For Parents/Guardians

This is the link to the district Acceptable Use Policy: 

School Handbook
Access it on the School Website under Information, School Information, Handbook.

"One of the greatest gifts adults can give—to their offspring and to their society—is to read to children." —Carl Sagan

How to Create Age-Appropriate Speed Bumps for Your Voracious Reader

Helping Kids Deal with High Expectations

This is a must-read article:

Smart Phones:

Another helpful article -- this one on kids and social media: 

Wonderful article! 

Tools to help your teen (and maybe you) control the amount of time wasted on devices

Don't stop reading aloud to and with your children just because they don't fit on your lap anymore! 

Discussing Books with your Children

And since I love camping and camping with my children and grandchildren, I appreciated this:

Some of these are worded for younger children, but most of them fit for all ages. 

Ms. Dorsey's answers to:
What can I do to support literacy at home?

Here are some SUGGESTIONS that could help.

READING (though these suggestions also help a child's writing)

  • Encourage your child to read, read, read.
  • Provide a variety of books and other reading materials around the house.
  • Limit screen time -- including time spent playing video games.
  • Set the example as a reader. 
  • Read together as a family, or just you and your child.
  • Have your child read to a younger child.  
  • Go to the public library, and check out books.
  • Read what your child is reading so you can discuss it. 
  • If you're not sure about the appropriateness of a book your child is interested in, you could read it before your child reads it, or along with your child.  Some books you might not be comfortable with your child reading (but your child will likely read it anyway) provide a basis for parent-child discussion of important topics. 
  • As to books you feel are not appropriate for your child to read,  set standards and expectations in your home concerning what family members will and will not consume in any type of media.  
    • There are books that are not appropriate for your child to read now, but could be okay when your child is older.   Let your child know that he or she can look forward to reading that book in a few years.
  • Give or loan books to your child's friends.  Sometimes a reluctant reader will read a book his or her friends are enjoying. 
  • Talk with your child about the literacies that you need at work, as you manage a household and other demands, and about those literacies that enrich your life.
  • Eat dinner together as a family as often as you can.  Talk about ideas.  Enjoy those dinner table discussions and debates.
  • If you watch television (online, too) watch for shows that expand understanding of the world and of people.  
  • If you listen to the radio in the car,  at least sometimes choose appropriate, enlightening  news and talk shows.   Try National Public Radio, including our local KUER.   
  • Encourage your child to keep some sort of diary or journal.  It could be on paper, in a word processor and/or on a private or family blog.   Computer journals are sometimes more appealing, especially if the child quickly tires of handwriting and is fairly proficient at typing.
  • Tell your child about all the ways you use writing.
  • See that your child has a chance to become proficient at typing.  Has your child taken keyboarding class?   Make that happen if it hasn't.  There are typing practice programs online, too. 
  • Also provide your child with the opportunity (translation:  require this) to improve illegible handwriting.  The student should be able to use either cursive or hand printing to communicate legibly.  
  •  Recruit your child to record family stories.   Interviewing parents or grandparents for their stories and then writing them down could build relationships and writing skills. 
  •  A fun family activity can be to respond to a writing prompt.  For those children who can't  yet write, they could dictate or record their responses.  
  • Encourage your child to learn by writing -- to take notes (and then use them to study), to write about the topics he or she is learning about, or wants to learn about.  
  • Encourage imaginative writing -- stories, poems, novels.  
  • Find something (or a lot of things) in your child's writing to praise.    
  • If you are helping your child to edit work for school or other purposes,  help him or her correct any mistakes you see, and pick one sort of error for the child to learn how to avoid.  Later for other papers, you might pick another fault that the child could learn to edit independently.
  • Become interested in words (if you aren't already).  Point out great, specific words (and other aspects of strong writing and thinking) in the things you're reading -- in novels, other books, newspaper articles, etc. 
What kinds of questions should I ask my child about your class? 

What targets in class have you mastered?  (Check Skyward post-test grades and their descriptions.)
Which targets in class do you still need to master?
What can we (you and I) do to help you achieve mastery?

What sort of book are you supposed to be reading this month?
Have you selected one and how far are you in reading it? Are you on track to finish in time?
Are you enjoying it?  If not, let's quickly find you a new one.
When is your assignment related to the book due?
Do you understand how to do it?
What could you ask Ms. Dorsey that would help you do it?

Are you doing your best to pay attention in class and to participate appropriately?
What could you do to better help yourself learn in class?

How do you measure progress?
Students take multiple choice and other tests on Mastery Connect.  We look for improvement over the last score.
Students write.  We look for improvement over the last piece of writing -- and especially over writing done at the beginning of the school year.
The teacher observes and watches for understanding and improved skills.

What are the most common barriers to progress in your class?
  • Not getting enough sleep and not drinking enough water (dehydration) are major barriers to learning in any class.   Lack of proper nutrition, and excess of sugar are other barriers to learning.  
  • Some students don't get enough physical activity to keep minds and bodies healthy.
  • Over-scheduling is another enemy of learning.  Even though there are many very worthwhile activities that actually help students be better learners,  trying to do too much negates the benefits.   
  • Students might not understand, but don't ask questions of the teacher or of other students who are getting it. 
  • Some students choose not to do the work of learning -- including paying attention, participating, and completing the writing, reading, and other assignments.
  • Parents and students sometimes focus solely on the grade at the expense of the learning that should be taking place.   
  • Attendance is vital, so excessive absences can create huge barriers to progress.  
    •  I am a believer in family vacations and the learning that takes place with travel and new experiences.  I so appreciate parents who help their child to continue working toward meeting school learning goals and completing assignments even though they are absent. 
    • We teachers are so willing to send home information and assignments for a sick student. We understand that sometimes a student is too sick to do much of anything.  However, when the student is well enough, he or she should complete that work that has been sent home.   We do get discouraged when we've taken the time to put together individual information and assignments that are never picked up or are never used.  

Recommended Reading: 

     To donate to our classroom -- pick up a form or go HERE 
and specify Ms. Dorsey's classroom under "Purpose of Donation."

We always need more books for students to read!
I'd like to purchase a couple of standing desks for students. 

For your information 

This thought-provoking article is about what it is that makes students "thrive or dive" in the transition from high school to college:

I just found and loved this post:

Handwriting problems?

Top Skills Middle School Students Need to Know

This is a very helpful article about dealing with your junior high age child: 

Click here for Classroom Rules.

Here is some helpful information I've prepared -- especially for parents -- about  Our First Class Novel: The Outsiders.

"Reading isn’t just taught. It’s passed on, like a treasure from one reader to the next. We should do everything we can as adults to preserve that childhood love of reading when it’s born and foster it when it isn’t. It’s our reading legacy."  -- Donalyn Miller

It's not too late!


A helpful article to consider:

And this is a thoughtful article about what to say when your child gets "busted" at school:

And another article to consider:

Parents, It's Time To Stop Undermining Our Kids' Teachers

Prevent bullying:

Published on A Mighty Girl October 4, 2016
A Mighty Girl Pick of the Day: “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World” by Dr. Michelle Borba. Studies show that teens are 40% less empathetic today than they were thirty years ago -- a trend that hurts both kids and society as a whole. In fact, self-focused behavior can hurt academic performance, lead to increases in bullying behavior, and reduce kids’ resilience when things go wrong. Equally importantly, as kids become adults, empathy is key to allowing them to collaborate, problem-solve, and innovate as they participate in our increasingly global world. Fortunately, there are easy steps parents can take to raise their kids to be thoughtful, empathetic, and kind!
In this thoughtful new parenting book, Dr. Michelle Borba explores nine research-based habits to build kids’ empathy and compassion. From identifying and controlling their emotions to thinking about “us” not “them”, these strategies can be used daily to encourage kids to see the world from the perspectives of other people around them. And parents can easily incorporate these habits into their day-to-day lives -- in fact, even a pleasurable ritual like reading time can help! Timely and touching, this newly released book stresses that empathy isn’t just good for kids: it’s good for all of us.
To learn more or order “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World”, visit
For two more insightful parenting books focused on raising kind kids, we also recommend "The Parents We Mean To Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development" ( and "Kindness Wins: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide to Teaching Our Kids How To Be Kind Online" (
For a selection of our favorite stories for teaching young children empathy for others, check out our blog post, "'The End of Bullying Begins With Me': Bullying Prevention Books for Young Mighty Girls," at
And, for many empathy-building books for both children and teens themselves that emphasize the value of compassion, visit our "Kindness & Compassion" section at

and more on the a similar subject:
Nearly all of us have bang-our-head-against-the-wall stories about our kids acting entitled. We’ve tried what feels like everything to stop it, and we still feel as if we’re not quite getting it right," writes Karen Weese in the Washington Post. “But there’s a young and fascinating field of research called behavioral economics that explores the sometimes irrational ways we all make decisions and think about the world. Maybe if we understand a little more about the instinctive, irrational quirks of our kids’ minds, we’ll be better equipped to raise kinder, less-entitled kids.” In her article, Weese talks to both experts and parents about what behavioral economics can do to help us teach kids empathy instead of entitlement. “Just talking about ‘How do you think that person is feeling?’ is so important,” says parenting educator Amy McCready. “It’s a way of un-centering our kids’ universe and getting them thinking outside of themselves.”
Helping kids better understand the cognitive biases that influence our understanding of the world is an important part of fostering their empathy for others. One common behavior called the “fundamental attribution error,” for example, prompts people to attribute negative actions by others to being intrinsic characteristics of those individuals; whereas, we consider our own negative behaviors to be the result of outside forces or accident. One example of this tendency is when food is slow getting to your table at a restaurant and the kids blame the “terrible” server. “[Parents] can point out that maybe the kitchen is backed up and she’s doing her best. Maybe she’s covering extra tables for someone who called in sick, or this is her second job and she’s been up since 4 a.m.," explains Weese.
Another common tendency that can lead to challenges is the fact that, according to Weese, "behavioral research shows that humans can become acclimated to almost anything if they’re exposed to it frequently." This tendency known as “hedonic adaptation” turns repeated treats (like an ice cream stop after a soccer game) into an expectation. Along these same lines, another behavior called “availability bias” causes us "to overestimate the prevalence of something if we see many examples of it" (“EVERYBODY at school has a iPad!”). These behaviors can make it difficult for children, especially those in affluent families, to appreciate their good fortune. To tackle this with his own children, behavioral expert Josh Wright says, "We’re always telling them: ‘You know that’s not normal, right? It’s just one little slice of the world.’" He also takes his children to volunteer regularly at a local soup kitchen so they gain a deeper understanding of their economic privilege and greater empathy for those in need.
Finally, research shows that social transactions are far more motivating than financial ones: kids will be more motivated by praise and feeling like they’ve contributed than by money. For this reason, McCready recommends that parents don’t pay kids for chores, Rather, she recommends that they frame chores as their children's contributions to the functioning of the family: “I know cleaning the bathroom isn’t fun, but if we all get to work, we’ll have the house clean by lunchtime... Thanks for the help!” The result, she says, is more than a clean house: it’s unentitled and empathetic kids and adults.
To read all of Karen Weese’s advice on The Washington Post, visit