18 Nov

Our Community of Learners

This week’s Assembly showcased some of our amazing students in our annual Talent Show. Singers, dancers, musicians, comedians, and poets regaled us with a wonderful display of their talents. I continue to be amazed!

Last week, students engaged in the Comment Reflection process during HomeBase meetings and Assembly time. Teachers’ comments are written to their students to help those students more clearly see their own approach to their work, and to allow students an opportunity to step back from the daily details and take stock.  As they write, teachers have in mind the student-as-learner characteristics that we strive to cultivate, such as creativity, engagement, and daily preparation, in addition to their specific subject content.  Teachers’ comments are released to students during an extended HomeBase period. HomeBase teachers guide the students in reading and analyzing the comments, 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 report cards, discuss their thoughts with their HB teachers, and make notes with questions for their subject-area teachers. On Monday, November 21, our students in grades 7 and 8 will review their Interim Grades with their HomeBase teacher. Grades will be released to parents and guardians at 6:00 in the evening.

18 Nov

Health and Wellness

The Dwight-Englewood Middle School began their Bi-Annual FitnessGram program in their Health and Wellness classes. The FitnessGram is an assessment program which is given twice a year, which measures an individual’s fitness level via tests in five areas: Pacer Test (Cardiovascular Endurance), V-Sit and Reach (Flexibility), Crunches (Core Strength), Push-Ups (Upper Body Strength), and Trunk Raise (Core Strength and Flexibility).

Once they are completed, test results are shared with both students (in the classroom) and parents (a report sent home.)

In other exciting news, one of Mr. Muller’s 8th grade Health and Wellness classes traveled down to the Lower School and visited one of Mrs. Franco’s 1st-grade classes. A student from one class paired up with a student from the opposite class, and then participated on an obstacle course together followed by a time of dancing together. All had a great time!! We look forward to continuing this new tradition in the year to come.

18 Nov

Grade Updates: Around the Halls & Arts Explorations

In the World Language classes, our 6th graders are learning how to identify the definite and indefinite articles with the school vocabulary. They are also learning the appropriate use of the verbs “ar”. Our 7th graders are learning how to tell their schedule in Spanish.  Some of our 8th graders learned the clothing vocabulary and the appropriate use of the verbs “Saber” and “Conocer.”  Other classes presented their Imaginary trip to a Hispanic Country Project. Here, they simulated a community service in a school or hospital applying their vocabulary about “El servicio comunitario” and “La medicina” in Latin America. In our Latin classes, students are finishing a unit based on the video “Roman City” about the conquest of Gaul, urban planning, and Roman vision and values.  Students are now studying the 6 cases, noun functions (nominative and an accusative.) Here, students are emphasizing their skills as in active listening, note taking, and collaboration.

In Studio Art 6, the young artists have begun creating thumbnail sketches of fall-themed objects for their Still-Life Watercolor Painting. Students viewed and discussed master artworks, among them Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Vermeer to study effective compositions and each artist’s unique use of shape, light, and shadow with paint.

In Chorus, our 6th grade singers have been working on their train costumes for the upcoming Winter Arts Festival. In 7th-8th Grade Chorus youngsters are memorizing material and doing staging as they, too, prepare for the Winter Arts Festival. And in Show Choir, the students in this Discovery Class are working with choreographers and staging, plus adding elements of costume.

In the 7th grade: Drama just finished writing and performing their 1-minute plays and now they will be starting their Mindfulness Unit. In Art Explorations, our 7th graders are also working in pairs to create the large roller skate sculptures for the Winter Arts festival decor.  Also, two sections have begun documenting and reflecting on their art using SeeSaw.  Use the links and enter the password “bulldogs” to see and read their posts.

In the 8th grade: Drama has begun the Spoken Word PBL and students have started to write original performance poems that they will eventually be learning and performing before the Winter Break.Our 8th Graders have also completed their Landmark Illustration project, a mixed media piece in which students used pen and ink and watercolor to show a place that is meaningful to them and their family. Students even fashioned their own dipping pens from bamboo reeds during this unit.

18 Nov

Message from Kathy


Whether you’re happy with the election results or not, it has been an emotional time for many. Here at school, we have seen the range of emotions from our young adolescents and have spent time helping them gain perspective on the events, and gain skills in listening to understand. You may be looking for some tips to guide you at home.

Here are some tips from Leslie Bushara, deputy director for education at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan:

  1. Take time to pause and gather your feelings, whether you are delighted or disturbed by the election’s outcome. Remember, your children will be looking to you to determine how they should react to the news. Children want to know that their daily routine will not change.
  2. Remind kids that democracy is messy. When you can, talk with your children about what President Obama called “the boisterous diversity of our country.”
  3. Make sure that your children are listened to and that their voice matters. Younger children need to be heard, even if their thoughts are not as well formed. As noted in previous tips, now is a great time to work on learning to listen to one another and practice disagreeing respectfully.
  4. Teach kids about how to be gracious winners and good losers. Remind them, as in sports, not to make fun of those who supported the losing candidate and to also not be unkind toward those who won.
  5. Take the time to help an upset child understand that the president is an elected position, and that it isn’t permanent. Explain that in four years there will be another election, and the people will be able to pick again.
  6. Look for things that you can do as a family to support your values and interests. Find things to do that are familiar and comforting. Spend time together reading books, playing games, or visiting neighborhood parks and museums.
A Friendly Reminder: Have you signed up for your Parent-Teacher Conferences? Click here for information on how to find and access the Pick-A-Time online scheduling website, to select your time(s) for your Parent-Teacher Conferences.

Shop at the School Store in the Modell’s Sports Complex Lobby during family conferences on December 8th and 9th. D-E imprinted clothing, spirit and gift items, will be available for purchase, such as sweatshirts, flannel pants, hats, gloves, ties, socks, keychains, travel mugs, candles, and more!

Next Tuesday, November 22 is our annual All-School Thanksgiving Assembly. Please remind your youngsters to dress nicely in MS 4-Star Dress. Click here for details about this 4-Star Dress Day and all remaining MS 3-Star and 4-Star Dress Days this year.

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

07 Nov

Thanksgiving Food Drive 


Every year, many Bergen County families do not have enough food to feed themselves. Some of these families use the Bergen County Center for Food Action (CFA) to get food. This time of year, CFA is greatly in need of food; many families do not have enough food to serve a Thanksgiving dinner.

For more than 20 years, Dwight- Englewood School has been donating to the CFA. Once again this year, the Lower, Middle and Upper School divisions will collect food and money. In the Middle School we are asking each HomeBase to help feed a family of four (4) for the  four (4) days of the Thanksgiving weekend.

This week, on Tuesday Nov. 8 and Wednesday, Nov. 9 during Homebase, MS students will be signing up to bring in food and household items. We also ask that each student bring in at least $1 so the families can purchase a fresh turkey. If each MS student and teacher donates $1, we will be donating over $275. Of course, you may donate more if you would like to do so.

We also encourage each HomeBase to decorate the box they are going to fill with food. Also this Tuesday Nov. 8 and Wednesday, Nov. 9, during HomeBase, students will be able to sign up to bring in the box to fill and decorating items such as wrapping paper and Thanksgiving stickers. EachHomeBase can also write a card to a family served by the CFA. The HomeBase that creates the best decorated box filled with food will win a prize. The food and money is due by Thursday, Nov. 17.

Thank you in advance to each MS HomeBase for participating in this important CFA effort to help feed a family of four (4) for the  four (4) days of the Thanksgiving weekend.

07 Nov

A Message from the Deans

Not Your Parents’ “Report Cards”

In Mid-November, the first written report cards summarizing student progress become available.  But the reports you will receive are not just the old-fashioned list of grades our own parents may have received – and which may still feel familiar to many parents today.  Instead, in keeping with our mission to help our students to become lifelong learners who take ownership of their learning, D-E “comments” at the midterm of each semester are designed to be an opportunity for students to explore their own process critically, to recognize and cultivate the student-as-learner characteristics that we know are critical to life-long success, and to learn to advocate for themselves with the support of invested and insightful teachers.

Teachers write comments in November to their students to help those students more clearly see their own approach to their work, and to allow students an opportunity to step back from the daily details and take stock.  As they write, teachers have in mind the student-as-learner characteristics that we strive to cultivate, such as creativity, engagement, and daily preparation, in addition to their specific subject content.  Teachers’ comments are released to students during an extended HomeBase period. HomeBase teachers guide the students in reading and analyzing the comments, 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 report cards, discuss their thoughts with their HB teachers and make notes with questions for their subject-area teachers.  The next day, the comments are released to your parent account (sign into “MY DE” and click “Report Cards” under your child’s picture on her profile page.)

This is a wonderful opportunity for you to sit down with your child and encourage him to share his thoughts and goals and to support his successful approach to learning and to addressing any challenges.  Written comments are followed by the release of letter grades about a week later (with the exception of 6th grade), and in all three middle school grades, by a parent-teacher conference in December.

Of course, the written summary comments at the November midterm are not the only feedback students receive. You have likely already seen several pieces of work — sent home for a signature – from your child’s teachers.  These papers, quizzes and projects can give you an idea of your child’s progress and also a sense of the material being addressed in each subject.   This work is also a window into the feedback that teachers give on a regular basis and the coaching your child receives all along the way both in mastering content and in developing strong student skills and effective work habits.  The pieces on which teachers ask for signature are a sampling of work and a way for teachers to encourage students to discuss their progress and approach to work with you throughout the year, not just at report card time.  We hope you enjoy these conversations with your child and feel free to reach out to teachers — or encourage your child to do so – with any questions.

The first semester’s midterm comments in 2016 will be released for student perusal during HomeBase on November 10 and to parents on November 11. Grades for 7th and 8th grade will be available to be reviewed on Monday, November 21, in the morning for students and the evening for parents/guardians.

07 Nov

Keeping our Children Safe and Healthy

As all children move through adolescence, particularly in the middle school years, they encounter dramatic physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes. Developmental transitions, such as puberty and increasing independence, have been associated with alcohol use.  Indeed, according to the US Dept. of Health & Human Services, alcohol is the “drug of choice” among young adolescents.  For these reasons and many more, parents and guardians can benefit from learning how to effectively communicate around the subject of drinking, including helping children to become empowered in making wise decisions.

In partnership with the D-E Parents’ Association (PA) D-E School will be hosting Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) Prevention Works, a non-profit substance abuse prevention organization, the week of November 7. While they are here, FCD Prevention Works will be working with our 8th graders and Upper School Students. And on Thursday, November 10 from 7:00-8:30 PM in Hulst House, they will run an evening presentation for our parents of 7th and 8th grade students.  All Middle School parents/guardians are welcome to attend this free event, and it’s one more way we can help keep our children safe and healthy. Hope to see you there! (To learn more about FCD go to: http://fcd.org/)

07 Nov

Grade Level Updates

6th grade:

October has been a busy month and lots of exciting learning is happening throughout the curriculum. In English, the students are hard at work on their Moment PBL project. After brainstorming and interviewing friends and family, students are working on writing about an important moment in their life. They will share these moments with their class and on a class blog. A special highlight included a visit from professional writer, Roberta Israeloff. She talked about her writing process and workshopped the pieces with the students. In social studies, the students are completing their hominid projects — the culminating activity in the Early Human Evolution unit. As soon as these projects are done, the students will be moving on to study ancient Egypt and their work turns to developing Egypt Day presentations. They will be developing research questions and getting to the library to practice research skills. In science, students are finishing up the Evolution unit with the “Bean” Lab, which simulates natural selection in a given environment. They will begin a Chemistry Unit next week, concentrating on learning about the periodic table. In math 6, students are learning about solid figures. After a review of two and three-dimensional shapes, students will be learning how to identify nets of cubes, cuboids, pyramids, and prisms. They will finish up the short unit with the students learning how to determine whether a figure can be a net of a given solid or a solid can be formed from a given net. In Hyper math, students are working through problems sets. They have learned how to make scatter plots on their TI-Nspire calculator. Finally, they are gathering data to decide which is the steepest set of stairs on the D-E campus. They measure tread length, riser height, and (if possible) the angle of the staircase. This data-gathering phase is about at an end, and they will move into the analysis phase this week.

7th grade:

In social studies students are inquiring into the question “why do we fight?” by reading a biography of 12th century Japanese hero Yoshitsune Minamoto entitled Samurai Rising, analyzing primary and secondary source documents, and participating in a Japanese feudalism simulation.  In the process, students are learning to annotate texts, identify main ideas and supporting details, and take notes.  Ultimately, students will synthesize their learning into projects that will teach others about why people fight.  Projects options include designing a video game, creating a museum exhibit, writing and performing songs, and writing a script among others. Students in English just completed the writing process where they examined the question, “Is murder ever justified”.   After reading, S.E. Hinton’s classic novel The Outsiders, students were faced with determining the fate of young Johnny Cade.  They grappled with choice of justifying the murder that Johnny committed or proving Johnny should bear some responsibility for his actions.  In the process, students developed their ability to construct an argument and support it with evidence. The painstakingly revised their essay and conferenced with teachers to best articulate their thoughts.  Next, students will explore the dystopian genre.

8th grade:

In English class, students have just completed their reading of The House on Mango Street which a collection of vignettes from Sandra Cisneros. For the culminating activity for this unit, the students wrote their own personal vignettes. During Science class, the students had the opportunity to explore the night sky with StarLab, which is an inflatable planetarium. 8th graders continue to work on equation solving in Math class. In addition a focus on scientific notation helped students understand the vastness of the universe they were looking at through StarLab. Finally, in history class 8th graders are exploring the colonial world. By using historical perspective students are able to better understand the meeting of three worlds: The Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans.

07 Nov

From Kathy Christoph


Last Friday while your children enjoyed a day off from school, our Middle School (MS) teachers spent time writing thoughtful comments about the strengths, challenges, opportunities and patterns of each child in each of their classes. For more information about our approach and process, please read our Dean’s Message below.

If you were to walk through our halls, you would see many of our classroom doors sporting various decorations. As a fun activity and as part of Spirit Week, HomeBase groups were challenged to come up with a theme and turn it into a door decoration, all within a few days time. I think most groups enjoyed the creative exercise along with the teamwork that it required. Some of the doors can be seen here:

Spirit Week also includes a favorite event: our Pep Rally, with fun obstacle course and relay-style races between students and faculty/staff.


Even though the food has been harvested, our gardening efforts continue throughout the year. We have two vegetable gardens, a composting arena, a tiny pond and a greenhouse — which systems offer opportunities for observation, experimentation, soil study and problem-solving that teachers and classes find especially useful. Right now, in this season of transition, there are many interesting changes going on in the garden and plants and insects in almost every stage of life.

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I love it when our Assemblies spotlight our own students—it gives them an opportunity to shine, to share their talents, and gain valuable presentation and leadership skills. This week, we were regaled by several of our students of Indian heritage who danced, sang, recited poetry and taught us about the celebration of Diwali. They even ran a tightly contested Jeopardy game. Well done!

In photos both above and below you can see images from this past weekend, when Mr. Egan coached a team of Middle School students in an ultimate frisbee tournament held at Mercer Community College. The team played other Middle School teams including several from Westfield, Watchung and Maple Hills. For these ‘Bulldogs’ first experience playing in an official competition, they did a great job!

Upcoming Morning Meetings and Assembly themes:

  • Week of Nov. 7: MM-Election and SaL traits. Assembly-Comment Reflection
  • Week of Nov. 14: MM-SaL traits. Assembly- Talent Show
  • Week of Nov. 21: MM-Food & Nutrition, SaL traits. Assembly: All School Thanksgiving Assembly. 4-Star Dress.

Upcoming Events and Activities:

  • Nov. 10: FCD Event for parents of our 7’s and 8’s: 7:00-8:30
  • Nov. 11: Comments released to parents
  • Nov. 14: Pick-a-Time for Parent Conferences opens.
  • Nov. 14: Winter Sports begin.
  • Nov. 21: Interim grades released to students during the day and parents during the evening.
  • Nov. 22: All School Thanksgiving Assembly. 4-Star Dress.
  • Nov. 29: ScreenAgers showing, 6:45-9:00 pm.

Hug your child and Go Bulldogs!