APS Quarterly Bulletin

November 2019


Welcome to our quarterly APS Bulletin. We hope that it will assist in our ongoing efforts to keep the community informed of the many things occurring in our school district. As our audience is broad, we intend to introduce a wide range of topics and point to where those who are interested can find more detailed information. We are excited to share all of the great things happening here at the Attleboro Public Schools.

Grade Span Reconfiguration

The current comprehensive strategic plan, Envisioning 2020, charged the District with developing a proposal that would maximize the benefit of our current resources by reconfiguring the grade spans. The proposed configuration has organized the schools to narrower grade spans presented below:

Lower Elementary Schools

Preschool, Kindergarten, Grade One

Studley Elementary School

Thacher Elementary School

Upper Elementary Schools

Grade Two, Three, & Four

Hill-Roberts Elementary School

Hyman Fine Elementary School

Willett Elementary School

Preliminary discussions about the concept were held with educators last spring, and meetings with families are scheduled at all of the elementary schools to continue the discussion this fall. All are welcome to join the conversation, and learn more about the proposal. The meetings will be held on the dates and times listed below. We hope to see you there.

November 6 @ 6:30 PM: Thacher Elementary School (Spanish interpreter & childcare available)

November 7 @ 6:30 PM: Studley Elementary School (Spanish interpreter & childcare available)

November 12 @ 6:30 PM: Hill-Roberts Elementary School

November 14 @ 6:00 PM: Willett Elementary School

November 19 @ 6:30 PM: Hyman Fine Elementary School

Leadership Advisory Board Update

Professional Growth Council

When the Professional Growth Council reconvened this school year, they began their work by reviewing their goals and selecting several to work on for the year. Believing that the concept of school culture and their previous work on OurId (Our Instructional Design) were both important, the group chose to focus on both over the next few months. The council hopes to define school culture in relation to their work and also to create materials to get all teachers familiar with the great OurID resource. As part of this ongoing work to promote and encourage the use of OurID, the former PG Council chair and the current chair will present the resource to all new teachers in a professional development workshop on November 5.

Studley Elementary School

On Saturday, October 19, Studley held its annual Pumpkin Glow. The importance and ongoing success of this event for our school and community has grown over the ten plus years of its occurrence. This year, we teamed with over 20 local vendors and supporters to make it possible for the Attleboro Community. Not only do our Studley families join us for this evening, but families come from all around the area to attend as well. The Pumpkin Glow is a rain or shine event, indoors and enjoyable for all ages!

Over 275 pumpkins were carved for the event by students at a variety of our schools along with families and staff within Attleboro. All our carved masterpieces are displayed within the school atrium and along the hall leading to the gymnasium where Attleboro High School Student Council members set up a variety of activities for our guests to enjoy. On the other side of the gym, volunteers manage the Bake Sale tables featuring a variety of unique treats along with nonfood items all donated by our families, local organizations, and merchants. It truly is a community event where all are welcomed for the entire City of Attleboro and beyond.

Wamsutta Middle School

Over the summer, almost every Wamsutta Middle School teacher participated in Professional Development offered by i2 Learning, a nonprofit organization committed to reimagining how children should be educated in our changing world. The result of this intensive summer work was on display the entire week of October 21: STEM Week at WMS.

STEM Week is an immersive program that transforms middle schools into STEM learning labs. During STEM Week, regularly scheduled course periods were replaced by hands-on curriculum developed by MIT and a several other leading STEM organizations. Over the five days, teachers and students worked in teams to solve real-world problems in classrooms where hands-on experimentation, critical thinking, and collaboration are encouraged and used as teaching techniques to engage and inspire students. The programs are designed to be implemented with teachers and students of all backgrounds and abilities, including English language learners.

In Grade 5, students took on the problems of Loon Lake, a fictional lake beset with very real ecological problems for students to solve. In Grade 6, students answered big-picture questions about extraterrestrial colonization, designing habitats for a future lunar outposts. Grade 7 designed, revised, and redesigned kinetic sculptures. Grade 8 had a medical focus, and students practiced with both surgical techniques and sheep brain dissections.

It was a thoroughly engaging and challenging week for both students and staff!

STEAM Update

MA STEAM Week 2019 was a success in the Attleboro middle schools this past October. For five full days each grade level was immersed in problem-based learning.

Quotes overheard from students and staff:

“Where is my pulmonary artery?!”

“I love the projects and love that it isn’t stressful because I am not being graded.”

“Are you a science teacher?”

“Do I look like one?”(Grade 8 ELA teacher)

“Yes, you really do.”

"None of these (magnetic sculptures) here are mine but aren’t they awesome?!"

"I like that we can make mistakes and then have the time to fix them."

"I (teacher) am out of my comfort zone, but I bet this is how most students feel every day."

Attleboro High School's ACRE Program

The ACRE (Attleboro College Readiness Expedition) Program is in its second year at Attleboro High School. This program, created by teacher Joe Amaral, targets first generation college students who are highly motivated and college and career bound. The selection process begins at the middle school level where staff members identify students who would be good candidates for the program. As the success of the program has grown and parents and students have started seeing the value of ACRE, entrance into this cohort has become competitive. This fall saw a significant increase in the amount of students interested in joining his program.

The program has a number of benefits and privileges. Freshman and sophomore cohorts are given opportunities that are traditionally reserved for upperclassmen, such as attending the College and Career Fair as well as visiting college campuses such as Bristol Community College and attending college information visits hosted at the high school. Students in the two cohorts recently attended an information session by the College Now Program at UMASS Dartmouth. This program aligns with the goals of the ACRE program as it targets first generation college students. If accepted, they are given additional support on campus, just as additional support is provided at the high school level. As Anne Boisvert, Assistant Director of the College Now/Start Program emphasized, student motivation is a significant factor in their admissions process. They want to get to know the students and assess their level of motivation.This factor resonated with those in attendance, as this is a group of freshmen and sophomores who are motivated for success.

The ACRE Program is looking forward to many additional initiatives this year. In addition to expanding college visits, an emphasis will be placed on preparing students for the possibility of taking Dual Enrollment classes. With the rising cost of college, the benefit of taking classes that will transfer to their next step in their educational journey, and potentially save them significant money in college, is exciting. As members of this program are learning through their exploration, the possibilities are endless.

Big picture

Social Emotional Learning

Relationship Building

Teachers are capable of maximizing the learning potential of each student in their class. Understanding that the key to unlocking student potential is by developing positive, respectful relationships with your students beginning on the first day of the school year. Building a trusting relationship with your students can be both challenging and time-consuming. Great teachers become masters at it in time. They will tell you that developing solid relationships with your students is paramount in fostering academic success.

It is essential that you earn your students’ trust early on in the year. A trusting classroom with mutual respect is a thriving classroom complete with active, engaging learning opportunities. Some teachers are more natural at building and sustaining positive relationships with their students than others.

Making Sure Each Child Is Known

Brain Based Learning

Sleep and the Brain

Sleep is important to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other. Though we've long been aware of an important connection between circadian rhythms and light and dark, new research shows that in those cycles, "sleep pressure" prepares our brains for sleep. Proteins in our brains get ready to sleep and the body prepares for the event. But if sleep doesn't occur in accordance with our internal timekeeping, the proteins can't finish their synopsis and protein production. Peak production of the proteins are dusk and dawn, setting the stage for falling asleep and refreshed wakefulness. When deprived of sleep and waking during these times, important brain proteins stop being made, mid-production.

Big picture