Friday, September 22, 2017

Responsive Classroom and The C.A.R.E.S. Traits

At Woodbrook Elementary School, we follow the core principles of Responsive Classroom.  
What is Responsive Classroom?  "Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to elementary and middle school teaching that focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional learning (SEL)."

The Responsive Classroom method was developed by classroom teachers.  At its core, it is a way of teaching that emphasizes social, emotional, and academic growth.  The skills that are directly and explicitly taught include cooperation, assertion, respect/responsibility, empathy, and self-control (CARES).  
The CARES traits are taught directly and indirectly through morning meetings as well as other times during the day.  This is one of the reasons it is very important students arrive to school on time, so they can be part of the instruction and practice.  

Over the past two weeks, the students have been focusing on ASSERTION.  This week, our Word of the Week is Respect.  We continuously ask our students to observe the world around them for examples of respect, and encourage you to do the same when they are at home. Respect is not something that we are born with, but is an explicitly taught trait. Young children use the words and actions of all those around them to help develop an understanding of what respect is and is not. We hope that you will take time to talk with your child about all the ways he/shows respect in and out of school, as well as the ways the others show respect to him/her. Just this one small action step of talking with your child about this trait shows that it is important!

1/2 Multiage Update by Mrs. Dion and Ms. Sullivan
Our first month in our multiage classroom has been such an amazing experience to witness. While at first, younger students were clearly hesitant to work with older, and visa versa, now, when you walk into our classroom, collaboration and cooperation between age levels is seen constantly. After such a strong start, we are so excited to see how our classroom family continues to develop throughout the year, and how we will continue to work together to support one another towards success.

Back to School Night
We want to thank all the parents who attended Back to School Night.  This annual event allows every classroom teacher the opportunity to explain the expectations for their class. It is also a time to give the State of the School Address.  If you missed Back to School Night, the State of the School address will be posted on the Woodbrook webpage.  Furthermore, if you missed the event, please connect with your child's teacher to get informed on what you missed.  Here are a few pictures from the annual event. 

New Teacher Interview: Adam Reinhard-Art Teacher

Where are you from? 
I was born in New Hampshire, but my family moved to Salem, VA when I was 9, so while I absolutely love New England, I consider myself to be southern at heart. I say ‘y’all’, I consider barbeque to be its own food group, and I am quickly losing the ability to weather a winter where the temperature dips below 32 degrees.
What was your favorite cartoon growing up? 
I was of the Rugrats and Doug generation.  I loved Scooby Do too, but in all honesty I am a big scaredy-cat, and sometimes the villains would scare me.  That is embarrassing to admit.  To this day, I still won’t watch horror movies.
When did you realize that you loved art?
My mother is a commercial artist, so growing up she was always working on artwork for clients.  In pre-Photoshop days, if she made a mistake on a project there was no ‘undo’ button, so she had to start over, which meant that I got to finish a lot of these really awesome partially-finished works of art.  I was frustrated that the part that I had drawn did not look as good as the part that my mother had drawn, and I resolved to get better at art.
How many years have you been teaching? 
This will be my sixth year of teaching.  I taught for three years in high school in Washington, DC and then for two years at an International Baccalaureate middle school.  This is my first year teaching elementary school!
What made you consider teaching art as a profession? 
I have been fortunate to have some really talented art teachers and professors in middle school, high school, college and graduate school.  I enjoyed school very much, but especially my art classes, so when I finished graduate school it seemed a natural progression for me to get my teaching license and see if I could be that teacher for a future generation of art students.
Who is your favorite artist?  Why? 
It is easier to pick a favorite artist before you study art, because you just go based on what you see in front of you; after studying artists and their narratives it is easy to find a way to like almost any work of art. But I think for purely aesthetic reasons, a long-standing favorite of mine is Andy Warhol.  When I discovered his art in high school I felt like my whole opinion of art changed.  Here was an artist who did very little drawing in the traditional sense, and yet he made world-famous artwork that is worth millions of dollars.  In fact, his appropriation of news-paper images, and use of photographic images in his work made me realize that anyone can make good art if you have an idea to explore.  Besides, his artwork is just fun to look at.   
If you could pick one famous piece of art to have in your home, what would it be? Why? 
Well, now that I just talked about Andy Warhol, I definitely have to pick one of his artworks, don’t I?  Andy Warhol did this thing where he took items and celebrities from pop culture and turned their likenesses into works of art.  My favorite are his Campbell’s Soup Can series.  He did 20 of them in 1965 which explored different exciting color combinations.  I love the idea that a wall of Campbell’s soup in the grocery store might not be art, but by appropriating the image and putting it on a canvas magically turns it into art – this was one of the first demonstrations for me that art is simply an idea…

The Woodbrook students continue to be amazed and curious about the construction happening on campus.  Everyday, students are asking Why, What and How questions about the work being done.  We are working with the construction crew to find those answers.  

Friday, September 1, 2017

September 5, 2017: Dream Big

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”.  For educators, the summer is an excellent time to reflect on the year that was while also dreaming of the year to come.  This was an exciting summer at Woodbrook.  The construction took center stage as the school began the process of renovation and remodeling. Summer school was held in Agnor-Hurt’s multiage learning space and was a big success.  Kids came everyday eager to learn, and have fun.  Learning is fun!

During the long, hot days of summer, construction crews filled the Woodbrook halls while our multiage teachers collaborated and planned the amazing year to come.   Those work sessions helped prepare the teachers for the coming year but also helped build a strong relationship between them as co-teachers.

The multiage spaces have come together beautifully.  Both the students and the teachers are learning how to best utilize the space to allow for authentic and engaged learning.  As the multiage teachers continue to grow accustomed to the new learning environment, the students are witnessing lifelong learning in action. Is it perfect?  No.  Will the space and the instruction continue to adapt?  Yes.  Learning is an on-going adventure.  
The Woodbrook staff is excited to welcome new members to our Woodbrook family.  Starting with the next blog post, we will feature an interview with a new staff member.  Our new Art teacher, Adam Reinhard, will be our first feature interview.
 Principal Lisa Molinaro is excited to welcome Michael Thornton as the new Assistant Principal.  Michael joins us with over 12 years of teaching experience. Over the last 3 years, Michael played an essential role in developing the multi-age curriculum and learning space at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School.  Lisa and Michael are fervently working together to plan an exciting year of instruction at Woodbrook.  
Over the first few days of school, the school community has been discussing The Word of the Week, cooperation.  Cooperation is a basic life skill that helps us work successfully in groups and interact harmoniously with others.  
This is the first of the C.A.R.E.S traits that will be discussed throughout the school year.  Each morning, as the students arrive, they read a morning message at the front door.  In addition, every morning announcement includes a quick message about the Word of the Week. The instructional staff is modeling and highlighting exemplars of cooperation throughout the day to help foster this trait in school.  
Each year, students fill the halls and classrooms in Woodbrook Elementary School with their own dreams and aspirations.  We, as a collective group of student-centered educators, work tirelessly to help foster those dreams into reality. We strongly believe that collectively we can ensure that all students at Woodbrook will have a successful year of learning.
In order for this to happen, each member of the Woodbrook learning family, teacher and student alike, must be willing to continuously grow as lifelong learners. We want every student to feel passionate about their learning.  
There are many ways to build authentic, passion-based learning.  One such way is to open the world to the students.  Give them the opportunity to explore and ask questions.  Construction has been a great prompt for questions and engagement.  The students are enthralled with the work being completed at the school.  Eyes are constantly gazing out to see what has changed and what resources are being used.  This leads to authentic questions about the construction.  For example, a massive crane was being used this week.  The students in grades 3, 4, and 5 all predicted what that crane was going to be used for.  It led to discussions about mass, simple machines, and the scientific method.  Now as the students eat lunch in the cafeteria, they can also follow along with all the neat construction happening at the back of the building.



WHAT CAN WE BUILD TOGETHER? Welcome back to a great year of learning! Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher wrote: Nothing endures but c...