Saturday, December 31, 2011


Dear Baldwin Community,
Happy Holidays to all! I hope everyone is enjoying the winter break and the beautiful weather. I want to thank everyone for the tasty treats and precious gifts so many of you gave to me and the Baldwin staff. Your generosity and kindness are heartfelt by all of us. 
Can you believe that we completed the first semester of the 2011-2012 school year? I can't! This fall semester has flown by! I want to congratulate you and your children for a successful 18 weeks of learning.
Before we ring in the new calendar year, I want to recap a few of our first semester accomplishments. I have so much to share so please be patient and enjoy all that we learned and completed at Baldwin during the fall semester!
During this first semester, we were very busy learning and growing in many different ways. Our youngest Bobcats, our kindergarten and Pre-K students have been working on their reading, writing and math skills everyday and I have seen much growth in all of them. I especially enjoy listening to them read and share their stories.
In first grade, the students were very creative in their writing as they learned to interview and collect information to write biographies about each other. These learning tasks help the children develop stronger writing and reading skills as well as learn more about each other and about themselves. I witnessed one class going through the actual interviewing process and I was so impressed with the skills they used throughout the process. 

Our second graders ended the fall semester with their Market Day Sales. What a great experience for all of our second graders and their parents! The students had to create a product and then sell it to their peers. Each child took ownership of their product and showed so much pride throughout the event. After the first day of sales, many of the students sold out of their products so they had to go home and make more to sell the next day. They were so excited that they didn't even complain about the work they had to do in a few hours to be ready for the next day. The children learned so many lessons through this market day project that I know they will never forget and they will be able to transfer this learning to other areas. I am so proud of all of our second graders for all that they did for Market Days. I bet some of our first graders are already thinking about what product they will develop/create to sell next year. 

The children in third grade studied fraction names and symbols as well as learning the meaning of multiplication and division. If you have a child in third grade it is important for them to practice multiplication and division facts on a daily basis so that these become second nature to them. This will definitely help them in future years as well. In the area of reading, our third graders became experts in summarizing a plot's main events and explaining their influence on future events. All of these skills require your child to be higher level thinkers and problem solvers. I ask that you continue to ask your child questions that will get them to draw conclusions or make inferences about their reading selections.
In fourth grade, our students worked the entire fall semester on becoming better writers. They had many different types of compositions to write, which included writing across disciplines. They had research projects to complete and present to their classmates that covered many areas in social studies. The writing techniques they learned during the first semester such as providing evidence of the text/resources to demonstrate understanding were also part of their projects. Our fourth graders continued to develop their division skills by using division to solve problems that had no more than one-digit divisors and three digit dividends without the use of technology. They also studied more about earth and space by collecting and analyzing data to identify sequences and predicting patterns of change in shadows, seasons, and the observable appearances of the moon over time. All of this information is very complex, however, your child was able to master this and so much more in the first semester. Please keep encouraging your child to read and write on a daily basis as well as practicing their multiplication and division facts every day.
Our fifth graders had a full fall semester beginning with the camp trip to Camp Champions and learning how to switch classes and work with three different teachers. I believe they have matured so much since the beginning of the school year and have made many gains in their learning. During the fall semester in reading, the students had to synthesize and make logical connections between ideas within a text and across two or three texts representing similar or different genres. These skills will continue to carry over as they work in science and math class because they must be critical thinkers and problem solvers of all they read and study. In mathematics, the students continued to develop their understanding of fractions to solve problems. They were expected to compare two fractional quantities in problem solving situations using a variety of methods including common denominators. Wow, just this skill alone required the students to use so much of their previous mathematics knowledge to understand the new information being taught. This was also important in science class. They had to use their prior learning of earth and space to know that there are recognizable patterns in the natural world and among the earth, sun and moon system. These are just a few of the skills and expectations that students in fifth grade were required to master in the first semester. I ask that you continue to work with your child to complete all of their homework and to continue to help them build their skills of responsibility and self-discipline as they get closer to becoming middle school students.
I just gave you a small glimpse into what our children were expected to learn in the fall semester and to reiterate how proud I am of all they have learned. We also had some major accomplishments in a few other areas at Baldwin.
In early December, our robotics teams participated in a qualifier tournament and they "ROARED!"
The Robo Ninjas-the 5th grade Girls' Team-won first place for their research project. They also received an invitation to compete at the invitational tournament at Westlake High School on January 21, 2012. This team placed 7th in the robot game. There were 30 teams that competed in the qualifier and most of the teams were made up of middle school students. Congratulations to our Robo-Ninjas; Way to Go Girls and Best of luck on January 21st!
But wait, it doesn't stop there! The 5th grade boys' team-the Terminators-received an "exemplary" rating (the highest) for robot design process, which was systematic, well-explained and had well documented improvement cycles, and for their mission strategy, which had a clear strategy to accomplish game missions. In the research project category, this team received and "exemplary" rating for problem identification (very clear, very detailed), problem analysis (extensive study and analysis by team) and innovation (original solution with the potential to add significant value). Additionally, the Core Values Judge commented on the respect that the Terminators had for each other. Congratulations to our Terminators!
Wait, the accomplishments don't stop there either! We had another team that also competed and did well. The 4th grade boys' team-Robotic Frogs-placed 3rd of all 30 teams in the robot game. The judges wrote "Outstanding" across the top of the robot design and programming evaluation sheet. This team was also credited for having a robot attachment that was innovative. Congratulations to our Robotic Frogs! We are so very proud of our three teams and are very grateful to the coaches that gave so much of their time, energy and wisdom to help our 4th and 5th grade students have such an amazing experience. These teams learned and practiced during the weekdays but also on Sundays for many weeks. Again congratulations to the three teams and their coaches!!
On another note, I want to thank the PTA committee that organized the "Care and Share" Turkey event this year. It was an amazing event that brought our Baldwin Community together to help some of our very own families during this Holiday Season. Your giving and caring spirit is something our children will remember for the rest of their lives and I know they will continue to share what they can with others in need. Thank you so much for all that you contributed in making this a memorable event for all!
Before the 2011 year comes to an end, I want to thank the PTA for their continuous support of our school and our learning. During the first half of this school year, our PTA gave so much of their time, talents and treasure to help us as we worked towards reaching our goals for this year. Some of the PTA members even worked during the winter break at Baldwin. The fifth grade students requested a Gaga Pit, which they played at Camp Champions and they felt all of our Bobcats would enjoy playing it too. One of the main reasons the students and teachers requested the Gaga Pit was because all students can participate in the game and athletic skills are not required. It is an inclusive game that will be monitored with rules and guidelines for all students to enjoy now and in the future. This past week the PTA built the Gaga Pit and it is now ready for our students to use during recess. If you are visiting Baldwin, you will find the Gaga Pit on the large playground close to the garden areas. Thank you for continuing to support not only the academics at Baldwin but also the overall well-being of our children.
I also want to thank the Boy Scouts that help build our solar shed and the garden areas. Thomas, a Boy Scout, working towards becoming an Eagle Scout led the project at Baldwin. He and his scout friends built and painted the solar shed, made 4 gardens full of soil ready to use, spread mulch surrounding the gardens, built a teaching table, and a granite path to the shed and playslab. It is a beautiful area that I know will be used by our children and teachers.
The Baldwin December Book Fair was a HUGE success. Thank you to everyone that volunteered to help us during the book fair week and thank you to all that shopped at the fair. I bought several books for my niece and nephew and they loved them. I also saw the glow in your children's eyes as they bought their new books. We will have another Book Fair in late February so start saving your change so that your children can add to their book collections. Thanks for your support!
As you just read, we have so much to be proud of at Baldwin! I thank you all for all that you did to help us accomplish our Fall semester goals and I look forward to a successful Spring semester at Baldwin! I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I will see you on Thursday, January 5, 2012!
Roaring with Pride,
Dr. Peña