Monday, April 11, 2016

Marching into the Home Stretch!!!

As much as February is the shortest month, March is by far the longest!  With 23 days of instruction and no holidays, much gets done in the classrooms as we transition from Second to Third Trimester. Mrs. Moran’s First Graders report that April 1st was the 132nd day of the school year, no fooling!! We begin, as always, with reports from teachers:

From Mrs. Moran’s Blog:
“First graders have been quite busy during computer class with Mrs. Casassa.  Please visit the book they made using Google slides.  In order to make this book your children had to log on to their own Google drive account through Barnard School.  Now that they have this account, they can begin to save work for their digital portfolio, an eighth grade graduation requirement.”  Please visit her blog “Mrs. Moran’s Cherubs” for a link to the book and many more amazing entries!

From Ms. Macdonald:
“The fourth and fifth graders followed the Last Greatest Race, the Alaskan Iditarod. Students researched the history and culture as well as the harsh conditions of the trail. Students even were able to do online simulations as a musher and sled dog to experience what is it like. Each student picked a musher to follow and tracked them throughout the race. We took away from this experience knowing more about the perseverance, endurance, and teamwork that goes into making this race happen each year!”

From Mrs. Cestrone:
“Grades 6-8 are learning about physics.  We are talking about motion, momentum, velocity, distance, displacement, kinetic and potential energy, generators and turbines etc.  We are also working on an egg drop in grade 6 and a car in grade 8.  Students in grade 7 will be working on a solar powered car in groups of 2.”  

Field Trips:
Middle School has a field trip to Logan Airport’s Aviation and Marine Stem Expo on April 6 and on May 3 Grades K-4 will be travelling to the Music Hall in Portsmouth for a “school day” presentation of Star Wars Music by the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra.   K-4 still plans a trip to Plimoth Plantation May 6, and teachers are investigation options for a whole school trip to Boston that may include the Museum of Science and Duck Boats. This year the 8th Grade families have decided not to go to Washington DC, and the students, their families, and I are working on alternative day trips with the same historical learning experiences.  Please stay tuned for reports on our progress.

School Schedule
For quite some time there has been discussion among the staff and parents regarding the length of our school day.  There have been conversations about the amount of instructional time, transitions, movement breaks, and how it relates to the state’s required number of days or hours at each grade level.  This also relates to the amount time we get for staff development.  I am proposing that we begin a process involving all stakeholders to investigate options and the impact on the school day and staffing needs.

Technology Plan
Mr. Hanson, Ms. Casassa and I are working on a first draft that we intend to present at the May meeting for review and hopefully approval in June for implementation beginning July 1.  We are reviewing the previous District plan along with plans from other schools in the District.  The plan is to recap technological progress over the past several years with projections for 2016-2017 through 2018-2019.  It will include an annual review with provisions to make revisions as needed.

Our incredible PTA continues to work to provide more for students and their families.  Their new Tuesday Afterschool Programs are a tremendous success with 14 students participating in Yoga which has recently finished, and Legos with 26 signed up for the first session on Tuesday March 29!  Thank you PTA for your generosity in hosting, and Mrs. Pruett and Mr. Szeliga for representing the staff (there is more in the planning). Blaze the Trail happened on Saturday April 30, and I am looking forward to competing (hopefully finishing better than last place!) again this year.  

Parent Q&A Night
On Wednesday March 16 we had our third of four nights scheduled.  Attendance was light but it gave us time to review the proposed web page redesign along with Twitter and Facebook plans.  We also reviewed ideas for traffic planning, and parent feedback from previous nights.

Web Page, Twitter, and Facebook:
As of this writing the plan is to launch our new web page format on Friday April 1!  Due to the coordinated efforts of Ms. Casassa, Mr. Hanson and our designer Jim Kennedy we have a design that follows our school colors and has many of the same features as the SAU web page.  During this launch we are soliciting feedback from visitors for ways to improve or possible glitches that need fixing.  Twitter will be linked immediately with Facebook coming soon.

Mission, Vision, and Goals:
We continue to make it part of Staff Meetings and spoke of it again at the Parent Q&A Night. We will be revisiting and amending our goals during the May 27th Early Release.

  • We are in the process of evaluating our floor and other cleaning equipment to determine if repair or replacement is needed as we prepare for the busy summer when every floor needs refinishing and every surface needs cleaning.  As we continue in this process I will provide the results of our investigations and a summary of needs, if any.
  • The scaffolding in the gym has been dismantled and stored and is available if needed for florescent replacement in the future.  Best practice is to replace all bulbs at once but they are ok for now.
There is no doubt among the staff and students that Mr. Shawn Hanson, as our computer technician, has been an amazing addition to our Barnard Family.  He started right out at full speed to assess and inventory all of our computer equipment, printers, projectors, and wireless and hard-wired infrastructure.  He then connected with the staff to clean up any problems while we were without a technician.  Now he’s working on many future projects including our new Chromebooks, robotics, and much more!

That is it for now.  It’s hard to believe like every year that the time goes so quickly but I truly believe that it’s a tribute to our great families and staff who fill our days with so much enthusiasm for learning.  In the next weeks we will have Smarter Balanced Testing in Grades 3-8, Science NECAPS in grades 4 and 8 and Spring Break on April 18-22.  Enjoy the spring weather!

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