All About Alloway
Alloway Township School's E-Newsletter: Winter 18-19
Community Planning Night
Ms. Theresa Lewis facilitates groups to share what they believe to be the strengths and challenges for ATS.
Groups of parents, school staff, and community members collaborate to dream and design the next 3 years at ATS.
The evening allowed all participants to share their voices and to hear others' voices, too.
Community Planning Night
Forty committed parents, community members, and school staff came out on Monday, Jan. 28 to roll up their sleeves and plan for the next three years at Alloway Township School. Ms. Theresa Lewis from New Jersey School Boards facilitated the evening for all participants.
The evening began whole group in the gym with introductions from the School Improvement Team (SIT), a ‘state of the school’ presentation from the Superintendent, and an explanation of the evening. Afterwards, participants moved over to the cafeteria to work in small groups. Each group consisted of: 4 parents, 1 school representative (SIT, teacher, or BOE member), and 1 community member. The groups were initially tasked to list the top ten strengths and challenges for ATS. The groups recorded their two lists on giant Post-its and shared out whole group. Finally, groups defined what they envision the school to be 3 years from now and what we did as a school community to get there. These visions were also shared out whole group.
The evening was both positive and productive. Any parent who was unable to attend this event is invited to contribute to the collaborative process via survey. We are embarking on a critical journey with strategic planning, and it is exciting. The next step is to gather input from our students. Then, the SIT will attempt to capture the consensus of the various groups with a list of goals. Those goals will be presented at another meeting TBD with the same individuals who attended our Community Planning Night. Once they affirm that the goals reflect their consensus, the SIT will add action steps and the entire document will be presented to the BOE for approval in June 2019.
If you were unable to attend this event, we still want your input. There is a survey linked below and on our website that solicits the same information we sought from those who attended the Community Planning Night. If you cannot access the Google Form, call the school so we can send a paper copy home with your child.
Welcome, Mr. Podolski!
Excellent Instruction Through Co-Teaching
We polled our middle school students about co-teaching, and here's the feedback we got from them:
- 96% said it is helpful to have 2 teachers in the room
- 77% said the best benefit is that they get more individual support
- 60% said their "favorite" part about having two teachers is being able to ask more questions
- 96% said ATS should continue to expand co-teaching
What is co-teaching?
Co-teaching is two teachers working together to teach one group of students. There are various models, but the team teaching model benefits all students the most, and that is the model we use at ATS.
Why are we switching to this instructional model in Kindergarten?
Co-teaching is a model of instruction that benefits students. In kindergarten, a typical lesson begins with a whole group mini lesson followed by independent practice at differentiated centers and small group instruction with the teacher. To meet the educational needs of the kindergarten students we have, this is the best instructional model to do so. And it does benefit every learner - those who need support, those who are performing at the grade level standard, and those who can extend beyond. This model allows us to meet our learners' needs better. With two teachers, there is more instructional support for all students.
What are the benefits?
There are numerous benefits, but this list highlights some of the ones we aim to capitalize on:
more small group instruction
students get to connect with different personalities
two minds are facilitating the learning
stronger modeling with two models
teachers model behavior and positive peer-to-peer interactions for students
shared expertise among 2 teachers
more student-teacher interaction
students with disabilities have access to the grade-level curricula
positive social outcomes for students with and without disabilities
increased student engagement
two teachers for differentiated instructional groupings
Successful Book Fair Helps Classrooms
This year, the PTA's winter book fair did amazingly well! The PTA made $2214. in Scholastic dollars, and they are putting it towards materials for the Leveled Literacy Library. Mrs. Wildermuth and Mrs. Strawderman will coordinate purchasing the texts for the Leveled Literacy Library, and PTA volunteers will assist us with shelving the inventory when it arrives.
The Leveled Literacy Library is separate from our Media Center. Students' reading levels are based on Fountas & PInnell's A-Z framework. When students grow as readers, they move from level to level in alphabetical order. All readers start at 'A', but readers grow at their own rates. In any given classroom, there will be students on various levels. When teachers directly instruct reading skills in guided reading groups, those groups are homogeneously grouped. While teachers have class sets of leveled books in the classrooms, they often need additional texts. The Leveled Literacy Library allows teachers to pull additional leveled texts.
Camden Aquarium visit courtesy of our PTA
Official Alloway Township School Facebook page......Coming soon!
Alloway Township School recognizes the role of social media as a mainstream form of communication. Parents and community members rely increasingly on social media for information, and we intend to be the official source of information about our school for them. At the same time, the district aims to offer its community multiple modes of communicating a variety of school-related information. The school's philosophy is to have a broad repertoire of communication platforms so that we reach all our stakeholders as intended. Our Facebook page is simply an additional platform we will use to communicate effectively, efficiently, responsibly, and transparently with our supporters and the community-at-large. All other platforms will continue to be utilized as each serves a niche purpose.
Social Media FAQ:
What types of communication does the district currently utilize and for what content?
- Website (General school information)
- Teacher Websites (General class-specific information)
- Google Classrooms (Instructional information)
- Class Dojo & Remine (Instructional information)
- Teacher E-mail (Student-specific concerns)
- Blackboard Connect (News & time-sensitive information)
- All About Alloway (Monthly newsletter)
- Tigernet (Weekly reminders & community flyers)
- USPS (various topics, test scores)
- Vestibule bulletin board (Event flyers)
- Student backpacks (PTA and school event flyers)
- Morning announcements (School events & news)
- BOE Meetings (Public comments on school business)
- Key Communicators (General information)
What are the reasons why we would add social media to the repertoire?
Though there is a wide array of communication overall, there is limited communication with the local community and beyond.
As responsible educators, we can model responsible social media behavior and information sharing so that our students learn from example.
If we don’t broadcast and control messages about our school, someone other than us will fill that void.
Social media allows us to showcase our school in a positive light and to establish a positive image.
In a digital era, social media apps on phones make communication instantaneous and literally at people’s fingertips 24/7.
Why would we use Facebook over Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat?
A critical part of communication is knowing one’s audience. Educators, BOE members, community members, parents, and teachers are mostly members of the following generational groups: Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. These groups tend to be most comfortable with Facebook’s format, so that is the logical platform to choose. Twitter has a younger following while the heavy use of images, gifs, and emojis on Instagram and Snapchat appeal to our students who are Generation C.
What types of posts will the ATS page feature?
ATS has procured consent from parents/guardians to use students' photos and sample work on our Facebook page. ATS will not use students' names on Facebook. The following list provides a sample of some of the types of posts you can expect to see:
- School delays, closings
- PTA events
- School events
- Points of pride
- Invite community to events
- School-related fundraisers
- Lunch menu
- Job openings
- Club information
- Related FYI
Twin Day at ATS
Drop-off and Pick-up
By statute, the fire lane can be designated as a drop-off zone, and we have designated that the fire lane is our drop off zone. In the morning, we ask parents to drop students off no earlier than 7:40 as we do not have staff supervision until that time. When dropping off, vehicles pull forward to park temporarily to let students out. Exiting on the passenger side is strongly encouraged as it allows students to exit right onto our sidewalk. The further forward vehicles park, the more vehicles we can accommodate. If you prefer to park and walk your child to the entrance, there is parking in our lot. Follow the crosswalks for safe crossing, and we do have crossing guards to assist you. Please take care to not do the following:
- block the crosswalk while waiting to pull into the fire lane
- park and let your child out on Cedar St. (these students are walking across our drop off lane which is dense with traffic and it is not safe)
The fire lane is our designated pick-up zone, and we can by statute allow temporary parking in the fire lane for this reason. We ask parents to pull all the way to the end. We want to accommodate as many vehicles as possible. Once the fire lane is filled, you can either park in the lot or wait in the car line until traffic moves along. We do require parents to meet their students at the door for security reasons.
Student safety is our number one concern. Thank you for understanding and following our procedures.