News From Mrs. Talley

March 2014


The PTO meeting, this month, is dedicated to conversational strategies for parents and round table discussions on how to motivate kids to do homework. As a parent myself, I find these both timely topics.

The Homework Battle: How to Get Children to Do Homework by Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC
Over the years, I’ve talked to many parents who are in the trenches with their kids, and I’ve seen firsthand that there are many creative ways kids rebel when it comes to school work. Your child might forget to do his homework, do his homework but not hand it in, do it sloppily or carelessly, or not study properly for his test. These are just a few ways that kids try to hold onto the little control they have. When this starts happening, parents feel more and more out of control, so they punish, nag, threaten, argue, throw up their hands or over-function for their kids by doing the work for them. Now the battle is in full swing: reactivity is heightened as anxiety is elevated—and homework gets lost in the shuffle. The hard truth is that you cannot make your children do anything, let alone homework. Instead, the idea is to set limits, respect their individual choices and help motivate them to motivate themselves.

 Personally, I know that is much easier said than done. The homework experiences with each of my girls (now 23, 21 and 12) varied greatly and I must admit to entering into the battle mentioned above more than once.   Again, a few weeks ago, I realized just how much I was dreading homework time. Here’s how it had been playing out at the Talley’s:  Grace, our 6th grader (third child, you’d think we would have it figured out by now), after many reminders, drags out her math binder, shuffles through the loose papers trying to find the night’s assignment. After several more minutes, the wrinkled paper appears from the bottom of the backpack and the book slooowly gets opened. Insert heavy, twelve year old, sigh.  It was definitely time to revisit expectations and establish consequences.

 Here are 3 tips from the article, How to Motivate Your Kids to Do Homework (without having a nervous breakdown yourself) By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

  1. Eliminate the word homework from your vocabulary. Replace it with the word study. Have a study time instead of a homework time. Have a study table instead of a homework table. This word change alone will go a long way towards eliminating the problem of your child saying, "I don't have any homework." Study time is about studying, even if you don't have any homework. It's amazing how much more homework kids have when they have to study regardless of whether they have homework or not
  2. Establish a study routine. This needs to be the same time every day. Let your children have some input on when study time occurs. Once the time is set, stick to that schedule. Kids thrive on structure even as they protest. It may take several weeks for the routine to become a habit. Persist. By having a regular study time you are demonstrating that you value education.
  3. Keep the routine predictable and simple. One possibility includes a five minute warning that study time is approaching, bringing their current activity to an end, clearing the study table, emptying their backpack of books and supplies, then beginning.

Hope to see you at the PTO Meeting, 6:30 pm March 6th.





Welcome to December! 

 I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season!     ~ Nicole

This month’s topic… Math!

 One of the most frequently asked parent question is, “How do I help my child with this ‘new’ math?” Over the last decade there has been an intentional shift to provide students with conceptual understandings and a strong place value foundation rather than memorizing facts and algorithms. This change continues to be a topic of conversation between teachers and parents and we are in the midst of another shift in math standards.

The Shift to the Common Core: Math

Washington State has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in both K-12 Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) in July 2011. Until now, every state has had different learning standards. Common Core fixes that and raises the bar for learning. The K-12 standards in math and English language arts will be fully implemented in Washington classrooms in the 2013-14 school year. The standards focus on helping students build the skills and knowledge they need after high school.

Why Common Core Standards?

Common Core goes deeper into fewer topics and focuses on developing students’ deeper understanding of key concepts. The standards build on one another, allowing students to apply the skills and knowledge they learned in the previous grade to real-life situations.

  • Focus: fewer big ideas; learning of concepts is emphasized
  • Coherence: articulated progressions
  • Application: apply concepts and skills to new situations

 New Standards for Mathematical Practices

1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

4. Model with mathematics.

5. Use appropriate tools strategically.

6. Attend to precision.

7. Look for and make use of structure.

8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

To learn more:

Come hear PTO Guest Speaker: Jeanette Grisham- District Math Coordinator

Thursday, Dec. 5th at 6:30 p.m. in the library       

 IXL Math is a GREAT resource for specific math skill practice that is aligned to the Common Core Standards. Every 2nd-5th grader at Silver Beach has an account.  Thanks PTO!


Happy November!  I would like to share two great projects that are underway at Silver Beach. Both projects could not happen without the support of enthusiastic parents.

Project 1: Watershed Rain Garden

This summer, the final stage of the Silver Beach Watershed grant was completed with the installation of a rain garden in front of the annex.  It is now up to us to design and plant this area.  The first phase of the project was completed Earth Day 2011. Kids and parents covered the grass in the bio swale (center of bus loop) with cardboard and added layers of soil, mulch and native plants. This summer the drainage was improved and rocks added. 

Why a rain garden?

  • Educational – for students and the community.  To provide information on what a rain garden is and types of plantings utilized in a rain garden.  The City of Bellingham will provide classroom lessons on the effects of storm water on the Lake Whatcom Watershed.
  • Currently, approximately 50% of the rain run-off from the sloped lawn and the asphalt entrance to the play yard will be diverted to the rain garden to provide natural filtration instead of going straight into the existing storm drainage system.
  • This area will also be used as a school garden. A team will look to have raised planters and garden plants in place before the end of the school year.

Community partners to support planting and education:

  • The Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) could provide education similar to their “Students for Salmon” program. They may also be able to donate some plants. 
  • WSU Extension providing Master Gardeners to help with plant selection and proper planting procedure (  WSU can connect us with wholesalers for lowest pricing.
  • RAM Construction completed both the underground work and rain garden install as well as  the construction of the work at the bus circle.  Most likely, they will be donating tools and assisting with the planting day.

Important Dates:

  • Friday, November 1st: Curtis Lawyer and Robin Brown will run a Friday Club to involve students in the selection of plants and education of native plants.
  • Thursday, November 7th: PTO meeting: Eli Mackiewicz, from the City of Bellingham, will present on the rain garden, storm water and be available to answer questions.
  • Friday, November 15th: Fall rain garden planting. We will need many volunteers to make this happen.

If you would like more information contact Curtis Lawyer,

Project 2: Family Support Network

Many of our families wish to support those in our school community that are struggling.  Families with specific needs can contact classroom teachers and/or the school counselor, Mr. Gilmore.  The FSN will then be activated to anonymously provide donations.  A flyer went home last week recruiting families to participate in providing support.  Another flyer will go home soon explaining the process for accessing support.  The first big project for our Family Support Network will be to provide food, clothing and toys during the upcoming holiday season. If you would like more information please contact Vibha Maheswaran, or Nicole Talley.

October 1, 2013

Dear Silver Beach Families,

It’s hard to believe it is already October. We are off to a great start and welcomed 33 new students to Silver Beach in addition to our 73 new kindergarteners.  The school theme for this year is Expect the Best and that is what our staff does each and every day. We expect the best from our students and each other.

With three daughters I understand the challenge parents face in trying to balance work, sports, community activities and homework; there never seems to be quite enough time in each day.  Below you will read about our family engagement model and homework policy which will confirm the important role you play in your child’s education.  The staff here at Silver Beach will do all that we can to ensure you feel a close connection to our school and have access to support and resources.  Please reach out to us if there are ways we can partner together to support student learning. Thank you for sharing your beautiful children with us each day.

~ Nicole Talley


Building a Strong School-Family Partnership

Family engagement is a key strategy of The Bellingham Promise.

Research is clear; your involvement in your child’s education matters! Students whose families are engaged in their school lives attend class more regularly, achieve at higher levels, and generally have better behavior both at home and at school.

As you know, last year Bellingham Public Schools changed its approach with elementary conferences. The past practice of having a week of early dismissals in November has changed. This change is designed to provide more flexibility on when and how schools engage families while also reducing the disruption and lost instructional time caused by a week of early dismissals.

The Silver Beach family engagement model includes a wide variety of ways for teachers, parents and the school to communicate with one another about student learning. Some examples include:

  • Phone calls, emails, notes home
  • Parent, teacher and student conferences
  • Report Cards— Sent home Feb. and June
  • Family Nights
  • School Messenger calls


  • School and class newsletters
  • Curriculum nights and open houses
  • Silver Beach website
  • Student work samples
  • Home learning journals


Homework at Silver Beach: Home Learning Journals

Mission Statement: We provide homework structure that give students and families relevant practice that supports learning at school. We value a balance of traditional homework (reading, writing, math) and enrichment (sports, the arts, etc.).

Together with our Parent Advisory Council, teachers recommend that homework:

  • Be relevant, engaging and individualized
  • Extend practice
  • Encourage self-guided learning
  • Develop responsibility and time management skills

 Every student has been provided a Home Learning Journal. Students are required to track reading and math practice (district policy) as well as keep a journal of other learning experiences. Our hope is that families will develop consistent routines for practicing reading and math at home.  We know students of all ages can learn lifelong study skills by taking responsibility, developing time management and producing quality work. 

Inside the cover of each journal are the grade level expectations for weekly homework.  Grade levels have also provided examples and resources to help parents know exactly what their child should be practicing at home.  Additional resources provided at Silver Beach include:

  • RAZ-Kids-online, leveled reading K-2 and for kids needing additional reading support in grades 3rd-5th
  • IXL-online math practice that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards- grades 2nd-5th
  • A parent resource section in the library
  • The Homework tab on our website lists great websites for worksheets or online practice

On Fridays, students will be given the opportunity to share their journal with their teacher and peers. If a student does not return their journal on Friday, they will complete reading and math work at study hall instead of attending their Friday Club.  Our goal is 100% participation in the clubs and will seek ways to support families with the resources they need to help their child at home.

Also under the Homework tab on our website, you can find additional information on homework research as well as background on our homework policy. We appreciate your support, suggestions and questions…BRING ON THE LEARNING!

Lunch at Silver Beach 2013-14