Standards Based Grading

Mr. Lyall's Line
As promised, I would like to take this time to explain Standards Based Grading.  This is a superior way of looking at students learning and assessing growth in very specific areas.  This attached article should help everyone understand what is taking place in our Kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms.  As always, if you would like further explanation, please feel free to contact me at school.  I will be speaking about this topic at the first PTO Meeting which will be September 18th at 7:00 P.M. in the school cafeteria.  I hope to see you there.
Additionally, I would like to say that our school year is off to a wonderful start.  Our softball teams are off to a 2 and 0 start.  Way to go Crusaders!  Keep-up the great work.

Four "R's" for a Successful School Year

I am very excited about the great turn-out to our Open House on Wednesday evening.  It is so wonderful for the students to have this excellent support.  It is also wonderful because this is the very reason, parental support, that we experience such excellent success.
We have long heard about the "3R's" and in our Catholic School, the special fourth "R": Religion.  Today I would like to offer you another "R" that can go a long way in preparing your children to learn.  This extra "R" stands for routines.  One of the most valuable things you can do is provide your children with a stable, nurturing environment.  Repetition and structure help children feel safe and secure.  Children, like the rest of us, handle the constant expectations and changes in life better if they occur in the context of a predictable routine.  Routines provide a sense of security and help children develop self-discipline, which is a very helpful skill throughout life.
What can you do?  As you and your family begin this new school year, give some careful thought to the routines you will establish for your children.  These routines need not be elaborate.  The key is to carry out whatever routines you choose predictably and regularly.  Here are a few to consider:
1. Morning routine:  Morning should start with an established wake-up time and include a healthy breakfast, time to get dressed, and a stress-free send-off to school.
2. Dinner routine:  Sit down to a family meal if at all possible.  The simple practice of eating a family meal together strengthens the family unit and provides an opportunity for family members to experience the support of one another.
3.  Homework routine:  Having a designated time and place for homework will emphasize its importance to your children.  Be sure to check your child's backpack and have your child pack it in the afternoon or evening for the next day.  This is not something you want to leave for morning.
4. Bedtime routine:  Establish a regular bedtime routine that may include a shower or bath for your child, a bedtime story, or an opportunity to talk about the day.  Older children will establish their own routines, but it is still important to give them a regular bedtime and stick to it.
A healthy, well-rested, and well-prepared child will enter school each day ready to learn.  Establishing daily routines allows you to provide the structure required to help children internalize constructive habits and be better prepared to learn. With blessings for a great school year!

WELCOME BACK!

Welcome back to school.  This year already promises to be one that is filled with great success and achievement in all areas of our educational program.  I hope your summer was everything you wanted it to be, and we are excited to see all of the students back at school ready to conquer the new year.  I am so proud of all of the students here at St. Pat's.  The combined efforts of our students have truly been remarkable over the past few years, and this year holds much anticipation for all the new challenges they will be presented.  I know the Holy Spirit will guide us through this year, as we place our trust in His hands.  Being at a Catholic school such as St. Pats has distinct advantages, prayer, receiving the Eucharist, and celebrating our faith truly will strengthen us as we move through this year.
This year all of us will see many changes within the curriculum, testing, and educational approach.  At St. Pat's, we have been preparing for these changes for the last five years and we are diligently implementing new strategies and curriculum for our students to be successful.  I know that many of you have heard about, and may have even read about the state's Common Core Initiative.  This is a mandatory change in all of our curriculum that will be a true benefit to our students.  Our teachers and I have been looking at all the new curriculum and educational materials for our students so that we have the best possible items for our students to be successful.  Much thought, time, and preparation went into this school year.  I fully expect our students, faculty, and staff to tackle these new changes with character as well as perform as strongly in the past.  To help you understand this initiative, I have attached a question and answer sheet overview of the common core.  Please read this as it provides some excellent information and can help you understand why this initiative has taken place.  As always, if you should have questions, please feel free to contact the teachers or me so we can help you understand.
I will be taking time to write about, as well as offer, informational meetings throughout this school year to help provide accurate information for you.  Our first meeting will be Wednesday, August 28th, at 6:30, Back to School night.  I know the calendar says that Back to School night is Thursday the 29th, but it has become necessary to change the date as Kingman High School will be having their "soap scrimmage" for fall sports on the 29th.  Please make this a priority to attend Back to School night as the children look forward to sharing a day in their life at school with you as well as show you what they can do or have done so far in their classroom.  I hope to see each of you on this evening.
May God continue to abundantly bless all that we do.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Another Year Draws to a Close

Well as we get ready to close another year I can't help but be proud of all of the students and everyone associated with our school.  Another very productive year of learning has taken place.  Summer is a great time to relax and have fun, but academic activities like reading, should be a part of our daily routine.  Reading is fun and a great way to relax by the pool.  Research shows that students who spend time reading for 20 minutes a day during summer retain 85% more of the information they learned in the previous school year.  That should be a huge incentive to spend some time with a good book.
Registration will be held July 22 and 23 this summer.  Please remember that we need to have current immunizations, sports physicals, and all paperwork by the time of registration.  Please plan accordingly for these important items.  We will offer sports physicals during registration.  We will let you know the specific date as soon as it is available.  If you need a list of what immunizations are necessary, please contact the school office, and Pam will gladly let you know.
The uniform exchange will also be available during registration.  Just a warning, we did not have a lot of girls jumpers last year and ran low on the small skirts as well.  Parker uniform will also be available.  Currently they are having a pre-summer sale, so you may want to check that out.
We hope to see all of you on the 21st for field day and the Hot dog lunch.  I know the students really appreciate having everyone here to help them celebrate the close of the school year.  It is a lot of fun as well.  The 21st is a 12:30 dismissal, and students may leave with their parents after lunch.

I am looking forward to next year with all of the exciting changes that we have in store.  Standard based grading as well as a full implementation for the Common Core Curriculum are two things we should be looking forward to next year.  I am so proud of everyone here, and look forward to an even more success in the years to come.  St Patrick Catholic School is the best.  Thank to each and every person who makes daily sacrifices for our students, teachers, and myself.  We truly are a special community who cares about kids.

May God continue to abundantly bless all of us.  Enjoy your summer...don't forget to read.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Whirlwind of Activities

Mr. Lyall's Line
I know that I have been commenting on the weather a lot lately, but now I am told that spring is finally here. I have been eagerly awaiting the warmer weather so I can get in my yard and plant flowers and spruce up the outside of the house.  The colder temperatures has put everyone behind, and also increased the amount of illness we are seeing at school.  Strep throat, sinus infections, and ear infections seem to be spreading like wild fire.  Having a jacket in the morning and still washing those hands frequently are two good tips for everyone, even though the warmer temperatures are upon us. We still have some testing from the diocese to finish, and now is not the time any of us can afford to be sick.  Many field trips are planned for these final weeks, and being sick would surely be a downer for any student who has earned such a trip from school.  Eating a good breakfast and getting plenty of rest are still tried and true methods to prevent getting sick.
In other news, our track athletes are wrapping up a very successful season.  Many of our students placed in all of their meets this season.  The weather has really messed with the schedule, but our athletes do not seem to be phased.  The newspaper has done a great job of posting results information and we have been proudly hanging the results in the office window.  Some of our athletes are even setting records in their particular events.  We are very proud of you Crusaders.  You truly represent us well.
We have been enjoying World Week Activities all this week.  Our students have basically created multiple activities in their individual classrooms representing different countries and cultures.  we had a chance to "travel" from room to room to learn all about these cultures.  It was quite fun and we sure did learn a lot.  Ask your student what they learned this week in their "world travels."
I am looking forward to all the great activities next week .  Happy May!
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

School Year Coming to an End

Well May has arrived, and as predicted, the Spring weather has not completely come to our part of the world.  We have had a few beautiful days, and we are blessed to have opportunities to enjoy them.
With the arrival of May we have many classes participating in field trips.  It is always good to send a jacket and sun screen with the students for these events.  Both items could become very handy with this unpredictable weather we have been experiencing.  Also, we want to say thank you to every parent who takes the time to drive for one of these events.  We could not do it without you.
Our students will be taking the Religion Assessment all of next week and the next.  This marks our final tests for the year, and we certainly want to be prepared.  This is not the time to take a "mental" vacation as much is still expected in this month.  Keeping to the routine both at home and at school will pay huge dividends in the coming weeks.  Just keeping that focus will be a large help for every student.
On May 10th our students will be once again attending a movie in the afternoon at the Kingman Theater.  We have not fully decided on which movie we will see, but as soon as we do, we will send home permission slips for this earned event.  We will once again walk to the theater.  This is always a nice afternoon for every student.
Congratulations to Katie Harbert.  Katie wrote an Essay for the Citizen's Bank Essay Contest and won.  We are proud of you Katie.  Keep up the excellent work.
Eighth grade graduation? Promotion will be May 16th at 7:00 P.M.  I know the eighth graders are looking forward to this big day.  Please mark your calendars to help us celebrate this milestone in these students lives.
I will continue to pray for rain, but mixed with a little sunshine and some warmer weather as well.  Happy Spring.
With You in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Spring is Here?

Mr. Lyall's Line

It sure does not feel like spring right now, but the calendar does indicate it is that time of the year.  Spring is always a time of renewal.  We at St. Pats are always excited for Spring because of all the milestones that we have reached.  Testing will officially end the second week of May with the Religion tests in third through eighth grade.  This is always a happy day.  Our students, as usual, have performed well above average on all of the assessments.  I am so proud of all of the teachers and students.  We truly have one of the finest schools in the state.
Spring also brings to mind the next school year.  I am proud to report that everyone has preregistered for next school year, and we look forward to serving all of you again.  Additionally we will be adding a few new students.  One family from Harper, the Kileys' is sending us five new students.  This is truly great news.  Keep spreading the good news about our school, as many people are inquiring about attending our school.  Our preschool is completely full and we have a waiting list for next year.  All positive things.  I love spring!
In other news I was very impressed to see in the paper how well our 7th and 8th grade girls and boys track athletes are doing this year.  The weather may have played havoc with the schedule, but our students have performed at the top of their game in the meets that they have participated in.  I am very impressed!  Keep up the good work Crusaders.
Lastly, with spring, sometimes we get an attitude that school is "technically" over, and this could be dangerous, as many last minute lessons and details as well as educational trips are being planned.  Continue to strive for excellence, get plenty of rest, and reap all the benefits of the last weeks of school.  We truly do have plenty to look forward to even though it is Spring.
Happy Spring everyone.  May God continue to abundantly bless all of us!
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Year Is Winding Down

It is hard to believe that April is already half over and May is fast approaching.  The weather sure does not indicate this, but soon we will be thinking about summer.  Because of the temperature, please make sure students have a jacket to go outside for recess.  It has been very chilly outside, particularly in the morning, and a jacket is a must when the temperature is in the 40's.
I would also like to congratulate our second graders on receiving their first Holy Communion on Sunday.  This is a huge milestone and we are proud of every one of them for completing this accomplishment.  It is wonderful to see students so excited to fully participate in the mass.  Way to go second graders, keep up the good work.
Some people have inquired about the school Tool Boxes for next year.  This information will be coming soon via e-mail and e-mail ordering to save time and money.  Dana Weninger is diligently preparing this information.  More details will be presented as soon as they are available.
Because of all of our success with the St. Pat's Dinner, our students have earned an ice cream party on April 26th.  This will take place in the afternoon around 2:00 o'clock.  Additonally, the students have earned a movie as well.  This will be on Friday May 10th.  Selection of the movie has yet to be made, but we are searching for a nice option.  Way to go Crusaders, we certainly are proud of all that you have accomplished for our school this year.
We still have a few weeks left of the Easter season.  May God continue to bless all of us during this glorious season.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Cooperative Agreement with USD#331 to include basketball

Dear Parents,
As many of you may have heard by now, our school council, Father Ben and I have been reassessing our participation status in the Valley Nine Athletic League.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this situation, we participate in softball and basketball within this league as well as a music competition, art competition and a spelling bee.  This league consisted of nine schools that offered multiple opportunities for participation and competition in these events.  In recent years a number of schools have withdrawn, closed, or moved to a different league leaving only four schools to compete with in these events.  It has proven to be an increasing challenge to find enough games for our student to fully participate in a complete season.  We have been supplementing the league games for the last three years.  
In football, volleyball, track, and band, we have a cooperative agreement with USD 331 that allows our students to participate fully with their middle school students in these particular activities.  When the opportunity recently presented itself to include basketball and cheerleading within this agreement, it seemed like a logical choice to seriously consider our options.  After the school council considered all of the benefits and choices, it was decided by a unanimous vote from the council, to extend our agreement with USD 331 to include basketball and cheerleading.
This is a very positive decision based on benefits for our student athletes.  We hope to continue to participate in the Valley Nine with the other events, including softball, music and art.  There is a true value in our students participating together as they will be participating together at the high school level.  Since basketball was the only sport that we were still separated, now with the new agreement both schools are united for the benefit of our community.  It is our hope that this extension offers our students the best of every aspect of their education, and we are excited to begin this new venture and look forward to the unseen benefits to our students and community.  In particular we look forward to the opportunities of playing multiple games at many levels.
If you should have questions or concerns, Father and I, as well as school council members would be happy to assist you.  Please do not hesitate to contact any one of us.  Please support us by being positive about this change with your students and one another.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Spring Happenings

Happy Easter to everyone.  On Tuesday, April 2, our school was honored and recognized once again at the State Capitol on the House of Representatives floor.  Our representatives, Joe Seiwert and Jack Thimesch honored our school's accomplishments and presented us with two framed certificates praising our academic and diocesan awards. The representatives were very complimentary of our school and the house gave us a standing ovation.  Additionally we were honored to meet and have our picture taken with our Governor, Sam Brownback,  in his office.  This truly was a fantastic day, and I am so proud of everyone of our students.  We are truly blessed.  Pictures of this occasion are included in this edition of the Post.  Thank you to everyone for giving so much to our success and sharing your students with us.  These honors are wonderful, and our students, teachers, parents, and community deserve a huge pat on the back.  I am honored to be a part of this school.
Please be reminded to complete and turn-in preregistration paperwork as soon as possible.  We need this information to plan for next year.  I appreciate everyone's attention to this matter.  
State and Diocesan assessments are still underway.  Please make sure that you continue to support your students as we finish these assessments.  I am very encouraged by the preliminary results of the exams we have completed and am truly pleased to see our students performing so well.  Keeping our focus will ensure even greater results on the tests to come.
Track season is upon us.  Good luck Crusaders, we are proud of you.  I know it does not feel like track season right now, but soon it will.  Don't forget the sun screen at practice and at meets.
May this Easter find all of you may blessings and continued success.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Easter

In the Greek Church Holy Week bears the solemn title the "Sacred and Great Week." In the Latin Church the official term is the "Greater Week." The popular names are "Great Week" among the Slavic nations, and "Holy Week" in other countries. The German name Karwoche means "Week of Mourning." In ancient times Holy Week was also called "Week of Remission," since the public sinners were absolved on Maundy Thursday. Another name was "Laborious Week" because of the increased burden of penance and fasting. The faithful of the Eastern Churches also call it the "Week of Salvation."
OBSERVANCE — From the very beginning of Christianity it has always been devoted to a special commemoration of Christ's Passion and death through the practice of meditation, prayer, fasting, and penance. After the great persecutions, the Christian emperors of both the East and West Roman Empires issued various decrees forbidding not only amusements and games, but also regular work in trade, business, professions, and courts. The sacred days were to be spent free from worldly occupations, entirely devoted to religious exercises. Every year during Holy Week an imperial edict granted pardon to a majority of those detained in prison; in the courts many charges were withdrawn in honor of Christ's Passion.
Following this custom, kings and rulers in medieval days retired from all secular business during Holy Week to spend the time in recollection and prayer, often within the seclusion of a monastery. Farmers set aside their plows, artisans their tools, schools and government offices closed, and courts did not sit. Popular feeling caused the banning not only of music, dancing, and secular singing but also of hunting and any other kind of sport. It was truly a "quiet" and "holy" week even in public life.
The Sacred Triduum of Holy Week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) was a time of holy day obligation all through the Middle Ages. The Christian people, freed from servile work, were all present at the impressive ceremonies of these days. Due to the changed conditions of social life, however, Pope Urban VIII, in 1642, rescinded this obligation. Since then the last three days of Holy Week have been classified as working days, despite the sacred and important character they bear, which was powerfully stressed by the renewal of the liturgical order of Holy Week in 1955.
EASTER CLEANING — According to an ancient tradition, the three days after Palm Sunday are devoted in many countries to a thorough cleaning of the house, the most vigorous of the whole year. Carpets, couches, armchairs, and mattresses are carried into the open and every speck of dust beaten out of them. Women scrub and wax floors and furniture, change curtains, wash windows; the home is buzzing with activity. No time is wasted on the usual kitchen work; the meals are very casual and light. On Wednesday night everything has to be back in place, glossy and shining, ready for the great feast. In Poland and other Slavic countries people also decorate their homes with green plants and artificial flowers made of colored paper carrying out ancient designs.
This traditional spring cleaning is, of course, to make the home as neat as possible for the greatest holidays of the year, a custom taken over from the ancient Jewish practice of a ritual cleansing and sweeping of the whole house as prescribed in preparation for the Feast of Passover.
May your Easter be filled with much joy and many blessings!

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Spring Fever

We already find ourselves getting ready for spring break, which means Easter is right around the corner.  Time certainly flies by.  Before we know it we will be celebrating with the second graders as they receive their First Communion and preparing to promote our eighth graders.  We are truly blessed to be able to enjoy these milestones with such wonderful students, parents, and teachers.  With these reminders we must also focus on next year.  Please return the preregistration forms as soon as possible.  It is very important that we have actual numbers before we order items for next year.  Currently our pre-school, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten are very full.  If you have not completed the necessary paperwork and contacted us about attendance, you need to do so immediately so we can accommodate you and your child.
On Wednesday our third through eighth graders got to celebrate the Diocese of Wichita's 125th Anniversary.  Three of our students were selected to represent all of us at the celebration by carrying our banner into the celebration.  This was a huge day for all of us and filled with much praise and worship as well as happiness and celebration.  We all got to celebrate mass, have a picnic lunch, and  see the many reasons we are blessed to be a part of this outstanding diocese.  It was an awesome day.
It is not too late to request a conference with you child's teacher for Friday.  Please contact the teacher and schedule a time for Friday.  Communication is the secret to success with every student.  Collaboration between teachers and parents does so much to bolster confidence and improve learning.  Thank you for taking the time to benefit your children.
The St. Pat's Dinner was a giant success again this year.  I do not recall a year where I have seen so many people at once.  It was fantastic!  The food was fantastic, the conversation was enjoyable, and the effort on behalf our our school and parish was incredible.  Thank you to each and every person who invests so much of their time, talents, and treasures to make this event so overwhelmingly successful.  I believe we truly are blessed.
Please enjoy your spring break and I pray you will all continue to  receive Lenten blessings.  Be safe.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

March Thoughts

March has definitely arrived and we are moving quickly toward many milestones for this year.  We are in the heart of our State Testing, so please remember that a good breakfast, plenty of rest, and being here at school are imperative at this time of year.  Missing these exams are difficult to make-up, but cause much stress for the students.  Remember that when a student is gone the most important thing that they missed was instruction.  Additionally we are in the middle of pre-registration, preschool registration and kindergarten registration.  In fact we completed kindergarten screening this Thursday and Friday.  We have very few pre-school openings left, so if you need to register or know someone that does, they need to contact the office as soon as possible so we can assist them with this process.  It is very important that we receive the preregistration information as soon as possible as this allows us to form budgets and plan for the next school year.  Please complete this paperwork and return it to school as soon as possible.
On Tuesday, our school hosted the Valley Nine Music Festival.  It was a very nice day filled with beautiful music from all the schools that attended.  I am very happy that we got to host this event again this year.  Hopefully in the future we can continue to host this event.
Track officially started on March the 7th with a meeting a Kingman Middle school.  The first practice is after school on Monday Mach 11th at the middle school.  Good luck to all our 7th and 8th grade participants.  The track schedule of all the meets, locations and times is available on the school website.
Congratulations to our second graders who made their First Reconciliation last Sunday.  I am very proud of each of them.  I am certain they are excited for their First Communion which will be April 21.  Please continue to pray for these students in their preparation to receive and fully participate in these sacraments.
I pray that your  Lenten experience is everything you hoped it would be.  I am certain that our Lenten prayer, fasting, and alms giving truly benefits everyone in our community and life.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

SNOW DAYS

Mr. Lyall's Line
Well I am very happy to be back at school again.  I am also happy that the School Reach system worked very well in communicating with all of you, and that we are all safe and have weathered the pounding  we received from Winter Storm Rocky.  School Reach is a very effective way to communicate with all of you in a moments notice.  It is imperative that if you switch your phone number that you let the office know as soon as possible.  We can only communicate with you through the numbers you have provided, so it is important for you to let us know of any changes.  This storm produced a record amount of snow in a short amount of time and I am proud of the way our school district and administrative teams responded to all of the snow during these past two weeks.  With all of this in mind, I want to assure you that the four days we took  will not interfere with Spring Break or even the end of the school year.  I have carefully calculated our calendar and we are well within our limits. This does not mean that we can take off time anytime, it simply means we are fine with our hours and days for this sort of emergency.  Thank you for all the cooperation, and put your mind at ease that we will not have to make up the necessary time we took during this storm.
Have a great weekend.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

State Assessments Begin

On February 13th we will once again begin our State Assessment Tests.  Here is something that I think all of will find useful in preparing students to take these tests.  It is written from a teachers perspective, but I really feel there is some useful information for parents as well.  I often get asked by parents how they can help, well here is some sure-fire methodology.

Let's face it, standardized tests are a fact of life. They remain a mainstay in most districts largely because of the comparative information they provide - information that too often is used alone to judge school, classroom, and individual performance. Ideally, standardized tests would be only one part of the overall assessment system. But until that day, we must make sure our students have the skills they need to ace standardized tests.

Preparing kids for tests doesn't have to mean drills. In our work, we make explicit connections between good test-taking practices and good general-learning practices. Here, we share some of the strategies and ideas that have grown out of our efforts. In this article you'll find:

*  Reading Strategies                *  Math Strategies
*  Format Fundamentals            *  Six Ways to Ease Test Stress

Three Surefire Strategies for Reading Comprehension--
A language-rich classroom, where students engage in regular guided and independent reading, is the ideal context for developing the skills needed to perform well on standardized tests. The following ideas work well every day, but they also come in handy at test time.

1. Encourage Purposeful Reading
We constantly emphasize reading for purpose. We want our students to know why they're reading what they're reading - for pleasure? to find information? -- and to tailor their reading strategies accordingly.
We want students to be purposeful readers of standardized tests, too. To accomplish that, we don't mince words. We tell students that the reason they are reading passages is to answer questions so that they can perform well on the test. As such, students should know as much as possible about the questions prior to reading the passage.
Teaching Tip: On practice tests, encourage students to read, or at least skim, the questions before they read the passage. Then, while reading the passage, they should keep those questions in mind and underline words and phrases that might help them home in on the correct answer.

2. Cover All Kinds of Questions
To prepare students for the kinds of items they'll see on the test, we ask them a variety of questions about their reading. Our questions are meant to enhance comprehension and promote a range of interpretations -- literal, inferential, personal, and so on.
However, just asking the right kinds of questions isn't enough; it's important to explain them as well. Acclaimed educator Taffy Raphael suggests teaching these question-and-answer relationships that are common in standardized reading tests.
"Right There" Questions: The answer to these questions is right there in the passage. To find it, students recall information from or refer back to one place in the passage. Example: "Who gave John the dog?"
"Think and Search" Questions: Students can also find the answer to these questions by using their memories or looking back at the passage. However, the answer is usually in more than one place. Students need to assemble information for the answer. Example: "What was the same about every dog in the story?"
"Author and You" Questions: These questions are often the toughest because they can't be answered just by reading the passage. Students need to use what they already know, plus what they learn from the passage, to answer. Example: "How did John probably feel when he found the dog?"
Teaching Tip: You can build awareness of these questions by having students use different colored pens on practice tests. Students should circle” Right There” questions in green. Green means go directly to the passage to find the answer.
Think and Search questions in yellow. Yellow means use caution - look in more than one place to find the answer.
Author and You questions in red. Red means stop and think about what the passage says and what you already know before you answer.
3. Teach Text Structure
Lessons on story organization, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and other text structures are important parts of both literacy training and test preparation.
Many test passages are written in a standard format; understanding that format will give students a leg up in reading passages and locating answers. You've probably seen slow test takers who, for each question, reread a passage from the beginning until they come across an answer. Students need to be more efficient than that.
Teaching Tip: After reading a story passage with a clear beginning, middle, and end, have students guess which parts will contain the answers to comprehension questions. Help students see the following patterns:
Answers about when and where the story takes place are often found at the beginning.
Answers about a problem in the story are usually found in the middle.
Answers about how the problem was resolved are frequently found at the end.
Knowing where to look will save students valuable time.

Four Tried-and-True Tactics for Math Math test items assess students' computation and measurement skills, number sense, and ability to reason. In addition, problem-solving items ask students to apply skills in context. A math curriculum that emphasizes investigations, higher-order thinking, and conceptual development lays a strong foundation for learning in general and preparing for tests in particular.
1. Make Word Problems a Priority
Students generally have difficulty applying their existing skills effectively in new contexts, such as standardized tests. This problem may be due, in part, to the fact that those skills were initially learned in isolation. The solution lies in breaking the end-of-chapter-exercises mind-set and integrating word problems creatively.
Teaching Tip: Weave word problems into your curriculum by having students look for quantifiable situations in the environment, literature, or current events. Then ask students to write word problems based on those situations. It's also important to familiarize students with testlike problems, so give them samples from old tests to solve, critique, and rewrite.

2. Stress Number Sense
Without number sense, students make errors because they have a hard time judging whether their answers are reasonable. Emphasizing number sense involves dealing with numbers in context, visualizing quantities, and recognizing the relationships between quantities - in other words, concepts common to standardized tests.
Teaching Tip: Investigations such as finding where, how, and in what context numbers are reported in the newspaper, or comparing the area of a tennis court to a football field, help students quantify their world and see the usefulness of numbers.

3. Focus on Estimation
Estimation is a real-life skill that pays off when it comes to tests. However, students sometimes fail to develop estimation skills because they're fixated on 100 percent accuracy. When asked to estimate an answer, we've seen students solve the problem exactly and then round their answers off to make it seem like an estimate!
Teaching Tip: You can develop estimation skills by giving "flash quizzes." Using an overhead projector, flash a math problem, such as 367 + 228, on the screen and have students estimate the answer without any written computations. Grade the quiz together by asking students to determine a reasonable range of estimates for each problem.

4. Emphasize Mental Math
Mental math involves tapping into students' natural way of doing mathematics. Research shows that children develop their own methods for problem solving, which may not always match how we teach. For example, children tend to solve double-column addition problems from left to right mentally, despite the fact that the traditional paper-and-pencil method requires them to work from right to left. Personal strategies like this exist for all operations.
Teaching Tip: By encouraging mental-math strategies, you'll be addressing tests' heavy emphasis on computation. Have students share their strategies with classmates; but remember, what works well for one student may not work for another.

Teaching Format Fundamentals
The mere sight of a bubble answer sheet sends shivers through most kids. These activities will orient them to the standard features of standardized tests.
Create a Bubble Graph: Begin each day with a typical math problem or reading question that you take from a practice test or write yourself. (We've found that students love seeing themselves in items.) Write the item on chart paper and place long rows of bubbles next to each answer. Create a "bubble graph" by asking each student to fill in the answer he or she thinks is correct. Refer to the graph when you review the problem.
Build-a-Test: Teachers Emily Hamilton and Jennifer Underhill of Boston have students make standardized reading tests for one another. After providing plenty of model tests, they ask students to select passages from favorite books, read them carefully, and develop a set of multiple-choice questions. When students are finished writing their tests, they administer them to one another. Test taking was never such fun!
Students can create their own math tests, too. In addition to word problems, assign "greater than/equal to" problems. Kids love writing items to stump their friends, such as "Which is more, two dozen or the number of hours in a day?"
Pass-Along Questions: For books they read during silent reading time, students can write comprehension questions or math problems on stick-on notes and affix them to the cover. The next child who reads the book answers the items and adds her own. For favorite books, the number of items grows quickly.

Six Tips for Nipping Test Stress in the Bud
1. Don't Skimp on Practice Tests: They are vital to helping students understand the mechanics of the tests. Call your test company to request samples.
2. Promote Positive Attitudes About Testing: When discussing tests with students, make three recommendations: Be serious, confident, and strategic.
3. Deal with Basic Roadblocks: Do your best to circumvent problems such as inadequate breakfast, lack of sleep, and chronic tardiness prior to testing week.
4. Plan a Fun Day-of-Test Activity: Avoid academic activities immediately before testing. Instead, try something less stressful, such as Simon Says.
5. Look Out for Daydreamers: Seat easily distracted students in cubicles and corners. Encourage them to stay on task by checking off each line they read.
6. Talk About Those Last Few Minutes: The final moments of a test period are valuable for checking work and guessing on remaining questions.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Catholic Schools Week

Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States.  During this week we focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contribution to the church, or community, and our nation.  We also honor those who contribute to our success--students, families, faculty and staff, volunteers, community supporters, and our local leaders.
The theme this year for this week was Catholic Schools---Raising the Standards.  Catholic Schools are noted for their academic excellence and their high moral standards.  This year's theme celebrates the constant attention Catholic educators pay to increasing the learning and faith development of all students.
St. Patrick Catholic School, as you know, is also participating in the nation wide initiative for all schools called, "The Common Core State Standards."  St. Pats has made many improvements over the last few years to meet these changing times and needs.  We are blessed that everyone has embraced these changes for the good of our students.
St. Patrick is a warm and inviting school.  We a community that is tight-knit and dynamic.  Fellow students become friends, teammates, and counselors, while teachers are always there to lend a helping hand both in and out of the classroom.
This weeks activities were a huge hit and helped highlight all of the wonderful things we do as a school, community , and parish.  Thank you for joining us in our celebration.  We certainly love that we have so many people that support all that we do, and rejoice  in the fact that we do this for the glory of God.
Here at St. Pat's we are "Raising the Standards" and are proud to offer an education that is distinctive among all educational institutions in the diocese and in our community.  We are excited to have the opportunity to share what  our students have accomplished and are continuously learning.  I am very proud of all that we represent and thank each of you for your tremendous contributions in our success.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Catholic Schools Week 2013

Mr. Lyall's Line
Catholic Schools Week reminds us that Catholic education has a long history in the Americas. Missionaries traveled with the explorers to the New World and taught the Gospel to the native inhabitants. In 1662 the Jesuits opened a school in New York City. In 1782, the first parochial school was founded at St. Mary’s Church in Philadelphia.

This year’s annual celebration of Catholic schools and their many gifts highlights the high standards maintained in Catholic education.  A Catholic school education helps students prepare to live their mission as Christ’s disciples.

Please, take some time during this week to say “thank you”.  Thank your teachers, your pastor and your parishioners for this tremendous blessing of a Catholic education that we enjoy here at St. Patrick Catholic School.  Let them know how much you appreciate their sacrifice of stewardship that makes all that we do here at St. Pat's possible.  We are the beneficiaries of the faithful who have come before us and believed in the value of a Catholic education.  Let us never forget or take it for granted.  

Wishing you all a fun-filled and meaningful Catholic Schools Week.
In Christ,
Mr. Lyall

FLU SEASON HAS ARRIVED

Mr. Lyall's Line
Wow, I can't believe that January is already half way over.  Time seems to be flying.  Soon we will be embarking on taking our state assessments and beginning Lent in February.  January and February always remind me that time is very important.  We need to take time to be prepared for all the responsibilities that are approaching quickly.  With January too, we find the need to bundle up warmly and be conscientious of illness.  The flu has arrived in Kingman County, and here are some tips to help all of us avoid this nasty bug.
If you’ve been watching the news, then you know that there has been an unbelievable rise in influenza cases recently. Maybe that’s to be expected during flu season, but when a virus kills dozens of people, including children, and overflows emergency rooms at hospitals across the country, you’ve got an epidemic on your hands.
At this point, the CDC believes that the scenario may have peaked, thanks in part to the holidays, when children gleefully stayed home instead of spreading the virus further at school. Even so, we’re not out of the woods quite yet.  Here are some tips:
1. Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
2. Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
3. Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
4. Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
6. Practice other good health habits.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

In Christ,
Mr. Lyall

New Year's Resolutions

Mr. Lyall's Line
January is a great time to reflect on the areas in our lives where we felt successful during the past year.  It is also a time to consider how to make changes in areas where we would like to improve.  Here are some tips to help students start the new year off on a positive note.
Get plenty of sleep.  Scientists have found that students who do not get enough sleep have difficulty paying attention in class and do not do as well in school.  The recommended amounts of sleep range from about 8.5 to 11 hours a night for elementary students.

Eat Healthy.  Eat more fruit, nuts, and vegetables.  Drink at least 8 (8 oz) glasses of water everyday.  Limit the amount of sodas and snack foods you eat.

Exercise your mind and your body daily.

Follow the Golden Rule - Treat others (children and adults) the way you would like to be treated.

Time + Effort= Achievement - Take the time to carefully complete all assignments at school and home; ask questions when you do not understand a task; demonstrate perseverance (that means keep trying - even when the work is difficult), and eliminate the word can't from your vocabulary.  Make it a goal to do your personal best at school every day.

Read, read, read - Success in school depends, in large part, on a student's ability to read and understand what they have read.  Students should read a variety of books, including folktales, poetry, biographies, fiction, and more.  Read to get information, read for fun, read to someone in your family...just read!

Attend school regularly and on time.

Write out a plan for success.  The plan may include getting better grades, making new friends, studying harder, staying out of trouble, etc.  Share your plan with someone who can help you reach your goal.

Have a fantastic new year!

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

First, I would like to sincerely thank you on behalf of our teachers, staff and myself for the generous outpouring of gifts and goodies. It is heartwarming to know that so many of you take time out of your busy Christmas schedule to think of us.  We truly appreciate your kindnesses.  

I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all us here at St. Patrick Catholic School to wish you and your family a happy and holy Christmas holiday. For those of you who are traveling, our prayers are with you for a safe and storm-free trip.  We hope that you all have the opportunity to slow down, relax and enjoy the company of family and friends this holiday season. After the events of the last week, we are reminded of how dear and valuable our friends and loved ones are to us.

We wish you a Christmas filled with the wonder of the birth of Christ, the warmth of the Holiday spirit and the love of family and friends. May you all have a Blessed Christmas and all the best in 2013!

In Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Mr. Bob Lyall