February 2017 Newsletter

Principal’s Message

You may be aware from past newsletters and reports in the media that math is an ongoing focus in schools locally and across the province.  In fact, the importance of math is highlighted in recent research that has shown “…numerical skills are a more important predictor of subsequent academic achievement than early reading and socio-emotional skills.” (Ansari, 2015).   Dr. Ansari’s work goes on to talk about early math skills as a predictor of adult socioeconomic status.  It is not hard to be convinced about the importance of math skills, but these findings certainly emphasize they are more significant than we might have first thought.

So what does this mean for families?  Your support of math learning can occur in a variety of ways – some of which are not entirely about doing math but your attitudes towards math as an adult.  See the attached resource from Jo Boaler, a professor from Stanford University who has been doing extensive research in math.  Many people get caught in the debate that sometimes occurs between learning skills (procedures) and problem solving methods that build understanding (concepts).  Dr. Ansari’s work is helpful because he clearly says both are important and that these should not be presented as opposing sides.  We need a balance between the two approaches so that we have students who understand math and can think flexibly while also doing so with fluency because they can use skills efficiently.   For the full article see Education Canada, Sept 2015. If you wish, let me know and I can get you the article.

February Playground Fundraising Update

Generosity Continues – Almost at our goal.

Donations large and small continue to come in as Sprucedale Public School and the Shakespeare Community work together to raise enough money to build a new playground. Thanks to all who took part in the Elmira Chicken Sales. Five dollars per box sold goes directly to the Playground Fund. We estimate that the fundraiser raised just over 2700 dollars. We have broken the 95,000 dollar mark. Less than 5000 dollars to go! We have also continued to see support from our local businesses and families. Our thanks go out to……

Krista & Wayne Gummerson @ Shakespeare Truck Centre

Our appreciation goes out to Krista & Wayne Gummerson at the ShakespeareTruck Center for their most generous donation to the Sprucedale Playground fund.    Krista Gummerson (nee Yantzi) attended Sprucedale PS with her brothers Kevin and Tim.   Krista remembers the excitement of new playground being installed when she was in about grade three.  The beehive climbing structure and the green combination climbing/slide structure were extremely popular.  The first day students were allowed to use the new equipment, most of the primary grades stood in line for the whole recess waiting for a turn to use it.  Wayne and Krista’s nieces, Leah and Morgan, attend Sprucedale while nephew Reese graduated in 2016 (Tim & Joanne’s children).  Shakespeare Truck Center will be recognized with permanent recognition on the playground site as a Gold Supporter.  You can reach the Truck Center for all of your big truck needs at 519-625-8510 or visit them on their website at http://dealers.macktrucks.com/shakespearetruckcenter

Elaine & Dale Leis

A big thank you to Elaine and Dale Leis for supporting our playground fundraising. Elaine and Dale’s children, Greg and Kim Leis, both attended Sprucedale PS. When Greg and Kim were in school, Elaine was an active member of the Parent Council – working in classrooms, helping with electives, and preparing grilled cheese and hotdog lunches. Kim has taken over where her mom left off and is now an active member of the Sprucedale PS School Council. Kim and husband Dave’s daughter, Leah Ruby, now attends her mom and dad’s Alma matter.   The Leis Family will have permanent recognition on the playground site as Silver Supporters.

Sebben and McKone Families.

Our thanks to the Sebben and McKone families for their generous donation to the Playground Fund. Jim and Krista Sebben (Ashley, graduate, and Russel), Mike and Christina Sebben (Izzy & Abby), and Jen and Keith McKone (Logan and Julia) will have permanent recognition on the playground site as Silver Supporters. Jim, Mike and Jen are all proud graduates of Sprucedale School and now live and work in the local community.

Thank you to all for your generous support – we are going to make it

For those still wishing to make a donation…..

Playground donations can be made online at CanadaHelps  http://bit.ly/SprucedalePLAY  using VISA, Mastercard and American Express.  You also able to mail or drop off at the school a cheque payable to the Foundation for Education – Sprucedale Playground on Memo Line.  Cash donations are also welcome in the office.  Any donation of 20 dollars or more will receive a charitable donation receipt.  Donations of $250 or more will receive print recognition and donations greater than 500 dollars will receive permanent on site recognition.

“Drum Away The Winter Blahs” – Playground Fundraiser

Mrs. Green will be facilitating a Drum Circle on Thursday, Feb. 23 in the Sprucedale Gym

6:00 to 8:00 PM

20$ for 2 hour training and drum session.

15$ Each if you bring a friend with you.

All fees will be donated to the playground fundraiser

Please register by sending a note and payment to the school, addressed to Mrs. Green

(In case of poor weather, posts will be made to Facebook and Twitter)

Mrs. Green is selling her children’s book, Sammy Swan’s Summer Adventure In Stratford, to help raise money for the playground. For every book sold, Mrs. Green will donate 10$ from each book to the playground fund. She will be taking orders later this month.

Volunteer Needed:

We need a parent or grandparent volunteer to help with preparing the grilled cheese sandwiches on Food Days for the next couple of months. We have one parent who is already involved with this task but grilled cheese preparation needs 2 people. Next grilled cheese day is Wednesday, February 15 and would involve about three hours. The next grilled cheese day after that is Wednesday, March 22. Please call the office if you are available.

School Crossing Guard Hours:

The school crossing guard is available to help children cross the road from 8:30 to 9:00 in the morning and at 3:15 to 3:45 in the afternoon.

Kindergarten Registration for September 2017

If you missed our Kindergarten Registration Day in November, please call the school and we can get you a registration package. Please tell any neighbours or friends that have a child who will be attending Kindergarten next September.

Pre-Registration for the After School Program:

Hello Sprucedale Families,

We are already in the month of February and our 2017-2018 Annual Program Pre Registration of internal families will be happening on Feb 13, 2017 at the after school program located in the school.  That means that any available spaces that are for the 2017-2018 school year will be open to the public on a first come first serve basis starting Monday March 6th, 2017. For inquiry about registration you can phone the YMCA 519-271-0480 and speak to Lori Darling, Ashley Rose or Jenn Davis.   March break is fast approaching so this is just a friendly reminder for you if you still need to arrange for fun activities for your children over the break.  You can contact Alenka Watson for more information 519-273-9622. If you’re interested in the After School Program this year, please contact Jenn at 519-271-0480 or jenn.davis@ymca.ca, I have openings!

Tavistock Tornadoes Optimist Soccer Registration Dates – mark your calendars !

Who: Players turning 4 in 2017 ( Birth Year 2013 ), up to players turning 21 in 2017 (Birth Year 1996 )

What: Co-Ed Soccer Registration for : House League teams (ages 4-7) and Travel teams (ages 8-21)

Where: Tavistock District Recreation Center Arena – Upper Hall

When: Thursday, February 23, 7 p.m.- 9 p.m. and Saturday, February 25, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Registration forms and further information is available on our website at www.tavistocksoccer.com. The soccer program for all public school aged players will start in late April and is wrapped up by the end of July. The Tavistock Soccer club collaborates with several different organizations to encourage kids to play soccer. If you want your child to play, but you cannot afford the registration fees,   please talk to the convenor contact below. We can make arrangements to cover fees so that “No One Gets Left Behind !“

Note that we have a Special Needs soccer program that runs for approx 6 weeks in the summer. Please inquire for more details.

For further information contact: Marlow Gingerich Tavistock Tornadoes Optimist Youth Soccer Convenor

by phone  519-655-3237 or by email  marlowjanice@rogers.com.

Shakespeare and Community Athletic Association 2017 Minor Sports Registration

Registration day is Wednesday, February 8 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Shakespeare Optimist Hall, side meeting room.

The deadline for registration is Thursday, February 16.

Registration forms were sent home this week.

YouCubed: Advice for Parents regarding Math from Professor Jo Boaler:

Do you remember how excited your children were about maths* when they were young? How they were excited by patterns in nature? How they rearranged a set of objects and found, with delight, that they had the same number? Before children start school they often talk about maths with curiosity and wonder, but soon after they start school many children decide that maths is confusing and scary and they are not a “math person”.

This is because maths in many schools is all about procedures, memorization and deciding which children can and which cannot. Maths has become a performance subject and students of all ages are more likely to tell you that math is all about answering questions correctly than tell you about the beauty of the subject or the way it piques their interest.

Given the performance and test-driven culture of our schools, with over-packed curriculum and stressed outstudents, what can parents do to transform maths for their children? Here are some steps to take:

Advice for Parents, from Professor Jo Boaler.

Encourage children to play maths puzzles and games. Award winning mathematician, Sarah Flannery reported that her math achievement and enthusiasm came not from school but from the puzzles she was given to solve at home. Puzzles and games – anything with a dice really – will help kids enjoy maths, and develop number sense, which is critically important.

Always be encouraging and never tell kids they are wrong when they are working on maths problems. Instead find the logic in their thinking – there is always some logic to what they say. For example if your child multiplies 3 by 4 and gets 7, say – Oh I see what you are thinking, you are using what you know about addition to add 3 and 4, when we multiply we have 4 groups of 3…

Never associate maths with speed. It is not important to work quickly, and we now know that forcing kids to work quickly on maths is the best way to start maths anxiety for children, especially girls. Don’t use flashcards or other speed drills. Instead use visual activities such as https://bhi61nm2cr3mkdgk1dtaov18-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/FluencyWithoutFear-2015.pdf

Never share with your children the idea that you were bad at maths at school or you dislike it – especially if you are a mother. Researchers found that as soon as mothers shared that idea with their daughters, their daughter’s achievement went down.

Perhaps most important of all – encourage a “growth mindset” let students know that they have unlimited maths potential and that being good at maths is all about working hard. When children have a growth mindset,they do well with challenges and do better in school overall. When children have a fixed mindset and they encounter difficult work, they often conclude that they are not “a math person”. One way in which parents encourage a fixed mindset is by telling their children they are “smart” when they do something well. Thatseems like a nice thing to do, but it sets children up for difficulties later, as when kids fail at something they will inevitably conclude that they aren’t smart after all. Instead use growth praise such as “it is great that you have learned that”, “I really like your thinking about that”. When they tell you something is hard for them, or they have made a mistake, tell them: “That’s wonderful, your brain is growing!”

Encourage number sense. What separates high and low achievers is number sense – having an idea of the size of numbers and being able to separate and combine numbers flexibly. For example, when working out 29 +56, if you take one from the 56 and make it 30 + 55, it is much easier to work out. The flexibility to work withnumbers in this way is what is called number sense and it is very important.

For more resources see https://www.youcubed.org

I use maths, rather than math, partly because I am from the UK and we say maths there and partly because maths is short for mathematicS, it is a plural noun. Mathematics was chosen to be plural to reflect all the many parts of mathematics – drawing, modeling, asking questions, communicating, etc. Math sounds more singular and narrow (Do the math, usually means do a calculation!), and I prefer to keep the idea that maths is a multidimensional and varied set of mathematical forms and ideas.

Online Courses for Students, Teachers and Parents


Student Page


Parent Page


Recommended Apps and Games


More Information about Brain Science


Jo’s Mindset Book


Maths Tasks to Do At Home


Summer Camp Video


Week of Inspirational Maths Curriculum