Thursday, December 8, 2016

Barrows School Safety Communication

Hello Barrows Community;

At the end of this email please find an important notice from our Reading Police Department. 

Please know that our Reading Police Department strives to work collaboratively with our community with safety as their priority.  Although it is important that our families observe the marked laws and expectations, the officers are making notes of areas of concern, ongoing challenges that our families face, and will continue to evaluate practices and flow to revise as needed to keep all of the members of our school and neighborhood safe.  We may not have all the answers now, but we are working hard to ask the right questions as they pertain to safety.

In addition to the attached information, please review the following school and community safety reminders;
  • Families should not walk through the staff parking lot.  Although it is shorter to the blacktop, it is a safety concern as drivers have difficulty seeing the smaller learners walking through and there are not consistent sidewalks through the parking area.
  • Wintertime is here!  With snow and ice come safety considerations for all of our community. Students are asked to keep the snow on the ground (i.e. not throw or kick the snow) for safety reasons.  We all enjoy snow-play, but ask respectfully if you would have your children engage in that at home to avoid mixed messages about expectations while on school grounds.
  • Be careful walking on sidewalks and paved areas.  Our staff does their best to keep up with the weather, but when snow falls or freezing temperatures occur during the day, our grounds can get icy.  Go slow and take it easy on stairs, walkways, and the blacktop area.

A consideration for family planning as we enter cooler weather; we do our best to get all students outside as much as possible.  This includes during lightly snowing days and winter weather days.  Please send your children to school dressed appropriately for outside play.  Further information about our cold weather determinations can be found in my blog post here:  http://barrowselementary.blogspot.com/2015/10/cooler-temperatures.html

I’m always here for your questions, feedback, or connections.
With appreciation,

Heather


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Intentional Practice

Kim Marshall, an education author and expert, wrote a summary about this recently published work around intentional and purposeful practice.  I thought you might appreciate it!


Practice Makes Perfect – But Only the Right Kind of Practice

            In this Education Next review of Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool’s new book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Daniel Willingham (University of Virginia) highlights the distinction the authors draw between merely repeating a process and deliberate practice. The old adage says that practice makes perfect – “But if practice is all there is to it, why has my typing improved so little in the last 40 years?” asks Willingham. “Even though I type every day, my typing is not really practicing, because I’m not purposefully or systematically trying to improve it. Given that I have not formally studied typing, I may even be reinforcing bad technique.”
            According to Ericsson and Pool, several key components are involved in making mere practice deliberate:
-    Evaluating what needs improvement;
-    Selecting one small aspect of the skill to work on;
-    Developing a strategy;
-    Evaluating the results of the revised performance;
-    Practicing a lot (perhaps 10,000 hours).
In this construct, talent is much less important, except perhaps in athletics, where physical attributes give some people a big advantage. But Ericsson and Pool argue that in most domains, innate ability is important only before people start practicing. “The kid with a high IQ will play better chess than the kid with a low IQ,” summarizes Willingham, “but only because neither knows much about chess. If they both practice, the influence of IQ will disappear, and whoever practices more will be the better player.”
            What are the implications of this book for schools? Clearly it’s helpful to get past the innate ability/intelligence paradigm, and the concept of deliberate practice has wide implications. For example, teachers may think students will learn collaboration skills if they’re assigned to do group projects. “But working in a group is simply experience,” says Willingham. “If you want students to become better group members, they need to practice being a group member. They must be explicitly taught how to work in groups, and that’s something few schools do.”
It’s also important to work on one skill at a time – for example, breaking down the process of writing a research paper into smaller tasks, each of which needs practice, feedback, and refinement: using a database to locate research; evaluating the relevance of sources; creating an annotated bibliography; writing a rough outline; writing a detailed outline; and then the four or five steps of writing the actual paper.
Ericsson and Pool’s book got Willingham thinking about teachers’ professional learning curve, which tends to flatten out after the first few years. Could the reason be the lack of deliberate practice – and the time to engage in that kind of systematic analysis of areas for improvement, practice, feedback, and more practice? In addition, says Willingham, “Practice is only possible if practitioners agree on who the experts are, so the goals of practice can be articulated. In addition, educators will need to define the sequence of subskills to be acquired on the way to expertise. Practitioners need to know what ‘once you’re mastered X, you move on to Y.’”


“When Practice Makes Perfect: What Everyone Can Learn from Top Performers” by Daniel Willingham in his review of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin, 2016), in Education Next, Winter 2016 (Vol. 17, #1, p. 80-81), http://bit.ly/2gzyvh0

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Thankful Principal...


I am Thankful for...

…Barrows School staff that are second to none in their dedication and love of kids.
 

…the opportunity to have a job that allows us to impact the future every day.


...our hard-working custodial staff that makes Barrows Elementary shine

...the perseverance that our students show when faced with challenges – they believe in the Power of YET! 



...opportunities to read to our young students, because they always enjoy a good book, and I enjoy reading with them! 

...the fun and excitement a dance party creates. 

...our staff who welcome families in the office, care for sick kids, and do so much before the learning even begins  

...all of our supportive and engaged Barrows families.
 

...our cafeteria staff who serve hundreds of meals every day, all with smiles on their faces!
 

…our kind and hardworking Barrows students that make it a joy to come to work each day.

...the joy on kids faces while they play.  


...our paraprofessionals whose job title does not truly reflect the support they provide for our students each day.

...our students' creativity.


...FUN, because we work with kids and school should be FUN! 


...the 380+ students, staff, and parents that walk through our doors on a daily basis. 

...our commitment to Be Safe, Be Respectful, Persevere, and Collaborate
 


the honor to be the principal of this incredible school.



I am thankful for you Barrows!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Love, Mrs. Leonard

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Presidential Election

Dear Barrows Community-

Last night our country elected our 45th president of the United States.  With the election will come mixed emotions for children and families.  Our recommendation as a school?  Talk with your child about it, share that over the many years of our country’s history there have been people in our country on both sides of the election results.  Teach our children that what matters each day is to be kind and respectful – especially of those who may feel differently than you.  This is a wonderful excuse to talk about tolerance and how we as a community respectfully engage with family, friends, and neighbors who may differ from us.  It also provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about our systems of government and that there are countries around the world that do not allow their people a voice in selecting their leaders, or that their leadership is a lifetime appointment (rather than a 4 year appointment.)  This is a time for learning, acceptance, and inclusion of each other.  And in the end… most importantly… be kind!

Love,

Mrs. Leonard

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Barrows Shining Stars can celebrate Safety!

Dear Barrows Community,

As you have likely seen, we have been communicating about the importance of a focus on our Barrows' Belief of "Be Safe."  We value our ongoing partnerships with our families in supporting our students.  Just like reading with your child at home supports their growth as readers, practicing and discussing expectations for student behavior helps reinforce their learning and growth in this area.  I would like to share the language and expectations that we utilize with our students, especially during our outside times, with the hope that our Barrows Families will help reinforce these safety measures and expectations with our students.

It is important that all of our Barrows students know that our school is a safe place to be.  In order to ensure this for our learners we need your help as partners in this work.  Consider talking with your child about how they can show safe and appropriate expectations during outside play - both during the school day and outside the school day.  Talk with your child about how we want them to have fun as well as be inclusive and safe for all, and see what ideas your child has about how they can contribute to this effort. This includes physical safety and also being kind, thoughtful, and inclusive of their friends.

As we've asked previously, as our blacktop space is a small and concentrated area, if your child would like to run around and play while waiting for the 1st bell to ring in the morning or after dismissal, please direct them towards the courts and fields.  We ask that children not play running or tag on the blacktop for safety concerns.

We thank you for your ongoing support!




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Barrows Elementary Veterans Day Assembly, 11/1/16

Barrows Elementary School enjoyed an early assembly to teach about the importance of Veterans Day.  On November 1st Barrows Elementary School was honored to recognize Veterans from our Barrows families. We welcomed the following Veterans to our assembly; 
  • Corporal Justin Scott, Marine Corp
  • Sergeant Richard Edmund Hillery, Army
  • Boatswain Mate, 2nd Class, Bruce Russell, Navy
  • 2nd Class Petty Officer Michael Delaney, Navy
  • Sergeant Thomas George, Army
  • Airmen Thomas Tassi, Navy
  • Petty Officer First Class, Paul A. Hall, Navy
  • SP4, Raymond Conwell, Army

Barrows 5th grade teacher Carina Becker invited her brother, an artist, to support our Barrows assembly through the creation of a unique Veterans Day chalk art;  https://youtu.be/SedmBGkko3M


Our Barrows Elementary School is so proud to honor our Veterans and military families.  We are participating in our second annual Operation Gratitude collection to support our currently serving military.  We would appreciate any monetary donations to help fund our postage to get the candy to the troops! (Accepted at the Barrows Elementary School office)  http://www.today.com/parents/operation-gratitude-gets-kids-send-troops-halloween-candy-t104423


5th graders Brian Ronayne and Astrid Puff hold a special flag flown over the Iraq War for our Pledge

Thank you to our Veterans for joining our assembly today - we appreciate your service!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Please welcome to Barrows...

Please welcome to the Barrows School Community for the 2016-2017 school year;


Kelly DiCato - Kelly will be our Barrows Special Education Team Chair!  For those newer to our school community, Kelly worked at Barrows for years as a special education teacher in the DLC program prior to the program's transition to Birch Meadow.  We are thrilled to welcome her back as a Shining Star!

Dan Htoo-Levine - Dan is our new music teacher for grades K-5.  Dan has his undergraduate degree from Berklee College in Music Business Management and a Masters from Boston Conservatory in Music Education.  Dan has spent the last few years as interim music teachers in Lincoln and Winchester.  He’s also an active musician in the band Dan & The Wildfire.

Patricia Flaherty is our new Reading Specialist and comes to us from Salem Public Schools.  Patricia has a Masters of Elementary Education from Salem State and also completed her Reading Specialist Certification from Salem State in 2010.  She has been working for 6 years as a Reading Specialist in grades K-5 and has experience working with both students and staff members to develop and implement literacy interventions based on student needs and grade-level data trends. Prior to her role as a Reading Specialist she worked as a 4th and 5th grade classroom teacher for 15 years.

·         Jessica Vanderlaan – Jessica will be our 5th grade guest teacher.  Jessica received her Bachelors Degree from Union College in NY and returned back to school to get her Masters of Education in Elemetnary Education and Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley University.  She completed her student teaching right here at Barrows Elementary school with Ms. Gargano and has been an awesome substitute for us in the past.  Jessica will be covering for Mrs. Varey.  She can be reached at; Jessica.vanderlaan@reading.k12.ma.us

·         Vittoria Penna – Vittoria will be our 1st grade guest teacher.  Vittoria has been a strong member of our tutoring team over the last couple of years.  Vittoria has a dual degree from Salve Regina University in both Elementary and Special Education.  She is also a co-owner and co-director of a summer camp in Georgetown for children ages 5-14.  Vittoria will be covering for Mrs. McGrath.  Vittoria can be reached at: Vittoria.Penna@reading.k12.ma.us

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What are you reading? (Multiple recommendations to enjoy!)

The Scanlon Family recommends "Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics" and say they enjoy it as much as the first book ("Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library")!




My daughter picked out "Real Sisters Pretend" from our local library.  It is a beautifully illustrated story by Massachusetts author Megan Dowd Lambert.  The book feels like an overheard conversation between two sisters playing 'pretend.'  During their game they talk about the real challenge they have explaining to others that though they are adopted and from different biological families, they are still "real" sisters.  A powerful message in a simple story!

Image result for real sisters pretend
What's up next for Mrs. Leonard? Finishing a few more professional books before the start of the year including "Mathematical Mindsets", "Kids Deserve It", and "Reading in the Wild!"


Want to share what you’re reading?

Or mail me a letter/postcard:
Heather Leonard
16 Edgemont Ave
Reading, MA 01867



….hope to hear from you!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

What are Ms. Leonard and Ms McClain reading?

Ms McClain's son is reading "Pat the Zoo"!  (Looks very interesting/engaging!!!)



Ms. Leonard and her family read "Edward and the Pirates."  This beautifully illustrated book was written and illustrated by a Massachusetts author!  Edward is an avid reader that gets fully engaged in his stories - even imagining himself playing a role in this story.  Read to find out what happens when Edward reads a story about pirate treasure!


Want to share what you’re reading?
Send me an email: heather.leonard@reading.k12.ma.us

Or mail me a letter/postcard:
Heather Leonard
16 Edgemont Ave
Reading, MA 01867


….hope to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Barrows Summer Update

Dear Barrows Families;

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful summer, spending time with your families, playing outside, and relaxing together. We have been busy here getting geared up for our return to school, and are excited to embark on a new school year with our Barrows Shining Star families!  Are you thinking about how to get your student ready to return to school?  The best things you can do are some of the following;
  • ·         Talk about your child’s hopes and goals for their year.  What do they hope to learn?  What skills do they hope to acquire?
  • ·         What are your child’s fears about the upcoming year?  What can we (the adults) do to help them feel comfortable?
  • ·         Encourage your child to write a letter/note to your child’s teacher to introduce themselves.
  • ·         Thanks to the PTO for hosting our ‘opt-in’ class lists.  Reach out to a peer (or small peer group) that is in your child’s class next year. Plan a playground playdate or picnic dinner to connect and build those relationships before the first day of school.  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fDHFaH8Tmf1b2WMGCtn1BycsgOJECp51oixnPY1cznQ/edit#gid=0
  • ·         Read some books together – share with your learner some of your favorite childhood books and read together as a family
  • ·         Get lots of outdoor playtime!  As the weather is still so beautiful, enjoy all the fresh air and outside play possible!


The start of this school year has us transitioning to a new website too.  It is still in the beginning stages and is “under construction” – but check out our new web address: http://www.reading.k12.ma.us/barrows/  (As our district continues to transition away from Edline websites we will continue to provide updates and information about accessing important class and school information!) A message will be sent out to families in the next 2 weeks that will provide information about accessing the online website “Portals” through which you will be able to access student-specific information as we begin to roll out this new tool.

Families may drop off school supplies to the Barrows front lobby on Barrows “Drop-Off Day” for student supplies will take place on Thursday, August 25th from 8:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.  Please come to the front door/main office door to the front lobby to drop off the supplies. Also, please write your child’s first and last name and classroom teacher on the bag of supplies.  We hope many of you will participate, as this helps eliminate the challenge of bringing the big bag of materials while also trying to get students where they need to go, take pictures, and enjoy the 1st day happenings. (Need a reminder of what supplies your learner needs?  Check out our lists here:  http://www.reading.k12.ma.us/barrows/students/supply-lists/)

UPDATES

New Staff
I will provide updates our school community about our new Barrows Staff via our school Facebook page and also on my school blog (links below!) 

Please welcome the following new staff members;
·         Not “new” to Barrows, but new to the role, please welcome (back) Kelly DiCato.  She will be our Barrows Special Education Team Chair!  For those newer staff, Kelly worked at Barrows for years as a special education teacher in the DLC program prior to its transition to Birch Meadow.  We are thrilled to welcome her back as a Shining Star!
·         Dan Htoo-Levine, he will be our new music teacher.  Dan has his undergraduate degree from Berklee College in Music Business Management and a Masters from Boston Conservatory in Music Education.  Dan has spent the last few years as interim music teachers in Lincoln and Winchester.  He’s also an active musician in the band Dan & The Wildfire.
·         Patricia Flaherty is our new Reading Specialist and comes to us from Salem Public Schools.  Patricia has a Masters of elementary education from Salem State and also completed her Reading Specialist Certification from Salem State in 2010.  She has been working for 6 years as a Reading Specialist in grades K-5 and has experience working with both students and staff members to develop and implement literacy interventions based on student needs and grade-level data trends. Prior to her role as a Reading Specialist she worked as a 4th and 5th grade classroom teacher for 15 years. She has trainings in a range of literacy-based interventions and has spent the last year working to implement Lucy Calkins Readers and Writers Workshop in her school.
·         Our Speech Therapist candidate is in the works… completing the hiring process now.  I will let you know as soon as it is finalized!

Sneak-A-Peek

We invite our newest shining-stars (Kindergarten students and students new to Barrows entering grades 1-6) to come and “Sneak-A-Peek” at their classrooms and meet their teachers the day before we start school!  Please see the visit times below.  We will meet together in the front lobby by the main office and will help our newest students and parents find their way.  Welcome to Barrows!

Sneak-A-Peek Visits, Tuesday, August 30th;
1:30-1:45 –
Any students grades 1-6 new to Barrows

2:00-2:30 –
Kindergarten Classes; Ms. Forestell, Ms. Walcott, & Ms. Granoth

Please only come within these given windows of time, as our teachers are involved in other meetings and room set-up to prepare for the first day of school!


MTSS
MTSS stands for Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.  The Barrows School Staff continues to develop our social/emotional curriculum with common language and expectations, following a successful first year implementation.  We are excited about this continued work and the development of our Barrows Beliefs; Be Safe, Be Respectful, Persevere, and Collaborate

Helpful Links

·         Back-to-school supply lists:  http://www.reading.k12.ma.us/barrows/students/supply-lists/
·         Barrows School Facebook: www.facebook.com/BarrowsElementary
·         Ms. Leonard’s Blog: http://barrowselementary.blogspot.com/
·         Barrows on Twitter: @BarrowsSchool  https://twitter.com/BarrowsSchool
·         Barrows Homepage: http://www.reading.k12.ma.us/barrows/
·         Reading Public Schools:  http://www.reading.k12.ma.us/

Upcoming Dates

 8/31    First day of school (Dismissal at 12:45pm, ½ day Kindergarten dismissed at 11:30)
9/2     NO SCHOOL
9/5     NO SCHOOL –LABOR DAY
9/8     Curriculum Night
9/16   PTO’s Back to School Picnic
9/19-9/20    5th grade at Camp Bournedale
9/29   School Council, 3:15pm

I look forward to seeing you all in a couple of weeks.  Enjoy the remainder of your summer vacation.


Love, Mrs. Leonard