Region In Review

March 26, 2021

Visual Models in Mathematics

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Have you ever wondered why we create visual models for mathematics?

The Region’s third graders have been immersed in modeling their mathematical reasoning. They are learning that math has its own language and a universal, visual component. When we use visual explanations and representations in math, we reveal the complex parts and processes that may be difficult to understand through definition alone. When our students use visual models, they deepen their understanding, strengthen their number sense, and are more confident and successful in math.

Each day, we help our mathematicians apply visual learning skills to math. These skills include observation, recognition, interpretation, perception, and self-expression. We encourage questioning, like:

  • What does that model show me?
  • What makes it that?
  • How does it work?
  • Can you prove your answer is correct?
  • Can you show that another way?


Our students sketch during math, make diagrams, and revise models. They represent word problems with tape diagrams and create area models to represent multiplication. They have enjoyed modeling the properties of multiplication with clay and using graphic number bonds to decompose numbers.

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By teaching visual representation and modeling strategies, and allowing students time to unpack concepts in a visual way, our third graders interact more deeply with math. They develop strategies, make comparisons and generalizations...and they realize that math is so much more than just knowing what to do with numbers on a page.

The Art of Botanical Illustration

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The first class of Botanical Art and Illustration has begun at Shepaug Valley School. The course was designed by Shepaug art staff with help from the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) at the New York Botanical Garden. Students will get a glimpse of how botanical artists observe the world and how they work with botanists to recreate accurate specimens of plants.

The course will teach students to carefully observe plant specimens, many of which are grown in our own greenhouse, and recreate them using a variety of media including pen and ink, watercolor, and colored pencil. Students first completed a unit on herbs closely looking at the variety of vein and leaf structures. Followed by a flower unit where they dissected flowers and experimented with capturing accurate color and detail in watercolor of the plants’ anatomy. The next unit explores fruit varieties and will look at the patterns found in nature. Finally, students will develop a growth cycle drawing from seed to flower which they have been carefully recording from their plantings of zinnia, poppy, marigold, and nasturtium seeds.

Assessment in the course matches that of the ASBA; looking at botanical accuracy, draftsmanship, and artistic sensitivity.


With this new course, the students' art skills are literally blossoming.

Elementary Schools Celebrating Read Across America

On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, all of the elementary schools in the Region celebrated the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. Historically, NEA’s Read Across America Day heavily focused on Theodore Suess Geisel and his iconic contributions to children’s literature. However, in recent years, the NEA has really begun to stress that Read Across America Day should be a celebration of all books and authors, and that reading itself should be celebrated.

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Though the activities at each elementary school brought their own unique flavor to the celebration, the students also participated in a collaborative effort to share their favorite books with their peers.

At Burnham School, the students in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade kicked off the celebration by decorating and wearing their own version of the iconic hat worn by the main character in Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat. The students in third, fourth, and fifth grades enjoyed watching the video featuring themselves and their peers discussing their favorite books. Based on peer recommendations, many of the students were jotting down books that they’d like to read themselves. The day’s celebration of reading culminated in a virtual visit from a guest reader, Connecticut State Representative, Cindy Harrison. The kids enjoyed her animated reading of Dr. Seuss’ classic Horton Hears a Who. The book seemed particularly timely, as Region-wide we have been demonstrating how books can foster discussions about diversity and inclusion. The recognizable quote, “A person is a person, no matter how small” certainly resonated with the students in light of these discussions. The students also enjoyed her second selection: Wild About Books by Judy Sierra. This humorous book was the perfect way to end the Read Across America celebrations at Burnham School.

At Washington Primary School, a zoom link extended all the way to the Dominican Republic to connect with children’s author Javaka Steptoe, and another to New Jersey to connect author Sharee Miller. Throughout the day, students of all grade levels engaged with these authors virtually through animated conversations and questions as the authors described their book writing process.

Thank you to the PTO for this great opportunity! Students also took to the halls for the finale of our Region-wide diversity project: a book gallery walk. Students circulated throughout the building to view each other's insightful writing posted on bulletin boards throughout the school and to take Notice and Note insights from the books selected and studied on the theme of Diversity. Finally, students at Booth Free School, Burnham School and Washington Primary School were given the opportunity to share a short book talk with their district peers. The resulting videos were combined and made into a video of peer-to-peer book recommendations for each grade level, making the project engaging and collaborative across the district. When one kindergartner saw the video featuring his book talk, he said “Look! We are famous!”, and many older students were seen jotting down recommended titles from their peers. Success!

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Booth Free School kicked off a month-long celebration of Read Across America by hosting an all school meeting on Monday, March 1st. The virtual meeting was not only a reminder of our school’s enduring commitment to a whole school community providing every grade a glimpse into one another's classrooms that have gone unvisited due to COVID-19 restrictions but also a celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and the official introduction and kickoff of the BFS PTO sponsored Read-A-Thon.

The meeting was hosted and run by teachers Sarah Curren, Cathleen Brooks, and Library Clerk, Patricia Gordon. The meeting began with each grade telling the school how they would make the celebration magical. Mrs. Gordon then officially kicked off the Read-A-Thon by going over the ins and outs of the event that would run from the 1st through Friday, March 26th. Students were encouraged to read at least 20 minutes at home every day, have a parent or guardian sign their reading log and return their logs to school each Friday. Each week, every student who read at least 60 minutes that week would be entered in one of two raffles; one for grade K-1-2 and one for grade 3-4-5. In addition to weekly raffles, the whole school participated in special Friday Read-A-Thon activities. Mrs. Curren ended the celebratory meeting by introducing Superintendent Megan Bennett who read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka for the school’s enjoyment. Thus far, Booth Free School’s Read-A-Thon has been a success with students truly celebrating and enjoying the wonderful world of reading!

Say Something

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Shepaug staff participated in Say Something week by creating a

trusted adult sign to show their care and support for students in need.

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Substitute Teaching Positions

Does your schedule allow time to join our team?


Region 12 is hiring teacher and para substitutes for all schools. We welcome and encourage parents and community members to apply. Click here to begin your application.

Fliers & Upcoming Events

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Region 12 Calendar

March 29 - Building Committee Virtual Meeting, 10am

March 29 - District Budget Hearing, 7pm

March 29 - Board Meeting, 7:30pm

March 31 - Remote Learning Day (Early Dismissal)

April 1 - Burnham PTO Meeting, 6pm

April 2 - Good Friday, No School

April 5 - BOE Long Range Planning Committee Meeting, 6pm

April 5 - Board Meeting, 7pm

April 8 - World Affairs Forum, 7pm

Follow Region 12 on our social media channels for updates and information!

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The Region 12 community educates, challenges, and inspires all learners to become compassionate, creative, and courageous individuals who are empowered by the knowledge, character, and perseverance to achieve their greatest potential within the global society.

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