Saint Thomas Catholic School

Second/Third: Mrs. Carmien

August 17, 2017

Dear Parents,

Welcome to my 2/3 classroom! I am very much looking forward to teaching your child this year!

For those of you who do not know me, I want to give you some background information about myself. My husband, Brent, and I live in Philo with our three children, Morgan (19), Josie (15), and Dalton (12.) Morgan is a sophomore at the University of Iowa. Josie is a sophomore at the High School of Saint Thomas More. Dalton is in seventh grade here at St. Thomas. I taught fifth grade for eight years, then a K/1 multi-age classroom for a year. This is my seventh year teaching a 2/3 multi-age class. I love to read, watch movies, and watch sports.

I am very excited to share this year with my new co-teacher, Mrs. Jackson. She and I will be working closely this year to make it a wonderful learning experience for the kids.

I want to fill you in on how we will approach teaching this multi-age class. Science and social studies will be taught in part as a combined group and also as separate classrooms. They will not receive letter grades on report cards in these two subject areas. They are very project and discussion based, and I found that I never ended up with as many grades in those subjects as the others. I want to focus more on what we are doing and learning than what grades we get. We will go on field trips and have experts come in to enhance these subject areas. We are excited to introduce our new National Geographic science curriculum this year. The curriculum looks amazing.   There is an interactive textbook option, which I think the kids will really enjoy. Mrs. Jackson and I will be learning right along with the kids in science this year!

I will teach Grade 2 religion….get ready for those sacraments!!! Mrs. Jackson will teach grade 3 religion. I will teach grade 3 math, and Mrs. Jackson will teach grade 2.

Language arts (spelling, reading, phonics, grammar, handwriting) is all grouped together as a block in the morning. We begin each morning with ten minutes of phonemic awareness (recognizing letter sounds.) Grades 2/3 use a literature-based program in reading. I will choose units, and the children will read novels geared towards that topic. Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Lawhead, and I will be working to assess each child and figure out in which group he/she “fits” best. We will then group all the 2/3 graders and divide the groups between the two of us, with Mrs. Lawhead helping as needed. We will probably not start working on novels with groups until the end of September. Until then, we will work as a class practicing skills and reading short stories with partners. We will spend time each day listening, writing, reading independently, and working with words.

Our handwriting program is called Handwriting Without Tears. Mrs. Jackson will be teaching grade 2 handwriting (printing) and I will teach cursive to the third graders. Look for sample pages (modeling the letters and, for grade 2, showing how to use the paper) to come home soon.

I want to give you some information about homework. I don’t want homework to ever be a cause of stress for your child or for you. I generally assign a small amount of homework each night, Monday through Thursday. Every now and then there will be an assignment over the weekend, but this is rare. Grade 3 can expect more homework than grade 2. I write assignments on the board, as well as putting them on the Teacherease website daily. If you do not have a family account on Teacherease ( you will need to start one. In addition, the children have assignment notebooks. They are a very important organizational tool. They will write their assignments down daily (and, once we start spelling, spelling words at the beginning of the week.) I will check their notebooks for accuracy and sign them each afternoon. At home each night, please make sure their assignments are complete, sign their assignment notebook, and have your child make sure the assignments get put back in their binders. I have them write ALL assignments down (even completed ones.) I will occasionally jot notes to you in assignment books. Feel free to do the same. This process takes awhile to learn (especially for grade 2.)

Grades 2 and 3 use a binder system to help with organization. Your child will bring his/her binder home each night. In the binder is his/her assignment notebook, a pencil pouch, and two folders. The pencil pouch is for money coming to school (doughnut money, field trip money, etc.) One folder is a homework folder. Oh the right side is homework to be finished/checked at home (not graded homework) that needs to be returned to school. The left pocket is graded homework or other work that can stay at home. The second folder is for “other” school papers…such as information sheets and other school-related forms.

My behavior plan is pretty simple. Good behavior is absolutely expected in my classroom. There will be a behavior chart in your child’s “other” school paper folder. We focus on “paws-itive” behavior! Each afternoon, your child will color in his or her tiger paw. Green means it was a good day behavior-wise. Yellow means there was a behavior issue (I will add a note to let you know what happened.) Red is a serious infraction. You will get a phone call from school if your child receives a red paw. On Fridays, any child who has stayed on green all week gets Friday Free Time. If they had a red or yellow paw during the week, they will write and reflect about their actions and how they can avoid a repeat of them. Rules are posted in the classroom and made very clear to the students. We treat others as we wish to be treated!

Each child has a water bottle to use (new families will need to get one from the office.) They will be sent home each weekend to be washed. Please return them to school on the first day of each school week. We are adding a morning recess (Monday-Thursday from 10-10:20) into our school day. We will have snack immediately after that from 10:20-10:35 (approx.) each day. Your child will need to bring a healthy snack in his/her lunchbox daily.   The exception to this is hot lunch days. I find it hard (as a parent!) to remember to send snack to school on days my child is eating hot lunch. I am sending home a schedule for hot lunch day snacks. When it is your family’s day, please send in healthy snacks for the whole class for that day (11 students.) I will rotate the schedule. I send weekly parent information letters home on Mondays. I will note on the letter who has snack the upcoming two weeks. I know the kids LOVE to bring snack for the whole class. On birthdays, please send me a note to let me know what day you would like to send treats.

One more note, please make sure we know where your child is going after school (after care, bus, being picked up, etc.) This helps the end of the day go much more smoothly!

You may contact me anytime at or put a note in your child’s take-home folder.

Thank you for sharing your children with me this year. I know how precious they are to you. They are to me, too!  I promise I will take good care of them!  Wendy Carmien