Principal's Corner

February ~Meg Colella

Global School Play

Our school will be participating for one hour in Global School Play Day 2018 (GSPD.) GSPD has been promoted by Psychology Today and is being celebrated at schools around the world. You can learn more about the benefits of unstructured play by visiting the official GSPD website: www.globalschoolplayday.com. I am inviting all of our students to bring in things to play with on this very special day. Here are some examples of things your child may bring in (be sure your child’s name is clearly marked on all items):


Non-Violent Toys
Legos, blocks, cardboard boxes, etc.
Dress-Up
Puppets
Stuffed Animals
Board Games
Puzzles
*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.

The Decline of Play

Click here to watch Peter Gray’s TEDx video about the decline of play in our culture.

Keyboarding Websites

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.

Keyboarding Resources

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

MCAS Preparation

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

K: The students are looking forward to the 100th day of school on February 9th!
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.

3: In writing, students are creating their own nonfiction books. In this unit, students choose an "expert" topic and formulate their own non-fiction book. Students will learn to elaborate by adding details and add text features to make their books more exciting.
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

The January Site Based Council Meeting (January 26, 2018) focused on data security within the Lexington Public Schools. Lexington Public School's Director of Digital Learning, Jennifer Judkins, joined us to discuss student data privacy at both the high and low priority levels. Ms. Judkins discussed how Lexington is looking to partner with the Massachusetts Student Data Privacy Alliance to help streamline data privacy contracts that could be shared among dozens of districts in MA. As it stands now, LPS works with their town lawyers to ensure that appropriate contacts are created to help ensure the safety of the data stored within the district. In addition, the lower level priority areas regarding data include web tools used by students, iPad apps, etc. that do not include identifying information regarding students. Ms. Judkins is looking to create an online interface for parents that would share the tools students and staff use in school as well as the data privacy policy and contracts that surround each tool. In addition to student data privacy, Ms. Judkins also discussed the use of content filtering in Lexington to help secure against hacking and inappropriate use of the internet. A discussion regarding the use of Google Suite, Gmail, and Google classroom took place and how these tools support learning. It was suggested that parents look to Common Sense Media (CommonSense.org) for resources regarding digital citizenship and assistance navigating the digital age. Finally, a quick discussion about the districts instructional practices grades 1-5 focused on digital citizenship was reviewed. Parents were reminded that students take part in lessons conducted by the classroom teacher, integration specialist, and librarian throughout their elementary schooling in order to help prepare them to be aware of the challenges and safety aspects of utilizing technology. We look forward to continuing this conversation and will provide a forum for doing so in the near future.

Resources


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.


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.

Reminders:

Many students use the res path to get to and from school each day. A few parents have notified the school that they have seen students walking across the ice. Please make sure to review with your child(ren) the safety concerns that walking on ice can pose. We want to make sure everyone stays safe.

School Nurse Update

Please click here for an update from Ms. Celi.
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Good Luck Ms. Gray

We would like to wish Ms. Gray good luck during her maternity leave which starts February 7th. Ms. Deirdre Schadler will be taking on the responsibilities of Assistant Principal during Ms. Gray's leave (expected to go through mid May). You can reach Ms. Schadler at dschadler@lexingtonma.org. Ms. Karen Marzioli has been hired as the Long Term Substitute ELL teacher to work with Ms. Schadler's students during this time. Ms. Marzioli is a retired Lexington Public Schools ELL teacher. We look forward to welcoming her on the 5th.
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