“There are one-story intellects, two-story intellects, and three-story intellects with skylights. All fact collectors with no aim beyond their facts are one-story people. Two-story people compare reason and generalize, using labors of the fact collectors as well as their own. Three-story people idealize, imagine, and predict. Their best illuminations come from above through the skylight.”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
Tomorrow we meet the fifth of the five finalists to become the new Melrose Public Schools Superintendent. The past three weeks have been a whirlwind affair with candidates spending a twelve-hour day touring around town, meeting with stakeholders, and then facing a public interview process. In case you were interested in learning more (or missed a particular finalist) Melrose’s online newspaper, The Patch, has been live blogging and archiving the transcripts from each candidate’s parent session and school committee interview.
I hope you will join into this pivotal time in Melrose education. The school committee has a dedicated email address to collect feedback, thoughts, and take-aways from the entire community – email@example.com. But hurry, they meet this Thursday night, 3/29 to have a final discussion and select a candidate to become the next Superintendent of Schools.
Many families have noted this school year that they like the changes to the main office set-up. They particularly note the new paint, and the removal of the abundance of filing and storage cabinetry. Parents have also mentioned an appreciation of our attempt to make the Bridge badges easier to access (although I’m still not sure we have the best system.)
Mrs. Greenberg and I continue to discuss ways to make the office flow better, and be a welcoming first impression for all who come to Winthrop. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts. What do you think when you walk in that door? Do you have suggestions for how to make it better? If so, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this month I presented an overview of MCAS to a small group of 3rd grade parents. The presentation is posted on the Winthrop website.
This week begins our first round of testing. Students in 3rd and 5th grades will each have two days of ELA (English Language Arts) Reading Comprehension, and our 4th graders will also have those two days of ELA, plus a full day of Long Composition (writing.) These days are spread out over the next two weeks – please see the website calendar, or the e-Notice, for specifics.
In addition to what I mentioned to the 3rd grade parents, below are some additional tips that you may find helpful in preparing your family for the testing block.
Positive Encouragement goes a long way (all year-long) …
- Make sure your child gets enough sleep, eats properly, and gets to school on time (8:15AM.) During testing, make this a special effort.
- Encourage your child to read. No activity is linked to academic success as much as reading, and as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, reading books that are easy or just right for the child’s abilities, not reading books that are overly challenging or frustrating.
Prepare students on the day of the tests …
- Make sure that your child is well rested and eats breakfast. My son always wanted an egg sandwich on MCAS days. Not something we whip up on a typical morning, but I did always allot the extra time during testing!
- See that your child arrives at school on time and is relaxed.
- Dress comfortably – it looks to be a warm week so have your child dress in layers. If the forecast changes, a sweatshirt for cooler days may be necessary.
- Encourage your child to do the best work possible, and to have a positive attitude. The power of positive thinking is a real test-taking asset – if a child can visualize himself doing well, he probably will!
Test anxiety is rampant and can keep students from doing well …
- Always talk about the test in a positive way.
- Encourage best efforts, yet have realistic expectations. Third graders are having their first standardized testing experience. Fourth graders are now having to transfer answers from the test booklet to an answer booklet, and write a long, organized, on-topic essay! Fifth graders are experiencing science MCAS for the first time. Elementary teachers strive for growth and improvement, but it isn’t until middle school that many students get the hang of standardized testing!
- Assure your child that the test is only one measure of academic performance, and it is not reflected on the report card (this is a real relief for many students).
- Emphasize that test scores do not determine a person’s worth!
The second round of MCAS testing will take place in May. Students in 3rd and 4th grade will have two days of Math testing, and students in 5th grade will have two days of Math, followed by two days of Science and Technology/Engineering. That testing block is currently scheduled for May 7th through May 25th. The exact days for each grade level will be out in the next few weeks.
Thanks to Principal Clery at Roosevelt for many of these bullet points!
This Wednesday and Thursday students will be dismissed early to allow teachers and parents time to meet and discuss progress. Conferences are intended to be a discussion about each child, and not one-sided! Need some tips? See this handout from Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Family Research Project – Conference Tips for Parents.
You may have missed our kindergarten presentations at the Science Fair on Wednesday (they were in the music room, across from the All-Purpose Room.) If you didn’t get a chance to see them, you missed out on some interesting projects. Winthrop had seven students in kindergarten participate, and one completed his along with his third grade brother. Their work was well done, and truly representative of good science!