April 2019

From the Principal’s Desk...

Dear Swanson Families,

The students and teachers have been working very hard all year mastering the Common Core State Standards. Next week we will be administering the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, (MCAS 2.0).  This statewide test helps measure what students know and are able to do at each grade level in core academic subjects in grades 3, 4, and 5.  The assessments are designed to make sure students are on track at each grade level.  Please make sure your child is in school, gets a good night’s sleep and has a healthy breakfast each morning.  The English Language Arts tests will be take place on Wednesday, April 11th and Thursday, April 12th.

FYI Math tests, grades 3,4,5 will be May 9th and 10th.  Science Technology tests for grade five only, is scheduled for May 14th and 15th.

Thank you for partnering with us to help your child succeed.

Reading Reminders and Tips to Use as Reinforcement at home:

  • Before you read, look at the title and make a prediction.
  • Look at the questions and ask “Do I understand what that means?”
  • As you are reading, ask yourself, “What is this about?”  Monitor your understanding.
  • After reading, ask yourself, “Do I understand what I just read?”
  • Fast reading isn’t good reading, take your time and support your thinking with evidence from the text.
  • When beginning your open response, don’t forget to turn the question around, (TTQA).
  • Take notes as you read.
  • Explain your evidence.
  • Review your responses making sure it is your best work.

Mindfulness Saying:
    Remind yourself:
        I can do it!
        I am capable!
        I can use my brainpower!
    Mindfulness Saying:
        Remind yourself:  Take a deep breath…Go with the flow…Just do your best…Show what you know!

In closing, please continue to monitor your child’s academic progress.  We appreciate your continued support ensuring your child succeeds.  Continue to maintain regular communication with your child’s teacher as they can provide the most insight into their academics and social progress.  As always, please do not hesitate should you have any questions, concerns, or need clarification about school related items. (Visit our Webpage and Facebook page for ongoing updates).

Yours in Education,
Dr. Susan M. Lopez

From the Desk of Mrs. Mahan

It’s beginning to look a lot like spring! Let’s hope the warm weather isn’t Mother Nature playing an April Fools’ joke on us! As the weather gets warmer, students are able to get outside and enjoy the school yard again. This spring, students will have access to the exercise loop set up on the soccer field along with playing tailball, frisbee, jumprope, basketball and four-square. Recess is an important time for our students to take a break from the rigor and structure in the classroom, and it is a critical time for students to develop lifelong skills such as negotiation, cooperation, sharing, and problem solving.

Safety Reminder:
It is important that all students being dropped off at Swanson Road in the morning utilize the parent pick-up line.  Please have your child exit the vehicle only when you see the adults on the arrival team enter the drop off area and signal for students to come into the building (approx. 8:13).  In addition, the upper lot is designed and should be used only to drop off students with disabilities, and dropping students off on Swanson Road itself is dangerous and prohibited. Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this safety protocol.

News from the Art Room

SAVE THE DATE!!  The Festival of the Arts, S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and Wellness is taking place on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at the Auburn High School from 4:00pm to 7:30pm!  This event involves a “district-wide”  Art exhibit, Physical Education demonstrations, Musical performances and more… from Auburn students in grades K-12. Do not miss seeing your child’s work of art.  Each student at SWIS has chosen a masterpiece from his/her Art portfolio to display at the festival.  Your child is proud and excited to be a part of this special night.  It is a fun opportunity for your family to be together and CELEBRATE THE ARTS!!   All are welcome to this FREE event!

Grade 3 News

Low on Supplies: Please check with your child on what needs replenishing for school supplies. Many students are in need of crayons and markers.

Facts:  Please assist your child in mastering his/her multiplication/division facts.  Facts need to be mastered before entering 4th grade.

MCAS dates are posted on the SWIS school calendar. Please mark the dates on your calendar at home and be sure to have your child arrive to school on time on test days. A good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast are great ways to jump start the brain on test days! ☺

Spring Break: Along with spending quality time together as a family, please have your child continue to read for enjoyment and practice math facts.   

Happy Spring Everyone!

The Third Grade Teachers

Grade 4 News

April will be a busy month as we get ready for the MCAS test. Students will continue to learn strategies that will help them be successful not only on the MCAS test but in school and life as well.  

In Reading, these strategies involve comprehension skills. These skills will help students analyze and evaluate texts in order to write effective responses to literature and nonfiction texts.

In Math, students are currently exploring customary and metric measurement units. Students will build skills to find elapsed time, read line plots, and convert measurements.

In Writing, we continue to work on fictional narratives.  Students are learning all the skills needed to write an engaging story including how to create an interesting hook and ending, how to write and punctuate meaningful dialogue, and create suspense. 

In Science, students are learning about human body systems and the functions of circulatory and Respiratory systems, as well as, the role of the skeleton, muscles, and skin.

Our fourth grade students continue to work hard and we watch them improve each and every day. Thank you for your support of their academics at home.

Enjoy the April break! We’ve all earned it!

Math is Everywhere!


MCAS Math testing is just around the corner.  It is important for you to help your child prepare for the test. This is their opportunity to show how much they have learned this school year.  We recommend they continue to practice their basic math facts by using flashcards, Xtra Math, or even a math fact app on the phone or tablet.  


There will be word problems on the test.  Practicing basic reading comprehension can help your child to better comprehend and complete word problems. Perhaps have your child choose a book to read either to you or independently.  Ask them to share a brief summary of what they have read. You could even ask them what their favorite and least favorite parts of the book are. Word problems can be very tricky. Encourage your child to use the strategies their teachers have taught them in class.  For example, many teachers ask students to box, circle, and underline to help break down the word problems.


One of the most important things for your child to remember during MCAS, or any test, is to remain calm.  Students learned various breathing activities back on Minding Your Mind Day. Ask your child to share those breathing exercises with you and practice taking deep breaths together.

Grade 5 News

It is hard to believe that April is already upon us and the weather is certainly showing signs of spring!  Our fifth grade students are very busy. In social studies, we are finishing our unit on the American Revolution. Ask your child, who their favorite hero or heroine is from the revolution? Our mathematicians are converting customary and metric units and will be moving onto calculating volume. If your child is still struggling with his/her facts, please make time to practice at home.  Math facts are essential to know not just for math classes, but as a life skill. Our science students are traveling through space learning about the solar system, as well our planet, Earth. 

Field Trip – The fifth grade will be traveling back in time to see what it was like to be a colonist at Old Sturbridge Village. Our trip will be held on April 12th. Thank you in advance to the parents who will be chaperoning our trip and to the PTO for funding support. 

5th Grade ELA MCAS testing will be during April 10th and 11th. In preparation for this test, we ask to please make sure that students are completing their homework assignments and reading 20 minutes per night.  Students should get a good night’s rest and eat a healthy breakfast prior to testing. 

Supplies Needed: It is that time of year when school supplies are running low. Please check with your child to see if he/she is in need of supplies, so that he/she is prepared for class. Classrooms are always in need of tissues and wipes. Donations are truly appreciated. As always, we are sincerely grateful for all of your support to ensure your child has a successful school year. 

The 5th Grade Team

Nursing Notes

While we wait for spring weather to catch up with spring dates, it is good to plan ahead for the new season. April will take students outdoors  at recess and at home.  Here are some things to consider going forward.

Sunscreen and Sun Safety: We may all need some sunshine and Vitamin D exposure but please get it safely.  If your child burns easily, please apply sun screen daily to exposed skin. A hat and sun glasses are also helpful.

Tick Checks: Tick season comes with warmer weather. Please check your child and pets regularly for ticks. If you think a tick has been on your child for over 24 hours, check in with their doctor, and watch for flu like symptoms, a bull’s eye type rash or rash covering a larger area. Lyme disease from ticks can cause joint swelling and some cardiac or neurological issues so treatment if testing is positive for exposure is very important.

Safety on Bikes and Boards: Helmets for bike riding or other activities can save your child from a serious head injury.  Remind your child to be aware of cars and to follow bike riding safety.

Head Checks for Lice: Please keep in mind that head checks are a good idea all year around but if your child has an itchy scalp, check for dandruff which fluffs off or lice and nits which stick to the hair shaft. 


A Fever of 100° F or more within the last 24 hours, when not taking medication to reduce fever

  • If a child is unable to participate fully in school activities due to illness 
  • When a child has a contagious condition or a rash with an unknown cause 
  • Vomiting or diarrhea within the past 24 hours or the inability to eat normally 
  • A diagnosis of strep throat and has not been taking antibiotic medicine for 24 hours
  • A child who requires medication for fever or ongoing pain relief

Upcoming Screenings:

Heights and weights will be conducted for 4th graders in April. This will also provide a BMI percentile.
We will be sending a form home with notification and an opt out option, requesting a copy of a recent physical with Height and Weight and BMI on it. 

Postural Screenings for 5th graders will be conducted in May. We will send out information to parents before the screenings and an opt out option that also requires a recent (within 6 months) screening done by their doctor and documented on a Physical Exam form.  We need that documentation before the date of our screenings.

News From the Reading Room

March Madness: Tournament of Books

During the month of March, the Reading Team put together a project to build enthusiasm about books as Community Reading Day was quickly approaching. Keeping with the Literacy Month theme of "Score with a Good Book," we created "March Madness: Tournament of Books" brackets for grades three, four and five. In selecting the texts, we tried to keep in mind grade level content as well as culture, PBIS character traits and books already read through summer reading and Wonders. A wide variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, folktales, fantasy and non-fiction were selected as well. The tournament was a success in exposing students to new titles and getting them excited about books and reading. Each week, students voted for their favorite books beginning with the Elite Eight, then the Final Four and ending with the Championship. Their votes were based on book summaries, trailers, and read alouds. 

Below, you will find the list of books with the winners in bold! Hopefully, your child will become motivated to read some of the titles that students voted for.

Third Grade Titles:
    Letting Swift River Go vs. Peppe the Lamplighter    

    Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch vs. Miss Rumphius

    Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters vs. The Rough-Face Girl

    Owen and Mzee vs. Koko’s Kitten

Fourth Grade Titles:

    Catching the Moon vs. Stone Fox

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe vs. Zathura

    Because of Winn-Dixie vs. Miss Rumphius
    Martin’s Big Words vs. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Fifth Grade Titles:

    Bud, Not Buddy vs. The Fighting Ground

    Weslandia vs. The Mysterious Benedict Society

    Runaway Twin vs. Hatchet

    George Did It vs. The House that Jane Built

Guidance News

A Note from your School Counselors
Jamie Nikopoulos, SWIS School Counselor & Megan Berg, SWIS School Counselor

Throughout the school year, in all subjects and areas, our adults and students work to build a strong school community and kind culture.  Having school as a safe environment not only encourages academic learning, but also provides opportunities for students to create, explore, and develop social/emotional competencies.  If your child reports that they feel otherwise, there are many things as parents you can do to support your child. The following are some research based strategies for students that may feel they are a target, or witnessing unkind behavior.  Encouraging empathy and telling them to be a “Bully BUSTER” will help to give them some control and power back.

B- befriend- if you see a student that is left out or alone, ask them to play.  Including others is a great way to make new connections as well.
U- use distraction- if you feel uncomfortable asserting yourself when someone is being unkind, change the subject.  Bring attention to another topic or issue, taking pressure off of that student or allowing them to walk away.
S- speak out!  Be assertive and tell the person to STOP.  You don't need to say anything more than stop. If you are witnessing someone else being a target, do not laugh or encourage this behavior.
T- tell or text for help.  Ask a trusted friend or adult for support.
E- exit the scene.  Leave any situation that makes you feel unsafe.  Help another student leave an unsafe situation by saying things such as, “come on or let’s go”.
R- reason or remedy. Give a reason or a remedy.  Students are more likely to help when they are told why it’s wrong or what to do.  Role play situations and responses with them.

*For more information regarding this, visit http://micheleborba.com/

Media/Technology News

This month, students will partake in MCAS 2.0. at SWIS. We are excited about an assessment that not only measures achievement and growth of students’ curriculum based success, but also their development as 21st century learners. In this day and age, nearly every profession requires applicants to pass a computer-based test for certification or licensure. Given this trend, Media Literacy students have come to view test taking as a life skill. We remind students to slow down and read deeply. The highlighter is a terrific tool for active digital readers.

In April, Grade 3 will engage in a Participatory Photography Project, which will allow students to understand the past, while at the same time, gaining a clearer picture of the future of our Arboretum. Students will formulate connections between their photos and quotes on stewardship ethics, such as Aldo Leopold’s “Land Ethic.” The dissemination of these photos on Facebook will create dialogue about human relationships with the land. Grade 4 students will participate in a hurricane simulation to test the houses they have constructed from recycled materials. Each house will be judged for durability, livability, and strength. Grade 5 students are engineering bridges from balsa wood based on their research of Auburn Pond.

The Music Corner with Ms. Speidel and Mrs. Caruso

We cannot believe that April is already here, and with it comes the good weather!

All grades are finishing up their instrument units. Thirdgraders are exploring ukuleles, and learning how to play riptide. Fourth grader are concluding their recorder unit with a recorder commercial and some fabulous music. Our Fifth graders are either working on keyboard or marimbas. They are all becoming quite the group of musicians!  

The band students did an absolutely wonderful job at All Town Band, we could not be more proud! They are preparing for their end of the year concert which will be in June.

The SWIS String Society did an unbelievable job at the Stringapaoolza concert in the beginning of March. We are so proud of how far they have come this year and look forward to seeing them play at their spring concert which will be on Wednesday, May 22nd. More information will be coming out regarding this concert so keep an eye out!

All grade levels are about to begin concert music for their final shows of the year! Third grade will go first by performing at Fine Arts Night on Thursday, May 9th while the fourth graders will have a Memorial Day show during school on Friday, May 24th. Please keep an eye out for notices going home regarding each of these events!

We are very excited for our students to show off all that they have done, they are quite the group of amazing kids.

Ms. Speidel & Mrs. Caruso

PE News

We are heading into the home stretch in PE. In April, students will be working on some team games, some dancing and will be preparing for the Physical Best Assessments for the end of the year. To help them prepare for the PBA, they should be working on push ups, curl ups, stretching (reaching for their toes without bending their knees) and cardio. Running around a track or getting out for a brisk walk will help prepare for the PACER assessment. Students learn several activities and games in PE that can be played outside of school as well. Many of our activities incorporate all four areas of the assessment, so by just getting out and playing, they are in fact preparing for the assessments while having fun. We have sent home monthly activity calendars that also focus on the four areas of the assessment. 

Enjoy the nice weather, get outside, and have some fun while becoming physically fit!