Friday, December 18, 2015

Cardboard Challenge Part 2

We had so much fun at the Cardboard Challenge. It was great to see students having an idea, making a plan and creating something!  THANKS to all who donated boxes and tape, etc. to the effort!  We so appreciate it!  Here are some pictures from the Windsor all school Cardboard Challenge! Students created houses, sleighs, candy stores, robots, skyscraperrs, airplanes, rocket ships, hockey games, skating rinks, snowmen, and workshops.  Be sure to check out the Windsor Website as it will have more photos!   Have a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday season and new year!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Cardboard Challenge- Part 1

On the last school day before the holiday break, Windsor administrators have a tradition of hosting a special event for students. In years past, we have done a fireside story time (complete with cozy fire projected on the Commons screen), experiments with fake snow, holiday carols, etc. Last year we decided to focus on a day of coding and students rotated throughout the day to try some new coding games. This year, we have decided to embrace some time for creative play, innovation, and problem solving, and will host a "Cardboard Challenge" for our students.

On Friday, 12/18, students will spend about 45 minutes working with us, and other helpful staff, to complete their own Cardboard Challenge. This means that students will be presented with blank slates of cardboard, scissors, tape, and twist ties and a problem or prompt (e.g., build a bridge, make a cardboard ocean). Then, with the help of teachers (as needed) children will be free to build creatively, to collaborate, and negotiate.

Benefits of a cardboard challenge include:
• engages children in creative play
• fosters creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, perseverance and teamwork
• gives children an opportunity to explore their interests and passions, and make things that have an impact on others
• provides a platform for communities to actively foster and celebrate child creativity
• increases global happiness and makes for a happier, more playful world!
We can't wait to show you the creations our students collaborate to make. We're sure their imaginations and teamwork will yield some exciting results and we'll certainly be tweeting their progress throughout the day (@windsorwildcats). Be sure to ask your children what they created (and learned!) during the challenge!

Want to know more about the inspiration for a cardboard challenge? Check out the Caine's Arcade video.

Thanks to everyone who has donated boxes!  We are good to go with cardboard!  We now need additional supplies like packing tape and twist ties. We'll be accepting materials through Friday morning, 12/18. Please drop off materials to the Windsor office.

Friday, December 4, 2015

December Worthy Wildcats!

Congrats to the following students who were announced this morning as December's Worthy Wildcats! Students were selected for displaying The Wildcat Way by being Safe, Kind and Responsible everyday and working well with all their peers, being patient, kind and a great listener, helping to translate a friend's answer so her teacher and peers could understand what she had said, helping a friend pick up materials that had dropped down the stairs, staying after lunch to help Mr. Frank sweep the lunchroom and helping a buddy who needed help picking up legos.  Well Done, Wildcats. We are so very proud of Kindergartener: Zac M., First Grader: Piper S., Second grader: Miriam R., Third grader Alison B., Fourth Grader Tye J. and Fifth grader: Vicki K.  
Zac M.
Allison B. 

Miriam R. 

Piper S. 

Tye J. 

Vicki K. 

Parenting in the 21st Century

We love Twitter. We use it for professional learning and of course to share with you all the exciting and engaging learning that happens throughout our school day. I often keep articles that I find while reading through my Twitter feed. These articles were particularly interesting as they were trending this week.   I was wondering why. Because there are so many things that impact us as parents every day, that they struck a chord with me. There are many things we can control and of course there are those things we cannot control. We want our children to be successful, sometimes to a fault. It is ok for our children to make mistakes. It is ok if they forget their homework at home. It is ok if they do not have a snack one day. It is ok if they do not study for a test, but learn from their grade that perhaps studying will help them in the future.  I wanted to share the articles with you. The first is:  What Students Lose by Being Perfect? Valuable Failure.

The second article is about "Helicopter Parents"  that was in the Chicago Tribune.  Both are quick reads.

While I may not agree with everything in these articles on parenting or every article I read on teaching and learning, I always find the text thought provoking. What might I do different? What might I dialogue about with my peers to get their points of view? And, how if I change one or two things will it successfully impact our school, children or even you- our parents?

There are so many sad and horrible things we hear on the news every day, that it is often hard to watch it and continue to take it all in. Information shared on social media can cause us to take pause and sigh. This plethora of non-stop information impacts how we raise our children and we may not be aware of it. We feel the need to protect and control all we can when it comes to our children. We may always want to solve their issues. We try to make it easy for them, but at what cost? If we become too controlling, our children will not experience how to apologize for a mistake or how to solve problems. They will not experience how to deal with disappointment or upset and they will not be able deal with failure. They may go to college unprepared to deal with the small issues. University administrators are often talking about students who have to call home for every issue as they cannot figure out what to do on their own.

While we want to tighten our arms around our children to protect them from life's upset, let's try to loosen up our grip, even just a little, to see what happens. Let's work together to help our children deal with mistakes and help them become successful, independent thinkers who as Jessica Lahey writes, know how to cope with life's ups and downs.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Annual Thanksgiving WindsorBlog Post

Image result for thanksgiving

It is that time of the year to thank everyone who makes Windsor so great!

There are so many places to begin but let's start with how much we are thankful for our students. You are the reason that we are here.  We enjoy your watching your AHA moments. We love that you want to share stories with us. We are grateful that you are learning to follow the Wildcat Way. We love that you LOVE to READ. We love that you read at home. We love that your persevere. When things get hard, you keep trying; for that is how we learn. We love how you learn to listen, use self talk, be assertive and plan using those Second Step Skills. We just love your SPIRIT!

We are thankful for our teachers and all our staff. We have never seen a more wonderful, caring and dedicated group of professionals that want every one of our students to be successful in all areas of school. Every staff member goes above and beyond every day for our children whether it is to give them breakfast, register them for school, tie their shoes, have lunch with them, give them an ice pack, work during recess, run a club, give our students confidence, give them a high five, listen to their stories about home, and of course teach!

We are thankful for our parents. You are our partners. We love working with you whether it is to plan an event, work in the LMC, organize a club or see you in the morning directing traffic for Drop and Go!  We thank you for all your efforts to keep our students safe and have fun at Windsor. All the activities and fundraising that you organize for our students are fantastic. We really can never thank you enough!

Finally, we are so grateful for Dr. Lori Bein, Superintendent, and all the Central Office Administrators and School Board members who support our vision for our students! Your support of what we do each day at school is immeasurable.

We hope that our Windsor Family has a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving.  We will look forward to hearing all the stories! Please take the time to read, read, read over this Thanksgiving break!

Friday, November 13, 2015

What is Second Step?

Second Step Hero Image

Last year we spoke about receiving the program Second Step: Skills for Social and Academic Success from the large ABC/25 Grant process last spring.  We are delighted that this year the program is being introduced to every classroom at Windsor School.  Currently, Mrs. Fabrizio, Ms. Moran, school psychologist; and social workers, Mrs. Swanson and Mrs. Impastato are working with students covering the first unit: Skills for Learning. While we are going into classrooms about one time per week, the hope is the the classroom teachers will reinforce the skills throughout the week as they, too, hear the lesson the students are learning.

By directly teaching students explicit skills to learn in school, have empathy, manage emotions and problem solve, research shows that our students will have increased school success, school connectedness, and become part of a safe and respectful school climate.

The first unit is Skills for Learning and through the lessons, students learn to self regulate. Some skills that students have learned is how to listen, focus attention, use self talk to plan, be assertive and organize themselves. We have done role plays and students have spoken with partners to describe different places they may use self talk. We have also planned and shared ideas about how to be assertive.

The next unit will focus on developing empathy- being able to understand how another person might be feeling. The unit talks about identifying and managing one's own emotions. It is important to think about different perspectives people have and this unit helps students to make friends and work effectively in groups.

The 3rd unit works on emotional management. Lessons will include identifying physical cues to how we might be feeling, keeping ourselves in control, learning calming down steps and learning how to manage disappointment, anger, and hurt feelings.

Finally, the 4th unit talks about problem solving in a variety of settings. Students will work through issues in the classroom, dealing with negative peer pressure, and finally a review of all the steps/skills that the students have learned.

This year's goal with the Second Step Curriculum is to model teaching the skills for the teachers while the students benefit from the lessons.  Each of us is teaching the lessons a little differently, just as teachers teach differently.  We hope to get through as much as we can this school year.

The students seem to be enjoying the work that is completed in the program.  I have heard from the students that they practice the skills at home and parents have shared that the children are using the skills at home.  That is certainly our goal. As we get more in-depth with the units, we will be sending home Home Links so that you can assist with the learning and partner with Windsor around the Second Step skills.

If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to contact one of us or take a look at this link: Second Step.

Friday, November 6, 2015

First Trimester is On the Books & November Worthy Wildcats

Today marks the official last day of the first trimester for this school year. It's hard to believe that we are a third of the way through the school year! With the close of the trimester brings progress reports and parent-teacher conferences. We wanted to share a few important reminders with you all during this time.

*Progress reports are intended to give you a better understanding of how your child is performing across the subject areas. Kinder, 1st, and 2nd grades do not get letter grades. Instead, teachers share student progress on grade-level standards/concepts. Third, 4th and 5th grades receive letter grades for each subject area. The letter grades are based on summative assessment scores from throughout the trimester so they should not be a surprise to you or your student!

*All students will receive a comments page with their progress reports that includes more information about their progress in the core subjects as well as notes about behavior and any other highlights not addressed in the progress report. You may see notes from multiple teachers on the comments page depending on which staff works with your student.

*Students who receive English Learning support (EL) will receive an additional EL progress report this year. This is a new report that aims to provide more information about students' progress in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. These progress reports will be completed by our EL teachers and will be sent home with the progress reports.

*Students who receive special education support through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will also receive benchmark updates for each of the goals listed in their IEPs. These updates will provide data to show how the student is progressing on each of his/her goals. These reports will be sent home with progress reports, but in a separate envelope.

*Conferences are intended to be a time to ask questions or discuss any specific areas of concern and to highlight student strengths. For students with IEPs, the conference is not an IEP meeting, though some of the related service providers may join to offer updates as well. We hope you will use conferences to connect with your children's teachers and to ask any questions that you may have about the reports you receive. We also love it when parents share positive feedback and thoughts with our staff during conferences, so please feel free to do that too!

With today being the end of the trimester, our teachers need time to compile the reports and prepare to send them home. All K-5 students across the district will receive their progress report information in backpacks on 11/20. If you prefer to pick up your progress report, or if your student is absent, you may get the report on 11/23 or 11/24 during conferences. We cannot send home progress reports before the end of the day on 11/20, nor can we send them home with friends.

As of Monday, 11/9, our teachers will begin instruction for the second trimester of learning--and before we know it, it'll be March and time to prepare progress reports again! We hope you find this time to be helpful and informative about your child's progress. As always, if you have questions or concerns, you can talk with your children's teachers or Mrs. Fabrizio or Ms. Hiltz.

These students were selected for helping others without being asked, asking children to play who had no one to play with, giving compliments to another, helping to get a lunch, asking a peer to join a study group and treating classmates with kindness!  Well done Wildcats. These students were selected by their peers at Caught Being Good Club!
Congratulations to our November Worthy Wildcats!
Kindergarten; Nora F, First grade: Johnny W., Second grade: Ellie F., Third grade; Greer W., Fourth grade, Ella D. and Fifth grade Hugo A.
Ella D. 

Ellie F. 

Greer W. 

Hugh A. 

Johnny W. 

Nora F. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween!!

Image result for happy halloween

We will add pictures to the front page of the Windsor Website over the weekend from our Halloween Fun.  As we prepare for Halloween, please take the time to remember our children who have allergies, other special needs or disabilities.  Some thoughts to share their perspectives about Halloween. Yesterday, your children went home with bracelets to remind them to be a D25 PAL.  Teachers shared what it means to be a D25PAL.
•1 in 13 kids in the United States has a food allergy.  That’s about two kids in every classroom.
•For kids with food allergies, even a tiny amount of the food they are allergic to can make them very sick. The most common food allergies are to milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts (like walnuts and almonds), soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish (like shrimp and crab).
•Don’t share your food with friends who have food allergies.
•Wash hands after eating.
•Help all of your friends and classmates have fun together! There are lots of ways to have fun without food! Listening to music, playing board or video games, making crafts, going for a bike ride, and playing sports are just some of the cool things you can do together. This way, everyone stays safe and has fun! If a friend with food allergies feels sick, get help right away! If your friend feels sick or thinks they may have eaten something they are allergic to, tell an adult right away or dial 911! They will make sure your friend gets help and gets the medicine they need to feel better. You may notice TEAL pumpkins as you Trick or Treat around the neighborhood. A teal pumpkin represents a national campaign that started in 2014 to help create a safer and happier Halloween for all.

We are hoping that we are helping to create a more educated community around food allergies! One of the issues we currently continue to have in school, is children sharing food at lunch. Please help us by talking with your children about the seriousness of food allergies and why we don't share food!  THANKS!
Here is the link for more information about food allergies FARE

 A friend shared this with me today and I was so struck by it that I wanted to share it with our Windsor community. It is certainly something to reflect about! Enjoy the very busy weekend and have a safe and wonderful Halloween.

With Halloween upon us, please keep in mind, a lot of little people will be visiting your home.
Be accepting.
The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may have poor fine motor skills.
The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues.
The child who does not say trick or treat or thank you may be non-verbal.
The child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl might have an allergy or is diabetic.
The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue (SPD) or autism.
Be nice.
Be patient.
It’s everyone’s Halloween.