On November 15, 2022, the RI Council on Elementary and Secondary Regulations approved new readiness-based graduation requirements for the Class of 2028.
Common Planning Time
One of the accreditation requirements from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) is that high schools provide teachers with Common Planning Time. Common Planning Time is also required by the Rhode Island Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. With an already packed student instructional schedule, this has proved very difficult to implement. Many districts have found a solution by implementing a Wednesday early release for students in order to hold Common Planning Time for teachers in the afternoon.
Our solution is much more far reaching, consistent, and not limited to just the high school. Instead of dismissing students early one day a week, our teachers will report for Common Planning each day of the week 45 minutes before the student school day begins.
This morning Common Planning Time can/will be used for:
Extensive research shows the positive correlation between a student's vocabulary and student achievement. The size of a student's vocabulary in kindergarten is actually a predictor of their ability to learn to read. A robust vocabulary gives students the ability to express themselves and comprehend complex material. It impacts reading, writing, comprehension, listening, and speaking. Research also shows that teaching vocabulary in isolation (ie. teacher gives students a list of words, students define or match words with definitions, student writes a sentence using the word) does not produce a robust vocabulary.
North Smithfield Schools has been implementing the generative vocabulary strategy. “Generative refers to the ability to apply knowledge of how words work when encountering new words. Generative instruction aims to make visible to students critical features and functions of words and connections among words. This knowledge is intended to support students in generating meanings of unknown words in texts.” (Hiebert, Elfrieda. “Generative Vocabulary Instruction.” Heibert-Pearson-Generative-vocabulary-instruction.pdf.)
All elementary teachers have received professional development to implement this strategy seamlessly into their language arts instruction. More recently, North Smithfield Middle School ELA teachers participated in a professional development series including a full day workshop on “MORPHOLOGY: GREEK AND LATIN ROOTS” through the Brainispring Educator Academy.
Using the generative vocabulary strategy, teachers develop a graphic organizer and use it daily to define the word, identify multiple meanings for the word, discuss the root word as well as the prefixes, suffixes, synonyms and antonyms. In the upper grades teachers also teach Greek and Latin root morphology.
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Mark Twain
RI Right to Read Act
The Rhode Island Right to Read Act was passed in July 2019. The law requires educators to exhibit either proficiency in or awareness of the knowledge and practices of the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy. Elementary Educators are required to exhibit proficiency in the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy will complete a rigorous training, including a classroom application component, from a professional learning provider approved by RIDE.
To meet this requirement, our elementary educators are being trained in Orton Gillingham. The Orton Gillingham approach is a structured method of instruction that helps students master skills in a cumulative way, incorporating tactile and visual as well as auditory elements. This approach provides students with a solid foundation for building a thorough understanding of reading, writing, spelling, and vocabulary, ensuring that every student has the skills and the confidence to succeed in the classroom. This training program was first developed in order to teach dyslexic students to read, however, the strategies and methods will certainly help all students.
This training is quite a heavy lift for our educators as it requires much time and effort. However, we are confident that this training will have a positive impact on teaching and learning.
Esser is the elementary and secondary education relief act. This funding is to help ensure that districts and schools can continue to operate safely; support sustained access to in-person instruction; and address the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students due to the impact of (COVID-19.)
During the planning phase of ESSER III we elicited input from various stakeholders. The district launched a web based survey. The survey received 334 responses; 70% of respondents were parents/guardians and 30% of the respondents were educators/staff/community members. Results identified priorities as:
All survey results were reviewed by each individual school improvement team. The school improvement teams consist of a groups of educators and other stakeholders (ie. community members, parents, and students.) Each SIT made specific recommendations for the development of the ESSER III plan. The district Professional Development Advisory Committee, Teacher Leaders and Administrative Team, have also given input/feedback to inform the plan. We also analyzed academic achievement DATA to pinpoint learning gaps as we make plans to to understand student needs resulting rom or relating to the impact of COVID-19.
Examples of how our priorities then become reality are:
We will present at School Committee meetings and Budget Committee meetings in terms of how stakeholder input was taken into account as well as communication of the district priorities and plan specifics.
This plan will be reviewed and revisited every six months with each individual school improvement team. The administrative team will also provide bi-annual presentations to the school committee.
Summer Programming (ESSER funded)
We had a wonderful turnout at NSES this summer for enrichment! In the summer of 2021 we ran 8 programs. This summer we happily expanded and we were able to welcome over 140 students to participate in 15 different programs taught by 17 NSES teachers. The programs included Bucket Drumming, Science Adventures, Model Rocket Club, Be Your Best Club, Playful Pals, Ocean Club, Small Group Tutoring, Story time Standards, STEM Scholars, Mindful Moments, Eco Art, Artful Narratives, Math Ramp Up, Math Gone Wild, and Summer Reading Book Club.
The Summer Enrichment Program at the secondary level was a resounding success. NSMS and NSHS teachers offered a wide range of academic and enrichment courses for students to socialize, learn something new, and have an opportunity to engage in activities with their peers. Over 110 students in grades 5 through 12 participated in an array of offerings. The North Smithfield Summer Enrichment grew by leaps and bounds in only its second season. Sessions Included: The American Red Cross Babysitting Class, The Welcome to NSHS: New Student and 9th Grade Orientation, Summer Math Enrichment, Greenhouse and Gardening, Paint Party, Bracelet Making, A Volleyball Clinic, The Kindness Rocks Project, and he Book Club Brunch.
Clare Arnold, Assistant Superintendent