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Principals Message
Dear Duncan Families,

As the fall season begins to take shape in our world, this school year does as well. Our students have successfully transitioned into their new grade levels and are now routinely experiencing 21st century classroom learning opportunities that will enable them to develop essential skills for college and career readiness. In order for our students to be academically competitive in their futures, they must be engaged with new technologies, acquire knowledge from rigorous coursework and routinely participate in activities that foster innovation and creativity. Our students today are not just consumers of academic content, but rather creators and users of what they are learning.

Our classrooms prepare students for their future by applying content to real-world applications that call for students to solve problems, think creatively and work with others to develop solutions. Our students are engaged in collaborative groups to conduct investigations, discuss and share learnings, and create products that demonstrate what was learned. Using appropriate technology tools to complete their task, our students are discovering the most effective and efficient ways to access and manage the world of digital information that is available to them.

While working through tasks, students build important life and career skills that teach them to manage their time, to become self-directed workers and to collaborate effectively with others. Futurists predict that within ten years almost half of the workforce will be employed in information-based occupations-gathering, processing, retrieving and analyzing information. To be successful, students will need to be prepared with the knowledge and skills to be information literate. They must have the ability to acquire, critically evaluate, select and communicate information in ways which lead to knowledge and understanding. Increased awareness of the importance of developing informational literacy has led to a greater focus during literacy instruction at school. Research strongly supports improving a student’s overall ability to read informational literacy through exposure to many different types of informational text.

Today, our students have access to more and better nonfiction trade books and magazines designed specifically for children. Many classroom practices we are using at Duncan also incorporate nonfiction texts. Our teachers have utilized the research of Harvey and Goudvis, authors of Strategies That Work, to incorporate the use of short text to effectively teach comprehension strategies. Short text is selfcontained and easily read and reread together for clarification during instruction.

Under the guidance of the teacher, students practice these reading comprehension strategies during shared and guided reading and continue to practice using the strategy as they read independently. Our parent group, D.E.C.O., has supported this as well with their continual commitment to allocating funds for each classroom at Duncan that is exclusively used to purchase new, exciting books for our students that enhance the classroom libraries and spark an interest for reading. As parents, you can support the informational literacy development of your child also by encouraging them to self select informational reading material. This will allow students themselves to find texts that build on their particular interests and knowledge.

There are many outstanding nonfiction trade books and magazines for children. Old favorites like Ranger Rick and Cobblestone, and newer publications like Scholastic News, Weekly Reader, Story Works, National Geographic Magazine for Kids and Consumer Reports’ magazine for children are some to consider. Zillions, Smithsonian’s children’s magazine called Muse, and the popular Sports Illustrated for Kids are also great for encouraging informational reading. Please visit page 9 of this publication for additional ideas.

At Duncan, we believe that as a school community, we share a common interest with our parents- the personal and academic success of all of our students. A quality education is a responsibility shared by the home, school and each individual student. We are dedicated to doing our part in order that all students feel successful, but we cannot do it alone.

Students will need to take even more responsibility for their learning. A child who achieves does so with the help of many people: from mother or father, to the classroom teacher, to grandparents, aunts/uncles, to that “special someone” who encourages and acts as a “coach” in the process. It is important to recognize the worth and merit of everyone involved in the process of educating a child. Indeed, students need to be taught to be responsible learners, but having a support system is extremely important. By working together, students can often achieve results that would be difficult for them to attain alone.

As parents, and/or guardians, there are so many ways you can support your child’s learning:

Make school important: Insist on good attendance and punctuality. Your child learns from you, so be an important role model for them. Be positive about education and show you enjoy learning too.

Make sure you check your child’s daily agenda book and weekly folder: These are important communication tools between home and school. Agenda books are a great organizational tool for students. Check the agenda book daily and utilize it to open up communication about what your child is learning in class.

Create a study routine: Set a time and quiet place for your child to
work every day. Have your child assist with developing a consistent routine for completing homework and managing extracurricular activities. Utilize a month-long calendar for long-term planning for longer projects or for breaking up study time for an upcoming test.

Encourage your child to read every day: Build time into your child’s routine to read independently or out loud 20-30 minutes per day. This practice will build fluency and automaticity with vocabulary and site words. Research shows that students who read have stronger vocabularies and ultimately find reading easier and more enjoyable as they grow up. Build in time to read to your child as well. When a story or novel is read to a child fluently, they can often comprehend text that is a couple of years beyond their independent reading level. This opportunity exposes them to new vocabulary, sentence structure and author’s craft that they would otherwise not be able to read on their own yet.

Encourage high but realistic expectations for student achievement: Maintain a supportive home by showing interest in your child’s progress at school and staying in touch with teachers. Discuss the value of a good education and possible careers that your child may have an interest in pursuing.

Encourage persistence: Students need to believe that they can become smarter through their own efforts. They need to be taught how to set realistic goals and identify steps for achieving them. An important part of the process is helping them to think about how they can overcome difficulties that get in their way. Allow
your child to make mistakes and learn from these mistakes.

Promote healthy habits: Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep,
exercise, and eats balanced meals.

The high expectations we hold for all students are based upon our
conviction that all students can learn and succeed. A strong partnership between home and school will ultimately support student achievement! Thank you for your support!

Your involvement in your child’s education will make a difference that will last a lifetime. For many of us, helping our children along the road to a happy, productive life is a marathon of day-to-day challenges. We must keep sight of the goal and run that race one step at a time!

Very truly yours,
Sharon Coil
-Proud Duncan Principal