The Transition to Middle School

0

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in Fifth Grade, Parents | Posted on May 12, 2014

Parents,

middle_school_by_scotty_reifsnyder

Just a few resources for you to peruse to help your students with the transition to middle school:

National Association of School Psychologists

National Education Association

Scholastic Books Parent Resources

Association for Middle Level Education

Most articles offer great tips and advice for calming fears, settling into routines, and collaborating with your school team to ease the transition.

Happy reading!

~Ms. Moreau

Summer Camp Plans?

0

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in Parents | Posted on April 18, 2014

summer-camp

Ask any student here in Westford, and they’ll tell you the countdown has begun: there is just 1/2 day left before spring vacation, and then a mere seven weeks until summer vacation.

Along with the school days dwindling, so is the time to decide on summer plans.  If you are thinking about  having your child attend summer camp, here are some ideas to keep in mind:

1.  Type of camp. Are you interested in a day or residential camp?  Coed or single-sex?  Are you looking for a traditional summer camp, or one that specializes in sports, academics, creative arts, or addresses special needs?  Be sure to keep your child’s interests, maturity level, and personal goals in mind when looking at camps.  Additionally, the camp you choose should meet the physical, emotional, and social needs of your child.

2.  Cost, size, and location. Be sure to look at camps that are within your budget, or see if any offer camperships.  Speciality camps typically cost more than traditional summer camps, and may included extra fees (e.g., private lessons, uniforms, equipment).  Camp size may run from under 100 to more than 500.  Smaller camps may offer more individualized attention and stronger relationship building opportunities.  However, larger camps are often broken down into smaller groups, thus functioning similar to a smaller camp.  As far as location goes, for day camps, obviously, the closer the better.  Check into car pools for those that are not in the immediate area.  When choosing a location for a sleepaway camp, keep in mind your ability to visit (and the cost for the visit), proximity to camps that your other children may be attending, and your comfort level at the amount of distance of the camp location.

3.  Safety, facilities, and accreditation. Be sure to ask about staff training (both the directors and the counselors) and experience, staff ratios, medical staffing and procedures, insurance and emergency procedures, and safety rules.  If possible, tour the facilities, paying special attention to restrooms, eating areas, water sports areas, sleeping areas, and rainy day facilities.  Additionally, if your child requires special accommodations or has medical issues, be sure your child’s needs can be met.  Finally, ask about accreditation and licensures.  Although it doesn’t guarantee quality, accreditation can be a good sign.

Since you’re ready to begin your search, a great place to start is  the American Camp Association.  The association offers guides to finding camps, and list a variety of camps based on your search criteria.

Enjoy your summer as a  ar121763292427598!

~Ms. Moreau

Classroom Lessons

0

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in Fifth Grade, Fourth Grade, Third Grade | Posted on March 20, 2014

What a whirlwind of a school year it has been so far!  It’s hard to believe it, but we are getting ready for our winter break. Here is what your students have been learning about in their classroom guidance lessons using the Second Step and Steps to Respect curriculum:

5th Grade:

The focus in fifth grade is primarily friendship and peer pressure.  Using quick read aloud stories from the book Character Building Day by Day, we find the focus or topic for the day, then move into our lesson and enrichment activity.  We have discussed rumors and gossip, bullying, being an upstander, and qualities of a good friend.  Through our Second Step/Steps to Respect curriculum, we have practiced using our problem solving steps to assist in these various situations. Favorite activities so far have been role plays, spreading glitter like rumors, and reading Mr. Peabody’s Apples.

In the next coming months, we will start to look at ourselves and our roles and responsibilities in a friendship.  We will be using these ideas to cooperatively create friendship recipes.  Watch for information to see our published results!

4th Grade:

My fourth grade friends have been focusing on impulse control, problem solving, and anger management.  To enrich the Second Step/Steps to Respect curriculum, we have been reading Eagle Song by Joseph Bruchac.  Danny, the main character, faces bullying and conflict with his peers, and the students have really enjoyed listening to and discussing how he solves the issue.  Additionally, we’ve also begun working on learning how to judge the size of a problem and, in relation to the size, what size reaction might go along with the problem.  Favorite activities so far have included creating problem charts, role plays, and learning the connection between optical illusions and controlling impulses.

As we continue with our lessons, we will practice our problem solving steps in relation to everyday conflicts and issues that may arise.  Look for our fun problem solving packets to come home!

3rd Grade:

I have really enjoyed getting to know the third grade students so far this year.  We also use Second Step/Steps to Respect in third grade, where we focus on empathy, communicating feelings, and responding to bullying situations.  We read a chapter of The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes each lesson to enhance our discussions.  The students have really enjoyed practicing their “detective” skills to understand how the characters of Wanda and Maddy are feeling as well as understanding their actions.  Third graders have enjoyed working with partners to practice responding empathically in certain situations, thinking about their own “colorful” character traits, and demonstrating social skills during cooperative activities.

In the next coming months, we will shift the focus from recognizing bullying to actively refusing bullying.  Ask your children about the difference between being an upstander and a bystander–and ask them with which upstander strategy they are the most comfortable!

~Ms. Moreau

A Mother’s Day with Meaning

0

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in Parents | Posted on May 2, 2013

Mother’s Day is on May 12.  And although it’s typically celebrated with flowers and brunch, did you know this holiday actually began as a peace movement after the Civil War?  Julia Ward Howe, who was famous for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, was the first to appease mothers everywhere to join together for world peace.  In 1870 she wrote a Mother’s Day Proclamation in which she asked mothers and women to honor their sons lost in war by standing up for peace.  This year, consider honoring mothers everywhere by stepping back in time to the holiday’s origins and taking steps towards peace by participating in the 17th annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.

The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace is held annually to benefit the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute.  The Peace Institute is an organization in Boston that has its roots in offering resources for those families whose lives have been affected by violence.  They’ve developed a peace curriculum that they present to area schools, raise awareness in local communities, and provide supports for families and individuals.  It was only natural, then, that they initiated the idea of walking for peace on Mother’s Day.

The Walk for Peace already has over 5,000 registered walkers, many of whom have lost loved ones to violence.  Some walk in honor of those they knew personally, while some walk in hopes of spreading peace and making positive changes in the world. The walk takes place 8:00-10:00 a.m. in Dorchester on Mother’s Day on a 3.6 mile course near Town Field Park.  Walkers can register individually, in teams, or virtually.  Registration is free, though walkers are encouraged to raise $100.00 in pledges per walker. There are also multiple volunteer opportunities both the day before and the day of the walk.  After the recent Boston Marathon events, as well as the tragedy in Newtown, spreading peace and supporting those in need of healing seems like a wonderful way to honor mothers everywhere.

~Ms. Moreau

 

A is for April

0

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in Parents | Posted on April 11, 2013

As we enter into Spring–even if there is still snow on the ground–our thoughts naturally turn to the outdoors:  green grass, sprouting daffodils, the return of the robins and other songbirds, and mud puddles through which the kids love to stomp.  How appropriate, then, that April is Environmental Education Month!  And to help school us about the environment, we are going back to learning our ABC’s.


A is for Awareness and Action.  The first step to make kids more aware of their environment is pretty easy–GO OUTSIDE!  How can they be encouraged to nourish and nurture the environment if they never spend time in it?  Read a book in the shade of your favorite tree in the yard.  Take a family walk at  Grassy Pond or join a guided hike at various trails with the folks from Westford Conservation Trust.  Rake leaves together.  Sketch an outdoor scene.  Put out a blanket, lie back,  and listen to the birds singing their Spring songs or see what shapes are in the passing clouds.  Whatever it is that you choose to do, children will learn to appreciate nature more when they spend time outdoors in it!

Once their awareness is raised, brainstorm some ideas of ways to take action to help the environment.  Read Hoot, Where Once There Was a Wood, or Earth Book for Kids or watch The Lorax or for ideas on how other kids stood up for the environment.  Research environmental issues online to stimulate conversations and learning.  Some great starting points are:  EPA Students for the Environment, Kids Planet, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.  Set an example at home about your own personal commitment to the environment by monitoring water usage, using flourescent light bulbs, recycling, and cleaning up litter in the community.  Work together to take action on an environmental project and  make sure it’s ongoing, as environmental issues are ongoing as well.

B is for Birds, Bees, and Butterflies.  Encourage your children to spend time in nature and take care of it!  Get your hands dirty by tending a garden, planting a tree, and composting together (for a great list of composting items, click here).  Hang bird feeders and houses to invite feathered friends to your yard.  Design a wildlife habitat with these ideas from the National Wildlife Federation.  Keep a journal–photo or written–to document natural events in the world, like when the first tree buds appear or when the last leaf falls from that same tree. Your children will love these first hand nature experiences that will nurture an appreciation for the cycles of life on Earth.

C is for Caring for and Conserving our Classroom Earth.  Nature wastes nothing, so why should people?  Make your kids aware of their carbon footprints so that they can strive to make it smaller.  Have your children carry a grocery bag around for the day and instruct them to collect all their trash for the day in it.  At the end of the day, see how much has been collected–did they have any idea that they consumed so much?  Also, sort through the trash (with gloves, if necessary) and see what can be recycled, composted, or reused (think plastic baggies).  Find ways to conserve energy, water, and materials at home–turn the lights off when you leave the room, limit shower time, use the back of paper for drawing or printing on the other side, use linen hand towels instead of paper towels, and set up a rain barrel or water collection system.  Instead of buying new toys and books, arrange for a swap with other families, borrow items from the library, and donate some to others for their use.

Remember, working with your children to help the Earth can be as easy as A, B, C!

~Ms. Moreau

It’s Testing Season!

0

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in Parents | Posted on March 13, 2013

March brings Spring, and with it all the tell-tale signs of the season:  the sight of children running free after shedding their jackets at recess;  the taste of the first sweet, ripe strawberry of the season;  the feel of the warm sun on your face in the late afternoon;  the smell of freshly sharpened lead pencils;  and the sound of rustling test booklet pages.  That’s right, folks;  spring also means it’s MCAS time.

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, affectionately known as MCAS, measures the students’ achievement in relation to specific standards in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.  Students will complete a battery of multiple choice and short answer questions;  in addition, the students in the fourth grade will also complete the long composition writing session.

MCASBoyTest

Parents, have no fear, your children are ready for these tests.  They have participated in various activities, learning opportunities, and practice sessions throughout the year to gain both the knowledge and the strategies they need to perform their best during the testing season.

What are the best ways for you to help?  Parents Place, a Massachusetts based parent information center, offers pointers on a variety of topics, including the following testing tips:

  • Be positive when referring to upcoming tests.
  • Encourage your children to do their best.
  • Remind your children of their strengths.
  • Let your child know that there are many measures of academic performance in addition to these tests.
  • Promote good sleeping, physical fitness, and healthy eating habits during testing times.

Be sure to visit the Parents Place site for more in depth tips and information.  Also, visit the Massachusetts Department of Education to review the MCAS parent guides and information.  Looking for something more lighthearted and fun?  Read “Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!” by Dr. Seuss, which is a great book about a “different-er” school’s response to a big upcoming test.

Take a deep breath, have your children take a deep breath, and good luck!

~Ms. Moreau

 

A Day of Service–Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

0

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in Parents | Posted on February 13, 2013

When ringing in the new year, people often make resolutions;  one of mine this year was to continue to teach my own daughters about the value of community service.  While we donate regularly to the food pantry, now that they are a little older, I’d like to have them experience some hands-on service.  If you’re like me and are looking for a starting point, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is that place.

Rather than seeing it as a just a day off, a movement began several years ago to see MLK, Jr.’s birthday as a day OF–of service, that is.  What better way to honor a man who once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” than by giving back to the community?

In my classroom guidance lessons with all three grades, we’ve been discussing the idea of fostering a welcoming and inclusive school community.  Third graders have been working on a welcoming acts paper chain.  Fourth graders, who are focusing on peaceful problem solving, have begun designing “Keep the Peace at School” posters.  And fifth graders, for whom friendship and peer relationships are quite important, have participated in a variety of activities that promote inclusion of all students (such as using their critical thinking skills to address hypothetical situations during our blogging adventures).  For the students here at Abbot, the first step in giving back is creating a school community in which everyone feels valued, safe, and cared for.

Want to deepen your child’s experience with giving back?  Find an opportunity to volunteer as a family.  The first step is to find a common interest and see what you can do in that area. For example, if your son loves animals, check out the Lowell Humane Society’s Kids 4 Paws program that offers educational and fun opportunities for kids to work with the dogs and cats one Sunday a month.  Maybe your family is more committed to the environment?  The Nicodemus Earth Project is a service learning program that encourages kids to participate in environmental stewardship projects.  Or is your family an advocate of the performing arts?  The Lowell Folk Festival is a great opportunity to expose your family to a variety of cultures and their music and arts, and your help would be appreciated during their annual celebration.  To help you begin finding the right experience for your and your family, VolunteerMatch is the best place to start looking.

The sky is the limit–find your family’s place to shine and share!

~Ms. Moreau

 

5th Grade Blogging

1

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in blogging, Fifth Grade | Posted on February 5, 2013

Want to know what your fifth grades students have been learning in our classroom guidance lessons?  Then check out the blogging pages to see their comments, wisdom, and wittiness…

~Ms. Moreau

Friendship Wordles

1

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in Parents | Posted on April 5, 2012

In my small group sessions, one of our most common topics of conversation is friendship:  how to be a good friend, what to look for in a friend, etc.  Recently, we created Word Clouds using Wordle and we’d love for you to view our hard work.  Click on the link and enjoy!

Friendsip Wordles
~Ms. Moreau

MCAS Musings

0

Posted by jlmoreau | Posted in Parents | Posted on April 5, 2012

Here is a repost from last year with some timely MCAS tips:

 

peppermint-math

And so yet another season of MCAS testing is upon us, bringing with it new pencils, brisk morning walks, special snacks, and a fair amount of anxiety.

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS),  measures the students’ achievement in relation to specific standards in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.  Students will complete a battery of multiple choice and short answer questions;  in addition, the students in the fourth grade will also complete the long composition writing session.

PeppermintPattyanswers

The American School Counselor Association has an article offering tips to parents to help ease their child’s test anxiety, and About Our Kids offers a similar test tips guide with specific recommendations for both physically and emotionally preparing for a test.  And, of course, you can always refer back to the MCAS post from last year here at Ms. Moreau’s Musings to find great tips as well.

The most important thing to remember is to covey to your child positive thinking and reassurance, so that s/he comes to school feeling relaxed and ready to tackle anything.  Believe in your child, and your child will believe in him/herself!

peppermint-patty-hr

~Ms. Moreau