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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of April 18, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

At long last, spring has sprung!  I hope that you got outside to enjoy the beautiful weather this past weekend.  Many of our classes will celebrate Earth Day after Sing on Wednesday.  The fifth grade girls in the Girls Project have organized activities including a puppet show,  ball throwing into recycled bottles, planting seeds, information about endangered animals and more.  We will also have a visit from Lower East Side Ecology Center to demonstrate worm composting, a visit from the the Billion Oyster Project and environmental activist junior high school students from the Island School, An Edible Bug Booth, composting worms brought to us by the Lower East Side Ecology, live chickens and a chance to learn more about local environmental issues from United for Action and All Our Energy.  Please visit, if you can!  We will be on the 4th Street side yard until 10:40am.

Thank you to all parents who organized and attended our Spring Fling Saturday night; I haven’t had so much fun in a long time!  I spoke to 3 new parents (who have incoming 3rd graders) and they were overwhelmed by the warmth and openness of our community.  I, too was struck by the generosity (in so many ways) of our parents.   There was such a positive feeling in the room. The event is over but you still have a chance to support our school by bidding on the online auction.  There are still many great items available and a chance to score some great deals on items that have no/very low bids!  Check it out:  http://tnsny.org/auction.

Mark your calendars:

  • SLT is Monday from 5:30 - 7pm in Danette’s Room.  All are welcome.

  • The ECO Committee will meet Tuesday morning after drop-off in Danette’s Room.

  • Sing is Wednesday at 8:45am in the Auditorium.  

  • Our General PTA meeting is Thursday at 8:40am in the PTA Room.  Please let me know if you are willing to be on the Nominative Committee for next year’s PTA Board.  

  • Spring Break is Monday, April 25 - Friday, April 29.

Have a wonderful week and if I don’t see you before Friday, enjoy your Spring Break; I hope you the opportunity to spend time with your family.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of April 11, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

Our TNS Spring Auction is just 5 days away!  Please join me, other TNS families and staff this Saturday from 6 - 11 PM at the Manny Cantor Rooftop (197 East Broadway).  There will be many wonderful items up for bids – restaurants, travel packages, fashion items, classes, camps, fitness– you name it!  Entertainment will be provided by the Suffragents, our TNS House band made up of current and alumni parents; jam to the sweet sounds of a David Bowie tribute!  There will be delicious food from local restaurants and restaurants owned by TNS families, generously donated and paired with fun drinks.  This is an adult-only event.

Even if you can’t make the Spring Auction Event, you can still get some great deals (and support TNS) at the on-line auction.  The online auction is open with nearly 100 items to bid on!  Some of my favorites so far include two VIP tickets to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, one year membership Citibike, and wine tasting for 10 people by Jones Street Wine.  Check it out: http://tnsny.org/auction.  All proceeds go to support our PTA funded programs.

We will discuss descriptive reviews at my Morning Hour this Wednesday.  In last week’s letter, I shared a little about this process: it begins with immersion – observing a child or space or activity.  It has a focus or focusing question that the presenting teacher works out thoughtfully ahead of time and that gives participants a sense of how to listen and respond to the review.   In preparation, I encourage you to read “Meditation: On Description” by Pat Carini (see attached).

Mark your Calendars:

  • On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, all 3rd - 5th grade students will participate in the NYS Math test/TNS Alternative Assessments.  

  • My Morning Hour is Wednesday at 8:30 AM in the PTA Room.

  • PTA Executive Meeting is Thursday at 8:30 AM in the PTA Room.

  • April Rummage Sale is Friday after school until 5 PM.

  • TNS Spring Auction this Saturday from 6 - 11 PM at the Manny Cantor Rooftop (197 East Broadway).

Have a wonderful week,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of April 4, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

Each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning this week, 3rd - 5th grade students will participate in some kind of assessment: some will take the NYS English Language Arts Exam, others will take an alternative assessment created by teachers and aligned to the Common Core Standards and our curriculum.  Once again, at TNS we support all parents in making the best decisions for their individual children.  Please let me know as soon as possible if you decide to have your child take the TNS Alternative Assessments.  Teachers will continue to have conversations with our children 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 past Friday afternoon, our staff participated in 3 descriptive reviews.  I have written about this practice in past letters: the descriptive review process begins with immersion – observing a child or space or activity.  It has a focus or focusing question that the presenting teacher works out thoughtfully ahead of time and that gives participants a sense of how to listen and respond to the review.  For example, Emily presented a review of her practice, asking the question, “How do I let children do more of the talking during lessons and discussions in science class?  How do my questions support or inhibit this shift?”  Jane and Desmond each presented a review of a child.  Jane asked, “How can _____ embody the confidence, engagement and take-charge attitude she has developed during Project Time in all parts of her school day?”  Desmond asked, “What are some ways to help ____ more quickly connect to and participate in lessons and activities regardless of his mood?”  Especially now, in this time of high stakes testing, accountability, and enforced standardization, we must ensure that education starts and builds from the strengths of children and teachers, and values human capacity and complexity; the descriptive review process does just that.  

Just a reminder, the girls’ bathroom in the main lobby is being renovated. We anticipate the project lasting 3 - 4 weeks.  During construction, girls will have to use bathrooms in the basement, and on second and fourth floors.

Mark your Calendars:

  • Please join the TNS Diversity Committee on Thursday from 6 - 7:30pm for “a Hopes and Dreams” Potluck.  The format is simple and welcoming: we meet in Danette’s room at a big table to share food and conversation.  All are welcome and childcare is provided.

  • Please come to the TNS Family Support Group at 8:30AM on Friday in the PTA Room.

Have a wonderful week,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 28, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

This is the last week to complete the Department of Education (DOE) survey!  Only 40% of our families have responded so far (compared to almost 70% last year)!  Not only do your responses count towards our school’s rating, but we are evaluated by the response rate.  You were given 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.

On Wednesday, we had our Test Forum; teachers, members of the Advocacy Committee and I discussed a variety of issues related to testing, opting out, test prep, the middle school process and the TNS alternative assessment.  Please reach out to me if were unable to attend the test forum and have questions.  

Last year 80% of our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students took the TNS Alternative Assessments. It is important that we know if your child is taking the TNS Alternative Assessment or the NYS tests this year so we can organize staffing and materials.  Please let me or your child’s classroom teacher(s) know so we can plan accordingly.  

All over the city, school communities are having conversations about the tests this year.  Teachers and Principal Liz Phillips of PS 321 in Park Slope recently held a test forum about the nature of the NY State tests. I found the slide presentation informative; in particular, the information about changes in the “high stakes” tests this year:

  • The state tests that will be administered in April 2016 were created by Pearson, as in years past.  There is a new contract with Questar to develop tests that can be given on computers. When testing is done on computers, third graders will be expected to type multi-paragraph responses to essay questions in order to complete the tests. This is already happening in other states that do testing on computers.

  • This year’s tests are much longer than 6 years ago.  A 5th grader this April will be faced with 117 questions (combined math and ELA).  2010’s 5th grader? 61. That’s 56 more questions, or an increase of 92%.

Please check it out: http://ps321.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/TTF-Presentation-Short-Version-1-1.pdf

The girls’ bathroom in the main lobby is being renovated!  Construction will begin this Friday after the building closes and will take place each weekday from 6pm - 12am, and on weekends.  We anticipate the project lasting 3 - 4 weeks.  This Friday, Saturday and Sunday there will be asbestos abatement.  Internal testing of asbestos will be done each night and I will receive the air quality test results to confirm it is safe for students and teachers to re-enter the building.  During construction, girls will have to use bathrooms in the basement, and on second and fourth floors.

Mark your Calendars:

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

  • SING is Wednesday at 8:45 in the auditorium.  Please also join us for the bake sale beforehand.

  • 5th Grade Parent Night with STAR is Tuesday at 6:30pm in the auditorium! Over the past few months, STAR at the Directors Company has explored issues around puberty through drama and discussions with our 5th graders.  Now is your chance to find out more about what former parent and PTA President, Harvey Epstein called a “game changer” for TNS!

  • Friday is a TNS half-day!  Dismissal is at 11:35am.

Have a wonderful week,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 21, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

This is the third year that teachers in the testing grades at TNS have not interrupted their integrated thematic social studies units and rich investigations in mathematics to do “test prep”.  Instead, teachers are integrating test preparation into the curriculum in more authentic ways.  And of course, our students continue to think deeply and critically about their reading and to solve challenging, complex math problems.  

To help keep our community as healthy as possible, please remember never to send your child to school with fever.  In addition, a child must be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school (fever-free means without the help of Tylenol, Motrin, etc.).

Lastly, we still have a several unclaimed personal items from Camp Ashokan.  Please stop by the office if your child is still missing some their belongings!

Mark your Calendars:

  • Our March SLT Meeting is today at 5:30pm in Danette’s Room (304).  All are welcome.

  • The ECO Committee is meeting Tuesday at drop-off in the small cafeteria to discuss school-wide recycling and Earth Day.

  • There is no School Friday in observance of Good Friday.

I hope to see you Wednesday at our Test Forum,

Dyanthe

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