Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mindset ... An Introduction

The importance of developing a growth mindset, as both learners and teachers, has become clear to the members of the Great Falls School community. 

In a fixed mindset individuals believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are fixed traits. They believe we each have a certain amount and that’s that.

In a growth mindset individuals understand that talents and abilities can be developed through effort, teaching and learning, and persistence.

People who have a growth mindset don’t necessarily think everyone is the same, but they do believe each of us can improve at anything if we work at it. 

We will continue to share resources and information around improving mindset to support the great work at Great Falls, as we continue to develop growth mindsets in our students and ourselves! 

Great Falls is such a motivating place to teach and learn.  
Each of the photos on this page can be found in our school~ 


Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006.
Ricci, Mary C. Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Cultureof Success and Student Achievment in Schools.Texas: Prufrock Press, 2013. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Year of Great Events

Take Out Your Calendar and 
Prepare for a Year of Great Events!

Celebrate Learning All Year Long!

It's Attendance Awareness Month!
 September 8 is International Literacy Day, marking the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.

 Global Read Aloud begins in October. Join classrooms all over the world in a shared read aloud experience.
October is also National Bullying Prevention Month. Be kind and appreciate diversity!

 November Is Picture Book Month! Picture books are for every age and often teach us powerful lessons. Read a classic such as The Giving Tree, or Blueberries for Sal, or try a new author like Mo Willems!

The Winter Solstice occurs around December 21st. It is the shortest day of the year. People all over the world participate in festivals and celebrations. Learn more about how different cultures and peoples celebrate.

 January 21 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day - The Day of Service encourages citizens to follow King's words: "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve." Read more at the Martin Luther King, Jr. website

 February 13-19 is Random Acts of Kindness Week! Consider celebrating Valentines Day by sharing the gift of a book.

 The month of February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. Learn more at

The 24th is World Read Aloud Day!

 The 2nd of this month is Dr. Seuss' Read Across America Day.   

On the 14th celebrate mathematics on  Pi Day!

It's Question Week from March 13-19th!

 It's National Poetry Month. Enjoy reading and writing poetry together! 
     And do not forget Earth Day - April 22, 2016. Do something to make earth a greener better world!

Celebrate and discover the amazing world of comic books on Free Comic Book Day. Visit a local store on May 2 and receive a free comic book!
May 4th-10th is Children's Book Week!
May 21 is  World Day for Cultural Diversity.  Do one thing for diversity and inclusion!

June 5 is  World Environment Day.      
                                   What will YOU do to help Green the Blue?

Everyone knows the 4th of July is or Independence Day, celebrate by reading about our American History
Did you know that there is a National Lollipop Day? How about National Macaroni Day? Read about these and more

National Aviation Day is observed in the United States on August 19 each year to celebrate the history and development of the aviation. Learn something new about the airplane and the history of flight.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Keep Them ENGAGED!

Keep your child's brain developing over the summer break, especially when it comes to math and reading skills! 
Students need to stay engaged in fun learning activities, and keep their bodies tuned, so their minds stay sharp!   
Every child needs to play outside every day and find fun ways to exercise indoors if the weather keeps them in. Keeping the mind exercised can be a little more challenging, so here are a few ideas to keep children thinking all summer long!


Play Games: Traditional games keeps young minds sharp and are a lot of fun! Card games such as Blink, Crazy 8s and Go Fish~
Board games such as chess and checkers~ Car games such as Buzz, I Spy and 20 Questions~ are all fun and easy to play.

Take a Summer Reading Challenge: Make reading a competitive event. Most children respond well when they set goals and earn rewards. Reading as few as five books will ensure growth in reading skills! This site offers just a few good book lists to help you:

Baxter Memorial offers a Summer Reading Challenge  and many other public libraries offer programs that run all summer long with great incentives!

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading and TD Bank Summer Reading programs can also be a great incentive for young readers!


Learn with Technology:
Bedtime Math- Fun problems for the whole family!
Wonder of the Day!
Sparklebox- Literacy Resources


Enjoy Real Life Experiences Together Have your child help compute the change they will receive when shopping, or plan a road trip completely, including predicting how many miles they will travel. 

Talk Often with your child and point out reading materials 
  wherever possible:  Read menus, magazines and newspapers,
  signs, brochures, maps, guidebooks, smart phones, ipads, etc.
Make Time for Simple Fun!
     The Formula Mom Blog offers some great ideas!

Connecting learning to our everyday lives,
helps our children realize the importance
of math and reading skills.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Poetry ~ In April and All Year Through

                                                 It's Poetry Month!

Each and every April,
Since 1996
Kids and adults everywhere
Enjoy favorite poetry picks.

The Academy of American Poets
Want to celebrate  poetry
Great poetry is fun
That we guarantee!

So each and every day this month
Try  one or two new poems
You are sure to find that many
Are really reading gems.

Look up some real old poets,
Longfellow, Milne or  Hughes
Read Silverstein or Kenn Nesbitt
To giggle with someone new.

So every day in April
Try and learn, one new thing
Read, or write, a poem or two
You'll find it quite amazing!
~ Stacey Sawyer (2015)

     I just LOVE using poetry with children. April is a fun month to begin, but poetry can be integrated all year long! I've pulled together some great resources, click here to learn more

Friday, January 30, 2015


Math ~ Skills for Life 
     Children learn a wide range of new math skills every year in school and  teachers help them make connections to real-life situations.  Parents can help children develop solid mathematical understanding by exposing them to math in every day interactions.

    What Can Parents Do?
          Give your children a small allowance and let them spend some while saving some as well. Teach them to keep a record of their "income" and "spending" much the way adults do. This will provide important practice with computation skills and will help to develop an understanding of the value of money. 
     Include children when you visit the grocery store or eat at restaurants. Looking at receipts and bills will help them to develop a broader understanding of how money works in every day situations.

Telling Time and 
     Understanding Elapsed Time                       
What Can Parents Do?
      Keep at least one analog clock in your home and teach your children to use it. It is also helpful to use a variety of ways to say time. For example, say, "quarter past ten" instead of "ten-fifteen." Building vocabulary will lead to increased understanding.
     Holding children accountable for their time is important. If you say that they have ten minutes to complete their chore, or a half an hour to finish their homework, set a timer and stick to it. 
     The more we use the language and practice the concepts of time, the more meaningful it will be for our students.

Understanding Measurement 
                              and Conversions
What Can Parents Do?
   Cooking is one of the best ways to help children learn the skills they need to be able to measure and convert units of measure accurately
   Building with children, be it bird houses or bookcases, is a fun  way for kids to learn how to use tools and provides meaningful practice of math skills.
    Using cups and gallons, inches and feet can be tricky, and adding the metric system makes it even more so. Exposing children to real life situations that utilize these skills will make for long lasting learning.
Few lessons I cover as a teacher are more dreaded by students and parents alike than teaching how to convert measurement units. Changing between the cups and gallons used in the United States can be tricky enough, let along bringing in the metric system used by other countries. - See more at:
ew lessons I cover as a teacher are more dreaded by students and parents alike than teaching how to convert measurement units. Changing between the cups and gallons used in the United States can be tricky enough, let along bringing in the metric system used by other countries. - See more at:

Great Resources for Families:

FUN daily math problems for ALL levels of learning!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Every Month Should Be Picture Book Month!

 It's November~ Picture Book Month

Although November is the time when many schools, libraries, and book lovers celebrate the picture book, we should celebrate joy of the read-aloud experience EVERY day!
Reading aloud is one of the most important things parents and teachers can do with children and it shouldn't stop with our youngest students. Reading aloud is good for all ages as it builds many important skills:
  • Introduces vocabulary
  • Provides a model of fluent, expressive reading
  • And helps children recognize what reading for pleasure is all about!
Author Mem Fox asks us to "Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud!" Visit her web page for her Ten Read-Aloud Commandments, fabulous ideas on books and other great information.

Picture books are perfect for reading aloud. They build visual thinking skills, helping to connect words to pictures, and there is a picture book for everything. If you look you will find books to match almost any topic or issue there is!

There are many great Blogs and Websites that can help you in your search for quality picture books. Here are just a few: The Picture Book Review, New York Times Best Sellers, NYT Best Illustrated,  and Children, Books and Reading. Caldecott Medal

Pick up a picture book and enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014