Thursday, January 27, 2011

Character Trait of the month - Responsibility

Birch Meadow’s character education program focuses on 6 themes of character:

Respect, Friendship, Honesty, Responsibility, Cooperation and Caring. Responsibility is the character trait we will be focusing on this month. In order to reinforce Responsibility through literacy, all students will be listening to or reading the book The Summer My Father Was Ten by Pat Brisson, illustrated by Andrea Shine. This book reinforces responsibility when a young boy makes a bad choice and makes up for it by helping the person he hurt. Teachers and staff will be looking for students showing Responsibility and we are encouraging parents to do the same at home. Your child will be bringing home a bear this week. Please reward your child when you see him/her showing Responsibility by filling out the bear with your child’s name, room number and what they did to show Responsibility. The bear will be added to the other bears in a container in the office and posted in the lobby.
Mr. Sprung will read one bear from each grade level at our next assembly.

The bear will be returned to you at the end of the month. Thank you for your cooperation with this program, and we look forward to reading how your child has shown Responsibility at home!

Thank you,
Eric Sprung

Week in pictures 1/21 - 1/27

2/25 - Korean celebration at Coolidge Middle School

2/25 - METCO coordinator (Jesenia Castro) and families come and serve Soul Food Lunch to Birch Meadow staff

2/26 - Grade 2 plays "Who Wants to be Responsible?" as we are introduced to our new character trait of the month.

2/27 - I think I have enough snow. This 10+ foot pile of snow is in front of my home. I am sure many of you can relate!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MP3 players for reading program at Birch Meadow

At Birch Meadow, we are very proud to offer our students a variety of high quality computer resources and programs.

This past week the Reading Technology Education Foundation voted to fund 72 - MP3 players for K-3 teams at Birch Meadow. This will provide students an opportunity to listen to books at their instructional level supporting the Daily 5 program. With this new equipment, teachers and specialists are discovering the need for each student to have his/her own set of headphones.

We are asking that you provide a set of headphones for your child to use exclusively at school. Your child will have sole access to his/her headphones and we will store them here. Please be sure to tape your child’s name to the headphones in order to ensure they are used exclusively by your child. At the end of the school year your child will bring them home. If your child does not currently own a set of headphones, you can buy a set of your choice. If you would like some suggestions, the following are links to information pages about quality headphones that we have researched:

Thank you. We appreciate your cooperation.

Please contact Mr. Sprung or your classroom teacher if you are unable to send in headphones for your child. Extra sets of headphones will be available for students to borrow.

Thank you,

Mr. Sprung

Pictures from RMLD light dept. ceremony

Reading Municipal Light Department (RMLD) and its Board of Light Commissioners recently hosted an awards ceremony for the 14 winners of 2011 Annual T-shirt Art Contest. Taking part in the celebration at the RMLD Reading facility were this year’s winners and RMLD representatives, including (front row, left to right) Christina Kotsaninis, 3rd place, Lynnfield; Cristina Kinslieh, 1st place, Lynnfield; Tia Julian, 2nd place, Lynnfield; David Gilblair, Honorable Mention, Reading; Noah Ferrer, 2nd place, Wilmington; and Olivia Donnelly, 3rd place, Reading.

(Second row, left to right): Rachel Toppi, 2nd place, Reading; Mary Madden, 1st place, North Reading; Rachel Katcoff, 3rd place, North Reading; Ting Ting McGovern, 2nd place, North Reading; Emily Hill, 3rd place, Wilmington; Eleanor Finberg, 1st place, Reading; Julia Jenks, Honorable Mention, Reading; and Jomei Miller, 1st place, Wilmington.

(Back row, left to right) Priscilla Gottwald, RMLD Community Relations Manager; Philip B. Pacino, RMLD Board Secretary; Vin Cameron, RMLD General Manager; and Richard Hahn, RMLD Board Vice Chairman.

Reading Municipal Light Department (RMLD) Board of Light Commissioner Secretary Philip B. Pacino, (back, left), RMLD General Manager Vin Cameron (center) and RMLD Board Vice Chairman Richard Hahn congratulated the winners of the Annual RMLD T-shirt Art Contest at the recent awards ceremony. A first, second and third place winner from each town and two honorable mentions from Reading were selected in the contest that encourages third and fourth graders to be more energy conscious, to be aware of their own impact on the environment and to be safe around electricity.

Reading winners included (front row, from left to right) David Gilblair, Honorable Mention, Birch Meadow School; Olivia Donnelly, 3rd place, Killam School; Eleanor Finberg, 1st place, Barrows School; Julia Jenks, Honorable Mention, Joshua Eaton School; and Rachel Toppi, 2nd place, Wood End School.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Message from kindergarten teacher - Ms. Simon

To All My Birch Meadow Colleagues, Families, and Friends,

I have very exciting news! I am going to Africa this summer to teach and to train teachers! I am excited about this once in a lifetime opportunity and want to invite everyone in my world to participate and help make this experience the best it can be!

Do you have any clothing or shoes that your children have outgrown? I would love to send them to the students at the schools I will be visiting. I will be visiting four schools in two separate areas of Zimbabwe. One school is in Victoria Falls and three are a few hours from there (travelling by jeep through a game preserve ) deep in the bush!

Please bring any donations to my classroom, room #6, or give them to Birchie parent Deb Wiese who has graciously offered to help with the clothing drive. She has been to Africa and found it to be a phenomenal experience! We may place a large box in the foyer, if we get tons of items—stay tuned!

• There are approximately 150 kids in each school from grade 0 (kindergarten) through grade 7, including some high school students.
• The kids are thin and typically on the shorter side.
• They are in particular need of socks, shoes, hats, and leggings, for the girls to wear under their uniforms, as it gets cold in the winter but would welcome other clothes as well.
• Please separate donations into boy and girl items to expedite shipping and delivery.

The final day to bring in donations is Friday, February 11th!

As I get more information I may make other requests for items you no longer need!

I appreciate your help very much!


Maria Simon

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The week in pictures 1/13 - 1/20

1/13 - David G. with his Reading Memorial Light Dept. award winning t-shirt

1/14 - Members of the Reading Rotary come to Birch Meadow and give each 3rd grader a thesaurus

1/14 - A sample of 2nd grade Native American Projects

1/20 The Birch Meadow MCAS after school program begins

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The week in pictures 1/7 - 1/13

1/7 - Second graders watch a United Streaming video preparing for a field trip and Native American Day.

1/10 - Third graders work on building reading stamina as part of the Daily 5 reading program.

1/11 - First graders jumping rope during physical education class.

1/12 - Snow Day! I am very thankful for my snow blower. My two sons enjoyed playing in the snow.

1/13 - First graders create illustrations based on the book Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

Reading Rockets: Spelling made fun

Spelling City!
Spelling City can be used by teachers, parents, and students to provide practice with spelling words. Teachers can upload spelling lists for their students to access, or parents/students can type in a list. There are also a bunch of lists already on the site (example: 1st grade 's' words).

Once a list of spelling words is entered, students can choose from one of three games to play. Molly really liked the Hang Mouse game. Students can also use the Teach Me feature, which reads the word, then reads each letter, and uses the word in the sentence. Finally, there's a Test Me feature which reads the words. Students type the letters and can have their word checked.

Spelling City seems relatively new, with promises of more features to come. I hope they add some spelling lists by spelling feature, rather than just initial letter. I was trained at UVA, so it's very hard for me to move away from the word study approach. I'd also like to see more games, and an expanded Teach Me feature. I'm not sure what they've got right now really "teaches" anyone how to spell. That said, Spelling City is a fun and easy way to provide individualized practice with spelling words.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Race to Nowhere

Tuesday night I had the privilege of seeing the movie “Race to Nowhere”. The movie made me reevaluate my role as a principal holding teachers to high standards and subsequently the teachers doing the same to children. The movie has many important lessons, but the most important message for me was making sure kids have the opportunity to be kids. We as educators need to recognize our influence on student stress. The movie is being shown on January 25 at 7:00 PM in the RMHS performing arts center. I highly recommend the movie and hope it helps all adults think how we can continue to support education and our children.

Movie information:
The Reading Public Schools will be presenting the documentary film, "Race to Nowhere" on Tuesday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m. at the RMHS Fine and Performing Arts Center. "Race to Nowhere" is a documentary which focuses on issues facing students, parents, and educators across the nation. The hope is that this film will bring communities together to examine current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens in the 21st century. To view a trailer of the film, please go to Race to Nowhere trailer.

An open dialogue will follow the film screening and all are welcome and encouraged to participate in the conversation as we continue to build our community around our students.

A concerned mother turned filmmaker aims her camera at the high-stakes, high-pressure culture that has invaded our schools and our children’s lives. Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace; students are disengaged; stress-related illness and depression are rampant; and many young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired. Race to Nowhere is a call to action for families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.

Purchase tickets here

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This week in pictures 1/3 - 1/6

Happy New Year!

One of my many New Year’s resolutions is to capture Birch Meadow in pictures. My goal is to take a picture a day of Birch Meadow. The picture may be of teachers, students, observations, or excitement which I would like to share. At the end of the week I will post the pictures to my blog. This project provides me an opportunity to celebrate Birch Meadow in a new way and share special memories of our school. Here are the pictures from my first week.
Here are the pictures from my first week.

1/3 - The first day back from vacation a new student eats with supportive friends at Birch Meadow

1/4 The Birch Tree outside the library displays "friendship" bears. Each bear explains how Birch Meadow students have shown the character trait of friendship this month.

1/5 Our 4th grade teachers meet to discuss student success, curriculum consistency, and assessment data. Every day at Birch Meadow teachers informally share ideas and discuss student learning. This formal structured meeting (with the principal, reading specialist, and learning center)happens for each grade level every 6 weeks.

1/6 Birch Meadow is fortunate to have two 4th grade students from Korea. They are staying with a host family and spending each day in 4th grade from (1/6 - 2/18). Birch Meadow students were excited to meet these new friends.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Incoming kindergarten meeting

Meeting for incoming 2011-2012 kindergarten parents

We are currently registering kindergarten children for the 2011-2012 school year. Information has been mailed to families that were on the town census. If you are not on the census or you know of neighbors that may have a child who will be five years old on or before August 31 of this year, please have them contact the Superintendent's office at 781-944-5800 to obtain paperwork.

Additionally, there will be a town-wide parent meeting for all incoming kindergarten parents this Wednesday, January 5 at 7:00 at the Killam Elementary School, 333 Charles St., Reading. Information regarding screening, full-day programming and registration will be discussed. All parents are invited.