District News

Life in the WDMCS 11/4/13

Clive Elementary
Allie Kirk’s second graders at Clive Elementary have been talking about author’s purpose. As they continue to study different genres of text, they have recognized that authors always have a purpose when writing a story. Students have been studying text as a class, as a small guided reading group and independently and are always able to share out their findings on authors purpose. To celebrate success, they voted on a classroom favorite fiction book “Spiderman” and determined that the author wrote this text to entertain his audience. Spiderman himself came in to read this book to our class last week.

Crestview Elementary
Third graders at Crestview have been learning about correct pausing while reading. They learned that paying attention to the punctuation the author uses helps them read a text fluently. This past week, students were assigned a role in a Reader’s Theater script, and then they presented part of it to their classmates.

Crestview fourth graders sang a song about the Day of the Dead at the Des Moines Art Center’s Day of the Dead celebration. The Crestview Dance Club also performed during the celebration. Art from third graders was displayed in the room during the performance. The performers practiced with Señora Tammy Dann. The dancers practiced with Gumaro DeAvila and Maria Lopez DeAvila. The art was created during art class with Sarah Petersen.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Each year fourth and fifth grade students who already know Spanish are invited to participate in the Native Speaker Spanish Quiz Bowl. This year 12 students attended from Fairmeadows. They played games against other elementary schools and spoke only in Spanish. They also ate churros, a delicious authentic dessert. The students who attended this year were fourth graders Adolfo Jurado, Alex Bacilio, Oscar Lara, Louis Lara, Diana Aguirre, Kenneth Yanqui and Anjel Tapia; and fifth graders Benjamin Díaz, Juan Jurado, Jonathan Rojas, James Beaty and Luis Cruz-Vallejo.

Hillside Elementary
How do the parts impact the whole? This is the question fifth grade students at Hillside Elementary are inquiring about while in the middle of their first Artful Learning unit of the school year. Students are studying the woodlands. In order to inquire about and answer this question students have studied the sculpture Tanktotem II by David Smith and how events in his life impacted him as an artist, dissected both a seed and a flower to learn about how the parts impact the whole, and studied the parts of the trunk and their impact on the tree’s life. Most recently, students visited Thomas Mitchell Park and worked with naturalists while learning more about how the parts of the forest impact the entire forest.

Hillside first graders just completed an Artful Learning unit on connections and insects. Students explored how they are connected to the world around them and how they are connected to other living things. Students also learned through different inquiry centers how insects live and connect to their own world. They visited Raccoon River Park and used their senses to explore and learn more about the insect world. Students took what they experienced back to Hillside and created an environmental soundscape that showed what they learned through art and music.

Hillside kindergarten classes celebrated Character Counts week with many fun activities. They read books about good character, drew pictures and role played about how to be the best good Character Counts students they could be at school. They had fun each day celebrating by wearing colored shirts, slippers and hats to go with the Character Counts pillars. Their favorite thing to do each day was dancing the Character Counts Shuffle!

WDMCS students performed various songs and skits about the Day of the Dead at the Des Moines Art Center. Nine fifth grade students from Hillside Elementary did a retelling of the traditional story “Chumba.” They dressed up as skeletons, the main characters of the story, and acted out the plot of the story as the story was recited by each student. Please help me in congratulating the following students for their job well done: Aurora Salcido, José Valdivia, Kassie Freeman, Alondra Berber, Mariah Beaty-Martens, Maya Williams, Mason Liddle, Hannah Yule and Maisy O’Hern.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Jordan Creek fourth graders have been practicing multiplication facts and are exploring the relationship between multiplication and division in math class. They also practiced using a map scale to calculate distance. They worked on story problems and on using parentheses in number sentences. Everyday Math Online has lots of fun games to help with fact practice and there’s always good old fashioned flashcards!

The guided reading groups enjoyed reading “My Trip to the Galapagos Islands” and “Making Great Greeting Cards and Gifts.” As they read, students worked on the strategies of Identifying sequence of events and determining text importance. They will continue to work on fluency by reading the Reader’s Theater production “Across a Stream.” During Word Study, they worked with words that have the following patterns: long a and short a, long e and short e, and long i and short i.

In language arts during writer’s workshop, fourth graders are in the process of revising the first draft of their writing piece. They have been adding sensory details and interesting words to their stories. Next, they will edit the piece and then publish it. They will be sharing our newly published books during an author’s party. The next unit will be on personal narrative. Studetns have also been writing different types of poetry, including acrostics and diamantes. The cinquain poem is next. By the end of the year, there will be a collection of poems which will be published in a poetry book or Powerpoint presentation.

In science and social studies fourth graders have finished learning about the Northeast region of the U.S. Each student researched one of the states and presented his/her information in a flip book. The next science unit will be on bones. Students will learn that there are 24 main bones of the body.

Phenix Elementary
At Phenix, students and staff have been practicing keeping their bodies active and healthy. Phenix kids know that a big part of staying healthy is eating good food! Starting this week , Phenix will begin monthly Wellness Wednesday Tastings. Students will spend one Wednesday morning each month learning about a new, healthy food. Before they taste the new food, students discuss the food and how it helps their body stay healthy. This week, the kids will talk about butternut squash and will get to taste spaghetti squash.

Westridge Elementary
During the Giving Season, we hope to enrich the lives of others. Westridge is participating in a Giving Tree campaign once again this year. We will be adopting Westridge families in an effort to make their holiday season a happy one. Our Giving Tree, located in the Westridge lobby, will be decorated with cards describing items needed by our adopted families during the Giving Season. If you would like to purchase something for one of our adopted family members, please take a card, and return the item, unwrapped, with the card attached. The campaign will run from November 18 through December 6.

Fifth graders at Westridge enjoyed a beautiful autumn day on their field trip to the Raccoon River Nature Lodge. The trip was part of the students’ study of forests and woodlands in science. The fifth graders were able to increase their understanding of animals’ adaptations by making plaster prints of animal tracks. Students had the chance to explore in the woods, searching for rotten logs and the decomposers that caused the breakdown of the wood. Melanie Perry, the naturalist at the Nature Lodge, taught the fifth graders how to use compasses to find their way if they were ever lost. Many students’ favorite activity was fishing, which was a new experience for some! The many fish that were caught were photographed with a proud fisher and released back into the lake. Over thirty parents volunteered their time to drive fifth graders to the Nature Lodge and to help with the activities.

Valley Southwoods
The WDMCS and the City of West Des Moines co-hosted 23 teams from around the state in the first Iowa FTC Regional Qualifier this weekend at Valley Southwoods. All robots successfully passed hardware and software inspections. Five teams from the WDMCS competed, with four advancing to the semifinals. Valley’s Beta 3550 team advanced to the finals and was awarded PTC Design Award. This judged award recognizes design elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic. All successful robots have innovative design aspects, however, the PTC Design Award is presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their solution. These design elements could simplify the robot’s appearance by giving it a clean look, be decorative in nature, or otherwise express the creativity of the team. Teams 6691 Borderline Obsessed Technicians and 7617 Elemental Fusion from Valley and team ^^\/\/<><>BA 6775 (up up down down left right left right BA) from Valley Southwoods all advanced to the semi-finals. Thank you to the more than 70 volunteers who helped make this event possible.

Valley High School
Adam Carroll, co-author of “Winning the Money Game,” visited the Valley economics classes to discuss his book and talk to the students about how they can “win the money game!” His entertaining presentation was packed with good tips that the students can use to help them avoid debt and grow their money. With college debt skyrocketing, teaching students how to make good decisions with their money is critical. WDMCS Student Scholarship Fund is not only proud to present scholarships to Valley students but to also help them learn how to handle their money.

Walnut Creek
Staff and students at Walnut Creek Campus spooked the hallways during the recent holiday. Witch-Principal Kim Davis, Day of the Dead-Student Kaley Baldwin, Batman-Student Justin Christensen, Mask-case worker Sean Hubner

Four Teams Advance to Semifinals of FTC Regional

ftc-robot-teamsThe WDMCS and the City of West Des Moines co-hosted 23 teams from around the state in the first Iowa FTC Regional Qualifier this weekend.

All robots successfully passed hardware and software inspections. Five teams from the WDMCS competed, with four advancing to the semifinals. Valley’s Beta 3550 team advanced to the finals and was awarded PTC Design Award. This judged award recognizes design elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic. All successful robots have innovative design aspects, however, the PTC Design Award is presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their solution. These design elements could simplify the robot’s appearance by giving it a clean look, be decorative in nature, or otherwise express the creativity of the team.

Teams 6691 Borderline Obsessed Technicians and 7617 Elemental Fusion from Valley and team ^^\/\/<><>BA 6775 (up up down down left right left right BA) from Valley Southwoods all advanced to the semi-finals.

Thank you to the more than 70 volunteers who helped make this event possible.

Iowa Assessment Testing Set to Begin

clive_school_site_girl_studyingThe annual state required test will be administered to students in grades 3-11 over the next several weeks, with secondary students already completing some of the testing in October. You may be familiar with the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, which is given to students in grades 3-8, or the Iowa Tests of Educational Development, which is given to students in grades 9-11. These tests are now called the Iowa Assessments. In addition to the name change, several portions of the new test have been rewritten to align with the Common Core State Standards.

Students will be tested in the following general areas: reading, writing expression, math, computation, science, social studies and vocabulary. Students in grades 3-8 are also tested in spelling, capitalization and punctuation. The reading, written expression, vocabulary, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, mathematics and computation tests have all been aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

The Iowa Assessments will be conducted in the same manner as in the past and student reports will be sent home in January.

If you have questions, feel free to contact your building administrator.