Ms. Young & Mr. Alford
Trimester 3 Grading Information
Following Governor Sununu’s announcement that New Hampshire schools will remain in a state of remote learning for the duration of the academic year, he encouraged school districts to consider increased flexibility in their grading practices moving forward. Remote learning presents a very different and more stressful educational environment for our students than the traditional model of “going to school”. Forgoing some aspects of formal grading may help to alleviate some of the stress experienced by both students and their families. Prioritizing certain subjects and specific standards within those subjects will help our teachers to focus on the skills and concepts that are most essential for students to learn. For these reasons, we will be making some significant adjustments to our grading practices for Trimester 3. I have broken out these changes between lower grades and upper grades below.
On the Trimester 3 report card, K-4 students will receive performance indicators (N,P, M, E) for standards in English language arts and math. The number of standards that are reported will likely be lower than in Trimester 2 as teachers are focusing on the standards that are most essential. K-4 students will not receive any grades or ratings for habits of mind and positive behaviors, related arts, science, or social studies.
On the Trimester 3 report card, 5-8 students will receive performance indicators (N,P, M, E) for standards in English language arts and math. The number of standards that are reported will likely be lower than in Trimester 2 as teachers are focusing on the standards that are most essential. 5-8 students will not receive any ratings for habits of mind and positive behaviors. No numeric scores will be reported for any content areas. In place of a numeric score, students will receive a rating of Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U) for ELA and math as well as related arts, Spanish, science, and social studies. A rating of S will signify that the student’s work was considered to have earned the equivalent of a 75 (C-) or better.
Progress reports will not be issued for this trimester and honor and high honor status will not be calculated. Students will be eligible to participate in co-curricular activities in the fall provided they demonstrate effort to complete assignments and participate in distance learning.
Special considerations for grades 7-8:
Students in grades 7 and 8 are traditionally recognized for their academic achievement at graduation, either by serving as marshals or ushers (seventh graders) or by being named as one of top four students in their class (eighth graders). While we don’t know what our end of the year celebration will look like yet, we do want to preserve and honor these traditions. We will use students’ grade point averages as calculated at the end of Trimester 2 to determine class standing.
In order for students to be considered to serve as marshals or ushers or to be named as one of the top four students, they will need to meet the following criteria:
- Complete all required assignments during Trimester 3
- Have all standard performance indicators rated as P or better
- Have all overall grades rated as an S.
I will notify the top six students in grade 7 and the top four students in grade 8 in the next few days so they are encouraged to continue demonstrating strong effort.
Teachers will continue to provide detailed feedback to students about their work. Feedback to students on their submission of assignments has a greater impact on their learning and continued engagement than reporting a score. It is feedback that lets students know where they are on the learning continuum and what they need to do to improve. The changes to our grading practices acknowledge the very different times that we find ourselves in and are intended to alleviate some of the stress experienced by our students. Please let me know if you have any questions.
April 17, 2020
Yesterday, Governor Sununu ordered all schools in New Hampshire to continue remote learning for the rest of the school year. We are in the process of planning for how to finish the school year as productively as possible while also preparing for next year. We are working to develop plans for how to proceed with events such as Kindergarten registration, class placement for 20-21, graduation, and summer programs. We're also working to figure out how to return student belongings to families and have school materials returned to us. We will continue to update you as we get more information and finalize plans. The school’s faculty have also been exploring options for reporting grades in the distance learning model and we will have information about that for you next week.
At the April 16 School Board meeting, the Board determined that the last day of distance learning for students will be Friday, June 5. As a reminder, April vacation has been cancelled this year. In addition, Kindergarten registration on May 20 has been cancelled; K students will be asked to participate in distance learning that day. The teacher workshop day scheduled for May 22 has also been cancelled.
Breakfast and lunch are available free of charge to all Northwood residents under the age of 18 for the remainder of the school year. Chef Chris recently announced that he will be able to offer weekend meals (to be picked up or delivered on Fridays) as well as reheatable meals. He can also provide up to three days worth of meals at one time if you are unable to pick up on a daily basis. Please contact him if you would like to sign up for meals by emailing email@example.com . You may want to check out this video he made providing information about what the new and improved menu could include!
Please let your child(ren) know how sad we are that we won’t get to finish the year with them in person and that we miss them terribly!
Take care and enjoy your weekend.
March 19, 2020
Remember when we were all stressed out about having to start school late due to the bus driver shortage? That seems like an awfully small problem in comparison to what we're currently handling! COVID-19 has created perhaps the most wide-scale social, educational, financial, and logistical disruption that any of us have ever faced (or ever will). As unsettling as it is for your family and the Northwood community, it is equally unsettling for our staff members in the context of their own lives both within and beyond their jobs here at Northwood School. Despite this tumultuous situation, our staff members have pulled a proverbial rabbit out of a hat and launched distance learning for 400 students with just three days of preparation. I am truly astounded by what they have been able to accomplish in such a short time.
There have been countless instances this week of our staff members going above and beyond. Some have cancelled personal or sick days in order to come to work to prepare. Some spent hours every day disinfecting items in classrooms. Others adjusted their work schedule to be able to arrive early or stay late so families could pick up materials at a convenient time. Everyone has offered help, suggestions, and moral support. Many of our educators have learned to use online platforms that they had barely even heard of a week ago while also planning for the next several days of instruction and grading work that’s been completed to prepare for issuing report cards. Our SAU and building administrators, food service staff, technology director, custodians, and the bus company have all been working around the clock to cut through red tape, tackle logistics, anticipate needs, and develop plans to get kids and families what they need to be successful in a distance learning model.
There have been already and will continue to be many challenges to overcome, questions to answer, and problems to solve as we navigate this new normal over the next couple of weeks. Our staff members are working incredibly hard. Many of them are working from home to teach your children while also supporting their own children's distance learning. Many of them are impacted by changes in their spouse’s work schedules. Many of them are experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, and sadness. Through this all, their commitment and dedication are unwavering. Our staff members care deeply about the academic and social success of your children and are determined to work through all of the challenges we will face in the coming weeks to preserve the continuity of instruction as well as the sense of community that makes our school so special.
Thank you for your positive messages, patience, and offers of support to our staff members in the last few days. As we greeted families who came to pick up materials on Wednesday, we received many appreciative and supportive comments. Many of our faculty and support staff have received positive emails and social media posts from parents as well. It has been a great morale booster for our staff to hear those kind words. Thank you for the opportunity to lead an amazing staff and serve such a strong and supportive community. I have never been more proud to be the principal of Northwood School.
March 17, 2020
As you are aware, Northwood School, along with all schools in New Hampshire, has recently announced the closure of school due COVID-19. The closure will run at least through April 3. The Commissioner of Education has asked schools to switch to an “online learning” model in the interim. Our staff members have been working hard to develop relevant and engaging distance learning lessons for students. Students in grades Kindergarten through grade 2 will primarily have paper-based work until April 3. If the closure extends beyond that date, K-2 students will transition to digital distance learning. Students in grades 3 - 8 will have primarily digital distance learning lessons for the duration of the closure.
During the closure, the building will not be accessible to families. There may be no one available to answer the phones at the school. If you need to reach a staff member, I encourage you to use email. All staff members’ email addresses are listed in the “Staff Directory” section of the school’s website. Northwood staff members should be available to answer email questions from 8:30 A.M. to 9:30 A.M. and 12:30 P.M. to 1:30 P.M. Teachers will try to be flexible for parents who work during those hours and need to communicate at different times.
Student Academic Expectations
All students are expected to participate in the activities that have been/will be prepared by teachers and sent home in packets or via platforms Google Classroom. Please expect to hear from your child(ren)’s teachers soon and do not hesitate to reach out to them. Parents are encouraged to create a “school day schedule” of activities so that students can experience some consistency during this challenging time. There are additional letters attached from our school counselors and our curriculum director that provide some guidance on establishing schedules and routines.
Special Education/Section 504:
Over the last few days, we have received some guidance from the United States and New Hampshire Departments of Education regarding special education services. Our special education team has been meeting this week to work on how best to support the needs of students with disabilities. Case managers and 504 coordinators will communicate directly with families to define these accommodations and modifications as the plans are finalized.
Internet access is a key component of effective digital distance learning. If you do not currently have internet service in your home, there are some resources you can access:
Spectrum Internet: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update or call 1-844-488-8398
Xfinity Internet: Please visit https://xfinity.com/wifi to see a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots. Open hotspots, both indoor and outdoor, will be displayed on the map in a light green color. Once at a hotspot, customers and non-customers should select xfinitywifi from the list of available WiFi networks, and then launch a browser. Non-Xfinity Internet customers can connect by clicking the Accept & Connect button. Non-Xfinity customers will be able to renew their complimentary sessions every two hours.
Our teachers will do their best to work with families who are not able or do not wish to get internet access, but please be aware that if the closure goes past April 3, it may not be possible for teachers to provide paper-based work.
A whole new way of doing things:
This way of teaching and learning is new to all of us. Teachers, students, and parents/guardians will all be developing new skills and applying new strategies. We expect that our process and procedures will evolve over the next few weeks. Please be patient with us and with yourselves as we all adjust to a completely different educational structure. Our teachers will be primarily using Google Classroom for digital distance learning. Here’s a resource to help familiarize yourself with Google Classroom. I’ve also included information from our school counselors and nurse about local resources and strategies for maintaining physical and emotional health. We will continue to share more resources and information in the coming weeks. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or challenges.
We are truly lucky to have such a strong and supportive community. Please tell your child(ren) how much we miss them already.
Every NWS staff member makes us stronger!
Thank you, para-educators, for your hard work and dedication to our kiddos! There are so many tasks paras do without saying a word. Para-educators often have a wealth of knowledge and are able to see student/classroom dynamics that might otherwise go unseen. NWS is lucky to have such dedicated para-educators. Please take a moment to read what a “basic day” looks like for a para-educator at NWS (thank you, Ms. Hodgdon, for sharing just SOME of what you do in a day!):
My arrival- When I arrive to work I will follow my routine of putting my belongings away and reading any case manager notes. There are usually notes of my own I will need to read over to help prepare for my day. I’m able to touch base with teachers or case managers most mornings to get a better understanding of what each student I work with needs. I'm responsible for multiple students throughout the day so it’s important for me to be organized and prepared. If I know in advance I’ll usually make a student something for their birthday (usually whoopie pie). For a lot of my students it is important to start their day off positive, so a “happy birthday” snack usually does it!
Student arrival- Students arrive to homeroom for their morning routine. I check in with my students to make sure they have all their materials necessary for the morning. From this point my students move onto their first class, related arts. This is different for each day of the week.
Core classes- I may be providing assistance to one or three students during a class. I’ll take notes as their teacher explains the lesson. When notes are done, I’ll go around and check-in with any of my students to ensure they knew the content of the lesson. There are times when I need to remind students of behavior expectations. Students want independence to complete work, and I try to let them have some space, but still provide assistance. Before class ends, I will go around to check if my students put in their agenda book the homework assignment or other important information. Para-educators work hard to promote independence and responsibility while still making sure students have what they need.
Student lunch/recess- My duty is monitoring lunch while 7th and 8th graders are there. Usually they are talking more than eating but this is a part of their schedule where they are able to socialize. Once they’re done with eating, we head to the playground. Recess consists of basketball or some other sport, and more socializing. Students line up and I’ll walk with them to help get them ready to be back in classes.
Lunch- Usually I’m working on something while I eat to stay up to date on paperwork or any directions for a class.
Remaining classes- Afternoons tend to need more behavior support as students are starting to get tired. Because I get to know my students well, I can anticipate if they would benefit from a quick walk or stretching of the legs to help them stay focused. We go through the same routine in each class. Consistency is important for students as it helps them create healthy academic habits.
End of day- This is the last chance to speak with students to see if they have everything (shirts, hats, books, agenda book, permission slips, etc). I wish them each a good rest of their day and off they go!
More notes and check-ins- After students leave, I’m back upstairs checking in with teachers, case managers, and other para-educators about how the day went and what's planned for tomorrow. It is vital that we communicate a lot to ensure consistency for students. I’ll write down any specific notes in order to be ready for tomorrow.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, this is a snapshot of a basic day. Being a para-educator is not a position which is done well without passion and a genuine care for children. Para-educators become an important person to not only the students they directly work with but to all students they encounter. If you have friends that are para-educators, you should ask them how much effort they give every single day, it will be enlightening. Please show your appreciation to any para-ecducator you come across! Lastly, enjoy this interesting article outlining how rigorous this profession can be.
In accordance wtih state law, Northwood School has an emergency operations plan to guide the school's response to a number of potential hazardous situations. Over the last few years, the Safety Team has been working to revise and improve each section of the plan using guidelines and feedback from the Department of Homeland Security. This year, the team's work has focused on planning for events that interfere with regular dismissal procedures and require students to be reunited with their families using different procedures. This process, called "reunification," could occur here at school or at an altnerate location depending on the circumstances. In the coming weeks, we will be providing more information for families about the reunification process via email.
Northwood School's emergency planning process has been greatly enhanced by the participation and collaboration of school staff and local agencies. We are very appreciative of the contributions and input provided by Northwood Police, Northwood Fire, and Northwood Emergency management personnel. Thank you also to our staff members who serve on the Safety Team!
Helpful Ways To Talk With Your Child About School
I remember going home and my mom asking me “how was school?” to which my reply was usually “good” or “fine.” As parents, I’m sure you want to hear more than an automated response as they spend 6 ½ hours a day at school! A great way to keep your child’s interest in school is being actively engaged in their learning. By posing a well crafted question you could spur on a wealth of information! Some great places to get question topics would be teachers' websites, Northwood School Twitter page, or our Northwood School home page. How much fun would it be to have your child come home, teach you about what they learned, and then create your own fun at home?!? Here’s an article that talks about strategic questions to ask if your child is quiet or shy. This article goes more in-depth on how to support your child through school and how to show interest without stifling the development of their identity. Please take a look at these two helpful articles on how to avoid the dreaded “school was fine” answer.
During the 17-18 school year, the School Board elected to pursue accreditation through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. NEASC approved Northwood School as a candidate for accreditation in March of 2018 after a lengthy application process. During the 18-19 school year, school staff engaged in a comprehensive self-study. The self-study included completion of a thorough assessment of the school's educational programs, processes, systems, and practices to determine the degree to which the school meets each of NEASC's seven standards. The seven standards address the following areas:
- Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations
- Assessment of and for Student Learning
- School Culture and Leadership
- School Resources for Learning
- Community Resources for Learning
The rigorous standards were established to ensure that the necessary components for effective education exist within the school.
The Leadership Team is currently in the process of documenting and providing evidence for the findings of the self-study. Following completion of the extensive evaluation document, NEASC will conduct an accreditation visit in the spring. The purpose of the accreditation visit is to review and determine from an outside professional viewpoint the extent to which the school is aligning with the Standards for Accreditation. As part of the evaluation, the visiting team will meet with all school constituents, review the school's self-study, visit a number of classes, and examine examples of student work submitted by the school.
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges is a voluntary membership organization of more than 2,000 public and independent schools, colleges and universities, and vocational, technical, and career institutions. Of these, approximately 630 schools are accredited through the Association's Commission on Public Schools. The Commission works with invidiual schools to improve the quality of education through a continuous process of evaluation and accreditation.
We will provide more information about the accreditation visit later in the year.
Keeping the wheels on the bus, on the bus:
The buses this year are full of energy and students! One thing I’ve noticed is how much energy is being used for unexpected behavior. It certainly takes a village to help foster healthy habits. Even though there are more riders per bus it should not mean our students should lose sight of expected bus riding behavior. We can all use a refresher every once and awhile, and hope you’ll take a minute to give a refresher to your kiddo(s) about Northwood School bus expectations.
- Be at the assigned bus stop on time.
- Wait for the bus in a manner that does not present a danger to themselves, other students, or to moving vehicles.
- Wait 10 feet from the bus, until it is completely stopped, before boarding.
- Be seated quietly at all times. All students will be assigned seats on all bus runs and are financially responsible for any damage done to seats or other equipment on that area.
- Keep arms, legs, and personal belongings out of the aisle and away from open windows.
- Refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking on the bus.
- Understand when crossing in front of the bus, do so 10 feet in front of the bus, look both ways, and wait for the bus driver’s signal before crossing.
- Obey any request by the bus driver concerning safety and conduct.
- Respond to bus evacuation procedures in an orderly manner and as directed.
- Understand there will be absolutely no fighting on the bus.
- No student will be allowed off a bus at any location other than school or the approved discharge point, unless prior written arrangements have been approved by the office.
This week, we are highlighting the work that teachers and staff do outside of the classroom to address the many facets of a K-8 school.
One essential role that our staff members take on is committee work. The school has a number of committees that address different topics:
- The Wellness Committee promotes health and wellness for students, staff, and families. The committee organizes activities and provides resources and information to encourage healthy eating, physical fitness, and strong social connections.
- The Universal Team focuses their efforts on defining, teaching, and modeling safe, responsible, and respectful behavior to maximize social and academic success. The team regularly reviews student behavior data to identify areas of strength and need and then plans activities and provides resources to support areas that could use improvement.
- The Sunshine Committee provides small tokens of appreciation or empathy when staff members are celebrating a happy occasion or facing a challenging time in their lives.
- The Leadership Team is responsible for fostering a positive and collaborative culture, facilitating communication among staff members, creating and sustaining an engaging learning community, and developing goals and implementing effective and efficient systems in service of accomplishing those goals. The Leadership Team this year is focusing in particular on the self-study process that we are undertaking as part of our pursuit of NEASC accreditation (more on that in a future edition of the Laker).
- The Technology Committee's work focuses on enhancing, supporting, and increasing the use of technology in order to personalize learning and maximize student achievement.
- The Literacy Committee promotes school-wide literacy through planning events such as book buddies, the spelling bee, Read Across America Week, and hosting visiting authors.
- The Science Committee focuses on developing science curriculum that is aligned with the relatively new Next Generation Science Standards and providing resources and coaching to staff.
- The Safety Committee develops and directs procedures and protocols to ensure the safety and security of the building and grounds. The team provides information and resources for staff members, plans drills for a variety of emergency procedures, and coordinates with town and state officials to ensure continuity in our safety measures.
- The Deerfield Fair Committee works to collect, organize, and display student work at the fair each year.
We are grateful for our staff members' dedication to our school and their willingness to create a safe, challenging, fun, and engaging learning environment for students. Schools are complex organizations that require an "all hands on deck" attitude - something our staff has in spades! We are lucky to have such hardworking, creative, and thoughtful educators in our school!