Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Are you a refugee in the Orchard Community?

If so, we would like you to contact us. Part of our mission is to help students understand each other. The more students compassionately walk in each other’s shoes, the better they can learn. Specifically, we here at Orchard are concerned about how world events impact our students. I would like to invite Orchard community members with experience as refugees to speak to our students about that experience.

We assure you that any communication to students would be totally nonpolitical and developmentally appropriate. We simply want our students to hear what it is like to be a stranger in a strange land...to put a human face on headlines.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Homeside Activities begin in October!

Homeside Activities begin in October! Your child will bring these home to do with you once or twice a month—to add a “homeside” to the “schoolside” learning we are doing in class. These 15- to 20-minute activities:
  • are built around conversations between you and your child,
  • deal with topics and ideas related to your child's schoolwork;
  • may involve your child in a short writing or drawing activity, and
  • help create a partnership between school and home.

You will find that in Homeside Activities there are no “right” or “wrong” answers, no right or wrong ways to do the activities. You can take the conversation in any direction you want, and you can have as many family members participate as you’d like. Just having these conversations is what counts, because they help your child develop thinking and language skills for life.
These assignments contribute to your child’s academic and social learning because
  • they help you stay in touch with your child’s learning;
  • working with you increases your child’s interest in the work;
  • your child gets to practice communication skills and think about important ideas; and
  • your child learns from you and sees how school learning relates to “real life.”

These don’t take long to do, and your child’s teacher will try to give you plenty of time to fit them into your schedule. Also, we’ve planned when to use these activities. That way, if you have several children at school, they won’t all bring these home at the same time. Here’s the schedule:
  • Kinder and 3rd Grade: First School Monday of the month
  • 1st & 4th Grades: Second School Monday of the month
  • 2nd & 5th Grades: Third School Monday of the month

Thanks for taking the time to share these wonderful learning experiences with us. I hope you and your child enjoy Homeside Activities.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Recess May look a Little Different at Orchard

Recess can be a ton of fun. It's the time of day many kids look forward to the most.

Unfortunately, recess can also be the most troubling time of day for a lot of our students. It's often when kids can be the most hurtful to each other, when kids can feel the most lonely and left out, and when students can play in a way that is harmful to themselves or others.

At Orchard we want to make recess fun and inclusive for everyone. So, we've contracted with Playworks (playworks.org) to provide professional development for all of our Recess Staff and teachers. Playworks vision is to "create a place for every kid on the playground, a place where every kid belongs, has fun and is part of the game."

Our Recess Coaches (that's what we'll call the adults working with students during recess) will actively play with and lead activities during recess. Our emphasis will be on safe, inclusive games. There will also be a place for developmentally appropriate competition.

Inclusiveness means: sharing school equipment, not bringing equipment from home. We ask that students please not bring balls and other equipment from home to use during recess. We will have plenty of equipment. We find that when students bring their own balls, it is more difficult to be inclusive of everyone who wants to play.

During the first few weeks of school, your children may come home telling you that they didn't get to play much during recess. We will have to do some explanation of how things are going to work. Please reassure them that soon, we'll have many fun activities going on.

We hope that soon, recess will be one of the best part of the day for EVERYONE! 

Orchard Teachers and Coaches playing foursquare during Playworks training.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Kindergarten Family Connection Conferences: September 1 & 2

For Kindergartners, the first two days of school will be dedicated to Family Connection Conferences. Kinder parents will receive an appointment time with their Classroom Assignment letter. Kindergartners will begin school on Thursday, September 3.

Classroom Assignments

Classroom Assignment Letters will be mailed out the week of August 17.

Friday, July 17, 2015

If you want your children to succeed, teach them to share. Results of a 20-year study

Copied from the Washington Post: http://wapo.st/1CJR5t6

By Emma Brown July 16

Kindergartners who share, cooperate and are helpful are more likely to have a college degree and a job 20 years later than children who lack those social skills, according to a new study.

Kids who get along well with others also are less likely to have substance-abuse problems and run-ins with the law.

The research, which involved tracking nearly 800 students for two decades, suggests that specific social-emotional skills among young children can be powerful predictors for success later in life.

“These are skills that probably portend their ability to do well in school, to pay attention and to navigate their environment,” said Damon E. Jones, a research assistant professor of health and human development at Pennsylvania State University. He was the lead author of the paper, published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

Jones said the study suggests that early-childhood education programs and schools could identify children with weak social skills early on, when they are still very receptive to learning how to behave differently.

It may be difficult for overburdened schools to find time to focus on children’s social-emotional selves, he said, especially in grades beyond kindergarten. But “there are effective programs that can be delivered efficiently and that can help give a boost to children in these areas,” he said. “We just need to recognize that these may be important skills to incorporate into the curriculum as well.”

The study is based on data collected beginning in 1991 at schools in Nashville, Seattle, rural Pennsylvania and Durham, N.C. Teachers of 753 kindergartners were asked to rate each student’s skill level in eight areas:
  • Resolves peer problems on his/her own.
  • Is very good at understanding other people’s feelings.
  • Shares materials with others.
  • Cooperates with peers without prompting.
  • Is helpful to others.
  • Listens to others’ point of view.
  • Can give suggestions and opinions without being bossy
  • Acts friendly toward others.
Each teacher was asked to assess how well each statement described the child on a 5-point scale: “Not at all (0),” “A little (1),” “Moderately well (2),” “Well (3)” and “Very well (4).”

Researchers then tracked those students for two decades, using police records, reports from parents and self-reports from the children.

They then used statistical models to filter out the effects of factors such as a child’s socioeconomic status, family characteristics and early academic ability to isolate the impact of early social skills on life outcomes.

Children who scored “well” on social competence were four times as likely to get a college degree by age 25 as those who scored “a little.”

Children who scored higher were also more likely to have a full-time job by the time they were 25. Similarly, children who scored on the lower end of the scale were more likely to have negative interactions with the police and spend time in juvenile detention. They also had a higher chance of being arrested, of recent binge drinking and of being on a waiting list for public housing.

The research does not say that the ability to share causes one’s life to go more smoothly or that refusing to share causes one’s life to be difficult. But coupled with the growing body of research on social-emotional skills, it provides more evidence for what seems like common sense: Children who interact well as kindergartners are more likely to make friends and get positive feedback from teachers and, therefore, are more likely to like school and stay in school.

“It’s easy to see where these are skills that can lead to good outcomes,” Jones said. “We all know that when you start to succeed in relationships or in school, that’s going to influence where you’re headed next.”

The children in the study represented a cross-section of society, with a somewhat higher proportion of at-risk children than the general population, Jones said. Of the sample, about half were white, 46 percent were black and 4 percent were from other ethnic backgrounds. Fifty-eight percent were boys.

Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, said the study shows that schools can’t just be concerned with teaching social-emotional skills — that’s too broad a category. The study did not find strong correlations between aggressive behavior, for example, and later life outcomes.

“We’ve got to be very fine-tuned about what exactly it is we need to help kids with,” he said.

Barnett said the study is heartening to those who see high-quality preschool as a powerful way to change the trajectory of children’s lives. “It does offer the promise that if we can help kids get to this place by 5, that it will be sustaining,” he said. “You don’t have to worry that it is going to unravel.”

The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Orchard & White Bluffs Teachers at the Reading Institute

Orchard Elementary and White Bluffs Elementary teachers are spending this week working with facilitators from Columbia College's Reading and Writing Project. 

They are building their knowledge of Balanced Literacy and Readers Workshop. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

School Calendar Released

The Richland School District and Richland Education Association have reached a tentative agreement on the 2015-16 calendar (link below)....with the exception of specific parent-teacher conference dates. Conference dates will be added once they are determined.

RSD School Calendar