February ~Meg Colella
Global School Play
Legos, blocks, cardboard boxes, etc.
*no electronic devices*
Though our play hour will be unstructured, it will still be supervised by teachers. It is my hope that this one day of play will inspire families to plan for more unstructured play time during non-school hours.
Click here to watch Peter Gray’s TEDx video about the decline of play in our culture.
Many parents and staff have commented on a greater need for students to learn keyboarding skills at a younger age. While the district utilizes "Type to Learn" in grade 3, we have asked our occupational therapist to recommend other websites and programs that might reinforce typing skills. Students often struggle with fine motor skills and typing can be one strategy to alleviate some of the pressure of the actual act of writing so that it is easier for the students to get his/her thoughts out. Below you will find keyboarding resources that your child may find fun and engaging to do at home. Please remember, with the use of Ipads and Iphones many students are "one finger typers" and we should keep in mind that for early or struggling keyboarders - the focus should be on using BOTH hands.
Click here for a list of Early Keyboarding skills (pre-school and Kindergarten) and a chart of Elementary (and Middle School) age-appropriate keyboarding websites
At the February 6th School Committee meeting the elementary Principals will discuss what schools are required to do and what we believe is child-centered in regards to preparing students in grade 3-5 for MCAS assessments. The MCAS is administered in April and May. In Lexington sessions are scheduled so that only one grade level is taking a test on any given day. This enables us to support children who take the MCAS in a small group or individual setting with a familiar adult proctor. The testing schedule from the state requires that we all give the same test on the same day and the testing window is open for about 4 weeks, so that a child in grades K-2 who does not take an assessment, the MCAS stretches out over many school days.
The Massachusetts Department on Elementary and Secondary Education, DESE, establishes very detailed and strict guidelines that we are expected to follow in organizing for testing, actual administration of the sessions and storage of the testing materials between sessions. This protocol does change the normal school day routines for not only the students taking the test but also the entire school community. In order to ensure that students have the optimal time to take the assessments, and still get their specialist classes, we do rearrange the specialist schedule on testing days. For example, grade 4 may change their specials and take them when grade 1 normally does. All students still get recess, snack, and lunch breaks as usual. A second example of change that all students experience is that that we must monitor the bathrooms and allow only one child who is taking a test in the restroom at any given time. At Bridge, each classroom has a second monitor in order to help facilitate this. Again, this is not the “norm” and all students are aware that MCAS is the reason we make this change in routine.
We work hard to balance helping children feel confident prior to taking the tests and not wanting them to feel anxious. It is a delicate balance. This year both fourth and fifth grade students will be assessed on computers. They will need to use drop down menus and drag and drop prompts. They will need to be familiar with certain symbols that must be clicked in order to solve and record math problems. Students will need to recognize that a box on their screen can be lengthened in order to write more. We have technology that gives children opportunities to practice while learning grade level content, and we use the software for just that reason. Classroom teachers, have or will send home a practice link for students who wish to continue to practice the technological skills at home. By no means do they have to as we will practice a few times in school, but we know that some students feel more comfortable if they have more opportunities to simulate the skills that are required for them to answer the questions.
Finally, we want to cheer on and celebrate our “MCAS Masters”! We want students to feel that the state-wide assessment is one way for them to show what they know. But also recognize that they demonstrate their knowledge on a daily basis and should not be overly concerned with this assessment. We are proud of the students’ accomplishments and we hope families join us in encouraging children, acknowledging while diminishing any concerns they may have, and keeping the lines of communication open with teachers and administrators throughout the school year.
Updates From K-5
1: The children in grade one are continuing their work in their science unit "Balls and Ramps" and are enjoying their All Grade Morning Meeting.
2: The Second Graders have been learning about Ghana. They have learned about the geography of the country and can locate it on the continent of Africa. Other lessons focused on traditional weaving of kente cloth. Mrs. Side visited Ghana and told the the students about her experiences.
4: The students will be engaged in Book Clubs reading literature with main characters who are immigrants to America, as a way to integrate reading, writing and social studies. Ultimately, the children will be writing literary essays about their books, and making movie trailers using imovie.
5: 5th grade is piloting a new science unit all about keeping track of matter through studying water by creating "mini lakes" in their classrooms. The students are really excited to be the first ones to do this unit and connect what they know about the water cycle (grade 3 unit) to what they are observing in our mini lakes!
Site Based Council Update
CommonSense Media is a non-profit, well respected resource for parents and teachers. Here are some of the top features for parents:
- Media Reviews: Reviews of Apps, video games, TV shows including a summary, age rating, "What parents need to know", ratings for educational value, ease of use, violence, commercialism and more.
- Cell Phone Parenting Resources: Offers parents specific guidance by age including FAQs where you can view common questions posed by parents and even post your own as well as videos and articles to inform parents about
- Family Media Contracts help parents to set realistic rules to strike a healthy balance for media use.
- Privacy & Internet Safety includes guidance on parental controls, appropriate sharing and more. Parents can filter resources by age range to find "best fit" advice for their child.
- Digital Citizenship resources from CommonSense are used heavily in our Digital Citizenship Curriculum at Lexington.
ConnectSafely is a non-profit dedicated to educating users about digital safety and privacy.
- Parent guides to help de-mystify commonly used apps like SnapChat, Roblox and more so parents can make informed decisions about the use of these for their kids.
- Safety Tips & Advice including how we, as parents, can model online behavior and safety tips such as how to create strong passwords
Kids In Mind is a website that offers in-depth reviews for parents of movies that are currently in theaters. The ratings are very detailed including ratings for sex/violence, language and overall message and help parents decide if a movie is appropriate for their child.