Friday, April 29, 2016

If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher!

The first week of May is Teacher Appreciation Week across the country. At Windsor, our PTA treats our teachers like kings and queens by planning special events throughout the week. Often the lounge is decorated (or completely rebuilt as it was one year!), the fridges are stocked with goodies, lunches are provided, and students are asked to write notes or bring treats and flowers. We truly love seeing the teachers being appreciated in such a public way because we have such an amazing staff at Windsor!

The Windsor staff is 90+ people strong (including teachers, teaching assistants, therapists, tech staff, nurses, custodians, food service staff, administrative assistants and administrators) and we all have a hand in teaching our 480+ students. Here are some of the ways our staff members go above and beyond their "required" roles for your children...

*Running after school or lunch clubs on a variety of fun topics/activities
*Attending special events (e.g., music shows, PTA events) and student activities outside of school
*Writing grants for new, innovative materials and equipment
*Reaching out to organizations and companies to make special presentations (look for more info on how Google Explorations will be working with our 4th and 5th graders!)
*Being active members on District-wide committees to determine curriculum and instructional practices
*Supervising arrival,  lunch and/or recess and dismissal to ensure student safety
*Spending hours on the web (especially Pinterest and Teacher Pay Teacher) to find creative new ways to engage students
*Organizing professional development for themselves (e.g., book study groups)
*Collaborating with teachers across the District to share great ideas

We hope that our Windsor teachers feel appreciated every day of the year as we feel truly lucky to lead such an inspiring and talented team of professionals, but it sure is nice for them to receive some public recognition as well in the coming week. Thanks to our amazing PTA for their hard work planning this week!

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Wildcat WAY: We are Kind, Safe and Responsible because YOU Are Important!

Yes, all year long we have been promoting the Wildcat Way with our students. Not only to promote kindness, safety and responsibility but also to let them know how important they are to all of us at Windsor School, thus the "YOU Are Important"!  (WAY= We are kind, Always safe and responsible, You are important)

At this week's faculty meeting we showed a video about how one school chose to share how important the students are to each of the teachers.  Each teacher selected one student to let them know that they're the reason that they love coming to school each day. They called it, "The Important Student Project. This video highlighted teachers and their student's reactions to hearing that they were important to them. Teachers left the meeting feeling inspired and yes, teary eyed!

Each student at Windsor is important to us in many different ways. They inspire us, remind us of the little things that are important, make us laugh, share stories with us, trust us by sharing scary or sad things, and every day they make us smile as we watch them learn and grow!  There is really nothing better than hearing a student say, "I get it!"

As we enter the last 6 weeks of school, we are reminded to tell our students how they impact and inspire us as we continue to work with each of them academically, socially, and behaviorally. Additionally, we want our parent community to know how much we value our partnership.  We feel so lucky to have a supportive parent community that works hard to be involved in our school whether it is by volunteering in the classroom, being an active member of the Windsor PTA or sharing ideas with us, we are truly grateful.

YOU (parents, students and our staff) are all important to us!  So today, we celebrate all of you!

We Honor the Wildcat WAY!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Springtime Odds & Ends

We have a scattering of updates for families this week...

*The first week of PARCC testing has gone well. Students in 3rd-5th grades have completed the three English Language Arts (ELA) subtests. Next week, we move onto the four Math subtests and the following week, we will complete make-up testing. The overall environment at Windsor has been quiet, but positive! Students are respecting their peers who may be testing and students are encouraging one another to try their best on the assessment without putting too much stress on the outcome. Teachers, as well, our supporting our students by simply saying to do the best they can! We have had some additional recess time which we know the children are really enjoying especially as the weather has finally turned warm and sunny!

*This year only, students in 2nd-5th grades will take NWEA MAP assessments in Reading and Math in both the fall and spring. The District is moving to a spring-only administration of the assessment for future years, so this year we needed to double up to get on the correct schedule. Students will not take MAP tests in the fall unless they are new to the school. Windsor students will take the MAP tests between April 25 and May 18. These assessments are helpful to teachers in informing future instruction and determining which students may need help in specific areas as they begin in the fall. Please see the letter sent to all parents in January regarding assessments.

*During these weeks when assessments are taking place, students are still remembering to be kind to one another. We continue to get updates from parents about the kind deeds their children do outside of school and we see students reminding one another to honor the Wildcat Way and be KIND, SAFE, and RESPONSIBLE. This is especially important as the weather warms and the school days begin to wane with summer fever starting. Please remind your students about behavioral expectations and being a good role model for others as we move into the final weeks of school, and please continue to share with us the kind deeds they do at home so we can have them sign our kindness wall!

*Windsor continues to celebrate Autism Awareness Month, helping to raise awareness about Autism throughout our community. Students have been asking questions anonymously and answers are shared on morning announcements by experts in our building. Some questions have included: "Can you develop Autism when you're 8 or older?" and "Do people with Autism act the same way when they grow up?" We are really encouraging our students to ask sensitive questions and become informed about Autism so they can feel empowered to support their peers. We will continue to read books, show videos, and answer questions throughout the month on morning announcements.

We look forward to these busy, fun remaining weeks of school as they are packed with special events and exciting activities for our students!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Teacher Professional Development and April Worthy Wildcats

Image result for teacher professional development
This week, teachers have had a great deal of professional development around our new literacy Schoolwide curriculum.  Consultants who work with Schoolwide came to Windsor on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week to work with our teachers.  Teachers spent time learning more about our new content literacy unit which connects to each new science unit at each grade level. Both of these new units will begin shortly if not already in your child's classroom.  On Wednesday and Thursday, our consultant who was here in the fall as well, taught demonstration lessons in one classroom of each grade while the grade level teachers, Mrs. Beck, Mrs. Fisher and Ms. Hiltz and myself observed.  Observing an expert helps all of us become better at our craft.  We had the ability to de-brief the observations which was very helpful, too.  We value our time with our consultant and are so grateful that our district provides these opportunities for all of our staff.

Congratulations to our April Worthy Wildcats. They were selected for keeping the classroom clean and encouraging other students, demonstrating kind behavior every day, providing a glue stick to a friend, giving compliments to others, helping a student with an assignment, and helping others in their classroom.  Well done, Wildcats.  Seeing all the great things students do everyday is a wonderful feeling.


Cayden M. 

Charlie L. 

Josh G. 

Sophia Z. 

Zack K. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

IL State Testing Time and Spring Assessments

We hope everyone had restful and rejuvenating spring breaks! We're back into the swing of things and ready to finish out the last two months of school!

April brings spring showers and also Illinois state testing. Most of our students will be taking the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment in April. A small group of students will be taking the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) alternate assessment in lieu of the PARCC. These assessments correspond to the IL Learning Standards.

These assessments are required for all 3rd through 12th graders in the state. Last year was our first year taking the assessments and District 25 students scored very high compared to state averages. There have been some changes to the assessment this year and we'd like to share information that may impact your child below.

  • At Windsor, only 3rd-5th graders will test.
  • Testing will begin on 4/11 and finish on 4/22. Make-ups will be given the following week.
  • Teachers will send parents information on specific testing days/times for each class.
  • There are three English Language Arts (ELA) sections and four Math sections for each student.
  • Sections average 60-75 minutes.
  • The PARCC test will be taken on paper. The DLM is computer-based. 
  • The PARCC test has multiple-choice questions and questions that require a short written response.
  • Students with IEPs or 504 plans will receive all accommodations outlined in their plans.
We are lucky to live/work in a district that does not put pressure on students or teachers in relation to state testing. We remind students that state testing is really a measure of how the teachers and staff are doing with the goal of educating students, and not about individual student effort or intelligence. That said, we encourage students to do their best work so they can show what they know! 

To support students during these coming weeks, we ask that parents avoid scheduling appointments during the school day. Students should eat healthy breakfasts and try to get a good night's rest as well. Most importantly, parents should help students keep the test in perspective, reminding them that it does not impact their grades, progress to the next grade level, or placement in advanced classes.

As well as the PARCC and DLM, students will be taking other District assessments based on their grade levels and achievement including the NWEA MAP assessment (one session each for Math and Reading), AIMSWeb testing (1-minute probes for Math or Reading), and the Fountas and Pinnell assessment (individual Reading assessment). 

If anyone has questions or concerns about the PARCC or DLM, please feel free to contact your child's teacher or Mrs. Fabrizio or Ms. Hiltz. We look forward to a successful spring!