27 Jan

Tech Tip

Contributed by Mr. Bill Campbell, Academic Technology Director

While I recommend that digital devices be off and stored outside of bedrooms overnight when possible, there is actually a good reason to leave an iPad (or iPhone) plugged in and on overnight. When iCloud backup is enabled, iOS devices that are plugged in charging, connected to the Internet, and have the screen off (sleep mode) will automatically backup at night as long as there is sufficient iCloud space. (For ways to deal with a full iCloud on a school iPad see https://goo.gl/B4gW2S.)  If that online, charging place must be a bedroom, you can still set an iOS device to not disturb you or a loved one while getting that good night’s sleep everyone needs. To do this, make sure the iPad or iPhone is set to automatically go into “Do Not Disturb” mode at a good time (such as 10 PM to ensure a screen time break before a good night’s sleep for a middle-school student). For directions on how to schedule Do Not Disturb to automatically activate each day, see https://goo.gl/vqPx2h

27 Jan

Community Time

In our HomeBase Program, our Middle School students recently finished their exploration of Intent vs. Impact with a series of lessons created by the LAG (Lead Advisory Group) Committee.  Groups watched videos, had discussions and took time to reflect that sometimes the things that we say to one another affect people in ways we do not intend.  In addition, just because one might have good intentions with one’s words and actions, it does not mean the impact of those words and actions cannot be harmful. Students then discussed ways we can work towards treating each other better in our own community.

As mentioned earlier, HomeBase was also a time to reflect on first semester grades or checklists.  Students were able to focus on their strengths, as well as what they might want to work on in the upcoming semester.  Each student had tie to reflect and set goals in a few categories, and then share those goals with a one-on-one conversation with the advisor. Good stuff!

At our annual assembly that celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we were treated to a student-researched,-written, and-delivered event. Four 8th grade students, working in conjunction with some teachers, put together a moving and inspirational assembly that focused on Dr. King, his many contributions and the meaning of service.

Yesterday’s assembly was hosted by two visiting teenagers who started a non-profit, Elephant Highway www.elephanthighway.org, because of how they were moved by the plight of elephants after a family trip to Africa. Rather than sitting on the sidelines, they found a way to take action and raise awareness of elephant poaching. In 1979, the elephant population was an estimated 1.3 million in Africa. Today the number of elephants is fewer than a third of that. This organization is striving to raise awareness about the poaching of elephants. The presenters shared with us how and why they created Elephant Highway, and the difference they have made since their start-up. As their story unfolded, it was exciting to see the similarities of their learning process and that of our own PBL units here at D-E. Really great stuff!

Our upcoming assembly in early February promises to be interesting. Our very own Mr. Trevor Shaw, Director of Technology, will be working with our young adolescents on the challenges, the opportunities, the benefits and the implications of social media.

27 Jan

Health & Wellness Update

There have been a lot of exciting things happening with the Health and Wellness department classes in the middle school. After the inaugural year of the Project Based Learning (PBL) teaching method last year, the successful program continued again this year when one class began their PBL project with the students creating their own activities which are fun and offer an enjoyable alternative to screening (watching TV, spending time on their computers, phones, etc.) Other PBL’s will be starting soon as well!

Our creative games unit encourages children to invent their own solutions to problems through innovative activities, thinking and discovery. It is the responsibility of the educator to challenge students and encourage their exploration of knowledge while providing the tools for them to become confident learners. 

Students have also enjoyed their Indoor Team Sports units in which they learn the philosophies, skills, and strategies of sports such as basketball, handball, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, and indoor soccer. The children learn Student Learner Traits (SaL) such as working collaboration, perseverance, daily preparation and the importance of encouraging others.

27 Jan

Grade Level Updates

PEAL (Phys.Ed, Arts & Language) Classes

In the World Language classes, our 6th graders are learning how to conjugate verbs in present tense with arer, and ir endings as well as how to phrase questions with words like “cómo”, “cuándo,” and “dónde”.  Our 7th graders, besides learning the family vocabulary, are also reinforcing the present tense with various verbs. Some of our 8th graders are studying the reflexive verbs with their daily routine habits, and also the appropriate use of positive and negative words. Others are learning possessive pronouns and the correct use of “por” and “para”.   After learning how to talk about their families, their homes, their possessions and their clothing, our 7th grade French students are now learning how to express ownership using possessive adjectives.  They are also learning how to ask pointed questions and indicate specific people and things using demonstrative adjectives and question words.  As always, these students are enthusiastically – and oh so competitively – playing “Quack Quack” practicing and polishing their language skills. Both the Latin 8th Adv. and 8th regular classes are currently completing a unit on indirect objects, interrogative pronouns, and Roman baths. After that, they will learn personal pronouns and comparative degree adjectives as we continue reading Latin passages from the Cambridge Latin Course Unit 1 textbook. The class is also working on a 2nd semester project on the reception of Greek and Roman myths in modern literature, film, and television.

Drama

The groups of 8th grade students in Drama are fully engaged in creating and producing their individual CRUSH projects. Meanwhile, the 7’s who are in Drama this second semester are working on their RAP video projects. I’ll share some of each when they’re done!

Chorus

We just started our Disney Celebration concert. 

Visual Arts

All groups are doing some character animation (online) classes. The final drawings (sketched on animation paper) will be used to decorate the auditorium. Then we will take the drawing, transfer it to an iron-on and make tee-shirts students will wear as their dress code for the concert. 

  • StArt 6  Students are beginning the 3D semester by talking about and seeing examples of various types of sculpture.  Also, the basic terms of relief, additive and subtractive techniques for the first project, the Clay Tile Self-Portrait will be explored and practiced.
  • StArt 7 Students have just begun the new semester of art.  They are currently practicing contour, blind contour and gesture drawing from observation in order to sharpen their skills and improve their ability to draw realistically.
  • Art Explorations Students began the new semester by viewing the works of Minimalist Artist Joel Shapiro.  After studying his figurative sculptures and watching a cool music video dance-off, students began creating gesture drawings of people dancing.  They will choose their favorite to re-create as a full 3D sculpture.

A Math Note for Parents of 7th graders

During first semester, we hosted Mr. Peter Waltman as a student teacher in Mr. Jung’s Math 7 classes. This semester, he continues to hone his skills by working with Mrs. Kaufman’s Math 7 classes.

 

27 Jan

Message from Kathy Christoph

Folks,

I trust you all were able to access your child’s grade report (for Grades 7 & 8) and/or checklists (for Grade 6), and view their progress throughout the first semester of this year. Even more importantly, I hope you were able to engage in a conversation with your child, touching on strengths, challenges and upcoming new habits and goals. We have been spending time lately on goal-setting in particular, in various formats from HomeBase activities to class activities to Morning Meeting activities. I’ve even shared some of my goals with the students as a way to model, talk about, examine, and adjust. You may want to ask them about my big passionate goal or my goal that incorporates risk-taking!

Morning Meeting: We hosted two Upper School (US) girls at Morning Meeting recently who came to encourage our young adolescent girls to get involved with science. WISE (Women in Science Education) is an US club whose outreach is to help celebrate and encourage girls and science. The club has offered to provide extra help in the STEM classrooms for 7th and 8th grade, offer occasional special “science lunches” and invite middle school students to outside lectures.

Mindfulness: More and more studies are showing the potential benefits of mindfulness practices for students –to improve physical health, psychological well-being, social skills, even academic performance in some cases– as well as for teachers and administrators –primarily to reduce stress and burnout. Every Tuesday we offer Quiet Zone during recess where middle school students and faculty can enjoy a few moments of quiet.

Here is a video that students saw earlier this week about the Quiet Zone.

Hug your child and Go Bulldogs,

Kathy Christoph

MS Principal

12 Jan

Deans’ Message: Discipline @ D-E

As a mission-driven school with a clearly articulated set of community values, D-E has certain behavioral expectations for its community members. (For a descriptive list of our D-E community values, click here, go to www.d-e.org/values,  or refer to the MS Handbook 2016-2017 (pgs. 22-37).  In the D-E Middle School, we believe that it is part of the educational process for students to learn how they can live up to those expectations — how they can live our shared values — in the wide variety of situations that naturally come up in these important years.

For many students in middle school, navigating shifting social dynamics and new feelings, handling increased responsibilities and independence, becoming more aware of outside pressures and influences, and just being an adolescent, provide special challenges. Our response to behavioral missteps reflects both our respect for each students’ learning and development and our investment in keeping school a safe, welcoming place for all.

orig_photo392883_4682619

The HomeBase advisory system, as well as the perennial interest all teachers and staff have in the community and student wellbeing, play important roles.  This week, for example, HomeBase groups are all having structured conversations about “Intent vs. Impact”, i.e. how one can make a comment that is intended one way, but that can unintentionally hurt someone else.  How can students recognize these situations and mind their tone, actions and words with an awareness of how those will strike others? Deans often have found, in the process of conflict mediation between students, that carelessness or social ineptitude have been the cause of a problem between students rather than intention, so this seems an especially worthwhile conversation.

Just as important as formal conversations, assemblies, class meetings or role-playing scenarios, however, are the frequent and ongoing coaching relationships teachers have with students everywhere.  When there is a collaboration glitch in group work, when a question of academic integrity arises around an assignment or test, or when a casual comment in class or on the playground resonates badly, teachers notice, take the time to talk to students, and help them understand how to behave in more respectful, values-driven ways. HomeBase advisors also often take on conflict mediation between students and may initiate larger group conversations or reach out to the school psychologist or dean.  When a student makes a serious error or there is a pattern, deans, Ms. Christoph, and the school psychologist may all be involved, and we also make a point of collaborating and sharing with parents.

sq-communityThis week in Monday Morning Meeting, the three MS deans shared with students the “three pronged response” that deans have in mind when responding to behavioral missteps.  Because specific disciplinary consequences for individual incidents are kept confidential, students have been curious about “what happens” when they know there has been an incident or a problematic pattern. We are proud of our students’ investment in keeping our community a safe and happy place for all, and of how that interest has led to their drafting their own Middle School Honor Code. (To read the MS Honor Code please refer to the MS Handbook 2016 – 2017, pg. 23).  So we were happy to hold up to the light our way of supporting the honor code.

The “three prongs” are, in a nutshell: reflection, reprimand and reparation.  In the reflection step, caring adults, such as the dean or advisor (sometimes in collaboration with a parent) help guide the student to understand what was wrong with the actions the student took and how they impacted others.  This stage can involve meetings with teachers or other students to “unpack” a situation, a dean’s gathering information from a range of sources, and discussions with the student and often culminates in the student writing a reflection or an apology or taking some action to help cement his/her new understanding and plans for future behavior.

The reprimand is a more traditional disciplinary consequence or “punishment.”  It is important that, where a reprimand is called for, it suits the situation, the student and the severity of the infraction.  The goal is to help both the student and the community and to uphold the honor code and respect our school values. This sort of consequence can range from sitting out a single recess period to expulsion and is determined by the dean, principal or headmaster (or a collaboration between any of these) depending upon the situation.

large_photo101610_966968While students, because of their age-appropriate impulsivity and inexperience, do tend to make mistakes, adults are not immune.  As we move through life, it is important to have the skills to reflect, recognize our own errors and to “make them right” to the best of our ability. The final “prong” is to practice that effort to make reparation. Typically, a dean will work with his or her student to design a way to right a situation, although sometimes the gesture of reparation may be assigned. One reparation that comes to mind is the time a group of students wrote all over a wall of one of our campus buildings.  They decided, after reflection and work with a teacher and their dean, that they should repaint the entire wall and make it even more attractive than it was before they had written on it. They followed this resolution with a workday that turned out to be a positive experience for all.

We have great aspirations for the special young people who are our students.  These are described briefly in the D-E “Profile of a Graduate” (click here to view the “Profile of a Graduate” or refer to the MS Handbook 2016-2017, pg. 3).  Our behavioral expectations, the support system of the committed and caring faculty, and the “three prong” disciplinary approach all exist to protect the environment that makes D-E such a great place to spend our every day.  But, just as important, they are designed to help develop in our students those skills and understandings, and the habit of living a reflective life, that will help them to “engage …compassionately in the world” and “…decide wisely and live honestly” after they leave these halls.

12 Jan

Community Time

Next week, Friday, January 20, first semester grades for 7th and 8th grade students and checklists for 6th grade students will be released to them during an Extended HomeBase period. HomeBase teachers will guide the students in reviewing the grades or checklists, with an eye to helping students recognize and celebrate their own successful learning habits as well as set goals for further progress.  Students write reflections about their progress, discuss their thoughts with their HB teachers and make notes with questions for their subject-area teachers.  Later in the evening, the grades or checklists are released to your parent account. (Log-in to “MyDE” and click “Report Cards” under your child’s picture on her profile page. For log-in help call the Technology Department at 201-227-3177 or email help@d-e.org. )  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to sit down with your child, encourage them to share their thoughts and goals, and support their successful approach to learning and to addressing any challenges.

Nutrition

Last week’s assembly focused on nutrition and was presented by Farrell Frankel ‘05, a D-E alumna. Farrell is a full time sports dietitian at Penn State University in the NCAA Big 10 conference and works with more than 800 athletes from 31 Division 1 teams. In addition to her role in athletics, Farrell also teaches a sports nutrition course to undergraduate students at Penn State. Farrell graduated from Dwight-Englewood in 2005 and went to college at Colorado College where she studied Psychology before pursuing her Master’s Degree in Nutrition at Simmons College in Boston. Farrell followed up her talk in assembly by visiting some of our Physical Education classes and answering questions about athletic performance, healthy nutritional habits, and myths about food.

This week’s assembly focuses on our Student as Learner (SaL) traits. And rather than sit and listen about the traits, each child will be actively engaged in creative activities that require the use of the SaL traits. You may want to ask your child whether their group participated in the survival scenario, marshmallow spaghetti, the newspaper bridge or the lifeboat!

At Morning Meeting this week, Our Honor Code student committee highlighted one of our core values: that of honesty. Click here to view the video the Honor Code put together.

Next week, on Thursday, January 19, is our Martin Luther King assembly.

On January 26, we will have an assembly on the Elephant Highway, a not-for-profit that was started by two teenage brothers who went to Africa on a safari with their family and saw the plight of the elephants and wanted to make a difference. (These brothers are also the cousins of 10th grade students here at D-E). If you are interested in learning more about the Elephant Highway click here or go to: https://www.elephanthighway.org/.

Mr. Schade, our 7th grade Social Studies teacher, will be conducting the 2017 National Geographic D-E School Geography Bee on Tuesday, January 24, starting in activity period beginning at 2:35 PM. This is an exciting opportunity for students to test their geography knowledge, have a little fun, and have the potential to advance to the state geography bee which will be conducted in March. Even if your child may feel like s/he doesn’t know that much, they might be surprised at how much they actually do. Students sign up by emailing Mr. Schade at schadm@d-e.org.

12 Jan

In the Classrooms: Grade Level Updates

GiverGrade 6:

The sixth grade eagerly picked up with new projects and curriculum in 2017. Last Wednesday, the sixth grade traveled to the MoMath Museum in NYC. The students participated in workshops about probability, and they had a chance to explore the exhibits. In math class, students are learning how to interpret speed as the rate of distance traveled per unit of time. They will read and write units of speed to help them understand average speed. They will solve word problems involving speed. In Advanced and Hyper math class, students are continuing to work on their problem sets. In science, the students are learning about Mendelian Genetics, DNA, and then they will be analyzing their traits in comparison to their families. In social studies, the students have started the DENN – D-E News Network — project. Students will be learning journalism terms, researching news stories, and reporting on an international news story in small groups. In English, the students are working on a final project about The Giver. Projects include writing a new ending, re-writing lyrics of a song about a theme in the movie, creating a trailer based on the book, and writing a review of the movie based on the book. Then, starting on January 17, the sixth grade will kick off our interdisciplinary unit about food and culture, culminating with our celebration on Thursday, February 9 at 9:00 AM. We hope to see you there!

Grade 7:

In social studies, students presented their conflict projects to their peers and teachers in Hajjar Auditorium. Students reflected on their projects in class, and used these reflections to present their projects. Projects designs were across the spectrum, including museum exhibits, video game proposals, newspapers, comic books, soundtracks, plays, and character art books. This was the culmination to an exciting project where students examined the question “why do we fight?” within the context of feudal Japan and the samurai. You can see photos from the students’ Hajjar Auditorium presentations above and here.

In English, the seventh graders have started reading Lord of the Flies. We are using the novel as a platform for thinking about the themes of leadership, civilization v. savagery, and good v. evil.

To-Kill-a-MockingbirdGrade 8:

The 8th grade has had an industrious start to 2017. They are currently working on our social justice project entitled the MaD project (they are researching topics that make them “mad” and thinking about ways to “Make a Difference.”) The goal for all the students is to create a website which informs the public about their issue and then write a speech that inspires people to action.  The students are also feeling pretty good about themselves, having finished taking a two-period history test!

Currently in Math class students are studying geometry and how to calculate volume which is helping them understand mass and density in science class. Finally in English class, students have begun their reading of an American classic To Kill a Mockingbird.

12 Jan

Message from Kathy Christoph, MS Principal

Folks,

Dwight-Englewood School is undertaking a process in which we are engaging to hire our Director of Institutional Equity and Social Justice.A draft job description is provided below for your general information. We have invited two Senior Search Consultants from Carney Sandoe & Associates to help support our national search.  Sherry and Jennifer will be on campus Thursday, January 19th and Friday, January 20th to meet with various student, alumni, faculty, staff and parent groups to learn more about our community and our needs as well as our dreams.  Clinton Carbon, our now-retired Director of Multicultural Affairs, moved our community forward in many wonderful ways.  It is vital that we build on his good work and take the next step forward with staffing and programming for school equity and social justice.

There will be an open time on Thursday, January 19 from 7:30-9:00 pm in Hajjar Auditorium for parents to come in and share their thoughts and perspectives. If you plan on attending, please RSVP to Diane Cebulski at cebuld@d-e.org.

First Draft:
Director of Institutional Equity and Social Justice (Job Description)

Dwight-Englewood School, a Pre-K-12 School in Englewood, New Jersey located in the greater New York City area, seeks to hire a Director of Institutional Equity and Social Justice to commence July 2017.  This is a senior administrative position and will report directly to the Head of School. This exciting position calls for a collaborative and visionary educational leader to oversee equity and social justice initiatives and work with students, faculty, parents, administrators and trustees.  The Director will facilitate, promote, and supervise the work school wide.  It is essential that the Director have an in-depth knowledge of and deeply held commitment to equity, inclusion and social justice as demonstrated through practice and experience.

This is an exciting next step for the School – an opportunity to continue our growth and understanding as a community.  The two consultants will hold several conversations over the two days to gather information from parents, students, faculty, staff, Board members, and alums. After shifting through it, they will present their findings and position statement to Dr. DeJarnett, after which we will begin an interviewing/hiring process. Again, please RSVP (cebuld@d-e.org) if you plan on attending.

Make MLK Day even more meaningful this year: Next Monday, on January 16, 2017 (MLK Day), D-E will be hosting an All-School Food Packing Day at Modell’s Sports Complex, to benefit a local Bergen County food pantry. This is a fun and worthwhile community-building event for D-E families of all ages. For more details, including volunteer sign-up information, click here or go to https://www.d-e.org/page/news-detail?pk=861071&fromId=198817 . If you have questions please email Director of Student Activities Maya Gunaseharan at: gunasm@d-e.org.

A quick note that the Parents’ Association (PA) is once again hosting their “Bulldogs FoodRaiser” on Wednesday, January 18. All proceeds benefit D-E student activities; students will be able to pick lunch items from specialty vendors Kimchi Smoke, Biddy O’Malley’s, Food for Life, and many more. All entrees are $5.00 each; desserts start at $1, and all items are cash only.  Please be prepared when your child(ren) asks you for some extra money for this “fun”draiser! Lunch will still be available from FLIK for students who do not wish to purchase food from the FoodRaiser. Click here for the FoodRaiser flyer (PDF).

The PA is also hosting Book Discussions in late January.  You may already have heard about these gatherings from your PA Class Rep(s) and more information is coming soon from the PA.   You can go ahead and RSVP now; click here or go to: http://survey.d-e.org/book-discussions/