Welcome to Elm Hill Primary School
Terry Carter's 2nd Grade Class' Chicks are hatching!
April 29, 2013
It feels good to be back from April break! There is a spring in nearly everyone’s step - young and old - after catching up on rest and enjoying some warmer weather.
We have some amazing happenings at Elm Hill. Miss Holly’s class wrote a letter to Jan Brett author of The Mitten and The Hat, and received a letter back from her! Similarly, Mrs. LeDrew’s class wrote a letter to President Obama and have also heard back!! And, several children from Mrs. Carter’s class have been selected by a pbs.org contest to read their winning stories at a local PBS affiliate!!!
All of these accomplishments will be brought to the school board on May 6th at 6pm. In fact, we are hoping some of the children involved can be there to answer questions of the board members. We are so proud of our students!
We also held our parent forum on improvement at Elm Hill last week. Attendance was nice with about 12 families and eight staff members present. I went through a power point and a video clip that I will post on our webpage. Most of the discussion was question & answer that I will try and summarize here.
Background: As a result of being a “school in need of improvement” the VT Agency of Education guided us through a needs assessment last fall. We identified the following indicator of success to emphasize for the future: “Instructional Teams (including special educators and related service providers) meet for blocks of time sufficient to develop and refine units of instruction and review student learning data.”
The research on high performing school underlines the attention to writing – specifically non-fiction – and real teacher collaboration. This means making use of every adult in the system and offering rich and frequent interdisciplinary units of study (Reeves, 2003). After much research and discussion the Elm Hill teachers decided it is important that we accomplish this objective using a co-teaching model.
Plan: The design is to create five smaller schools within the school so that we can better monitor the progress of all our students. We propose to call these K-2 teams “families” and create a school community like that of an extended family. Parents were asked if the term “family” was acceptable and everyone felt that it was a positive choice.
Two of our families will include traditional “looping:” where children and teacher move together from 1st to 2nd grade. The other three families are a modification on looping and multi-age classrooms. Two teachers will share two classes (1st and 2nd grade) over the course of two years.
While kindergarteners will be assigned a school family they will not necessarily be part of that family for three years. At the end of kindergarten – after we have gotten to know the children – they will be reassigned a family that they will be with for the following two years.
Concerns: It is safe to say that the most common question was whether children would have time during the day with their grade-level peers. I am confident we can schedule a daily grade-level recess so that everyone has time with his/her grade peers. You will also notice in the power point that there is one family with two vacancies. At present we have three long-term substitutes in our building and I expect at least one of these familiar teachers will fill a role in that family next year.
Evaluation: We currently benchmark students three times a year using local assessments: Fountas & Pinnell for reading and Aimsweb for math. You have seen this data come home to you during parent conferences. We will use these same data points in the coming year to judge if this model is successful for Elm Hill.
PS For those interested in the video clip here is the website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U
( started the clip at minute 6:32 and ended at 7:40)