December 1, 2017

Post date: Dec 1, 2017 7:11:49 PM

Dear Parents,

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving Holiday and good quality time with friends and family. The beauty of this time of year is the emphasis on being retrospective on the joys of friends and family. Along with this is the recognition of the passing of time. With this said, I cannot believe we are already in December of the 2017-2018 school year. Time is really flying and it seems as though so much has already happened this school year!

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you one of the posters of the DES School Rules we have posted throughout the building. There are six located throughout the school. The one I am sharing with you is posted right in the entrance to the school where visitors would push the button to be allowed access to the building. We have strategically placed them throughout. The crown jewel of these posters is the one in our common area that is surrounded by ratification sheets signed by both students and staff. It is a powerful statement indeed!

During our pre-Thanksgiving professional development day, we focused on Science competencies. This was an extremely productive day as it was lead by Dr. Gage (SAU 67 Curriculum Director) who reviewed the Next Generation Science Standards with us as well as a brief review of how other states and organizations are constructing their standards. Following this presentation, grade levels went to work aligning their curriculum and creating competencies to follow. This was good work in that it not only created grade level (horizontal) alignment of standards but also created school-wide (vertical) alignment from kindergarten through sixth grade. Although this is hard work, it is very useful and necessary.

By reviewing the Next Generation Science Standards and working on competencies, we are better able to create our own DES curriculum that best meets our needs. Moreover, by creating strong science competencies we are preparing students as well as possible for their ventures outside of DES. Our next step will be to review our social studies competencies then move on to reviewing performance tasks and rubrics for all of our competencies. In conjunction with this, we will be reviewing our schedule to make sure we are allotting the appropriate amount of time for each subject and/or competency. This is an intricate exercise with many moving parts. It is good and useful work that will enhance your child’s education.

On this past Tuesday and Wednesday, I had the good fortune of attending the annual Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference. This is an annual conference on educational technology that runs for four days in late November/early December. I often find this conference to be the most valuable professional development I attend each year. The reason being attendees learn about the various technological tools we can leverage to best meet the needs of each of our learners. For example, virtual reality was a big topic at this last conference. Although this seems very much like science fiction, I can assure you it is not. By utilizing virtual reality, a teacher can take her students on a trip to Mars, the Grand Canyon, King Tut’s Tomb, The Great Barrier Reef, or even in the human vascular system. Our children are no longer limited to the confines of their own classroom. Exciting.

Along with new technologies such as this is the pervasive message of helping students discover their personal learning strengths and leveraging those in order for students to learn most efficiently. Another facet of this is providing student choice in their learning. Student Choice is a large component of Responsive Classroom and there are quite a few technologies out there that create opportunities for student choice. Student choice can be as simple as providing various seating choices when reading or something more complex like using Read/Write Google to speak into a laptop as opposed to writing. In time, I hope we are able to bring more of these various technologies into DES classrooms so students are able to use these tools to find more avenues to their learning. Furthermore, these technologies will provide more tools for each teacher’s toolbox to help facilitate opportunities for learning.

As we are moving more into December, I wanted to remind you that colder weather is setting in. Please make sure your children are wearing warm clothes for recess so they are comfortable and safe while out at recess. We have outdoor recess as long as the “real-feel” temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If it is below 20, we will have an indoor recess for that day. Along with cold weather comes an overflowing lost and found box. If your child loses his or her gloves/mittens and/or hat, chances are they will be in the lost and found box. The lost and found can be found in the community center at the drop off entrance.

In closing, I wanted to remind everyone that the PTO sponsored “Handmade Holiday Workshop” for tomorrow has been canceled. The PTO shared the following information: "We know this is a very busy time of the year for one and all, and for that reason, the Handmade Holiday Workshop for the Children will be canceled this year. We will review this event again in the spring for next December. We hope you have a very Happy, Safe and Bright Holiday Season!"

Dunbarton Elementary PTO.

I hope you all have a restful weekend.


Owen Harrington