Highlights From the 2015-2016 School Year

The Peirce staff started off the year with a keen focus on their relationships with students. Knowing that children are most successful in school when they feel connected to all their teachers, we worked with Jessica Minahan, behavior analyst and author of “The behavior Code”, to consult at the classroom level. This focus was reflected in our School Improvement Plan and will continue to be a goal as we move forward.

We continue to see improvement in our performance on MCAS, and have been preparing for the changes with the Common Core and PARCC. Teachers and support staff have been utilizing the Tuesday early release schedule to meet with curriculum leaders, school-based teams, and specialists to keep current with the Common Core demands.

The Peirce community continued to support those in need through our many drives and fund raising events. We held our coat and pajama and sock drives, collected turkeys and food during the holidays, raised money for “Pitching in For Kids”, and “Pennies for Patients”, and more. We work with “Arlington Eats” to provide snacks for hungry students. We show our ‘Peirce Pride’ by helping others, and acknowledging students’ achievements at our ‘Peirce Pride’ assemblies.

We continued to hold our most special traditions this year. We recently held our community art show, talent show, and Mrs. T’s annual school play. We show our Peirce Pride with the high attendance to these Friday night events.

In the library, students in grades 3 – 5 were able to write and illustrate their own book, which was published by Studentreasures Publishing. Students in grades K-2 are working together to write illustrate and publish a classroom book as well.

Peirce is ‘going even greener’ with it’s fall installation of solar panels on the gym roof, and our goal to get kids walking to school with our monthly “Walk to School” celebration. Walking reduces pollution and is great exercise.

We are looking forward to our Third grade Colonial Day celebration in May, our Spring Fair in June, and many other end of year celebrations!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Solar Panels on the Gymnasium Roof

Most of you know by now we have solar panels on our roof, and they are up and running. Every day, the sun allows us to generate power in a carbon free way. You can view our daily production with this website:

http://www.alsoenergy.com/PowerTrack/PowerLobby.aspx?sid=36246&Lang=en-US
We also have an LED screed in the library that plays the link.

Between this and our push to encourage walking to school, we are striving to our part for the environment.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Holidays

It is that time of year to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives. At Peirce, I am grateful for teachers who work tirelessly to educate our students’ minds and hearts, and support staff who are dedicated beyond their duties. I am grateful for parents who support the school in so many ways. I am grateful to have a team of administrators who put the needs of our children first. Most of all, I am grateful for our students, who remind us what is important day after day.
I am very lucky to see the fantastic teaching and learning that goes on here every day.
I wish you all a Wonderful Holiday break!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

MCAS vs. PARCC for 2016

At our last PTO meeting, State Representative Sean Garballey joined us, and we had a discussion about where the state would be heading this spring in terms of assessments. The following is a letter from Commissioner Mitchell Chester & the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that I received yesterday:

“Dear Superintendents, Charter School Leaders, and Principals,

I am writing to update you on discussions I had with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at its meetings on October 19-20. As you know, we have reached the end of our two-year test drive of PARCC, and the Board is scheduled to vote on Nov. 17 on next steps for statewide testing. While I have not yet made my recommendation to the Board, I want to share with you what I have shared with the Board.

Until recently, I thought about this as a binary decision: whether to adopt PARCC or continue with MCAS. On October 19, I told the Board there is a third option worth considering: using the effort we’ve invested in PARCC to create MCAS 2.0. To this end, I shared three considerations that are guiding my reasoning.

First, MCAS has served the Commonwealth well. I can’t imagine that the success of our students and educators would have been possible without a high-quality assessment that provided feedback on student, school, district, and state achievement and progress. Now that we have the benefit of two decades of experience and have upgraded our curriculum frameworks and content standards, it is time to upgrade our assessments.

Second, in important ways, PARCC sets a higher bar than MCAS for student performance. This is particularly true as students move into middle and high school. This higher bar is not simply about being harder. PARCC is designed to assess our updated understanding of learning progressions in mathematics, text complexity and the interplay of reading and writing, research skills, and the academic expectations of higher education and employers. Many Massachusetts K-12 educators, higher education faculty, and DESE staff contributed to making PARCC a strong assessment.

In addition, the online assessment experience is qualitatively different than taking a paper-and-pencil test. The online environment is more engaging (students prefer it by almost a two-to-one margin); the introduction of video and audio increases accessibility for many students, including English language learners and students with disabilities; and the online setting mirrors the digital world that is ubiquitous in students’ lives and futures.

Third, while Massachusetts has exercised a leadership role among the consortium states, any path forward that includes PARCC must be a path over which we have control. To be confident that we exercise ultimate agency over the direction of the Commonwealth’s assessment program, I am considering options for taking advantage of our access to PARCC to build MCAS 2.0.

I will continue to develop these ideas in the coming weeks, and I look forward to sharing my recommendation to the Board with you in early November.”

As soon as the decision in made, I will share it with you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Highlights From Peirce This Year

Peirce Elementary School

 

Peirce has a healthy focus on activity this year. We have continued with our monthly “Walk to School Days” with great participation. We added a new bike rack out in front, and biking to school has become a regular family event. We are planning bike safety programs for the spring.

We started the BOKS before school fitness program for our students this year, and have continued to offer the “Fit Girls” running club as well. Look for us at the ‘Cause and Event’ 5K this May.

 

The Peirce students and community continue to show their generosity and community spirit all year long. We participated in the Cradles to Crayons collections, the November Turkey collection for the local families, pajama and coat drives, Pennies for Patients, and food pantry drives, just to name a few.

 

Our 4th Grade teachers and students will once again be donating their time to run the Peirce Baseball Store at Peirce, where all the profits go to the Alana and Joshua Fund, and “Pitching in For Kids”, a charity sponsored by the Red Sox.

 

Peirce is a very social community. The parents organize a Bottle Rocket exposition in the fall, a talent show, movie night, family dance, art show, International Night, and our Spring Fair, coming up in June. We added a new Lantern Walk in November this year, and also continued our traditional pumpkin decorating, cookie decorating, and ice cream social for the students.

 

Our teachers have been busy looking at students’ work and assessments. Grade levels hold periodic data reviews to track their students’ progress. They pour over MCAS data and district assessments to measure where our student’s strengths and weaknesses are. That information helps steer our instruction.

 

Most of our teachers have completed a RETELL course on behalf of our ELL students. They are also studying “The Behavior Code” with in-services from one of the authors, Jessica Minnehan.   “The Behavior Code” is collaboration between a behavioral analyst and a child psychiatrist, which offers a systematic approach for deciphering causes and patterns of difficult student behaviors, and matches them with proven strategies to get the student back on track.

 

Third grade parents and teachers are beginning preparations for “Colonial Day” in May, and educational day about life and learning back in Colonial Times.

 

Once again, the Peirce Chess Club, the ‘Castle of Chess’, has once again come back with a trophy from the Rhode Island Scholastic Chess Championship. Their yearlong practice paid off again!

 

We continue to celebrate ‘Peirce Pride’ every day in our Perseverance, Effort, Integrity, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Excellence, just as we celebrate our motto, “Strive to Shine, as a Student, as a Friend”.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Great Things Happening at Peirce

I thought it might be a nice time to share some great learning moments I have seen here at Peirce recently:

Kindergarten – students playing math games in groups, working together, and learning about numbers.

First Grade – students breaking apart big numbers into 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s, in order to understand their value.

Second Grade – math centers using iPads, dice, ping pong balls, and game boards to add and subtract large numbers and TIME (that’s tricky!!)

Third Grade – students working on math strategies, and looking over their work and identifying their best work, reflecting on what made it their best.

Fourth Grade – students working in groups to discuss and identify character traits, and finding evidence to support their decision.

Fifth Grade – working in pairs to discuss word problems, and best strategies for solving those problems.

In art, 4th grade students are learning about pottery styles and ‘pinch pots’.

In music, students are learning types of music, and of course, new songs.

In gym, students are leaning about sports and nutrition (ask your 2nd grader about the food groups)

In library, students are browsing books and listening to stories that tie into their curriculum, like the 3rd grade making Pilgrim and Native American puppets after listening to historical fiction.

We are very busy and productive every day!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Advice For Parents on Homework

This was an interesting summary I found on “The Marshall Memo”, I especially like the historical perspective on the reasons why homework exists:

8. Advice for Parents on Homework
“Homework has a branding problem,” says author Bruce Feiler in this New York Times article. “Or, to be a little less pointy-headed about it, everybody hates homework.” But this hasn’t always been so. “Parents have been having these battles since before electric lighting,” he says. In the 19th century, homework was popular because people viewed the brain as a muscle that needed to be strengthened by nightly exertion. At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a backlash against repetitive drills, and by the 1940s, homework was out of favor. Then Sputnik got people panicked about the U.S. falling behind the Soviets and lots of homework was part of the solution. There was another dip in the 1960s, and then A Nation at Risk caused yet another surge in the 1980s. Today we’re hearing from both sides: Chinese kids are doing six hours of homework before breakfast! No, play is more important than make-work and Google wants employees who are creative.
In Feiler’s own household, the homework wars come down to squabbles over several questions, and he went looking for answers from experts:
• Do children need to work at their own desks or is the kitchen table okay? Eva Pomerantz, a specialist on parent involvement at the University of Illinois, likes the kitchen table because a parent is usually around, increasing the chance of connections, but is busy preparing meals, which makes it less likely they’ll do the homework themselves. But it depends on your house, she says: “If you have a crazy, noisy kitchen, that’s probably not the place for your kids to be doing homework unless they have amazing concentration.”
• Is it okay for children to do homework sprawled on their beds? “It’s not about the kid being on their bed while they do their homework,” says Erika Patall, a University of Texas expert on motivation and achievement. “It’s about the extent to which they’re really engaged and attentive to their work.” Young people vary in their preference for bright or dim lighting and sitting up or lying down. If the kid is falling asleep, looking out the window, or on the phone, then bed homework is a problem.
• How about listening to music or doing FaceTime with friends? Patall says the research on multitasking is pretty clear: “People tend to be very bad multitaskers, even people who say, ‘I’m a great multitasker.’” Doing other things extends the time homework takes and erodes the quality of work.
• Should parents go over homework to check for errors? “If you’re concerned that imperfect homework makes you look bad, that’s problematic,” says Pomerantz. But regularly looking over homework may help students put in more effort and catch their own mistakes.
• Should parents criticize sloppy homework or stick to encouragement? “You don’t always have t
o be upbeat,” says Patall. “You don’t want to deliver critical messages that imply things can’t be fixed. So you never want to say things like, ‘You’re stupid.’ But pointing out a situation where they should try harder would certainly be justified.”
• What will make children more self-motivated? The key is to give them as much control over their homework as possible, says Pomerantz, who has to fight her own tendency to be controlling. She tells her children how hard she works and says she expects them to do the same. “If you give them space to be self-reliant,” she says, “they usually will take it.”

“The Homework Squabbles” by Bruce Feiler in The New York Times, September 14, 2014,
http://nyti.ms/1rs2juA

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The First Full Week

We are now in 7 (or day 3 for Kindergarten) and it feels like we are in a good routine.  As I walked through the classrooms today, I saw kindergarteners holding hands, helping each other read, and answer,  the “Mystery Question” of the day.  I saw first graders reciting the pledge of allegiance, and second graders sorting out the difference between asking and telling sentences.  Everyone seems happy and engaged in their work.

Thank you all for your help in starting this year on a happy, positive note!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Thank You!

Hi all!
It’s been a long, cold month and I think we’re all hoping that little groundhog gives us some good news this weekend!
We owe a big thank you to all of our families and students for the outpouring of support in for library this month. After some third floor pipes burst on January 4th, we lost hundreds of books and materials in our ELL room, reading room, and library. Thanks to some hard working and dedicated 5th graders, who organized the book drive, we have replaced just about every library book that was destroyed, in only a few weeks. Mrs. T had some credits and donated money that she will use to replace the rest. This was a huge undertaking, so thank you 5th graders, Mrs T, families and community members, your support was priceless!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Happiest of Holidays

It has been a crazy few weeks here at the Peirce school, but it is reflective of the hustle and bustle of the season.
I just wanted to share a few nice moments; practicing our writing in Kindergarten to classical music, show and tell with some sweet holiday treasures in first grade, and a wonderful school assembly in the gym.
If you did not hear about it, ask your child to tell you about Rob Serrett. He shared messages of perseverance, kindness, and triumph. I especially like the way he shared the results of Dr. Emoto’s water experiment (you can You Tube it too) as a reminder of how our positive energy can effect those around us.
I wish you the happiest of holidays, a Happy New Year, and a wonderful break with your family.

Comments Off on The Happiest of Holidays

Filed under Uncategorized