Happy New Year

Welcome back to second semester, and Happy New Year!  I am very pleased to report a very good first semester and I am looking forward to all of the great things that await us in this semester at St. Patrick.  Did you know that even though we are back to school the Christmas season is still with us?  The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 6th). On the updated calendar — since Epiphany is celebrated on a Sunday — these days may be more or less. We have 19 days this year because the Christmas season extends until the feast of the Baptism of Christ and we need to include them all. The origin of the Twelve Days is complicated, and is related to differences in calendars, church traditions, and ways to observe this holy day in various cultures. In the Western church, Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the time the three Wise Men or Magi arrived to present gifts to the young Jesus. In some cultures Epiphany is observed as Three Kings Day, or simply the Day of the Kings. Even though December 25th is celebrated as Christmas in these cultures, Epiphany is often the day for giving gifts. In some places it is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
The Christmas carol comes from 16th-century Europe. But the 12 days are really only part of our Christmas observance, which also includes important feast days in honor of Stephen, the first martyr (December 26); John the evangelist (December 27); and the Holy Innocents, the infants slain by King Herod (December 28, Matt. 2:16-18). These are known as the comites Christi, "companions of Christ," because their lives gave unique witness to Jesus through martyrdom (Stephen and the Innocents) and the written word (John).
Other Christmas feasts include the Holy Family (Sunday after Christmas) and Mary, Mother of God (January 1). The liturgical season of Christmas ends with the feast of the Lord's Baptism (Sunday after Epiphany).
Unfortunately, like the 50 days of Easter joy that we often forget after a rigorous 40 days of Lenten fasting (notice which is longer!), our Christmas party often ends too early. But though we wait a bit to get our holy days going, they carry us far beyond the college football championships. So save some celebrating for all the other important feast days in the Christmas season. It is not too late to say Merry Christmas!
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Christmas Blessings

“Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men, I bring you good news of great joy to everyone.” These are the words the angels said over the hills outside of Bethlehem when they announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds tending sheep through the night. It was great news. A baby had been born and this baby was the demonstration of God’s love for us. That first Christmas is the reason we can live a life of purpose and significance. The baby in the manger was proof that God loved us, and that His love was deep enough to make a way for us to know Him.
Experiencing a meaningful Christmas is not in buying more gifts or decorating more elaborately. It is in putting Christ first, focusing on what matters most, and then sharing that with others. This Christmas celebration can be a time to pause and reflect on the love that God has for us, and then find a way to share that love with others.
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you would experience a meaningful season full of love and peace. My Christmas wish is that you come to a deeper knowledge of your mission in this life, as a member of God’s family, and a messenger of His Good News to others.
All of the faculty and staff at St. Patrick Catholic School would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! May the blessings and love of our Lord  prepare your heart to receive the greatest gift of all.
In Christ,
Mr. Lyall

The Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath
Beautiful and symbolic, the Advent Wreath reminds Christians of the deeper meaning of Christmas and stirs within the heart love, joy, peace and hope for our world. There are several theories about the origination of the Advent Wreath. Whether it began as a non-Christian tradition or whether it did not appear until the 19thcentury are discussions best left to historians. It really does not matter because the Advent Wreath has become a symbol of great significance to Christians.
Advent defined by Webster is the "arrival" or "coming" of something significant. For Christians, the birth of Christ and His later crucifixion were momentous events. As Christians, we celebrate His birthday, Christmas. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. For many Christians, part of the celebration of Advent is the beautiful Wreath.
Every part of the Advent Wreath is steeped in symbolism. Made of various evergreens that represent continuous life, the Wreath is also a reminder that with Christ, we have everlasting life. Each evergreen has its own specific meaning. The prickly leaves of holly serve as a reminder of the crown of thorns placed on Christ at the crucifixion. Using laurel represents victory over persecution. Pine cones used in decorating the Wreath signifies life and resurrection. Of course, the circular shape of the wreath symbolizes eternity and enduring life.
Four candles adorn the Advent Wreath. Most Advent Wreaths are made with three purple candles and one pink candle. Many modern Wreaths include a larger white candle in the center of the wreath which represents Christ. The four outer candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Each Sunday, an outer candle is lit. On Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, the middle candle or Christ candle is lit. According to historians, in the early years of the church, each candle in the Wreath was given a name. The outer candles were hope, peace, love and joy and the center candle, the Christ.
Through the years, the Advent Wreath has become a family tradition for many Christians.  This is a wonderful family tradition you can begin. The beautiful memories you make with your children will last forever. As adults, they will want to continue this wonderful tradition.

ADVENT- WEEK 1 REFLECTION

Reflections of Advent-Week 1
“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” With these words, Pope Francis penned his first major teaching “on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world.” In this time of Advent, God invites us to share that joy: “Those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.”
Advent is a time of waiting, but also of hope. It is a time of great expectation, as the coming of the Lord into history, but also a time of great joy at the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is a time of great changes, in nature and in history – “the great reversal of all things,” “a new ordering of all things on earth,” a time of shalom when justice, peace, and the integrity of creation shall reign.

The readings from the first Sunday of Advent speak to the joy of this time of new beginnings, a time filled with the joy of salvation, the birth of Jesus Christ, and the coming of God into our history.
The world into which Jesus was born is not too terribly different from our own. Then, as now, the world was torn asunder by violence, deeply divided by injustice, creation itself was rocked by “wars and rumors of wars” and devastating earthquakes and natural disasters.
The readings invite us to “pray for peace!” but such a peace requires that we be vigilant: “You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.” Above all, we must renounce the instruments of war and war itself and become instruments of peace and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

As one of the martyrs of our time, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, reminds us: “If we want to be part of these events, Advent and Christmas, we cannot just sit there like a theater audience and enjoy all the lovely pictures. Instead, we ourselves will be caught up in this action, this reversal of all things; we must become actors on this stage.”

Scott Wright

Mr. Lyall's Line

During his presidency, Bill Clinton once remarked that running a country was a lot like running a cemetery: you have a lot ofpeople under you and nobody is listening. His remark seems to suggest that being a leader is a little more difficult than it might appear to be. The leadership role of parents in their family situation is likewise more difficult than it appears to be. The degree of difficulty depends somewhat on the style of leadership we choose to use and our reason for choosing that particular style. If we choose to use an autocratic style, where we totally dominate and use the benefit of our adulthood to impose our will on our children, then, we will be in for a power struggle and will have to use threats, fear and punishment to achieve what we want. Unfortunately, our children will probably feel unsafe, unloved and mistrusting of us. Our very strict rules and suffocating structures will cause our children to yearn for freedom, to be rid of us and our heavy-handed style of parenting. If we choose the opposite extreme and choose to use a permissive style and choose to be physically or emotionally absent, don’t set limits, be afraid to say “no” and never hold our children accountable, then, we will reign over chaos. Our children will think they have the right to do anything they like and, because they don’t respect us, they won’t respect other forms of authority. Unfortunately, our children will probably be perplexed by life, lack motivation to achieve because they have never known structure in their lives, and will find themselves easy prey for people who do not have their best interests at heart; they too, will live in fear and feel unloved. If we choose to be in the middle of these two styles, we will be choosing an authoritative-democratic style. This style is based on respect, love and trust, where positive communication and cooperation are enjoyed on a daily basis. Our children will probably feel safe, loved and accepted yet free to be who they are. If we are pro-active and foresee problems before they can fully emerge, if we can welcome opinions and offer choices while not guaranteeing that our children will always get what they want, then, our children will be confident, able to think for themselves and able to make decisions that have a positive outcome. If our leadership has a confidence about it, it will inspire our children to take up the leadership role in their own lives.
Our leadership style is of vital importance to our children because, for better or worse, parenting styles tend to repeat from one generation to the next. The good news is that everyone has the capacity to develop good parenting skills and to be aware not to repeat patterns that expose children to negative and destructive experiences. Our children will feel loved and secure, if the way we go about living our lives and engaging with our children is in a positive, friendly yet firm manner. Our children will sense a comfortable and uplifting atmosphere and environment that allows them to be relaxed and optimistic about life. Our children might even agree with the comment, “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t even hear what you are saying.” Author unknown.
“Jesus, our leader, with the guidance of the Spirit within us, may we bring a spirit of joy, generosity and enthusiasm to the leadership role we have as parents. May our children learn about you by the way we lead our lives. Amen.”
Peace and Best Wishes,
Mr. Lyall

November-A Month for Gratitude

November seems to be traveling by very quickly.  Next week, on Friday, we will already be dismissing for Thanksgiving break.  Thanksgiving always makes me think about what my blessing are.  I am thankful for many things, including everyone here at St. Pats.  I did a little research, and found that if we are “more” thankful we may even be healthier.  Where do I sign up?

Grateful? Write it down. Think about it. Talk about it. 'Tis the season of thanking, and not only will you spread those positive vibrations to those around you, your health will benefit, too.

For those who tend to be more Grinch-ish than grateful, there's some hard evidence that might make you want to turn that frown upside down. A positive outlook and feelings of thankfulness can have a direct and beneficial effect on the brain and body.

People with a strong sense of gratitude, love and appreciation don't necessarily have more than others; they aren't "luckier". They simply recognize and see more beauty in their lives. A 2003 study suggests that people who count their blessings are generally happier and healthier than people who don't.   If you ever feel as if anything in your life isn't "enough", try practicing an attitude of thankfulness. You might realize how good you have it after all.

I truly am thankful for everyone involved in all that we do at our school.  The people of this community truly put the needs of others first.  I am happy to be a small part of that.  Our students, parents, teachers, and parishioners work together to make our church and school what it has become.  Thank you for all that you do.

With you in Christ,

Mr. Lyall

Mr. Lyall's Line

With All Saints Day in the distance past, I thought I would tell you about a couple of ordinary people who became Saints. Ever thought of being a saint? No? Not for you? Probably, two people who were declared as saints in 2010 never thought of being saints either. The two people were St. Mary Mackillop, declared on 17th October and St Damian de Veuster, more easily recognized as Father Damian of Molokai, on 10th October. Though they led vastly different lives, they both had uncommon kindness and both were examples to us not to forget those people who are the “forgettables” in our world.

The saints are always calling us back to our Christian roots. They are real human beings like us with their own personal problems but who battle on to achieve extraordinary deeds. Because of this, we should not leave them as lifeless statues or stained-glass windows and excuse ourselves from our responsibilities to other people on the pretext that we aren’t perfect. The very fact that they are human like us is a reminder to us of our responsibilities even if we are flawed and imperfect persons. The following two observations highlight the “ordinary person” of St Mary Mackillop: We want our saints to be inspiring but to understand the pathways we walk. Mary is a model of human possibility and she worked with what she had available to her and made things happen in a practical, humanly sensitive way.

The real Mary Mackillop was, in her youth, a rather photogenic, nice nun who grew up to be a remarkable woman of toughness and imagination in the way she lived her faith. But she was also an old lady in a wheelchair nursing her little dog after her active days were over.

Father Damian of Molokai was a Belgian missionary priest who worked with Hawaiian people who had leprosy. About 8000 people had been separated from the rest of their society and isolated on the island of Molokai where they were abandoned. It was mostly missionary volunteers like Father Damian who cared for them in three-monthly shifts. After several shifts, Father Damian volunteered to stay permanently and take up the work that needed to be done on behalf of the lepers. Not surprisingly, after a period of living, working and sharing with the lepers, he caught the disease himself and at only 49 years of age the disease caused his death.  His tireless and selfless efforts caught the attention of many who shared his Christian beliefs and people like the famous author, Robert Louis Stevenson, eventually forced official assistance to be given to the lepers.

The life of St Damian of Molokai holds out a powerful message that one single life properly motivated and directed to the needs of others, can make a lives-altering difference. Even though the necessary two miracles needed before declaration of Sainthood were proven, Mother Teresa said of Father Damian, “Damian, himself, is a miracle.”Not everyone can be a Mary Mackillop or a Damian of Molokai, but we can all do something, if only of a minor nature, to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged and neglected people. The world needs more saints in the making, so that question again: Ever thought of being a saint? St Mary Mackillop of Australia and St Damian of Molokai, may the spirit of your lives live on in the lives of Christian people right now. May we, ordinary people like you, be inspired to reach out to needy people as you did. May God’s Spirit be powerful in us as it was in the both of you.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Parent Teacher Communication

It’s important to remember that parent-teacher conferences can play a very important role in a student’s development and academic success.  Unfortunately, this relationship is often overlooked, ignored or undervalued.

The truth is, teachers and parents often see different aspects of a student’s personality. Only by maintaining an open dialog and comparing notes on the student’s achievements or behavior can these perspectives be useful for both.

When parents take advantage of parent-teacher conferences and other opportunities to speak with teachers, it often allows parents to learn of any challenges — academic or otherwise — their child might be having.

By the same token, parents can let the teacher know of any special circumstances at home that might have some bearing on the student’s performance or behavior.

Let’s face it; kids today face a lot of pressure in school.  When parents and teachers work together to try and provide the best environment for learning, the child stands to benefit the most.

If you still need to schedule your conferences, please contact Pam in the school office as soon as possible.  She will be happy to find a time slot for each of your students.

Next, I want to say that we had a wonderful week with all of the great activities that we participated in during Red Ribbon Week.  Each activity was not only fun, but also taught a drug free message and a healthy living style.  Thank you to STUCO and their sponsors for making this week so special and fun.

Basketball has begun for our girls and boys teams. Please visit with your child's coach if you should have questions about practice or games.  Good luck to all of the athletes during this basketball season.  St. Patrick, pray for us!

Have a great weekend.

With you in Christ,

Mr. Lyall

WE ARE BLESSED!

This week I was asked to speak at a Lutheran School conference on multiple topics including the Common Core and Standards based education.  I accepted the invitation and was honored to be asked.  Upon reflection, I believe that I was asked, due to the effort of all of our students, parents, teachers, parishioners, and the like that allow me this privilege.  I am very consistently asked why we are so successful, and my main reply is always about the support and stewardship of this parish and community.  We are truly blessed, and this was obvious to me as I spoke on Monday.  Our students have the benefit of receiving one of the finest educations in the country, due in a large part to the stewardship way of life we live and profess.  I pray that we always recognize these gifts, and truly support all efforts in our parish, diocese, and community.  I also thank each of you for not only sharing your children with us, but also making your gifts and talents available to everyone in our parish.

Please be gently reminded that conferences are October 29th and 30th. Please call the school office for a specific appointment.  Conferences are from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. each evening.  We look forward to hearing from you, and seeing you at conferences.


Digital report cards will be available through Powerschool on Monday, October 21st.  We will not be printing a paper report card in grades K-5.  Grades 6 through 8 will still receive a paper copy. Please view your child(s) first quarter progress through the parent portal in Powerschool.  We have offered two sessions detailing how you can access this information.  If you should still have questions, please contact Mrs. Valerie Rohlman so she can assist you.

When we arrive on Monday we will be starting our annual Red Ribbon Week.  The activities that are planned seem to be a wonderful way to have fun and teach a very positive drug free message.  All of the activities for the week may be found online at our web site.  At the end of the week we will have a 12:30 dismissal, so please mark your calendar.

With You in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

What a Busy October!

As we finish the second week of October I am reminded that we nearly have completed the first quarter of school.  Time truly flies when you are having fun.  October also marks conferences.  Please contact the school office to schedule your conferences with the teachers.  This year conferences will be held on October 29th and 30th, from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.  Please get your time on one of these days as  the schedule fills quickly.  Additionally, I would like to remind everyone of a calendar change that took place for this month.  The 12:30 dismissal for teacher inservice that was originally scheduled for October 11th (today) had to be moved to the 25th.  Please mark your calendar with this change.  I know a reminder went out about a month ago for this change, but I just wanted to make sure you had the change.

At the end of this month, Halloween parties will take place on October 30th.  Parties start around 2:15.  Please be reminded as we supply snacks and drinks for the parties that they should promote healthy choices.  If you are a room mother, you should contact your child's teacher for more information.  We will not have school on Halloween, nor the next day, the Holy Day of Obligation, November 1, All Saints Day.

At the time of print last week I did not have the results of the softball tournament that our students went to in Haven.  The teams played very well and our boys team took third in the Valley 9 Tournament.  The girls played an excellent game and beat Partridge to win the championship!  We are very proud of your accomplishments both on the field and in the classroom.  Way to go Crusaders.

With the end of Softball, basketball will soon be starting.  October 21st marks the first practice.  Students received important information on this earlier this week.  If you have a seventh or eighth grade student and they want to participate with the middle school here in Kingman, students must have a physical, concussion form, and pay the pay-to-play fee with the middle school before the first day of practice.  If you need further information, please ask your student for the note that went home with all of this information.  If you should require an additional note, please contact the office or our web page.

Happy October!  Remember to pray the rosary.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Busy October

What an excellent week.  All of the activities that we participated in for Respect Life Week were a huge success.  I am happy to report that our students had a blast and truly reflected on the meaning of respecting life.  Our student council and their sponsors, Mrs. Oeding, Miss Fisher, and Trisha Moritz, did a fantastic job of providing fun and educational opportunities.  I certainly felt that this was a huge success, and we look forward to the events planned later this month, (October 21st through the 25th), for Red Ribbon Week.

Next, I would like to personally thank the PTO and all of their volunteers for a hugely successful Bierock sale.  What we thought was going to be something small, turned out to be something that truly benefited our school and the St. Katherine Drexel fund more than we could have ever imagined.  Thank you to Erirca Parsons, Darla Harbert, Amy Arnsdorf, Shelly Harden, and the countless volunteers who spent many hours planning and cooking for this to be a success.  Thanks also to Doreen Molitor and her staff for allowing us to use the kitchen and their expertise to prepare over 3000 bierocks.  What an event!  Hopefully we can convince them to do this again in the spring.  I know people are already asking for them to do it again.

Our Softball teams ended their season on Thursday with the softball tournament that took place in Haven. Both our boys and girls teams have had very successful seasons with the girls taking 1st place and the boys taking 2nd place in regular season play. Way to go Crusaders, we are proud of you!  Additionally our students have been experiencing success on the volleyball court and the football field.  Our students are very well represented in sports, and we have a lot to be proud of this fall.

Report cards go home on the 21st of this month and this marks the end of the first quarter.  Hopefully many of you had an opportunity to come to our parents meeting for Powerschool and find out how to access you child's grades or progress marks.  If you could not make this meeting and still need assistance, please contact Val Rohlman for assistance.  Parent teacher conferences will be held October 29th and 30th from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. If you would like to call Pam in the main office to schedule your appointments, now is a good time.

Remember that October marks the month of the rosary.  Take some time out of your busy schedule to pray this beautiful prayer for a special intention.  This would be an excellent family activity.

God bless all of you!
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall


Fall Reflections

Well it certainly has been nice to see the wonderful weather here.  Almost a little chilly in the morning.  I really enjoy this type of weather as it reminds me of my home.  With the cooler weather arriving, it is always good to remember that students may need a light jacket when we go outside for recess.  It is always better to have this that not to.
This week we will be celebrating Respect Life Week.  Last week we included all the events and activities for the occasion.  It is wonderful that we get to celebrate life and all the goodness that God has blessed us with.  I am certain the students are looking forward to all the activities that this week holds.  If you need a reminder of each activity or dress for each day, please remember that the POST is online each week on our webpage.
Additionally, I hope that all of you have had a chance to read the many articles that we have provided explaining the Common Core Standards as well as standards based grading.  This information has proven very helpful for many. If you missed the numerous articles you still can read them online through our webpage.  If you should have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or your child's teacher.
The regular season for St. Pats softball ended this Thursday. We are anxiously awaiting our seat placement for the tournament which will take place in Haven for both the boys and the girls.  The entire tournament will be played on October 3rd.  Times will be announced after all the teams are placed in their respective bracket.
One last note.  The bierock sale has been a huge success.  The last I had heard we had surpassed over 3000 bierocks sold.  We are truly grateful for all of the support of our school and the Drexel Fund. I am impressed...and very full!May you have a glorious and blessed Fall!
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Standards Based Grading

Mr. Lyall’s Line

Again this week I want to offer more information on Standards Based Grading. To better understand the logic and mechanics of standards-based grading, it is necessary to investigate the practice in depth and from different perspectives. Below you will see a series of questions related to standards-based grading with responses that should add to a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of the topic, and help parents and educators make a more informed decision about this important subject.

What is standards-based grading? Standards-based grading is a method of reporting what students have learned and how they demonstrated their learning of the content standards required by the state in which they reside. The U.S. Department of Education includes the following guidelines for standards-based grading:

Grades must be related to academic standards and course expectations

Public criteria and student work samples are reference points for grading

Grades should be based only on individual academic achievement

Grades are based on quality assessments and properly recorded achievement evidence

What is the purpose of standards-based grading? Most states and school districts have published content standards that teachers are expected to teach in their courses or at their grade levels. The purpose of standards-based grading is to align grading practices with the content standards by more accurately measuring and reporting students’ proficiency in meeting those standards.

Why is standards-based grading important and why now? Vital components of the standards-based reform movement are clear measurable course or grade level outcomes and accurate measures to determine where each student stands in relation to the standards. With the adoption and adherence to standards-based learning, it can be easily and readily assumed that all teachers link their planning and lesson implementation to the identified standards. And yet, in some schools, there still remains a disconnect between the teaching of required standards and how student mastery of these standards is determined. Many teachers still follow more established grading practices, and, in fact, there is little clear articulation between the grades students receive and the content standards which are taught. Some educational writers have even surmised that our current grading practices lack real meaning and reported achievement data is inconsistent, imprecise, and as Robert Marzano has concluded, “almost meaningless.” Advocates of standards-based grading strongly believe that we should not hold fast to an outdated system that no longer makes sense in the current educational climate. Furthermore, proponents of standards-based grading believe that we must challenge the status quo and move to a system that is sensible, realistic, and up- to-date.

How does standards-based grading differ from more conventional grading approaches? In a traditional grade book, one usually sees student names listed down the left side of the page and a variety of headings across the top of each page. The titles across the top of the page might include descriptors such as chapter test, homework, pop quiz, class participation, extra credit, unit test, and in some cases, student behavior. The scores or grades for each of these designations may or may not be clearly and precisely linked to the standard which was addressed. In the best case scenario, the teacher using the traditional approach had made sure to connect the assessment instrument to the standards the students were expected to learn, while in the worst case scenario, there may be only a loose or fuzzy link to the standards, connections that are almost accidental rather than deliberate, or no connection at all.

 

What are some additional drawbacks associated with the more customary grading approaches? Numerous practitioners, researchers and bloggers have itemized the flaws with the current system of grading. Below are some of the problems associated with our current method of reporting student learning:

As educator and writer Ken O’Connor has pointed out, the essential question to ask ourselves in relation to grading is, “How confident are you that the grades students receive in your school are consistent, accurate, meaningful, and supportive of learning?” With the determination of grades in some locations being wide and varied, there is little or no evidence that there is one, unified system for determining and reporting student grades.

Our current system of determining and reporting student achievement is fraught with practices that are often subjective, unclear, inconsistent, and, in extreme cases, unfair. One teacher’s “A” may be derived using a completely different set of criteria than the teacher next door. Moreover, another teacher’s “F” grade may be determined based on limited or skewed data, criteria not connected to standards, or even a student’s lack of compliance to classroom rules.

Many grades are determined using what educational writers have called “inappropriate number crunching,” including the averaging of grades. In his appraisal of this system of grading, assessment guru Thomas Guskey has written, “Averaging falls far short of providing an accurate description of what students have learned. If the purpose of grading and reporting is to provide an accurate description of what students have learned, then averaging must be considered inappropriate.” Further, the case has been repeatedly made that the use of zeroes in computing a grade is a practice which must be eliminated entirely. Its use is patently unfair and results in a distorted conclusion about what a student may have learned.

What are the advantages of standards-based grading?

Grading by standards requires the teacher to know where their students are on the learning continuum and thus, be able to determine how to address individual student needs.

Some students fail assessments early in the unit and then give up; with standards-based grading, the door remains open to achieving the standards.

Standards-based grading helps teachers work with individual students to create timelines to complete missed work and help students develop better work habits; the alternative is for the teacher to simply record the poor grade and it becomes out of sight, out of mind for both teacher and student.

The standards-based grading approach can change the complexion of at-home conversations between parent and child from, “Why didn’t you finish your packet? (worksheet),” “Did you make up that quiz you missed?” and “Have you finished your book report?” to “Tell me your understanding of this standard,” “How does your teacher connect your in-class work to this unit’s objectives?” or “What more do you need to do to achieve this benchmark?” Some parents have also reported that this method of grading is more aligned with job evaluations in the workplace.

Many students have no idea how a teacher goes about creating a formative or summative assessment instrument. A teacher can explain the reasoning and process behind creating a standards-based assessment and then allow students to work with peers to collaboratively develop assessment items based on the standards currently being studied.

During the planning process, the teacher can begin by creating essential questions for the upcoming unit. These questions can be posted in a prominent location in the classroom and as the unit unfolds, the teacher can connect the standards being taught to these big picture questions.

As one Kansas school document states, “Grading systems are intended to be fair, useful, informative, timely, and influential so that the result can be used with confidence and communicated effectively to students, parents, guardians, and other stakeholders.” A standards-based system is much more likely to satisfy this intention.

Helping Your Student With the Common Core

Mr. Lyall’s Line
Throughout the school year, you are likely to hear a lot about the Common Core State Standards
(CCSS). To date, 46 states and the District of Columbia have adopted these ambitious new
academic standards, which will profoundly alter the way students are taught English Language
Arts and Mathematics. The standards are designed to ensure college and career readiness in an
increasingly competitive and fast-paced world.
Five tips to help you support the Common Core at home
Talk about books, especially the great ones.
The Common Core says that children need to read “books worth reading.” We all know that
reading ANYTHING is great for kids, but they should be exposed to great writers and
challenging content too. Lead by example!
Ask your children questions about what they’re reading.
One of the key shifts with the Common Core is its requirement that students (both orally and in
writing) cite evidence from the texts they’re reading to make an argument. Try asking questions
that require your kids to talk about the content of the books they’re reading. For example, have
them give reasons why a favorite character was heroic or clever or forgiving.
Push your kids to read nonfiction.
Reading fiction is still a critical and wonderful part of learning to read, but the Common Core
elevates the importance of nonfiction, or “informational text,” as the authors of the standards call
it. Does your son love gross bugs? Get him a book about cockroach infestations and let him dig
deep into a topic that interests him. You might have a future scientist in your house!
Encourage your kids to write, write, write.
The Common Core State Standards emphasize the fundamental link between reading and
writing. Writing to persuade by citing evidence is a key 21st-century skill. Encourage your
children to keep a journal or blog, or write a letter or an e-mail to a favorite author.
Talk math with your kids.
The Common Core requires students to learn important math “reasoning” skills in addition to
learning their multiplication tables and memorizing formulas. Parents: Try talking to your kids
about mathematical practices they use every day. Have them estimate time and distance, compare
the value of products in a store, or calculate the tip when you’re out to dinner.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

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

Mr. Bob Lyall