

    Earth Day 2016

    The students in Mrs. Kling’s class took to the streets and cleaned up garbage around the church and school last Friday. Some of our findings included water bottles, papers, and even a mug! The students really helped demonstrate their lion pride, and we are so very proud of them!


    Reading – Mrs. Betzig


    Reading is a complex process as there are several components to being an effective reader, including phonemic awareness, decoding (phonics), fluency, and comprehension.  These components work together to allow readers to make meaning from the text. It is very difficult to have any one without the others and so in reading support sessions we are working to strengthen each of these across all grade levels. 


    In Kindergarten we are strengthening our literacy foundation by learning the sounds that match the letters, blending three letter words, recognizing sight words, and tracking print from left to right. These are all skills that need to be reinforced each night during shared reading, phonics games, and even on the internet using learning websites and Raz-Kids. It is also critical to read to your child each night and think out loud and ask questions about your reading to build comprehension skills.


    In the primary grades (1-3) students may still be struggling decoding, or reading, the words, especially words with more than one syllable. We work on “word attack” skills to figure out the unknown word. These include chunking words into parts (syllables or little words), using pictures to figure out the word, and skipping the word and filling in the blank. Although we often want to help our children, telling your child the word when they are stuck does not allow them to practice these strategies.


    In all the grades (K-6) we are working on being careful or active readers by using engagement strategies including predicting, questioning, connecting, visualizing, inferring and summarizing. We have been using “thinking stems” to think about our reading. These include using phrases such as “I’m noticing” “I’m wondering” “I’m thinking” and then making a comment about the text. These strategies help students be effective readers who can make meaning and learn from the texts they read. All students should be reading nightly and practicing the skills they are taught. Have them use post-it notes to jot down their thinking about their reading. Remember, the most important thing is to make it fun! Find books that your child wants to read (at their reading level) and have family reading time. It is the perfect way to show your students that everyone can enjoy reading.






    MATH  - Mrs. LaLonde


    In Title I Math class, all grades continue to work on previously taught material utilizing Math Review Books, which support Common Core Curriculum and the standards.  Each lesson presents mixed concepts to ensure that multiple skills are reinforced. In Grade 1 we continue to write in our daily journals for practice with word problems.  We utilize “Touch Math” for addition and subtraction when needed.  “Touch Math” is helping many of the students by providing a manipulative for adding and subtracting.  Grade 2 continues to subtract with “borrowing” and adding with regrouping. In subtraction, the students first circle the big number and say, “Big, Bottom, Borrow”.  This is helping them recognize when borrowing is necessary.  We continually practice using “Touch Math” and are working on two-step word problems.  In Grade 3 we review what the teacher is working on in the classroom and have done additional work on time and money.  Multiplication and division need continuous support and students can use Reflex math at home to practice facts.  Grade 4 is working on division with two numbers in the divisor.  Grade 5 and 6 are working on finding the area and volume of different shapes.  We are also reviewing topics that have been taught in the classroom throughout the year with a focus on areas where the student needs extra support.


    7th and 8th Grade



    The Eighth Grade has wrapped up their fund raising activities for the year with much success. We want to thank everyone for all of your support .The students are now looking forward to all of the Eighth Grade traditions that they have dreamed about. The Seventh Grade luncheon that is given in honor of the Eighth Grade will be Friday, May 20th. This function is the beginning of the end of the year activities for the Eighth Grade. These next few weeks will be filled with so many fun and exciting memories. The end of the year field trip is on June 6th and the children are really looking forward to this very special day.


    Social Studies

    We have been busy in Eighth Grade Social Studies this past month discussing the Depression Era and the New Deal. We have moved along to the Civil Rights Movement and all that it encompasses. This month we will be discussing the Vietnam Era.



    Seventh Grade Social Studies classes have been learning about the westward expansion of the United States. We are discussing the makeup of the Northern and Southern states and this will led us into the Civil War Era. We are currently discussing the Age of Reform and all the concepts that are being challenged and created during this period of time.

    Happy spring!



    Our April Religious studies coordinated perfectly with the readings of Easter as we covered the story of the growth of the early Church as led by Saints Peter and Paul.  In May, we will examine the History of the Church during the Roman Persecutions and then through the Dark and Middle Ages and finally, the Church today.  Integrated within all of this history will be the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit and God’s constant call to us as faithful disciples.


    During April, the Seventh Grade curriculum focused on the Parables of Jesus and their message to us today.  We are now turning our attention to learning more about who Jesus is through His miracles.  Our studies will also focus on the Sacraments as Jesus’ healing presence in our world today as well as learning about the Eight Beatitudes and the values each Beatitude asks us to bring to our world today.


    Being May, the month the Church sets aside to honor Mary, we as a school family will begin every day by praying together a decade of the rosary.  Each morning, we will remember the needs of our families and in a special way, pray for peace in our world. 



    Earlier this year, students learned how to find the circumference  and area of circles as well as the area of composite figures. They also learned how to find measurements and area of scale drawings, and completed a scale drawing project where they created their own architectural "blue print" of a room. Now that NYS testing has come to an end, 7th graders are returning to their study of geometry. They know how to find the volume and surface area of rectangular prisms, triangular prisms and pyramids. They also know how to find the volume and surface area of composite figures. Next, 7th graders will learn about angles and angle relationships, including how to find missing measures of angles by writing and solving equations based on those relationships.


    8th Graders recently spent time learning some new formulas in geometry. They learned how to find the volume of cylinders, cones and spheres by applying the appropriate formulas. They also learned formulas to calculate the surface area of cylinders and cones. 8th graders applied their knowledge of these formulas and figures to calculate changes in dimensions of similar solids. 8th graders are now beginning their study of roots, including square and cube roots. They will apply this knowledge when they begin their study of the next upcoming topic, the Pythagorean Theorem.


    Algebra 1

    The students have just finished two intense chapters that dealt with quadratic equations.  They can now solve second degree equations by graphing (thank God for graphing calculators!), factoring, completing the square and by using the quadratic formula.  The students are then able to use these skills to calculate how high and how long a projectile, such as a football, will be in the air.  Our next unit of study will investigate work with square root functions and operations with radicals.  At the same time, we are beginning to review and prepare for our Algebra Regents Exam in June.   As we often say in class, “So much Math, so little time.”


    Life Science
    Students are being introduced to the concepts of heredity, Mendelian genetics and genetic engineering.  We will demonstrate codominance by using a hands-on, blood typing simulation to understand the ABO blood typing system.  In lab, students will also have the opportunity to work like true scientists extracting DNA from strawberries.  We will be finishing up our genetics unit with genetic engineering, cloning and examining some of the social issues that surround these topics. We will segue to body systems and finally finish the year with an overview of ecology.   



    Physical Science
    In class students have been working with chemical bonding and understanding the difference between ionic and covalent bonds.  Students have been using Lewis Dot structures to illustrate bonding concepts and naming conventions for each compound and molecule.  Next they will learn how to write and balance chemical equations.  We will finish the year with motion and force, simple machines and magnetism.

    In the lab, students have been completing National STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) challenges to improve their creative and critical thinking skills while working collaboratively.  It has been interesting watching and testing their engineering designs all in the name of doing science!



    Seventh and eighth graders soldiered through two weeks of state testing in April while outside winter played tug-of-war with spring. The students came out for the most part unscathed, and - believe it or not - eager to get back to their books. They were more excited, however, to open up the school's new Chromebooks, purchased with the help of generous parent donations. Given access to one-to-one technology outside the Computer Lab for the first time, they used the Chromebooks to peer-critique and collaborate on short essays in real-time.


    Despite this leap forward, their minds are still very often stuck in the past. The seventh graders are discovering that Tom Sawyer hasn't aged much in the last 140 years - they've found that his antics and aspirations are pretty close to their own. Though he's a relatable character, they've had to call on their vocabulary acquisitions skills every day, to parse and make sense of Mark Twain's challenging language, to catch all his hyperbole and irony. To help put the novel in its proper context, and to help draw out the racism laced through its pages, they'll hear next from Twain's contemporary, Frederick Douglass, and his famous speech "The Hypocrisy of American Slavery."


    Meanwhile the eighth grade are reading To Kill A Mockingbird as a coming-of-age story, and are learning the salient features of that genre, and to spot them when they appear in the novel. Successfully charting the trials and life lessons that mark Jem and Scout's growth through the book, they're now coming upon the heavier subject matter at its center: the issues of race, class, gender, and law knotted up in Tom Robinson's trial, and Maycomb's reaction to it. Having framed the novel from the beginning by reading selections from The Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and The Civil Rights Act of 1964, they'll now read Lyndon Johnson's speech on signing that bill, and reopen the discussion of abstract rights and concrete protections that kicked off the unit.






    This May in Music students grades 4-8 are working with guitars, xylophones, and Keyboards.  I have been using the xylophones as preparation for the keyboard.  The arrangement of notes on the instrument is based on the same model as the keyboard.  Though the guitar is my favorite instrument, the keyboard is the most important and versatile.  This is particularly true when it comes to explaining music theory.


    Our younger students will be in full concert mode.  The Spring concert, on May 24th, will be here before we know.  And the kids plan on being prepared.  I am very excited about the song selection and work that I have seen the students invest so far, it should be a great event.  See you there!


    Physical Education


    Spring is here!..............Well kind of J , at least it is trying to be. In class we have been having a lot of fun playing many different games and learning a plethora of new skills.


    The primary grades are learning about recycling, helping out in the community, and how to use our imagination. Many of the games that we are playing force the students to use their imaginations and cooperative skills in order to complete the tasks of our games. I try to make the students understand how important it is for them to be able to work together, and if they don’t work together or think things through then we will not be able to finish our games or move onto the next part.  Some of the names of the games we play are called Star Wars, Pac-Man, red light-green light tag, pinball, sock bonanza, and imagination land.


    We are also beginning to play t-ball. (We are using plastic bats and soft foam balls).  We are learning the proper way to throw, bat, and run the bases. We have also touched on learning the nine positions on the diamond.


    The upper grades are playing “super” baseball! We are using a gator skin ball and the game has some fun variations from a normal game of baseball. The kids are really having fun playing and are also learning how to throw, bat, and learning about some different situations that may occur in a real game of baseball or softball. Tagging up, lead offs, base on balls, and force outs are just a few of the things we are learning about.

    I look forward to seeing all of the kids every class and I hope that they look forward to coming to my class. It is always a lot of fun!


    Computers and Technology


    The chromebooks made their debut in many classrooms this month.  Students participated on online lessons and activities right from their desk.  The purchase of the chromebooks was made possible by the commitment of the Saint Mark School board, the dedication of the Home School association and the amazing generosity of our Saint Mark parents.  The students and staff using this technology are very grateful to all who helped make this happen.


    Eighth grade students have started a course in Java programming. Over 3 billion phones and 89% of desktops in the world run Java.  Students have the option to continue with an advanced course once the introductory course is complete.


    Fourth Graders completed a New York State travel brochure using Microsoft Publisher. Each child chose a tourism region and illustrated points of interest.  These excellent brochures will soon be on display in the hallways.

    Congratulations to Mrs. Zaidel’s 3rd graders.  They were the big winners of an ice cream party for answering over 33,000 questions using Reflex math.  All students in grades 1-5 have an account with Reflex.  This application runs from a PC or laptop and also is available from the App store and Google Play. In the current contest, one classroom has over 67,000 facts answered correctly.




    Honoring Nation Poetry month, the library has been celebrating poetry.  Students in grades K-6 have been learning about and listening to various types of poetry, such as Haiku, Cinquain, Diamante and Acrostic (to name a few!).  The intermediate grades have been writing cross curricular poems about events and places they have learned about in either science or social studies.  While the primary grades have centered on Earth and its beauty.  For the month of May we will shift our focus to life cycles, flowers and looking forward to summer.  Here are some great sites to explore at home!



    Also as a reminder, when late notices come home, please do not feel the need to immediately pay for the lost book.  Typically students just need the reminder of the title, and then it is found.  After a second notice I will highlight the fee if the book still hasn’t been located.  Any questions please send me an email!

    I will be sending home some summer reading activities and packets as we get closer to the end of the year.