February 2019

From the Principal’s Desk...

It’s hard to believe that it is already February! Students at every grade level have been very busy learning and mastering new content. One of our goals at this time of the year is to encourage students’ independence as they read and respond thoughtfully to challenging literature, solve complex multi-step math problems, and apply content knowledge in their writing. Teachers’ lessons are consistently evolving in their design in order to engage and meet the diverse learning styles within their classrooms, as well as, ensure proficiency in each of the grade level standards.

The curriculum rigor and expectations of student performance have certainly increased, as you may have noticed, therefore please be vigilant in checking homework and maintaining contact with your child’s teacher. Persistence and positive encouragement will ensure that the strategies taught and practiced each day at school are carried over into their independent work at home.

Swanson Road Intermediate School continues to be committed to creating and maintaining a culture where every student can learn and succeed. We see   every child as a unique individual with special talents. It is our belief that by providing a safe learning environment, students develop confidence to take risks and strive for personal excellence. We have purposely worked at developing school culture in ways that will further engage each student in a world class educational experience. This is seen in the school improvements, communications, and the many clubs offered before and after school.

There are many ways you can support your child’s learning and the school culture. Try these tips:

  • Join a school club
  • Continue to seek Community Service Learning activities
  • Play thinking games, for instance, analogies, ‘what’s another word for..”, math problems,
  • Science projects, or history research. 
  • Stay current on school events and curriculum.
  • Contact your child’s teacher immediately if you see a problem.
  • Volunteer your expertise in the classroom or create an after school club.
  • Avail yourself of the many museums and natural treasures in Auburn, as well as, surrounding areas.

In closing, please remember that though there are many demands and time constraints placed in our lives, as adults, it is critical that we listen to our children. Please ask about and discuss what they are learning each day, what they are thinking about, and who their friends are. I am so proud of your child’s progress and look forward to four more months of great learning ahead. I thank you in advance for your continuous involvement in your child’s education.

Yours in Education,
Dr. Susan Lopez

News from the Art Room

In Art class, the students at SWIS continue to understand art concepts through the experimentation and exploration of new media, tools and techniques.  Ask your child about his/her art experiences!

Here are lessons taking place in the art room this month!

Grade 3: Portfolio Cover 2-D Design-Line, Composition, Pattern, Color, Contrast and Creativity.

Grade 4: “One-Point” Perspective Drawing-Depth, Line, Pattern, Color and Contrast.

Grade 5: “Clay Workshop”- Hand-building a “Pinch Pot”, Glazing, Under-glazing, Firing Clay in a Kiln and Pottery on a Potter’s Wheel.

From the Desk of Mrs. Mahan


Swanson Road is a PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention & Support) school. As a community, we have established behavior expectations for all areas of the school. It is our belief that students need to have clear, communicated expectations that are explicitly taught and positively reinforced.  On January 25th over one hundred and fifty students traded in their PBIS blue tickets for an opportunity to investigate the science behind making slime. Thank you, Mrs. Loach, for your science lesson! 

In the month of February, students will be working to earn tickets for the chance to participate in our PBIS “Minute to Win It”  on March 1st.


Whenever possible students will be going out for recess to get exercise and fresh air. Please send students to school with appropriate winter attire. In order to maintain the safety of all students and staff, the bus loop entrance from Swanson Road, as well as, the bus loop exit, will be “coned off” from 10:30am-1:00 pm. If you are planning on dismissing your child during that time, please use the upper parking lot, by following the signs for parent pick-up.

Thank you all for your help, participation, and patience in continuing to keep all of our students and staff safe at SWIS.

News From the Reading Room

During the month of January, the students at SWIS were administered a variety of assessments to measure their growth in the areas of phonics’ knowledge and application, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.  The reading team met with each grade level during our winter data meetings to interpret and discuss the data collected in order to determine the best groupings, interventions and instruction for all students. We are excited to see how the SWIS students are developing as readers and thinkers.  

As our partners in education, any support in reading at home is appreciated.  To promote growth in comprehension and to help students understand that reading is thinking, ask your child to summarize what they have read.  This is one quick way to determine if your child is understanding what they are reading.  

If your child needs support in summarizing a story, ask him/her the following questions to help with summarizing:

  • (Somebody)  Who is the main character?
  • (Wanted)  What did he/she want?
  • (But)  What is the problem?
  • (So)  What did the character do to solve the problem?
  • (Then)  What happened in the end?

If your child needs support in summarizing a nonfiction text, ask him/her the following questions to help with summarizing:

  • What is the topic?  Or  Who is the subject? (if reading a biography)
    What is the most important information that you learned about that topic or subject?

Thank you for your continued support.

The Reading Team

Grade 3 News

Grade 3 students are continuing their journey through history. Classes will be finishing up their study of Pilgrims and moving to their study of Colonial Times. In Science, we will continue to discuss weather and climate.

In reading class, students are working on expository texts. They are exploring nature and history. We are continuing to model comprehension strategies. Students are expected to independently answer questions supported by text evidence. They are also expected to answer an open response question using two sources.

In writing, students are finishing up their opinion writing and will be moving on to writing a book review.

Math classes are moving forward with division. Any opportunity to discuss division at home will benefit your child. Please continue to practice telling time to the nearest minute and mastering facts. We are proud of all of the students who have mastered their multiplication facts. Well done!

Thank you for your continued support.

Grade 4 News

It continues to be an engaging year for the fourth grade students at SWIS! As we progress through the year, students continue to explore new and exciting units. Work is ongoing to develop new strategies and understand new concepts.  

In math, we will continue to build our knowledge of fractions.  We will be learning to add and subtract fractions. In addition, we will also be learning to multiply fractions by a whole number. Students are realizing how important it is to know their multiplication and division facts. They are also learning how they relate to fractions.

During reading, we continue to explore new stories. Students have been reading biographies to see how peoples’ words can lead to changes. We are adding to our knowledge base and increasing our proficiency in gathering text evidence to determine author’s point of view.

In writing, we continue to work on finding text evidence to support answers in relation to stories we have read. We will be completing our work on explanatory essays and begin to explore fictional narrative writing. 

In Science, we have finished our topic on the Earth’s Features and have moved on to the Earth’s Natural Hazards.  Students will be exploring how volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis can impact people. They will also be describing how weather hazards can affect humans. 

In Social Studies ,students continue their tour of the United States regions. We will continue to focus on the five themes of geography including location, place, human environment interaction, regions, and movement.

As the winter season continues, we would appreciate any donations of hand wipes, tissues, and antibacterial wipes. 

Thank you for your support and consideration.

“February is the border between winter and spring.”

Terri Guillemets

Grade 5 News

In math, we are completing Chapter 6 on adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators. We will be moving on to Chapter 7 which will involve multiplying fractions.   Be sure that your child continues to practice their math fact fluency each night. Many students enjoyed an Xtramath fact fluency celebration this month! Keep up the great work!  

In science, we have completed our topic on Earth’s Water which discussed the water cycle and both fresh and saltwater. Students then learned about the Watershed, which will lead to Topic 5 Human Impacts on Earth’s Systems.  We are looking forward to many great opportunities for labs and demonstrations within this chapter, in addition to ,technology integration.

In social studies, we are in the midst of the American Revolution. Students are learning about the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and Lexington and Concord, to name a few.  Students are excited to learn all about America’s freedom and the war that was fought to win it.

In reading, we continue to practice with both fiction and informational texts.  We are wrapping up the third unit of our reading program. Students have been focusing on identifying the main idea and key details within a text.  In writing, we have been writing opinion pieces in which students are able to express opinions and use evidence to support those opinions.

Communication: Please stay in communication with your child’s teacher. It is essential that we work together to ensure that each child has a successful year!

-The Fifth Grade Team

News from SWIS School Counselors

Internet Safety

This academic year all students attended an informational session with Assistant District Attorney Ellen Miller. Annually she has been speaking to our 5th grade students; however this year she returned to SWIS to present to 3rd and 4th grade students.  Her presentation included pertinent information regarding internet safety and cyberbullying.

Parents and guardians should keep the following tips in mind in order to best support children in this age of technology:

  • Keep the computer/tablet use in a common area, not in individual bedrooms, where you can watch and monitor use.
  • Familiarize yourself with apps your child is using.  Many social networking sites have user agreements and age requirements.
  • Share an email account with your child so you can monitor messages.
  • Bookmark kids' favorite sites for easy access.
  • Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behavior.
  • Find out what, if any, online protection is offered by your child's school, after-school center, friends' homes, or any place where kids could use a computer without your supervision.
  • Take your child seriously if he or she reports an uncomfortable online exchange.
  • Forward copies of obscene or threatening messages you or your kids get to your Internet service provider.
  • Never reveal personal information, such as address, phone number, or school name or location. Use only a screen name. Never agree to meet anyone from a chat room in person.
  • Many sites use "cookies," devices that track specific information about the user, such as name, email address, and shopping preferences. Cookies can be disabled. Ask your Internet service provider for more information.

Internet Safety tips taken from KidsHealth, Nemours Center for Children's Health Media

Media/Technology News

This month in Media Literacy, we are working to raise readers and writers in the digital age. I believe that in 2019, we can learn to navigate online reading just as deeply as we once did print—if we go about it with the necessary thoughtfulness. Research shows that interactive annotation can actually improve comprehension and reading strategies used among intermediate students. Media students have begun preparing for the digital format of this year’s state test, MCAS 2.0. Our urban design projects are taking shape. Grade 3 students are finishing their proposed layouts of Rocket Square. Grade 4 students are constructing hurricane proof house models using recycled materials after studying the impact of Hurricane Michael on Mexico Beach, Florida. Grade 5 students are building bridge prototypes after studying the Genoa Bridge collapse. We are equally excited to launch our latest video on You Tube. A group of our 5th grade students are using their engineering skills to construct a scaled model of Polar Park where the Pawtucket Red Sox will relocate in 2021. Polar Park will be located just  four miles from Swanson Road Intermediate School. Stay tuned for a look at our students' final product in February! 

Math is Everywhere!!!

Can sports help you with math? The answer is YES!  The Patriots are playing once again in the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 3rd.  Watching the game is a perfect opportunity to spend quality time as a family. You can discuss how math is seen throughout the game.  For example, if Julian Edelman is on the opposing teams 24 yard line, how many more yards are needed for him to score a touchdown? “How many more” indicates subtraction and you would also need to know the length of the football field is 100 yards. Julian would need to run 100 - 24 = 76 more yards to score a touchdown.   Also, if the Patriots have won 11 out of 16 games this year, 1116 is actually a fraction that can be converted to a percent. In this case, 1116 means they won roughly 69% of their games during the regular season.  It is so beneficial for your children to realize math doesn’t just show up in math class, math really is everywhere!  GO PATRIOTS!!

PE News

In January, students participated in both a tennis and basketball unit.  In tennis, students learned basic forehand and backhand shots, as well as ,court lines, rules and basic scoring concepts.  In basketball, students worked on dribbling, passing, court movement, rules and small game situations.  As we head in to February, classes will spend time on some team games, cooperative activities and some chasing and fleeing games.  Towards the end of the month, we will be having our first ever “Climb-a-thon”.  This will be a fundraiser for the PTO in which students will be virtually transported to the “SWIS Alps” as they arrive in the gyms, where students will work in groups to see how many times the entire group makes it across in a 10 minute time period.  More information will be sent home in the coming days.

The Music Corner with Ms. Speidel and Mrs. Caruso

This month in music class, students have been working on learning their treble and bass clef notes in order to prepare for their instrumental units. Third graders have started to learn the ukulele. Fourth graders have been turning in their recorder order forms and are just about the start learning how to play the recorder. Fifth graders are starting to learn keyboard instruments by playing mallet instruments and learning basic fingerings on the keyboard.

The SWIS concert band is preparing for their performance at the Auburn All Town Concert on March 7 at Auburn High School. They are working on harder and longer songs and are rising to the challenge!

The SWIS String Society is working hard towards their upcoming performance with the Worcester Youth Orchestra! Stringapalooza will be on Saturday, March 2nd at 7pm in the AHS auditorium. 

Ms. Speidel & Mrs. Caruso