The State Test: An Important Message for Students

Every year Mr. Bender speaks to the 3rd graders – the students taking state tests for the first time.  He draws a big circle and tells them that their entire lives are inside it…then he draws a tiny dot…he tells them that the tiny dot is the test.  He shares that tests are plentiful and necessary in life and can even be fun (he happens to love them) so it is very important to try your best.  However, he wants all our students to remember that in the grand scheme of life…a couple state tests are a drop in the bucket.

Equal Night – The Science Behind the First Day of Spring

Hooray it is officially spring!  Walking through the hallways of PS11 today, you could hear teachers, parents, and students celebrating the arrival of the season!  Everyone looked and sounded cheerful…hopeful even.

A few more hours of sunlight and the promise of warmer temperatures can really affect our emotions, but what does the first day of spring mean scientifically…or celestially for that matter.  To learn more about the Spring Equinox check out what NASA and National Geographic have to say.

(The following was taken from


Earth spins on a tilted axis. As our planet orbits around the sun, that tilt means that during half of the year, the Northern Hemisphere receives more daylight — its summertime — and during the other half of the year, the Southern Hemisphere does.  Twice a year, Earth is in just the right place so that it’s lined up with respect to the sun, and both hemispheres of the planet receive the same amount of daylight. On these days, there are almost equal amounts of day and night, which is where the word equinox — meaning “equal night” in Latin — comes from. The equinox marks the onset of spring with a transition from shorter to longer days for half the planet, along with more direct sunlight as the sun rises higher above the horizon. In 2017, in the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox occurs on March 20. Six months later, fall begins with the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22.


ELA Test Prep: What You Need to Know

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the Test Prep meeting, here is a summary of what Mrs. Luna shared with families.

The Breakdown of the Test


Multiple Choice Questions Short Response

(2 points each)

Extended Response

(4 points each)

3rd 31 7 2
4th 31 7 2
5th 42 7 2

What can we do at home?

We work hard to prepare our students all year-long, however if you are looking to prep at home, here is what you should know:

  • Most of the passages come from magazines. In the slides below, you will see a list of recommended magazines you could find at the library or order.
  • There are different types of questions asked depending on the genre of text. On the slides below you will find a list of questions that match Fictional and Informational Genres.
  • The written responses are graded on the rubrics below. As stated above, Short Response are worth 2 points each and Extended Responses are worth 4 points each. The Short Response rubric is the same for grades 3-5, however the Extended Response rubric is different for 3rd grade than it is for grades 4 & 5(see below).
  • You could check out this digital resource that was released by the test makers. You select your child’s grade and content area and you will be taken to a short online test with sample questions.
  • We want all of our children to feel confident and do their very best. The most important things we can do are make sure they read a variety of genres often and keep them calm, fed, and rested.

You can find Mrs. Luna’s Test Prep Power Point in its entirety here.

Here is a tutorial about one of the main test taking strategies we teach our students.

Happy International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day has been celebrated since the early 1900s. It is a day to celebrate the achievements of women socially, culturally, economically, and politically.

On a more local level though…here’s to all the females in our PS11 school community…the students, the family members, the staff members that inspire, mentor, and challenge us to be great each and every day.  Happy International Women’s Day and thank you for all that you do.

Below is a moving and needed video about what it would be like if we celebrated female scientists like we laud celebrities:


Check out some of our female scientists at work today:

To learn more about International Women’s Day, check out:


February’s Book of the Month

February’s Book of the Month is The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig.


In The Invisible Boy, nobody seems to notice the main character Brian – because of this he feels invisible.  The author, Trudy Ludwig, takes readers on a journey, teaching us the loneliness of invisibility and also the joy that comes with being seen and accepted for who you are.

You can listen to the story being read here.

To discuss this important book at home, check out the resources below:

Discussion Questions (taken from the book)

  1. When the Bell rings for recess, Micah and J.Y. take turns choosing kids for their kickball teams.
    • How did they choose players for their teams? Was it a fair way to select players? Why or why not?
    • Have you ever tried to joic a group, game, or activity and other kids wouldn’t let you? If yes, how did that make you feel?
    • Have you ever intentionally excluded other kids from joining your group, game, or activity? If yes, why?
  2. “I’m so glad you guys had fun!” says Madison. Everybody did except Brian. He wasn’t invited.
    • When Madison and her friends talked about her birthday party in front of Brian, do you think they were just being thoughtless or were they being mean to Brian on purpose? Explain.
    • Was there a better way for Madison to handle the situation when she and her friends started to talk about her party in front of those kids who weren’t invited?
    • Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation as Brian, with kids talking about the fun things they’ve done with each other in front of you and you weren’t included or invited? If yes, how did that make you feel?
  3. He sits there wondering which is worse – being laughed at or feeling invisible.
    • How many examples in this story can you find that show Brian’s invisibility?
    • Which do you think is worse – being laughed at or feeling invisible? Explain.
    • What did Brian do to help Just feel better after J.T. and the other kids made fun of the food he was eating?
  4. Maybe, just maybe, Brian’s not so invisible after all.
    • How many kids did it take in this story to help Brian begin to feel less invisible?
    • What specifically did Justin do to make Brian feel less invisible?
    • Are there kids in your class, grade, or school who you see being treated as if they are invisible? If yes, what could you do to make them feel more valued and appreciated?


Making the Invisible – Visible:
Ask child to review the scenarios illustrated from the book. Ask child to consider alternate actions they could take. What would happen to make Brian more visible to those around him? Child is to write their ideas in the blank spaces next to each illustration. Invite students to draw and color a picture to go with their ideas.

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Can-You-See-Me Chart:
Complete the printable chart ‘Encourage Me to Not Be Invisible.’ In the first column have
the child identify when they feel invisible. In the second column, have them write what would ENCOURAGE them in that situation and make them feel visible again.

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Poetry: Have your child write a poem about what it feels like to be invisible. They can write from their own perspective or practice empathy by putting themselves in Brian’s shoes. Here is a poem written by a 6th grader about invisibility.

If you liked The Invisible Boy, try these books: