Friday, September 30, 2016

#BecomingAWildcat

#BecomingaWildcat…

My cousin was recently married and she used this hash tag phrase with her new last name, I thought it was cute and it stuck with me.  Then I thought… I’m #becomingawildcat.

Since I began my new journey to #becomingawildcat I can’t help but reflect on how lucky I am, how much I have learned, and how incredibly welcomed I have felt.  Now don’t get me wrong, this position has been nothing short of challenging, I have pretty big shoes to fill.  Ms. Hiltz was an amazing Assistant Principal and I have been taking in all that she had done and I am working hard to make it my own.


Everyday I look forward to coming to work to see the children, staff members and parent community.   What a great community that I have the opportunity to be a part of!  I have attended many after school events like PTA meetings, picnics, and curriculum night to name a few.  I have been invited to your children’s classrooms to be a mystery reader; students have made videos and written me letters to teach me the Wildcat Way.  Next week, I will have the opportunity to be a part of International Walk to School Day.  All of these experiences are helping to shape me into the Wildcat all of YOU already are.  Until then, I will continue my journey to #becomingawildcat.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Did You Know That Last Week Was Fine Arts Week?

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Last week was National Fine Arts Week!   This week we celebrate the fine arts at Windsor. 

Six years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives designated the second week of September Arts in Education Week. The resolution reads: Arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.

We are so fortunate that we have such a dedicated fine arts staff. District 25 puts a great deal of emphasis on our fine arts program for which we are so grateful. Our students get a rich and creative experience in the art and music program at Windsor.  Often times art or music are places where children who may struggle in academics shine and feel very confident!  This year the fine arts department will be aligning the curriculum to the national art standards that were developed.  For more information check out this link.  

We showcase our students are and musical talents throughout the year in a variety of ways. We love the concerts and the art shows, but we also love going into those classrooms to see how engaged the students are as they sing, dance, play instruments, create music or use different mediums to create a variety of art experiences. 

When I asked Ms. Kasprzak what she thinks about the new art standards she said, "I believe the new curriculum will give us increased flexibility in our lesson design, thus allowing us to cater lessons more to our students specific learning and needs.  Rather than focusing on concrete elements and principles, we'll be incorporating the new National Art Education Standards.  These standards are centered on considering the students thought processes during art making, and the purpose of the product.  This will give art class projects significant value in the real world by having skills that transfer to the students everyday life."  

In talking with Mrs. Ziemann about the new curriculum she said that she and Mrs. Tosheva feel that the main take away when looking at the new standards is that it helps them take a closer look at the curriculum and it needs to be adjusted.  As a district, it keeps the music teachers unified so that they are on same page and it keeps them current.   Anytime you have the opportunity to revisit your curriculum it provides you with the opportunity to get fresh, new and exciting lessons to offer students. They will  get to take a look at how the music classes will flow into middle school and what Windsor children need to know prior to leaving elementary. 

As the year progresses we hope that you will explore our fine arts staff websites to see all the learning and growth that takes place in those very creative places at Windsor. 







Friday, September 16, 2016

Kindness & Caring Go a Long Way!

I recently saw these two inspirational quotes and have shared them with the Windsor Staff. They are so meaningful for us!
What does your child do when they see a peer sitting alone? Do they ask them to play? Do they change their seat to sit with them? Do they ask if the peer is ok?  We are delighted that so many of our students do just those things when they see a peer alone on the "Buddy Bench" or at lunch. We will continue to encourage this type of behavior as a part of the Wildcat Way.  We are a school, so of course, we have a clear focus on our Wildcats academic experiences and want to ensure that they grow in all their skills throughout the school year. But, that being said, we also have a strong focus on social-emotional-behavioral learning. I read an article that was talking about the skills employers look for as they interview candidates for jobs. The skills that they are looking for are the ability to collaborate, ability to develop relationships, and ability to have empathy.  Each day we work hard on the academic curriculum, but we also embrace the need to have our students develop the social emotional skills including empathy, leadership and caring for others.  Our Second Step curriculum helps us teach these skills throughout each week.  Our students have been demonstrating great leadership skills on their own accord and will be recognized in our new Wildcat Wall of Fame.



Friday, September 9, 2016

How Much Screen Time is Too Much Screen Time & "Your Rules vs. Mine"







One of the other questions that often comes up is "How do we know what other parents do to monitor technology devices and/or screen time with their children?" "How can we make sure our children follow our home rules?"
I am often amazed by how our students and our future Wildcats are truly digital natives. A digital native is one who has grown up with technology from an early age.  I am a digital immigrant. I was brought up before the widespread use of technology. In fact, I remember feeling so happy and grateful that I went to college with an electric typewriter that had a replaceable correction cartridge in it. It was a big deal at that time.

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For me as a young student, screen time meant time spent in front of the television. Way before videos/DVDs and certainly way before the Disney Channel/cable.  We had four channels to choose from and as a result our screen time was automatically limited. For my children, screen time meant time watching those videos/DVDs and of course, the Disney Channel. Were there times that I had them watch television as I made dinner or did laundry, or while I worked at home? Absolutely. We did not own a gaming system, but their friends did.

Parents from time to time will ask me how much time is too much screen time? They will ask how to navigate technology with their children's friends. These are great questions and certainly if you do any research, you will find many opinions. I hear students all the time talking about new apps, or using their parents devices to text each other, or how they game.  Do you give your child an iPad to work/play with while you are at a restaurant? Do you have them use it in the car? Do they play games after school? Of course. But then the question arises again, "How much time is too much screen time?" "How many hours should they be gaming or coding?"

I certainly do not have the answer, but I will share my opinion with you.  I believe that we need to talk with our children, ask them questions, read to them, have them read to us and ask them to problem solve. They need to learn to play alone and with others, use their imaginations, and create. Are there educational benefits to having your children use the iPads etc. at home? Of course. We surely use multiple devices/technology at Windsor for a variety of educational purposes. But, we also make sure we have time for the
playing, creating, problem solving and imagining without the devices.



I read this article recently and hope you enjoy it. For those of you with older children, it has some tips/ideas for you as well. I wish you well as you navigate this ever-changing issue!






Friday, September 2, 2016

What a Great First Week of School!

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We had a great first week of school. Classrooms were ready for our students and our teachers worked so hard, much on their own time, to make their happen.  We are so lucky to have such a dedicated staff. The curriculum is rich and students are already working very hard in their classrooms. We have a strong focus on collaborating, problem solving and creating an environment where if someone makes a mistake or fails, they can be comfortable that this is how we learn. Our teachers know this as well, it is ok to make a mistake particularly when trying something new.

Communication:  Remember to follow us on Twitter to see all that is happening at school and in many classrooms during the school day @WindsorWildcats. If you have any concerns, or positive feedback, please feel free to email me or Mrs. Anastacio.

Our focus for the year is to continue the Wildcat Way and continue our Kindness Campaign.  This week our students were reminded of our expectations that support the Wildcat Way. They know to be kind, safe and responsible because they are IMPORTANT! It seems as if we have been in school longer than a week as the children are so very much into their routines.  I see so many smiling faces as I walk into the classrooms throughout the day.  It is so exciting to think about what the school year holds for us!

Thanks to everyone who came out for Parent Information Evening.  It was wonderful to see all of you.