Happy Thanksgiving!


The staff at Nissitissit would like to wish all of our families a Happy Thanksgiving.  This is a time to stop, reflect and give thanks for everything we have.  Enjoy the long weekend with friends and family. Rest up, December is going to be a busy month! See you Monday, December 1.


Varnum Brook PTO Update

santaThe Varnum Brook Elementary School is holding their annual “Breakfast with Santa” event Saturday, December 6. The PTO has received generous donations for the event. You do not need to be present at the breakfast to win a raffle.  The PTO will notify all the winners.

The PTO members will be selling raffle tickets in the lobby of VBES, this week during conferences.

Monday from 12:30 – 2:30 PM

Tuesday from 12:30 – 2:30 PM and from 6:00 pm – 8:00 PM

Also on Friday, December 5th from 4:00 – 7:00 PM., and of course at the event itself.


Breakfast With Santa Raffle Prizes:

Fun Stuff Basket (Kimball’s Pick 5 [$60 value], Max Country Golf $20 GC, Conway Arena [$25 value], Roll On America-4 Passes [$28 value], Fun World – 4 Playground Passes [$24 value]) $157

1. Dining Out Basket I (Gibbet Hill $25 GC, Harrow’s Pot Pies $25 GC, Filho’s Cucina $25 GC, Applebee’s $25 GC, TX Roadhouse $30 GC, Papa Gino’s Pizza $12, Sullivan Farms $10 GC) $152

2. Dining Out Basket II (Bahama Breeze $25 GC, Smokey Bones $25 GC, Comet’s Diner $20 GC, TBones $25,

3. Shorty’s $25, Firehouse Subs $35) $155

4.  Roller Kingdom – Deluxe Birthday Party Package for 10 $150

5.  1 Regular Housecleaning Courtesy of Cousins’ Cleaning (2 Hour Maximum) $130

6.  Ski & Dine Package – 2 Nashoba Valley Ski Lift Tickets [$100 value] & $25 GC to 99 $130

7.  Tyngsboro Sports Center – Deluxe Birthday Party Package $150

8.  Beauty Combo (Elements Massage-55 Min. Massage-$99 GC & Liz Grady Products-$82 value) $181

9.  One Night Stay at the Residence Inn, N Conway, NH & 2 Storyland Passes* $207

10.  Shopping Spree (Toys R Us $50, Zimmermann’s $50, Dick’s Sporting Goods $20,Hannaford $25) $145

11.  Boston Bruin’s Milan Lucic: Autographed Picture & Bobblehead-Courtesy of Align Credit Union Priceless

12.  Neil Stone Karate Birthday Party Package $275

13.  Neil Stone Karate Birthday Party Package $275

14.  One Night Stay at the Stage Neck Inn, York, ME* $185

15.  Handcrafted Quilt by EVAPAIGE Quilts Priceless

16.  Neil Stone Karate Women’s Self Defense Class (For 15 People) $350

17.  One Night Stay at the Hampton Inn, Littleton, NH & 2 Santa’s Village Passes* $198

18. Pepperell Basket Featuring Pepperell Book, Ornament, 2 Wine Glasses, Covered Bridge Wood Etching, Pepperell

sign (Courtesy of Pepperell Family Pharmacy, The Covered Bridge Store, Friends of Lawrence Library and Evans) $125

19.  Four Oaks Country Club (Dracut, MA) – Golf Foursome with Carts* $232

20. Dinner & Theater Package (2 Tickets to Lowell Memorial Auditorium: Cirque Dreams Holidaze 12/12/14 &

Aprile’s European Restaurant $25)* $152

21.  Fun Stuff Basket II (ITUNES $50, Leda Lanes $50, Conway $25, Roll On America $28) $153

22.  Autographed Hockey Puck from Boston Bruin Chris Kelly Priceless

23.  Dining Out Basket #3 (Capital Grill $100, British Beer Co. $25, Harrow’s Chicken Pies $25) $150

24.  Wine Basket Courtesy of Carrabba’s $125

25. Pravana hair care products and wet brush – Courtesy of Hair by Jody $160

26.  Autographed Picture of Boston Red Sox Junichi Tazawa Priceless


weekly reminders

Parent conference will be held Monday, November 24 from 12:00-2:00 & 6:00-8:00 pm  as well as Tuesday, November 25 from 12:00-2:00.

During conference times, all orders purchased in the fall Great American Fundraiser will be available for pick  up.

Please stop by the PTSG Bake Sale in the lobby and purchase a treat!

The PTSG would like to remind all families to drop off their Donelan’s receipts. We have a container in the lobby.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are all half days for students. Dismissal is at 11:05.

We did tweak our daily schedule this week. For example, fifth graders will have band and chorus on Tuesday morning and should come to school prepared with their instrument.

There will be no after school activities this week, including CLASP.


Great Article about Reading

What Reading is Like: Sports Analogies to Use with Parents

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan

Parent conferences are just around the corner in many schools, and families are eager to learn about their child’s growth and needs as readers. We often use sports analogies to help explain our thinking around text choice in school with parents, especially those who expect their children to be reading difficult texts at all times. Here are some of our favorites.

Shots on Goal or Number of Balls Hit

As we watch our children learn how to play baseball or soccer, we hear the coaches telling the kids to “swing” or “get the ball off your foot!” Coaches know that the best way to get better at something is to do it more. The more opportunities you have to swing the bat at the ball, the better your timing, speed, and accuracy will become. The more chances you have to kick the ball into the goal, the better the chance you will score. We believe it is the same with reading.

Some parents ask why we may not encourage a child to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  during school independent reading time. It is not that we do not think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  is a wonderful story (we do, and parents should read it at home with their child). Rather, to apply the reading strategies they are being taught, we believe that in school children should “take a lot of shots on goal” — ideally in the upper elementary grades working through a book every one to two weeks. We want them to see many characters develop throughout a text; ponder many themes and author’s intentions; and determine the resolution of many plots.

If a child is reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she or he will only meet one set of characters; ponder one theme; and determine one resolution in several weeks or months. This puts the student at a disadvantage in terms of exposure to various text structures and genres, as well trying out the application of strategies they are learning in school. We believe that choice of text is essential for students, but we also believe that at times students need to be encouraged to read a certain type of text for a particular reason.

Training for a Race

As athletes, we can talk with parents about how preparing for a race is similar to balancing a child’s reading life. When preparing for a race, we think about our training. We do not simply run the same route, same distance, and same speed every training session. We sometimes run short distances more quickly or a longer distance at a slower pace. We work on hills some days and flat courses on others. We need to work on our endurance, our speed, and our muscle development. Each type of run supports a different aspect of our training and development as a distance runner. Similarly with children, we want to balance their reading lives. Sometimes, after finishing a really long book, kids may want to read some short text or picture books. If it is late at night or during a trip in the car, they may prefer a magazine. If you are taking a trip, they may want to read about your destination. If they have never tried a mystery, it may be time to give one a try. Each type of text supports children’s development and dispositions as readers.

Knowing When NOT to Ski Down a Black Diamond

When skiing we often want to stay with our friends and family. We can get pressured to ski a trail because everyone else is skiing it. We may try the trail just to be with our friends and family, but we know our technique and form (and even enjoyment) will not be at its best. We will just be trying to get down the mountain safely. This is fine to do once in awhile, but if we always skied on terrain that did not match our skill level we would not get better at skiing.

In order to practice our techniques and form we need to be on terrain we can handle. The trail is like the surface structure of reading — there are levels of difficulty. At times we want an easier level of difficulty so we can get better at making parallel turns or skiing moguls. As teachers, we need to let kids know what type of text we need them to read so that we can teach them what they need to learn as readers.

One of the best ways to move parents from a narrow focus on text difficulty is to encourage them to talk with their child about what the child is reading. We encourage families to use these prompts to spark discussions about books and deepen conversations.

Prompts for Talking with Children About Their Reading

  • What’s happening in your book?
  • Have you had a chance to read on yet? I am dying to know if . . .
  • Wow . . . I can’t believe that just happened.
  • I am thinking so many things right now.
  • I think I know what ________ is going to do next.
  • I didn’t know that.
  • I didn’t get that part.
  • I’m confused. Who is talking?
  • This book is so much like ____________________.
  • _____________ (Author’s name) always has the same kinds of characters.
  • What are you thinking?
  • What are you wondering?
  • What would you do if ______________________?

These prompts help parents see that books that seem simple often have complex plots and ideas. Natural discussions about the events in a book, connections to our lives, and confusion while reading keep the focus on the meaning in the text. In the end, this is more important and enduring for producing lifelong readers than any number or letter representing the difficulty or readability of the text.

Clare Landrigan founded Teachers for Teachers with Tammy Mulligan. She spends her days helping educators from New England and beyond do the hard, thoughtful, and rewarding work of improving schools for young readers and writers. Tammy Mulligan partners with Clare Landrigan in the education consulting firm, Teachers for Teachers, working with educators in New England and beyond towards long-term systemic change.


5th Grade Science Owl Pellet Investigation

Mrs. Worth’s 5th grade science class has been learning about ecosystems and food chains. They were able to dissect owl pellets this week and further investigate the diet and food chain of an owl! The students spent the first day exploring their owl pellets and separating bones from fur to start to identify them. On the next day, they finished identifying the bones and hypothesized what animal(s) their owl had eaten. The students are currently working on completing their data sheets and lab reports. In the last part of this lab students will work together to reconstruct the skeleton of their animal.


How was school today?

25-Ways-to-ask-your-kids-how-was-school-720x720If your dinner table conversation is anything like mine, you rarely get an answer to the question “So how was school today?.” I’m sure my four year old and your middle schooler provide the same answer- fine, good, etc.! I saw this article and thought you’d enjoy. Give some of these a try and report back and let us know how they work.

#1.  What was the best thing that happened at school today?  (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)

#2.  Tell me something that made you laugh today.

#3.  If you could choose who would you like to sit by in class?  (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class?  Why?)

#4.  Where is the coolest place at the school?

#5.  Tell me a weird word that you heard today.  (Or something weird that someone said.)

#6.  If I called your teacher tonight what would she tell me about you?

#7.  How did you help somebody today?

#8.  How did somebody help you today?

#9.  Tell me one thing that you learned today.

#10.  When were you the happiest today?

#11.  When were you bored today?

#12.  If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed up someone who would you want them to take?

#13.  Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?

#14.  Tell me something good that happened today.

#15.  What word did your teacher say most today?

#16.  What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?

#17.  What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?

#18.  Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?

#19.  Where do you play the most at recess?

#20.  Who is the funniest person in your class?  Why is he/she so funny?

#21.  What was your favorite part of lunch?

#22.  If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?

#23.  Is there anyone in your class that needs a time out?

#24.  If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would you trade with?  Why?

#25.  Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.