06 June, 2022

Last Week of School

I can’t believe we are already at this point in the school year! It has been a very exciting year, full of learning and growth on both the part of the students and myself. I want to extend a deep and heartfelt thank you to all of you parents for entrusting the care and formation of your kindergarten student to me. It takes a lot of faith to share something so very precious, and I hope I have spent the year fulfilling and meeting your and your students’ needs. Thank you one again!

The Holy Spirit

Over the last few weeks, we have been discussing the Holy Spirit in a few different ways. Throughout the bible, and in classical art, the Holy Spirit is depicted in three different ways: fire, a dove, and a cloud. In the Old Testament, Moses spoke of a “Glory Cloud” that would be present over the tabernacle. At Jesus’ baptism, the gospels spoke of the heavens opening up and the Spirit of God descending from heaven like a dove. During Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes to the Apostles like tongues of fire. The Holy Spirit is very present in the bible, but it is also present in our lives.

The Holy Spirit moves us to action. I related this to our science lesson about movement. An object at rest stays at rest unless a force is applied against it. We move objects through two forces: push and pull. Our spirits can be seen to act using the same principle. The Holy Spirit is the force that acts upon us to move us and guide up to follow Jesus. It is our inspiration and the voice that leads us to be who we are meant to be. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God that helps us discover Him.

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity. To paraphrase Father Gerald’s homily from Sunday: God is infinite, and has infinite knowledge. When God uses his infinite knowledge to discover and think about Himself, that produces The Son. The son proceeded from God’s infinite thinking about himself. From this, God loves the son infinitely, and the Son, from proceeding from the Father, shares in infinity, and loves the Father infinitely. This infinite love between the Father and the Son is infinitely strong that it manifests in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the love that is shared between the Father and the Son. It has been shared with us, as a way for us to be led and to share in the glory of God.

KWO Writing Process

Recently, we began a new step in our writing education. This new step is a review of what we had learned earlier in the year. Back in January, the class was introduced to Key Word Outlines and the process to develop a new writing piece based on a source text. From that moment, the class has witnessed teacher driven instruction showcasing how to use the KWO in a few different scenarios (writing from pictures, writing from story elements). After having been exposed to these lessons, the students are now at the stage where they will proceed through the KWO process more independently. They will be the ones to read through the source text, choose the words to fill in the KWO, build sentences based on the KWO into a rough draft, edit and add dress-ups to enhance the sentences, and produce a final draft.

As we continue into the next few weeks, the students will work together as a class through this process. They will learn how to take ownership of their writing, develop a deeper understanding of what makes a word a “keyword”, and improve their ability to add dress-ups to make their writing more exciting. This will be followed by the last two weeks, where the students will work independently to develop their own writing, based on a source text. Each student will have their own writing sample and be able to work through the process on their own.

Virtue of the Term: Humility

Matthew 22:36-40

3“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 
37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 
38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 
39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

This gospel passage is the blueprint for humility. It lists that we should love God first. We love God with everything that we have. Next, we love our neighbor, as we love ourselves. Our neighbor is listed as the next person to love, with ourselves as the last person mentioned. God comes first, neighbor comes second, and we come last. That is the order in which we are commanded to love, and that is the definition of humility.

Student Self-Assessment

In class, I introduced to the students the 1-4 grading scale that we use on report cards. I want the students to develop an understanding of self-assessment. The purpose of working with the students on this concept is, so they can be more intentional with the work that they complete, and possibly think deeper about the things we are learning in class.

The 1-4 grading levels are not designed or intended to belittle anyone, but to enhance our understanding of our capabilities, so as we can work to better ourselves. This scale is the same that is on the report card, so this may be familiar to you already.

  • Level 1 is someone who is at the beginning stage of a concept or a skill.
  • Level 2 is someone who is demonstrating a working knowledge of said concept or skill, but is having difficulties with execution.
  • Level 3 is someone who is able to demonstrate the concept or skill and does so with relative ease.
  • Level 4 is someone who is so proficient in the concept or skill, they are able to make it their own and help teach someone else. A level 4 would also be someone who goes above and beyond on a task and does more than the basic directions require.

Students can be found at varying degrees within this scale, and that is ok. We are all different and process information in different ways. I would not expect anyone to be at Level 4 for all subjects in kindergarten. With the students and parents knowing this scale, I would request that the students take an honest self-assessment of their skills and try to place themselves on this scale. From there, I would like the students, in conjunction with the parents, to work to elevate themselves to the next level.

Up to this point, the purpose of homework was two-fold: to begin the habit of working on school things outside of school, and to give extra practice for particular skills (mostly writing/reading). At this point, I will begin making notes on homework stating my assessment of their level, and a brief comment on what to work on to move up. I would like it if students took the time to read and think about my comments, so they could take a big step in taking charge of their learning.

Sound City

Sound City is a display in the classroom that showcases the special sounds that we learn in our poems. Outside of Sound City, we have learned the sounds that the short vowels and consonants make when they are independent. When the letters begin to mingle, they make different sounds, and that is where we get our special sounds. The Streets on Sound City are dedicated to our long vowel and R-controlled vowel sounds. Each house on a street shows a different way in which that sound can be made. There are other places in our city, such as the Silent E Library, where special sounds can be found. As the year progresses, Sound City will grow and become a great tool for the students to look towards to help them with their reading.

Sound City Streets

ar says the r-controlled sound in the word star, bark and arm.
er says the r-controlled sound in the word teacher, Narmer, and water. er is generally found at the end of a word.
ir says the r-controlled sound in the word girl, bird, first.
or says the r-controlled sound in the word for, Gordon, and horn.
ur says the r-controlled sound in the word fur, church, and purple.
ay says long a usually at the end of a word, as in say, day, and away.
ai says long a usually in the middle of a word, as in plain, main, and stain.
ey says long a, as in hey, they, and obey.
y at the end of a multi-syllable word says long e sound, as in happy, Wendy, and hickory. (Exceptions ay and oy, which will be added to Sound City later)
ee in a word says the long e sound, as in bee, tree, and teeth.
ea in a word says the long e sound (most of the time), as in tea, meal, and ear. (exceptions are words like head, where ea makes the short e sound).
y at the end of a one-syllable word says long i sound, as in why, cry, shy, and dry.
igh says long i, as in sigh, fright, and might.
oa says long o, as in oak, croak, boat, and soak.
Open o is when the final syllable ends in o.
ow says long o as in know, yellow, and glow.
o followed by two consonants says long o, as in cold, most, and both.
ew says the long u sound in the word pew, few, and chew.
ue says the long u sound in the word blue, due, and tissue.
oo says the long u sound in the word moo, root, and tooth.
ce says the s sound, like in the words ice, cent, and celery.
Magic e – a short vowel with an adjacent e turns into a long vowel, like in the words: rid=ride cod=code tub=tube
Decorative e is places at the end of words that end with a v sound.
ge says the j sound, like in edge, age, and page.
aw – This is shown as a baby stroller because when we see a baby, we say “awwwww!”
ing – These letters come together to make their new sound.
ou and ow – These sounds make the ow sound that we hear in the words couch/mouse, and vowel/cow.
are and air – These sounds say air, like in stare and stair, or hare and hair.
Whispered th says the soft th sound in with, Beth, and throw.
Voiced th says the th sound in them, this, that, and brother.
wh makes the sound like you are blowing out birthday candles, as in who, wheel, and where.
sh makes the shushing sound, as in shot, wish, and push.

I invite you to share in Sound City by building your own at home. Below I will have a picture of the most up to date model from our classroom, as well as a link to the houses, which can be printed and placed on your city.

Sound City Printable Houses

True, Good, and Beautiful

In Kindergarten, we are building the foundation of our faith. We begin the year with discussing God, three divine persons, personified in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From this concept of God, we move into creation, and that’s where we find our three transcendental: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. In class, we will look at the world, our classroom subjects, and each other through this lens.

True – The basic reality of an object that is always real, and does not rely on other objects for it to be true. Something that is true is always true, and can never be in conflict with another thing that is true. There is truth in the things God has made, and the truth of an object, in turn, points to the existence of God.

Beautiful – When a creation of God is participating fully with all other creations of God. Things were made to fit together, to have balance and live in harmony with each other.

A simple explanation for these concepts: A hand is a hand and cannot be anything else. It is not a foot or an eye. (True) A hand is used for holding objects and to aid in the expression of our mind/spirit. When I use my hand to grasp an object, it is being used in the way it was designed. (Good) Using a hand in conjunction with a pencil and paper to express the mind/spirit of a person. When I use my hand to hold a pencil and write down my thoughts that glorify God, that is finding harmony in the purpose of my hand, the pencil, and the paper. (Beautiful)




Mr. Andrew Pietryga

Kindergarten Teacher

(734) 769-0911 Ext. 2111

St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School