It is that time of year again when we need to double and triple check the year as we write it down. I can assure you I have hit the backspace and/or crossed out the year more than once this past week. From the principal's chair, turning the calendar page from December to January brings about a bit of a flux in the system. Not only must we as a school stay focused on the now as January and February are a great time to move forward in curriculum and keep our eyes on the present. We also must move full steam ahead in the budget process for the 2016-2017 school year as well as prepare for the spring SBAC.
In speaking of the now, at our most recent staff meeting we discussed the data we received from the student portion of the Panorama Survey. As you may recall, students in grades 3-6 took this survey and responded to questions about Grit, Sense of Belonging, Pedagogical Effectiveness and Expectations and Rigor. Our goal in discussing the results was to determine which question results we felt we could address immediately and, in doing so, quickly make an impact. Interestingly enough, it turned out that students explained to us that we don't ask them to explain their answers enough. As we discussed this as a staff, we realized that is an expectation we have of the students, but we may not be expressing this well enough. The staff has set the goal to ensure they ask students to expand upon their answers and "explain their answers". We will be able to measure the effectiveness of this goal by comparing student work and also having the students take the survey again in the spring. The other interesting facet of the Panorama survey is teachers have received their own personal data based on the student responses. As a classroom teacher I would have loved having this! It is sure to affect instruction and provide great feedback for teachers. Both teachers and parents will have an opportunity to complete their own version of the Panorama survey. Stay tuned.
We (the staff) also discussed where we are in the process of preparing for the SBAC in the spring. I can tell you we will most certainly be taking the SBAC at a later date this time around. I believe the extra time for instruction and preparation will be beneficial to both the students and the teachers. We have also taken the step of implementing a typing program (Typing Pal Online) for students to practice their typing skills. The reason we chose Typing Pal Online is students are able to use Chromebooks and can even practice on their own at home as this is a web-based program. We wanted to focus on typing/keyboarding as the SBAC is so keyboard heavy and students did express some frustration in not being as adept as they would like in using the keyboard. We are also working very hard on researching all the available accommodations for the SBAC. A perfect example of this is having the test read passages to students in the areas of math and writing as the subject being tested is not reading, it is either math or writing. In making this accommodation, it is more likely students will have a better understanding of what is being asked of them.
We have also just started the process of reviewing our math program. This is only in its infancy as we have solicited a few publishers to share samples of their program and we will start to create a committee to review these samples. As we do so, we will be working with Bow to ensure we are providing a consistent math experience as our students are going down a parallel path to BMS and BHS along with Bow Elementary students. Although this is a monumental task, it is also exciting as we will be able to ensure we are providing the best programming for our students.
I wanted to remind you of a few recess necessities during the winter months. Students who want to play in the snow must bring their snow gear: hats, gloves/mittens, boots, jackets and snow pants. If students do not have boots and snowpants, they are not able to play in the snow and will need to stay on the black top instead. You may have heard that this week has not been a great recess week. We were unable to get out the first two days as it was below 20 degrees and the past three days, the recess area is covered in a sheet of ice. Due to this, students have been having recess down in the lower parking lot in order to ensure for the least amount of injuries.
Our Music Teacher Allison Campbell as well as Band Director Jeff Jenkins and Strings Teacher Gary Hodges have been hard at work on the winter concerts, which are next week: Thursday, January 14 for Grades 4-6 plus Band, and Friday, January 15 for Grades K-3 plus Strings. Both concerts are at 6:30 pm. Students need to arrive at 6:15 in order for things to be organized prior to 6:30.
Next week you will be receiving a sign-up for Winter Activities, which take place five Friday afternoons starting February 19. If you are choosing to sign your child up for ski or snowboarding lessons at Pats Peak, you must register them by January 14 in order to avoid the late fee. A handout went home this week detailing how to register your child for lessons. Call the office at 774-3181, ext. 201 if you have any questions.
Finally, I wanted to remind you where we are in the budget process as Dr. Cascadden has emailed out to the school community in his most recent community update. I would encourage you to read the update and to also attend the school board budget hearing on February 3rd so you are able to ask any clarifying questions and/or make any comments you would like concerning the budget and our budget goals. I know it is early in the process, but I also wanted to make you aware that the Annual School District Meeting )your opportunity to vote on the school budget) will be held on Saturday, March 5th. You must be in attendance to vote on the budget.
As always, please feel free to contact your child's teacher or any of us in the office if you have any questions or concerns.