Letter from Claire - December 7

December 7, 2015

Dear Families,

We were so happy to see so many people attend Relative and Special Friends Day. It is a highlight of the year and it truly exemplifies what makes our school such a caring and special community.

Big shout and thank you to our organizers for planning such an extraordinary event and to all the RSF volunteers who make this such a huge success.

At our school leadership team meeting this past week, we discussed half-day Fridays, started planning an event for January (you will be receiving a link for a survey for your input on future workshops), new date for Arts Festival, an update on foreign language committee and respectful ways to speak to all adults at our school.  The minutes of the SLT meeting will be posted to our website soon under the get involved widget.

I went to a principal conference this week at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and one of the speakers; Stephanie Harvey spoke about how passion and wonder are contagious.

How to Foster curiosity:

  • View learning life as an experiment. Quit stigmatizing mistakes. Moonshot thinking, anything is possible. Embrace mistakes. Make moonshot thinking a habit of mind. Above the line mistakes: we are willing to experiment, think and challenge. 

  • Celebrate the questioning and the learning rather than the knowing. Share your own failures. Distinguish between two kinds of failure honest failure and passive failure. Praising effort and attempts.

  • Build time every day for kids to experiment, explore and investigate. Put up a picture of something and write what do you wonder? What do you infer?  Build in time to wonder, genius hour, wonder walls, wonder books, wonder boxes, have a wonder wall, research notebooks.

  • Model your own curiously every day and show that you care about finding answers. 

Share what you are curious about, ask questions, care about finding answers, be awake to new information and revise thinking, confer with others, construct meaning through reading, talking, drawing and writing, be skeptical. 

From the Classroom

Exciting update about our music program: Grades 3rd and 4th are participating in the Carnegie Hall Link Up music program. Students are learning a repertoire of 4 songs, both vocally and with the recorder, and will end with a culminating performance at Carnegie Hall.

Heather from TC was on site this week. We had great conversations around the writing units and evidence of cross collaboration across 6-8 grades. In 6th and 7th grade, use the narrative reading learning progression as a way to push student accountability and student reading work in their readers notebook. Keep having students talking in groups of four and listen in (and assess) for what students are trying on the reading learning progression and a move they are already doing. In 8th grade, keep building on the strong academic partnerships established and teaching into academic conversations in the literary essay writing unit. Use the learning writing progression to have students can assess where they are. 

Best,

Claire