Monday, February 24, 2014

Winter is Here at Barnard School

Mrs. Pruett’s 1st and 2nd graders report that, weather permitting, on Thursday February 6 they will be celebrating the 100th day which means that, incredible as it may seem, we have passed the midway point of the 2013-2014 school year! 

After Mother Nature extended out Christmas Break by 2 days we got of to or normal routines of classes and events.  Our PTA sponsored Ski and Snowboard program is well underway on Tuesday evenings at Bradford Ski Area and I am again joining the crew as they work on their skiing and snowboard skills.  I am pleased to announce that 7th grader Michael Amundsen won the annual Spelling Bee and 7th grader Cameron Knight the Geography Bee.  We wish them both well as they represent Barnard in state and possibly national competitions.  We also had our semi-annual Soup Day with grades 5-6 getting the win both from the judges and students with their Chocolate Soup.

Our QPA (Quality Performance Assessment) team was recently recognized in a statewide webinar for all the Cohort II teams by featuring our Heroes Project as an exemplar of the work we are undertaking.  We will be meeting with the Cohort next on Feb. 6 to present phase 2, the Hero Stamp Project and phase 3 described later in the report by Mr. Szeliga.  Kudos to team members Carol Dugan, Sara Casassa, Nicole Ryan, Drew Szeliga, and Diane Sheckells for their hard work and the entire staff for their support in this important initiative.

I am delighted (and a little reluctant since we would really miss him for the year) to report that our own Chris Asbell is applying for the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical.    Chris was recently highlighted in the latest edition of Curriculum Matters, he is an enthusiastic participant in the District Science Vertical Team, and we are proud to support his presentation at the NEEEA Conference and participation in the current yearlong “A Forest in Every Classroom” project.  Best wishes on the success of his pursuits and I will keep you posted on his progress.

From Ms. Donabedian:
Mindplay update-
“Our Mindplay pilot ended on January 26, 2014.  Using the Mindplay progress charts and Aimsweb assessments we were able to see significant progress in test scores of the students who used Mindplay for at least 2 hours per week.  As a result, we decided to purchase 2 “seats” so that students can continue to make gains.  We were able to use Federal Grant monies along with money in our software budget to make this purchase.  Having 2 seats means we can have 2 students on Mindplay at one time, and 10 students total. Students will be most successful when using Mindplay at home as well. We are thrilled to have this program as a permanent tool in our repertoire.

Homework Club-
Students are working hard in homework club with Mrs. Orlando guiding the way.  Her help and expertise are appreciated.  Thanks also to the teachers who stop by to assist.

Book Study Group for Staff-
Many of our teachers will be reading a book called Lost at School by Dr. Ross Greene and meeting weekly for discussion.  Lost at School helps teachers and administrators examine why students have behavioral challenges at school and gives practical advice on how to address these issues using a novel approach.  Dr. Greene is a renowned professional also known for his book, The Explosive Child.

From Mrs. Sheckells:
“Parents and friends are encouraged to visit the Artsonia website (go to and enter school “South Hampton Barnard”) to view the Hero project. Many of you will be pleased to see that you are your children's hero. Remember at Artsonia you can have your child's artwork reproduced on gift items from magnets to mouse pads. Twenty percent of each purchase benefits the art room.
Many thanks to the PTA and for funds that allowed grades seven and eight to work on a ceramics project. Pottery Isle in Newburyport supplied tiles which we are decorating in the style of Blue Willow.”

From Mr. Szeliga:
“Students in grades 5-8 will be participating in the third task covering the mathematics portion of Barnard School's QPA (Quality Performance Assessment) program.  Students will embark on a boat design and construction project that incorporates mathematics, science, and language arts standards and introduces career-related skills such as engineering and design.”  

As we look forward to the Winter Break in a few weeks we continue to stress rigor in the classrooms and a respectful collaborative learning environment throughout.  The materials have begun to arrive for next year’s K-6 Envision Math launch and there will be staff training on the program this spring.  Winter NWEA (Northwest Educational Association) testing in reading and math and AIMSweb testing in reading for select students is underway to monitor progress and drive instruction. The staff is also meeting regularly to look at scheduling and classes for next year and beyond to ensure the best possible programming for our students.

That’s about all for now.  Please visit our school website along with webpages and blogs by the staff and myself for updates and examples of student work.  Thank you all again for your kind friendship and support in this New Year and we are looking forward to a continuation of success in the second half of the school year.


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