April News from the Big Apple

Spring!

I hope that you all enjoyed some good family time over the vacation. The kids and teachers returned rested and ready to get back to their work and their community.

Campus is beginning to bloom! Spring is a busy time. You received your child's midterm reports last week. Athletic games kicked off this week. Eighth graders are beginning to plan their graduation with me, sixth graders are beginning to rehearse Shakespeare, S'more math is up and running, and our seventh graders are hard at work collaborating on what will be our Service Learning project for next year.  We celebrated Earth Day as a community today. It was a great way to finish up a short week.

We have always had a deep commitment to professional development at Applewild, and our Metacognition initiative is especially exciting, because it leverages our strengths as a school where students are well known and nurtured by their teachers. All teachers have spent a year learning about ways to bring Metacognition alive in the classroom, and we see the gains our students are making in owning and driving their learning. One thing teachers love is that the work is never finished. Our students aren't “finished products” when they leave us, nor are we as practitioners.  In addition to our unified work on Metacognition, various teachers have been out at conferences as they do each year. Our culture is a prime place for this work to take root and enhance the already wonderful education Applewild provides for its students.

April is half over and May will speed by and both are chock full of events! Our students are in great shape right now- we look to you at home to help them stay engaged and working hard right to the end. All of the work continues in and out of the classroom. We remind and reteach our Core Values, we help friendship bumps and personal growth, and we remain a place that's exciting and safe to be. Our eighth graders, who can sometimes get a bit of senior-itis, are still deeply engaged. Let's all support them to stay in that good place and to cherish these last busy weeks!

Sincerely,
Erica Hager

Secondary School Planning for Seventh Grade Families

All families with seventh grade children should be looking for a letter from Chris Williamson with a packet of information introducing the secondary school process. It includes an invitation to our kick-off counseling meeting for families and students on May 14 at 5:30 (after the Bancroft games). It also includes a questionnaire for you and you seventh grader to fill out to begin to bring focus to the plans for high school. We look forward to seeing you that evening!

S’more Math
Toby Spector

S’more Math is 4 weeks of math outside of the classroom. Each week has a theme. In the first week of S’more Math students constructed a zipline and used Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the length of the zipline. They were then challenged to find a relationship between length of zipline, speed of descent, time of descent and the angle of the zipline. In week two, students they will use their knowledge of volume to avoid getting wet in our volume water challenge. After attending we hope each student wants S’more Math!

Helping Children Who Think They Understand But Don’t
Norma Harrington, Learning Specialist

Children attend school to learn. They study material, share what they know, and take assessments. This cycle of learning, processing, studying and performing is repeated many hundreds of times in a child’s academic life.  All is well as long as the child’s study skills support this process, and as long as the child has adequate metacognitive skills to self-assess and self-monitor understanding. The reality for many students is that they study hard and prepare for assessments, but fall short when given the exam. They lament, “I knew it last night when I prepared but did not do very well on the test.” Over and over the child wonders, “What happened?” and parents wonder too.

Two aspects of learning are important in understanding why students sometimes know less than they think they know. The first is familiarity with a given body of knowledge and the second is having partial access to that body of knowledge. When students are familiar with information, they have seen it somewhere before but have not made any deep associations with the information and therefore have difficulty recalling it. Being familiar with the material can make children think they understand it when in actuality their knowledge is superficial and partial at best. Having partial access to material means that a child has knowledge of material like the material being studied, but not the material itself. Both these factors set children up to think they know the material when they really don’t.

Sometimes students prepare for tests and are disappointed when they do not perform as well as they thought they would. Research shows us that several factors often precipitate this scenario:

1.    Re-reading the material without checking for accurate recollection. Recollection is reached when the student accurately and fluently relates information important to answering questions about the material. Just re-reading without relating and associating this information results in familiarity with the material but not understanding.

2.   Shallow processing- Shallow processing is often associated with knowing the key terms belonging to a body of knowledge but not understanding how they factor into the major concepts of the material. Knowing just the vocabulary can create a false sense of “knowing the material”.

3.   Recalling Related Material- When  students know a lot about a related subject they can be misled to think that they know a lot about the targeted subject, but they actually don’t.  When this happens students often stop listening, stop paying attention and divert attention elsewhere, away from the material that needs to be learned.

Students can become active learners and avoid the pitfalls of superficial knowledge by using effective strategies to prepare for assessments. Daniel T. Willingham,  associate professor of cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of Virginia, suggests students utilize these learning strategies to generate deeper understanding when learning new material:

·  When you can explain the material to others, you know it.

·  When preparing for assessments,  articulate what you know in writing- articulate, evaluate, revise.

·  Test yourself! Make up your own exams; change concepts into questions and answer them in writing.

·  Use study guides provided by the teacher or self-made. . . or both!

Learning new material is an active cognitive process directed at creating accurate recollections, forming strong associations and developing deep understanding. Knowing this can help students realize that learning is hard work which ultimately pays off both in the short and long term.

For further information you may like to view these resources by Daniel T. Willingham: Why Students Think They Understand When They Don't

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/why-students-think-they-understand-when-they-dont   

How to Help Students See When Their Knowledge Is Superficial or Incomplete

www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/winter-2003-2004/how-help-students-see-when-their-knowledge

Upcoming Events
4/22    Jazz Band
4/27    SSAT Testing
5/1     French Club Meeting @3:30
5/3     Grandparents/Special Persons Day – Noon Dismissal
5/6     Jazz Band
5/9     Spring Concert @7:00pm
5/9     Art Mentor Show @6:45
5/13    Jazz Band
5/20    Jazz Band
5/22    Spring Sports Banquet @5:30pm
5/24    Field Day – Noon Dismissal
5/27    Memorial Day – No School
5/30    6th Grade Play @7:00pm
5/31    6th Grade Art Show at Fitchburg Art Museum @1:00pm
6/5-7   US Exams
6/6     Noon Dismissal - Upper School Only, no busses and no extended day
6/7     Noon Dismissal All
6/10    No School – Professional Day
6/10    8th Grade Graduation Dinner 5:30pm
6/10    8th Grade Graduation Dance 7:00pm – 9:30pm
6/11    Recognition Day @10:00am – Noon Dismissal
6/12    Graduation Day @9:00am – 11:00am Dismissal

Jennifer Raterman