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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Summer School Applications NOW Live

Dear Families, 

You may now apply for summer school here:
  • Summer school is available to all LAUSD students
  • Walgrove students may keep their borrowed devices over the summer (5th graders until Aug)
  • Students are not limited by geographical area. Because summer school is virtual, students and teachers will all be assigned across the district. Students will not have their current teachers, and teachers will not have their current students. The wide catalog of course offerings is available to all, not matter where you live 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day and Other Info

13 Ideas for Mother's Day Present - Kid 101

Happy Mother’s Day! 

It is indeed fitting that Mother’s Day came right after Teacher Appreciation Week, because so many Walgrove warriors are both mothers and teachers: Teachers who are also mothers have had to teach and work, while mothers who are now also teachers have had to work and teach. 

No matter your family’s situation, we are all working diligently to adjust to the COVID-19 school closure, which has required all of us to rise to a new occasion where we must exercise immense creativity while sacrificing physical proximity.

Harvard Medical School says that a hug held for 20 seconds releases much-loved oxytocin, which lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, and makes people feel loved and close. 

So, hug those in your quarantine circle for 20 seconds several times a day and read aloud and play board games and cook together and laugh. 

Because what you cannot do through Zoom is touch. 

During World War II, soldiers relied on letters to feel connectedness and a sense of purpose. Because in order to feel that your life is worth sacrifice, one must feel that your life matters. 

So, stay connected to people who are faraway through letters -- and, where letters take too long, take to Zoom. 

During the Zooms that I have personally experienced over this past month or so, I have witnessed, up close, the innovation of children. Kids build forts and roller coasters and wire-hanger bicycles and cardboard skyscrapers and obstacle courses and hope. 

Like scientists harness the sun and wind to electrically power cities, let’s harness the creativity of children to power our houses and our hope. 

Thank you, mothers, for your unique capacity to cultivate the hope of children and to keep all of our lives together during difficult times. 

Thank you, fathers, for loving our mothers who do so. 

And thank you, children, for being the future and everything we exist for. Walgrove is because of you. 

Here are some announcements for the last month of school:

Yearbook dedications are due May 15. Please click here to dedicate a page (or a portion thereof) to your special kiddo. Let’s turn lemons into lemonade and make this year one to remember! (Check out photos of our kiddos here.)

Fundraising is down -- of course! Unemployment across the nation is the highest it has been in decades. 

While many Walgrove families have either stopped their monthly FOW donations or cut them in size, our expenses have not receded. We continue to employ Francesca, Johnny B, Donzell, Farmer Matt, Coach Rachel, Ms. Barbara and Ms. Macias. They are vital to our essence. They are a HUGE part of what makes Walgrove Walgrove. 

So, if you are in the unique position of thriving during this time, please consider increasing your donation to offset losses. In the spirit of this, I have increased my own monthly donation by 50% for the next three years. Please reach out to FOW president Emily Barton at to donate today. 

Please subscribe to my blog: Enter your email address underneath the blog’s title, verify your email, and voila. This way, you are sure to stay apprised of happenings.

Another distribution day is happening this Thursday, May 14, by appointment. The purpose of these Distribution events is to provide to students with the devices and materials they need to attend virtual school this Spring and beyond. These days are not days to collect completed work and projects, as there will be time in the future for that. These days are to make sure that everyone has what they need to move forward. There will be other events in the future for families and teachers to come and collect possessions and keepsakes. 

If you need a tech device and/or something from your child’s desk that is required to move forward, please make an appointment through email to Last Thursday, we served approximately 40 families.This Thursday, I imagine we will do the same. 

Thank you for your heartfelt partnership. 

Happy Mother’s Day, and many blessings!

Dr. Andrea Kittelson

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Current Prevailing Master Schedule

<Reposted from April 1>

Dear Families,

Throughout this week, we have been refining our master schedule of VIRTUAL offerings, which currently includes video uploads, Zoom sessions, Google Classroom check-ins and more. This master schedule is for those of you would would like to connect with your teachers and with academic subjects through the powers of technology, which now, after loaning out approximately 75 devices, all Walgrove students should have (if you do not, please reach out):
For those of you who DO prefer technology, here is a sample STUDENT schedule of a day's worth of school:
For those of you who DO NOT prefer technology, and instead prefer analog activities, here is a sample STUDENT schedule of a day's worth of school:
While the district is in the process of developing overarching guidelines for grading the student work that is completed during this time, we at Walgrove do have an Independent Study grading rubric that you might find helpful. It considers thoroughness of work, quality of work, presentation of work, grade-level skills and 21st Century skills.
As you continue to provide for your children the most robust learning experience possible during this time, please know a few things:
  • The Superintendent does not require or expect that elementary school students will complete an entire six-hour day of school every day during this time. While we at Walgrove are doing our best to give you the resources you need to replicate an entire school day at home, should you choose to, that is not the requirement. The district would like for elementary school students to focus foremost on foundational skills, such as reading, writing, computation, critical thinking, creative thinking and Social Emotional Learning — basically, reading, writing, math and fun. Superintendent Beutner has said that elementary school students should be able to accomplish this in approximately three hours of focused study per day. Obviously, this might vary according to age, circumstance and parental desire. Nonetheless, rest assured that you are not obligated to present to your children a full day of replicated school. 
  • Certificated teachers are all expected to work full time (or nearly full time, per UTLA agreement) during this crisis. As you can imagine, due to the learning curve of this experience and certain logistics, teachers are actually working far more than their typical, contractual 7 hours per day. Most are currently working 10-14 hours per day. As part of their contractual day, during this crisis, teachers are expected to provide a minimum of four hours per week of virtual education, generally in ELA and math, and typically through video uploads, Zoom sessions, Google Chat and more, plus three hours per week of office hours where parents and/or students can expect an immediate response. The other time is spent creating lessons, personalizing lessons, uploading lessons, reading student work, giving students feedback, answering emails, taking workshops to learn the tools they are now expected to use, and more. All while taking care of and teaching their own children.
  • While teachers are expected to provide virtual activities, families are not obligated to access these virtual offerings. Some parents do not want their children in front of a screen. That is OK. That is why we at Walgrove have provided families with analog lessons, as well. Do what works for you and your family.
  • While we have all been inundated with an abundance of resources, including videos, on-line programs, software, etc., please know that you are under no obligation to try or use ANY of them. Do what works for you and your family. Indeed, it can feel very overwhelming to be presented with so many options. If you prefer to read books aloud, play board games, bake bread, sew and work in your garden side by side with your children and have them journal about it or sing a song about it, do that. If children are reading, writing, computing, thinking critically, thinking creatively and experiencing love and joy, they are learning. 
Please stay in touch with your teachers and with me. Feel free to reach out to me via email at or cell at (323) 363-1934. 

Thank you for your partnership.

Stay safe, and be well!

2020-2021 CLASS MATRIX

Friday, May 1, 2020

Share and Care at Home

Our beloved Share and Care service providers offer advice for home mental health care:

Materials and Technology Pick-Up May 7+

Dear Families,

Because the District has expanded Continuity of Learning beyond May 1, and because the district has also expanded their provision of technology, we will host Materials and Technology Pick-Up Days at Walgrove the next two Thursdays, May 7 and May 14 from 10-4 by appointment.

This is what will be available:
  • My Math workbooks (why not pick up the next grade level for an extra challenge?)
  • Phonics workbooks (take an extra for your younger sibling)
  • Decodable sets
  • Benchmark Advantage Vocab and Grammar workbooks
  • Items from your child's classroom
  • Technology (hot spot if you don't have the internet; iPad, Chrome Book or Mac Book Air, depending on grade level)
Please also know that sometime over the next two weeks, you will also be receiving via snail mail one of these "Kids Learn! Getting Ready for..."workbooks for each of your children. Superintendent Beutner is mailing one workbook to each student in the district.

If you don't get yours by May 18, call (213) 443-1300.

Kids Learn!

To make an appointment for materials and/or technology pick-up, please email me at with the following:
  • Preferred date, either May 7 or May 14
  • Preferred two-hour window, 10-12, 12-2, 2-4 (I will assign you a specific time, like 12:15)
  • Your name
  • Your child's name
  • Your child's grade level
  • Workbooks you are interested in (though you can get extras when you arrive, if we have)
  • Technology, if you need (e.g., if you don't have the internet at home and you need a hot spot AND/OR you need one of our iPads, Chrome Books or Mac Book Airs -- we still have a few available)
If you don't get the Kids Learn! workbook by mail by May 18, all (213) 443-1300.

Due to staffing issues and social distancing concerns, there will be different days set aside for teachers to collect their things before summer. These two days are for families to obtain additional materials they might need for the next six weeks of school.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

How to Support GATE Students at Home

As we embark upon remote learning, each to the beat of our own uniquely crafted drum, we are met with certain challenges that we might not have noticed so much before.

We might have a child at home who is functioning at grade level in reading but is miles ahead in math (or vice versa), or we might have a child who is light years ahead in dinosaur facts but still a bit socially immature. There are so many details of a child's individual development that we might not have noticed quite so clearly when school was in session and we were in the throes of our everyday lives.

But now that we do notice that our child might be more GATE (Gifted and Talented Ed) than we thought, what do we do?

Well, when I am teaching in pretty much any situation, I apply the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) (one design that works for many students) along with the principles of Constructivism (student-constructed learning). That way, no matter who is in front of me, and no matter their skills, I am sure to meet their needs.

Here is a chart to illustrate:

Entree and FIXED
Buffet and OPEN

Teacher-generated differentiation. The teacher creates a different entree for each student, dependent upon students’ skill sets, as determined by the teacher. Perhaps the teacher (not the student) determines the student's Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and uses that info to decide for the student what they should ingest.


Teacher cooks the same entree for every student, no matter hunger level or desire, OR the teacher cooks a different entree for each student, dependent upon varied hunger level and desire — as perceived by the teacher. The teacher decides everything and works SO hard, and the students decide little, and each eats just one thing. Because the students didn’t choose it, they probably don’t like it. 

Student-generated choice from a menu of options to increase student engagement. The students each instinctively choose based on their own innate desire for challenge.(I would never want to say to a child, "You can't read that. It's too hard for you.")


> Writer’s Workshop, where students choose the genre to work on that day toward whatever stated purpose (to communicate with a particular person or entity, to be published, to showcase skills...)

> Math Centers, where students choose which skills to explore that day, based on current desire

> CGI problem of the day, where students choose their degree of challenge for the day

> Literature Circles, where students choose what book to read, and they facilitate their own discussion

> Pre- and post-tests “Tell Me Everything You Know About_____”

> Projects, including re-enactments

Teacher-chosen vocabulary words, different words for each grade level, depending upon the grade level (rather than upon student curiosity) and perhaps somehow related to what the students are studying in other subject areas (which is at least something, but still teacher-determined)

Student-created personal dictionary, driven by student curiosity. Teacher provides a blank template that can be used with any student in any grade TK-12.

Teacher does nothing other than prompt and remind and maybe join in. When a student says, “What does that mean?” The teacher says, “Let’s look it up and add it to our personal dictionaries.”

Then, at certain intervals, the teacher might administer a vocab test that might involve: spell and define six new words you added to your personal dictionary this past week OR write a letter to your grandmother that includes at least two of your newly acquired words OR draft a short story about a pineapple, where you incorporate four new words, two of which must be polysyllabic. 

Provide an interesting purpose for the acquisition of words.

Teacher-chosen book to read. Each student in that grade level reads the same book no matter their skills and no matter their desire. 

Teacher has on hand a class set of books and a host of activities that are specifically related to that one particular book. If there is more than one level of student in class, then the teacher feels tasked with finding different books and/or different activities for those particular students -- or doesn’t do that because the teacher just can’t and therefore has all the kids do the same thing no matter what. So, some students fall behind and others become bored. In this paradigm, everyone is always confined to the limits of what the teacher is able to offer. 

Because this process is so cumbersome, the students may read only one one or two chapter books in a year.

Student-run literature circles. Teacher provides a menu of books and a list of questions to answer no matter the book.

Students choose the book from a menu. Students run the literature circles, answering the questions in whatever order the student group leader decides. Students choose from the menu a product to complete afterward. 

Teacher only has on hand a collection of books, generally six copies of each (not a class set), creates the process, monitors the process (doesn’t usurp), and helps to evaluate the final product. 

Because this process is so engaging, the students may read five or six (or more) chapter books in a year.

Because this process is student-run, the teacher works less, but yields much more.

I will now show you how to add two multi-digit numbers. Memorize my steps and do it exactly like me, or you are not good at math. Once you do this “correctly,” you may move on to the next task I have chosen for you to do.

This method of teaching requires that the teacher know very well how to do ALL the steps in the “correct” order, which also means, then, that in order to teach the next level “correctly” to the same or older students, the teacher must know ALL the math through high school in a very particular way. The teacher is the expert. The students are passive recipients who depend upon the teacher.

This method is also nearly always devoid of context. Students don’t solve math problems for a purpose, like building a bridge or a boat, or creating a musical composition, but merely to please the teacher or to earn a grade. The purpose is so abstract for most students, that they ultimately decide that the cost is too great.

This method also excludes at least 70% of the population on a consistent and persistent basis, which is why we have had a 70% achievement gap in math in the most vulnerable and disenfranchised populations for the past several decades.

> What do you notice about these numbers?

> What patterns do you see emerging?

> How might you arrange these fraction pieces, and why?

> What do you notice about this music as it compares to that music? How is Mozart different from B.B. King? How are they the same?

> Here are two multi-digit numbers. What are at least two different ways to add them and arrive at the same "correct" answer? How do we know that answer is correct? Which way of adding them is more efficient? Which way is more fun and why?

This requires that the teacher know how to pose questions that pique student curiosity. The teacher does not need to be an expert at math. The teacher must only be an expert at tapping into student curiosity. 

All answers may be discovered together, as student and teacher mutually explore their passions -- all of which involve math in some way.

Teacher-generated. Teacher culls resources, curates a lesson, imparts facts to passive students who must memorize externally-determined facts that they MIGHT apply later, maybe, if time and circumstance allow, all with the hope that some of it will stick. The teacher does 99% of the work. The student does and remembers very little — because, well, why should they? 

EXAMPLE: "Open your book to page 27. We are going to read about and discuss the Amayids and Abassids. Why? Because it’s next in the history book. Bobby, you read aloud first. Why? Because I said so."

When we have rote memorization FIRST, before the fun activity, we lose student interest. Instead of front-loading with facts, we should front-load with passion and side-load with facts. Let the students refer to a side-loading fact sheet as they do the interesting work. Let them learn the facts along the way to solving a problem or working on a project. Let them learn through doing.

Student-fueled “Tell me everything you know about _______________” 

Teacher administers a simple pre- and post-test that works for all grades and all topics. “Tell me everything you know about __________” which is graded with a rubric.

Teacher provides the research tools, and frame for students to gather and apply the facts, e.g., Design Your Own Utopian Planet

Students do the work. (Teacher may do the work, too, alongside, if they wish.)

Teacher monitors the process and helps to evaluate the final product with a rubric.  

EXAMPLE: Student-generated re-enactment.

Re-enact a competition for territory. Choose any competition for territory in the grade level history book to re-enact. (No need for us to move chronologically through the book. Our memories are not chronological, so why must the study of history be?)

Write a script that includes the most salient details (who, what, where, when, how, why?), build props, rehearse, present to the class. Do this with a group of three to four other students that have the same level of interest in that particular competition for territory. Follow the group norms. (See “How to Work in Groups” sheet). Or, if you want to work alone, that is OK too. There are clever ways to re-enact a competition for territory by yourself e.g., puppets, animation, claymation, your own video game, etc.

Re-enact cell division...

How does this relate specifically to GATE students? 

While ALL students are innately curious and prone to enjoy UDL and Constructivism, more than traditional top-down instruction, GATE students are especially prone to enjoy UDL and Constructivism. Gifted students quickly become very frustrated with top-down methods that limit the students to the confines of the teacher's expertise.

With top-down traditional instruction, students will ALWAYS be limited to the confines of the teacher's knowledge, skills, timeline, world view, etc. With highly intelligent students who are visionaries in their own right, this can be a HUGE source of frustration.

So, when in doubt, invite students to the drawing board with you and let them co-construct their own knowledge and meaning.

See also Old v New

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Sample Parent Schedule

We have created and shared sample student schedules. So, how about sample parent schedules?

What is your "day in the life" so far? 

Here is my imagination of a parent-teacher schedule -- a parent who is also a teacher:

...which inspired this Walgrove parent to share with me her actual schedule:

Our "Day in the Life" is starting to look at follows...

Sunday afternoon. I prep a schedule for both boys that includes all of their scheduled Zoom calls as well as a list of academic "goals" for each day of the week. For example: Connor's today had and 11:30 Zoom story time and 1:00 Zoom with Ms. Francesca. His goals includes Math Book pages 311-316, sight word practice reading and writing, eight words a day three times, read a decodable book out load to Mom or Dad and ELA workbook pages 38-39...

Jack's had 9:00 Zoom ELA, 10:30 Zoom math and goals were label US state map with names of states and capitals (a project we're working on) and picking a state to start researching online; math book pages 669-670, free write for 20 minutes.  I don't care what order they do these daily goals in so long as they're checked off by the end of the day. 

Mom School is hard they tell me!

A typical day for us seems to be going as follows:

6:30-8:00: Wake up/read/eat breakfast
8:15-10:00: Work/school time: Mom sits at dining room table, Connor at a small desk in dining room and Jack at a desk in back room; boys either on Zooms or doing independent work on their daily goals
10:00 -10:30: Snack time/recess time: boys can bounce on trampoline outside or ride bikes around the block
10:30-12:00: Work/school time: continue work on zooms/daily goals
12:00-1:00: Lunch time
1:00-2:00: Quiet time/free play time - Legos, puzzles, reading, outside play
2:00-3:00: Art time - I've been trying to do different art projects with them daily and they are loving oil paints - we all sit at the table and create and listen to music while I try to work
3:00-4:00: More free play time/iPad time allowed (if daily goals have been met)
4:00: walk the dog/bike ride with dad/family
5:00: Dinner prep
6:30: Game or out loud reading with Mom or Dad (we're re-reading the Fudge series right now for some laughs)
7:30/8:00: Bedtime - I'm a stickler for this one!!!
8:00: "Milk" and Tiger King!!! or Schitt's Creek, which I was so sad just ended

If you would like to share your family's schedule, please send it to

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