Funny hats for Wacky Wednesday in kindergarten this week!
Closer and Closer: Improving Our Remote Learning Experience
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: December 11, 2020
Greetings at home, everyone. I hope this finds you well and preparing for yet another unique holiday season. However you choose to spend the break, we wish you safety, health, and joy!
This week, I offer a window into how the past two weeks of remote instruction have felt different and better than the way things felt in the spring. I begin with this important note: the power and benefit of onsite instruction are undeniable. We have no plans to substitute that experience based on the positive experiences I report on here.
The power of professional development
I frequently get this question from current and prospective parents alike: What does professional development look like at BDS? How are you ensuring that it translates into improved instruction? At no time has the translation of effective PD into excellence in the classroom been more apparent than it has in the past two weeks. Our entire teaching faculty took courses this summer offered by Global Online Academy (GOA) to prepare for these offsite weeks, and the returns have been excellent. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read Liz Gray’s recent article about the experience. GOA highlighted her article in its December newsletter as evidence of effective learning and implementation in the classroom by BDS faculty.
How much we’ve missed those smiling faces
As our division heads have team meetings and other administrators offer office hours to faculty, we repeatedly hear about the delight teachers are taking in seeing the children’s smiles and whole faces. With mask-wearing as one of the trade-offs we have all willingly made to ensure our community’s safety during this pandemic, the cost has been seeing those wonderfully expressive smiles. As we consider the hopeful promise of a vaccine and a future day when masks are no longer necessary, it is a reminder of how vital the expressive cues our children give us are.
Learning why we thrive in different environments
A fascinating aspect of these remote weeks has been gaining insight into students who are thriving in unexpected ways. We might attribute this phenomenon to the often unconsidered sensory experiences and inputs that children navigate when they go to school each day—a new space, a different chair, classmates, and friends. All of these things are elements of why being onsite is so important. Yet for some students, the comfort of their own home, where familiarity and control over the sensory inputs that impact learning, has provided a notably positive experience. The ways that these students are thriving have teachers thinking of strategies to further individualize all students’ learning experiences upon their return to the classroom.
Belmont Day prides itself on being a school full of lifelong learners—students and faculty alike. This brief period has affirmed, yet again, our dedication to refining the inspiring and challenging BDS education we provide for every student.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
December 14 to December 19
Monday, December 14
BDS Giving Day
8:30–10 a.m., Committee on Trustees; Zoom Meeting
Tuesday, December 15
7–8:30 p.m., Board of Trustees; Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, December 16
9–10 a.m., Parents’ Association Friendraiser Coffee Chat; Zoom Gathering
10 a.m., Parent Book Club; Zoom Gathering
Thursday, December 17
6:30–7:30 p.m., Winter Concert; Zoom Gathering
Friday, December 18
Extended Day Program Semester 1 Ends
School Closes at 12:30 p.m. for Winter Break
11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m., Send-off Assembly; Zoom Gathering
Saturday, December 19
8:20 a.m.–1:30 p.m., SSAT Administered for Grade 8; Belmont Day School
School Closed for Winter Break: December 21, 2020, to January 1, 2021
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
BDS Giving Day 2020
Monday, December 14
BDS Giving Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate our community and show our support for the school, faculty, and students. Giving Day is all about participation. Every gift, no matter the size, helps Belmont Day now and in the future. We are striving for 100 gifts in 24-hours.
We have some exciting news to share that we hope will inspire and challenge you. An anonymous donor has generously offered to match all gifts dollar-for-dollar that come in on BDS Giving Day! Help us double the impact by participating on Monday—this year, more than ever, we need your support. Click here to contribute in advance!
Thursday, December 17, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
As one of the final gatherings before winter break, the Winter Concert is always a favorite celebration of our community and the wonderful music and young musicians who bring us together. This year, we will celebrate virtually to enjoy performances from the orchestra, ensembles, and choruses. And get ready to join in as the show will feature a few sing-alongs. The Zoom link to the event will be emailed directly to families prior to the concert and is available on the Parent Portal. We’ll see you at the Winter Concert!
Survey for Vacation Camp Planning
As we approach winter break and look ahead to auxiliary programs for 2021, we would like your feedback regarding vacation camps. While we will not be able to offer exactly what we have in the past, we would like to gauge interest in an in-person, on-campus, expanded cohort model.
Please take a few minutes to fill out our quick survey to ensure we have your input as we begin the decision-making process. We look forward to hearing from you. Should you have any additional questions, please reach out to Joe Jean-Mary, associate director of auxiliary programs, at email@example.com.
After School Enrollment Still Available for January
Enrollment is open for limited after school programming for students in pre-kindergarten, grades 2, 4, and 5, and all middle school students. The January program begins on Wednesday, January 6. At this time we cannot accommodate students in kindergarten and grades 1 and 3. There is no action necessary if your child was enrolled for previous sessions. Please reach out directly to Joe Jean-Mary and Blair Fross, director of after school and enrichment programs, regarding first-time enrollment for period three. Registration closes Friday, December 18.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Flu Immunization Required for Students
All school children in Massachusetts must receive immunization against flu before December 31 in order to return to school in January. This is a state-mandated requirement; we are not able to waive it or ignore it. As of early December, twenty percent of BDS students have not provided documentation of this immunization. You will receive notifications from Magnus if this documentation is due. If you receive a notification that flu immunization is due for your child that you believe is in error, please contact Liz LaRocque at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, please ensure your child receives the immunization, and documentation is provided to the school prior to December 31. To upload the form to Magnus, please follow these instructions. From the Magnus home page, go to Student Health Tracker > Immunizations Tab > Edit. From there you can upload a new form. If you run into any issues, you can submit an electronic copy to Nurse LaRocque.
Testing Available During Winter Break
If you would like to get tested over the break, our testing partner, CIC Health, is open for testing by appointment and offering Belmont Day families and friends a $10 discount per test. Their testing site is located in Kendall Square at 245 Main Street, Cambridge. Individuals seeking testing simply schedule and pay for their test online, and show up at their appointed time to be tested. The testing process takes about three minutes, costs $80, and results will be returned within 24 hours, on average. Use the code BDSfamily when scheduling an appointment to receive the discount.
Call for Grandparents and Special Friends Contact Information
As we prepare for a very special virtual event for grandparents and special friends in February, “A Day in the Life at BDS,” we need your assistance with updating our contact information. We want to make sure to include your student’s grandparents and special friends in our invitation mailing. If you would like to add or update a grandparent or a special friend, please click here and complete the form by January 4. If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com.
– Pati Fernández, director of development
Interim Grade 8 English Teacher Hired
Adele Clements-Wilson will join the Belmont Day faculty as interim grade 8 English teacher, filling Elisabeth Klock’s role when she is out on leave. Adele comes to BDS most recently from serving in several roles concurrently over the past five years–as an English skills instructor at the Waldorf School of Lexington, a creative writing instructor at the Chenery Middle School’s BASEC program, and as a professor of English at Bunker Hill Community College. Previously, Adele was a middle school English language arts teacher at the Davis Leadership Academy Public Charter School in Dorchester and a grade 7 English language arts teacher at Orchard Gardens Pilot School in Boston. Additionally, Adele has worked as a Metco Literacy Instructor at Lexington High School and in many other writing instructor capacities, teaching students and adults of all ages in various positions over an extensive career in education. Adele also taught an after school writing course at BDS several years back. She is a member of the diversity and inclusion committee at the Waldorf School of Lexington and trained as a Narrative 4 Story Exchange instructor. Adele received a bachelor’s degree in English and sociology from Emmanuel College and holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she was a member of the Boston Teacher Residency, an AmeriCorps program.
Fifth, Pre-kindergarten, and Kindergarten Enjoy Learning About Storytelling
This week was filled with stories and adventures with two wonderful authors stopping by to share their creative processes with students. In fifth grade, author Kyandreia Jones, who has written for the Choose Your Own Adventure series, led students in a CYOA writing workshop on Monday. Jones inspired students to come up with ideas for their own books and they practiced writing in the second person like in the book series. They wrote some gripping, hilarious, and intriguing premises for their stories during the workshop and some even received feedback and critique from the author. Click here to read some of the story premises that the students started. This coming Monday, fourth graders will be participating in the same workshop.
And on Wednesday, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes met with author Sherri Duskey Rinker. Rinker discussed how someone becomes an author and what her real-life inspiration was for the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site books. She also read her brand new book Construction Site Mission: Demolition! Rinker was incredibly engaging and kept our youngest learners and their teachers giggling throughout.
If your student is interested in reading books by either of these authors, we have titles available in the Erskine Library. And a big thank you to our friends at Belmont Books for helping to coordinate these authors’ visits. The store also has books by these authors available if you wish to purchase them.
Stay tuned for more author visits later this school year!
– Amy Sprung, school librarian
Seventh Grade Math Explores Cross-Multiplication
Seventh grade math students extended their study of ratios and proportions by exploring the practice of using cross-multiplication to solve single-variable equations. Students employed cross-multiplication to not only solve equations using fractions and decimals, but they also used cross-multiplication to solve story problems comparing and contrasting a variety of data points. They were honing their skills this week preparing for a quiz next week covering all of Unit 3 Investigation 1, which will be their first assessment of the second trimester.
– Stephen Bennoff, middle school math teacher
Second Graders Use Sign Language in Learning French
Second graders are discovering an Australian creation legend and learning about cognate words (words that look and sound like English and have the same meaning in both languages) and also comparing the French and English reading systems.
In our class, we have adapted the widely used method “Total Physical Response” to make it more significant: instead of using random moves to help students remember the vocabulary, we use French Sign Language. It is the opportunity to discuss the need for sign languages, the different sign language systems, and explore an online dictionary, LeDicoElix.
This week, after learning the cognate words in the story and signing them in French Sign Language, it was a pleasure to witness the students’ engagement when playing a thief game. Whether using their French words or FSL or both, all students had fun and looked proud! For their asynchronous work, their mission was to make a video proposal for the word “humans,” humans, as the dictionary’s sign was really intricate and difficult to remember.
– Nathalie Pellenq, French teacher
Fifth Grade Finishes Unit on the Nervous System
Right before Thanksgiving, fifth graders wrapped up a unit on the nervous system and neurodiversity by researching various learning disabilities and creating websites on Google Sites. First, students learned about the biology of the brain—what regions are responsible for what functions, how memory and habits can both help and hurt us, and how neurotransmission works. Then students had guest lessons from several experts on learning disabilities, including our very own Ms. Brennan, and were able to select a research topic based on the information in Ms. Brennan’s presentation. Students researched dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and many others. Upon completion, students shared their websites with their peers and also published their websites to be visible to anyone with a Belmont Day email address.
– Emma Nairn, grade 5 teacher
First Grade Is All About Writing
First grade has been hard at work on writing their “All About” books. The students are very knowledgeable on many different topics and used this time to write very informative books! After writing for a few weeks, the first graders have now chosen one of the books to publish. This week, they are working on editing their writing and copying it to a special final draft paper. They also have written “About the Author” pages and started brainstorming titles for their books. Next week they will officially publish their books and have an author share with their class!
– Cicely Gibson, grade 1 teacher
Parents’ Association News
Lost & Found
Since your child has been home have you noticed any missing gear? There are student items that were left behind on campus before Thanksgiving. If you are missing an item, please complete this form. We will search the Lost & Found bins for the item and it will either be returned to your student or we will be in touch to let you know that we haven’t found it. If it isn’t found at this time, it will stay on the list in case it reappears at a later date.
Next Event: Coffee Chat
The friendraiser committee will host their next virtual coffee chat on Wednesday, December 16, from 9 to 10 a.m. Catch up with friends new and old and discuss all things wintry; cozy or cold! Come and learn new recipes ideas, winter games, movies, and more. Bring your own ideas and traditions to share! The Zoom link can be found on the Friendraiser page under the parents’ association tab on the Parent Portal.
Thank you to those who attended the friendraiser committee’s virtual beer tasting this week! It was so much fun to gather together and enjoy each other’s company. The friendraiser committee loves hosting fun gatherings, so please reach out to Carolyn Atinizian firstname.lastname@example.org
The next book club selection is a short story collection entitled Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda. Please join us for our Zoom gathering on Wednesday, December 16 at 10 a.m. to discuss this book. The Zoom link is posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on Veracross. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
Faculty and Staff Appreciation
Thank you to everyone who has filled out notes of appreciation for the faculty and staff. We understand there have been some issues with the form when trying to submit notes for specialists. The form has been updated and remains open for submissions for all faculty and staff. Please click here to submit a note of appreciation.
What Do You Want to Learn About Today?
Some of you may remember former Belmont Day after school and substitute teacher and camp counselor, Rich Arum. These days, Rich lives out in Seattle and collaborates with Best in Class Education Center where he provides a series of fun and enriching videos on tons of topics. This week’s video teaches about Hanukkah and the activity is to make a dreidel. An actor at heart, the kids are sure to have a fun time following along. Check out the Best in Class Education Center’s Facebook page to scan all the videos.