A Message from the Director
How to set kids up to thrive, despite the uncertainties
Note: Tracy Learning Center is completely distance learning at this time, but there are many good ideas in this article I thought were worth sharing.
There’s still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding school openings this fall. Remote learning, in-person classes, some of both? But even if you don’t know quite what school will look like this year, there are still things you can do to set your child up to succeed.
First, parents should be clear on what their role is. “Spring was a really quick pivot for parents, teachers and students,” says Laura Phillips, PsyD, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “But teachers are now planning in a way they couldn’t before, and parents should be assured that they don’t have to be their child’s teacher this fall.”
Parents have enough on their plates and setting boundaries around remote learning will decrease stress and help ensure you have more bandwidth to support your child. “As a parent, your role is to assist your kids during remote learning by providing the right amount of support and structure, and to help them problem-solve,” says Dr. Philips. “It’s not your job to teach your kids.”
Communicate with teachers
One way you can begin to establish a partnership is by reaching out to your child’s teachers via email prior to the start of the school year to introduce yourself (and your child) and initiate a collaborative relationship.
“Some teachers will need to balance both live and remote teaching at the same time, and some will need to balance different groupings of kids, so approach them with an understanding that they will have a lot to manage,” Jodi Musoff, MA, MEd, an educational specialist at the Child Mind Institute, recommends. In that introductory email, include information about how your child handled distance learning this past spring and their academic strengths and weaknesses. You can also take the opportunity to ask questions.
If there’s anything going on at home that might affect your child’s learning this fall — something that’s certainly true of many kids these days! — now is a great chance to fill teachers in. “I really believe in more communication rather than less,” says Faith Hunter, lower school principal at Little Red School House in New York. If you’re stretched thin and juggling other responsibilities, if your child is having a hard time sharing a work space with siblings, if they’re struggling socially — whatever it is, knowing the context will make it easier for teachers to be sensitive to your child’s needs.
“Be patient and don’t expect to receive a response immediately,” advises Kenya Hameed, PsyD, a clinical neuropsychologist at Child Mind Institute. “Teachers may not start looking at these emails until they’re officially on the clock.” But by reaching out to them now, you’re getting a jump on the personal connection that will help your child thrive once fall arrives.
Get your child organized
Keeping supplies and information organized is a common challenge for kids of any age, especially with the switch to remote learning. This is particularly important for children who have ADHD, since their executive functioning challenges may make it difficult to manage multiple teachers, programs and websites.
“Help create some scaffolding for your children before school begins by making a list of the different platforms they’ll need to check to learn about upcoming meetings and assignments,” says Dr. Phillips. “When you don’t see your teachers in person, it’s easy to be unaware of what you have to do, so knowing where their assignments are posted will set them up for success.”
These details might seem secondary to the things your child is learning in school, but they’re actually a crucial foundation. “At a minimum, there are basic things that your child needs in order to show up and learn,” says Dr. Hameed. She recommends helping kids get a strong start by setting up an environment that helps facilitate schoolwork and making sure they’re comfortable using important tools (like tablets) before classes begin. Some examples of this could be:
- Working together to set up a quiet workspace and experimenting with what works best for your child — this could mean a separate room, designating a specific portion of a shared space, or a set of noise-cancelling headphones that makes it easier to focus. If your children are sharing a space, you can encourage them to personalize their area by decorating a presentation board or cardboard box to serve as a privacy screen.
- Designating spots to store writing utensils, paper, books, handouts and any other materials they need.
- Making sure you have a reliable internet connection.
- Checking to confirm that your child’s tablet or laptop is working and that they know how to use it.
- Taking some time to explore any websites or programs the school is using together so that your child feels comfortable navigating the tech on their own.
- Making a physical list of important passwords kids might need to remember and put it in a safe, accessible place.
Settle into routines
If your child is distance or hybrid learning, it’s helpful if you can create a routine that’s similar to what they would experience if they were attending school in person. “One of the most important things to ask teachers is for the flow of a typical day and the materials your child should have,” says Hunter. “It’ll allow you to really think about how you can encourage your child to gain the same independence that they would have in the classroom.”
For example, elementary school children may put their picture on an attendance chart when they arrive at school and then make sure their supplies are organized for the day. Next, there might be a morning meeting or a look ahead at the day’s schedule. You won’t be able to replicate these routines exactly, but talking to teachers can help you understand what kids would ordinarily expect, and brainstorm manageable ways to give them a similar sense of structure at home. This doesn’t have to be elaborate — it might just be a few reliable steps that kids can count on to make transitions easier.
Teachers typically spend the first six weeks of the school year building these essential routines so children can move comfortably through the day. Partnering with your child’s teachers to establish a similar framework at home means that, eventually, your child will be able to go through their day with less assistance from you. You’ll get some of your time back and they’ll gain more confidence — everyone benefits.
Ease anxiety about an unusual school year
Distance and hybrid learning models will make it much more difficult for your child to get to know their teachers and classmates this year. Think creatively about how you can help your child develop a connection with them, and don’t hesitate to ask the teacher what you both can do to build that bond.
For instance, children with social anxiety often visit their schools to meet their teachers and see their classrooms before the school year begins. Dr. Phillips suggests that parents consider asking if there are any similar opportunities for their children to see a real, live human prior to the first day of school, whether it’s over video chat or at a socially distant face-to-face meeting. Or, you could ask your child what they’d like their teacher to know about them and email it to the teacher, perhaps including some of their own questions for the teacher as well. Even just making introductory notes for your child to keep on hand can reduce anxiety around remote learning — that way, when it’s time for that icebreaker activity on the first day of class, they won’t have to think of what to say on the spot.
For children transitioning from elementary to middle school, moving to a larger campus and from one teacher to many (all with potentially different teaching styles and online systems) can be overwhelming under normal circumstances, so be sure to talk with your child ahead of time about what that might feel like.
The same goes for other big transitions, like moving up to high school or changing schools. “All transitions take a while to get used to, but they eventually even out,” says Julia Nunan-Saah, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist at Child Mind Institute. “Set expectations, and let kids know it may take a month to get used to this new system. Remind them of their coping strategies for when there are bumps in the road and assure them that you’ll be there to help them get through it.”
Schedule family time
Separating school life and its stressors from family life will continue to be a challenge for those who are distance learning, but it’s important to create a distinction when you can.
If it’s manageable for your family, try to create a transitional period between schoolwork and home life to create a more positive atmosphere. Scheduling fun activities for evenings and weekends, like a game night or a hike, can also provide the relaxation and sense of connection that will help your child focus and learn during the school day.
Even just planning quick, regular check-ins with your child — over breakfast, for example — can make a big difference. That bit of planning gives your child confidence that you’re facing these new challenges together, and it provides a built-in time for them to come to you with any concerns as the school year goes on.
We had had several requests for additional resources so parents can help those students who struggle with some subjects. One of the best is Khan Academy. Their easy to follow video tutorials are great for students needing further help with almost any topic
|Discovery Charter Chatter – PDF VERSION HERE!|
DCS Leader Announcement Board:
Please Join us!
Discovery is looking for parents to become members of our School Improvement Committee for the 2020-21 school year. Committee members will join the Discovery Leads as we discuss our schools individual Action Plan. Our Action Plan discusses DCS’s actionable steps toward whole school improvement. We are looking for members to join our team and help us to continue to improve our school!
If you are interested in joining or for more information please email Ashley Cerezo email@example.com or Kathy Prescott at firstname.lastname@example.org
The SIC committee meets monthly! Our first meeting is August 25th at 4pm.
Ms. Zaca’s Leadership Corner:
Welcome! Applications were sent out last Sunday and were due to Ms. Zaca by Friday, August 21st. Students who were accepted to leadership were contacted by Ms. Zaca on Saturday, August 22nd. As of right now, Leadership will be meeting once a week, from 1:00 pm-2:00 pm on google classroom every Tuesday. Students who were accepted into Leadership have been given the google classroom code and class info in their emails. Just a friendly reminder, Leadership is an elective in Discovery and not a graded class. Questions about leadership, please email Ms. Zaca at email@example.com.
For our first Leadership event, we are having a raffle event with all 5th-8th grade students. Check out our weekly announcements videos to see what our raffle event is! The winning prize is a $25 Visa gift card! Good luck to all students!
Week 3 DCS Announcements
Also, check out our Falcons of the Week! These students went above and beyond during our third week of school and the teachers could not be any more proud! Congratulations!
Mrs. Prescott’s Counseling Corner:
Mrs. Prescott has started a Google Classroom for counseling information and services: Discovery Counseling Corner. Mrs. Prescott has started offering drop-in counseling via Zoom every Monday and Friday from 1-2pm. The link is in her Google Classroom, code: qxe5cac. If there are students in the waiting room, sessions will be limited to 10 minutes and a one-on-one follow up appointment will be scheduled. To schedule time with Mrs. Prescott outside of these hours, please feel free to contact her via email at any time: firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, she also will be adding fun, interesting, and useful information to help students and families with mind, body, and social emotional wellness. Make sure to join her Google Classroom and check in every week to see what’s new!
A peek into our Virtual Learning Classes
|5th/6th Grade Classes:|
Social Studies with Mr. Bird and Ms. Ferguson:
This week in Social Studies the students began their unit on Native Americans! Each day the students learned about Native Americans from different regions across the U.S. including the Southwest Native Americans and Plains Native Americans. The students concluded this week with a short quiz relating to the topic!
If your child needs to locate the readings for this week they can find it in Google Classroom under the “Classwork” tab in the “Native Americans” section!
Next week we will be continuing our discussion on Native Americans from different regions of the United States with another short quiz to end the week.
The unit test for Native Americans will be during the week of August 31st if everything continues to go as planned!
Science with Ms. Diaz and Mr. Dougherty
In the last three weeks, we’ve gone over the Scientific Method, understanding the meaning and importance of each step. This week, we honed our distance learning skills by practicing submitting assignments in Google classroom, taking quizzes, making a slideshow, and playing Kahoot. Three weeks and 3 quizzes down, putting us that much closer to the long-awaited Labor Day weekend! Next week we will begin our first hand-on activities, exploring the ties between music and science.
Math with Mrs. Zuniga
*All students will be taking the first UC Davis test next week.
Varsity: Students took their second quiz this week on addition and subtraction word problems. Students are moving smoothly through our first unit and are ready to start our section on multiplication. I did let students know that their multiplication facts MUST be memorized, to help them better understand more difficult math concepts.
Scholastic: Students spent this week reviewing place value as well as going back to review multiplication and division with multi-digit numbers. Students will be taking their first unit test next week on Friday. We are finishing up our unit with rounding, comparing whole numbers, and powers of ten.
Honors: The students are working hard to remember the lessons from last year that we are reviewing at the moment. The students took their first quiz last week and did very well. The class is working on order of operations and algebraic expressions this week. Next week we will continue solving algebraic expressions and take our second quiz.
Math with Mrs. Nijjar
We spent these three weeks exploring math integrated technology and finding the best fit. Students have done an amazing job adjusting to distance learning along with getting to know their peers.
Varsity: Students learned about adding, subtracting, and multiplying multi-digit whole numbers. They put great efforts to take a quiz and show amazing results. In the coming weeks, students will be learning about dividing multi-digit whole numbers.
Scholastic: Students spent this week learning about properties of addition and multiplication, and multiplying/dividing multi-digit whole numbers. In the coming weeks, students will be learning more about place value, rounding, and comparing whole numbers.
Honors: Students learned about adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers along with solving algebraic equations. In the coming weeks, students will be learning about exponents, PEMDAS, and algebraic word problems.
Language Arts with Mr. Harding
This year’s Pentathlon topic is the Cold War. It has been somewhat refreshing to go back into history and see our greatest fears still not realized. As we read about the organizations and the individual spies that changed and maintained the balance of superpowers, we are learning how fear is generated and how it affects people.
This week, we studied Cold War era propaganda from both superpowers and noticed themes. We may have a project in the near future where the students must create propaganda to promote an agenda.
Language Arts with Ms. Rodieck
The big question this week was “How do writers use descriptive language to help their readers SEE the story?” This week we continued reading our novel Spies and learned about Elizabeth Bentley, an American who was a Societ Spy. We also worked on revising our Summer Shorts stories and adding descriptive details and reviewed adjectives. We continued to work on our computer skills while we learned (or reviewed) Subjects and Predicates.
Next week, Honors and Scholastic will start diagramming. Students will need to have 3-5 cards or a 3-5 spiral bound notebook like the picture. You can even use binder paper or blank paper and cut it into ¼ sheets. We will be using these to draw out the diagrams and then show them on screen. Having a notebook will keep their work together and organized.
Sally Girl helped me with some pictures of what an engaged on-line learner looks like..
Here, Sally is laying on her back, not even looking at the screen. She obviously is not not engaged with the lesson.
In this second picture, she is looking at her screen, engaged and listening to the lesson, ready to do what she needs to do next.
|7th/8th Grade Classes:|
Science with Ms. Dominguez and Coach Williams:
This week, 7/8 Science completed our first unit! On Friday, students in Varsity, Scholastic and Honors participated in lots of review of Unit 1 content, and ended the week with the unit test.
Over the last three weeks, Coach Williams and I have enjoyed how the students have partnered with us in making the class sessions as productive and interactive as possible. This week they even helped me test out Kahoot!, and troubleshoot the issues that we had in the first trial run. I know this has been a strange and challenging start to the new school year, but I am so proud of how our students have met those challenges with positivity and determination.
Next week, we will start Unit 2 which focuses on force and motion!
Social Studies with Ms. Zaca and Coach Penirian:
Ahh!! We escaped!! This week ⅞ social studies students survived in our escape room! Continuing on with our study of the Declaration of Independence, students used their skills of problem-solving and knowledge of our DOI, to escape the 5 levels with their group members. This past few weeks of August, students dived into the history of our colonies, our declaration of independence, and the events that led to our Revolution and ultimate break up from Great Britain. Next week we will have our first Unit Test and student’s notebook check/cover pages will be due on Thursday, August 27th. Students have been working on their cover pages all unit long! Congratulations to our student groups who won the escape room:
Scholastic: Kyle Bordes, Sofie McCrary, Matthew Su,
Honors: Alex Castro, Darren Credo, Vida Lew, and Subhanna Osmani
Varsity: Shoutout to Luz Fonseca, Adrian Washburn, Andres Maurcio, MichaelAngelo Valenzuela, Kaydence Siufanua, and Saniyah Johnson for helping to carry our class to level 4!
Math with Mrs. Linarez and Ms. Losen
This week in 7/8 math with Mrs. Linarez and Ms. Losen, we reviewed quiz results and common mistakes and began learning new concepts. Varsity students learned about place value, Scholastic students learned about integers, and Honors students learned about inequalities. Next week, Varsity students will be taking a unit test on whole numbers and start the following unit on decimals. Scholastic students will be learning about integer exponents and properties of exponents. Honor students will learn about functions and linear functions.
Math with Mr. Dhillon and Coach Levand
*All students will be taking the first UC Davis test next week.
Varsity: We completed lesson 1 (Order of Operation and Properties of Number) and we will be starting with lesson 2 ( Variables and Algebraic expression ). We are practicing basic concepts of math on IXL everyday .
Scholastic: we have completed Quiz 2 of unit 1 and we will be doing lesson 7 Combining Like Terms and lesson 8 Simplifying Expressions (Distribute/Combine)..
Honors: we have completed lesson 5 and will take Quiz 2 next week and then we will review the unit 1 and then take the test for unit 1.
Language Arts with Mrs. Cerezo
Last week students worked on their second Persuasive-style introduction paragraph. We are working on perfecting our usage of the hook, background, and thesis statements. Students also took their first official test this week! This will become a more regular occurrence now that we are more comfortable with our Virtual format.
Here is a picture of one of the activities we worked on this week! A Padlet discussion of an article the students read:
This week students can expect to continue our work with building our vocabulary, we will have our first in-Zoom timed write and will begin working with programs such as NoRedInk and IXL. Test on Friday.
Language Arts with Ms. Greene and Mrs. Polo
This week in class we have started to read our book “Spies” after diving into the history of the Cold War, which gives us a lot of background on this adventurous book. Students also had their first test this week, which will now be done on a weekly basis.
Next week, students can look forward to beginning a new unit on verb tense, and for the first time during distance learning, we will have a timed write! Students should continue working on their introductions and reviewing what makes a good intro: hook, background information, and a strong thesis statement.
Good Morning Falcons! Here is this week’s video unity: