Please help your student be ready for testing on Monday -- well rested, substantial breakfast, positive, can-do attitude.  I know they are going to do great!
Our first MSP is coming up! We will test on Reading on April 30th.   I have someone signed up to bring snacks on May9th, but we could use a snack and a drink for Monday! Thanks for helping out!
Below is a letter from Mr. Bates explaining the next set of lessons that he is delivering to your 5th graders.

April 2012

Can it really be happening? Is it truly possible that 6 years have gone by since you brought your small children to kindergarten? Look at them now in 5th grade – not grown up yet (thank goodness) but certainly not small children anymore. It has been a fun ride so far, and there is much more to come. Next up -  adolescence. How are you feeling? Excited? A little scared? That’s exactly how the 5th graders are feeling about going to middle school. So this is the perfect time for students and parents to learn more about making transitions, adolescence, and the fascinating teenage brain.

Starting this week and continuing until near the end of school, (with a break in the middle for MSP) I will come to all 5th grade classrooms once or twice a week to teach a variety of lessons under the general topic of “transition to middle school”. As a long time middle school teacher (15 years) before coming to Opstad, I bring some useful insights to the instruction. We will use discussion, role plays, skill practice, videos, and more to make the lessons interactive and effective. In addition to the classroom lessons, I am also inviting a group of current 6th grade students to come back to Opstad to tell about their experiences at Twin Falls.

Students are not the only ones who can benefit from learning about adolescence and middle school. We parents need information and tools to help us guide our “tweens” into and through their teen years. With that in mind, I am organizing a weekly “Parent Partnership Plan” (PPP) that includes watching short (7-10 minutes) videos (the same ones kids will see in school), practicing some skills, and engaging your kids in ongoing conversations. While participation is definitely optional, I hope that you take the time and make an effort to check it out and enjoy the conversations with your kids. I will send paper and e-mail updates through the next two months. I would appreciate your feedback.

The videos are segments of a PBS special from 2002 entitled Inside the Teenage Brain. Follow these steps:

1.      Go to and click on PBS Programs on the bar near the top.

2.      Then click on the red FRONTLINE box when it comes up.

3.      Type “1/31/02” in the Search Box at the top right.

4.      Scroll down to the only link entitled Credits/inside the teenage brain/Frontline/PBS.

5.      Click on that link and you will go to a list of credits. Look at the top just above the credits.

6.      Click on the second link entitled View the full program online. There you will find the 6 video segments. Start with the first video this week and follow the Lesson Schedule for the other videos.

Carve time out to talk about the videos. Dinner may be a good time. I will send (e-mail or hard copy) materials to support your discussions with your kids. If you run into any problem finding the videos, e-mail or call if you still cannot find it.

Parent Schedule

4/23-27            Video 1 (Teenagers’ Inexplicable Behavior)

4/30-5/4           Video 2 (Wiring of Brain)

5/21-25            Video 3 (Mood Swings)

5/28-6/1           Video 4 (You Just Don’t Understand)

6/4-8                Video 5 (From Zzzz’s to A’s)

Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions. I also want to invite you to call me to talk about the transition to middle school of your child. If you have some worries or doubts or concerns, please call or stop in to see me. It is not an imposition. I am looking forward to spending some class time with your wonderful kids one more time before they are off. Keep up the great job you do as parents!

  Student Lessons - Making Transitions
 1.         Introduction, Opstad memories from K-5

2.         Twin Falls Jeopardy  

3.         Introduction to adolescence – Video 1 - Teens’ changing brains; Taking a stand

4.         Video 2- Teen Brains (Who am I? Acceptance/Rejection)

5.         Video 3 – Moods & Emotions; Friendship opportunities

6.         Bullying – Middle School myths and realities; Cyber Bullying

7.         Video 4 - Communicating with Parents in a changing world

8.         Video 5 - Recipes for Academic Success – Organization/Work Completion

9.         Healthy Youth Survey Data – what it says about us

10.       Refusal Skills

11.       Middle School Wrap-up – Locks, Teachers, Final Farewell

Steve Bates

Opstad Counselor (831-8319)

It rolls this way every year after Spring Break...MSP testing is right around the corner! The 5th graders have a new opportunity this year to take parts of the test online.  The Reading and Math portions will be online while the Science portion will be "old fashioned" paper and pencil.  Today we had an opportunity to begin looking at the online practice test.  We did two portions today (both reading) that gave the kids a chance to get familiar with the format. The test itself has many tools that the kids can access during the test:  highlighter, line reader (to track while reading), flag (to come back to a question), magnifier and cross out (to eliminate an answer).  These kids are so tech savvy that they took to the format right away!  Before the testing, the students will have at least two more chances to practice using the tools. 

Since we are using the computer lab, the testing schedule is slightly different for each class. Here's our schedule:

Reading:  April 30th
Science:  May 8th
Math: May 9th

I always like to have a snack for the kids on testing days. If you are able to provide a snack or beverage on one of those days, we would be grateful!  The snacks should be healthy, not sugary (fruit, crackers, cheese etc.), and of course, nut free.  We have 24 students in the class.  I'm not exactly sure how it's going to work on computer days, but I will figure it out! Let me know if you can help out!