Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Principal Johndrow's October Message

As I greeted students getting off the bus on the first day of school it became increasingly obvious that the vast majority of students were looking forward to getting back to school. They were genuinely happy, chatting and laughing with their friends, comparing which teacher each had, and even talking about what they were looking forward to in school. Throughout the days that followed I made visits to every classroom and it amazes, but does not come as a surprise, that all of the classrooms were in full swing looking like they had been in school for a couple of weeks.

Fall has arrived. Driving into school, (I admit I have a beautiful drive in) the leaves are making huge progress turning into their beautiful colors. I noticed it again when I’m out watching the soccer games. October brings field trips to the firehouse, flu clinics, soccer games and WINGS for 7th and 8th graders. Already bulletin boards in the hallway and classrooms are filling up with student work.

Very likely you are hearing Mrs. Moran’s name a lot, She teaches enrichment classes in grades 1-5. This year we are delighted that in addition to her enrichment classes she is co-teaching at least one science class a week in grade 1-5. If you want to know about Monarch butterflies - ask a primary student!

I’d like to welcome Miss Erin Maloney who will be teaching fourth grade for the rest of the year while Mrs. Ramsdell is on maternity leave. Miss Maloney is an experienced teacher and integrates music into her language arts.

By now I’m sure that you have gotten into a routine for homework completion at “your house”. A quiet time, a special place, and your encouragement are what are required for students to develop good homework work ethics. Mrs. Dee Trumbull, our new reading teacher in grades 5-8, has good advice for the beginning of school.

PreSchool News

By Ginger Lusa

It is another new school year and we held some activities to help our preschool families make the transition to Ashford School.

On August 20th we welcomed our preschool families to Ashford School for a Playground Night. The children met their teachers and some new friends and took a short ride on a school bus.

On August 27th we held our Preschool Open House. The children had an opportunity to visit their classroom for a half hour and explore the materials in the different learning centers and get to know some new friends.

The preschoolers came to school on their own on Friday, August 28th and we are off to a great start!

Eighth Grade Update

By Jen Lindsay

As some of the “newness” wears off on this 2009-2010 school year, the eighth graders are settling in to their role as the leaders of the school. We would like to a take few minutes to let you know what we are doing and getting ready for as October arrives.

In language arts, students have finished a parts of speech review unit. This always proves to be a successful unit as we are reminded of the eight parts of speech and enjoy creating products that actually display our learning. Upcoming units include persuasive writing, research writing and the novel, Good Night Mr. Tom. Be sure to ask your student about the plot—it is a good one!

Eighth grade social studies began with a civics unit in which students review the United States Constitution and its impact on the country. The Civil War and Reconstruction are upcoming units. Stay tuned for information about the immigration project and class elections!

In math, students begin the year working with the Geometer’s Sketchpad. Students are also working on writing clear math explanations. Following this, they will use spreadsheets to explore square roots and sets of numbers. Watch for units on coordinate geometry, probability, percents and ratios, and the Pythagorean theorem this year.

Biodiversity conservation is the topic in science as the year begins. Eighth graders look first at bacteria, protists, fungi and plants. Areas of study include how these are classified, and how we can conserve biodiversity. Next, students will study the costs and benefits of genetically modified crops.

In addition to these classes, students continue to learn and explore in health, art, Spanish or reading and physical education. In October we all come together for two amazing days at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to step out of our comfort zones and accomplish things we did not know were possible at W.I.N.G.S.

Music Department News

This year, all Band and Chorus members will be required to wear black slacks/skirts and white button down shirts or polo shirts for the concerts. Jazz Band already requires this and many other schools do, too. We think it looks very nice and gives the performers an added sense of unity. We want to give parents plenty of advance notice of this change.

We would like to start a "uniform bank" of slacks and shirts that families have outgrown to provide to students who need them. If you have such items, please drop off clean items in the music room, any time. If your child needs to borrow a uniform, please contact either Mrs. Porri or Miss Dotson to make arrangements, well in advance of the Dec. 10th Concert.

Starting Off the Year Stress Free

For many students, starting the year means new teachers, schedules, and new friends. In order to minimize your family’s stress level throughout the year, here are a few suggestions for you and your elementary and/or junior high school kids:

1. Get back in the routine. Have you eased back to the structure of the school nights by reestablishing reading and homework routines, mealtimes, and appropriate bedtimes with your kids?

2. Set educational goals NOW at the beginning of the year. Whether your student(s) is striving for an A, handing in homework on time, or preparing for a test – setting goals can help set the routine for the new school year.

3. Develop a relationship with your child’s teacher or teachers. Take the time to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher(s). They are the best source for information about scholastic and/or behavioral matters and can recommend ways to help your child resolve any difficulties he or she is having.

4. Create a homework routine and place. Choose and agree on a time and place that is free of distractions. Have tools such as dictionaries, calculators, erasers and extra paper available. A place without TV, computer or electronic devices can limit distractions.

5. Stay on schedule. Insure your student uses his/her planner to record assignments and due dates on a daily basis. Students new to junior high may need extra support in keeping track of multiple subjects, homework, teachers, classrooms and books. Planning ahead and developing a workable study schedule is a worthwhile skill that can be used now and later on high school or even college. Good organization limits late nights completing homework assignments or cramming for tests. This can greatly reduce your student’s anxiety about school.

6. What can you do to encourage learning on vacation breaks or at home? One way is to involve your student in real, authentic experiences that will use and reinforce reading, writing, and math skills taught in school. For example, if your family is thinking about possible family day trips—your older kids could use a map, plan the miles, estimate the costs of gas, food expenses and even possible fun activities.

Another idea is to ask your older child or teen to compare and contrast information before purchasing an item and to write why a particular item is better.

Lastly, following directions on a How-To project with you can also help kids develop critical thinking skills while also having interaction and fun at home.

7. Do you have any ideas you could share with others at our school? Let me know.