Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November 7, 2017

Hello Parents and Students,

It's hard to believe, but nearly ten weeks of school are complete. I will write to you often to share some great stories from our students.  I also want to provide some information that will help you track your students' progress and provide help where needed.

If you ever need to speak with someone directly, feel free to call the school at 607-869-9636.   We will make this newsletter a regular part of our communication strategy. If you'd like to see our communication guide, please click here.  This is available from our High School and Middle School home pages.

If you'd like to see a certain type of posting from me or others, please let me know.  My email is thouseknecht@southseneca.org. Thank you very much for reading.

Tim Houseknecht, Principal

Parent and Student Portal
This year, we have started with a new student management system called Schooltool.  Schooltool is more powerful than the program we used in the past. It's been a challenge to get everything switched over, but it's working very well now.  You can easily track student progress with the parent and student portals.

Please go to the document linked here.  This document has directions and a link to Schooltool.  If you need any help, feel free to call and ask for the guidance office.

Great student pictures
Feel free to click the link above for some pictures we've been collecting for this year. More to come. 

Keeping An Eye on Employability Skills
Several of our ongoing initiatives in the classroom and our systems aim to improve valuable skills that lead to success both in college and the workforce. Preparing students for their future means thinking beyond our own walls to the ever-changing needs of the workforce.
Please click here for a great link. 

Class News
Please see the links to the right for our class news. A few will be updated shortly, and you will receive emails from advisers or Mr. Houseknecht.

New tables in Mr. Zeitz's room
The report below is from Mr. Zeitz, our 8th grade social studies teacher. We have been updating some furniture as our budget allows. This new arrangement is already paying dividends, and we plan to do some of the same at the high school level.

Tables arrived on Weds. 10/25. In the past two days of instruction I have noticed a sizable uptick in student interaction and collaboration. Individual desks presented a barrier of sorts because students had a limited/confined work space. NYSMSA speaker Jack Berckemeyer often references the fact that students are growing, making them twitchy and uncomfortable. Shoving a teenager into what essentially amounts to an acrylic and metal cage for their lower body is akin to jumping into a burlap sack with a wolverine; it won't end well. Using tables reduces that problem because they're constructed in such a way that students have more freedom of movement.

Even when combining desks, students would often struggle to have the room needed to create or collaborate without invading the space of another classmate. The extra width and length allow students to spread out and not feel constrained. At the end of a class, desks would be strewn about the room, along with students' personal belongings and chairs; creating a hassle to clean up and reorganize before the next class or the end of the day. The tables are heavy and relatively immobile, leaving the chairs as the only movable piece of furniture. This is actually beneficial in my current configuration because it takes less time to set up a Socratic/round table discussion, take part in small group activities, prepare for a debate, use arts and crafts, etc... - all one needs to move is a chair. The extra flexibility gives me more options for instruction; simulations, inquiries, projects, research, and even more traditional note-taking are easier to do AND switch between with this table-based set-up.

I'm excited and thankful to move forward with this set of classroom furniture.

Standing Table Samples
I was able to get a couple of standing desks as samples. They are in Mr. Brewer's social studies classroom.  So far, Mr. Brewer is very impressed. Standing is great for some kids. As we gather insights from students and teachers, purchases of more standing desks will be a possibility.

Article links:

Organization Skills and Time Management
With the need to manage their busy personal lives, academic schedule and extra-curricucular activities can pose problems for most high school students. Helping them manage their priorities in practical ways and helping them become autonomous and independent is key for building successful habits for the future. Please see  the resource  below for tips.

The Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language
Thanks to Mrs. Sanchez for sharing this article.