GES Spring Newsletter 2017

Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Safe and Be Ready to Learn

Principal's Corner

Dear GES Families,

What an exciting time for GES! Because of the support of the Grafton community, GES students will have a safe, updated facility and be fortunate to join a new school community of learners in the fall of 2018-19! As the 2016-17 school year ends, there will continue to be developments in communicating further plans for a timely and supportive transition for our students, staff, and GES families. In the meantime, we will continue the routines and traditions that we are proud of knowing that in a little more than a year we'll be excited about the magic new beginnings will afford us!

Recently, GES's faculty completed 12 hours of mindfulness training because of the generosity of our PTA who was gracious enough to fund a large portion of it. Many valuable things were learned as a result and one of those was the benefits that gratitude, a component of mindfulness, has in increasing an individual's overall health. In randomized controlled study trials, teachers who learned mindfulness reported greater efficacy in doing their jobs and had more emotionally supportive classrooms and better classroom organization based on independent observations. Those of us who completed the monthly training, over the course of this school year, are grateful to our PTA for one more additional way in which they show their support! Read more about the power of mindfulness and plans for incorporating it our weekly routine for the 2017-18 school year later in this newsletter.

Improving our students' emotional and social health will certainly be a focus as a result of the things we have learned professionally from our mindfulness training. However,

measuring our students' success is a way in which we measure our own professional growth. Winter MAP testing is completed and we have begun our 3rd-5th grade Forward testing which gives us just one more standardized means of determining where we are this time of year in reaching the goal of "Our Growth for Theirs!" Specific information will be shared regarding the growth that has occurred from fall to winter in association with our School Learning Objective as well as aligned grade level Student Learning Objectives.

As always, you'll find information in the newsletter highlighting the results our PBIS implementation continues to have on the positive culture we've established and continue to maintain as we follow the GES Wolfpack Way.

Finally, as we make plans to end the 2016-17 school year, if you have educational reasons that are pertinent to finalizing student placements for next year, please put your educational reasons in a formal letter to me. While there are many factors that are considered in making critical decisions for ALL students, your perceptions regarding what is important to consider is of value.



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What is GES's Wolfpack Up To?

March Assembly, March Incentive, and Tier 2 Training!

During the month of March, we have continued to implement the components of PBIS that are critical to the success of a culture that believes in a positive approach to shaping behavior both with re-teaching the behavior that we expect to see and rewarding those students who work diligently to demonstrate expected behavior.

Each month a grade level hosts an assembly that focuses on a characteristic or quality we know will contribute to a positive school culture. This month our kindergartners helped us learn about kindness. In fact, they demonstrated that kindness can be "spread like confetti". The ideas they generated about ways in which to be kind are shared in the video you can access below this article!

Students who earned a certain number of DoJo points throughout the month of March were able to participate in a movie of their choice on March 30th. Students of varying ages gathered in a classroom to watch a movie. Based on having additional points beyond the number required for the movie. students were also able to add popcorn or a glow stick. There were very few students who participated in a re-teaching opportunity designed to encourage them to work hard to earn the next monthly incentive.

A small group of members of the PBIS full committee have been involved in a series of training that focuses on identifying students who may benefit from Tier 2 interventions. Tier 2 interventions are for a select number of students who have difficulty responding to the behavioral expectations and typical incentives of the Wolfpack Way. For example, one type of Tier 2 intervention is called Check-In, Check-Out which pairs a child with a significant adult providing the child with positive attention before the day begins and at the end of the day. By building a special positive relationship, it is the purpose of the intervention to reduce the need for that child to gain negative attention. As with all aspects of a successful PBIS implementation, data is collected to determine if there are adjustments that can be made to ensure GES has a positive culture that supports the social and emotional growth of all students.

"Just Breathe" by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman (Wavecrest Films)

What Would Mindfulness at GES Look Like for our Students?

Just as we model what effective readers and mathematicians do, teachers must demonstrate how to apply strategies of mindfulness in the classroom. Consequently, teachers must be experts initially on attentiveness, emotional and behavioral self-regulation, as well as positive qualities such as compassion, composure and mental calmness. By understanding ourselves and how we can respond effectively in stressful or cognitively demanding situations, we will be able to support our students when they encounter situations that require them to manage self-control or to attend closely to learning.

Teaching students ways to become more mindful has impact on many aspects of their future success as students and as successful individuals. In fact, research indicates that practicing mindfulness improves sleep, decreases blood pressure, increases motivation, and reduces test anxiety. In a study of 99 4th and 5th graders, one group, who had four months of mindfulness training," had 15% better math scores, showed 24% better social behaviors, were 24% less aggressive, and perceived themselves as 20% more prosocial."

GES's PBIS committee will be looking at the potential of initiating a Mindful Monday activity each week. This would require each classroom to begin their week by participating in a 10-20 minute Mindful activity. These activities could include a mindful listening activity, a mindfulness activity that shares positive messages with classmates, or methods for facing challenges effectively. As this plan begins to take shape, more communication and links to resources will be shared.

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GES's morning announcements have moved into the 21st Century. As you know, each morning grade level students report to the office and provide our staff and students with important information like our birthdays, special events that will occur throughout the week, and reminders of what it means to be positive Wolfpack members! Listening skills are important but we know that students pay close attention when there is important information visually as well as auditorally. Through the help of Mrs. Griffith, our Digital Media Information Specialist, our announcements will be visually streamed to all of our classes each morning at 8:25 a.m.

Our fifth graders will begin this new 21st Century practice because of their familiarity with doing announcements over the years. Once we are live, parents will also have an opportunity to access our morning announcements through a link that will have archived announcements available on a playlist by date. Stay tuned to the Wolfblast for the link you can access soon! We may have some future news anchors in our midst!



Each time our students take standardized tests, it is a valuable opportunity for the faculty to review where our students are in relationship to, most importantly, their individual growth but also how they are doing in relationship to our district benchmarks and to students across the nation. MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) and the state assessment, Forward, which our 3rd-5th grade students are currently taking affords us the opportunity to analyze student performance data from multiple perspectives and make instructional adjustments going forward.

As a faculty, we have reviewed our winter MAP assessment data to determine how grade levels, individual classes, and students are doing. Based on that important review, we are able to celebrate successes and identify some emerging trends/patterns that determine how instructional supports and strategies can be adjusted to ensure that every student makes reasonable growth.

Overall, GES's 2017 winter MAP means in reading and math surpass the district mean and the national normative mean. Our students also demonstrate growth overall from fall to winter in both content areas. The trend in the past has been that our reading scores have been lower than our math MAP scores which has compelled us to develop our School Learning Objectives focused upon reading. However, that trend began to shift in the fall of 2016 when our math scores in first and second had the lowest overall mean RIT score. In kindergarten, first, fourth, and fifth grades our winter math scores have the highest MAP RIT mean with reading surpassing math in 2nd and 3rd.

We are proud to say that 67% of the total population of students that receive targeted support, in both math and reading, have already made their individual MAP growth target. In some cases, the targeted student population may be students who are high performing students but may not be making the amount of growth that they have the potential to. It is our responsibility then to identify the specific area in math or reading that are growth opportunities for them. For example, perhaps a student is very capable in math but has a relative weakness in geometry. As a result of targeting specific geometry learning opportunities, the child will increase his skill and understanding such that his score in overall math and specifically in geometry will improve.

When we focus on multiple ways of looking at all types of assessment, both formative and standardized, we learn that our students' needs must align to our professional growth. What is it that we can do to grow our own understanding and practice that enable us to\target learning opportunities that ultimately contribute to our students' academic success?

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