Homestead School PTA Curriculum Committee News
Homestead School Curriculum Reps are:
Kim Pupke and Suzanne Bautsch
Homestead PTA Curriculum Meeting Agenda
January 28, 2013
- Parents appreciated the list of educational computer apps and websites that was provided at the Board of Education meeting earlier in the year.
- New math series are being explored for next year. The school district has narrowed down the choice of math series to two companies. Both companies will be presenting their products in the next month.
- The Literacy at Lunch is a program whereby parents are able to come the school and play educational and fun games with small groups of students during the students lunch hour. This program has traditionally focus on literacy, but math games are of course welcome. There is a closet of games that parents may choose from or they may bring their own games.
- This is the second year of the new report card format. The report card explains how the assessment occurs. For example, in reading and writing, kindergarten students are identified along a continuum of literacy as: Emergent (Em); Advanced Emergent (AE); Early Beginner (EB); or Advanced Beginner. In some other areas, children receive a Performance Level of 1- Below the Standards, 2- Approaching the Standards, 3- Meeting the Standards, or 4- Exceeding the Standards. Performance levels indicate concepts that are introduced and assessed at three different points throughout the year. During the first assessment period, most children will be Approaching the Standards (2) or Meeting the Standards (3).
- Any parents who have questions about the grading are encouraged to talk to their child’s teacher.
- The teachers send home weekly messages with the students that describe what the students will be doing in class that week. Parents have not requested more web presence from the primary teachers.
- Parents of students at other GC primary schools are considering developing a chess club. Dr. V. noted that there was an effort a few years ago to develop a chess club at Homestead but there was insufficient interest. If there is sufficient interest, the PTA may create a Chess Club committee for Homestead starting in the 2013-14 school year. Any parent who is interested in a chess club is encouraged to contact the Homestead PTA representative.
Homestead Curriculum Meeting Summary
October 15, 2012 Meeting at Homestead
In attendance: Dr. Suzanne Viscovich, Principal; Mrs. Stephanie Cardinale & Mrs. Lori Palladino, Teacher Representatives, Suzanne Bautch & Kim Pupke, PTA Curriculum Representatives
1) Core Curriculum Training:
The school has consultants who train the teachers in both ELA and Math. This type of training has taken place for several years. The consultants are also trained to help the teachers stay up to speed on the new Core Curriculum standards as well as trade ideas with the teachers on new and creative ways to teach common topics. Through this training, the teachers receive continual support on teaching methods for the children.
2) State of New York Website engageny.org:
This website was brought to the attention of the parents who attended the PTA meeting at Homestead at the beginning of October. After further discussion, it was determined that this is indeed a site that is informational to parents who are looking for more details on the Core Curriculum standards as sent by the State. Specifically, http://engageny.org/resource/parents-guide-to-student-success/ is the link for parental use.
3) New Homestead space and how it is being used:
The new space at the school is being used for library, art, music and enrichment and support programs for the children. The library has new computers that will be used during their library special for research and library learning. Parents are encouraged to take a look at the new space when they are invited into the school for open houses and conferences.
Homestead Curriculum Meeting Summary
May 22, 2012 meeting at Homestead
In attendance: Dr. Suzanne Viscovich, Principal; Mrs. Stephanie Cardinale, Teacher Representative, Suzanne Bautch, PTA Curriculum Representatives
1) Summer packets:
The reading packet will be sent home in folders on June 4, 2012 and the math packet will be sent home on June 8, 2012. The books will be organized into group by level. If a parent would like to know the particular reading level of a child, this should be addressed individually with the teacher at the end of the year. The summer packet information can be found on the Homestead website under Summer Reading.
2) Projected number of classes at Homestead:
The number of classes for the 12/13 school year is projected to the be the same as 11/12. There will be six kindergarten classes and five 1st grade classes.
3) Update on construction:
The construction project is running on time and the new space is to be open for the beginning of the school year 12/13. There are three rooms in the new building dedicated to specials, including Art, Music, Library and Media. The existing library space will be used for support services, i.e., reading, psych, and a conference room.
4) Update on primary school testing as a result of the new core curriculum standards:
Homestead will continue to use the same benchmarks as the 12/13 school year.
These assessments are used to gauge children's levels at the beginning, middle and end of the school year, and Dr. Viscovich believes that as of now, the Primary Schools will continue to use these benchmarks to meet the mandates of the state.
5) Discussion on the K-1st grade transition:
There was some concern raised by parents about the transition from kindergarten to 1st grade. Some parents feel that the children do not have enough “down” time during the 1st half of the longer school day. For example, they do not have a break until lunch, and they now have their specials at the end of the day. When discussing this with Dr. Viscovich and Mrs. Cardinale, it was pointed out that they do have the kindergarten classes visit the first-grade classes at the end of the school year as a transition to what being a 1st grader is all about and the 1st grade children write a letter to the kindergarten students. The principals will send an an E blast to the K parents about this visit and what to expect next year, ie. lunch a little earlier, special at the end of the day.
Homestead Curriculum Meeting Summary
December 5, 2011
Via email: Dr. Suzanne Viscovich, Principal; Courtney Rosenblatt and Suzanne Bautch, PTA Curriculum Representatives
Construction at Homestead School:
The construction at Homestead is on schedule. The painting of the fence project has been stalled due to weather and donations.
The eno boards have been installed and are operational in all Homestead classrooms
All apps purchased with PTA grant have been installed on Homestead’s ipads and ipods (with the exclusion of the new iPad2 approved under the PTA grant) to Homestead in September.all of the software has been received and implemented for use by all students. A demonstration of how these technology devices are being utilized in the classrooms to enhance literacy skills was presented ed at the December 6th PTA meeting with the participation of the students from Mr. Bennett’s kindergarten class.
Other notable items from the December 6th PTA meeting:
- The 2% property tax cap is going to provide a significant burden on the district’s budget this year as there are mandated funding items that amount to close to a 5% budget increase. The district would necessitate a 60% budget approval to institute a budget above 2% and if the budget does not pass the State mandated instituted budget would reflect a 0% increase over prior year.
- Report cards will be distributed next week, for which the format will be consistent with last year. However with the changes in the common core learning standards there will most likely be adjustments to the categories for next year’s report cards.
- At the joint Stratford-Stewart PTA meeting on January 26th at Stratford, Dr. Prendergast and the primary and elementary principals will present the impact of implementation of Common Core Learning Standards on all students. Primary parents are invited to attend
Homestead Curriculum Meeting Summary - September 28, 2011
In attendance: Dr. Suzanne Viscovich, Principal; Mrs. Stephanie Cardinale, Teacher Representative, Courtney Rosenblatt and Suzanne Bautch, PTA Curriculum Representatives
1) Construction at Homestead School:
The construction at Homestead has presented very few interruptions within the school classrooms. In the few instances where the children have been distracted by excessive noise, Dr. Viscovich has visited that particular classroom to assure the children that all is moving along smoothly and safely, as well as introduce them to the overall plan and what the space will look like and be used for. The progress of the construction is on schedule.
Stephanie Cardinale presented several children's books about construction that are being read to the classrooms throughout the building to help integrate the project into the learning process. Additionally, several ideas were discussed to further involve the children in understanding the building project, i.e. interviewing Mr. John and then letting the children present a “Building Progress Announcement” to the school over the loud speaker once a month, as well as incorporating presentations of the building process, such as the blueprints, in connection with career and community education.
Finally, Dr. Viscovich said that she is waiting on approval for the children to decorate the exterior plywood fence surrounding the construction. The art teacher will lead the project and the administration is working on securing the necessary, expensive, exterior paint. Discussion included the use of sections of the completed painted fence as permanent sculptures in the courtyards at the projects completion.
2) Differentiated Instruction:
Differentiated instruction in the classroom has always been an integral part of the way that the primary schools of Garden City have taught. This teaching philosophy has always been used in the primary schools and the children are assessed on a regular basis by the teacher within the classroom. Some of the tools used are the Guided Reading program, the small teaching sections incorporated during specials and a math manipulatives program that the children use in conjunction with the workbooks.
The “Things My Child Likes to Do” worksheet/questionnaire that was sent home to the parents was a tool that the teachers use to better understand how an individual student learns. The district feels that getting parent input will enhance the differentiated learning philosophy in the classroom.
The Guided Reading program discussion centered on a better education of the parents as to the child’s level and what it means, either via a handout at conferences, a PTA meeting presentation, or other. If requested of the teacher, a child's reading level will be disclosed to the parent. Parents are asked to keep in mind that the reading levels at the primary level can change very quickly and that the level given is only to be used as a guide. Parents are also asked to understand that the children are not only being taught to decode the text, but to also comprehend the text; both components affect the designated level.
3) Classroom Technology:
Homestead has eno boards in all but four classrooms The remaining boards are in Homestead's possession and their installation is expected beginning September 29, 2011.
Homestead school has 10 iPads for use within the classrooms. A vote was taken on September 28th by the Homestead PTA to approve a grant for Homestead to purchase 1 additional iPad2 and 10 new learning applications, 5 for Kindergarten and 5 for First Grade for the iPads. At the time of this meeting, the vote results were not yet published.
Homestead Curriculum Meeting Summary - June 2011
Projected Number of classes for Sept. 2011-
Six sections of kindergarten made up of 17-18 students per class and five sections of first grade with approximately 24 students per class.
Summer Packets -
Both math and reading summer packets were sent home with students during the last two weeks of school. If another copy is needed it can be obtained by visiting the school district website. Math packets contain review work for the children to complete and return to their new teacher in September. The reading packets contain suggested titles for children and parents to choose from that are age appropriate.
Homestead Curriculum Meeting Summary - March 2011
In Attendance: Dr. Viscovich, Mrs. Cardinale (First grade teacher representative), Mrs. Ward (Kindergarten teacher representative), Kerriann Gambino (P.T.A. Curriculum Representative).
First-Second grade transition: The transition meeting for parents of children entering 2nd grade will take place at Stratford on May 5th @7pm. On May 19th the first graders will visit Stratford. They will break into groups of 10 and be given a tour by a fifth grader.
- The Kindergarten classes will have the opportunity to visit first grade classrooms. They will have the opportunity to ask questions and visit with the first graders.
- First grade and second grade teachers will meet in either June or early September. They will have the opportunity to meet in person and discuss the students.
- Continuity of Services: Children who are currently receiving developmental skills services will be reevaluated in June. The following district criteria will be looked at: guided reading level, standardized reading assessment, and classroom teacher’s running record and recommendation. Services will start in September when the students enter Stratford.
- Speech Services: The primary school speech therapist will give her list of students to the elementary school therapist. In the fall, the students will be reevaluated and recommendations for speech will be made at that point based on district criteria.
- Report Cards: Report cards will be distributed on Friday, March 25th. Letters explaining the new report cards were sent home on Tuesday March 22nd.
- Summer Reading Lists: Are currently being developed to possibly include guided reading levels.
Summary of the Curriculum Committee Meeting--Homestead School – Feb 2011
in attendance: bldg. principal Dr. Viscovich, teacher representatives Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Cardinale,
parent representatives Kerriann Gambino and Julie Psaki
1. Classroom reading instruction--Is the Guided Reading Program supplemented by any other series, i.e. Literacy Place or other basal reading programs, etc.? Is this the same for all three primary schools?
- Homestead is conducting their reading program solely based on the Guided Reading Program and has phased out the use of any reading series/anthologies, i.e. Literacy Place. This is the same for all three primary schools. On occasion, supplemental texts from the series may be used for enrichment in the classroom.
2. Kindergarten screening---How do the specialists/screeners determine if a child will receive services based on screening results, i.e.speech improvement, OT/PT? What are the qualifying factors for receiving in-school services? What speech therapy/OT/PT options are available (private/group--how determined, how often do they meet, how do they place out)?
- During the kindergarten screening process, using the DIAL-3 guidelines, children are flagged if they display a characteristic that falls below "age-appropriateness" (i.e. for speech a child may speak with a difficulty pronouncing the "s" sound, yet fluency with this particular sound is not deemed age-appropriate until age 7-8, however, articulation difficulties with "th", "r", "l" are noted if observed and are flagged for further screening when kindergarten begins in September, since these sounds are usually mastered by kindergarten age children). At the start of kindergarten in the fall, these children are screened and may qualify for group speech services. Classroom teachers may also send additional students to be screened if speech difficulties are observed. Group speech services meet once per week and the speech teacher provides appropriate homework assignments for the children as part of fostering the home/school connection for strengthening these skills. OT/PT services follow the guidelines of I.E.P. standards. However, during the kindergarten screening, if a weakness in motor skills is observed, it is noted and followed up upon with the future classroom teacher. In addition, all kindergarteners receive the "push-in" OT service once per week; as all children in kindergarten can benefit from strengthening of fine motor skills at their age.
3. Discussion of parent feedback regarding new report card format.
- Feedback seems to be positive regarding the implementation of the new format for the primary report card, which was distributed in December. Many parents appreciate the depth of information it provides. The next distribution period will fall in March, as will the next parent/teacher conference, which allows for appropriate/beneficial timing for parents and teachers to discuss progress as measured by the report card. Parents are encouraged to discuss any questions they may have about their child's progress report with their individual classroom teacher.
Summary of Curriculum Committee Meeting---Homestead School---Monday, November 15, 2010
In attendance: Dr Viscovich (principal), Mrs. Cardinale (first grade teacher), Julie Psaki (parent representative)
Regarding the discussion of children's reading levels at recent parent/teacher conferences, the committee inquired about what the expected levels were for the students in both kindergarten and first grade. According to the reading program, by Fountas and Pinnell, by which the primary schools abide, kindergarten falls between levels A-C, with the goal of students reaching C or higher by the end of the year, and first grade includes levels D-I, with the aim of having students reach level I by the end of the first grade.
The letter level which parents received at their fall conference was obtained by the teacher through adminstering running records with each child. The running record measures oral reading, comprehension and fluency. Fluency is a key part of the assessment, as it focuses on the child's tone, speed, inflection and expression (including attention to punctuation) while reading orally. The comprehension questions which measure the child's understanding are also a key component in obtaining their appropriate instructional level since the questions require children to think "within, between and beyond the lines of the text"--ranging from main idea/detail questions (within the lines) to inference/drawing conclusion/real world connection questions(between/beyond the lines) that require higher level thinking skills. Both of these aforementioned components should be kept in mind by parents who may hear their child read orally with ease at home. Often children may seem to read/complete a book with ease but are far more challenged when it comes to measuring their comprehension with questions of these types afterwards. This may be why some parents expect their child to be at a higher level than that at which they are, as assessed by the teacher. Their "instructional level" is that at which the children are working in their guided reading groups---their "independent level" is that at which the child can read and accurately comprehend without assistance.
In addition, as a reference tool for the parents, the school librarian and reading specialist are working collaboratively to revise the current summer reading list in order to complement the "letter levels" so that parents can promote appropriate at-home reading experiences for their children.
Homestead Curriculum Committee Meeting Summary
October 1, 2010
In attendance: Dr. Viscovich, Julie Psaki (PTA representative), Kerriann Gambino (PTA representative).
1. Reading Levels: Teachers will verbally inform parents at parent-teacher conferences of their child’s independent reading level as a way of helping them choose books for the children. Levels will not be on report cards or used in the classroom setting by the students (i.e.,—having children refer to books by their letters ). Parents will also be informed of the reading level goal for each grade level.
2. Write Traits Program: The Write Traits Program language is still being utilized in first grade classrooms.
3. Primary Reports Cards: An overview of the primary report card will be given at the October PTA meetings as well as at the Joint Principals Forum at Homestead on Oct 27 @ 6:30pm and the Board of Education Work Session on Oct 18 @ 8:15pm. The Primary Principals will explain the process behind the creation of the new report cards. They will go over the manner in which the grade level curriculum guides align with the new report cards. Parents will be encouraged to attend these meetings.
4. Back to School Night: The new lottery system implemented at Homestead this year for trip and party sign ups seemed to go smoothly.
Homestead Curriculum Committee Summary May 2010
Our meeting with Dr. Viscovich and the teacher representatives focused mainly on the progress in the development of the new report card. The report card is targeted to be implemented for the next academic year. Otherwise, teachers have requested that families check their homes for any reading books that may have come home in the children's "book baggies" and not have been returned. They are attempting to collect all books and take inventory and have found many to be missing. In addition, homework for the children will be coming to an end in early June for both kindergarteners and first graders.
Homestead Curriculum Committee Summary - March 2010
1. Continuity of Curriculum (First Grade): In first grade classes, collaborative planning helps teachers develop classroom and homework assignments. All first grade teachers use the same literature series, so each week the same skills are emphasized in every class's homework. Similarly, each week first grade teachers cover the same math chapter as each other. Therefore both the content and the quantity of homework are very similar for each first grade student. One summer, all first grade teachers had the opportunity to contribute to the curriculum. During the school year, they meet regularly to share ideas during a block at the end of the day.
2. Continuity of Curriculum (Kindergarten): Kindergarten classes have the same guided reading books, math books, and teachers have common preps and collegial time share lessons and materials. They are also moving towards increasing continuity in all areas of curriculum, for example are planning to all start and continue with the same letters studied next year, and more collaborative planning as in first grade.
3. Grants/Gifts: A Garden City family's charity is donating tech devices (iPod touches, etc.) to Homestead and Locust. Hemlock received the donation last year. A Homestead teacher applied for a grant called "I Read”, to incorporate technology into the classes.
Homestead Curriculum Update- February 2010
1. Just Right Books: Children are encouraged to choose books to take home using the "Five Finger Rule". Teachers guide them when choosing books. In the first grade, books typically go home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In the kindergarten, there is more flexibility in choosing which days books are sent home. They are usually sent home when books are returned, which occasionally presents a problem. Parents are encouraged to send books back within a day or two of receiving them. Additional books have been ordered and the teachers have more to choose from this year.
2. Kindergarten Placement: The committee discussed the District's December cutoff date for Kindergarten and the issue of "holding back" for fall birthdays. The District handles this on a case-by-case basis and every effort is made to ease parents' concerns and encourage them to send their children to Kindergarten in accordance with the cutoff date.
Report Cards: The report card committee is continuing to make progress on the development of the new report cards. The next meeting is about Math and Social Studies and Science have been completed
Homestead Curriculum Committee Summary December 2009
1. Science Special: In the past, there has been a science special at the primary level, but increased P.E. mandates and budget issues moved the district to do away with the primary level science special. Further, reincorporating a science special at this point would require hiring an additional teacher, which may not be a realistic possibility in this budgetary climate. The possibility of creating an after-school science program at the primary level was discussed, however it was questioned whether at this age there would be sufficient interest and energy level given the time of day. It was also mentioned that science is incorporated into the classroom curriculum by the classroom teacher.
2. Chess Club: Chess was incorporated into the Literacy-at-Lunch Program last year on certain days at Homestead, rather than as a separate program as in Hemlock. Homestead does not have the space to allocate for a separate chess program, but is open to alternating it with Literacy again.
3. Swine Flu: Swine flu is being handled on a case-by-case basis by the school. Since cases are not confirmed and swabbing is not considered 100% accurate, the school does not notify parents of possible cases in their children's class. Attendance is being tracked daily to look for numbers and clusters (none so far at Homestead). While cases of Swine Flu have been noted in the community, cases have been mild. Children are permitted return to school if they are fever-free for 24 hours.
Homestead Curriculum Committee Summary October 2009
1. Class sizes: remained the same
2. PTA/SEPTA donations: Smart Board and projector for Homestead
3. Balanced Literacy Program: Continues to be implemented (shared reading, guided reading, shared writing, guided writing). A district-wide consultant is being utilized to enhance staff development and training.
4.Transition from K-1 and 1-2 -was facilitated by the meeting of the former and current teachers of the children to discuss student information and review placement cards.
5. Occupational Therapist--pushing into K classes 1x/week to observe and assist in strengthening fine motor skills (holding of pencil, printing left to right, top to bottom, etc).
6. Report Card Committee- will be meeting this month.