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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of February 24, 2020

Dear Families,

Right before we left for mid-winter break, I received an email informing me that the NY State Ed Department has identified our school as in need of Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) for the 2019-20 school year based on the 2018-19 performance of one or more student accountability subgroups on the state tests.  As a result of changes in how opt-outs are calculated by the state, schools with high opt-out numbers now being are penalized.  It is a parent’s legal right to opt their child out of the state tests.  Families choose TNS because of our progressive approach to teaching and learning.  This includes not interrupting the rich and meaningful curriculum to do months of test prep.  Of course, we’re not perfect.  We are continually working to improve instruction through on-going professional development.  We use multiple data sources to inform our work with children. But state testing data is not one of them.  Moreover, state test data from 27 (out of 117) children who did no test prep cannot be used to cull meaningful information about our school. Please join the Advocacy Committee and me after drop-off on Tuesday in the small cafeteria to learn more. 

Family conferences are next week!  Please sign-up for a conference time with your child’s teacher.  Wednesday, March 4 is the late-night and Thursday, March 5 is a half-day; dismissal is at 11:45 AM.  You can also sign-up to meet with our science teacher, Emily, our physical education teacher, Teddy, our Spanish teacher, Mara and our speech teachers, Amanda and Sara. If you need support, please call the school office and we will help coordinate a time for you. 

Our 4th and 5th graders leave for Camp Ashokan on Wednesday morning!  The Ashokan Center’s trails and the outdoor campus offers students the opportunity to hike to the depths of the 350 million-year-old Cathedral Gorge and the Turn wood-Ashokan Covered Bridge.  Programming includes history, natural science including watershed studies and ecology, community building, the arts and stewardship/service-learning and sustainability.  We expect all students to participate in this experience.  The trip is an essential part of a child’s TNS experience and reflects our values about how children learn best.  Please reach out to your child’s teacher, me or Noemi if you have any questions.  

This Week at TNS...

  • The Advocacy meets Tuesday after drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • The Garden Committee meets on Wednesday after drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • 4th/5th graders go to Camp Ashokan Wednesday - Friday.

Looking Ahead…

  • Family conferences are next week!  Wednesday is late-night conferences and Thursday the half-day for conferences.  Dismissal is at 11:45 AM.  

  • Dara, Shaquawn & Dianne, Caroline & Grace, Matt, Tiffany, and Joanne & Sofia’s classes go ice skating on Friday, March 6.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of February 10, 2020

Dear Families,

Our librarian, Cheryl was recently quoted in the article, Reading Levels Unfairly Label Learners, Say Critics. And Then There’s the Research.  It describes why school library collections should not be organized by reading levels.  At TNS, reading levels are only one tool teachers use when guiding children to choose books. During a year, a child will read books that are too easy, just right, and too hard.  For example, a child who is interested in animals may be so motivated by that interest to read a book on animals that is at a higher level. Likewise, many strong readers also are drawn to graphic novels.  In fact, graphic novels are among the highest-circulating items in our library. 

Last year, families had a lot of questions about reading instruction at TNS. In response, our School Leadership Team (SLT) created a document for families that describes our philosophy and approach to reading and learning to read.  You can find in on our website in “Documents”.  It’s called, “Your Child’s Pathway to Learning to Read at TNS.”  If you have any questions about it or your child’s reading development, please let me or your classroom teacher(s) know.

This Week at TNS….

  • The Diversity Committee meets on Tuesday at drop-off in the PTA Room.

  • The Grants Committee meets on Tuesday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • The PTA General Meeting is on Thursday at 8:30 AM in the PTA Room.

Looking Ahead

  • Midwinter Break is February 17th - 21st.  

Have a wonderful break.  We’ll see you on Monday, February 24.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of February 3, 2020

Dear Families,

Thank you, Erin, Dianne, Grace, and Alexis for sharing their assessment practices with families last Monday.  Each year, I ask different teachers who represent a range, both in terms of ages taught and classroom configurations, to share their experiences, so that families can get to know them better and see the consistent practices across classes and grades.  Teachers spoke about how formal assessments, looking at student work, the role of observation and working alongside children inform the next steps and allow us to know children well. They shared the many ways students reflect on their learning and work throughout the grades.  They discussed how Project/Work Time informs our work with children in ways that formal teacher-directed tasks and assessments do not. This is the first forum in a series co-sponsored by TNS and the Advocacy Committee leading up to the NY State tests. I hope you can join us for future conversations.  

This week at TNS...

  • It’s a new semester!  If your child has had Spanish with Mara, they will begin science with Emily and if they have had science, they will begin Spanish. 

  • P.E. with Teddy moves to the upstairs gym for the month.

  • SLT will meet Thursday at 8 AM in Room 314.  All are welcome!

  • Narrative Reports go home Thursday.

Looking Ahead...

  • Midwinter Break is February 17th - 21st.  

Have a great week,

Dyanthe

--

tnsny.org

DSpielberg@schools.nyc.gov

Preferred pronouns: she, her, hers

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of January 27, 2020

Dear Families,

There was a small group at my Morning Hour last week, but we had a rich conversation about play grounded in the article Play: The Foundation of Children’s Learning.  In addition to talking about navigating play with our own children, we talked about the many structures TNS has in place that support play in and outside of school.  One of the big ideas that emerged is that meaningful play takes time. One parent who joined our school this year, shared how much more time his son has to play after school because he has much less homework to complete each day.  I explained that 2 years ago when we reconfigured our grade bands, we also made recess longer for our older students. 2nd and 3rd graders have 50 minutes of recess and our 4th and 5th graders have 25 minutes of recess every day and three additional “morning recesses” with their class.  While there are often structured games like soccer, four square, and tag, they are organized by the children (with adults stepping in when necessary). Children of all ages engage in rich imaginative play of their own making during recess. The other day, while supervising 2nd/3rd grade recess, one child came up to give me a hug and then meowed happily away.  While I have observed that more conflicts emerge with a longer recess, it is an opportunity for children to learn to build skills for resolution including being able to communicate, compromise, collaborate and adjust. Finally, we connected Project Time and Work Time to play.  This is a favorite period in the school day when children have choice and agency about what they do, the materials they use and who they work with. 

Please join me and teachers for a discussion about what assessment look like at TNS on Tuesday after drop-off in the PTA Room.  Teachers share the ways they “measure” student growth and learning, make decisions about class instruction, and the place state testing plays in instruction and curriculum.  This is the first workshop in a series about assessment and learning leading up to the NY State tests for 3rd - 5th grades and is co-sponsored by the Advocacy Committee.

Finally, while of course graffiti is a no-no, this made me smile:

  

This Week at TNS…

  • There is no school for our Pre-K students on Wednesday.  

  • The Garden Committee meets on Wednesday after drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • The PTA is having Movie Night at 5:30 PM on Friday.

Looking Ahead...

  • Narrative Reports go home Thursday, February 6.

  • Midwinter Break is February 17th - 21st.

I love this school, too.

Have a great week,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of January 20, 2020

Dear Families,

My next Morning Hour is on Wednesday in the PTA Room after drop-off and will be about the value of play in school.  In preparation, please read the article Play is the Foundation of Children’s Learning (http://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/2016/play-is-the-foundation-of-childrens-learning), think about your own memories of playing as a child and what you have observed about your children’s play.  

As we approach the mid-year point, most classes switch from science to Spanish and vice versa.  If your child has had Spanish with Mara, they will begin science with Emily and if they have had science, they will begin Spanish.  All classes continue to have physical education with Teddy!  Classes change over the week of February 3.  

This Week at TNS…

  • There is NO University Settlement after school programming on Thursday.

  • The first-ever TNS Art Day is next Saturday from 11 AM - 4 PM.  It is a community event, highlighting the importance of the arts to our kids and our school. There will be a range of art workshops and activities, and an exhibition of teacher/parent/alumni/community artists’ artwork, which will all be for sale. There will also be an ongoing arts activity center, information about how artmaking benefits kids and adults, a rummage sale for clothing AND art supplies, food, live music, and a raffle. 

Looking Ahead...

  • What Does Assessment Look Like at TNS?  On Tuesday, January 28th, teachers will share the ways they “measure” student growth and learning, make decisions about class instruction, and the place state testing plays in instruction and curriculum.  This is the first workshop in a series about assessments leading up to the NY State tests for 3rd - 5th grades.

Have a good week,

Dyanthe

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