Thursday, November 13, 2014

November is Upon Us!

It’s November and that means that we have completed 2 months of our 2014-2015 school year. Students in Mrs. Moran’s and Mrs. Pruett’s K-3 classes report that Weds. November 4 will be the 49th day of our 182 day school year.  Mr. Szeliga’s 7th graders swiftly calculated that we have completed 26.92% of our school year, rounded to the nearest whole percent means very nearly 27%.  Ms. Macdonald’s 4-5 graders estimated that to be a little more than a fourth approaching a third!  What it means to the staff is that we are past all the setting up of routines and assessments and are settled into some really serious schoolwork, and the business of teaching and learning.

As always I have much to report, but several of the Faculty have covered quite a bit in their monthly offerings:

Mrs. Cestrone:
“This Month in science, Grade 8 will be working on writing and solving chemical equations.  A chemistry unit wrap-up with a mid-term exam will follow.  Biology and dissecting will begin in early December.  In grades 6-7 we are currently finishing up Climate and will begin working on Earth in Space and some history about the race to the moon.  We be will creating a project to better understand some of the objects in the universe. After the chapter test is completed we will be watching Apollo 13 to better understand the space shuttle, issues that can occur in take off and any glitches that may happen in the journey.”  

Mrs. Moran and Student Council
“Thanks to the generosity of Barnard School families, we collected over 230 items to the pantry at Our Neighbor's Table.”

Ms. Donabedian:
“The Special Services Department is excited to welcome Laurie Conley back in her role as Home to School Coordinator, Social Worker.  Mrs. Preston and I have been busy attending trainings through Lindamood Bell  Programs including Seeing Stars (Symbol Imagery for Phonological and Orthographic Processing in Reading and Spelling) and LIPS (THE LINDAMOOD PHONEME SEQUENCING® (LiPS®) Program for Reading, Spelling, and Speech) and are excited to incorporate these programs into their lessons.  I was also recently trained in the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching reading to struggling readers.”

Ms. Casassa:
“The 6-8 graders have been learning about memoir and narrative writing this fall.  The have spent the first months of school reading, examining and creating narratives.  The unit of study finishes on Halloween celebrating the holiday with the reading of their scary stories.  In technology, grades 4 and 5 have learned how to use Google presentation and made a class slide show on autumn.  They also created Avatars and learned about Internet safety.  Upper grade students are creating Book Trailers using iMovie to persuade viewers to read a favorite book.”  

Mrs. Sheckells:
“In art class we are researching the work of Escher and talking about museum manners. We are very excited about our upcoming trip to the Currier. In art and math we have found that tessellations are a challenge. Watch the Artsonia site ( enter South Hampton Barnard in the school section) for pictures of completed work on mandalas, paintings and some great robots.”

Mrs. Orlando and more from Student Council:
“At the beginning of the school year Student Council voted on the charities they will be fundraising for this year.  The two charities are Multiple Sclerosis and Kulea Villages. 
On Friday, October 24, Deb Brown, founder of Kulea Villages, came and spoke to students in grades 1-8.  She showed pictures of what it was like to live in Tanzania and the plans to build schools and orphanages.  Mrs. Brown answered questions from students about her trips to Africa.  Some of the upper grade students were very interested in having a pen pal.  We are hoping Mrs. Brown returns in the spring to talk about the religious conflict in East Africa to our upper grade students.”  

Mr. Szeliga:
“Grades 6-8 math students are currently preparing for our visit to the Currier Museum by studying the works of MC Escher.  Students have learned about "transformations" including reflections, rotations, and translations and have seen how Escher used the same mathematical principles in his work.  All students are creating their own tessellation in the model of Escher prior to the trip.”

All grades are working at looking at our report cards to make sure that language conforms to the NH College and Career Ready Standards (NH CCRS, our state’s version of the Common Core) and the hopefully soon to be adopted Next Generation Science Standards. This does not mean a complete revamp of the process at this time but there have been some adaptions necessary as a result of the Reconfiguration.  Mrs. Moran’s description of her efforts in K-1 is characteristic of how all grades are proceeding:
 The kindergarten and first grade report cards will remain unchanged for the year 2014-15.  However, the rubrics by which I determine student performance, will change. The rubrics that were previously used to determine performance levels (1-4) were based on the New Hampshire Grade Level expectations. The new rubrics are based solely on Common Core Standards.  These rubrics are in the form of checklists.  It is my hope to eventually take these rubrics and create a future report card.”

The staff works constantly to improve as evidenced by Ms. Donabedian’s report.  On October 3 Mr. Szeliga, Ms. Macdonald and I attended the Innovation in Education Conference sponsored by the NH Dept. of Education with nationally recognized keynote speakers and breakout sessions reviewing the latest in programs to promote student learning.  Ms. Casassa presented at the New England Council of Teachers of English (NEATE) on October 25th in Mansfield, MA.  Her presentation, "Integrating Technology into the Language Arts Classroom,"  was part of a two day conference on a wide variety of topics related to teaching English.  Mrs. Moran will be attending a 2-day Literacy for All Conference this month and promises to present to the staff at a future early release day.  All of our staff (some on more than one team) participates in the SAU 21 horizontal (grade level) and vertical (curriculum based) teams.  Finally, we are all looking forward to the November 7 district-wide in-service day when our staff will be working to learn more about and develop SLO’s (Student Learning Objectives). 

Our PTA is busy as always! This past Saturday, October 25 they held their incredible 2nd annual Fall Festival.  The weather was excellent for this great community event with over 200 attendees and participation from the Fire and Police departments.  Please visit my blog,, for photos and more information.  Due to PTA’s generosity, our students in grades 6-8 will be visiting YMCA Camp Lincoln for a day of Teambuilding on Thursday November 6.   

That is another small snapshot in our goings on here at Barnard.  In coming weeks we look forward to Veterans Day and Thanksgiving holidays, Parent Conferences on December 4, our Winter Concert December 8, and our Ski Program just after the Christmas Holidays.  Please continue to visit our school and teacher web pages.  Thank you all for another great year, and don’t forget to Think Snow.

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