We have 12 days of school before December vacation and I’m sure many of you have a lot going on as you prepare for the holidays. Here at school the students and teachers are also busy. Please excuse the length of this newsletter as I share some of what is going on:
Burr School Core Values
Our new Core Values at Burr are Compassion, Respect, Perseverance, and Teamwork. Each month we focus on one value and really delve into what it means. Last month’s focus was compassion, and this month we are exploring respect. To highlight our work on compassion we read the book, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” which in a very simple and clear way shows how kindness towards others fills both your bucket and theirs. We invited students to record acts of kindness they witnessed at school. These were collected in grade level ‘buckets’ that were pinned onto a bulletin board outside the Burr library. A few times a week fifth graders shared examples from the buckets over the school intercom. At the end of the month we had recorded over 300 acts of kindness and filled so many buckets along the way. Here is an electronic version of the book for your enjoyment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIftjwDkztw. You may want to watch or read it with your child so you can use the same language at home.
This month students learn how they can show respect for each other, themselves, and the environment. The fourth graders in Mr Glode and Ms. Harrington’s shared their learning about respect with an Animoto presentation at our monthly All School Meeting to help ‘kick off’ this focus. We also tied in National Inclusive Schools Week, which was nationally celebrated last week. Our Respect for Human Differences Committee led the way by supporting and encouraging teachers to plan activities during the week to highlight our community’s commitment to inclusion. Each classroom teacher read books with themes of inclusion and discussed the messages within them with students. Teachers also assigned an activity for students to complete at home with their families to encourage conversations at home so you too can support this important work. Please ask you child about his/her learning about compassion and respect.
The children have been enjoying the new playground for a few weeks now and LOVE it. Thank you to so many of you who contributed so generously. Not only did you all have to work to raise a large amount of money, but you also volunteered hours of time helping during the building of the structure. I’d like to extend a special thank you to the Playground Committee members: Meg Salgado, Jen Frankel, Eric Freidman, Jason Wong, Melissa Chatfield, Greg Thompson, Kristen Frohn, Justine Fialkosky, and Jay Ryan. You all worked so hard to motivate us and keep everything on track.
Currently we are working on coming up with some safety rules for the new equipment. Each classroom teacher worked with his/her students to come up with a set of rules and these are currently posted in our cafetorium where everyone can see them. Before the December break some representative from the new Burr Student Council will help come up with one set of rules for all students to follow. Often times there is an increase in injuries when children play on new equipment. Children are learning to navigate new structures and are figuring out new ways of moving their bodies and engaging in safe and fun play. We don’t want to limit this experimentation with these rules, yet we do want to remind children to be aware of those around and how their actions may compromise their safety and that of others.
We have enjoyed mild weather for the most part, but inevitably the temperature will dip with increasing regularity in the coming months. Please remember to dress your children appropriately for the weather. We will go outside for recess every day, except when the most bitterly cold air masses are in place. Children are expected to wear coats and long pants (not shorts!) when we go outside in cold temperatures. All children should also bring hats and gloves, and boots and snowpants are an expectation for them to play in the snow. Please label all items with your child’s name so they can easily be return to him/her if left around the school.
You may have heard from your child that we have made some changes during lunch. With our increase in enrollment, we now have over 140 students in the cafetorium during each lunch because two grades eat at one time. This has meant that the noise level in the café is often extremely loud and for many children, overwhelming. Last week we started to experiment with some other structures. We are currently having one grade level at a time in the café. This means that one group has recess before lunch and the other has recess after lunch. So far the reports are favorable. I will check in with students and staff during the next few weeks to see if the change continues to have a positive impact.
Hour of Code
We live in a world surrounded by technology and we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. Despite this reality, only a tiny fraction of students are learning computer science, and less are studying it than a decade ago. At Burr we continue to explore ways to leverage technology to enhance student learning, and to consider how our programming prepares them for future success. With these goals in sight, Burr School is joining in on the largest learning event in history, The Hour of Code, during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 8-14). Last year, 15 million students tried computer science in one week. The Burr librarian and technology specialist will support teachers in this work. If you would like to learn more about this initiative, check out http://hourofcode.com. We are looking forward to a great week of learning and exploring the world of code together.
Parent Principal Coffees:
If you missed the curriculum presentations given by Burr specialists (art, music, library and technology, and PE teachers) or the cyber safety presentation given by our librarian and technology specialist, please check out the information posted on the Burr School Website:
Superintendent Fleishman and some Newton School Committee members will join us at our next Parent Principal Coffee on January 23, 2015. Please put it on your calendar because it is a great time to have Burr specific conversations with our district officials and find out more about district goals and initiatives.
This year we started having a Student Council at Burr School. We decided to have 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade representatives. Each of the 3-5 classrooms have a K-2 buddy classroom that they will also represent. The representatives were randomly selected with the only criteria being that student show interest and that we have a boy and girl from each classroom. At fifth grade we have three representatives from each classroom because we felt it was important they have a larger presence.
The following are the representatives until February vacation:
Canning & Frail: Katie Kotz & Nathan Gallo
Collins & Rudek: Alessandro Della Corte, Maria Filippelli
Oh & Mc Mahon: Greer Wheeler, Rohan Iyengar.
Robinson & Golden: Nicholas Marrucci & Ysable Aligan
Glode/Harrington & Fitch & Espinal: James Thurber & Lucia Capello
Miller & Gaita: Sean O’Neill and Kristyn Vasselin
Cooley & Roberts: Danilo Talisayon , Julia Tulimieri, Tia Joseph
Harris & Field: Morgan Gallivan, Max Goldman , Nina Bobby
Moran & Procaccini: Meriame Rochd, Marion Carter, Anders Erlandson
We had our first meeting last Wednesday and the members decided their first social action would be a Holiday Drive to support families in need. You will be hearing more about how you can help within the next few days. New student council representatives will be selected for March through June.