Together We Can
April 24, 2023
I hope that everyone had a wonderful spring break. Our first week back last week was packed with lots of activities. The first annual Autism Resource Fair, the last school readiness council for the year, the Board meeting in which the new pre-k curriculum was presented, and a Saturday conference in which Dr. Fabian Boie and myself were able to share all the great things that are happening around Greenwich, both in the classroom and with the parent community. Pictures of all these great activities and more are below, so please check them out!
Stacey Heiligenthaler, Ph.D.
Chief Officer of Special Education and Student Supports
What We Are Seeing 👀 Around the Schools
Comparing and Contrasting at Parkway
Mrs. Garcia's second grade class at Parkway School is working on compare and contrast. Students discuss similarities and differences and complete a graphic organizer. A graphic organizer is a teaching and learning tool that is used to organize information and ideas in a way that is easy to comprehend and internalize.
Inclusion at New Lebanon
Greenwich Public Schools' Inclusion Specialist Ms. Rachel Rubin facilitated a discussion at New Lebanon School's Parent Coffee on Neurodiversity and Inclusion. During this discussion, parents had the opportunity to engage in various centers that offered a range of resources on the meaning of various terms such as: inclusion, neurodivergent, neurotypical and neurodiverse. Parents also explored how someone can be neurodiverse in some areas of their brain and, at the same time, no different than the average person in other areas of their brain (i.e., language, motor skills, perception, executive function, sensory, etc.). The conversation and dialogue within these centers and during the whole group discussion helped to build a common understanding on the concepts of Neurodiversity and Inclusion.
Greenwich School Readiness Council
Ms. Suzanne Clement from Cooperative Education Services (CES) led a discussion around how early childhood programs can share information and resources with families to support ongoing learning, especially during the summer. The Greenwich School Readiness Council meets quarterly to share best practices in early education. Please see the links to Hello Kindergarten PDF Hello Kindergarten (English) PDF Hello Kindergarten (Spanish) a booklet developed by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood helping parents get their child ready for Kindergarten.
Autism Resource Fair
Greenwich Public Schools hosted its first Autism Resource Fair. Students and Families were able to meet with community service providers such as Abilis and the Department of Developmental Service, as well as hear from other parents about their experiences navigating school, peer relationships, and supports post high school.
Workshops and Resources
The Greenwich SEAC (Special Education Advisory Council) is presenting their spring enrichment for parents on May 2 on Zoom. Jenna Rufo has vast experience in many areas of special education and is now an educational consultant and author. Dr. Rufo will be helping parents understand how to partner In the IEP process, particularly as it pertains to inclusion and belonging and securing the least restrictive environment, and will introduce the principles of UDL (Universal Design for Learning) and how they can support your child In the classroom.
Please join us!
Building Strong Connections
This past Saturday, Dr. Heiligenthaler and Dr. Boie presented at the 2023 Childhood Conversations Together We Will conference on Building Strong Connections: Effective Tools to Foster Home-School Partnerships and School belonging.
The presentation focused on providing teachers and caregivers with effective tools to foster and enhance students’ connection with their school, their family and their community. Participants learned and practiced efficient strategies that can foster students’ resilience, connection and promote a growth mindset. Resources and tools were shared that could be used at home and in the classroom to promote a positive climate and sense of belonging. Please see a copy of the PowerPoint from Saturday's presentation
Program for Inclusion and Neurodiversity Educations (PINE) SUMMIT PARENT SESSION
The Program for Inclusion and Neurodiversity Educations (PINE) is hosting its 2023 PINE Summit. We are excited to share there is a FREE session on April 28 at 12:00PM called "PINE for Parents: Strategies to Support Our Kids at Home". During this virtual session, participants will learn about PINE, explore three core mindset shifts and how they relate to home and school, and learn about practical supports oftentimes used in school that can also be used at home. Here is the link to sign up. If families have questions, please email Rachel_Rubin@greenwich.k12.ct.us.
by MaryPat Caldwell
This month, I would like to discuss fluency. What is it? Why is it important?
Fluency is the ability to read with accuracy, speed and prosody (expression and phrasing). Fluency is important because fluent readers have more mental attention available to comprehend the text – the ultimate goal of reading.
As children are learning to read, the initial focus should be on accuracy. In the initial phases of learning to decode (sound-out) words, a child may need to read one sound at a time, and their oral reading might sound very labored. That is fine! At this phase, we want our readers to slow down and attend to each letter.
With enough multisensory instruction and practice, decoding will eventually become automatic. How long that takes will depend on each individual student and their particular learning profile. From the beginning it is important to directly teach students about fluency. As I dig into books with my students, I tell them that the first time we read, we read to make sure we are reading the words accurately.
The second time we read, we read to practice our fluency (reading in whole words and phrases, “reading” the punctuation and reading with expression). Lots of modeling is critical at this phase. Once fluent our main focus can shift to comprehension. Some children will need many repetitions to read a text fluently. That is fine! It is important to find meaningful and motivating opportunities to practice.
Poems, plays and reading aloud to family members and younger children are great opportunities for repeated reading. Echo reading is another great way to model and practice fluency. Having children record their reading and self evaluate for fluency is also very effective. When assessing fluency, I evaluate both words correct per minute (“WCPM”) and prosody (expression and phrasing) based on a four point scale (see below). It is important to use caution when evaluating words per minute, as there are many factors that contribute to a reader’s pace including working memory and processing speed. Pace can also vary depending on the type of text and text complexity. While not all children will be fast readers, most can improve their pace, and read with automaticity and prosody. Building fluency takes time, and children develop at their own pace. Practice will be most effective when done with a patient and encouraging adult.
Read more for a sample fluency scale:
By Michele Iannello
Did you know that April is National Deaf History Month? Please take a look at this article, celebrating our Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. 504 Plans are for students who have a variety of different disabilities, and deafness is just one of the many where accommodations on a 504 Plan can help support students equally access their education.
Spring Listening Community
Please join our Spring 2023 Listening Community.
Meetings will be held at Old Greenwich School in the Media Center.
Friday mornings 9:00AM- 10:00AM
For those parents/caregivers that would prefer to participate virtually, below is the meeting link:
Video call link: https://meet.google.com/wes-mgyp-znw
Or dial: (US) +1 929-287-3756 PIN: 369 174 722#
More phone numbers: https://tel.meet/wes-mgyp-znw?pin=9766228410316