Critique my Welcome Letter?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jem, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Aug 2, 2010

    I'm writing this late at night, which is never a good idea. It's technically due tomorrow-I sent this draft in tonight, but I'm sure I can make revisions tomorrow morning as I'll be in the office.

    Anything I should add? I'm trying not to make any 'promises' yet, as I don't have my curriculum fully hammered out yet. I have vague ideas on our homework policy, but again, I don't want to promise anything in case it changes before Sept. 1st.

    Constructive ideas are welcome!

    Welcome to Upper Elementary 2010-2011! It’s going to be an amazing year.

    Writing
    We will continue using the Writer’s Workshop model that was used last year, with some exciting additions. Students will create a Writer’s Notebook filled with their ideas, graphic organizers and rough drafts. After choosing an idea to take through the writing process, they will be privy to a complete publishing station where they can print, bind and present their beautiful book. We will keep these books in our classroom library for all to read until the end of the year. Parents are encouraged to stop in and see the latest additions!

    Reading
    Our classroom is beginning the year with a 400 volume library that will grow each month as we choose books to add as a class. Each book is leveled so students can choose the perfect text for their ability level and reading goals. Book clubs and partner groups will be meeting to discuss commonly-read literature, and we will set goals and learn strategies for meeting those expectations. Students will be encouraged to work on their reading fluency with our recording studio-a special place to record audio books, vocal theatre (think vintage radio plays) and podcasts (internet radio shows) they write themselves.

    Math
    I’m excited to announce our entrance into the world of Investigations, a hands-on math program being piloted this year. Students will explore logic and problem solving through manipulatives, partner games, art, music, movement and writing. We will also be using an innovative computer component to aid in practice and data collection. Be prepared for your student to start finding math in everything they do!

    Social Studies
    Our focus in social studies this year will be San Francisco and California history. Starting with a study of the Native American culture, we’ll work our way through the missions, Manifest Destiny, the Gold Rush and the 1906 earthquake. Students will end the year with a historically accurate re-enactment at Cool Camp! Visit the classroom and follow our journey by viewing the timeline and giant wall map.

    Science
    What do aquariums, 2-liter bottles, bugs, fingerprints and cabbages all have in common? They all have a place in our science lab this year! Students will begin by studying ecosystems and creating their own within several different types of containers. They’ll become ecological detectives, learning the skills required to investigate scientific concepts. Using the springboard of mystery, we’ll ease into the second half of the year by performing chemistry experiments worthy of an episode of CSI. Fingerprinting and secret formulas are just the beginning!

    Design Thinking
    After attending a workshop this summer at Stanford, I’m excited to bring Design Thinking to ***! This technique teaches students how to verbalize the process of creating, whether it be an idea, a physical model or a presentation. While working in groups of 2 or more, students will gather information about a topic, brainstorm solutions, build prototypes and then test their products. Once finished with the process, they will work on reflecting through writing and discussions, all of which will be recorded and available to you as parents.

    Assessment
    In addition to using the Omnibus guide as in years past, Upper Elementary students will also have individual portfolios. These portfolios will be updated each week and will be available to parents at any time. We will be filling these beautiful books with pictures, quotes, reflections and student work, as well as reflections from the students themselves.

    Student Supply List
    In an effort to keep your summer as lazy as possible, we will be doing your back-to-school shopping for you! We ask that you send in a flat supply fee of $50, which will cover all of the following:

    2 binders
    5 composition notebooks
    5 folders
    12 x 12 portfolio
    portfolio sleeves
    pencil box
    graph paper notebook
    flashdrive
    pencils, markers, scissors, glue, etc.

    All we ask that students bring on their first day is a smaller messenger bag or backpack that can fit into a cubby of ___ x ___, a pair of slippers and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

    Communication
    My goal as your student’s teacher this year is to keep the lines of communication wide open. Please feel free to e-mail me at ***, leave a voicemail at ***, or stop by the classroom as you pick your child up. Students will also have a communication binder that they will be using each day to stay organized-you are encouraged to ask them to show it to you nightly.

    Thank you so much for entrusting your child to ***-they are in for a wonderful year!

    Jem
    Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade
     
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  3. sweetlatina23

    sweetlatina23 Cohort

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    Aug 2, 2010

    :thumb: I love the way you introduced each subject you will be teaching. I normally go into the policies and procedures. The only thing I would add is an introduction to who you are, where you went to school, and how long you have been teaching. You don't want to just jump right in and not introduce yourself.
     
  4. jday129

    jday129 Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2010

    Your class sounds great! Do you want to add anything about how you will be handling a mixed grade classroom?
    Also do they need to bring a lunch on the first day? Maybe that's too obvious, but I'd hate for a kid not to eat that first day. I know you have a small school not sure if there is a cafeteria.

    From your letter you come across as very prepared.
     
  5. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    Aug 2, 2010

    One question: Can I come to your class??? Seriously! I love your academics!

    I agree, intro yourself! I went a little OCD on mine last year explaining how this was my first year at X Elmentary school and where I went to do my student teaching and what grade it was, etc. But something like About the Teacher or About the 3rd-5th Grade Team.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 2, 2010

    Overall it looks great Jem. Just a few suggestions:

     
  7. Starista

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    Aug 2, 2010

    Super letter! Very thorough and well-stated! :)
     
  8. MissNikki

    MissNikki Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2010

    Just curious, why do they need slippers?!
     
  9. TiffanyL

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    Aug 2, 2010

    Jem, it looks great and I second Alice's suggestions.

    Just out of curiosity, why is it "technically due"? Are you required to have your welcome letter approved by admin? I can't imagine giving my teachers a due date for their welcome letters....I trust them completely.
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 2, 2010

    My suggestions are similar to Alice's:

    In your Writing section: "privy to" denotes secrecy...You might want to use 'students will have access to..." instead.

    In the Math part: "Be prepared for your student to start finding math in everything they do!" You need agreement between the singular of 'student'- so you could say 'in everything he or she does' which sounds a bit awkward, or go with the plural using something along the lines of 'Students will be actively engaged in finding math connections to almost everything they do!'

    I'd also maybe steer away from the 'lazy' word in the supply section...many families are, in fact, BUSY during the summer with vacations, camp for the kids, balancing schedules...so you may want to reword that part along the lines of "Arrangements for purchase of school supplies have been made for your convenience. Please send a check for $50 which will be used to supply your student with:......"

    Tiffany- the teachers with whom you work are lucky to have you! I work in a similar school climate to what you describe.
     
  11. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Aug 2, 2010

    Excellent suggestions, all! Thank you SO much. I've fixed all the grammatical mistakes.

    To answer questions:
    I didn't know if I should introduce myself, because I have all the same kids from last year except two. I just asked the director and she thought it was a great idea-thanks, sweetlatina and applecore!! And good call about the lunch. Most kids bring their lunch here, but we should address that for sure.

    Alice-Cool Camp is a KMS tradition. It's a 50-acre plot of land by Yosemite, and we went three times last year, once for a whole week. I'll ask the director if we should explain it in more detail.

    Portfolios MUST be updated weekly. It's the one thing I'm holding myself to this year if I have to stay until midnight on Fridays. It's the cornerstone of Reggio, and it just must be done. And the supply can be mandatory, as we're a private school.

    MissNikki-we all wear slippers at the school instead of shoes. We're in an old Victorian mansion that is all carpet, so it helps to keep the floors clean (it's a very dirty major city outside). It also keeps it quiet and keeps fingers safe, as we have lots of little preschoolers crawling around.

    Tiffany-all our school letters are going out together. Babies, preschool, kindergarten, lower elementary, upper elementary, Spanish program and a letter from the directors. So it's due because I'm not actually sending it out-the directors are. I'm finding I have almost complete creative control here, but we are a tight knit school and it's good to run our communication through different channels simply to make sure we are all on message and know what's going on-it's not a 'control' thing by the directors at all. ;)

    Ok. Off to write my personal intro. Thanks again for the suggestions-I used all of them!!
     
  12. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Aug 2, 2010

    Ok. Intro paragraph added to the beginning of the my letter:

    Updated version with personal intro, also attached:

    Welcome to Upper Elementary 2010-2011! It’s going to be an amazing year. While I’ve met all of you over the past few months, there may be a few things about me that you don’t know. Not only am I the upper elementary teacher at ***, but I’ve also been named the Baroness of Time Travel, Duchess of Space Exploration, Countess of Mad Sciencetry, and Ultimate Tour Guide of the Human Body. I received my high school degree from *** in the year 2000 and graduated five years later from the *** with a degree in Education (major: Science, minor: Language Arts). I love to paint and color, create elaborate educational displays and fix up old furniture to use in the classroom. If I’m not careful, I may one day find myself sailing off into the sunset on a pirate ship, as I have a deep fascination for the eye-patch wearing gang and a pirate t-shirt collection to prove it. While I’ve fulfilled many of my dreams in life-owning a business, acting as a professional Disney Princess and being able to do a pull-up, I still have several more to achieve-being a voiceover talent for a cartoon character, touring the castles of England and owning a hedgehog. I’m excited to help your child achieve their dreams this year! Let’s take a look at ways *** will support them in their quest:
     
  13. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2010

    I might change "lazy" to "relaxing." It just seems to send a better message.
     
  14. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    Aug 2, 2010

    At my school we actually turn in a copy of our welcome letter as we leave at the end of the year. Admin does look at it and then it is sent out to the student's. We also do not send indivual letters. Mine is from the 6th grade team. Student's will not find out who their teacher is until it is posted the Friday before school starts.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Could be just me but "Ultimate Tour Guide of the Human Body" sounds a bit...Rated R?:sorry::blush::eek:

    I'm sure it's fine and just my 'summer brain mush'.
     
  16. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Aug 2, 2010

    Haha! I never thought of that. I'll change it. ;)
     
  17. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Aug 2, 2010

    If I received this letter from my son's teacher, I would be sooo excited, knowing that he would have an interesting year.
     
  18. Harper

    Harper Companion

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    Aug 2, 2010

    I thought the same thing! :blush:
     

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