Elementary Corner

What the Heck is NGSS?

Written by Seth Pozzi, Assistant Head of School on .

Want to learn a bit more about where we are going with science education? This (approx. 7 minute) video gives a great basic overview of the Next Generation Science Standards.

A note that it’s not a brand new video, and the standards are now widely available. But it is still a good overview.  

WATCH VIDEO

Armed with the most up-to-date research about science education, we are retooling our curriculum to emphasize the:

  • 8 Science & Engineering Practices
  • 7 Cross-Cutting Concepts (that bridge almost all scientific ideas) 
  • Scientific Disciplinary Core Ideas

 WHPS teachers - very excited to unpack the new NGSS - FOSS kits!

Today, we excitedly unpacked the brand-new, hot off the presses NGSS-aligned FOSS science program. The program was designed at The University of California Berkley, and it has been widely used for years. WHPS purchased the new NGSS program, which places greater emphasis on Engineering, Scientific Argumentation and the Cross-Cutting Principles.

You can read more about Cross-Cutting Concepts directly from the NGSS.

 We will be sharing more information about our school's journey into the NGSS. This includes the work we are doing in the WHPS Science & Nature Center and the roll-out of our 3D Printing & Engineering curriculum. 

We hope you will join us on this exciting journey!
Seth Pozzi

Top Ten Tips for Supporting Your Child

Written by Jacey Dexter on .

Welcome back to school! Here at Woodland Hills Private School, we strive to provide your child with the best education. Our staff is passionate and knowledgeable, plus our educational curriculum reflects current, research-based trends. However, these two critical pieces are not the only pieces in the education puzzle. There are countless other pieces that are necessary to complete a child’s education. One of the biggest pieces is the school-home connection. Now that we have all had a chance to settle in to our first week of school, I’d like to touch on a few things that will really help strengthen that school-home connection and help your child build a strong foundation for learning.

10. Talk to your child. Be present in the moment when they come home from school. Ask specific questions about how their day was. Some good questions from this week would be: How did you greet your friends in your morning meeting? What kind of brain breaks/energizers did you do in class? Did you read to your teachers this week? What classroom rules/agreements did you discuss with your teachers?

9. Encourage your child to embrace challenges and not be discouraged by mistakes and missteps. We want our students to have a Growth Mindset not a Fixed Mindset. For more information, please visit http://www.mindsetonline.com/.

8. Try not to solve your child's problems for them.  Rather, role play with them about how they will solve the problem on their own.

7. Check your child’s homework, but don’t do it for them!  Let them learn that responsibility. Please don’t turn your child’s homework in for them. If we want our children to be empowered, then we need to provide them opportunities to become empowered.

6. Check your child’s backpack for any flyers or notices that may have gone home. This is also a great way to see what they’ve been up to in class. Validating their hard work in the classroom by reviewing what they take home will go a long way.

5. Read your Weekly Newsletters from teachers. These are a great guide to asking your child questions and engaging them in conversations about their week.

4. Come to the PAWS meeting on Wednesday, August 26th. PAWS is our school parent association and is a great way to stay connected with the classrooms.

3. If you have a question or concern, ASK. Our doors are always open.

2. Please follow our Woodland Hills Private School Facebook page. We will be posting regularly.

1. COME TO BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT- Tuesday, September 1st 

This year is off to a fantastic start! The classrooms are buzzing and there are smiles all around. We would love to keep this momentum going as the year progresses. If we all work together to support our children, their successes will become unstoppable.

WHPS Word Study Program - Based on Cutting-Edge Research

Written by Seth Pozzi, Assistant Head of School on .

Many schools teach spelling by giving students a list on Monday and a test on Friday with the bulk of students’ time spent memorizing in between. Many students find this type of spelling instruction boring. More importantly, research has shown that this is the least effective way to promote long term retention.

This year at WHPS, we are implementing an alternative to traditional spelling instruction called "Word Study," which is not based on the random memorization of words. Word Study is a cohesive approach that addresses word recognition, vocabulary, phonics and spelling together. In contrast to a traditional spelling program, Word Study provides opportunities to discover patterns, manipulate word concepts, and apply critical thinking skills.

One of the most important parts of Word Study is “sorting.”  Students will sort words or pictures or both into specific categories.  Word/picture sorting includes teacher led sorts as well as independent, partner and small group sorts.  Students will sort their word or picture cards and make discoveries and generalizations about the conventions of the English language. They will compare and contrast word features and discover similarities and differences within the categories.  This deep understanding of how letters and sounds work together in English helps students strengthen their ability to decode words (read) and encode (spell), with the ultimate goal of strengthening their reading accuracy and generating effective written communication.  While there is not a set list of words on which students will be tested each week, students will demonstrate their knowledge of each pattern through quizzes/checks and by examining their daily writing.  

During the first couple weeks of school, teachers are conducting assessments to determine each student’s individual Word Study level. Students will be grouped according to these levels and will begin the Word Study program soon. At Back to School Night, your child’s teacher will demonstrate how Word Study works and share information with you about homework routines and how you can support your child this year with Word Study.

We are thrilled to be able to provide this cutting-edge curriculum to our students, and we look forward to sharing more information with families at Back to School Night on September 1st.  

Watch WHPS students explain Word Study.

WHPS Responsive Classroom Program

Written by Seth Pozzi, Assistant Head of School on .

We would like you to know about an exciting enhancement to our program this year, the Responsive Classroom curriculum for social-emotional education and conflict resolution. Responsive Classroom provides a framework for teaching key social skills that children need to learn and practice in order to succeed socially and academically—cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control (CARES). While these values and skills have always been at the core of our program, the beauty of Responsive Classroom is that it enables the entire staff to provide a consistent school-wide approach in reinforcing these skills. These skills work in concert with the pillars of character, which already underpin our program.

Responsive Classroom is a social curriculum designed for schools like WHPS.  Many behavior “programs” are designed to help schools combat difficult behavior problems;  Responsive Classroom—on the other hand—was designed to help elevate behavior and learning to an even higher level in healthy schools where parents and teachers are committed to working together in modeling values and social skills.  Like other academic programs at WHPS, Responsive Classroom is based on many years of sound educational research into its efficacy. The program has proven to help children feel more positive about school, teachers and peers, have better social skills, and score higher in reading and math!

What does Responsive Classroom look like?  The components that you will see over the coming weeks and months are as follows:

  • Morning Meeting: A daily class routine that helps children transition from home to school, builds community, creates a positive climate for learning, and reinforces academic and social skills.  Morning Meeting will generally occur during the first 15-30 minutes of the school day.
  • Hopes & Dreams: Students and teachers begin the year by reflecting on their hopes and dreams for the year. These are discussed and displayed in the room and are used as the basis for creating classroom rules and guidelines to support everyone’s success. Parents will have an opportunity to share and post their hopes and dreams for their child at Back to School Night.
  • Democratically Student-Created Classroom Rules: During the first week of school, children in each class will construct rules for how they will treat: themselves, one-another, and the environment.
  • Interactive Modeling: A special protocol for proactively teaching and practicing routines and setting children up for a safe, supportive, successful school experience.
  • Logical Consequences: One way teachers will respond to misbehavior is by designing a consequence in collaboration with the child.  Consequences are not punitive in nature, but they are relevant, realistic and respectful.
  • Teacher Language: Stay tuned for LOTS more information about teacher language this year! This is our most powerful tool as teachers (and as parents). 

As part of our commitment to making Responsive Classroom a success in our community, the entire WHPS elementary staff will be engaged in ongoing professional development for the program.  Over the coming weeks and months, our faculty will continue to receive intensive training in Responsive Classroom, and we will share information with you about additional elements of the program as we begin using them.  There will also be a brief overview of the program and a chance to participate in a “Morning Meeting” at Back to School Night.  We believe you will find many elements of the program helpful at home as well, and we are looking forward to partnering with your family in raising a resilient child who CARES.    

Morning Assembly & Morning Meeting

Written by Seth Pozzi, Assistant Head of School on .

It’s the 2nd day of school; the enthusiasm among our students and teachers is infectious! There is so much exciting news to share about the upcoming school year. You may have already noticed a couple small changes to our morning routines.

Flagpole/Morning Assembly: Parents are encouraged to attend Morning Assembly whenever you are able. This is our schoolwide beginning to the day (at 8:00 a.m. sharp) when we salute the flag and recite our character pledge. If it is a child’s birthday, they will be called up for a special acknowledgement. We will also be conducting some special recognition of students who were “caught” demonstrating character strengths: respect, caring, responsibility, honesty, perseverance or fairness. We do ask, however, that children say goodbye to parents as they line up with their class.

Morning Meeting: It is important for children (and teachers) to arrive to their classrooms each morning without distractions and ready to begin Morning Meeting. This is a specially designed 15-25 minute meeting that will begin every day of learning in every classroom. Students and teachers gather in a circle on the rug for a class meeting. Each meeting consists of four parts:

Greeting: Every student participates in the greeting and is met with a high five, handshake, hug or even sometimes a silly greeting. This is also a time when teachers are proactively teaching social behaviors such as, eye contact and active listening.

Share:  Students get to share/talk about various topics, which plays an important role in building a positive classroom community. Just as important, sharing offers ample opportunities to practice and reinforce the speaking, listening, and thinking skills that are so crucial to success in school and in life.

Activity: We might sing a song, read a poem or play a specially selected game together, just because it’s fun to be together. The activity is designed so that no matter what the morning might have been like before the Morning Meeting, when the last song is sung and the last poem read and the last game played, the hustle and bustle of the morning (and that lost sock or spilled bowl of cereal) have all been forgotten. It is a fresh start and a new day.

Morning Message: In many ways, the Morning Message is a love note from the teacher to the students reinforcing something they have done or learned. It is also the “active engagement” for the day. It may ask the students to answer a question on a post-it or vote on a particular topic. It leads into the first new learning activity of the day.

There is much more to be said about Responsive Classroom, which is based on over 30 years of widely accepted educational research. I encourage you to watch for upcoming newsletters and blog posts to find out more. You will also have an opportunity to experience Morning Meeting for parents at back to school night.

 -Seth Pozzi
Assistant Head of School
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