Sights and Sounds from the Opening Week of School

Sights and Sounds from the Opening Week of School

At last!  After much planning, preparation and anticipation, the school year is fully under way.  We begin the year with 662 students, including 48 new students in Grades 1-8 and 88 new Kindergarten students. I am extremely pleased to report a positive and smooth opening of school.   Here are a few sights and sounds from our opening week, drawn from my wanderings in grades K-2 and 6-8 (Grades 3-5 next in my travels) and organized by essential elements for establishing productive learning environments.

Relationships & Community Building

  • 1M:  Completing a “Find a Partner Who…” chart (while not talking)
  • 1L:  Writing and drawing hopes and dreams for first grade.
  • 2L:  Engaging in a “Responsive Classroom” inside-outside circle greeting
  • Grade 8 Spanish:  Playing “Two Truths and A Lie” (en Español) with their new teacher.
  • School-wide Olweus Class Meetings:  On Friday morning, the entire school held their first class meeting as part of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.  Some classes engaged in serious discussions about our bullying prevention rules. Other classes engaged in heartfelt discussion about what it means to be kind or empathetic. In others, students engaged in partner interviews as a way to build community and get to know one another.  Weekly class meetings are an important component of the Olweus program. This year, we are scheduling a common time once a month in order to allow all staff members to participate in a class meeting and demonstrate to students that everyone on the staff is involved and cares about having a safe community.

Expectations and Routines

  • Grade 8 Advisory:  Sitting in a circle and discussing the “Common Expectations” for our middle school students.
  • Kindergarten:  Eagerly discovering the variety of engaging materials in their classroom while learning the routines for signing up and changing stations.
  • Grade 6: Listening attentively and asking LOTS of questions as Mrs. Crowley and I reviewed the handbook behavior guidelines in a special assembly.
  • 2G: Earnestly completing an end-of-day cleanup routine to the energizing music of “In the Jungle.”
  • Gr. 8:  Setting up binders and going over the teacher’s grading system.
  • Grade 7 Math:  Completing the daily review routine: “Arithmetic Done Daily” and “Mental Math.”
  • Grade 7 Health:  Establishing expectations for safe discussions.

Meaningful Content

  • Kindergarten Spanish:  In their very first class, playing la caja secreta (secret box) guessing game.  Students listen to clues in Spanish (e.g. orejas grandes or big ears) with accompanying gestures by the teacher and then guess what animal was pictured inside (el elefante or elephant).
  • Gr. 8 English:  Discussing the elements of a writer’s style.
  • 1C and 1F: Beginning a first writing assignment.
  • Gr. 8 Social Studies:  Beginning to explore the causes of the Civil War.
  • 2GR: Engaging in a thought-provoking discussion about “What is math?” before launching into a hands-on activity to construct personal number lines.
  • Grade 6 Social Studies: Making maps of fire drill routes as a fun introduction to thinking about why maps are important and a cartography unit.
  • Grade 7 Science:  Working in groups to brainstorm characteristics of living things.
  • Grade 6 Science:  Designing an investigation to determine how much water is in a carrot.

Priorities for 2013-14

In future columns, Monica Crowley and I will write about our priorities for the coming school year. We have four areas of focus in our school improvement plan:

  1. Safe, Just and Caring Community
  2. Literacy
  3. Differentiated Instruction for 21st Century Learning
  4. A Culture of Inquiry, Innovation, and Continuous Improvement Using Data

If you would like to learn more about these priorities, please join us at the first PTO Meeting of the year (rescheduled to Tuesday, September 24 – 8:00 am).

I look forward to a rewarding new school year together!

Rick Rogers

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