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Articles in Fellows Elementary

Fellows 4th Grade STEM Challenge

Right before spring break, the 4th grade teachers at Fellows Elementary created STEM challenges for their students with hands-on activities that presented students with a “problem” to solve and limited resources.

Christy Franco said, “We decided to do the STEM challenges for several reasons. We know students learn best with hands-on exploration. For these activities, they must collaboratively come up with a plan, try it out, revise as needed, and test it. The STEM challenges allow our students to integrate scientific inquiry, technology, engineering, and math.”

All four teachers combined the approximately 100 fourth graders and split them up. “We wanted to make this large group feel like a community and we want students to have the opportunity to work in groups with others they don’t normally get to work with during the school day,” said Franco.

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Read-a-Thon Celebration

In January, elementary schools across the District organized read-a-thon events in collaboration with their PTOs. “The goal is to get students to develop a passion for reading by specifically targeting time for reading outside of the classroom,” said Sue Lawler, principal at Sawyer Elementary.

A kick-off evening event often started the two- week book push in most schools. Sawyer Elementary invited parents to attend a family reading night themed “reading under the big top,” while Mitchell Elementary hosted a “book tasting” evening with parents. Once it began, families kept track of minutes read outside of the classroom and students received an incentive every time they read for those minutes.

The momentum continued throughout the read-a-thon to encourage students to read. Students at Mitchell Elementary made a fun video titled “Wild About Reading” to promote reading where students wore masks they made in class. The culimating read-a-thon event celebrated student reading. Students were cheered and given high fives as they filed into their gymnasiums for an assembly. At Sawyer Elementary, the guests of honor were Smyles from the Ames Public Library, and Cy from Iowa State University.

“We had an overwhelming majority of our students participate this year, and our total minutes continues to grow each year. Next year we want to look for more opportunities to get the kids excited about reading!” said Lawler.

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Fresh Thyme Launches Roundup Fundraiser to Address Food Insecurity Among Ames Students

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Customers’ roundup dollars from Feb. 7–28 and $2,500 Fresh Thyme donation will pay students’ negative lunch balances

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market believes no student should go without a meal. That’s why the full-service specialty retailer announced today the “No Student Goes Without Lunch” fundraising campaign at its new Ames store. All customer donations from the campaign — as well as a $2,500 donation from Fresh Thyme — will go to the Ames Community School District to pay students’ negative lunch balances.

As of Dec. 31, 2017, Ames students’ negative lunch account balances totaled $47,932.42. Last year, the school district grappled with how to address this issue. In June, the Ames School Board amended a policy so that today all students receive lunch regardless of their negative account balance. However, with this action, the district still must find ways to settle students’ outstanding balances.

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Kindergarten Registration

 

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WHEN: Thursday, January 25 – 10:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Friday, January 26 – 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Ames CSD District Office 2005 24th St. Ames, IA 50010

WHAT TO EXPECT:

  • Parents and guardians may enroll children in kindergarten who will be 5 years old by Sept. 15, 2018.
  • Parents and guardians will complete an information form online and a Home Language Survey.
  • Provide the child’s original birth certificate, or duplicate with raised seal; proof of residency (lease, mortgage, house title, or utility bill with current address); and adoption or guardianship papers, if applicable.
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Fellows 2nd Graders Engineer to the Story of the 3 Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs is fairy tale about three pigs who built three houses of different materials. A big bad wolf blows down the first two pigs‘ houses, made of straw and sticks respectively, but is unable to destroy the third pig’s house, which was made of bricks.

Fellows 2nd grade teachers Holly Shirbroun and Shena Crawford, and their classes, recently explored this story and added a STEM component to the unit. Students were asked to collaborate with each other and implement engineering strategies to create a house to surround a paper pig using only gumdrops and toothpicks. In teams of two, students collaborated with each other, and practiced engineering strategies that asked them to design a plan, implement that plan, and afterwards make decisions on how they could improve their structure. The project was also used as a way to introduce new math terms that students will be utilizing as the school year progresses.

The engagement of the students was high as they communicated with each other on how to build their structures. Students were given opportunities to share their “best practices” that they discovered with the rest of the class (hint: cut the gumdrops in half!). The highlight of the activity came when students were asked to test their building structure. Mrs. Shirbroun kept this component a secret from the students until it was time to unveil a hair dryer dressed as a big, bad wolf. Students were delighted by the wolf and held their toothpick structures up against the blowing wind. They were especially satisfied when their structure stood tall.

Although not all structures stood as a whole, the enthusiasm surrounding the project encouraged students to revisit their structure, design new, and build again so they can have a chance to test again the wolf.

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An Emphasis on Attendance

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Student attendance is an important predictor of success in the classroom. Only through attendance and class participation do students achieve the benefits of our education program within the Ames Community School District. Learning lost due to an absence can have a profound effect throughout the school year, and we are placing a greater emphasis on communicating absences with parents this school year.

Our previous attendance policy stated that communications would be sent home after 10 absences. The board supported a proactive approach to addressing chronic absenteeism and on August 21, revised the attendance policy to the following:

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New Fountas & Pinnell Reading Benchmarks

Fountas & Pinnell Graphic

What is the benchmarking assessment that my child takes?

Fountas & Pinnell have developed a Benchmarking Assessment System (BAS) in order to help teachers determine what reading skills your child has mastered and which she/he still needs to learn. In Ames, all K-5 students read aloud all or portions of a text and then engage in a comprehension conversation with the teacher to allow the teacher to better understand how to help the student in a variety of areas, including reading with accuracy and expression, and understanding the meaning of the text. This assessment is administered to all students twice per year.

Fountas & Pinnell have created a 3rd edition of the benchmarking materials which include revised rubrics, texts, teacher prompts, and online capabilities. ACSD purchased this 3rd edition for all elementary buildings as these improvements will allow teachers to more clearly target instruction with each student. Your child’s level may be lower than in the past as the 3rd edition materials are much more rigorous. This drop in levels has been predicted by the publisher and does not indicate that your child’s skills in reading have decreased.   

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Storm of Kindness School Supply Campaign

Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma ravaged southern parts of the United States and Christy Franco’s 4th grade class at Fellows Elementary School followed the events closely as a part of their current events study.

The students began asking questions about what would happen with the schools in the area and were genuinely concerned about the welfare of the students and schools that were impacted by the storm and flooding.

Franco capitalized on their enthusiasm to help and began organizing the “Storm of Kindness” school supply campaign. She reached out to Principal Brandon Schrauth and Fellows PTO President Angie Weber to organize the drive.

Students made posters for the campaign and with the help of a local videography company and Fellows parent, Tom Haggas from Cheshire Moon Films, produced a video to highlight their efforts and to educate the community on how they can help.

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Brandon Schrauth announced as next Fellows principal

Pending Board approval, Schrauth will assume leadership July 1.

Superintendent Tim Taylor announced April 19 that he will be recommending to the Board of Education the appointment of Mr. Brandon Schrauth as the next principal of Fellows Elementary School.  

Brandon.Schrauth16 17“After a great deal of reflection and discussion with Mr. Schrauth, it was clear that he has the experience and skills to assume leadership at Fellows,” Taylor said.

Schrauth is currently serving as principal at Northwood Preschool Center, where he has collaborated with his staff to create a caring community that understands and embodies the attributes, behaviors, and supports necessary for all students to learn.

Alicia Ortner, Northwood’s Direct Instruction/Inclusion Teacher, said Schrauth’s leadership helped staff work together to “create a framework that is simple, clear and memorable.”  

Schrauth said he believes believes his experiences and skills can contribute to the elementary level as well as to the systemic goals for every stage of learning in the district.

“It’s my goal to build on the strengths of the Fellows staff and community to continue to prepare students for the lifetime of learning offered by the experience of Ames Schools,” he said.

Prior to coming to Northwood, Schrauth was an Instructional Coach at Horizon Elementary School in Johnston, Iowa. Before becoming an Instructional Coach he was an early childhood teacher (K-2) for 11 years.  After earning recognition as a National Board Certified Teacher , he obtained a M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction in 2009 and a M.S. in Educational Leadership in 2015, both from Iowa State University.  

Schrauth has been honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the Channel 13 “Golden Apple Award”, and the Channel 5 “My Favorite Teacher”.  In 2016, he received the Dan Woodin Excellence in Education Award, given to Ames district educators based on input from their colleagues.

 

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