Dear Parents,

“At the start of the year, I noticed a student who seemed to be stressed when asked to write. He seemed to be stuck and didn’t know where to begin. He was essentially struggling with ideation and planning. I started to wonder about other students who were having trouble getting started.

“My co-teachers and I quickly realized that there were in fact others.  We now ask students to plan their writing across 4 sticky notes. Each sticky captures one transition word, the who, the action, and one example of dialogue or thinking. This eases the load of task initiation. 

Recently, I returned to this particular student and asked for some feedback on how things were going with the new strategy. His response was, “Sticky notes are very helpful. Without them, you don’t know how to plan your book. You need them to give you all the information so you don’t forget. It’s like when you throw a boomerang it goes away but it comes back, and this time I threw it and it’s going much further because I’m getting better and better with writing”.

What started out as a single wonder ended in the creation of an improved support system for an entire cross-section of students. Optimizing the learning experience for just one student makes the process of curriculum review a worthwhile investment.”—Dr. Adrina O. Smith, Learning Support Teacher/Support Services Review Co-Facilitator

This story highlights the value that comes from stepping back periodically to review how and what we are teaching and the results of various types of learning experiences we create each day for our students. We know that the learning process is evolving, and we must remain open to making changes to enhance student learning and growth.

One key way that we do this is to hold a cycle of year-long deep dives into major aspects of our SAS programs.  These deep dives provide opportunities for teacher, student and parent voice, and give us the time and space to reflect on what is going well and how we can improve.  A key part of the deep dives is thinking about how do we phase any changes thoughtfully and at a pace that will allow desired changes to successfully take root. 

Last year, we conducted our math and learning support reviews. We also conducted a special review of tutoring in the SAS community. Hundreds of educators, parents, and students met throughout the year to look at these programs and make a series of recommendations for how we might improve the learning opportunities for our students. We are grateful for the contributions and thoughtful comments that helped shape this work. You can find the results of these recommendations below:

This year, we are implementing those recommendations. We will continue to partner with parents in this work and invite you to participate. Our first elementary school meeting on next steps in our math program will take place on Tuesday, September 28. Click here for more details and to register. Keep an eye on eNews throughout the year as future opportunities are shared.

This year (2021-22) our deep dives will focus on social studies and counseling. We invite you to join these conversations and contribute your voice to this work. Please keep an eye on eNews in the weeks ahead for more information.

These reviews are a great opportunity to reflect on our work and to ensure our students engage in meaningful learning that will help them grow. We look forward to working with you.

 

Best,

Tom Boasberg

Superintendent