Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gingerbread Houses!

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been reading different versions of the gingerbread man story and comparing how they are the same and different. To make connections with our reading, we built gingerbread houses yesterday! We had a BLAST!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hedgies are great detectives!!

Over the past few months, students in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade have been digging into various research projects through the Media Center.Second graders, using the iPad app Inspiration, compared and contrasted two nonfiction texts on the same topic and created a template in Inspiration inputting their data and inserted graphics directly related to their topic.Third grade students soared through the universe and investigated the planets of our Solar System and fourth graders are beginning to work on researching Native American life and will use their prior knowledge of nonfiction text features to produce newspaper articles about their topics. First graders have been having a great time with small group book clubs thanks to a great partnership with Holly Springs Public Library's "Book Club Kits for Kids" program. It has been such a productive and exciting first semester!

Girls on the Run is So Much FUN!

Several Holly Grove 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade girls have been participating in a fun curriculum based running program. Many schools throughout Wake County, North Carolina, and the COUNTRY have the opportunity to "plug into the positive cord" and learn healthy body and relationship habits. We have 2 practices a week, and we spend them training for a 5K and learning how to handle many situations in school and at home.

This program is so much more than "running." While we do warm ups and laps around our track, we incorporate each practice with a theme for the girls to connect to. We talk about overcoming challenges, making the time to reflect on your days and actions, and how to respond in different situations. The girls have learned that in life's circumstances, they have the choice to "plug" themselves into a positive cord or not. We have talked about messages that advertisements send, and how they can be negative or positive. We analyze these messages and discuss why they are not plugged into the "positive" cord, and what we can do to fight those messages.

The end of each semester not only brings our 5K race (along with other Triangle Area schools), but a service project. We spend a few meetings discussing our community and ways we can support them. We have donated dog items to Peak Lab Rescue, donated school supplies to schools in need, and this semester we got to help with the very first Holly Springs Half Marathon! The girls got to cheer on runners, pass out water/Gatorade at mile 9, and ultimately see an example of people who have set and achieved goals.

Girls on the Run sounds like any old running club, but it is helping the girls in our Holly Grove Community to become strong leaders who are confident in themselves and others.

These Coaches love their girls: Coach Harris, Coach Huber, Coach Foshee, Coach West, Coach Grabowski, and Coach Holmes! :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

First Grade Fire Safety

Before track out, the first graders in Mrs. Vega's and Mrs. Aclin's class learned about Fire Safety with Chapel Hill Firefighter Mr. Vega. They learned about important topics such as Stop, Drop, and Roll, making an escape plan with their families, and the proper use of 911. They even got to see Mrs. Vega dress up like a firefighter!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Drive for Victims of Hurricane Matthew

Helping Matthew’s Victims

Holly Grove Elementary School and Kiwanis will be partnering to do what we can to help our neighbors in the Lumberton, NC area.  Many are still without homes and basic necessities.  All next week we will be collecting items at carpool drop off from 8:45 until 9:15am.  We will then coordinate with the Kiwanis and local shelters in Lumberton to help deliver those items directly to those in need.  Here’s what we need to collect;


School supplies
Cleaning supplies

New coats, sweaters, shoes, and socks



Pop top canned food items

If your child buses, please send in any items and we will collect these items once they exit the bus.
Thanking all our parents!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Code Red Drill 11-3-16

November 3, 2016

Dear Holly Grove Elementary Parents

Because we want to keep you informed, I want to make you aware of steps we took today to keep our school safe. Safety is a priority at our school. We conducted a drill today to help our teachers, students and community be better prepared in case of an emergency. You may have heard school staff refer to lockdowns or may have visited a school during a lockdown. Schools may go into lockdown after conferring with WCPSS Security staff and/or local law enforcement. When law enforcement officials determine events they are investigating in the community near a school warrant, they notify WCPSS Security staff and the school and may recommend a community lockdown. In a community lockdown, all exterior doors of the school are locked and no one is allowed to enter or exit the building until the all-clear announcement is given. The school operates "business as usual" with the exception of no outside activities.

A higher-level lockdown is used when an intruder is thought to be on campus. This is a “Code Red” lockdown. Procedures are similar to the community lockdown. In addition, classroom doors are locked, lights are turned off and students are moved to a safe place within their classroom.
We conducted this drill today so that faculty, students and our community are familiar with these procedures. By working with our law enforcement agency and WCPSS Security staff on the drills at WCPSS schools, we can better prepare our students, faculty and staff for theunexpected.
If you should have any questions, please call my office at 577-1700. Thanks for your continued support of learning and teaching at our school and of keeping our students safe.

Kathy Knezevic, Principal

Holly Grove Elementary School

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Who knows Dewey???

4th grade students in Huber and Oaks classes discovered the magic of the Dewey Decimal System in the HGES Library Media Center. After using Google Forms to pre-assess prior knowledge, students toured the Media Center, learned how to search the online catalog system, Destiny, and then they conducted a scavenger hunt to get to know where things are located in the media center. They rocked it!!! Way to go 4th graders!!!
The INaturalist app is a tool I'm using for an outdoor learning experience (and integrate technology). The students will observe organisms in the school yard and submit it to the INaturalist app. Others will review the data to see what type of organisms are in our local ecosystem. We will use the data to classify organisms: producers, consumers, decomposers (5.L.2.2).


Monday, October 3, 2016

Reflections Projects Due - October 21

REFLECTIONS participants!  Entries in the Reflections program for 2016-17 for the theme " What's Your Story" are due Friday, October 21st. Entries must be turned in directly to the Reflections Coordinator, Kristen McKenna. Do not turn in entries to teachers or at school to anyone else. Contact Kristen at to make arrangements to turn in your piece. Remember: all pieces must be turned in by Friday, October 21st to be entered into this year's Reflections program. 

Coats for Kids Drive

Help support the Holly Grove Elementary PTA Annual Coat Drive!
Right now, millions of Americans - 1 in every 6 people -are struggling to meet their most basic needs. The Salvation Army of Wake County’s Coat Distribution Program strives to ensure that every child in Wake County has a coat to keep them warm, so that they do not have to make this choice. It also serves adults who also need warm clothing during the winter months. Help us keep everyone in Wake County warm this winter season!

Needed items include new or gently-used coats, or new scarves, hats and gloves for all ages!

Drop your items off until November 1st  in the bin marked COATS across from the office.

Questions: Contact Alice Rup or 919-244-5445

Friday, September 30, 2016

Chocolate Bar Arrays

A Student Works on His Persuasive Letter!

My 3rd graders were sooo excited when I told them that the CEO of a major chocolate company was craving a redesign of his most popular chocolate bar. Their challenge was to create a new design for the company using their knowledge of arrays.

First they came up with three different arrays that amounted to a total of 24. Then they chose their favorite array for the chocolate bar. Finally, they had to write a letter persuading the CEO to choose their design, arguing why their design was the best.

I love how this project encouraged them to think critically about which designs would be good for a chocolate bar. It also connected our work in math with our work in language arts and persuasive writing. They had to be able to effectively communicate the reasons why their design should be chosen. Some of my favorite explanations included "this makes it easy to share" and "it's very unique!" The students got creative and redesigned the packaging of their chosen chocolate bar array. They renamed and described their ideal chocolate bar. Personally, I can't wait to try the "hint of mint!"

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Million Dollar Math

In fourth grade, students are taught how to multiply multi-digit numbers using a variety of strategies – place value model, partial products method and the area model.  Usually it is lots of practice of solving equation after equation- sometimes a little boring.  To spice it up, I created trips that I would pretend to take with my students during track out.  First, I told my students that I had won the lottery and was the luckiest person in the world.  They knew from previous place value that I had a million dollars (“7” digits in the number.  We took a trip to Disney World, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho, Busch Gardens, and Space Camp in Houston, Texas.  Each lesson, we found the websites for purchasing entry tickets, found the distance from Holly Springs, NC using Google maps, YouTube videos and plane ticket prices.  We found that when we were purchasing tickets for Disney and Busch Gardens, we had to pay attention to the ages of the students because the ticket prices change when students turn ten years old.  I found that as we were completing the lessons that the students were very engaged. At the beginning of my class, the students were asking, “Where are we going to today Mrs. Stewart?”  As we were solving math problems for each trip, we also were reviewing other math objectives.  The students knew how much money I had left to spend at the end of each lesson. 

Here’s what some of the students had to say:

“I liked that I got to multiply three-digit by one-digit numbers in a fun way”.  –Bryce

“I thought it was cool that we acted like we were really going somewhere and planning a trip to Disney!” –Ally

“I can use this when I grow up and want to take my family on a trip.” -Adlee

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cary Unity Walk

The Cary Unity Walk is an event to celebrate citizens working together to support local first responders and create a safe, unified, and nurturing community for our youth and our future.  This event will also benefit two non-profit organizations that serve many needs in our community.
  • The 200 Club of Wake County provides immediate financial help for the families of police officers, sheriff deputies, firefighters, EMS squad members, and North Carolina highway patrol serving in Wake County who lose their life in the line of duty.
  • Read and Feed gives low-income elementary school children an appetite for reading by strengthening their literacy skills.  Using mobile classrooms, Read & Feed provides meals to eliminate hunger, mentors to help children learn to read, and books to build home libraries.

This event will kick off with a walk from Downtown Cary to WakeMed Soccer Park. At the park there will be a festival with exhibits from local area responder agencies and fun activities for kids. Fit & Able will also stage a 5K and 10K race.
For more information visit:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Spicing Up Our Math Work

My students worked on finding partners using math manipulatives. They started with the total and then broke up the partners by color. When they were finished they wrote the equation on the table! This is was by far their favorite part! :)

Science Experiments Galore

In fifth grade, our students our learning about cells and the human body systems. Here are a few examples of what we've been up to:

*Recording our heart rate before and after exercise to see how the cardiovascular system works during exercise
*Exploring REAL organs from sheep during our Science Fun for Everyone time
*Learning about how vertebrae protects the spinal cord
*Using the Icell app to explore the similarities and differences between animal, plant, and bacteria cells

First Grade is STEAMing Ahead

First Grade students think that STEAM is AWESOME!!! What is exactly is STEAM? STEAM education is interactive and focuses on a student-centered learning in a collaborative environment. The students engage in questioning, problem solving, collaboration, and hands-on activities. The students love digging deeper and learning about Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, and Math!

Holly Grove Elementary's Parent Math Website

Need extra math enrichment or help at home? Holly Grove Elementary has created a webpage designed for parents with many math resources organized by grade-level.

Please take a look!  You can find the site by clicking the parent tab on the main page or following this link:

Writer in Residence

4th grade is extremely excited and anxiously waiting for Tony Peacock to come back to Holly Grove next week for our Writer in Residence program.  He is a phenomenal teacher who engages the students in creative ways to organize and use the writing process to tap into their imagination and compose magnificent pieces of writing.  Tony comes into the classroom for about an hour a day and instructs and shares his experiences as a professional writer.  At the end of the week he treats the students with a performance of his award winning hog hollering.  So if you hear hollering this Friday afternoon then you will know what it is.  

Flexible Classroom Seating

Flexible classroom seating can be found all around Holly Grove Elementary this school year!

What is flexible classroom seating?  Flexible classroom seating is allowing students to "ditch the desk" and learn in a way they are most comfortable and where they will complete their best work.

How is it being implemented around Holly Grove?  Teachers around the school have started using standing tables for students that like to stand, kneeling tables for students who would rather kneel.  Teachers are allowing students to sit in various places with clip boards.  Some classrooms have tents for reading activities and wobble cushions/stools.

What are the benefits of flexible classroom seating?
  • Students are empowered to take control of their learning and how they learn.
  • Students are more on task.
  • Students are less distracted because they are able to move from peers or things that distract them.
  • Less redirections for leaning back in chairs.

Articles about Flexible Classroom Seating: 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Our class has been working really hard to learn all of our letters and sounds. This week, we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (which we LOVED)! 

After, we choral read the sentences on the poster, shown below, while practicing touching each word, reading in the reading direction, and naming each letter. 

Then we got to make our own mini versions of the poster so that we could practice reading the sentences and identifying our letters. We read with a partner while pointing to each word.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

We are Kindergarten Leaders!

Down in Kindergarten, Track 3 has been learning about how to be a LEADER in our school! We have learned that leaders always have other people watching them and copying them. That is why it is so important they always make proactive choices and do the right thing!

We read "No David!" and "David Goes to School" to learn some non-examples of being a leader. Then, we discussed how we can help David turn his choices around and be a leader for his classmates. Lastly, we each decided how WE are a leader at our school, and we drew and labeled a picture about the good choice we plan to make!

We worked really hard to apply what we've learned in Letterland to our writing!

Watch us this year as we lead the school and help each other to make great choices throughout the day!

Monday, August 15, 2016

PTA Reflections Program

This year’s theme is “What Is Your Story?”.   There are six categories to compete in: dance choreography, film/video production, literature, music, photography, and visual arts (including 3D entries). You can enter in more than one category.

Download the “Intent to Enter” form at the link below and fill it out. Have your child give the form to his/her teacher.  

Intent to enter forms are due by September 1st for Tracks 1, 3, and 4, and by September 16th for Track 2. BUT DO NOT WAIT TO BEGIN YOUR ART PIECE!  

The “Intent to Enter” form is strictly for admin purposes only.  You can begin your art piece right away by going to the Reflections website at to see rules for each category and for entry forms.  

For questions or information, contact Kristen McKenna, Reflections Chair at Holly Grove Elementary, via

Thursday, August 4, 2016

AIG Nomination and Testing

AIG Nomination and Testing ~ Fall 2016

The AIG nomination window is open for 4th and 5th Graders. 
Testing during the Fall is for 5th graders only. Testing for both 4th and 5th graders will take place during the Spring.
Testing Dates: (Testing will take place on five consecutive days between the two dates listed below) 

Track 1: August 22nd - September 2nd
Track 2: September 19th - September 30th
Tracks 3 & 4: September 12th - September 23rd.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Science Olympiad

Does your child love science, do they love to explore and ask questions?  Is your child in the 4th or 5th grade?

Consider applying for the 
Holly Grove Varsity Science Olympiad Team!

Follow the link below for more information:

Volunteer Registration 16-17

Want to volunteer or renew your volunteer status?
Reactivation for Continuing Volunteers:
·         All continuing volunteers approved for the 2016-2017 school year MUST reactivate as a volunteer no later than 4:00pm on October 31, 2016.  Volunteers may go to any WCPSS site and register through the INTRANET.  Current volunteers, who provide a valid email address, will receive an email 15 days and 30 days prior to the expiration of their volunteer stratus reminding them to reactivate.
·         After October 31, 2016, individuals previously approved may not volunteer without a new criminal background check.
New Volunteers for 2016-2017:
·         Any new volunteer applicants must register and have an approved criminal record check prior to engaging in volunteer work.  Applicants may register at any WCPSS school.
·         Applicants will be notified by email once their application has been approved or approved to drive.  Applicants who are not approved will receive notice from Employee Relations.

Meet the new Media Specialist!

Hello all HGES Hedgehogs!!! My name is Susan McGannon and I am the new Media Specialist here at Holly Grove Elementary. I am so excited to join you all here at HGES. I have just recently relocated to North Carolina from Connecticut where I was a Media Specialist in an elementary school for 12 years. I have an undergraduate degree in Business and Marketing, a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science and just recently finished my second Masters degree in Educational Technology. My love of children, books and technology is a natural fit for Library Media and I truly love what I do everyday! I feel so fortunate to be joining the wonderful staff, students and families here at Holly Grove!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Preparing Your Child for the EOG - Information from Parent Academy

Preparing Your Child for The End of Grade( EOG) test

What is the EOG?

• The North Carolina End-of-Grade Tests are designed to measure student performance on the goals, objectives, and grade-level competencies specified in the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.

• Administered at the end of the school year.: Not all problems are multiple choice

• 3 different subjects- Math, Reading, Science

– All grades from 3rd -8th take the Math and Reading EOG.

– Grades 5 and 8 take the Science EOG.

The Basics- Reading

Multiple Choice Questions with 4 answer choices

How Long:

50 minutes: the estimated time
240 minutes: the maximum time allowed without the extended time accommodation

Content of test 
Reading comprehension: Literature & informational Text
Knowledge of vocabulary : application and understanding of terms within the context

Reading Provides students with selections to read and questions to answer related to those sections Reading sample:

The Basics- Math

Tests consist of :
Calculator Inactive and Calculator Active Subject

Grades 3 and 4 : multiple-choice
Grade 5 : multiple-choice and gridded-response items

gridded-response items : Questions require you to write your answers in the boxes provided on your answer sheet. Write only one number or symbol in each box and fill in the circle in each column that matches what you have printed. Fill in only one circle in each column

How long?:
180 minutes: the estimated time
240 minutes :the maximum time allowed without the extended time accommodation

Content Subject

Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Number and Operations in Base Ten
Number and Operations—Fractions
Measurement and Data

Math sample:

Grade 5 EOG Science Test Multiple Choice Test
How Long:
150 minutes: the estimated time
240 minutes: the maximum time allowed


Forces and Motion

Matter: Properties and Change
Energy: Conservation and Transfer
Earth Systems, Structures and Processes
Earth History
Structures and Functions of Living Organisms;
Evolution and Genetics
Molecular Biology

Science Sample:

How is it scored?
Three Different Presentations of Scores
1. Developmental Scale Scores.

– The number of questions that your child answered correctly is called a raw score.

– For the end-of-grade tests, the raw score is converted to a developmental scale score.

– The developmental scale score allows for the comparison of your child’s end-of-grade scores by subject from one grade to the next.

– The developmental scale score is like a ruler that measures growth in reading and mathematics from year to year. Just like height in inches, your child’s scores in reading and mathematics are expected to go up each year.

2. Percentiles.

– The percentile allows you to compare your child’s performance on the test this year to all North Carolina students who took the test in the norming year.

– The “norming year” for a test is the first year the test was administered (for this test it was 2013).

– The percentile tells you that your child performed at a level equal to or better than the stated percentage of students who took the test during the norming year.

– The higher the percentile, the better a student performed compared to other students in his or her grade.

3. Achievement levels are performance standards that allow your child’s performance to be compared to grade level expectations.

Achievement Levels

The addition of the new Achievement Level 3 will identify students who are prepared for the next grade, but do not meet the college-and-career readiness standard. An additional level will also enable more accurate identification of students who need additional instruction and assistance. Achievement levels are predetermined performance standards that allow your child’s performance to be compared to grade level expectations.

What does it mean. .not being Proficient Level I:

Students performing at this level do NOT have sufficient mastery of knowledge and skills in the subject area to be successful at the next grade level.

Level II:

Students performing at this level demonstrate inconsistent mastery of knowledge and skills in the subject area and are minimally prepared to be successful at the next grade level.

Academic Preparation during the School Year

Encourage your child to make a commitment to do well in school and set goals.
Review homework.
Work with your child on his or her homework.
Communicate with your child’s teacher(s).
Discuss your child’s academic performance.
Encourage your child to ask questions about things he or she doesn’t understand (long before test day)
Review strategies for solving math problems. Pose a problem and see how many different ways your child can solve it. This encourages higher order thinking skills.
Help your child become fluent with their addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts.
Practice using calculator appropriately to solve math problems.
The calculator is only helpful if it is used correctly.
Allow your child to build reading stamina.

The reading portion of the EOG requires focus and stamina, as there are many passages and question to get through.

Set aside a time each night for your child to read.
If a child has a hard time sitting down to read for ten minutes, encourage her/him to read for longer periods of time.
Ask your child questions about what they are reading.
Try to get them to explain the plot and describe characters’ actions.
Be aware of the testing schedule and make sure that your child is at school on time on testing days.
Remind your child of the strategies that his/her classroom teachers have taught with reading passages
such as underlying text, circling words, reading the questions first then the passages.
Encourage your child to listen to and follow all directions given by the test administrator.
If they have questions, they need to be addressed before testing begins.

High stakes testing can be taxing, but with positive reinforcement children will be inspired to do their best!

Reduce anxiety by reminding your CHILD TO DO HIS or HER BEST & Avoid frequent reminders about expected performance

What to expect on test day
Days of testing:
– One day of reading
– Two days of math (calculator active and inactive)* It may varies by schools.
– One day of Science in grade 5th
• Testing occurs in the morning soon after the school day starts.
• Your child’s teacher and proctor will be in the room.
• Students are not allowed talk, get out of their seat, or ask questions specific to the test
• If disruption occurs, students must take the test over again.

Ask your child’s teacher about what to expect the day of testing. It may vary a little at some schools.

Test Taking Strategies
• Read all directions carefully
• Skim selections to attempt at identifying the main idea
• Skim questions so that you know what to look for when reading the passage
• Use the process of elimination on multiple choice questions 
• If you are stuck on a question, move on and return to it later
• Take time to answer all questions. A blank response is the same as an incorrect response


NC Best of the web from NC DPI (make sure to type on the search bar Reading, Math, Science or other subjects)



Scholastic PBS Kids

Understanding End-of-Grade Test Results Parent Report: https://youtu .be/-TUSakZnAuI

Lexile: find a right book:

Monday, April 4, 2016

~Single Subject Acceleration (SSA)~

~Single Subject Acceleration (SSA)~
       Single Subject Acceleration (SSA) is the practice of assigning a student to a higher-grade level than is typical, given the student's age, for the purpose of providing access to appropriately challenging learning opportunities. 

SSA is an accelerative practice that allows students to show mastery of the content of a course without having taken the course. 

For example, a parent could nominate his/her child to skip a grade level of content in either Language Arts OR Mathematics.

After you complete the form, send it in an envelope (During your nomination window ~ listed below) to the school’s SSA coordinator: Chris Fairbairn (AIG Teacher – )

For more information:
For frequently asked questions about SSA: