Principal's June Newsletter

A.T. Cummings 2015

Important Upcoming Dates

June 9th - PTO meeting at 6:30PM.

June 10th - Plimoth Plantation field trip Grade 5.

June 10th - Statehouse Field Trip Grade 4 (sponsored by Speaker DeLeo).

June 10th - Spring Band Concert 7PM (High School Auditorium).

June 16th - Step up Day (all grades move up one grade for an hour).

June 18th - Incoming Fourth Grade information night, 6PM.

June 19th - Field Day Grades 4/5.

June 19th - Guest Speaker Sean Stellato (Grades 6/7).

June 22nd - Field Day Grade 6.

June 23rd - Field Day Grade 7.

June 24th - Gilbane Construction STEM Presentation (All grades).

June 25th - Awards Ceremony (Gr. 4 - 8:45 AM, Gr. 6 - 9:45 AM, Gr. 5 - 1PM, Gr. 7 - 2PM).

June 26th - Last Day of School - Early Release.

School Pride Night Success!

Thanks to the hard work of so many students, teachers, and parents, we were able to pull off a tremendous night of celebrating everything positive about the ATC. With over 700 parents and students attending both the tri-fold display and the talent show, the turnout demonstrated how involved and supportive our community is. The judges made some very hard decisions with Molly Girard (3rd place), Connor Clarke (2nd place), and Lucy Childs (1st place) taking home awards. There were also two spotlight awards that went to the gymnastics group (Megi Zogasi, Emily Rodriguez, Brandi DiCicco, Mary O'Donnell) and Adrian Rincon, a talented hoola-hooper.

Another congratulations to the winning tri-fold display created by Arlette Ordonez, Sage D'Amelio, Katherine Silva, Zoe Pesiri, and Cathy Ospina. The theme was Feminism and the Dress Code. There were many strong tri-fold displays highlighting everything from the new school building to the literacy initiative this year.

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Preventing the "Summer Slide"

Three times per year, we progress monitor our students with various literacy and math assessments that provide us with in-depth knowledge as to whether or not our instruction is showing clear and measurable gains in student achievement. Using this data to guide our lesson planning and curriculum development, we have been able to see significant progress this school year in all areas. With the summer quickly approaching, we have taken great strides to prepare some engaging math and reading activities for students to maintain this growth over the summer. These will be provided to students on the last day of school.

While recognizing that summer is a time for exploration, rest, and renewal, we want to ensure that students maintain the momentum that has been established this year. Here are some quick tips for keeping your students on track over the break so they are prepared to excel in their next grade:

1. Read! Fill your home with books and model reading in front of your children. Spend time reading to them and or with them each day (yes! even the teenagers). Take trips to the local library and research some of the latest books that may engage your child. To maintain or advance your child's literacy skills this summer, turn off the phones, tablets and TV and carve out time to just read.

2. Explore! New England offers so many exciting and low-cost options for day trips that will provide your family with a wealth of memories and enrichment opportunities. A travel journal is an excellent way to document these experiences while promoting literacy. Here are my top ten favorite locations for a summer rendezvous:

  • Boston Harbor Islands offer a variety of day trips and affordable overnight camping experiences that will be sure to leave a lasting impression. Check out for more information.
  • Walden Pond is an amazing place to spend the day swimming, hiking, and enjoying a picnic by the water. There is a reason Thoreau chose to spend a year of his life in solitude here. Although we are so lucky to live by the ocean, sometimes it is a nice change of pace to check out some freshwater. Get more information here.
  • Crane's Beach - Hands down one of the nicest beaches around, Crane's Beach offers mile and miles of white sandy beach and a sheltered inlet. There is a great farm on the way called Russell Orchards that offers a petting zoo and gigantic pigs that are always a hit!
  • Swan Boats - This classic adventure is a must-do summer bucket list item.
  • Freedom Trail - As long as we are on the topic of Boston, experiencing the local history that brings thousands of people from around the country here all summer long is a must-do for any New Englander.
  • Halibut Point - If you enjoy a nice hike down to the water with a lot of history and scenery along the way, Halibut Point is where it's at. This a terrific place to explore and picnic by the ocean.
  • Taza Chocolate Factory - Somerville has recently become a hub for entrepreneurs and small businesses. One of these thriving companies is Taza Chocolate. Factory tours are a wonderful rain day activity on a summer day and for $6 / person, it's a pretty good deal. More information HERE.
  • Family Film Festival - Sponsored by Magic 106.7, there will be a litany of free movies offered at the Prudential Center this summer. Check out this link for more information.
  • Portsmouth, NH - One of my all-time favorite locations to visit in the summer or the winter is Portsmouth, NH. Although New Hampshire may have the shortest stretch of coast, it makes up for it with this historic city. U.S.S. Albacore, Strawberry Banke, the farmer's market, or the local forts all make this a trip worth the drive.
  • Sandy Point Reservation - Another trip that will take you a little north, Sandy Point is an incredible refuge for a day of building sand castles and enjoying time away from the crowds. Get there early because on a hot day the small parking lot fills up by 8! Afterwards, get some ice cream from Gram's and explore the brick-lined streets of Newburyport.

Year of Science!

Students in sixth and seventh grade have been integrating some of our new hands-on curriculum units with great success. Feedback from students and teachers has been extremely positive and engagement levels have been through the roof. By allocating a line item in our budget towards the science curriculum, we have been able to purchase these units incrementally. The plan for next year is to purchase more hands-on units for all grade levels to ensure our students continue to have consistent, authentic learning experiences in the area of science. For some information about the program we are using, check out this link.
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Technology Update

This year the ATC has embraced the Google Education initiative and thus we have been able to increase student technology proficiency in a significant way. The slideshow presentations, Google docs, research activities, and accessibility that has resulted from this technology has benefited student learning and propelled our students on their 21st century learning mission. We are proud to celebrate that our seventh grade students will be going to the high school next year with a solid foundation for researching topics, creating presentations, and conveying information in multiple formats. We are also proud that they have learned about digital citizenship and the right way to interact online.

Next year we hope to integrate even more technology and professional development opportunities for our teachers to learn and implement more programs that supplement direct classroom instruction. We have high standards for parent communication and look forward to continuing to experiment with programs such as Remind, Class Dojo, our own Weebly websites, and other tools to make our classrooms more collaborative. As always, parent feedback is extremely important.

This summer we will be promoting TenMarks, our online math program, to boost student math learning and avoid summer regression.

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New Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Donovan

This month we celebrate one of our new teachers, Ms. Donovan. As a new fourth grade teacher, Ms. Donovan has quickly acclimated to the ATC and has been a terrific addition to our faculty. Dually licensed in regular and special education, Ms. Donovan is a highly educated professional dedicated to the learning of all students. Her student teaching in Needham and graduate degree from Lesley University allowed her a solid foundation for entering the ATC. She has brought with her Responsive Classroom techniques and an eagerness to learn from the experienced teachers that surround her. We are lucky to have her at the Cummings School!
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Curriculum Updates

Grade 4

In math, our fourth grade students are working to understand decimal notation for fractions. They will be exploring, interpreting, representing, and describing decimal fractions. Using tools such as decimal squares and number lines, students will build relationships between decimal numbers and their corresponding fractions. In Reading students are taking the end of the year assessments which will be passed onto the fifth grade teachers. In Writing, the students are learning how to write expository and informative essays.

Grade 5

In ELA, students are studying various novels including: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Cay, Turtle in Paradise, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Hatchet and Maniac Magee, Loser and Whipping Boy. In writing, teachers have begun implementing the Writer's Workshop model with the introduction of personal narratives. In math, students are focused on graphing. Social studies units have been targeting Colonial America and the Revolutionary War.

Grade 6

In Math the students are exploring topics such as integers and probability in order to prepare for Grade 7. They will also be reviewing Grade 6 topics to prepare for the Math Final. In Science, students are starting a new unit on waves using diagrams and models to show light and mechanical waves are reflected, absorbed and transmitted through various materials.

In ELA, students are working on a Greek myth unit in preparation for Greece Days, working on their final book report and preparing for independent summer reading. In Social Studies, students are finishing up their unit on Ancient Greece, working on a Greek folder project which includes a research component, as well as preparing for the upcoming Greece Days. Social Studies classes will finish the year with a mini-unit on Ancient Rome.

Grade 7

In 7th grade mathematics, we are finishing up our unit on statistics. We will be looking at population and samples and bias statistical questioning and result reporting. We will also be researching famous mathematicians and their influence on the mathematical world and also, the world in general. We will then be starting some of the eighth grade curriculum, which will help prepare them and provide them with a glimpse of some topics they will encounter next year. We will be starting such eighth grade topics like exponents, radical and radical operations, and real numbers (rational and irrational numbers).

In 7th grade geography we are wrapping up our final units on the geography, culture, and people in different continents, countries, and regions of the world. We will end June with a variety of cumulative assignments, assessments, and projects to see what information was retained after our long trip around the globe this year!

The 7th graders are wrapping up their unit on Genetics and moving into Evolution by Natural Selection in science class. Students have earned their Microscope License and have performed a plant and animal cell lab. All students will be taking a common final on the last week of the school year.

7th grade Wolves are starting work on Final Exam Projects in ELA. Students can write, draw, present, create a slideshow, create a poster, and more to show what they have learned this year. We are also finishing up our class books, which include Plague, the 4th book in the Gone series by Michael Grant and Ashes by Ilsa Bick

For the month of June, the 7th grade Falcon's ELA class will continue to read Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare; students analyze the development of character traits, themes and symbolism. Students will wrap up the year with a Socratic Seminar.

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Parent volunteers were instrumental to our book fair success!