Friday, December 19, 2014

A Busy Day of Coding for ALL students and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Today, all students learned to code in our Day of Coding. It was really fun for the students and they learned so much. One of the key take aways was the need to persist, even if you fail the first several times! The link to all the information related to coding is here. 
Have your children try it over vacation. The information on the link is by grade level- feel free to give it a try!
Thanks to Mrs. Wilson's students who helped us all day as the CODEXPERTS!  Thanks to all the staff who planned the day and helped out.

Have a wonderful winter break. Take the time to relax and enjoy!  We so appreciate your partnership. Have a healthy and wonderful 2015 from our house to yours!

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Are Our Safety Measures and Other Questions Brought to Us This Week and December Worthy Wildcats!

We have had a few parents recently ask us about our safety procedures. When do we go into a soft lockdown? Why do I have to drop off my student on Windsor Drive instead of the front of the school? Why don't we bring boots, homework or lunches to the classrooms? Why must I contact the school office when my child is out for a school day, if I contact the teacher? With winter break ahead of us, we thought this would be a good time to review our safety procedures and why we follow them.

Please keep in mind that all of our procedures have rationale behind them. There are really two purposes: First, to keep all students and staff safe and secondly, to keep instructional interruptions to a minimum so our students have time to learn, grow and be successful. 

• Since many of our students come from other schools to attend our instructional programs, those students have priority to be dropped off and picked up in our front drive. In addition, we have cabs who also pick up some of our students and they too, get priority to use the front drive.

•If you are dropping off a child prior to 9:05AM there is staff outside standing near the garden to welcome your child and have them enter school safely. If your child typically lines up at the other doors, they will enter through the garden doors if students have already entered the school. If your child arrives after 9:05AM you may have them enter through the front door, and you must sign them in. Please park, as we cannot block our fire line in the front of the building! 

•We now put homework for absent children in grade level bins in the front office. You may pick up homework up until 4:00PM when the office closes. We do not drop off student items to the classrooms as it interrupts instruction. Each time we call a classroom, the teacher has to start over to gain attention and resume the lesson. 

•We ask you to contact the school office when your child will be out of school so that we know your child will be absent. Although you may email the classroom teachers, they often do not have the time to check their email prior to the students arriving. We frequently have faculty meetings, professional development or team meetings before your children come to school. Our school day begins at 8:15 and every moment until the students arrive is busy for our staff. 

•Safety Measures 
~Evacuation- every person in the building leaves the building when something requires us to evacuate. Things this would include could be a natural gas leak or fire. 

~Shelter-in-Place- We stay in the building and may move into hallways away from windows in the case of a bad storm, tornado warning or if the power goes out.

~Soft Lock-Down- Students/teachers stay in their classrooms or wherever they are located in the school (the LMC, the gym, etc.). They don't go out for recess and they don't change classes for math or specials. An example when we would call a soft lock down would be when we have emergency vehicles coming to the school -ie paramedics. Keeping students in their classrooms allows emergency workers to do their work while not alarming anyone. 

~Hard Lock-Down- Students/teachers stay in the rooms until given an all clear. Instruction is halted. This would be used in emergency situations, or when we have reason to believe safety may be an issue based on information we have available or received from the Arlington Heights Police Department. 

We practice these drills several times each year. The students are wonderful in following teacher directions and the procedures. I am always impressed by their calmness and follow-through even during drills. We work in close partnership with the Arlington Heights Police and Fire Departments, and we value that partnership. 

Please contact either Ms. Hiltz or Mrs. Fabrizio if you have any questions about this or any other information. We are always happy to have and appreciate conversations with our parents to address any issues or questions. 

Congratulations to our December Worthy Wildcats
They were selected for helping in classrooms before being asked to do so, making the right choices, playing with new friends who had no one else to play with, cleaning up mud in the classroom, helping a friend who fell and sharing materials. Nicely done! (Not pictured Alex V.)
Abby K. 

Brendan B. 

Colin K. 

Yuridia S. 

Zach H. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Does Movement = Engagement in School?

As many of you may know, last year we invested in standing desks as an option in each of our classrooms to be used for students who are more comfortable standing during their learning time. We have found that many students use these desks, which are on wheels, if they need to move into the hallway to do some work, or when they just need a break from sitting!

Due to the positive feedback we heard on the standing desks, we did some reading and found a burgeoning field of research around the positive decided to invest in some additional "fit workstations" including a variety of options that help students use physical muscles while they're flexing their mental muscles!

Starting in January, we will be rotating our new equipment through the grade levels so that all students will have an opportunity to use some of the materials. Here's what we purchased:

*12 ErgoErgo chairs that help engage students core muscles and allow for slight swaying movement. These chairs will rotate through the Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades.

*3 DeskCycles which are pedal machines that slide under a desk or table and allow a person to simulate riding a bike while sitting (and they're whisper-quiet!) These will rotate through the 3rd and 4th grades.

*2 FitDesk Bikes and 1 EllipticalDesk which are actual exercise equipment with attached desks that allow people to work while riding/stepping. These will rotate through our 5th grade classes.

We will be sending home permission slips for students to use the Deskcycles, FitDesk Bikes, and Elliptical Desk. As well, we will be collecting feedback from teachers and students about their use of the equipment. We're hoping that a little action research will allow us to better understand if we are seeing a link between physical movement and academic engagement. Look for more information in January!

Questions? Thoughts? Feedback? Please let us know!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Windsor Family to Yours and our November Worthy Wildcats

As we approach Thanksgiving there are so many reasons that we are thankful at Windsor School. We are thankful for...
•Our hard-working students
•Our dynamic teaching staff
•Our dedicated teaching assistants
•Our ever-ready Mrs. Rozanski and Mrs. Barber (and Mrs. Heiden for her help in the office each morning!)
•Our helpful nurses Mrs. Leventhal and Mrs. Carpenter
•Our amazing custodians-Mr. Rojas, Mr. Kula and Mr. Angelov
•Our most wonderful PTA Presidents, Mrs. Kusciel and Mrs. Williams and our incredibly active and supportive PTA
•Our supportive parent community
•Our District office staff: Superintendent, Dr. Lori Bein; Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning, Dr. Eric Olson; Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and Planning, Dr. Jake Chung; Assistant Superintendent of Finance, Mrs. Stacey Mallek; Director of Student Services, Mrs. Aimee LeBlanc; Director of Technology and Assessment, Mr. Chris Fahnoe; Director of Food Services, Mrs. Coletta Hines-Newell; Director of Building and Grounds, Mr. Mike Brown and Mr. Mike Landers, Evening Supervisor; all of the Teaching and Learning Facilitators, our tech team, and all of the support staff for these departments who happily answer all of our questions!
•Our before and after school CAP supervisors and staff

We are so grateful to work in a community that supports education, diversity and differentiated instruction and that wants the best for our children. We so enjoy watching our children learn and grow, not only in academic areas but also in their social-emotional-behavioral and leadership skills.

Congratulations to our November Worthy Wildcats
5th Grader Abby P.

3rd Grader Campbell C.

1st Grader Josh S.-C,

4th Grader Maeve D.

1/2 Multi-Age Molly B.

Kindergartner -Volodymyr M.
Students received the Worthy Wildcat Award from their peers from the Caught Being Good Club. Responsible Windsor citizens were selected for always trying their best in school, showing respect to adults and children, helping a friend who fell, helping a friend with academics, caring for their friends and loaning a new book to a friend before it was ever read!  Great work!  Here is hoping that all of Windsor students, "CHOOSE KINDNESS!"

On a personal note, we want to thank our families who support the work that we do and the time that we put into it. We wish you a most delightful Thanksgiving-one that is filled with joy, laughter, delicious food, friends, and family. If you are traveling, be safe. Our favorite part of Thanksgiving is making those memories that will last a lifetime. ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Wonderful Cultural Exchange with Our Friends from the Damine School in Shitara, Japan

Mrs. Wilson's students performing for our guests

Damine Principal and their famous doll, 85 years old!

Our 5 delightful Damine students

The Anderson Family and their guests

The Gadson Family with their guests

Ms. Pinski and her guest

Mrs. Dyer and her guests

Mrs. Richmond and her guest

Mr. Fahnoe, his daughter and their guests
We had a most wonderful time learning from our friends from the Damine School. Many thanks are in order to all that made our exchange a wonderful experience for our students. Ms. Hiltz organized the event and many of our families and teachers became host families for the students, principal and teachers who came to our village and country.  Thanks to our host families, the Gadson Family, the Anderson family, Miss Pinski, Mrs. Richmond, Mrs. Dyer and her family from South Middle School and Mr. Fahnoe, Director or Technology and Assessment in District 25 (and his family). We thank you for welcoming our guests.  Our fifth graders in Mrs. Wilson's class performed on the ORFF instruments and the students from Japan shared the story of where they live while performing several songs on the recorders.  The principal of the school gave Windsor a beautiful plaque which is now in our office to thank us for our hospitality. We shared with them a lovely framed print of Chicago by a local artist. Dr. Lori Bein, Superintendent helped to welcome our guests and joined us for lunch- a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Our afternoon was spent having the students share traditional Japanese games and crafts with our students. Ms. Pinski's students served as ambassadors and helped the Japanese students find the classrooms throughout the afternoon. We look forward to having our students continue to enjoy games and learn about Japan on Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon.  What a fantastic experience for all of us!  Truly a gift! 

Learning Japanese colors

Meeting new friends in Miss Pinski's room

Dr. Bein trying to play a new game

Mrs. Roemer's students and their origami hats

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Making Every Minute Count!

As the Thanksgiving holiday nears, we find ourselves trying to maximize every minute in school before enjoying a much needed break! This week was no exception with many special events and lots of hard work by our teachers and students.

We were thrilled to host our biggest ever Veteran's Day Breakfast, honoring 45 veterans who are family members of Windsor students and staff (and one of our very own staff members, Pati Decorah!). Many thanks to the PTA and to Windsor staff member Gail Komarek, for coordinating this wonderful event. It's so important for our students to learn about and honor the sacrifices others make for their safety and freedom. We were thrilled to be able to spend this time with those veterans connected to the Windsor family during a breakfast, a performance by chorus and a short parade for our veterans through the halls of Windsor after appearing on our morning announcements broadcast. A short video capturing the event is available on the Windsor website.

This fall, our Literacy Teacher, Mrs. Genie Beck, has been coaching our teachers across many grade levels on Guided Reading strategies. This is a research-based instructional strategy that helps students process increasingly more challenging texts over time. Teachers pull small groups of students reading at similar levels and provide instruction on comprehension strategies, vocabulary, fluency, and accuracy. Guided Reading is used in conjunction with other Reading instruction. Feedback from teachers has been great following sessions with Mrs. Beck--we are lucky to have her expertise at Windsor!

Our final Community Builders session for this trimester was held this week. Students made tie-dye art projects which are displayed on the doors by the front entry. Community Builders will begin again in January with sessions for the second trimester. Ms. Hiltz will be sending out volunteer sheets in December for students who would like to join for this second session.

More and more Windsor staff members are becoming "connected educators" on Twitter. Although some still think of Twitter as a mostly entertainment-based social media site, it's quickly becoming an online haven for educators who wish to connect across geographic bounds. In fact, educators make up a huge portion of Twitter's 200 million users. If you are on Twitter, please take a moment to follow us @WindsorWildcats. We typically tweet with the hashtag #wildcatway. Other Windsor teachers on Twitter include Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Berg, Mrs. Murphy, Mr. Peterson, Mrs. Beck, Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Stella, Mrs. Flauter, and Mrs. Ziemann. 

Next week promises to be just as busy as this week with visits from our friends from the Damine School in Shitara, Japan, Wildcats Jump! taking place during P.E., and progress reports being sent home on Friday, 11/21. Enjoy your weekends as we prepare for our final push before Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Planets, Field Trips, and Authors...Oh My!

We had a great, productive post-Halloween week and we enjoyed lots of exciting events at Windsor.

Thanks to the PTA for helping us to sponsor author, Barbara Rosenstock, who came to share her thoughts with our students about non-fiction writing. She shared it was important to have persistence and being able to accept feedback. Our students were quite engaged in the presentation and asked her good questions. Students asked her how she decides what to write about, how long it takes her to write a book and how the illustrator for her books is chosen.

We had many field trips this week.  3/4 Multi-age and 4th graders went to the GROVE to learn about how Native Americans lived and played. Second graders went to the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. Our students in the Foundations classrooms went rhythmic dancing with NWSRA. 

We are delighted to host active and retired members of the armed forces next week at the Veteran's breakfast on the 11th. Students have written letters to the servicemen and women and we have a special surprise planned for this year as well. Be sure to read next week's blog post to find out more! 

On Wednesday we had third graders present their research on the solar system to second grade students. We were impressed with their presentations and how much they learned about the planets. 

Our Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning, Dr. Olson, was delighted to sit in on several math classes on Thursday. We love having our central office administrators come to Windsor to see all of the great things going on in our classrooms. 

Our teachers are busy writing progress reports. They will go home on Friday, November 21st. 

Attached is a link to a wonderful article about parenting and the impact of leadership in children. I hope you will read it. Ms. Hiltz and I both found it to be enlightening!  

Friday, October 31, 2014

#Windsorween 2014

Yes. Halloween is upon us! There were so many "spooktacular" costumes for the annual Windsor parade and a good time was had by all. Thanks to all the parents who helped bring treats for the parties, organized the events and stayed to plan and supervise the parties. If you are on Twitter, pictures can be seen using the #windsorween2014 hashtag!

This week we also continued with some of our classrooms being involved in the Global Read Aloud. What a great learning activity this is as students across the world are all reading the same book. Our students Skyped
and connected with other students from Vermont. It is really fantastic to see the excitement and engagement of our students.

Our Community Builders worked together with our students in our Instructional classrooms to see who could build the biggest tower. It was an activity where students worked together to create a structure. It was a great deal of fun for all of our students working together. It is so amazing to see all of our students playing together, helping and learning from each other!

Our Buddy Bench sign is in the ground next to the bench!  I heard from the mother of the child who created this idea. She was delighted to hear of our school using this idea!  They live in York, Pennsylvania. The power of the internet and Twitter is a wonderful way to connect with others across the world! 

We cannot believe that November is upon us!  This year seems to be flying by. We are working so very hard with our students to build confidence in the skills that they have, encouraging them to take educational risks and support their needs.  The Wildcat Way is being used as language throughout the Windsor as we remind students of our expectations!