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Charter News: December 6, 2015

posted Dec 6, 2015, 10:49 PM by Rhonda Schlosser

Habit is a cable: we weave a thread of it each day, and

at last we cannot break it.  ~Horace Mann

Dear Parents,

In thinking about the qualities we try to help instill in our students, your children, the ones that are most important in my opinion, are often collectively known as the Habits of Mind. They are not the concepts, the standards, the measurable outcomes found in the core content areas, but without these Habits, a student’s continued interest in developing their academic abilities inevitably fall short.  

I encourage you to learn more and to team with us to help to instill these habits on a daily basis. You are your child’s first teacher; the primary influence for your child’s vocabulary, values, self-concept, personality, physical and mental health, relationships, attitudes toward learning and more.  As your child grows through their school years, if they choose to go on to college, as they decide on a career or job, as they become members of a community and as they raise a family of their own, these are the dispositions that will help them attain satisfaction and success.

Below are 16 Habits of Mind, each with a tip or strategy to understand and begin implementation. The habits themselves aren't new at all, and significant work has already been done in the areas of these "thinking habits." However, there may be a newfound context for their application, ..and a renewed urgency to integrate them into students’ daily learning.

Persisting: Have students identify characteristics of persistence shown by individuals in well-known events, or imagine what might have occurred if more or less persistence was shown in a given scenario.

Managing Impulsivity: Model the use of patience, including wait time during discussion, or using helpful sentence stems that reflect intentional choice (such as "After reviewing all of the possible solutions . . . ")

Listening to Others with Understanding and Empathy: Identify the most common "listening set-asides" in conversation so that students can begin to recognize common "errors" that occur in everyday communication. These errors might include comparing, judging, placating or giving advice instead of really listening and understanding a message.

Thinking Flexibly: Help students to consider a situation, letter, speech or poem from a perspective other than their own, or that of the original speakers.

Thinking About Our Thinking (Metacognition): Ask students to map out their own thinking process. This can be done simply at first, e.g., diagramming the relationship between a want and a need, a gesture and a need to gesture. Then make it increasingly complex -- mapping out how characters from books or thinkers in history might have arrived at certain starting or stopping points in thought.

Striving for Accuracy and Precision: Have your student remember to have assignments checked by three other people before being handed in.  Have them learn how to review it themselves with fresh eyes, after a day or at least hours before considering it completed.

Questioning and Posing Problems: Create a "parking lot" area-- stocked with post-it notes -- where your student can post questions that may not fit into what you are currently working on. Then highlight the better questions periodically, or use them as jumping off points for discussion or even lesson planning.

Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations: Use question stems like "What do you remember about . . . ?", "When have you ever seen anything like this?" or "Tell me what you know about . . . " Whether you consider this activating prior knowledge, or simply getting them more comfortable and in tune with what they already know, it can be a huge boost to the learning process.

Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision: Remind your student to avoid the vagueness and imprecision of terms like always, never, all, everybody, teachers, celebrities, technology, they, we, should and must. Post these kinds of words or phrases where they can be reminded-- and know to avoid them. And hopefully know why they should avoid them.

Gathering Data Through All Senses: Have your student to "cite" sources from sensory data in addition to traditional textual sources.

Creating, Imagining and Innovating: Offer persistent sources of inspiring thought, design, art or multimedia through writing prompts, discussion points or simply as a daily class closure. This models not only creativity, but also expertise, and is readily available on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Responding with Wonderment and Awe: Don't just allow opportunities for student choice in topics, formats or learning pathways -- insist on it. Refuse to move the class forward until they are bringing their own passions into the learning experience.

Taking Responsible Risks:Create an environment where failure is analyzed, not punished.

Finding Humor: Point out humor where it is not immediately apparent, especially in stories and examples from your own life. This can help establish the "relativity" of "things," which supports more accurate analysis. Humor makes everything better.

Thinking Interdependently: The more thinking is published and shared, the more opportunity there will be for cognitive interdependence, though even opportunities aren't guarantees that it will happen.

Learning Continuously: Intermittently revisit old ideas, writings and projects to identify areas for development, improvement or revision.

I have taken liberties and copied from the articles linked below.

Thanks for doing all that you can to help your children be the best learners they can be.


Parent Advisory Committee: A tremendous thank you to the few parents who regularly come and discuss the school’s action plan and review the Charter petition with me. Hilde Largay, Rachel Trowbridge, Christie Hertig, Jennifer Theide, and Lou Larwood have become a fabulous team of support.  

They have helped the staff with clarifying our Mission, Vision, and School Wide Outcomes.  We are now working on the Who, What and How we teach within the Charter Document.  Please ask these wonderful women questions you may have about this work...but better yet, please come to our next meeting and learning more for yourself!

Next meeting: Tuesday, December 15th, 3-4 pm  in the Felton, Fall Creek office.  (Chocolate and tea are always in supply, btw)

NEW GROUP OPPORTUNITY with Counselor Jennifer Sims

Please read the attached Flyer about her upcoming teen WE class beginning this week, Tuesday, Dec 8, at 2:30. This unique teen support group is designed for any and all of our students in grades 8-12.

You can always contact Jen for any reason via her email

What’s Going on in Our Charter School?  ..little snippets of some of our programs.

All Homeschool Charter Science Fair: This year Katie Parmenter will be organizing our Science Fair.  This is a great opportunity to dig into some fun experimental science in a low-stress, encouraging environment.  The deadline for signing up (you don’t need to have decided on what you are studying yet) is Dec. 11.  The week of Feb. 1 is when projects will be presented. Applications are available at each or our homeschool programs, if you are interested.  It is a great opportunity.

code, big data, computer, coding, developmentHour of Code:Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code campaigns begin Dec. 7. For the following week, across over 150 countries, millions of people will try out computer programming for the first time as part of Computer Science Education Week. Our homeschool programs will be working the Hour of Code this week in their various classrooms. Tips, resources for participating in Hour of Code  This blog post offers tips and resources to help educators hold in-class events across all grade levels and content areas, including holiday-themed lessons.    Khan Academy offers opportunities for the Hour of Code as well. You can access it here: Start your Hour of Code

Quail Hollow Homeschool:  Last Friday’s Holiday Craft Faire was the largest one yet!  Not only were the adult items impressive, but the kids' items were top notch.  This is a great experience for them; buying and selling each other's crafts, and of course the days of making them is the best part. A huge thanks to parent Cindy Laurin, our fearless organizer, and all of the parents and teachers who made it happen once again!  Holiday potluck and talent share for the Stepping Stones groups will be December 9th. This coming week is the last week of classes before the break.  This will allow for extended homeschool work and

Here are the dates and times for the All Charter play performance of the “The Jungle Book: A rock Musical.”  Wed., Dec.16~10:00am Thurs., Dec.17~10:00am, & 7:00pm. Fri., Dec. 18~10:00am

FC Homeschool:   Students are completing their bird reports and continuing with their knitting. They will have to have their potluck on Dec 17 from 5-7 pm. There will be a talent share at the potluck - anyone can sing a song, recite a poem, play an instrument, do a scene from a play, or showcase any art they may be engaged in. As a culmination of the presentation about the Neary Lagoon, on Wednesday, Dec. 9 they have a field trip to the Lagoon.  

Nature Academy: 7th and 8th graders are working on a variety of long-term projects: the Giver project, as the final completion after the class read and discussed the book, the Bill Become a Law project, and the Family Tree project. They will be going to the Tech museum this coming Friday, Dec. 11.  6th graders are working on their Country reports, currently adding the History section. Parent Adriane Aries has volunteered to oversee a Gingerbread House project to help them get into the holiday spirit. Their hike on Gazos Creek State Beach with Tim Corcoran is scheduled for this coming Thursday, Dec. 10.

CRMS: During the next two weeks the kids will be knitting hats and scarves for those in need.  Parent Amber Barcus will be coming to class on Wednesday to kick off the project. Climate studies continue with work on noticing bias on maps, identifying different coordinates and climatic bands based on latitude, and working with time zones. Project Presentations continue with students sharing their research topics.  Mindfulness practice: they compared good stress (the kind that is motivating) to bad stress (the kind that is overwhelming) with a guided meditation on mindfulness of emotions: “having your feelings without them having you”. Ukulele Club: Students learned a basic strumming technique, and Tab Chords for Am, C, F & G7. Book Club study this month: Where the Red Fern Grows.

CRHS: Students are in the last push to complete their semester courses and credits.

COMMUNITY SERVICE:  11TH & 12TH GRADE STUDENTS CALL-OUT TO ALL!  CRHS has been granted money to build benches for the outdoor Fall Creek Amphitheater. Please email Wade Axup for days and times. This is the 12th grade project that must be started by the end of this month in order for us to benefit from the grant. Cabrillo College is offering an open entry Physical Education class for students starting in January 2016. Students enroll in KIN 22L-Strength Training or KIN 24L-Lifetime Fitness. Once enrolled, students will have access to the state-of-the-art Cabrillo Wellness Education Center during open business hours.  Students will log in & out each time they work out and receive transferable physical education units.

Mountain IS: Will be continuing their usual classroom schedule with more family history presentations and family library times.  They will begin some sound and light science experiments as well as some gift-making activities.  We have our Holiday night on the 9th at 5:30p.m., and the Holiday Sing on the 17th at 11:00a.m.

Math tutor: I know that many of our students could benefit from additional math support. Please don’t forget that Aaron Shaw, our math tutor, has scheduled hours at the following Felton locations and times:

  • Mondays from 12-3:30  in portable 5 with teacher Brian Heery; Math 1 & 2 emphasis

  • Thursdays from 2:00-4:00, primarily grades 6-8 in portable 28 with teacher Marcy Reynolds.  

Please come with your math homework and questions ready.

Special Community Events:

SLVHS/COAST Sober Grad night: Dining Out at Castelli's Deli: Your next opportunity to Dine Out in support of SLV Grad Night is next Wednesday, December 9th at Castelli’s Deli from 4-7pm. The Deli will be offering Grab and Go meals for Individuals or a Family of 4!  Please note, if you wish to try the Grab and Go Family meal, you need to phone in your order on Tuesday, December 8th.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is free to folks who live in Santa Cruz County for the month of December. Free admission for Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito County residents is an annual thank you to the community for its support of the non-profit aquarium. It’s a great time of year to experience the wonders of the aquarium. Admission is good for all aquarium exhibits and programs, including our newest exhibit Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes.

Amazon School RewardsHoliday School support: Don't forget! Use this link the next time you shop on Amazon and earn money for our school while you  shop.

DATES TO REMEMBER: (Please refer to your program’s newsletter for greater detail regarding dates and details specific to your program’s Field Trips and class events.)

  • December 16, 17, 18: 10:00 am and 7 pm Thursday the 17th only.All Charter Play:  The Jungle Book: a Rock Musical.

  • December 18: End of first Semester

  • December 21-January 4: Holiday: Winter Break

Rhonda Schlosser,
Dec 6, 2015, 10:49 PM