Leaps and Bounds
Issue 24 March 28, 2008
72 Deerfield Avenue
781-326-7500 x-1504 (Fax: 781-320-0189)
Wednesday, April 2nd: K-5 Groups meet 1:45PM
Wednesday, April 9th: Early Release Day, all students dismissed at 11:25AM, no lunch
Parent Teacher Conferences
Tuesday, April 15th: Parent Teacher Conferences~ evening
Wednesday, April 16th: Early Release Day, all students dismissed at 11:25AM, no lunch
Parent Teacher Conferences
Thursday, April 17th: School Committee Meeting 7:30PM
Mon 4/21 - Fri 4/25: No School – Spring Break
Wednesday, April 30th: Early Release Day, all students dismissed at 11:25AM, no lunch
Message from the Principal…
The MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) tests that are currently being administered to our third, fourth, and fifth graders raise questions for teachers and for parents every year. Do the tests take too much time (two to three weeks, three to five hours a day) that could be devoted to Westwood’s rich curriculum? Is there too much pressure on the students and teachers in these grades, especially fourth? Will the schools be judged on the annual results of the MCAS despite the fact that the classes taking the tests are unique in their abilities and test-taking skills each year? Does preparation for the MCAS help to support our students as learners? Or does it interfere?
An article that appeared in The Globe posed the concerns this way: How can we keep the scores in perspective so that they don’t undermine our children as learners? The most damaging potential outcome from the MCAS isn’t that a school scores badly or even that a child does. What’s more important by far is the conclusion each and every child comes to about himself or herself: Am I a person who can learn or not? The danger in taking the MCAS too seriously is that we put pressure on children to perform better for the sake of a test. That hurts their image of themselves as learners and turns them off to school and education.
Teachers at Deerfield use the MCAS as an opportunity to reflect on instruction and strengthen the teaching in our school. This translates into teaching to the test by determining what constitutes excellent teaching. It means being clear throughout the school year about what children should know and be able to do in mathematics, reading, writing, social studies, and science so that lessons, projects, and assignments can be planned to deepen student understanding and competence. For instance, not only do we want children to develop into fluent writers, we want them to be able to define the components of good writing. Students need to not only give the right answer to a math problem, but also be able to explain their thinking process in getting there. Children should be able to express how they feel about a reading selection, and be able to analyze how the writer evoked that response. Students are also shown what it means to be successful whatever the MCAS results – to take risks, to contribute to a community of learners, to be curious.
Parents often comment on what they view as the school’s emphasis on the MCAS. It is important to note that the test is not mandated by Westwood administrators or solely by the educational leadership at the state level. It is now a direct response to the Federal law, “No Child Left Behind.” Effective MCAS preparation at Deerfield has evolved and now includes teaching for understanding at all grade levels and throughout the year. In addition, right before the test date, teachers do spend time acquainting students with the format of the test itself: multiple-choice questions, bubbling in answers, budgeting time. Most of all emphasis is placed on persevering independently for extended periods of time – probably the most difficult challenge of all for children.
Questions about the MCAS will undoubtedly continue into the future. At Deerfield our goal is to keep the MCAS in perspective for us, for parents, and especially for students. It is also important to remember that the MCAS does not test a student’s knowledge of fine and performing arts. Nor does the test reflect the qualities of perseverance, integrity, honesty, respect for others, and kindness that we want our children to display. As educators we work to improve the quality of education we offer students – throughout the year. In partnership with you, we continue to help children acquire the skills and characteristics measured by the MCAS, and those that are not.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding this statewide testing program.
Enjoy this spring weekend,
Save the Dates
Math events for kindergarten-second grade parents ~
If you were unable to attend the math workshop at Deerfield for parents of students in K-2, you are welcome at either of the two upcoming workshops: Monday, April 7th at Hanlon 8:45-10:45AM OR Tuesday, April 8th at Downey 6:30-8:30PM.
For Fifth grade parents~
Wednesday, May 28th; Grade 5 Parent Night at Thurston
Specific MCAS dates are listed below~ all sessions begin at the start of the school day. All sessions are untimed. Students have as much time as they need, up to the full school day.
Grade 3 Grade 4
~ Math May 12, 13 ~ ELA March 31, April 1
~ Math May 19, 20
~ ELA April 2, 3, 4
~ Math May 14, 15
~ Science/Technology May 21, 22
~ History/Social Science May 27,28
FROM THE HEALTH OFFICE…
Health Fair Thank You!
The Health and Fitness Fair was a huge success! We raised $122 for the American Heart Association and their Jump Rope For Heart initiative. We had lots of students and their parents exploring and learning about different aspects of health and safety, and then trying their hand at the various fitness stations. Ms. Wine and Mrs. DeAngelis need to thank many people for helping make this event possible: Student volunteers: Joe Reissfelder, Radhika Rangarajan, Dominic Giugliano, Matty Allegrezza, Kelly Webster, Rony Succar, Molly Morgan, James Chyten, Leonnesse Abdelahad, Dan O’Brien, Stephanie Homsy, Tim Phillips, Matty Blue, Charlie Banis, Heba Munir, Charles Rogers, Derek Yanoff, Caterina Esposito, Lauren Eramo, Donal Gallagher, Isaiah Ritchey, Karim Itani, and TK Murphy. Parent/Adult volunteers: Dr. Ryne Johnson, Ms. Mellor, Kathy Wallace, Aly Murphy, Pam Herbert, Julie Rossetti, Maureen Erickson, Maria McCarron, Claudia Kelly, police officer Brad Pindel, and firefighters Luigi Molinaro and Gerry Smith. Hopefully, we didn’t leave anyone out. We wish to thank everyone involved, and know that this night could not happen without all of you. We would also like to thank Costco for donating healthy snacks for our nutrition station, the Deerfield PTO for donating the volunteer t-shirts, and the Westwood High School Fitness Center for allowing us to borrow their stationary bikes.
SEPAC. Westwood Special Education Parent Advisory Council, Tuesday April 8, 2008, 7 pm – 9 pm, Professional Development Room, Administration Building, 220 Nahatan St., Westwood. In addition to our general election, Audrey Seyffert, Director of Student Services, will speak to Westwood’s array of special education programs and services. She will also be available for questions. Please join us for this invaluable information and insight. Voting privileges are afforded to all members whose children are on 504 plans or IEP’s. Membership is free and immediate upon application.
Thank you to everyone who came to the PTO meeting Tuesday night. You provided wonderful input for the principal search committee. Though we do not compete with other Westwood schools on these matters, it should be noted that we had the best attendance for the principal search focus group of the recent searches. Deerfield parents continually demonstrate their commitment to excellence in education and it shows.
Cookies were served at this week’s PTO meeting, and they were great! There are just a few containers left so if you want to buy cookie dough please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are shaking up art night this year! In addition to kids’ art from this school year in the gym, there will be chalk art for kids in the front circle, a silent auction with “wine” and cheese in the cafeteria, and we will come together as a community to give Mrs. Lipsitz a formal sending off as she continues on her professional journey. This special event will take place June 18th. We are looking for volunteers for every aspect of this event from running the silent auction and pouring the sparkling apple juice to matting art to hang in the gym. Ideally we will have at least 10 pieces of art to auction off as a fundraiser for our school. Please contact Anne Collins or send email to email@example.com to help out.
Book Fair: May 7, 8, 9 (we scheduled this event with Mother’s Day in mind)
PTO meeting: May 20 9:15 am
Art Night: June 18
Family Spring Music Concert
Westwood Nursery School, 808 High Street, is hosting a family spring music concert featuring children's performer Hugh Hanley on Saturday, March 29, 2008. The doors open at 10:00 am and Show Time is 10:30 am. Tickets are $7.00 each with a maximum of $28 per family (children ages 1 and under are free). For more information or advance ticket sales, please call (781) 326-4659.
Westwood Special Education Parent Advisory Council (WWD SEPAC) Elections
Life is what you make it…Help make it supportive and successful for your child!
Westwood Special Education Parent Advisory Council (WWD SEPAC) is holding elections for 2008-09 Executive Board positions:
Chairperson, Co-Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Coordinator
Contribute your energy and ideas to support relationships and programs for parents, students, school staff, and community. Please forward all nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 1, 2008. Election takes place April 8, 2008 at the General Meeting.
(Voting privileges are afforded to active members of WWD SEPAC whose child receives IEP or 504 accommodations.)
For description of officer duties and election form, log onto www.westwoodsepac.org.
Make this the year you and your child become actively involved in Westwood!
Operation Iraqi Children
My name is Will Scannell, and I am a member of Boy Scout Troop 1 Islington. For my Eagle Scout service project, I will be working with the Massachusetts National Guard on a toy and clothing drive which will benefit a local orphanage in Iraq. The National Guard Unit is working with the NAIC, the National Iraqi Assistance Center, to give back to the children of Iraq.
The follow items are needed the most:
-Clothing for children from the ages 5-15
-Spring, Summer, or Fall clothing
-No items bearing the American Flag
-Toys could include coloring books, sports equipment, board games, etc.
-All items should be new or in gently used condition.
Drop boxes will be available from March 31st to May 2nd in the Deerfield lobby. I will also be available to pick up items for those who can’t make it to the drop zones. I can be reached at 781-329-0899, or by email at email@example.com. Thank you for your support.
Westwood Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, sex, religion, disability, nation origin, or sexual orientation.