Hill City Elementary School

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Mrs. Donna Van Ness » Mrs. VanNess

Mrs. VanNess

Welcome to Hill City Elementary Fourth Grade! I am excited about this upcoming year and getting the chance to help you grow as a student. 
 
I have been a teacher at Hill City Elementary since 2000. Prior to living in the beautiful Black Hills, I taught twelve years in Wagner, SD and two years in Clear Lake, SD. In my years as an educator, I've taught kindergarten, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. The years have flown by and I can hardly believe that 30 plus years have passed. Wow!
 
Originally, I'm from the Pacific Northwest, specifically the western sides of the states of Washington and Oregon. I graduated from high school and went to college in Oregon. I love going back to the Northwest to visit my family and grab some lungfuls of Pacific Ocean air at the coast. 
 
My husband, Keith, and I love living in the Black Hills of South Dakota, especially here in Hill City. We enjoy working on our house and yard, spending time with our family and friends, and exploring all the awesome places in the Hills. 
 

Posts

Halloween Party and Treats

Wow! We've already finished the first nine weeks of school and our Halloween party is looming ahead of us this Friday. The students will all be decked out in their costumes in the afternoon for a Costume Parade. We haven't done a parade in YEARS! What fun! At 2:00, the parties start with goodies, games, and crafts. If you've volunteered to bring something for the party or help with an activity, please arrive to the room by 1:45. Thank you for your contribution to our fun.

Planners/Daily Homework

     Parents..THANK YOU! You are doing a great job of signing planners each night and having your student bring it back the next day. I also appreciate the notes and messages that you write in the planner about changes in your child's schedule. 
     As for homework...students should read at least 15 minutes each evening to help promote their reading growth. Hopefully they have a good fit book to enjoy. The 15 minutes can be reading to themselves, reading aloud, or listening to a story and following along.
     Studying spelling words is important  also. Students can practice in a variety of ways...aloud, writing the words, making them with Scrabble tiles even! Tests are Thursdays and the unit assignment  is usually due on Fridays. 
     The other part of homework is practicing math facts: add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Knowing these facts quickly are definitely a weakness for us as a group. It doesn't have to be drill and kill with flashcards. There are plenty of games that  use math fact practice. Last year's math bags had a booklet with tons of great math games ideas. 

New Science Curriculum

Yay! After almost 20 years, Hill City Elementary has finally adopted a new Science curriculum that is "STEM" based. STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is a problem-based, hands-on method for students to learn.