Monday, February 29, 2016

A New Barrows Baby!

Jack Ryan McClain early this morning, February 29th is his birthday, a leap day baby! 

He weighed 8 pounds 1 oz and is almost 20 inches long.

Mom and baby are doing well!  The Barrows community sends our love to Mrs. McClain and her new little boy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why do teachers need to be out of the classroom for Professional Development?

During periods of the school year staff may be out of the classroom, attending professional development opportunities.  Although we try to limit the amount of time our teachers are out of the classroom, this time is important learning time that directly benefits students and student achievement.

Teacher Professional Learning, when done well, includes the following components; (Information below cited from Center for Public Education

•  "Short, one-shot workshops often don’t change teacher practice and have no effect on student achievement (Yoon et al, 2007; Bush, 1984).

•    In order to truly change practices, professional development should occur over time and preferably be ongoing. Studies show that effective professional development programs require anywhere from 50 to 80 hours of instruction, practice, and coaching before teachers arrive at mastery (French, 1997; Banilower, 2002; Yoon et al., 2007). 

•    Coaches/mentors are found to be highly effective in helping teachers implement a new skill. In coaching, teachers work with a master educator before, during and after a lesson, getting feedback on their implementation of a newly learned teaching skill. Numerous studies have shown coaching to be successful at changing teacher practice and improving student learning (Showers, 1984; Slinger, 2004; Knight 2007; Batt, 2009; Stephens et al., 2007; Knight and Cornett, 2009). Before coaching, however, teachers need to get a solid foundation of knowledge about the teaching strategy. This presentation of knowledge should be active, not passive (Roy, 2005; Richardson, 1998).  Further, modeling by the coaches has been shown to be very effective at helping teachers grasp a new teaching approach before they attempt implementation (Roy, 2005; Goldberg, 2002; Rice, 2001; Black, 1998; Licklider, 1997).

•    Professional development is best delivered in the context of the teacher’s subject area. Regardless of whether teachers are working with coaches or in professional learning communities, teachers need to be working with the content they teach. Teachers don’t find professional development on generic topics useful (Peery, 2002; Redding and Kamm, 1999; Dunn and Dunn, 1998).  However, professional development that focuses on teachers analyzing the specific skill and concept they’ll teach in their discipline is not only well-received by teachers, but has also been shown to improve both teacher practice and student learning (Bland de la Alas and Smith, 2007; Carpenter et al., 1989; Cohen and Hill, 2001; Lieberman and Wood, 2001; Merek and Methven, 1991; Saxe, Gearhart, and Nasir, 2001; Wenglinksky, 2000; McGill-Franzen et al., 1999; Darling-Hammond et al., 2009)."

Our staff will be participating in a variety of academic trainings that complement the work they are doing in their classrooms with students, is ongoing, parallels the work of teacher Professional Learning Communities as well as the work from the district Literacy and Math Instructional Coaches.

If your teachers are out for professional learning days - it's good news!  They're continuing to grow in their practice in order to provide the best support for our learners.

Questions?  Reach out to your child's teacher or feel free to contact me!

Love, Mrs. Leonard

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Math Challenge Morning!

Students in grades 3-5 are invited to join Principal Leonard for a Math Challenge morning. Thursday morning, 2/25, starting at 7:45am.

Students in grades K-2 may join Principal Leonard for a Math Challenge morning on Friday, 2/26 from 7:45-8:15am. Due to the activity materials and supervision there are limited spots available. Those that want to participate in the K-2 morning are asked to sign up here:

Join Mrs. Leonard and stretch that math brain! It won’t be easy – but it will be challenging and fun! Hope to see you there!

Community activities reminder

Hello Barrows families,

This message is a quick safety reminder for our school community for Valentines and 100 day fun.  Even with these community celebrations, we need to ensure student healthy, wellness, and safety. We will continue to follow the Health & Allergy Guidelines implemented in all Reading Public Schools which prohibit candy and food sharing in classrooms. I have included the information taken directly from our policy below. We appreciate your support in keeping our students safe & healthy during these activities.
  1. All elementary classrooms should be "food free." Food-related activities are prohibited in classrooms (with the exception of daily snacks that students bring from home). To reduce contact reactions and potential for cross-contamination, no food should be used as part of curriculum, class lessons, projects, arts, crafts, etc.
  2. Classroom celebrations or parties will find safe and inclusive ways to celebrate without involving food. Instead, the focus might involve a shared activity such as a craft or game, and rewards or prizes might include special pencils, stickers, etc.
A link for the district allergy guidelines can be found here:

Thank you for your ongoing support, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!
Heather Leonard

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Inviting Recess/Lunch parent volunteers

Want an opportunity to support and volunteer at Barrows? We are looking to invite some of our fabulous Barrows parents and guardians to join us to volunteer and help support our students during recess/lunch. Ideally, we would love to have a consistent set of parent volunteers to join our staff during this important time of our school day. The volunteer spots will include 3 volunteer spaces per day for 2 hours per day. Recess and lunch are valuable parts of our students’ day, providing a time for our students to get fresh air, enjoy a movement break, and engage in social exchanges with their friends and peers. Any parents that are interested in volunteering for this time of day will be provided with a training opportunity prior to the start of the volunteer session and will need to have a CORI check and a fingerprinting check.
So, who’s in for recess fun?
Sign up here:…/10c0e45aba72ea6f85-recesslunch

Click here for additional reading from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Policy Statement:  The Crucial Role of Recess in School