APS Quarterly Bulletin
Leadership Advisory Board Update
Teaching and Learning Council
When the Teaching and Learning Council reconvened this school year, they began their work by reviewing the previous years goals and choosing a goal that would create the largest impact on teaching and learning throughout the district. The council agreed that our Exit Outcomes needed an overhaul with actionable steps to measure them. Teaching and Learning turned to the Great Schools Partnership to help take on this year long task. With this guidance, the council was able to construct a working draft of our new Exit Outcomes/ Portrait of a Graduate that will clarify the skills and attributes we want our graduates to have as they enter work, college, and/or the military. The council believes that if we clarify the outcomes that all students should have when they graduate and actively teach and assess these skills and characteristics, our graduates will be better prepared for a lifetime of learning, work and community life. Along with the draft they had created plans for community outreach to gain community insight on what they feel students need to attain these goals. On December 5th council members presented this draft at the Be Heard Coalition as an open forum with great success.
Attleboro Community Academy
A group of ACA students have just finished their first book in a partnership with the Attleboro Public Library and 35 other libraries and high schools across the country. As part of the Great Stories Club series on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation, teen librarian Meghan Witherall and ACA students read and discuss stories that explore questions of race, equity, identity, and social justice. The books — curated for the theme Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age — include “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas; “X: A Novel” by Ilyashah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon; and “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon. The Attleboro Public Library received a $1200 programming grant and 11 copies of each of the books. The students get to keep the books when the series is over.
The book club meets twice a month and is voluntary. Every student in the school was invited to join the group. More students wanted to join then could be accomodated. The number of students was capped at 11, as determined by the parameters of the grant.
The titles were selected to inspire young people — especially those facing difficult circumstances or challenges — to consider big questions about the world around them and their place in it. The first book, The Hate U Give, provided the context for engaging, insightful, and difficult conversation as the students grappled with the effects of racism and violence in the novel and connections to their experiences. As someone who runs teen book groups at the library, Ms. Witherall marvelled at the dynamic, easy flowing nature of the discussions.
The students are eager to start the next book over winter vacation. As one student told Mrs. Cameron, “this is the first time I have ever read a book that wasn’t for a class. I can’t believe I actually WANT to read!”
Willett Elementary School
During February vacation last school year, we received a call from Pastor Irene Norman of the Salvation Army Church. She inquired about our interest in the Backpack 68 program to assist families in need. Backpack 68 is a program that provides a backpack filled with nonperishable food items for the 68 hours between the end of the school day on Friday until Monday morning. This would begin a partnership with Willett, the Salvation Army and the Boston Area Food Bank. Pastor Norman wrote the grant for the program and it was approved for three years. The first year is fully funded and after that year is up and we will be looking at community partners that may be able to contribute to the program for the remaining two years.
Currently, we are approved for 35 families. Renee Bernier, school adjustment counselor, and Jocelyn Farland, ESL teacher, presented the program at a staff meeting. Staff were asked for recommendations of families that might benefit from the program. Ms. Bernier reached out to these families to glean interest in receiving a backpack filled with non perishable foods each Friday. The Salvation Army fills the backpacks and delivers them each Friday. Each backpack also receives a free age appropriate book for the student and their siblings. Books are donated by the teachers, local churches, and Willett PTO. The backpacks are distributed to the students at the end of the day with a tag that reads. “Please return empty backpacks on Monday”. The Salvation Army picks up the empty backpacks and the cycle is repeated. The response we have received from both students and families has been tremendous. One student reported that “FRIDAY” was his favorite day because they receive the backpack and new book. Currently, we have 22 families participating in the program.
On October 18th, Mayor Heroux and Salvation Army came to kickoff the program as shown in the video below:
What inspires our students to become active in their learning? That is the question we have been exploring in over thirty of our K-6 language arts classes. Teachers and students have been exploring new resources during our program review and pilot in hopes that we will find what will inspire our students to become lifelong readers, strive to understand, discuss, write about complex tests and most importantly...instill in them a thirst for learning. Early indicators in this pilot show that students who have a choice in what they read, are given more time to read authentic texts, and are taught literacy skills at their instructional level are more likely to become active engaged learners. Take a look at some of our students and teachers in action!
Social Emotional Learning
Importance of Self Care as a Teacher
Please read the article below that is in NEA Today by Lindsay Thompson:
Also, please click below to watch Kelly Hopkinson | TEDxNorwichED talk about the importance of self-care:
Brain Based Learning
Have you heard of nomophobia? Do you suffer from this recently identified disorder? Do you know someone who does?
Click the link and take the quiz to find out:
Nomophobia is the fear of being without access to one’s phone, and the greater one’s nomophobia, the more detrimental the proximity of that phone is to learning.
In 2010, YouGov, a research organization, was commissioned by the UK Post Office to look at anxieties suffered by mobile phone users. The study found that nearly 53 percent of cell phone users in Britain are anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/artificial-maturity/201409/nomophobia-rising-trend-in-students
A team of researchers from Iowa State University has developed the test referenced above, which is designed to gauge the degree to which an individual suffers from nomophobia. According to Caglar Yildirim, one of the study’s authors, nomophobia is categorized as a “fear of not being able to use a smartphone” and there are four areas of concern for individuals with nomophobia.
“fear of not being able to communicate”
“fear of losing the connectedness that smartphones allow”
“fear of not being able to access information through smartphones”
“fear of giving up the convenience that smartphones provide.” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nomophobia-smartphone-sep_n_7266468
Physical symptoms which are associated with nomophobia include “increased heart rate and blood pressure, shortness of breath, anxiety, nausea, trembling, dizziness, depression, discomfort, fear, and panic.” either when without access to cellphones or when feeling threatened by the loss of the cellphone. While nomophobia is not, as yet, listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS), there are currently calls for its inclusion in the next addition.
More to come on the impact of cellphones on learning and cognition...