Rolling out RULER–STEM K-8’s new Social and Emotional Curriculum

At STEM K-8 we understand that emotions matter! This year, we are excited to be using RULER, an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that helps school communities integrate the teaching of emotional intelligence into daily life. RULER teaches five key 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 integrates these skills into the academic curriculum and provides opportunities for students and all the key adults involved in their education – teachers, administrators, and family members – to learn and apply these skills.

What are the positive outcomes of RULER?

  • Improved academic performance (11-12% increase in standardized test scores)
  • Reduced aggression (handling unpleasant feelings in socially acceptable ways)
  • Reduced anxiety
  • More supportive, productive, and compassionate classrooms
  • We look forward to partnering with you and sharing more about RULER. Please keep an eye on the school calendar and newsletter for RULER resources and workshops we will offer to help you practice the skills of emotional intelligence at home.

More detailed information on RULER:

RULER is comprised of four Anchor Tools. These are evidence-based tools designed to enhance the emotional intelligence of school leaders, teachers and staff, and students and their families.

The Anchor Tools include:

  • 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.

STEM K-8’s introduction (to staff and students) of RULER began with the Charter.  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 leaders, 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.



Center for the Collaborative Classroom (CCC) Literacy Curriculum

Some notes on the Collaborative Classroom Literacy Curriculum students are experiencing this year:

Grades K-2 of Collaborative Literacy are comprised of three programs, or modules. Being a Reader is the module that helps children in kindergarten through grade 2 learn how to read. In whole-class Word Study lessons, students learn about patterns and parts in words. They sort words and discuss them with partners and with the class. Word Study lessons help students explore how words work. During the first few weeks of Being a Reader, students learn to work independently in reading, writing, and word work. Teaching students to work independently allows me to begin Small-group Reading within a few weeks of starting school. Small-group Reading is targeted reading instruction with groups of students who are working on similar reading skills. The students in each group get the individual instruction that they need, and they read books that are at their reading level.

Students K-2 and 3-5 will participate in Making Meaning.  This module is designed to help students build their reading comprehension. The students hear books read aloud and discuss them with partners and the class. They learn key comprehension strategies readers use to help them understand what they read, including wondering (questioning), using text features, and determining important ideas. At upper grades they learn strategies that including questioning, analyzing text structure, determining important ideas, and summarizing. They also practice reading independently every day during Individualized Daily Reading (IDR). The first unit of Making Meaning focuses on building a reading community. The students talk about what they like to read. They listen to, read, and discuss stories. They also practice the social skill of listening carefully to others.

Students K-5 also participate in Being a WriterBeing a Writer helps students build their writing skills. The students hear and discuss examples of good writing and write original pieces in a variety of genres. During the first unit of Being a Writer, the students practice the social skills of working responsibly, listening respectfully to the thinking of others, sharing their own thinking, and showing interest in and appreciation for others’ writing. These skills help the students build a supportive writing community.


Welcome Back!



Dear Louisa Boren STEM K-8 Families:


Welcome to another exciting year at Louisa Boren STEM K-8!  Over the summer we continued our growth, adding new grades, programs and rooms.  Our staff have been meeting to plan an amazing school year.  A remarkable community of staff, students, and families make STEM K-8 a special place.  Our expansion to 8th grade will continue to produce some growing pains.  The additional time involved in adding staff, developing plans, modifying facilities, and obtaining mean I may fall behind on email.


Some ways to keep in the communication loop:

  1. Bookmark the STEM K-8 PTA and Louisa Boren STEM K-8 websites (they overlap and contain a wealth of useful information).
  2. Make sure your email address is accurate and updated in the school information system (check the online the data verification forms you receive at the beginning of the school year). You will receive the PTA/School newsletter (Owl Post) weekly and other updates via School Messenger that use that email address.
  3. Follow me on my school blog at or @PrincipalOstrom on Twitter. Both are linked to the school and PTA website and PTA Facebook page and share important news, ideas, and developments.


Some key information regarding the new year:

  1. Start and End Time: 8:50 am and 3:25 pm. ***These are new***
    1. (The posted SPS start time of 8:55 marks the tardy bell)


  1. Pick up/Drop off/Parking:

Supervision and breakfast start at 8:35 am. Please do not bring your child to school before 8:35 am as there is no supervision.

For Morning Drop off and Dismissal:  Students may be dropped off or picked up in the designated zone on the west end of the playground.   Parents may pull into the drop off/pick up zone and supervisors will direct children accordingly.  When in the pick up line please remain in your car.  We will bring your child to you.  Parents wanting to walk and pick up children may park in the visitor parking section of the parking lot, or the park and walk section designated “School Load and Unload only” along Delridge.  Students may not be dropped off on Delridge to walk to the playground.  To respect instructional time and traffic flow in a building serving more than 560 students, we ask parents to pick up and drop off outside (or in the office for late arrivals) rather than at classroom doors. If you need to talk with the teacher, you are welcome to come into the building.  However, on the first day of school students and parents may go directly to classrooms

A crosswalk and flashing lights make it permissible to park on the west side of Delridge and walk your child to the playground/school.  For safety reasons students may not be dropped off on either side of Delridge to walk to the playground. Parents must walk from those parking spots to drop off/pick up their children on the playground.  FYI—During school hours/flashing lights driving faster than the posted speed limit will incur a hefty camera-recorded ticket!

For safety reasons we are asking families to walk around the parking lot and use the exit crosswalk rather than cut across the parking lot for pick up.

  1. Classroom Assignments:

Due to changes in FERPA regulations, classroom assignments are no longer posted publicly.  Classroom assignments will be shared at the end of the day on Thursday, August 31 via email using School Messenger.  On the first day of school there will be staff and volunteers available to share assignments and families may walk students to their new classrooms.


  1. Important Dates:


August 31, 6:00-7:30: Middle School Orientation.

***Since we welcomed Kindergartners with a Jump Start week, we are no longer hosting a Kindergarten and New Student orientation.  If you’re a new 1st-5th grade family and want to view the school and ask questions before September 6, we will host a brief tour on 8-31 from 5:15-5:30 PM***


September 6: First day of school for students in Seattle Preschool Program and grades 1-8.


First day of school decompression coffee hour! 

8:50-9:50 am meet with other parents and me to celebrate/decompress.


September 6, 7, and 8: Family Conferences with Kindergarten families.


September 8, 5:30-8:00 pm: 6th ANNUAL STEM BACK TO SCHOOL BASH! B2SB6 Lincoln Park NORTH END Shelter & picnic tables 60-84. Stay tuned to school/PTA Facebook page for updates Be there or be c


September 11: The first day of school for kindergarten students.


September 13, 6:30-8:00 pm PTA meeting.  Come to the first PTA meeting of the year to discuss plans and what’s happening! There will also be a Uniform Swap – bring uniform items that don’t fit anymore and exchange them for ones that do.


September 28: PreK-5th Grade Curriculum Night and Open House


October 5: Middle School Curriculum Night and Open House


  1. Uniform Expectations:

STEM K-8 is a uniform school (yes, for middle schoolers too)!  Uniforms were adopted to build community, decrease inequalities and distractions, support safety, and many other reasons.  Visit the STEM School Website for full details on uniform expectations and guidelines.  A uniform closet exists to support families requesting financial assistance to meet uniform guidelines, and also address short term needs.


  1. School Supplies:

We will not be distributing a school supplies list. In lieu of an expensive list of supplies we ask K–5 students bring a backpack and a check made to STEM K-8 for $45 and middle school students a backpack and check for $85. This can be left with teachers the first week of school and payment can be spread out over multiple months if needed. The supply payment is not required and all students will receive the same supplies ordered by their teachers in each classroom. Middle school fees help cover additional technology and science additional supplies used at the middle school level.


  1. Welcome to New and Returning Staff:

STEM K-8 welcomes several new staff members, and some staff changed assignments.  K-8 and program expansion means you’ll see new faces.  We added 8th Grade, a second PE teacher, a second Access Special Education program, and an inclusion model Seattle Preschool Program.  We also said goodbye to some staff members who transitioned to new places and jobs.  We were fortunate to find amazing educators committed to STEM learning to teach your children.


Grade/Program Teacher


Anya Dale
Seattle Preschool Program Abby Reid
K Wendy Morgan
K Alisha Henderson
1st Jessica Brodland
1st Adrienne Ollernshaw  (Soheyla Nur moved on to an ELL Position)
2nd Jodi Williamson
2nd Krissy Soltman
3rd Sunny Graves
3rd Kirsten Colby
4th Kent Daniels
4th Daniel Castelli (Ryan Schaedig moved on to a math support position)
4th Christina Massimino (Joe Roicki moved out of district)
5th Deborah Giza
5th Lauren Martin
5th Matt McGavick
5th David Goldenkranz (an additional class size reduction position)
6th Travis DesAutels
6th Adrienne Perkins
7th Heidi Paulson
7th-8th Craig Parsley
7th-8th Ethan Bleeker (new middle school math position)
8th Drew Kincl (new 8th grade position)
Resource Nicole Albertson (replaces Katie in her Resource Room position)
Resource Rebecca Ray (Feige Engelsberg decided to care full time for her children)
Access Melissa Graham
Access Katie Griffith (Katie moves to a new Access position from resource)
Distict Mary McGuire
Distinct Shamsah Rahim
PFA Marie Nelson
Computer Julie Schmick
PE Neisha Batiste (Ed Adams moved to Vancouver Island to care for parents)
PE Chad Smith (a new PE position)
Library Mary Bannister
Band Casey Cheever
ELL Lee-Chin Chua
Counselor Meredith Osborne


Special Education Craig Rankin
Special Education Greg Wolfe
Special Education Michael Brown
Special Education Ron Adams
Special Education Hayward Coleman
Special Education Lynn Ferguson
Special Education Jennifer Ramierez
Special Education Anisha Madden
Seattle Preschool Program Mercedes Diggs
ELL Tuubo Jamac
LAP Stephanie Hughes
Custodial Engineer Tom Zech
Administrative Secretary Cindy Baca
Office  Assistant Christa Howsmon
Nurse Rena Anderson
Assistant Principal Kim Noble
Principal Ben Ostrom


Exciting things are in the air!  STEM K-8 staff are working hard to get ready for your children.  We will have much to share and celebrate in the weeks to come.  Thank you for trusting our staff to partner with you to create a powerful learning community for your children.



Ben Ostrom

Benjamin Ostrom

Louisa Boren STEM K-8 Principal

Developing Math Vision and Practices at STEM K-8

Thanks to “What Parents Should Know” (, “Advice for Parents from Professor Jo Boaler” (, and Joe Roicki for significant contributions to this article.

STEM K-8 staff undertook a lengthy evaluation of the way we deliver math instruction to students this year.  We were driven by an ongoing struggle to achieve high levels of success with all students in mastering common core standards, and also providing opportunities for challenge and acceleration across a range of skill levels.

The way we were teaching students was not preparing them for the higher demands of college and careers today and in the future. Our staff is committed to improving teaching and learning to ensure that all children will graduate high school with the skills they need to be successful.

In mathematics, this means major changes. Teachers will concentrate on teaching a more focused set of major math ideas and skills. This allows students greater time to master key math concepts and skills in a more organized way throughout the year and from one grade to the next. It will also call for teachers to use rich and challenging math content and to engage students in solving real-world problems in order to inspire greater interest in mathematics.

The major changes – greater focus on fewer major topics, coherence within a school year and across grade levels, and rigor in the form of challenging, complex, and real-world problem solving – align with the philosophy behind Singapore math, which served as a model in the construction of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M). This three-dimensional framework provides the structure for teachers to provide higher-quality math instruction for all students.

In order to meet the goals of the framework, teachers must have access to high quality, standards-aligned instructional materials. The Primary Mathematics series of textbooks we have been utilizing have not met these new requirements, causing teachers to spend too much planning time finding or creating materials. The Primary Mathematics series is based on the California State Standards, predating the CCSS-M.  This contributes to a lack of alignment across grade levels, widening learning gaps and decreasing school achievement in mathematics.

As we worked to refine a vision for mathematics at STEM K-8, staff identified a need for supplemental instructional and assessment materials that a) support differentiation and multiple math pathways that build conceptual understanding and elicit student thinking b) support baseline, formative, and summative assessments aligned to standards, and c) support efficient teacher preparation and student learning.

While no single set of instructional materials will address all the challenges inherent in teaching mathematics, we believe that the Eureka Math provides an important supplement and large step towards meeting the expectations set by the CCSS-M. With materials based on the CCSS-M, teachers can spend more time developing best practices in teaching mathematics, including engaging students in rich tasks, conducting class discussions about strategies, and helping students communicate mathematical reasoning.

Our next steps include defining a clear professional development sequence to achieve our goals in mathematics, and identifying multiple measures of success that we can use as checkpoints.

As we continue this work at STEM K-8, do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher if you have concerns or questions. You are a vital part of your child’s education. Ask to see samples of your child’s work, or bring samples with you. One of the most important things parents can do for their children with regards to math learning is to model a growth mindset – that learning math is about making sense and working hard. Making mistakes means that their brains are growing and learning, not that they are not “smart.” Ask questions like:

  • Is my child making adequate progress at this point of the year?
  • Where is my child excelling? How can I support this success?
  • What do you think is giving my child the most trouble? How can I help my child improve in this area?
  • What can I do to help my child with upcoming work?

Thank you all for your support as we continue to strive to provide the best education possible for your children!


STEM K-8 Math Program Vision and Goals

STEM teachers talk regularly about math instruction.  Teachers are grappling with how to challenge and support the wide range of learners in classrooms, best practices in math instruction, and mastering common core standards.  On April 26 staff discussed our vision and goals for STEM’s math program. The outcome of that conversation is pasted below. At Wednesday, May 3rd’s 6:30-8:00 pm PTA meeting parents will have an opportunity to discuss and respond to this draft statement about our vision for math at STEM.

Vision and Goals for STEM K-8’s Math Program 

  • Built on strong depth of knowledge regarding common core standards, both at and across grade levels.
    1. Content and Practice standards.
    2. Based on grade level progression documents that incorporate developmental and mathematical readiness.
    3. Balances needs for acceleration, challenge, and support (how, why, and when).
      1. Middle school students need to meet requirements for Algebra and beyond.
  • Supports ongoing development of instructional best practices
    1. Provides a clear professional development sequence.
    2. Emphasizes differentiation and rigor.
      1. Recognizes differences between and provides opportunities for challenge and acceleration.
    3. Develops formative assessments to monitor student learning and build further understanding.
    4. Addresses the widening range in student skills partly connected to changes in student population.
    5. Takes advantage of STEM math opportunities in PBL and other disciplines.
  • Instructional and assessment materials support efficient teacher preparation and student learning.
    1. Includes supports for differentiation and multiple math pathways that build conceptual understanding and elicit student thinking.
    2. Supports baseline, formative, and summative assessments aligned to standards.
  • Clear criteria for student success
    1. Historically was mastery of standardized tests, opportunities for acceleration and challenge.
    2. SBA performance tasks require deep knowledge and application of skills, and are based on common core standards.
      1. There are debates around whether test format is fair for all students.
    3. Includes common assessment practices within and across grade levels.
    4. Communicates skill and performance levels as students transition between grade levels.
    5. It’s important to our community that Middle school students meet requirements for Algebra and beyond.

Celebrate STEM

Sometimes the clouds break and sun shines in! I want to send some love to all the families and staff whose amazing contributions powered the Steampunk Auction on Saturday night!  It was an amazing celebration of STEM community that provides critical support for the programs that  empower our vision. Special thanks to Robin Graham for her auction leadership and all the other volunteers who helped secure donations, produce class art projects, and organize an astounding event.  Your work makes a difference!

Thanks everyone!


A first glance at STEM K-8’s 2017-18 budget

Spring is sniffing its way past the various freezes and snows. In Seattle Public Schools that means preparations for staffing and budget for next fall are underway.  WA State’s failure to address school funding and the school levy cliff (see Seattle Public Schools budget update) is wreaking havoc on school districts throughout the state.

STEM K-8 will not experience losses as large as some other schools.  We continue to grow with strong enrollment demand, which helps absorb the effect of funding reductions.  At this point I see two clear impacts from 2017-18 STEM budget/staffing projections: 1) larger class sizes (26 students/class K-3rd grade, 28 students/class 4th-5th grade, 32 students/class middle school), and 2) the loss of anticipated staffing support previously allocated to K-8’s with 3 grades (another 1.0 fte office assistant, .5 fte additional certificated support).  Some major challenges we are trying to address at this juncture include Middle School instrumental music instruction, planning support for Project Based Learning and pre K-8 expansion, and the final round of iPad purchases for the middle school 1:1 program.  The 2017-18 staffing package included new allocations for two additional Access programs, two 8th grade classroom, and additional specialist time to meet PE requirements.  As our planning for 2017-18 moves forward, we will partner with families and the STEM K-8 PTA to meet our community’s top priorities.