The school year is well on its way. Our students seem to have settled into routines and are doing a great job. When a school year begins, teachers spend a great deal of time teaching and modeling behaviors which they want students to demonstrate throughout the year. We know that time and effort given to this early on will pay dividends as the year moves forward. This might include how students treat each other during cooperative groups, how primary children navigate the washrooms individually, or how a student might go about asking another child to be part of a recess game.
The same is true for our work with Habits of Mind. As we prepare our students for the world ahead of them, we need to be thoughtful about our teaching and modeling. We need to manage our impulsivity and strive for accuracy, two of the sixteen worthwhile habits of mind our students will be exposed to at Naper School. The staff at Naper will try to build habitual thinking skills, much like we have habits like brushing our teeth, letting our dog out, or being kind to people. Habits are not behaviors we pick up and lay down whimsically or arbitrarily. They are behaviors we exhibit reliably and automatically on appropriate occasions and they are smoothly triggered without painstaking attention.
Ways to incorporate the Habits of Mind at home:
• In books and movies, identify and discuss which habit of mind a character is using. By having these discussions, you are reinforcing how the habits are interwoven and their impact on decision making.
• Share with your child how you utilize the habits (at work, in your social settings, in managing a home, etc.) This is important to emphasize that the habits are not just something that is done at school, but are components of all aspects of our lives.
• Compliment your child when he or she uses a habit of mind. For example, “I know you have been practicing that (piano piece, ballet turn, juggling that soccer ball). You persisted even though it was difficult. And now you have improved.” In giving specific descriptive feedback, you are encouraging your child to engage in that specific behavior again.
These habits are our intentional focus to help students become self-directed learners and complex thinkers across all settings: at school, at home, and in their daily life now and in the future! In order to extend learning for our students, we need to keep on growing as learners ourselves. If you should have any questions about our thinking focus, please give me a call or stop in to have a conversation. I really enjoy sharing our work!
The month of March is upon us and busy April will begin. Please look for these upcoming April activities. We begin the month with Mother/Son Night and 1st grade P.E. Night. Mini Courses, coordinated by our Home and School, will provide kindergarten through fifth grade students an opportunity to practice the habit of mind of Remaining open to continuous learning. Our Fun Run is scheduled in April, and we are hoping for wonderful weather to celebrate family physical fitness. This is the time of year when we begin to plan for next year. Look for Registration packets to come home the week of April 3rd . Also in April, we begin the process, with the help of Washington staff members, to help our fourth graders get ready for the transition to Washington for their 5th grade experience next year. There will be a Parent Information Night on April 5th at 6:00 p.m. at Washington. Principal Jon Vogel will visit our fourth grades to share information, then our students will visit Washington for a tour on April 26th . I have a feeling that April will fly by as quickly as March.
Our third and fourth graders will be involved in state PARCC testing in April. Please make sure your child gets plenty of rest and has a healthy breakfast. The PARCC assessment is computer delivered and aligns with the Common Core State Standards. These group tests will provide you with a measure of your child’s academic knowledge as compared statewide. These tests also provide us an assessment of our program effectiveness.
With the warmer spring weather, students tend to arrive earlier at school. Please do not allow the children to arrive at school before 8:00 a.m. Supervisors begin their duty at 8:00 and, for the safety of the children, we do not want any of the students to be on the playground without supervision. Thank you!
On a related note, please be aware that we ask all our students to go straight home after school. Those ten minutes from 2:30 to 2:40 are a time when we dismiss students. Supervision ends at 2:40. Students must be on their way home unless they are supervised by a parent. Students must check in at home before returning to the playground to play.
February brings a variety of special activities which enhance and communicate the district curriculum that is taught each day. Our Naper staff works hard to plan author visits, demonstrations, field trips, programs and performances that all extend learning beyond the curriculum. Please join us in celebrating those added learning connections with your children.
Our School Family Community Partnership committee and Home and School have organized some special activities that are on the horizon. Look for information regarding our Sweetheart Dance, which will be on Friday, February 10th. Our Science Fair is scheduled on Thursday, March 2nd. These family opportunities can provide learning for all.
Our students and teachers have been busy gathering work samples and assessment data to share with you during our February 23rd and February 24th conference days. These days are scheduled so that you and your child’s teacher can identify and share both current progress and areas of future growth for your child.
The last few weeks have given us a taste of our interesting Chicago winter weather. Although we have not yet had much snow, it is a great time to review the importance of remembering to follow the pick-up and drop-off procedures. Please use the lane in front of the playground for dropping-off your child. Once your car is within the drop-off zone area, please allow your child to get out of the car and move on so the cars behind can move forward. If you plan to park, use another area and reserve the street in front of the playground for our parents who can drop-off their child and move on. This is the safest area for student drop-off. The piles of snow from the city plows can complicate procedures, but the lane runs smoothly and safely if everyone cooperates and has safety as a goal. We do try to shovel several pathways on the parkway. Those pathways help, but do not always match precisely where the car doors open. When dropping off your children, please have them already wearing their boots. Shoes often do not have the traction that the boots do, creating some wild slips and slides when exiting the cars. Thank you!
Welcome to a new school year! We are off to an exciting start here at Naper. Our new space has created options for the many terrific learning opportunities we have planned for the year.
As we work together in providing opportunities for student success, our focus remains aligned to our district mission which is to guide each student to be a self-directed learner, quality producer, critical thinker, collaborative worker and community contributor. The Naper staff works collaboratively to provide an outstanding collective knowledge base regarding the K-4 learner in order to develop learning opportunities to build a strong foundation for life-long learning.
Each family should have received a Naper School Parent/Student Handbook at Orientation. For those unable to attend Orientation, the handbook was sent home. Please read this handbook. It contains important information regarding the school district and important information specific to Naper School. You will find our Naper Knight Code of Honor, how to call in an absence, and a variety of other key elements and procedures in this book. We hope this will be helpful in answering questions you may have about Naper School. Our goal is to support one another in creating the best learning environment possible for the children.
I would like to take a moment to focus on safety with this first letter. If you are driving your child to school, please use the area along the playground as a drop-off zone. If our parents will let their children off in that area and move on, other parents can then do the same. If you plan to walk your child to the door, please park in a space located on one of the nearby blocks. If everyone follows the procedures, this will allow the maximum number of cars to pull in and drop off or pick up students easily. Please remember, the driveway on the south side of the building is reserved for our buses before and after school.
I would like to extend a very sincere thank you to those of you who have already volunteered to help in the many activities that make Naper School so special. You have helped to get our school off to such a great start. Speaking of a great start, please check out the August 22, 2016 edition of Chicago Magazine. Naper School was listed as one of the Top 10 Elementary Schools in DuPage County.
We look forward to the new opportunities for learning this year. Most precious to all of us are your wonderful children that you share with us each day. They are the heart of this building. I look forward to working with all of you.
FOCUS 2020 is the strategic plan for comprehensive improvement between 2014 and 2020, designed in response to community feedback, best practice, and a vision for the future. Ultimately, this blueprint will advance the fulfillment of the district’s mission.
FOCUS 2020’s foundation is the Future Focus Community Engagement process that occurred over the course of a year where hundreds of members from across the community provided feedback to the district leadership regarding areas such as facilities, finances, measuring student success, and programs of study. Learn more about Future Focus by clicking on the specific “Quick Link” to the left of this text.
The Blueprint includes four “Strategic Focus” areas, namely to:
Design and implement effective practices that promote learning experiences for all.
Foster a high-performance culture focused on student learning.
Steward resources effectively to promote student learning.
Effective communication and community relations.
Each Strategic Focus then establishes “Commitments.” These commitments are what the district leadership pledges to accomplish within a distinct timeframe. Each commitment then includes a detailed “Action Plan” which will be accessible by the public upon final draft.
District administrators provided an update on Blueprint Commitments to the Board of Education at the July 27, 2015 meeting. To watch that presentation, please click here.