Monday, April 6, 2020

News to Use, April 6, 2020

Important Dates
No Remote Learning Activities, Good Friday, April 10
No Remote Learning Activities, April Vacation, April 20-24

Remote Learning Update
This week, we have updated our remote learning activities at each grade level to be more focused and specific. We encourage your child to engage in the activities each day as they fit into your family’s schedule. Your children are welcome to share their work with their classroom teacher as they complete it. Please be sure to partake in the activities provided by art, music, PE, library/tech and our elementary counselors as well. Our model of instruction is evolving as we adapt to remote learning and we’re continuing to fine tune how to best organize and prioritize student learning experiences. Thank you for your support and patience.

Report Cards
On Friday, second trimester report cards for students in grades 1-5 were released into the Aspen family portal.If you need assistance logging into the Aspen portal, you may reach out to aspenhelp@hwschools.net Thank you for your patience as we navigated posting these report cards remotely!


A Note from Ann Creilson, Cutler School Adjustment Counselor
I miss seeing our students and families!  Please know that I am available via email (a.creilson@hwschools.net) anytime or I am happy to chat by phone or schedule a Zoom meeting.  Also, as part of the district’s remote learning website, the elementary counselors have created a newsletter with resources for you along with activities to foster your child’s social and emotional well-being.  Both the newsletter and activities can be found here.
Warmly,
Ann Creilson

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Cutler Update

Dear Cutler Families,

I hope this update finds your family healthy and safe. I know this is a difficult time for many of you as you juggle work schedules, deal with worries about job loss, attempt to meet your children’s needs, and prioritize your family’s safety. We are all in this together, even though our days may look very different. Here at my house, we are learning how to navigate working remotely while one parent is still working outside of the house. We realized quickly that having mom on video calls (that required the kids, ages 5 and 8, to be quiet and not interrupt) for 8-12 hours a day was difficult on them for obvious reasons. This week was better as we managed to integrate our schedules a little bit more. But it’s hard. I know it’s hard for all of us. For those of you deemed as essential workers and still working outside of the house, I recognize that brings another layer of stress to your family. Finding moments to connect with each of my kids individually, even if it’s just for a few minutes, is helping all of us, and I hope you are able to do the same.

The new Remote Learning Website was launched last week via an email from Dr. Kukenberger. Please keep in mind that for now, these resources are weekly suggestions to provide some structure for your children to stay engaged while we are away from school. Learning activities will be posted by grade level and the elementary specialists on the remote learning site each week. You may see our model adapt and grow as time goes on, right now we are figuring out how to best organize and prioritize student learning experiences. We know that kids may take part in all or just a few of them, and that’s okay as we figure this out. Our remote learning site was created based on DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) guidelines.  If you need a Chromebook for your child to access remote learning resources while we are all at home, please do not hesitate to request one  from the district by using this form.

Your children’s classroom teachers have been in touch over the past week and are working hard to get remote learning platforms set up on SeeSaw or Google Classroom (each teacher is sticking with a platform that is familiar to them and/or their students). These platforms will serve as a way for students to share their work as they complete it. All staff will be available to support you via email during a daily office hour, the time of day will be determined by each teacher. These hours are a way for you to know that you can connect with a teacher in real time.

We have also rolled out Zoom class meetings. Teachers will inform you directly of their class Zoom meeting times and links. We understand that your child’s participation in these class meetings may be nearly impossible due to your own family’s needs and schedules. Just do what you can. Please do not stress about joining in from afar. That’s not going to help you or your children. If you are able to do it, and it makes your child feel more connected, then go for it. If you see that it raises your child’s stress level, then reach out to your teacher and let her know. We are finding different ways to help individual students feel connected, and that’s why we are here. I was able to join a few Zoom calls this week and will continue to drop in as my schedule allows. I realized after my first class call that while I enjoy working with my adult colleagues, it brings me much more joy to connect with your children on screen!

Learning can take place in lots of forms. I encourage you, as best you can, to pay attention this week to how your child best learns, whether it’s something they are pursuing on their own, or an assignment from school. Think about the situations in which they show joy as they learn something new. When are they most engaged in remote learning experiences provided from school? Let your teachers know what is working and what isn’t working. This is important information to help us inform our decisions as we move forward with remote learning.

When we finally return to Cutler, whenever that may be, we will meet your child where they are with their academics. There is a pandemic taking place at the moment and while we absolutely value academic skills, your child’s sense of security and safety is of utmost importance. We are all attempting to figure out how to make this work for each child. We know how to do that within the walls of Cutler School, but figuring it out as we go, from afar, is going to take us a little while, thank you for your support and patience.

Sincerely,
Jenn 







Friday, March 20, 2020

Cutler Update

Dear Elementary Families, 

We hope this letter finds you and your family healthy and safe. We miss seeing our elementary students every day and can’t wait to see them soon. Our priority remains to keep students, families, and our entire community feeling supported through this unprecedented time. We are all adjusting to finding appropriate pathways for your children to stay engaged with learning.

In response to last week’s unexpected closing of our schools, the district assembled basic online resources for Hamilton-Wenham families. We have continued to work this week with teachers to create distance learning opportunities for enrichment. We will launch a new website next week that will make navigating these resources more manageable for students and families.

Grade level teachers will be working together to ensure consistency across the elementary schools, and we will be using our new web-based platform to hold these resources and make connecting with teachers more accessible. They will be targeted and organized for specific grade levels and will contain high-quality resources that have been vetted by Hamilton-Wenham teachers. New suggestions will be shared by teachers on a weekly basis to help families keep things fresh. 

Some families have also asked for more guidance around a daily schedule for students now that everyone is home. Our teachers will be providing additional suggestions for structuring the day along with unique resources and ways to stay connected next week. Generally, we recommend students continue to engage in academics daily, through:
  • 15-20 minutes per day of math activities
  • 15-30 minutes per day of reading and writing activities
  • 45-60 minutes of outside play
We also have shared and will continue to build science, social studies, and other specialist content area activities. Students are welcome to engage in these content area activities at least once each week. We also strongly recommend that your children get outside, be active, move and play several times per day.

We understand that each household will have different needs, and flexibility for your family is important. We are all working on finding balance with this rapidly changing and very challenging situation. It is important to know that all of these resources are optional. At this time nothing is required and nothing will be graded. This is an opportunity to review and practice grade level skills. Our primary focus is to keep students and teachers connected with each other. As always, when we return to school we will work with students at whatever level they are at.

If your family needs access to a digital device during this time, please email Alan Taupier, Director of Technology, a.taupier@hwschools.net. We are working diligently to disperse devices to ensure all students have access to our resources. Comcast is offering two months of free internet access for families in need. Click on the following link to apply. Comcast Internet Essentials - Free access for 2 months https://www.internetessentials.com/

Our action plan will continue to evolve as events play out and we gain a clearer picture of the coming weeks. Please let us know if you have any questions. Stay safe. 

Take care,

Jennifer Clifford - Cutler Principal
Ben Schersten - Buker Principal
Carolyn Shediac - Winthrop Principal

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

March 17, 2020


Good afternoon, 

Thank you to the parents who have shared feedback and concerns regarding the learning resources and enrichment activities we provided yesterday afternoon. 

The intent of our communication yesterday was to ensure that students and families have immediate access to resources vetted by our staff. There are many free resources being disseminated through a variety of channels, and we fully understand how overwhelming this is. It is for us as educators as well.  

At the present time, we are following the guidelines issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) with respect to providing learning resources and enrichment activities rather than direct instruction or services. The focus is on planning for how best to equitably provide alternative access to student learning opportunities during this period and potentially beyond. Districts across the state are all doing what they can with the resources that they have. Responses and supports do vary, however, it is my understanding that everyone is providing learning resources and enrichment. As we continue to focus on our Hamilton-Wenham community, we will communicate regularly and share ideas with neighboring school districts as things continue to change at a rapid pace. 

Currently, we have a team of educators who are using the coming weeks to work on our district plan. We aim to provide structured support to students and families during this time away from traditional school. 

This morning our Emergency Response Team met via Zoom to review our plan, assess where we are now, and plan our next steps for both short-term and long-range education. We fully understand that parents and students will want more tailored and specific resources and are committed to continuing to refine our plan during the school closure.  

Considerations and steps we are taking:

  • Determine who does not have adequate access to the internet and devices. With many parents also working from home we understand that there may be competing demands for existing devices. 
  • Consider a variety of responses and ways to meet individualized student needs
  • Learn from the emerging innovation and creativity to design a more specific plan for distance learning in HWRSD
  • Continuously clarify expectations and identify essential skills to focus on during school closure

We appreciate your patience as we navigate these uncharted territories. Please know that we are committed to adjusting as we learn more. We will continue to refine the learning resources and enrichment activities we are providing to all students. We encourage you to continue to check our HWRSD COVID-19 Information and Resources for up-to-date information. 

Be well,

Dr. Kukenberger