ATC Principalś Newsletter

February 2016

Upcoming Important Dates

February 9th - PTO Meeting (6:30PM)

February 10th, 11th, 12th - Scholastic Book Fair

Feb 15th - 19th - Winter Break

February 22nd - Kindness Committee (3PM)

February 23rd - School Site Council (3PM)

February 26th - Grade 6/7 Social (4-6PM)

March 2nd - Full Court Frenzy! (5:45-8:15PM)

Books and Basketballs!

ATC readers are working hard to play against the teachers in our annual Full Court Frenzy on March 2nd! Every Friday we have been collecting tickets from students and calling raffles for brand new books! We will also be giving away Celtics tickets over the next few weeks. It is apparent based on the steady rise of tickets coming in that students are reading more than ever. Thank you to all the parents encouraging their children to read more! It is paying off in a tremendous way.

Mid-year Data

We have recently completed mid-year testing in reading and math. Students in all grades have demonstrated significant gains on both the Scholastic Math and Reading Inventory Assessments. The combination of great teaching and a close look at student data / progress is helping to ensure every student is moving forward.

Parents of all students in grades 4-6 and select students in grade 7 can ask their teachers for a copy of the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) report. Scholastic Math Inventory (SMI) reports are available for students in grades 4,5 and select students in grades 6/7. These reports can provide parents with information detailing how children are progressing based on national norms.

How can you help your child work towards proficient / advanced?

The children that are testing in the proficient and advanced categories are typically the students reading the most books and completing all of their homework assignments. They also tend to have a growth mindset. Watch this video for more info - click HERE.

Surrounding your child with books and limiting distractions (phones, TV, ipads, etc...) are two critical things parents can do to encourage more reading. Also, with TenMarks and Lexia, we now have two very powerful tools that can move students quickly between categories so making sure students are completing their work on these platforms is also very important.

Geography Bee Excitement!

Each year, Mrs. Durkee facilitates a geography bee for students in grades 5,6,7. Our champion this year was Ruwan (grade 7) who took home first place after many rigorous rounds of questions testing her knowledge.
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Volunteer Vikings

We are very lucky to have our group of Volunteer Vikings who continue to put others first and contribute to the community. The Vikings will be spearheading a Dress to Impress Fun Friday this week. Students are encouraged to bring a new or slightly used backpack for the WInthrop Veterans Service Office. Students can also donate $1 to this cause.

See below: We received this wonderful thank you note from a prior Fun Friday that collected MANY pairs of socks and raised $300 for the Crossroads Shelter.

Science Museum

Between the PTO and School Committee funding, each grade is allocated one field trip per year. The fourth grade teachers recognize that these experiences are extremely valuable for students to build background knowledge and also connect positively with school. In this spirit they began campaigning for a trip to the science museum.

With a combination grant from the Winthrop Cultural Society and over $1500 raised through a Book and Bake sale, the fourth grade earned their way to the Science Museum for a second field trip. Thank you to all the parents that helped make this possible!

Below: Parents, teachers, and students came together for a good cause!

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New Teacher Spotlight - Ms. Cumings

This month we celebrate one of our new teachers, Ms. Cumings. Ms. Cumings (no relation!) graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in economics. She then pursued a masterś degree in Education from Lesley University after a brief stint in the business world and realizing she wanted to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. Ms. Cumings joined us after spending one year at Our Ladyś Academy in Waltham. There were over 150 applicants for the fourth grade position and Ms. Cumings was our first pick based on her positive attitude, work ethic, and commitment to kids.

I had a chance to ask her a few questions:

What do you like best about the Cummings School? Hands down it has to be the people. Parents, teachers, and our students have all made me feel very connected to the community. I really enjoy the positive energy, the welcoming atmosphere, and most of all the awesome kids!

What is your favorite subject to teach? I really do not have a favorite but I really love teaching reading. I decided to become an elementary teacher because I hold an affinity for all subject areas and this allows me to share my love of learning.

What do you like to do for fun outside of school?

I enjoy running, swimming, reading, spending time with friends and family. I am also learning how to speak Turkish by taking lessons every Saturday!

What is your favorite book? Some of my favorites are: Because of Winn Dixie, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Gone With the Wind.

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Curriculum Updates

Grade 4

Genre: Persuasive /Informational Text

Students will be able to use reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text and will draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Language Skill: Students will be able to correctly use nouns and pronouns that are in agreement. Use indefinite and relative pronouns correctly (me, him, her; I, he, she)

Writing: Persuasive/ Informational

Math: In math, our fourth grade students are working on adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators.

Grade 5

ELA: Students are working on comparing and contrasting; identifiying cause and effect and building robust vocabulary through StoryTown and a variety of novels.

Writers' Workshop: Students are continuing their work on their persuasive essays. They are developing strong stances, supporting their stances with evidence and counterarguments.

MATH: Students are working on division of decimals, patterns and rules of divisibility.

Science: Some classes are working on weather and chemistry. Other classes will begin weather and changes in ecosystems after February vacation.

Social Studies: Most classes are finishing the Native American unit and moving onto Explorers and reasons for early exploration.

Grade 6


In 6th grade math, we will be finishing our study of ratios with percent, including finding percent of a number, discounts, sales tax and interest. We will be moving into evaluating, writing and simplifying expressions and equations.

Social Studies:

We are continuing our study of Ancient Egypt in Grade 6 Social Studies. We will be exploring pyramids, pharaohs, mummification and hieroglyphics over the next few weeks building toward our celebration of Egyptian culture, Egypt Day.


Students have begun reading the novel,The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Students continue to discuss, review, and identify the use of figurative language and structure of a story from previous units this year. This novel is used in conjunction with the Ancient Egypt unit being taught in Social Studies.


Students are beginning to practice identifying different minerals by testing the different properties of minerals which include color, hardness, luster, streak and magnetism, to name a few. Students are also beginning to explore the three main groups of rocks and how they form on and below the surface of the Earth.

Grade 7


In seventh grade mathematics we are currently solving one-step equations with rational numbers and hope to start solving two step equations before February break. After break, we will be diving into writing two step equations and applying them to the real world. We will then move onto inequalities before we jump into a unit of geometry. In the accelerated class, we are finishing up our work on surface area and volume on three dimensional solids before we finally get into an exciting unit of statistics! We are still assigning TenMarks weekly and your student should be working on those assignments at home.

In 7th grade geography, the various classes are learning about physical, political, and human geography from regions all over the globe!


In Miss Sarnelli’s English classes, students are writing for various tasks and purposes. At the end of January, students wrote an essay that analyzed the development of themes. At the beginning of February, Presently, students are writing a narrative. After February break, students will begin a unit centered on poetry.


The 7th grade is ending our unit on Human Body Systems and entering our unit on Cells. This unit involves identifying the structure and function of cells and their organelles. Endosymbiosis as a major contributor to the evolution of life on Earth is an overarching concept. Our microscope activities will be performed during this unit, as well.

The Science club will be trained in CPR on Tuesday the 23rd, and there will be a viewing of The Martian on Feb. 29th for Science Movie Monday.


Students in Mr. Mastrangelo's 5th grade celebrated Martin Luther King's birthday with a performance of "The Dream of Martin King" in Mrs. Liminaś music class, complete with sign language! Watch the video HERE.


4th Grade - In January, the 4th grade focused on story telling. We utilized realistic fiction - which is something they are also studying in Writer's workshop - to create a collaborative story. Each student added 1 sentence to the tale. This month we are taking our realistic fiction story and collaboratively creating a script. Students will experiment with writing dialogue and stage directions. We will focus on writing for performance rather then writing something to be read.

5th Grade - In pairs, students have been creating Alien Characters. They've designed what they look like and created biographies for each. Through out the month of February students will be writing and performing monologues written from their Alien Character's perspective.

6th Grade - (Days 1-3) In small groups students will be writing, rehearsing, and performing sketch comedy scenes, similar to Saturday Night Live. (Days 4-6) Using stage directions and theatre terminology, students will be blocking, rehearsing, and performing small scripts that where assigned to them. Emphasis is placed on performance skills such as cheating out, and keeping the actors visible.

7th Grade - (Days 1-3) Students are exploring creating scenes with a central conflict; as part of their study, we will learn stage combat techniques and how to make a fake fight look convincing. At the end of the month students will create and perform stage combat scenes. (Days 4-6) Through out February students will be writing, rehearsing, designing, and performing a puppetry show based on a well known Nursery Rhyme. Students will create "stick puppets" for their performances.


Seventh graders are working on projects that are inspiring their creativity to shine. Some have started 3D design projects which explore the careers of freelance artists and designers by creating proposals for costumed mascots. Others are working on paintings and drawings emphasizing movement or motion as the subject matter.

Some sixth graders are applying what they learned in their abstract art presentations from their last unit, by developing their own abstract architecture collagraph prints. Other classes are exploring gesture, building figurative sculptures.

Fifth graders created a collection of beautiful collages incorporating both reflection and rotation symmetry. They are now building on their one-point perspective drawing skills.

Fourth graders did a great job finishing their “A Giant Comes to Town” cityscapes and will now be starting a unit exploring insect anatomy as they build insect sculptures.

Mr. Curleyś Corner

How can students can improve their organization at home?

Many children struggle with organizational skills. Here's a great article on ways parents can help their child develop strategies to improve their organization.