The PRES Press

Principal's Monthly Newsletter, February 2018

A Message from Principal Amy Fishkin

Parent-Principal Coffees

On Tuesday, February 6th, we gathered with K-1 parents for informal coffee and conversation. We discussed the developmental stages of reading, and helped parents understand how to match your children to "just right" books. We answered questions that were on parents' minds. Please join us in the PRES Library for the upcoming Parent-Principal Coffees in the coming weeks...

February 13 - Grades 2-3; 10:00 AM

February 27 - Grades 4-5; 10:00 AM

Getting Ready for Valentine's Day

As we prepare for our Valentine’s Day celebrations, both at home and at school, please be mindful that many of our students at PRES have life-threatening food allergies. Here is a nice article with ideas for alternative activities to celebrate the holiday:

February is American Heart Month

American Heart Month is a federally designated event, during which we raise awareness about ways to keep our hearts healthy. To celebrate American Heart Month, our students will be participating in Jump Rope for Heart in our Physical Education classes. In addition, Nurse Novak will be visiting fifth grade classes to teach students about CPR. You can learn more about American Heart Month by visiting the American Heart Association website:

Assessments - How Teachers Use Them?

Throughout your child's school year, your teacher will be assessing your child's academic progress in multiple ways. Teachers use both formal and informal assessments to measure your child's understanding of curriculum taught and inform future instruction. Informal assessments may include: daily teacher observations, examining student work, and one-on-one conferences with your child. There are 3 types of assessments that we use throughout the year to measure your child's progress:

Pre-assessments - These are assessments that are given prior to a unit of study in order for the teacher to determine what your child already knows about a topic before the topic is taught. This assessment is a diagnostic tool which helps your child's teacher gain a sense of the learning needs in the class.

Formative assessments - These assessments are given throughout a unit of study to help the teacher understand how the students are progressing so the teacher can plan next steps for the whole class, as well as for small groups of students and individuals. These assessments are rarely graded but can provide clear and important feedback that helps determine the next steps in a student's learning. A running record is an example of a formative assessment used to measure ongoing reading progress. A running record is when a teacher listens to a child read and takes notes on the student's accuracy, fluency, and types reading errors made.

Summative assessments - These assessments are used at the end of a unit to determine what students have learned about the subject. These assessments determine the level of mastery a student has achieved and also help students understand areas of continued learning.

The BCSD designates specific assessments periods during the school year to conduct formal assessments to measure a student's current progress in reading, writing and math. Below are the types of assessments given. During your upcoming parent teacher conferences, or throughout the year, you are always welcome to discuss the results of these assessments with your child's teacher.

Reading Assessments - More formal reading assessments are typically given in the Fall (Sept.-Oct.), Winter (Feb.-March), and Spring (May-June). Examples of reading assessments used by teachers include: AimsWeb, DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), BAS (Benchmark Assessment Systems), and the Maze (grades 2-5). In grades K-1, additional fluency and phonemic awareness assessments are used to assess students' knowledge of letters and sounds. These reading assessments provide the teacher with information about a student's reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.

District Math Assessments - Our BCSD math assessments, based on the Math in Focus program, assess students' understanding of math concepts taught in grades K-5. These math assessments are given three times a year, in November, February, and June. These assessments provide your child's teacher with information about the concepts that are mastered or still developing for your child.

Writing Assessments - Throughout the year, your child will be immersed in learning three different genres of writing: narrative, informational, and opinion. The students will be given a pre-assessment and summative assessment to determine their level of understanding of the writing components taught, including lead, ending, writing craft, elaboration, and writing conventions (spelling, punctuation and grammar).

OLSAT - The OLSAT is an assessment given to all students in third grade, or 4th and 5th grade students who are new to the District. This assessment is required by New York State and measures general academic achievement. This assessment is administered in late Fall.

New York State Assessments - In grades 3-5, students will be given the New York State ELA (English Language Arts) and Math assessments in Spring (April-May). These assessments are designed to measure student achievement of New York State learning standards. These assessments help to determine if a student may need additional academic intervention.

Teachers are Learners Too!

Teachers Engage in Professional Development Opportunities at PRES

Ever wonder what teachers are doing in the hours before and after your children arrive at school? Many hours throughout the school year, and during the summer, are spent engaging teachers in professional development. Through book clubs, professional readings, studying research of effective instructional practices, and examining student work together, your child's teacher is working on continually improve his/her instructional practices. This year, our PRES teachers are involved in a variety of professional learning opportunities including:

  • Book Study: Choice Words, by Peter Johnston - This book helps us examine how our everyday language in the classroom can be pivotal in developing independent, strategic thinkers.
  • Book Study: No More Meltdowns, by Jed Baker - This book helps parents and educators to understand how to handle challenging behaviors and how to prevent and manage emotional meltdowns.
  • How's It Going? Making the Most of Writing Conferences - Using Carl Anderson's book, How's It Going?, as well as tutorial videos, teachers are learning strategies and practices to enhance our writing conferences, when we meet one-on-one with students to help them further develop their ideas, writing craft, and conventions as young writers.
  • Making Inclusion Inclusive - Teachers are discussing the challenges and opportunities that exist when creating inclusive learning environments for the range of learners in our classrooms. We are learning how to incorporate the five “co-teach” models from Marilyn Friend’s Guide to Co-teaching.
  • Integrating the Visual Arts into the Classroom - Teachers are learning how to integrate the visual arts into the curriculum in order to tap different learning modalities and enhance the learning experience through the use of creative techniques, habits and behaviors.
  • And more!

Five Ways to Keep Your Child Learning During the Vacation

As you prepare for the February break ahead, if you are taking a trip, visiting friends and family, or curling up on the couch, here are a few tips that can help you keep your child engaged in learning during the school vacations:

1. Read, Read, Read - Whether you are staying home or traveling, pull out a few favorite books that your children enjoy along with you. Have your child read to you, a sibling, or a grandparent. Have your child enjoy reading a book together as a family. Curl up with a good book while your child reads alongside you. It's important for your child to see you as a reader and see how readers spend time with books, magazines, or newspapers in their everyday lives.

2. Make lists, write thank you notes, or keep a journal - Have your child keep a journal of his/her favorite activities during the vacation. Start by telling stories as a family about the things you did together. Say to your child, remember when we went to Grandma's house, let's retell that story together. What happened first? Next? Last? Storytelling and engaging in sequencing, recalling details, using precise language to articulate a narrative story is an important part of your child's language development and writing development. Have your child write thank you notes to family members who gave them gifts during the holidays. Have your child write a list of the things she'd like to do during the vacation.

3. Play a game - When there is downtime at home, play a board game with your family. Many board games are designed to help your child work on literacy skills, math skills, problem solving, and critical thinking. Consider a family game night or time together away from screens to enjoy a board game together.

4. Visit a local museum - During this time off, consider taking your child to a museum, concert, or local attraction. Students can learn about history, their community, and the arts by attending local events.

5. Keep routines going - While there will certainly be changes in plans throughout the week off, students thrive on routine and gain comfort when they can predict what is coming next. Consider making a calendar of the events of the vacation together, so that your child can have some control over the plans for the week. This can also help your younger students work on their calendar skills. Continue normal bedtime routines, math fact practice, and reading routines so that your child continues to sharpen these skills. The child who comes back from break having read everyday is in a much better position to continue to make reading progress than the student who has not read at all. This will help your child with the re-entry back to school.

Greening Committee is Helping PRES Go Green!

Message from the PRES Greening Committee...

The PRES Greening Committee would like to invite you to participate in our school-wide effort to reduce the use of plastic water bottles in our school. Many other schools have taken similar steps, and we hope you will look over our ‘Water Bottle Fact Sheet’ if you have any questions about why we believe this is an important action not only for the environment, but also to build on the core C.A.R.E. values that are so effectively promoted (and enacted!) by our school.

With funds raised by the sale of reusable S’well water bottles, the Greening Committee has been able to purchase 20 polycarbonate pitchers from a restaurant supply store which will be distributed to classrooms. It is our hope that teachers will begin using these pitchers for classroom events (they are very lightweight and durable, so the kids can easily fill them up at the filtered water stations), along with paper cups. We have a source for cups, but parents who might have signed up to bring in plastic water bottles in the past could also sign up to bring in paper cups from a local store. Over time, we hope that kids who have them will simply use their water bottles from home, so that even the paper cups would be more of the exception than the rule. We thank you in advance for taking this important step for our planet and our kids!

The PRES Greening Committee.


POUND RIDGE students, parents, and teachers,

do you love and C.A.R.E. about our beautiful planet?

We invite you to join us in taking a stand to reduce the use of plastic water bottles!

Why is bottled water a concern? Here are just a few reasons…

  • Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. And that’s not even including the oil used for transportation!

  • Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles but only recycled 38. And recycling itself —while a great practice in so many ways— requires plenty of energy and creates carbon emissions.

  • Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than one billion dollars worth of plastic – are wasted each year.

  • The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes.

  • Ditching bottled water keeps Mother Earth and your wallet green.

Challenge yourself to avoid plastic water bottles so you won’t need to contribute to the plastic bottle problem that plagues our environment!

Stay Connected!

If you haven't yet joined the BCSD Facebook page, please join us to view weekly posts from PRES. Bedford Facebook page link:

Also visit our PRES school website: for local news. Click on the double arrows at the bottom of our homepage to see PRES News. Enjoy our latest event, the Grade 3 African Drumming and Dancing program, with artist-in-residence, Mrs. Marion Archer:

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