State of the Union: Fall 2014

Hello to everyone on this stormy Wednesday.

I want to share with you all the goodness that surrounds the children, and all of us, as we near the end of our first term together at BSI this academic year.  It’s been a productive and fruitful seven weeks and I’d like to outline some of the highlights here for you now.

Kindergarten: Our little guys are up and running without much of a hitch.  Gone are the first week jitters and tears, replaced by smiles and earnest looks of wonder and awe as our youngest charges immerse themselves in the world of books, labeling, counting, grouping and building community. We look forward to seeing Kindergarten families this Friday, October 24th in classrooms at 8:30a.m. for Family Friday, followed by a math discussion with Marcy Mattera, our K-3 math coach, in the auditorium at 9:15.

First Grade: Our veteran youngsters are deep into wondering about the books in their baggies.  “What kind of thinking are you doing as you read?  What makes you think that?  What do you wonder about?  How do you know that?” are all questions that frame the inquiry work around their reading while in the back of their minds, they’re holding on to ideas for their own writing.  Addition facts are swirling around in there, too, as fact fluency takes front stage in their math lives.  We are looking forward to seeing First Grade families this Friday, October 24th in classrooms at 8:30a.m. for Family Friday, followed by a math discussion with Marcy Mattera, our K-3 math coach, in the auditorium at 9:15.

Second Grade: Busy with number models dancing in their heads, our second graders are making sense of math problems that are simply not straightforward!  When they are not busily mastering their *personal* spelling words, they are considering the richness and depth that picture books offer and thinking about their own writer’s notebooks and how they’ll use them this year and what that will mean.  They’re wandering the wilds of Template Island and thinking about the interdependence that all tribes have on one another.  We are looking forward to seeing Second Grade families this Friday, October 24th in classrooms at 8:30a.m. for Family Friday, followed by a math discussion with Marcy Mattera, our K-3 math coach, in the auditorium at 9:15.

Third Grade: Third grade is wrapping up a writerly life unit, which they will celebrate on “Together Thursday” with their first published pieces.  Next up in writing: editorial, where they will learn how to express (and support!) their opinions in a topic of their choice.  In Reading, the students will move on to a character study where they will also be reading in partnerships.  In Math, as you know from the informative post from last week, the students are wrapping up a unit on subtraction and they’re set to begin an early multiplication unit. Our first ever “Together Thursday” for Third Grade will be on Thursday, October 30th, where you’ll meet in your child’s classroom at 8:30a.m. followed by a discussion at 9:15 with Sara Inbar and Christy Stewart in the auditorium on writer’s notebooks at BSI.

Fourth Grade: Our fourth graders are taking a serious look at their writer’s notebooks to see where they can narrow their focus and broaden the details they’re writing in their entries.  Moving away from diary-like entries, we’re encouraging them to use narrative elements — dialogue, action, description of character through thought and action — to do the work of storytelling for them. They are exploring the distributive property in multiplication and thinking about *systems* as they learn about the Native Americans of New York and begin to think about technology then and now.  Our first ever “Together Thursday” for Fourth Grade will be on Thursday, October 30th, where you’ll meet in your child’s classroom at 8:30a.m. followed by a discussion with Sara Inbar and Christy Stewart at 9:15 in the auditorium on writer’s notebooks at BSI.  Ms. Cintula returns next week on Wednesday, October 29th!

Fifth Grade: In fifth grade, the students have begun to dig deep into their reading and writing identities and just wrapped up a unit entitled “Writerly Life.”  Now, they are embarking on a study of personal essay which begins with several weeks of inquiry and close reading with texts that exist in the real world.  Remember, this work happens not only with Joanna, but in Independent Reading and Library time as well.  Check with your child to review their daily schedule.   After finishing a unit in math on factors, the children are working on shoring up their multiplication toolbox. In “Songwriting through History” with Ms. Griner, the 5th graders are exploring Westward Expansion through song and close reading.  With Mr. Michael in Media Literacy, the students are about to begin a yearlong Human Rights study, which begins with an exploration of the Dust Bowl and will culminate in a trip to Washington, DC in May. This year, we are instituting a new family event in the 5th and 6th grade classrooms called “Roundtables” where you’ll be invited in to share with your child about what they’re learning.  We are in the midst of scheduling our first *Roundtable*, hopefully for the first week in December, so stay tuned!

Sixth Grade: In ELA, the students have just completed an important unit that lays the foundational work of delving more deeply into complex texts.  The importance of using a writer’s notebook as a developmental tool for gathering and nurturing their own complex ideas is certainly foremost on everyone’s mind.  In Social Studies, the work has centered on geography of the Eastern Hemisphere, where the students have been exploring maps of different types, purposes and scales, navigating increasingly complex texts like Speaking of Maps.  Remember, this work happens not only with Stephanie, but in Independent Reading and Library time as well.  Check with your child to review their daily schedule. In Math, the children have expanded their whole number computation understanding to decimals while making connections to the metric system, kilowatts, and watts.  Last year, students were introduced to long division and this year, they’ve been working on mastery of that.  They continue to work diligently on problem solving to set the foundation for further exploration in other rational numbers.  This year, we are instituting a new family event in the 5th and 6th grade classrooms called “Roundtables” where you’ll be invited in to share with your child about what they’re learning.  We are in the midst of scheduling our first *Roundtable*, hopefully for the first week in December, so stay tuned!

Physical Education: We are ALL Mighty Milers!  Stay tuned for more news as the year progresses.

Please, check all the class blogs and the Art, Science, PE/Health and Media Literacy pages, they are chock full of information.

PTCs: Maryana, or your child’s classroom teacher will reach out soon to schedule your parent teacher conference for November 13.  Remember, we have family engagement time built into our schedule for every Tuesday morning from 8:00 until 8:30; many teachers have had 10-minute parent meetings and phone conferences since September.  If there’s something you’re concerned about, your child’s classroom teacher or homeroom/advisory teacher can help sort it out, just reach out!

Again, the format this year will be 10-minute conferences for K-4 families with the classroom teacher and 10 minute conferences with your child’s homeroom/advisory teacher in 5th and 6th grades.  The UFT contract allows 270 minutes for conferences — which means that in every case, we are already borrowing from personal teacher time to hold conferences — in some cases 32 conferences in all — so availing yourself of that family engagement time for any concerns throughout the year is a smart way to go.

Science and Art conferences will be limited to those students who are not meeting grade standards, so Maryana will be in touch about those.

PTO Meetings: Tonight promises to be an engaging evening with special guests Toi Ferguson and Sara Calleja (formerly Inbar!) on Tribes and Responsive Classroom at BSI and the important role social emotional learning plays in your child’s education.  Don’t miss it!

all best,

Donna

Curriculum Night Tomorrow!

Hello on this rainy Wednesday morning.

Wanted to let you know that the teachers will put their notes up from curriculum night on class blogs and that we prefer that there is no filming on curriculum night.
Also, Anna will send out a schedule later today with exact room numbers and times of where to be when, but I will be meeting with 5th grade families from 5:30 until 6:00 in the auditorium to review the Middle School Application Process.
Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow evening.
all best,
Donna

A school grows in Brooklyn

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