Join Us! Virtual Parent Coffee-May 7th

 

Please note: We are not able to meet for virtual coffee this week, but we look forward to meeting next week! 

 Virtual Coffee with the Principals on Thursday, May 7 at 3pm 

Sign up ahead of time:  https://forms.gle/Xyid51nQABwGz4A66

When you sign up, you can submit a question and will receive the link to join us

Here are the notes from our 4/23 meeting:

In our third virtual meeting, co-hosted by Spofford Pond and Cole Principals with the PTO, parents were invited to submit questions which were relayed for Dr. Castonguay and Mrs. Boulanger to respond. We were delighted to see and hear from some teachers and staff there, too! Time and attendance in the zoom meeting allowed for those in attendance to ask additional questions and express their gratitude for all that is being done by the schools. 

Here are some key take-aways:

  • Teachers are strongly encouraging students to be engaged in remote classes, and are seeing good results. 
    • A feedback loop is most important right now for students and teachers 
      • Rather than grades or evaluations, they are focused on a loop of feedback and improvement in student work and remote class delivery
  • Priority is Relationships
    • Maintain level of calm and reassurance for students 
    • Concern for social justice and equity for different students’ situation
  • It is important that we – teachers and parents – support students by continuing to “instill the desire to learn.” It is valuable for them (all of us!) to continue to want to learn. 
  • Remote Learning- feedback so far has been both positive and constructive
    • Teachers are working very hard, researching and learning as they go, on how best to present the curriculum
    • Teachers are being as flexible as possible to meet students’ needs
    • They continue to learn from feedback on the user experience
  • School buildings remain closed and a date to pick-up items remains undetermined, based on guidance from the state
  • Leadership team (principals, superintendent, central office staff) meets regularly both for Boxford, and also with Topsfield and Middleton, to work on aligning and coordinating curriculum across Tri-Town
    • Operating in a “rapid manner” to keep everyone informed and connected
    • Universal screening is always done in the fall, so this will help going forward
  • DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) is expected to communicate Friday 4/24 (now delayed to early the week of 4/27) about “power standards” – the essential / core understandings that students should master for each grade and subject
  • Placement letters (feedback from parents about their child’s class placement for next year) have been received and placement is in progress at Spofford Pond
  • Cole letters regarding placement will go out to parents soon
  • Parent feedback on Specialist classes was great
    • Padlet of dragonfly art is wonderful (a virtual replication of hallway bulletin boards)
  •  Continuing to brainstorm with teachers and leadership about capstone experiences for 6th (and 2nd) graders
    • A lot of enthusiasm and creative ideas being explored
  • Yearbooks for both Cole and Spofford Pond school will be for sale soon, with a ship-to-home option for grades PK-5
  • For all 6th graders, your hard-cover yearbooks are being purchased for you because of the PTO 6th-Grade-Activities super-successful Wizards game fundraiser 
    • Those books will be ordered in bulk and distributed safely with your 6th Grade t-shirts by members of the 6th-Grade-Activities Committee team 
  • Whenever we are back at school physically, will there be an opportunity for kids to go back and visit this year’s teachers and class, for closure?
    • Response: All of us – teachers, staff, principals desperately hope to re-connect with this year’s students in person. “We all need it.”
  • Please join us for the next Virtual Coffee with the Principals on Thursday, May 7 at 3pm

Tri-Town SEPAC Meeting

Please join us for a virtual Tri-Town SEPAC meeting on April 27th at 7 pm on Zoom.  We will be discussing virtual learning and future plans for the SEPAC and would like community input.
Meeting Info:
Kristen DeMarco is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: SEPAC Meeting
Time: Apr 27, 2020 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/72573661825

Meeting ID: 725 7366 1825

Message for Spofford Pond Sixth Grade Families @ Masconomet Transition Planning

Good Afternoon Sixth Grade Families!

 

Today, we learned that Masconomet is planning a Virtual Visit for our sixth graders. Here is the post from Principal Dillon’s blog.
Welcome to Masco!
Posted by James Dillon on 4/20/2020
Hello Sixth Grade Parents
We have heard great things about the sixth grade from their teachers and are very excited to have them as the next class at Masconomet Middle School. On May, 14th, at 6:00 p.m. we will have a “virtual assembly” to introduce you to the many aspects our School. We will be sending you a link for that meeting in May. For now, sophomore student, Kostas Winslow, has prepared a “welcome to Masconomet Middle School” video that you can share with your student. I am looking forward to May 14th and a chance to talk with you about our great students.
The intermediate principals will be meeting with Mr. Dillon soon to coordinate the transition planning for our students so we will be able to provide you with some additional details following that meeting.
Hope you enjoyed the sun today,

Kathryn Castonguay

Virtual Parent Coffee Registration -click on link below to sign up!

When: Thursday, April 23rd at 3pm

Where: Zoom video conferencing

Why: A chance to “see” one another and connect! Ask questions about remote learning or share suggestions.

Who: You! & Hosts: Kathryn Castonguay & Betsy Boulanger Principals, Ada Greenberg Assistant Principal, Bonnie Thornoborough, Michelle Fallis–PTO Presidents

How: Registration is limited to 30 participants. Participants must sign up on the link provided here and can submit questions on the form or to Bonnie and Michelle directly. They will be the voice for the parents on the session and ask the questions. This way, all voices can be heard in an organized manner! If this is successful, we will offer another parent coffee time for parents again next week. So don’t worry if you can’t make this one!
The link to our sign up form is right below!

Notes on 4/16 Virtual Coffee Hour with Principals

 

In this second virtual meeting, co-hosted by Spofford Pond and Cole Principals with the PTO, parents were invited to submit questions which were relayed for Dr. Castonguay and Mrs. Boulanger to respond. Time and attendance in the zoom meeting also allowed for parents to share their families’ experience of remote learning. 

 

The format and tone were supportive and encouraging. The feedback and discussion were appreciated. 

 

Here are some key take-aways:

  • Everyone in the meeting really appreciated learning what others are asking and dealing with. 
    • For some it was valuable to know that others are sharing the same challenges
    • For some it was enlightening to better understand different perspectives and situations
  • Parents offered great feedback on scheduling, types/choices of activities, and virtual classroom organization (how students navigate the virtual space using Clever at Cole and Google Classroom at Spofford)
    • Kids struggle to find content if there are different access points
    • Hearing teacher’s voice helps (pre-recorded videos of storytime, lessons, etc.)
    • Choice board can help kids be flexible and independent
    • Zoom meeting at beginning of week helps set the week’s plan
  • One of the greatest challenges schools/ teachers are facing is that every child is in a different environment at home
    • Schools are working to balance asynchronous learning, such as pre-recorded videos, activities, games, etc. with live (synchronous) scheduled meetings and check-ins. 
    • Some families really need flexible schedules, while some need the live connections.
  • Lots of communication is taking place among educators
    • Leadership team meets every day
    • Principals meet with teacher teams regularly, as well as communication with support staff, specialists, other tri-town schools
    • Guidance from MA Commissioner of Education comes via superintendent Dr. Morrison 
  • 1-1 student-teacher video conferences are being done by teachers and support staff, such as RTI math and reading coaches. 
    • 1-1 meetings can be scheduled by emailing your child’s teacher.
    • Some teachers have a sign-up for parents and students to meet 1-1 with teacher. 
    • Teachers are also reaching out to parents about scheduling 1-1 meetings.
    • Teachers have office hours
  • Teachers are using feedback to modify courses, and are sharing ideas and getting more creative.
    • One thing they are looking into is breaking into smaller video groups for certain activities.
    • Continued feedback is helpful!
    • If remote learning is extended, we will see more creative solutions happening
  • Although grades are not being recorded, teachers are using the structure of grades/levels to give students feedback and ask for revisions to work (ie: if this were graded, it would be a “2”). Teachers are finding that students are responsive to feedback.
  • Principals are looking at the capstone experiences and traditions for the 6th and 2nd graders as “postponed” not cancelled. Also brainstorming remote ideas for some aspects.
  • In the fall, teachers will look at the standards from both spring and fall and develop a blend
    • Will do “back-filling” as needed
    • Working on summer essential skills, resources
  • Both 6th grade teams are working from a foundation that is aligned, although there may be differences in the delivery
  • Communication to parents about school closure extension and/or eventual plan to return to school will come from Dr. Morrison
    • Guidance will come from the state
    • For the eventual return to school plan, major coordination will take place at the local level with Boxford Board of Health, Police, Fire, Nurses, etc. for all of the best health and safety procedures for our kids.

 

 

Virtual Parent Coffee!

YOU are invited to a Virtual Parent Coffee Hour with the Principals and PTO Presidents!

When: Thursday, April 16th at 3pm

Where: Zoom video conferencing

Why: A chance to “see” one another and connect! Ask questions about remote learning or share suggestions.

Who: You! & Hosts: Kathryn Castonguay-Principal, Elizabeth Boulanger Principal, Ada Greenberg-Assistant Principal, Bonnie Thornoborough, Michelle Fallis–PTO Presidents

How: Registration is limited to 30 participants. Participants must sign up on the link provided here and can submit questions on the form or to Bonnie and Michelle directly. They will be the voice for the parents on the session and ask the questions. This way, all voices can be heard in an organized manner! If this is successful, we will offer another parent coffee time for parents again next week. So don’t worry if you can’t make this one!

The link to our sign up form is right below!

https://forms.gle/PHyGi7JQYtcqf8Ci7

Technology Requests

Dear TTU Families,

During this time of remote learning, our IT team is here to assist you with troubleshooting any problems your TTU student may have utilizing digital tools. If your TTU student is in need of assistance with a tech problem at home during this time, please submit the request here:: Request for at-home IT support during remote learning. Our IT team will review these requests regularly and be in touch as soon as possible via the email address you provide.

Sincerely,
Steve Guditus
Tri-Town School Union Director of Educational Technology

Notes on 4/9 Virtual Coffee Hour with Dr. Castonguay

Firstly, many thanks to all who have been so kind and supportive and good-natured about this challenging process.

 

On Thursday, April 9, Spofford Pond principal Dr. Castonguay held a “virtual coffee hour” co-hosted with the PTO, to allow parents to connect with her, each other, share, and ask questions.

 

She was joined by Assistant Principal Ada Greenberg, and six parents. PTO co-presidents Michelle Fallis and Bonnie Thornborough relayed questions that had been submitted, and the small group allowed for open questions at the end.

 

Some key take-aways from that meeting are:

  • Feedback is good. Principals and teachers really encourage parents to give feedback on how things are working on our end. They are meeting daily and making adjustments in response to feedback and their own observations, with the goal of continually improving this process and experience.
    • Send your teacher an email sharing what is working well and not-so-well for your child.
    • The Third-grade team sent a chart for collecting parent feedback, or any email to teachers is great.
    • You can also feel free to email Dr. Castonguay about anything or set up a meeting. kcastonguay@boxfordschools.org
    • The same goes for Cole families. Please email your teacher, and you can also email Principal Betsy Boulanger at: eboulanger@boxfordschools.org
  • Dr. Castonguay expressed their understanding that families are in a variety of different situations, so the school’s goal is to find a balance of elements that work in different ways and are not overwhelming. For example, they are working to create more pre-recorded lessons so that kids can view and re-view within a timeframe that works best for their particular family situation and schedule.
  • Regarding the question of grades: Dr. Castonguay said right now the expectation is for kids to be engaged in their learning. Teachers are asked to make note of if kids are active or disengaged, and to reach out to parents/students to work on solutions for any concerns and provide support where needed.
  • Dr. Castonguay also said they are working on creative ways to support teachers and students, such as having support staff involved in classes and/or setting up individual meetings. She also expressed awareness that some students may have a busier schedule of meetings with different support staff, but the goal is for this support to be helpful and that they certainly do not want to add stress with extra scheduled meetings. Any feedback on this is appreciated, too.
  • Regarding the question of keeping kids caught up going into next year, Dr. Castonguay said the curriculum will be adjusted as needed next year, and they are also working on what might be called a “minimum tools” program that could help over the summer.
  • Regarding our sixth-graders, for whom several special traditions and celebrations likely can not happen as planned this spring, Dr. Castonguay said that despite much uncertainty now on when this can happen, the goal is still to eventually have an event to celebrate them and their moving on from elementary school.   
  • We will love to do more “virtual coffee hour” sessions to continue to support families, and would love any suggestions about ideal days/times. The next one will be hosted by both Dr. Castonguay and Mrs. Boulanger for both Cole and Spofford parents.  This first one was at 3:00pm Thursday. Please email us at boxfordpto@gmail.com to share any preferences. Thank you!