We see you. We support you. We stand by you.

Once again the week begins with pain created by hate and violence.  When the deluge of bad news overwhelms our capacity for empathy, it’s east to turn towards alienation and avoidance.  Sometimes we find refuge in revisiting the details of safety plans and trying to rebuild our sense of security.  Those responses are important, but more vital is staying open to the hurt of others and building understanding, solidarity, and community.

Melinda Anderson, an advocate for race and equity, wrote in Teaching Tolerance “The notion of care is the root of racial proficiency. I want to know who you are. You’re not fully caring for kids if you don’t know them. So race is something that we talk about. Culture is something that we talk about. Understanding that difference is an amazing, powerful plus that, if we nurture it, makes us all smarter than we can be separately.”

Whether addressing differences of race, gender identity, religion, culture, ethnicity, or even political belief, we demonstrate care by wanting to know who people are and talking about it.  At STEM K-8 and in Seattle Public Schools we actively reject the Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to define gender to exclude trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people.  You’re invited to get involved in with STEM’s GGLOW OWLS (Genderqueer/gender non-conforming, Gay, Lesbian or Whatever), which works to celebrate gender differences and provide resources supporting an inclusive environment (contact Shawna Murphy southernstreetkids@yahoo.com).

To Jewish community members in STEM, Seattle, Pittsburg, and everywhere where else—we notice and share your pain.  We know it occurs within a historical and political context of anti-Semitism.  At STEM K-8 we speak out clearly against the ugliness of hate, bigotry, and violence.  We pledge to continue the hard work necessary to stand in solidarity, and demonstrate care for our students and their amazing differences by recognizing and talking with them.

See Support Stand

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RULER: The Mood Meter

 

Last week I shared some information about STEM’s implementation of RULER, an evidence-based socio-emotional curriculum that teaches vital self-regulation, empathy, and social skills.  Last week I wrote about the Charter, an agreement made in each classroom that reflects how students want to feel in class, what needs to happen to support those feelings, and guidelines for handling conflict.  This week I want to highlight the Mood Meter, a tool for recognizing and labeling feelings. By the end of October, all of our STEM students should have been introduced to the Mood Meter. Some of you may remember information about the Mood Meter from last year, when we began use it as a teaching tool with students for the first time.  You can click on to the SPS Family Ruler Website to learn more about other RULER strategies. Below is information about the Mood Meter.

The Mood Meter is a tool used to recognize and understand our own and other peoples’ emotions. It’s divided into four color quadrants – red, blue, green, and yellow – each representing a different set of feelings. Feelings are grouped together on the mood meter based on their pleasantness and energy level.

Mood Meter

Red feelings: High in energy and more unpleasant (e.g., angry, scared, and anxious)
Blue feelings: Low in energy and more unpleasant (e.g., sad, disappointed, and lonely)
Green feelings: Low in energy and more pleasant (e.g., calm, tranquil, and relaxed)
Yellow feelings: High in energy and  more pleasant (e.g., happy, excited, and curious)

Here’s a Mood Meter Introduction Video to learn more.

Why recognize feelings?

Helping students recognize feelings helps them understand how feelings impact decisions and behaviors. It’s also the first step in helping students develop empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of another person.

Once the Mood Meter is understood, it can be used as a guide through the

RULER skills, by asking:

o Recognize: What are you feeling? How pleasant? How much energy do

you have? Where would you plot yourself?

o Understand: What caused you to feel that way?

o Label: What word best describes where you plotted yourself?

o Express: How are you expressing that feeling? Is your expression

appropriate to the context in which you are?

o Regulate: Is where you are on the Mood Meter the place you want to be?

If so, what strategies will you use to stay there? If you would like to shift,

what strategies will you use?

Below is a list of family activities to put the Mood Meter into practice at home!

Don’t forget to support the STEM K-8 Direct Give if like me you’ve been too busy. It’s easy and convenient to submit submit a donation online.  Any size contribution is appreciated! Direct Give supports enriched STEM learning experiences and materials.

 

 

RULER Update and More

Please take a few moments to support the STEM K-8 Direct Give!.  You can donate via the form sent home with students or submit a payment online.  Direct Give contributions support STEM learning experiences. Books, additional tools and materials, Project Based Learning, staff training, and field experiences are all supported by Direct  Give funds.  Any size donation is appreciated!

A minor modification to STEM’s uniform policy was made for Middle School students.  Spirit Wear Friday’s were established for Middle School students to support STEM extra-curricular activities. On Friday’s Middle School students can wear Spirit Wear, STEM team shirts, and Spirit Wear sweat shirts.  For preK-5 Spirit Wear Friday’s remain the last Friday of the month.  There are some privileges that come with age and experience!

The parents/guardians of students who receive (or are seeking) Special Education or 504 services at STEM are invited to a parent meeting on Thursday, October 18 from 6:30-8:00 in the STEM library.  The purpose of the meeting is for families to be able to connect with one another and identify ways for STEM K-8 to better support and respond to their experiences.

STEM K-8 is entering it ’s second year of RULER implementation.  RULER is an evidence-based socio-emotional curriculum that teaches vital self-regulation, empathy, and social skills.  It is designed to teach the skills detailed below and provide opportunities for students and teachers, administrators, and family members to help them apply these skills.  I will continue to communicate information about RULER.  We want families to know the important skills being taught and also the key RULER tools.

RULER teaches five emotional intelligence skills:

  • Recognizing – Identifying emotion in oneself and others by interpreting facial expressions, body language, vocal tones and physiological reactions.
  • Understanding – Knowing the causes and consequences of emotions, including the influence of different emotions on thinking, learning, decisions, and behavior
  • Labeling – Using a wide range of emotion words, developing a rich feeling word vocabulary.
  • Expressing – Knowing how and when to express emotions with different people and in multiple contexts (nonverbal, written, and spoken)
  • Regulating – Developing strategies that help us manage our emotions to support healthy relationships and achieve goals.

RULER is comprised of four Anchor Tools that will be rolled out over the first four months of school.  At this point all classrooms should have developed Charters (detailed below), and many will have introduced Mood Meters.

Ruler Anchor Tools:

  • Charter Each classroom will create a Charter that describes how they want to feel in class, what needs to happen to support those feelings and guidelines for handling conflict.
  • Mood Meter A tool for recognizing and labeling one’s feelings.
  • Meta Moments A 6 step process that teaches self-regulation strategies and how to handle stressful situations.
  • Blueprint A problem-solving tool for navigating conflicts in which students consider each other’s feelings and identify effective solutions.

The Charter is designed to support a positive culture and climate. Unlike “rules” of conduct, an Emotional Intelligence Charter represents agreed-upon norms for how everyone will be treated, including (1) how teachers, and students want to feel in school, (2) what everyone needs to do to feel that way consistently, and (3) guidelines for how to handle uncomfortable feelings.

The process of creating a Charter involves responding to three questions:

  • How do we want to feel in school each day? Everyone is asked to think about what these feelings will look like in school in terms of specific, measurable, observable behaviors. In other words, what will the group need to do each day to ensure everyone experiences these feelings?
  • What will we do to have these feelings consistently and create a positive learning environment? The class first discusses (A) the uncomfortable feelings and unwanted behaviors they would like to avoid experiencing in school and then (B) how these feelings and behaviors will be handled and how conflict will be prevented and managed, including what happens when the Charter is breached.
  • How will we prevent and manage conflict and unwanted feelings?

Once all three questions are answered, the Charter is written or typed up, signed by everyone in the group, and posted somewhere visible so it can be referred to and revisited for amendments as needed. The Charter is a living, growing Ruler tool used in all STEM K-8 homerooms.

 

 

 

 

 

PBL at STEM K-8

The STEM K-8 PTA Direct Give Campaign has begun!  These contributions make it possible for the PTA to support exceptional learning experiences for STEM students.  The Direct Give provides hundreds of STEM books, additional technology, tools, construction materials, scientific instruments, software and supports vital parts of our program such as Project Based Learning.  Funds are used to provide staff with additional planning, training, classroom resources, and support. Please donate to the STEM K-8 Direct Give at whatever level you are able.

Thanks to all of you who were able to join us for the Middle School Open House last week.  It’s an important opportunity to meet teachers, get information on how our middle school classes work, and figure out how to support your children.

One important component STEM K-8’s programs at every grade level is Project Based Learning We began this year with an extra whole staff professional development day focused on common definitions and practices for PBL.  In conjunction with our work with PBL Consulting©, STEM K-8 is using the PBL definition below:

Project Based learning is a methodology of teaching and learning in which students respond to real-world challenges, problems, controversies, scenarios, and simulations through a process of focused, student-influenced inquiry with the goals of:

  1. Genuine student engagement
  2. Mastery of academic learning outcomes
  3. Development of 21st century competencies
  4. Production of tangible outcomes

We agreed that high quality PBL contains the following characteristics:

  1. Academic Learning Outcomes

The implementation of the project is modeled off of a method of inquiry used in the adult world such as the scientific method, the historical method, design thinking, the engineering design process, a process for problem solving, etc.

  1. 21st Century Competencies

Projects are initiated and focused with either an “essential question” that promotes enduring understandings and/or by a “driving question” – an open-ended, concrete, and easily understandable question that is motivating to students and answered by students at the end of the project through their tangible outcomes. Teachers and/or students can write focusing question(s).

  1. Tangible Outcomes

The project is grounded in a problem, controversy, scenario, simulation, current event, challenge or issue that is authentic, engaging and/or meaningful to students.

  1. Focused Inquiry

The implementation of the project is modeled off of a method of inquiry used in the adult world such as the scientific method, the historical method, design thinking, the engineering design process, a process for problem solving, etc.

  1. Driving Question

Projects are initiated and focused with either an “essential question” that promotes enduring understandings and/or by a “driving question” – an open-ended, concrete, and easily understandable question that is motivating to students and answered by students at the end of the project through their tangible outcomes. Teachers and/or students can write focusing question(s).

  1. Engaging Context

The project is grounded in a problem, controversy, scenario, simulation, current event, challenge or issue that is authentic, engaging and/or meaningful to students.

  1. Student Voice and Choice

Students are given opportunities (depending on age and experience with PBL) to express (1) voice – their opinion, perspective, idea or answer in the distinctive style or tone of their choosing and (2) choice – selecting between two or more product options or making key decisions about how, when, where and with whom they will conduct project work.

  1. Drafting and Critique

Throughout the project, students are given multiple opportunities to draft, revise, improve and refine their tangible outcomes with the use of structured opportunities for critique from multiple sources – self, peers, teacher and adults.

  1. Adult World Connections

Students connect with the adult world through fieldwork, authentic documents and data and/or work with organizations, experts, stakeholders and professionals.\

STEM staff are committed to growing staff and student effectiveness in implementing PBL.  We also agreed to make our Winter and Spring PBL exhibitions an opportunity to display PBL in-process rather than simply a display of final products.  We’re looking forward to partnering with parents to support to the continued development of PBL at STEM.

Direct Give and Middle School Open House this Week

October welcomes the start of the STEM K-8 PTA Direct Give Campaign.   These donations make it possible for the PTA to support exceptional learning experiences for STEM students.  The Direct Give provides hundreds of STEM books, additional technology, tools, construction materials, scientific instruments, software and supports vital parts of our program such as Project Based Learning.  Funds are used to provide staff with additional planning, training, classroom resources, and support. The 2018-19 Direct Give campaign starts today! Please donate to the STEM K-8 Direct Give at whatever level you are able.

Thanks to all of you who were able to join teachers for the K-5 Open House last week.  This Thursday, October 4th, from 6-7:30 is our Middle School Open House.  With a number of classes for families to visit, the Middle School Open House schedule is tight.  Families head straight to classrooms without gathering in the cafeteria first.

We suggest middle school families check with students to decide which Pathway classrooms to visit. Students have three or four Pathway classes, and families will  have the opportunity to visit two of them.

6:00 Middle School Open House for Pathway Classes

There will be two 10 minute sessions with a few minutes to walk between rooms.

Class Name(s) Teacher  Room Number 
Maker’s Space and Media Lab Schmick 147
Physical Education Avery and Schiavo Gym
Senior and Junior Band Okun Band Room
Choir and Songwriting Holland Choir Room
Poetry Paulson 126
Evolution and History of Western Music Kincl 128
6th Grade Math Academy Martin 102
Art Des 109
7th /8th Grade Math Academy Bleeker 124
Reading Academy Giza 122

 

6:30 Middle School Open House for Core Classes 

All 6th grade families go to Mr. Des’s room, #109.  

7th and 8th grade families will visit core classrooms for 15 minute rotations.  

Time  7th Grade  8th Grade 
6:30 Paulson (Rm. #126) Humanities

Or

Bleeker (Rm. #124) Math 

Parsley (Rm. #117)

Science-CTE

or

Kincl (Rm. #128)

US History 

6:45 Paulson (Rm. #126) Humanities

Or

Bleeker (Rm. #124) Math 

Parsley (Rm. #117)

Science-CTE

or

Kincl (Rm. #128)

US History 

7:00 Parsley (Rm. #117)

Science-CTE

Bleeker (Rm. #124)

Math 

or

Kincl (Rm. #128)

English Language Arts 

7:15 Parsley (Rm. #117)

Science-CTE

Bleeker (Rm. #124)

Math 

or

Kincl (Rm. #128)

English Language Arts 

 

 

We continue to report to Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle regarding the homeless encampment that has returned to the woods above STEM K-8.  It has been assigned to the Seattle Navigation Team and Seattle Homeless Coordinator for support services and clean up.  Despite repeated cleanups, it continues to reappear.  It is an ongoing challenge that our city is struggling to meet in providing for basic human needs for everyone.

 

 

SPS Staffing Reductions

 

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced last week that district-wide fall enrollment is lower than anticipated, necessitating fall staffing adjustments.  STEM K-8 is affected by a .5 FTE reduction in staffing.  Our circumstances were driven by lower middle school student enrollment than anticipated.  Last spring STEM was projected to increase enrollment in all middle school grades.  Our limited middle school history reflects stable, not increasing enrollment numbers.  Apart from the addition of new grades, we maintain approximately the same number of middle school students each year (we lose a few, gain a few).  The trend continued this fall. Compared to the overall SPS loss in enrollment, our enrollment remained stable.

STEM’s staffing adjustment will not affect classroom assignments or our middle school master schedule.  It creates a .5 reduction to our new school intervention position filled by Anhsaly Grant.  Ms. Grant will continue to be at STEM half-time supporting student intervention.

Staffing adjustments are disruptive and frustrating for staff, families and students. This year is especially challenging district-wide. Every year SPS sets aside funding to mediate enrollment changes at the school level. Unfortunately, the district’s actual enrollment for the 2018-19 school year is significantly lower than anticipated. For the first time in 10 years SPS enrollment is lower than the year before. District-wide there are 724 fewer students enrolled than were projected. District set-aside funds were not enough to cover the $7.5 million revenue loss from lower enrollment.  SPS is also constrained by the projection of a significant deficit next year due to restructured state education funding.  The outcome is that SPS must move staff from schools with lower-than-projected enrollment to schools that need additional teachers.  SPS is not alone in having fewer students. Districts near Seattle are also experiencing lower enrollment, while districts further south have seen an increase. Reasons vary, but the cost of housing in our area compared to wages is one likely factor. The appearance of charter schools has also affected secondary enrollment.  District staff are committed to analyzing and better understanding the shifts in enrollment. Enrollment planning staff will be working closely with other districts, the city and partners to produce more accurate student enrollment projections that consider new trends and variables in Seattle.

STEM K-8’s work with families to support student learning will continue move forward.  K-5 Curriculum Night/Open House is this Thursday, 9/27 from 6:00-7:30 pm. We will introduce staff in the cafeteria and then have two, 35 minute classroom sessions. Preschool will schedule a separate family night at a later date. Middle School Curriculum Night is October 4 from 6:00-8:7:30.

 

 

Week of September 10

School has started and we are going to be running full speed for a while!

I want to express a special thank you to our community and PTA who helped support vital staff trainings over the summer.  Thanks to your support we sent teachers this summer to Eurkea math trainings,  Next Gen science trainings at NatureBridge on the Olympic Peninsula, and held a Project Based Learning workshop for our entire teaching staff.  Project Based Learning (PBL) is one of the cornerstones of our vision and growing our PBL practices is an important priority given the number of staff we have added over the last few years.

A few key reminders as we start the year

Supervision starts in the morning at 8:35 am.  There is not supervision available for students before 8:35 am.

Please communicate any emergency changes to your child’s dismissal routine to the office before 2:00 pm.  With 560 scholars it’s impossible to guarantee that last minute plan changes can be communicated to your students.  With the various delays in bussing that plague the first couple of weeks each year I know many families choose to start the year transporting their children.  Communicate to us when that changes.

Dismissal is at 3:25.

The rest of the Wednesday’s this year are Early Release Days and school ends at 2:10 pm.

Back to school forms are available on the Seattle Public Schools website. You can also pick up hard copies at the school office, or ask your child to pick up one to bring home.

Forms needed from all families:FERPA, Emergency Information and Student Release

Others forms may be needed on an individual basis and are available on the Seattle Public Schools website: Free and Reduced Lunch Applications (these have to be turned in every year), Volunteer Background Check, Student Health Information for any students with special health needs, Housing Questionnaire, 504 Identification, Title VII, Advanced Learning applications, and many more. Hart copies are also available in the school office.

Don’t forget to join us at the 1st General PTA meeting of the year on Thursday, September 13th, from 6:30 – 8:00.

We’re glad you’re a part of the STEM community! Thanks for working with us to create powerful learning experiences for your children!

Ben Ostrom

STEM K-8 Principal