Monday, October 26, 2015

Working Together to Make OQS Great!

One of the things I am most impressed with at OQS is the way in which staff, students, and community members work together. There are so many examples of people pitching in when needed and working together to make our school a wonderful place to be. Recently, as part of our behavioral reward system, students at OQS worked together demonstrating expected behaviors to earn yet another school wide celebration. Each class earns 100 alphabits for exhibiting expected positive behaviors (small plastic chips with paws on them) and places them in a large jar. Once the jar is full we get to celebrate as a whole school. So far, this year we have filled the jar three times! Sometimes our celebrations are simply time to have fun together as a whole school by having a few more extra recess minutes or having a dance party in the gym or turning the parking lot into a giant piece of artwork using chalk. To celebrate our third time filling the school jar we had the children go outside with their buddy classes to plant flower bulbs for the spring. This was a great way to have fun with our buddy classes and do something nice for our school by helping to beautify the outside landscaping.
         Another example of how people here work together for the benefit of our community is the work done with our own school garden. This garden provides us with not only an abundance of food but also an opportunity for students, staff members, and parents to work together doing something fun while learning valuable lessons. Those that work in our garden grow an appreciation for the environment; learn how to work together in groups; respect nature; increase their knowledge of science; try new foods that are nutritious; eat healthier. We are forever grateful to Paul Sadowski and the numerous parents who volunteer their time to make all of this possible!
         I was once again blown away by a fantastic PTO sponsored fundraiser: the first (hopefully annual) crock-pot cook-off. This is yet another example of how people work together. Using produce from our school garden, families prepared crock-pot dishes to be entered into a contest. Many families came to school for a spaghetti dinner, with sauce made only from school garden produce and sampled over 18 crock-pot filled soups, chili’s and other recipes also containing school garden produce. I can honestly say no one left hungry!
         At OQS we are fortunate to have such wonderful human resources that allow us to work together in ways that benefit us all!

         If you were looking to add your talents to our pool of resources I would encourage you to stop in (or email me) to talk about ways you might volunteer either during the school day or after school. Some ideas might be; spending an hour in our library helping to shelve or check out books, spending some time between 7:45-8:00 in our cafeteria teaching students to play chess, volunteering to go hiking with wolves on the prowl, reading to students, playing an organized game at recess, starting a robotics club or some other idea!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

And the Beat Goes On!

The first six weeks of school have flown by and the pulse of our school is loud and strong. Students are becoming experts in demonstrating expected behaviors as evidenced by the bulletin board full of students who have been sent to the office for having “paws” itive behavior, producing exemplary work, showing acts of kindness and consideration, and following directions.  There are many days in which the only students sent to the office are sent because they have done something extraordinary! We have had 3 all school celebrations already this year for filling our "alphabit" jar as well as our first Golden Paw drawing in which 4 students were randomly chosen to receive choice awards. Yesterday, Ottauquechee was recognized by the Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe, as being a school of merit for Vermont’s Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBiS) program. This is very exciting as it validates all of the hard work students and staff have done over the past two years while implementing this program!
Over the past couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of spending time in many classrooms interacting with students as they construct their understanding through discussions, projects, reading, and problem solving. Our fourth graders are involved in a national research project through The Learning Design Group at UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science who work with schools and teachers around the country participating in field trials. These trials test preliminary versions of the Learning Design Group's rich science curriculum, developed in partnership with Amplify Learning, which combines hands-on inquiry, the use of digital tools, and support for disciplinary literacy (reading, writing, and talking about science). The curriculum supports both the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects.
The best part of my day is spent with students. Recently, I had the opportunity to cover the library during the preschool block. What fun I had reading to them and engaging them in literature as they chimed in and acted out the story. It warms my heart to see and hear 3 and 4 years olds talk about books as they browse and choose books to take home. It is fascinating to watch them demonstrate early reading behaviors; seeing the excitement in their faces and hearing the enthusiasm in their voices as they peruse texts. I also had the pleasure of reading with first graders, participating in a discussion about weather with third graders, helping second grade students with their morning math problems, interviewing third grade students about their weather instruments and discussing the reasoning behind fourth grader’s decisions about light devices to include in their safety kits. The pulse of learning is indeed loud and strong!