Mrs. Schmitz's Blog

Connecting Home and School

Time Flies

August6

At the end of last school year I said good bye to several students who were redistricted to Monon Trails or moving to another city.  I will truly miss them.  It was just yesterday that we left the building for the summer, wasn’t it?  I am keenly aware that time goes faster and faster.  I make a concerted effort to take each day of summer break one day at a time and breathe…relax…rejuvenate.  I hope you did the same.  I’m excited to have a new beginning each school year.  It’s one of the only professions that allows that opportunity.

This summer I moved into a new classroom.  My partner teacher, Libby Baud, and I moved into the kindergarten wing so we could have 2 bigger rooms that join.  My new room number is 118.   As we have grown as a special education department, sharing one room and splitting the students by grade level was no longer the most productive way to organize.  We now have a great space that allows the students to freely move from one room to the next as needed.  Mrs. Baud has set up an environment that will meet the sensory and social needs of many of our students.  I have set up my classroom to best meet the academic needs of our students that is calming and free of clutter.  Inspired while sitting on the beach in Hilton Head I couldn’t help but notice how tranquil it was and the colors of the sea inspired me.  I think the kids will find my new beach themed classroom to be very inviting and a happy place to spend time.

I look forward to seeing my students who are returning and can’t wait to get to know my new students.  For students who were on Mrs. Baud’s case load and are now on mine, I look forward to building those relationships.   I will spend the first days and first full week of school spending time in the classrooms observing and pulling students for assessments as needed.  I want my students to be in the general education classroom for those days where community building and learning the procedures are so key.  The first many days of school involve looking at all the schedules in the building in order to determine pull out group times. This is quite an endeavor as it involves schedules for recess, specials, lunch, PALS, Fast Forward….you get the idea.  Scheduling is difficult but it always falls in place.  Mrs. Baud and I work together to schedule instructional assistants into classrooms from day 1.  Their schedules are fluid initially until we work out the hot spots.  The IAs work closely with us to support the students academically and socially.  They help collect data and are constantly in communication with us regarding student needs.

A little about me…  I taught 4 th grade for 6 years in Lawrence Township where I also served as an Assistant to the Principal for 3 years.  I was a special education instructional assistant at Maple Glen for 3 years.  This is my 4th year as a Resource Teacher at Maple Glen.  I did my undergraduate studies at Butler University and IUPUI.  Most of my graduate work was completed through Indiana Wesleyan and Purdue University.   My husband, Dave, is a real estate attorney and heavily involved in Westfield’s youth sports program.  My son will be a sophomore at WHS and my daughter will be a senior at WHS.  We love attending baseball games and cross country meets for our kids as well as traveling.

It’s going to be a great year.  I look forward to working together with you to help your child reach their goals.

Welcome Back

August3

     I am thrilled to be back to school to see all my returning students and to meet my new kiddos.    I  had a wonderful summer.  Probably the best in many years.   The highlight of our summer was renting a small lake cottage in Michigan .  We rented a boat, fished, tubed, and relaxed in the hot tub or in front of the fire pit on the cool Michigan evenings.    I was busy with two teenagers and even experienced our first college visit for my daughter, Riley.  Time really flies.   Much of my summer was about being in the moment.   We enjoyed just greeting each day with the attitude of “What we will do today?”  I feel refreshed and rejuvenated.   My busy season begins with the start of school as both of my children run cross country for WHS in the fall. 

    This year I will be Teacher of Record for kindergarten, third grade, and 1/2 of first grade.  Libby Baud is the other resource teacher.  She will be Teacher of Record for second grade, fourth grade, and the other 1/2 of first grade.  I hope you will stop by to see me at Meet the Teacher Night on August 20th.  My classroom is #171 in the 4th grade hallway.    Please note that the phone number in the staff directory on our school home page is incorrect.  My classroom phone number is 896-4765. 

     As your child’s resource teacher, I work very closely with their classroom teacher to provide resources to help them successfully participate in the curriculum in the inclusion classroom.   These resources include visuals, behavior plans, and academic accommodations and all are put in place as needed.  Most of my students also receive pull out services as written in their IEP.   I will begin meeting with small groups after the first couple weeks of school to allow the kids to get to know their classroom teacher, their new classmates, and the expectations / routine of the room.   I will work with the teachers to make a schedule  for my academic and social skills groups.  The first couple of weeks of school I am pushing into the classrooms to make observations.   Instructional assistants are assigned to classrooms with my students.  Libby and I strive to keep IA schedule changes to a minimum but we often need to tweek  after the first week or two to  make sure we are providing the hours of support needed or as new students qualify for our services.  

     I look forward to working with you as  a partner in your child’s education.  I consider it a great honor and a blessing to serve the great kids and parents at Maple Glen.  It’s a great place to be.  

Warmly,

Nancy Schmitz

Can’t Catch Me!

December10

It is hard to believe that we are quickly approaching our winter break.   For the next 2 weeks,  some of my small groups will be doing gingerbread activities.    We will read, compare, and contrast several versions of the story including Gingerbread Cowboy and Gingerbread Pirates.   Who knew there were so many versions of this classic tale?   We will be working in setting, characters, refrain, problem and solution when we compare the texts.   We will enjoy decorating cookies on an Ipad app and tasting cookies to work on descriptive writing.  We will be learning about transition words in our writing.

Here’s what is going on in my groups for the next 2 weeks:

2nd grade morning work:  fluency practice with word parts, Gingerbread activities

4th grade math:  multiplying by multiples of 10, multiplying 2 digits x 1 digit, problem solving 1 step with 2 digit multiplication, Gingerbread comprehension activities.

2nd grade one on one:  sight word books, word work, consonant digraphs review (centers and games)

4th grade small group:  Finishing up Fountas and Pinnell reading level assessments, DIBELS assessments, and Gingerbread activities

4th grade one on one:  “h” brothers spelling list, fluency with word parts, spelling activities, Dear Levi pioneer book, Pioneer day, RAZ kids reading comprehension, and LLI reading texts

Happy Holidays to all of you!!  I wish you a great 2 weeks to finish up your shopping and preparations and a relaxing and safe holiday break.

Warmly,

Mrs. Schmitz

 

 

The Latest

November11

Even with a small group of only 2-3 kids, differentiating instruction is important and necessary.   The Ipad has so many great apps that help me in individualizing my instruction.  I’m so lucky to be teaching in a district where we have such great resources for our students.   RAZ kids is an online reading subscription for a school with a free app that allowed me to set up each of my students with an account that has books at their level.   The student can hear a story read to them, can choose to read the story on their own, and then they can take a quiz.  The quiz is also read aloud to them if that option is chosen.   If a student misses a question, they can go back and work the question again.  This is a very useful tool to be able to complete an assessment on a student while the others are reading something meaningful and at their level of instruction.

As we wind down the first trimester I have been assessing my students in the areas of reading and can take that information to determine where we need to go next.   Progress reports will be sent home on the 20th.

I am excited for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  My family is spending our holiday break at a log cabin in southern Indiana.  It is the coziest and most relaxing place.   We have such a great time hanging out, cooking a big feast, relaxing in a hot tub, reading, and watching movie marathons.   One of our traditions is to take our family videos of when the kids were younger.   It is just beyond belief how fast the time goes with your children.   I treasure these family times.

In my groups for the next 2 weeks, we will be focused on literacy and math activities centered around the Thanksgiving holiday.   We will be working on analogies, parts of speech, character traits, summarizing, and predicting.  One of my new favorite pictures books, Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano, along with other Thanksgiving picture books (informational and literature)  will be the sources for these activities.

Have a safe and relaxing Thanksgiving!

Clever Jack

October11

I love a great children’s picture book.   Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming is a great book for all ages and suitable for a number of skills.  This week I used this same picture book with various groups of different ages.   With each reading, the kids practiced making predictions,  making connections, and ultimately, summarizing the story (for the older kiddos).   By visualizing the beginning, middle, and end on a graphic organizer, the kids are taking their drawings and then writing their summary.   I can’t wait to see the finished product.

The Ipad has become such an integral part of my teaching and assessing.   This week I’ve been able to use the Ipad to take pictures of students  exhibiting appropriate behaviors in order to create visual reminders to keep at their desks.   This week the Ipad was in the hands of most every one of my students in one way or another.   One student chose to listen to quiet music from Pandora while he wrote.  Two of my 4th graders completed a reading comprehension assessment at their level using a reading app.   Although the app was little more than reading paragraphs and answering questions, they were more engaged and found it to be more fun.   And I will add…perfect scores on the assessments!!  Wow!!   In math, one of my students  used virtual place value manipulatives on the Ipad to model and practice subtraction with borrowing.   I look forward to this next several days where some of my kids will be using the Ipad to publish a short story.   Others will be using phonics apps to practice short “o” word families.

A Shining Star Week

September21

It’s Friday morning and as I reflect on this week, I have to say it’s one of the best ever regarding the student progress I’ve seen.   I am seeing growth in a very short time with my students and it is exciting.  This is the most hardworking group of kids, EVER!   I emailed several parents this week just to tell you how amazing I think your kids are.   I was sharing with one parent that their child asks me if she can do more work.  When we finish a book, she asks if she can read another.  I wish I could share her name because I’m so proud of her but for confidentiality, she must remain an “anonymous shining star”.    She is working toward the goal of reading a book to a class of younger students.  She is so incredibly motivated to be a better reader and her enthusiasm is contagious.

This past week my 2nd graders enjoyed playing a great round of “Roll, Say, Keep” to practice their sight words.   We also had races (against their own time) to see how many sight words they could read in a minute.   They were excited to count how many cards were in their pile.   We did our first round of journal writing.  Impressive!!!  I asked them to write at least 3 sentences about a story we read.   Every single one of them had all capitals and punctuation correctly and did a spectacular job of sounding out words they didn’t know.   The details in their writing were right on target.   Please make sure your child reads the book that comes home in their plastic envelope and returns it the next day.  In addition, they can practice the words in their white word envelopes.   They earn a piece on Mr. Potato Head when they all remember to bring back their book.

In 4th grade math, we are wrapping up place value.   I’m telling you, I saw Place Value Power in action this week.   We are moving to addition and subtraction with bigger numbers.

Some of my 4th graders continued to work on visualizing with The Oxcart Man and Pictures from Our Vacation.  Their creative drawings of what they visualized will hang on our bulletin board.   We will continue working on visualizing and making connections.

As I put an end to this weekly blog update, I am excited about the potential of a new puppy.   We have a wonderful dog named Jack and we are so blessed he is a really good dog.   We have always wanted a friend for Jack and have hoped to rescue a small breed.   We have a big crush on a dog at a distant rescue shelter and are visiting him on Saturday.  His name is Cheeto.   He needs a good home but we also want to be sure he is a good match for our family.    I’ve shared his picture with all of the kids this week and they think he is adorable.   I’ll keep you posted on our decision.

Enjoy your weekend.  Thank you for sharing your kids with me.   I consider myself so lucky to be in a profession that allows me to make a difference.   Thank you!!!

Off to a Great Start!

September6

This week we started small and groups and one on one pull out schedule.   In 2nd grade, my students have started working with the Word Works program to help them build their recognition of sight words, reading fluency, and spelling skills.    We played a competitive round of ZAP, a favorite sight word game.   We read the book, “I Met a Moose in Maine One Day” and they met my soft furry Moose that goes along with the story.  We worked on prereading strategies of looking at the pictures and making predictions.   We made connections to the story and I was very impressed with the stories I heard.   I have been assessing my 2nd graders in the areas of phonics, reading, and reading fluency.   This information is valuable for planning instruction.    With a few of my students we have started using the IPad for sight word and phonics practice.

In Math, my 4th graders are working on place value with larger numbers.   We read “What is a Million” by Steven Kellogg and it was insightful to visualize just how much a million is.    With the unit on place value I cover standard form, expanded form, and word form.  We compare and order numbers.  Next we will be starting addition with larger numbers.

My 4th graders also enjoyed the Moose in Maine story.    The kids really enjoy the more challenging 4th grade work work program.   They love guessing the mystery word.

Next week is NWEA and several groups will not meet because they are scheduled for NWEA when it is group time.

Let’s Get Started!

August31

I am very excited to get started with groups on Tuesday, September 4th.   I have enjoyed my time observing students in their new classrooms and meeting individually with students to complete assessments, get caught up, and talk about goals.   I have met with classroom teachers and worked out schedules.  Instructional Assistants have been assigned to classrooms.      For my language arts pull out groups,  we will be talking about our summer vacations.   I went to Maine and brought back some great pictures books written by Maine authors and will be incorporating these books into my comprehension lessons for pre-reading, during reading, and after reading strategies with a focus on visualization.    I even have a few furry friends (stuffed of course) that wil help me read these books.  One is a moose and the other a sea otter.   My LA arts groups will set up their writing journals this week as well as writing their academic goals for the year.   We will utilize the Ipads and discover the many (over 200) apps I have available for academic support.    I will work with the students on the expectations of group time.  We will read The Interrupting Chicken, which is a great story about how interrupting can really spoil the fun.    Let’s get started!!!   It’s going to be a great year.

Children’s Resource Group

August23

I will often post links to information that is sent to me by the district’s counselors and psychologiest about community resources.  Here is some information sent to me from the Children’s Resource Group.

Greetings!

Due to popular request, CRG providers will run a variety of groups this fall for children, teens, and adults.  Groups start soon (August 2012) so don’t delay in registering!  Unless otherwise noted, groups cost $70.00/session.

Overview of Fall Groups*

For Boys:
Solutions, ages 7-10 (Thursdays 4:00 to 5:00); Dr. Nathan Larson
Challengers, ages 13-16 (Thursdays, 5:00 to 6:00); Dr. Nathan Larson
Navigators, ages 12-17 (Tuesdays, 5:30 to 6:30); Beth Waite
For Girls:
Girl Power, ages 8-11 (Tuesdays, 5:00 to 6:00); Dr. Sarah Norris
Good FIT, ages 14-18 (Mondays, 5:00 to 6:00); Dr. Sandra Burkhardt
Co-ed Groups:
Detectives, ages 7-10 (Tuesdays, 4:30 to 5:30); Beth Waite
Groups for Parents/Grandparents:
Mothers’ Support Group (3rd Wednesday each month, noon to 1:00); Dr. Chris Kerr (free)
Recipes for Success (2nd Monday each month, 11:00 to noon); Dr. Sandra Burkhardt (free)

Click here ( http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001ORAVmiAcqVzqqwNaSNeZ4EXL_VMVgk15fdXAMT-a5-BQ9V-wyx0ip_kDtCTZpZyIASDfGBUEjFUV-T4eVyturdsUkbz8wH2hkZ5krOTHaFY9AOyBrvBlevN1vJoKhFhP2OhKfehOxBbqCXaylJ8YOwqwWxAbvbtLBF_KsdmJST8NEcZdeCw23Kj5jEdnsH8DjC9eSOAH-O6SxsdFS_rODxW3_6v1Utv6jx3fvJYOYtT2Os5YrbjLQVKv3KR830yyd1Eudbqf_X48VdtiJSbOvSOP5B3RYrN0x71gj_F_nSMJpzT5nuCQCYPdnqBZz1Cpml1w1lypSC3O5N5enJoXoItEJRXubvVnA400-AhKOuTYaQUHxKPdi8NK88JnZCPsEkilKEJeGCA= ) for more details about each group.

Groups offer cost-efficient ways to make friends, develop social skills, enhance problem-sovling skills, gain information, and expand your resources.  All groups are run by CRG’s highly skilled and credentialed providers.  Most groups meet weekly for the entire semester.

Call (317) 575-9111 for more info or to register.

Children’s Resource Group
CRG

Welcome Back!!

August9

Dear Families,

I would have to say, this has been one of the best summers EVER!!  I felt like I had a good balance of fun, relaxation, and getting things done.   The highlight of my summer was our family trip to Maine.   We stayed in a quaint coastal town where we went whale watching, fishing, kayaking, and managed to eat lobster every day.

I invite you to follow my blog as I will post important dates, upcoming events, and information about what we are working on in groups in my classroom.    You can sign up to follow this blog by email.  Let me know if you have any problems doing so.

I will be available on the 16th at the social so please come by Room 171 to say hello.  As soon as I have the instructional assistant schedules completed,  the department section will be updated.

I will be making personal phone calls to each of my families in the first two weeks of school.   I will be the inclusion teacher for K, 2, and 4.   I look forward to catching up with the parents and students I already know and am extremely excited about meeting my new students and parents.

It’s going to be a fantastic year!!   Welcome Back!

Warmly,

Mrs. Schmitz

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