Together We Can
May 22, 2023
Can you believe that the end of the 2022-23 school year is just four short weeks away? With Memorial Day weekend next on the calendar, the remaining days of the school year will continue to fly by.
At last week's Board of Education Business Meeting, the Board approved the new Pre-K curriculum, Creative Curriculum. I want to say thank you to all of the teachers and parents who were part of the curriculum review process. It has been a year of hard work choosing from an initial pool of 16 different curricula.
Stacey Heiligenthaler, Ph.D.
Chief Officer of Special Education and Student Supports
What We Are Seeing 👀 Around the Schools
Eighth Grade Capstone
Niamh O'Donovan, an eighth grader at Western Middle School included Hamilton Avenue preschoolers in her Capstone Project. The students loved having her read to them and would love for her to come back again! Part of her project included contacting a publisher for book donations. She had over 70 books donated. Each child will receive a book to take home!
Creative Connections at North Street
At North Street Street, there is an international fifth grade art exchange with partner classes living in the rainforest region of Guatemala. The interdisciplinary unit involves lessons with the fifth grade classroom teachers, singing a song with Ms. Boretsky, speaking Spanish with Mrs. Gryak, and creating artwork with Ms. Peri. North Street students send their artwork to students in Guatemala, and the students in Guatemala send artwork to North Street students
On Wednesday, all fifth grade classes spent time in a live video conference with the students in their partner classes in Guatemala. With the assistance of a translator, students in both countries were able to talk about where they live and the area and neighborhood surrounding their schools. Students were able to ask each other questions about their daily lives and explain their artwork to each other. Each video conference concluded with students singing a song from their culture and the teachers meeting each other through the virtual exchange.
Visit to Norwalk Community College
Students from Greenwich High School toured Norwalk Community College, getting a feel for programming and the college experience overall! These experiences are essential for students to understand what to expect after high school.
Workshops and Resources
Kindergarten Next School Year?
As we get closer to the end of the school year, we recognize that many of you are preparing your child to enter kindergarten. This transition usually comes with mixed emotions: curiosity, excitement, and fear for both you and your child! Establishing early organizational skills, routines and structure will help support your child with this transition.
Join us for a discussion about this big transition for your child and for you!
When: Wednesday June 7
Time: 9:00-10:00 AM
Where: North Street School
Please see more information in the Parent Chat newsletter.
by MaryPat Caldwell
This month I would like to talk about executive functioning and its impact on reading.
In its simplest terms, your “executive functioner” is the CEO of your brain. It plans, organizes and prioritizes information. It sets goals and monitors progress to achieve them. It focuses your attention where it needs to be and maintains it to accomplish tasks. It allows you to shift between tasks and think flexibly. It stores, retrieves, and manipulates information, so you can perform complex mental tasks (working memory).
Executive Functioning is a critical skill for reading and life. It begins to develop in the toddler years and is not fully developed until early adulthood.
If your child is showing weaknesses in executive functioning or has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (“ADD”), don’t despair – these skills can be taught and developed over time.
As with all learning, patience is key. Kids are doing the best they can with the skills they have. I teach my students many strategies to support their executive functioning and reading skills. To name a few, I teach my students how to set small, manageable goals and evaluate their own success. We do a lot of reflecting! We use a toolbox of strategies including note taking, graphic organizers, proofreading checklists, memory resources, technology, etc. I also use prompting questions to get them to think for themselves and eventually ask themselves these questions such as:
Can I retell or summarize what I just read?
Do I need to go back and read it again?
Did my mind wander?
Were there difficult words/phrases that I did not understand?
Was my reading fluent?
Is this book too hard? too easy? just right?
What tool/strategy can I use to help get me started?
What help do I need to get started?
What part of the assignment is hard? What part can I do independently?
Where can I find that answer?
One of the pitfalls to developing executive functioning is being too directive with kids. We must be careful not to “executive function” for them. We want to teach them how to “executive function” for themselves.
At home, you can try this with a few simple prompting questions instead of redirectives such as: What are you doing? What should you be doing? When they ask questions, respond first: What do you think? How can you solve that problem or figure that out?
You will slowly develop a more self-sufficient and competent youngster, as they learn to ask themselves their own questions over time. If you would like more information on this topic, I have linked resources below:
By Michele Iannello
We have shared several notes over this year helping to distinguish between an IEP and a 504 Plan. The following article, “The Difference Between IEPs and 504 Plans” published by Understood, is an excellent resource to put aside for reference when you have questions in the future.
Special Education Advisory Council Spotlight
A Guide to the IEP & UDL
Dr. Rufo is a passionate advocate for inclusive education and was inspired to enter the field of education by her sister, Nina, who is disabled. Her experience includes roles as a special educator, inclusion facilitator, special education administrator, assistant superintendent and state policy specialist. In this presentation, she reviews students’ rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), particularly focusing on the IEP process and the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Dr. Rufo also provided a thorough overview of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and how it supports children’s participation in general education, complete with examples at various grade levels. (PowerPoint | Video)