Parent Lunch and Learn: Sailing the Seas of Literacy

literacy-lunch-and-learnDunlap Grade School hosted its first “Lunch in Learn” of the series on November 16, 2016. The topic of the month was focused on literacy and fostering a love of reading at home. 2nd Grade Teacher, Mrs. Pitzer, facilitated a parent discussion on essentials of reading, ideas, and resources. This event was intended to engage parents in a learning opportunity to extend teaching practices in the home. In addition to the resources shared, parents were given copies of several books to support reading at home! You can view the Facebook LIVE Video HERE

We will continue the Lunch and Learn series in December with the topic of “Educational Gift Giving” on December 14th at 11am.






Title 1 Informational Presentation

I will present information regarding Title 1 Intervention Identification and Intervention Support Services on Tuesday, October 4th. Below is the informational overview that is covered as part of this presentation.

As a parent/guardian of a student at a school receiving funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, you have the right to request the professional qualifications of the teachers who instruct your child and the paraprofessionals, if any, who assist them.  You may request the following information about each of your child’s classroom teachers and/or their paraprofessional assistants:

  1. Whether the teacher has met State certification requirements;
  2. Whether the teacher is teaching under an emergency permit or other provisional status by which State licensing criteria have been waived;
  3. The teacher’s college major;
  4. Whether the teacher has any advanced degrees and, if so, the subject of the degrees; and
  5. Whether any instructional aides or paraprofessionals provide services to child and, if so, their qualifications.

If you would like to receive any of this information, please contact Charlotte Ferris ( at the District Office.

DGS Literacy Harvest

Dunlap Grade School teachers hosted the first Literacy Harvest to provide parents relevant resources and book titles to support the development of a culture of readers in the home. As part of this evening program, teachers reviewed current and beneficial technological applications or websites and current book titles or authors for parents. Parents accessed available technological devices to browse each resource and analyze potential uses for their child.

The following applications we reviewed and serve as recommended resources for parents to access at home with their child


News-o-Matic: features daily news stories and current events and serves as a resource for non-fiction texts.

Starfall: offers early reading activities, texts, and resources for developing readers in K-2. Vivid images and animated text makes it engaging for young learners. The navigation is simple for little learners.

Goodreads: allows readers to document their reading life, connect with other readers, write reviews, and develop a reading plans. Students could benefit from authentic reading and writing audiences.

Kids Learn to Blog: provides the structure and information for children to learn to blog. Blogging provides an authentic audience and purpose for writing that can enrich students’ writing experiences or allow them to share with an audience experiences.

Read.Write.Think.: provides several resources for home and school that includes writing templates and generators that are easy to use.

Wonderopolis: Is a favorite at DGS for students to search ‘wonders’ and find answers to questions like “What is a Hot Dog” or “How is a Telescope Made.” Students can search particular topics or ask their own ‘wonders.’ Answers provide kid-friendly responses with multi-media pictures or videos.

Word Salad: This app is available in iTunes at A word cloud generator that can support the development of a reader’s ability to determine importance, synthesize or text, or expand their knowledge of vocabulary.

Newsela features engaging non-fiction texts and serves as a resource for non-fiction texts that allows the teacher or parent to differentiate text by lexile level.

AR Home Book Finder: search to determine a particular book is an AR book, determine book level, or find related books to a particular keyword.

In addition to reviewing the applications, staff reviewed ways parents could assist their child in choosing relevant and meaningful book titles. Parents “Bobbed for Books” as we provided parents complimentary copies of a few of our favorite titles and spoke to our decision for including them in why they were chosen. Of the book titles shared, we focused on the variety of ways to choose appropriate and engaging books:


  1. Balance your reading diet with a combination of fiction and non-fiction texts across genres
  2. Picture books may require higher levels of critical thinking and are appropriate to use across grade levels to engage learners in inferences of pictures, plot, and character development.
  3. Texts that tell a strong story can also be great examples for other literacy elements.
  4. Graphic Novels are popular, engaging, and appealing to readers. It is ok to encourage these.
  5. The “Who Am I” series provides students access to biographies at a grade and age-appropriate level.
  6. Accessing the Newberry or Caldecott honor lists can provide an instant list of books that are award winning for their contribution to children’s literature or illustrations.
  7. Books written by the same author or included in the same series can provide students structure in character development or plot structure; however, some authors write texts that are very different in theme, level, or content.



Thanks to Stefanie Pitzer and Samantha Mahrt for their planning, preparation, and delivery of the important content that was shared with families!

Purposeful Development of Character

Dunlap Grade School staff understands that a comprehensive approach to educating the whole child is important to ensuring academic success. As a building leadership team, we have invested in a goal that strives to ensure we develop both academic and social/emotional elements of the child.

Our goal is:

DGS will develop learners that have empathy, can manage their emotions, develop skills for learning, and problem solve as evidenced by implementation of the Second Step Curriculum with Integrity and Fidelity during the 2015-2016 school year.

Our core mechanism for teaching social behaviors is Second Step. As indicated on their webpage, “Social-emotional skills—like math skills—build on each other. Our universal, classroom-based program is designed to teach children how to understand and manage their emotions, control their reactions, be aware of others’ feelings, and have the skills to problem-solve and make responsible decisions. Each grade-level kit includes easy-to-teach, short weekly lessons, engaging songs and games, and daily activities and take-home materials to reinforce learning. Watch video overview.”

Teachers use Second Step on a weekly basis to teach skills that target the core competencies of social and emotional learning. In addition to weekly instruction, We have developed several strategies that recognize students for their performance of these skills.

The positive office referral is submitted to myself, as the principal, from a teacher or other staff member. These narrative recognize students for going above and beyond expectations. These students are then celebrated at morning announcements in front of the whole student body, their picture taken, their parents given a personal contact by me, and given a copy of the referral. It’s a joy to see students beam due to their accomplishments as well as reinforce exemplary behavior to the students in the schools. Parents appreciate the positive contact. It’s a win-win-win-win for teachers, students, parents and administration!

positive office referral

We recognize that teachers may not see all the wonderful behaviors our students are exhibiting so we offer a student shout out that are completed by their peers. Children have the opportunity to recognize their classmates as well!



For those times that behavior in the hallway in the classroom should be acknowledged quickly or at the point of occurrence, students may earn at second step sticker. These stickers may be given in the hallways for following expectations, in the cafeteria, or in the classroom when students show a kind deed that aligns with the values of second step.


Finally, on a monthly basis, one student from each class or content area (art, music, PE, technology, world language, resource) are selected by their teachers and named a Royal of the Month.

To be selected “Royal of the Month, students must meet the following ROYAL criteria:

Respect Others

Respect Yourself

Respect Learning

Criteria also include, but are not limited to:

  • Demonstrating Second Step Skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and problem solving.
  • Students show progress and improvement in subject areas.
  • Students make contributions to the community through service.
  • Students display exemplary leadership skills.
  • Students show positive attitude toward classmates, school staff, learning and school.
  • Students have good attendance.
  • Students demonstrate appropriate behavior.
  • Students encourage others to do their best.
  • Students work up to their ability.
  • Students exhibit good character, hard work, and honesty.



Students will be recognized with:

  • Recognition at Morning Announcements
  • Certificate of Achievement
  • Photograph displayed on the foyer bulletin board
  • Rock Star Trophy from the Principal, Mrs. Ellis


Coffee and Common Core Session #1

On November 4, 2014, parents joined Principal Mandy Ellis and teacher leaders, Sam Mahrt and Natalie Lanser for a foundational information session on the Common Core Standards in the Dunlap Grade School Royal Cafe. Mandy, Natalie and Sam have been engaged in high level professional development focused on Common Core shifts in Math and English Language Arts through the Peoria Regional Office of Education at the PROE Center. They integrated their knowledge to communicate these shifts with parents.

Coined “Coffee and The Common Core,” parents gathered together to hear information about the Common Core and engage in conversation to gain a better understanding of the shifts in Math and English Language Arts. The goal of the session was to provide an overview of the Common Core and its applications in the classroom. Future sessions will be offered to provide further information on Math, English Language Arts and the PARCC Assessment. The presentation can be viewed below.

Muffins for Moms

Muffins for Moms

The Dunlap Grade School Parents’ Club will be serving

Muffins, Coffee, Juice and Milk

in the DGS gym.

FRIDAY, April 26th, 2012

7:00 to 7:30AM

Please join your child for a morning of refreshments and reading!  Bring a favorite book and enjoy a story before sending your student off to class.  An assortment of books will also be available in the gym.

(A Grandma, aunt or friend is welcome if mom is unable to attend.)

Sorry, we are unable to accommodate younger siblings!

Student Book Fair Exhibition

Dunlap Grade School invites all students to participate in our first Student Book Fair Exhibition. In conjunction with the Spring Book Fair, students and families will have the opportunity to create a storyboard display on a tri-fold to showcase their favorite book.  See the information below. Projects are due April 15th. Winners from a variety of categories will be selected and awarded with a certificate and free book of their choice!





Undercover Helmet Program

District Strategic Goal #4: Create a Satisfying and Productive Partnership with Families and the Community

Dunlap Grade School was the recipient of a Children’s Hospital of Illinois Grant that funded a bicycle safety presentation and bicycle helmets for all of our students. Despite the snow on the ground, spring is typically a time that kids are spending time outside and riding their bikes. The timing of the bicycle safety presentation and helmet fitting allows for students to go into the spring season with the knowledge they need to ride safely. Thank you to our Parent’s Club for partnering with us to secure and support this grant opportunity!

As indicated on the Kids Health Website, “Bike riding is a lot of fun, but accidents happen. The safest way to use your bike is for transportation, not play. Every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency department because of bike injuries, and at least 10,000 kids have injuries that require a few days in the hospital. Some of these injuries are so serious that children die, usually from head injuries.A head injury can mean brain injury. That’s why it’s so important to wear your bike helmet. Wearing one doesn’t mean you can be reckless, but a helmet will provide some protection for your face, head, and brain in case you fall down.”

Children’s Hospital of Illinois and Russell’s Cycling and Fitness work together on the Kohl’s Kids Ride Safe UNDERCOVER bicycle helmet program. Since 2002, the program has partnered with 102 schools and distributed over 20,800 free bicycle helmets to students. To learn more about bicycle safety, check out the following resources:


Learn more about the grant at:


Pig Races 2012

Goal #2:

To obtain a satisfying and productive classroom learning environment

Congratulations to Dunlap Grade School Students for their participation and success with the school Fall Fundraiser. 159 students participated in the sale that generated over $19,000! The proceeds from the sale go back to projects and purchases funded by the Parent’s Club. To celebrate the success of the sale, all students that participated by selling one item or more, received a snow cone. All other students were then included in an all-school celebration that included stuffed pig races. Each classroom teacher represented a stuffed pig that was wound up and released at the starting line. Amidst all the enthusiastic cheers, Miss Marquis’ class reigned supreme. Their class will now receive a “Pig Out” party provided by the Parent’s Club. Thanks again for all your support in making this fundraiser a success!

Donuts for Dads Success

District Strategic Goal #4:

Establish satisfying and productive partnerships with families and the community

The Dunlap Grade School students and dads filed into the gym on Friday to enjoy Donuts for Dads. They feasted on glazed donuts, milk, juice and coffee. Over 58 dozen donuts were served! In addition to a large turn out of families, the Bradley University Basketball team joined students and families. Thank you to the Parent’s Club for sponsoring this yearly tradition that celebrates the impact men have on their students’ lives and education. It is a tradition that students look forward to each year.

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