Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fall is in the Air at Barnard School!

      The leaves are turning and days are getting cooler and shorter as we settle into the daily routines here at school.  As I am writing this we are just about to celebrate our annual Open House and PTA Cookout and we are preparing for our usual healthy turnout to show off our newly decorated classrooms, especially since some teaching assignments have changed, new staff hired, and locations repurposed.  Teachers are ready with short presentations and plan to have more than one showing in order to accommodate families who have students in multiple grades.  The PTA has supplied hot dogs for a community cookout in the playground before with sweets for after in the foyer.  Their traditional “Giving Tree” is in the “Compass” filled with requests from teachers for small donations of supplies and other classroom materials.  We are looking forward to a great event!

       It’s the morning after and the evening was an enormous success!  The PTA and I served nearly 80 hot dogs and the desserts were a real hit.  In the classrooms presentations were packed and parents circulated to visit homerooms, look at student work, check out Art and Music, and visit with other staff.  We had one particular 82 year old community member and his wife, both Barnard Graduates, come for the cookout and stay till the end, and this is one of many events they have participated in! We are now all looking forward to the PTA Chili Cook-Off on October 25 (rain date Oct. 26)! 

       Our schedule for the school year has settled in nicely and students are eagerly participating in their academics.  Some notable additions are our 7th and 8th graders participating in VLACS (Virtual Learning Academy) Middle School Spanish 3 blocks weekly, Science Enrichment in Grades K-5, and a school wide World Culture and Tech Integration class involving all students Grades 1-8 in multi-grade clusters and delivered by the Middle School Team.  Teachers are also benefitting from weekly Common Planning Time in order to meet to discuss curriculum integration and student issues outside their own individual daily planning period.

       Tracking student progress and adapting instruction to ability are important practices here at Barnard and again all students K-8 have participated in our NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessments in Reading, Language Usage, and Math, with students in grades 2-8 also taking Science assessments.  These measures establish baseline levels to prepare teachers to adapt instruction to individual abilities and allow for midyear progress monitoring of selected students end-of-year comparison for all student growth comparing to expected performance. We all realize that this is just one of many measures of student ability and teachers are constantly assessing students to develop instruction that meets their needs and challenges in an atmosphere of collaboration and academic rigor.

As always, I have teachers who have news to share:

Mrs. Cestrone:
         Grades 6 and 7 are finishing up "Atmosphere" this week and for their next chapter, they will be working on creating a working weather instrument. They will also present these projects in class and take them outside to demonstrate how they work.  Grade 6,7 has done a few labs so far this year and we will continue to have 1-2  labs per chapter so concepts are enforced and understood.
       Grade 8 is finishing up "Inside the Atom" and will begin working on the Periodic Table of Elements.  Grade 8 has a "WANTED" poster project to complete on various scientists that contributed to discovering parts of the atom. 
       Grades K,1...2,3...4,5 are all working on Weather.  We have made a rain gauge in K,1 and windsocks in grades 2,3 and 4,5 and tested them last week and this week.  Grade 2,3 also had a "cloud" lab demonstrating how the water cycle is involved with creating a cloud.

Mrs. Dugan:
Summer Reading Celebration
       Students who read for fun have more fun.  Summer is the perfect time for fun reading.  Barnard School classmates in South Hampton partied after school on September 9 to celebrate their summer reading in style.   Colorful refreshments, awards and raffle prizes were enjoyed, made available through a joint effort of the South Hampton Public Library and Barnard School.  Fifth grader Lachlain Caulfield won a PTA gift certificate to purchase books at the Fall Scholastic Book Fair.  Each participant in the Public Library’s summer reading program went home with a bag of special prizes.
       The celebration was capped as all Barnard students carried home their choice of a requested book purchased especially for them.
       Research informs us that students who read regularly over the summer maintain or increase their reading skill during those months.  These students have an academic advantage when beginning a new school year.

In the month of October and beyond we have much to look forward to.  Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Sheckells, our entire school will be visiting the Currier Museum and most specifically the Escher Exhibition.   We will be having a Halloween Parade for lower grades (and myself, of course) on the 31st.  Now that testing has been completed students and teachers will prepare for progress reports in grades 4-8.  In the month of November, through the generosity of the PTA, students in grades 6-8 will be doing Teambuilding on the Ropes Course at YMCA Camp Lincoln.

That’s about all for now.  In the near future we will be looking at the progress of our reconfiguration and planning to participate in a Public Forum to share and seek community feedback.  It is certainly shaping up to be another great school year!

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