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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of April 3, 2017

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

A few months ago at a SLT (School Leadership Team) meeting, a parent brought up the question of what math looks like at TNS.  This sparked a lively discussion about our own experiences with math - as students, parents and educators.  It was a rich conversation and one we hoped the larger TNS community could also participate in.  Please join us TONIGHT from 5:30 - 7 p.m. for Math Night.  We will share our own math experiences and participate in grade level appropriate math activities (yes, get ready to do some work!).  Child care will be provided.

The deadline for turning in DOE Parent Surveys has been extended to April 7.  If you cannot find your green envelope, you can get your access code by calling the Survey Hotline at 1-800-690-8603.

Did you know that the TNS staff goes on a retreat each spring to focus on some aspect of our practice?  This year, we are exploring social justice and activism in our school and curriculum.   Some of the questions we are asking ourselves are, “Where do we see social justice/activism work already happening in our school?  What are the challenges to doing this work?  Where else can we weave this into our school culture and curriculum? ”  Please join me for my morning hour this Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the PTA Room to discuss this topic:  social justice and activism at TNS.  In preparation, I encourage you to read the article, Creating Classrooms for Social Justice.

Mark your calendars:

  • The Garden Committee will meet Monday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • Monday is Math Night at TNS!   Join us at 5:30 p.m.

    • Kindergarten with Judy, Dianne and Shaquawn in Room 201

    • Pre-K/K with Erin and Wanda in Room 208

    • 1st/2nd grade in Room 308

    • 3rd Grade in the Library

    • 4th grade with Alexis in Room 312

    • 4th grade with Michiko and Natalie in Room 313

    • 5th grade with Corinthia in Room 306

    • 5th grade with Hannah in Room 314

  • Parent’s of Unique Kids Support Group meets Tuesday morning at drop-off in Room 301.

  • The Diversity Committee will meet Tuesday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • I hope you will join me for my Morning Hour Wednesday at drop-off in the PTA Room.  

  • The PTA Executive Meeting is Thursday morning at drop-off in the PTA Room.  All are welcome.

  • School closed for Spring Recess:  4/10 – 4/18.

This past Thursday morning, Ahyesha’s son Khalif passed away suddenly in his sleep of a heart attack.  Service for Khalif will be held Thursday from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. at the Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home at 43 2nd Ave.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 27, 2017

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

The NYS English Language Arts Exam will be administered Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning this week.  Students who do not take the state tests will continue the important and meaningful work they engage in everyday.  Once again, we support parents in making the best decisions for their individual children.  Teachers will have conversations with students to create an environment that is respectful of the diversity of opinions surrounding this issue.  It is vital that all members of our community feel supported during this time and that we maintain a sense of calm for our students.

This is the last week to complete the Department of Education (DOE) survey!  Not only do your responses count towards our school’s rating, but we are evaluated by response rates.  We sent home a green envelope which contains directions and your access code.  You can find the DOE survey at http://schools.nyc.gov/Accountability/tools/survey/default.htm  Use the survey access code printed on your individual survey.  If you don’t have the hard copy of the survey, click the link to access your code or call the Survey Hotline at 1-800-690-8603.

Mark your calendars:

  • The ECO Committee will meet Wednesday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • The Grants Committee will meet on Friday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 20, 2017

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

In recent years, TNS students who opted out of the state tests took alternative assessments created by our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers.  The work on these assessments was very similar to what students do throughout the year, but as with the state tests, students only had 3 days to complete it.  We are doing something different this year.  As part of our work with a coalition of progressive public elementary schools, we are piloting Performance Based Assessments (called “PBAs”) with our 5th graders.  Students will present their learning to a panel, who will ask probing questions and carefully listen as students express their understandings and reflect on what they have learned.  I look forward to sharing more about this exciting work with you soon.

This year, we will not give alternative assessments; students who do not take the state tests will continue the important and meaningful work they engage in everyday.  Please let me or your child’s classroom teacher(s) know as soon as possible if your child is going to take the NYS Tests this year so we can organize staffing and materials accordingly.  

We will have a testing forum to discuss the role that state tests play in the middle school application process on Wednesday (right after Sing).  This is an opportunity for families to learn about the process and hear from TNS families who have been through it and have children in middle school.

There is

  • Our 3rd Grade Camp Speers Presentation is Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the Library.

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

  • What is “Sounds in Motion”?!  Come join us Tuesday at 3 p.m. in Room 303 for a fun, informational session about the literacy intervention program implemented in our early childhood classrooms to promote phonemic awareness and early reading skills.  This workshop will be led by our Speech teachers, Amanda and Rebecca.  Please bring the “experts” - your children, for support!

  • SING is Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. in the auditorium.  

  • We will have a test forum to discuss the role that state tests play in the Middle School Application process on Wednesday after Sing in the auditorium.

  • SLT (School Leadership Team) will meet on Friday at 8 a.m. in room 301.  This meeting is open to all and is a make-up for our missed meeting due to the snow day.

  • Join us on Friday for Family Movie Night!  Not only are we are screening the hit “Sing” but you and your child have an opportunity to make your own music! There will be pre-movie karaoke starting at 5:30 p.m.  The movie begins at 6:30 p.m.   Pizza, Popcorn, Juice and Cupcakes are available.  Admission is $2 per Child.  Adults are Free.

Only 15% of our families have completed their Department of Education (DOE) Parent Survey.  The DOE survey gathers information about your overall satisfaction with our school and the results are published and used to determine our official rating. Completion rates are also important as they reflect the level of parent involvement to the DOE.  Please complete your family survey!  The deadline for completing parent surveys is Friday, March 31st.  Thank you!

Happy first day of Spring!

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 13, 2017

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

What does diversity look like in our library?  Over 25 years ago, Rudine Sims Bishop coined the term “Mirrors and Windows” to describe the concept that children’s literature could both reflect the reader and her experiences, or provide a glimpse into the lives of others.  This concept has guided our librarian, Cheryl in her consideration of kids’ books for our collection. (You can read Bishop’s essay here: https://www.psdschools.org/webfm/8559)

We are all limited by what’s available in the marketplace. The We Need Diverse Books movement, a grassroots advocacy group, has been successful in putting pressure on the publishing industry to produce more diverse content for young readers.  They envision “a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.”  Please join Cheryl, me and other families for coffee in the Library after drop-off on Friday to browse a collection that endeavors to reflect the beautiful diversity of our school community.   

Please complete your Department of Education (DOE) Parent Survey.  The DOE survey gathers information about your overall satisfaction with our school and the results are published and used to determine our official rating. Completion rates are also important as they reflect the level of parent involvement to the DOE.  Each student received a green envelope containing a hard copy of the survey to fill out along with postage-paid envelope. You can also complete the survey online using your access code (in the green envelope).  The deadline for completing parent surveys is Friday, March 31st.  Thank you!

This is a gentle reminder:  the fence around the front is not to climbing.  We have a play structure around the corner just for that purpose.  

Mark your Calendars:

  • Advocacy Committee will meet Monday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.  

  • The Garden Committee will meet Monday at drop-off in the PTA room.

  • SLT (School Leadership Team) will meet on Tuesday at 8 a.m. in room 301.  This meeting is open to all.

  • Our Test Forum is Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the auditorium.  This is a follow-up from our last advocacy meeting about assessment at TNS: how we “measure” learning.  Most of the meeting will be Q&A, but Michiko, Joanne, Grace, Hannah, Dianne, members of the Advocacy Committee and I will give some context to the discussion first.

  • We have rescheduled our Town Hall Meeting for Tuesday afternoon from 4 - 4:30 p.m. in the auditorium.   Representatives from the School Construction Authority and Department of Facilities will be there to address questions about lead results in water, construction and safety drills.

  • Our March PTA Meeting is Thursday at 8:40 a.m. in the PTA Room.

  • Friday, March 17 is a TNS Half-day.  Dismissal is at 11:45 a.m.

Lastly, don’t forget to “spring ahead” for Daylight Savings; you will need set your clocks one hour forward.

See you bright and extra early,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Two Forums About the NY State Tests

Dear 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade Families,

This year the NY State English Language Arts tests will be administered March 28 - 30th.  The NY State Math Test will be administered April 13 - 15.  

Last year 80% of our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade families opted their children out of the State Tests.  It is important that the school knows if your child is going to take the NYS Tests this year so we can organize staffing and materials.  Please let me or your child’s classroom teacher(s) know as soon as possible so we can plan accordingly.  

This year we will have TWO forums to address families’ questions about high stakes testing and the implications for our children, teachers and school:

We will have a forum on testing at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15.  Most of the meeting will be Q&A, but 3rd - 5th grade teachers, members of the Advocacy Committee and I will give some context to the discussion first, including:

  • What do “high stakes” mean?

  • What does “test prep” look like at TNS?

  • What do the testing days look like for those children taking the state tests?

  • What do the testing days look like for those who will not be taking the state tests?

  • How do we talk with children about about opting out (or not)?

We will also have a special forum to discuss the role that state tests play in the Middle School Application process on Wednesday, March 22 (right after Sing).  This is an opportunity for families to learn about the process and hear from TNS families who have been through it and have children in middle school.

At TNS, we support all parents in making the best decisions for their individual children.  We hope that by attending these forums, families will have a better understanding of what testing and test preparation look like at TNS, and what the tests mean for your child and the school.  

Please feel free to reach out any time.  I hope to see you all at these important discussions.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

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