[MSS News] Branching Out Newsletter
mbessette at hopkintonschools.org
Wed May 16 13:48:15 EDT 2012
The best way to view the Maple Street School Principal's Newsletter - Branching Out , is to follow this link:
The raw text version, without the Dates to Remember Calendar and formatting follows below.
Dear Parents and Students:
Sometimes you just need a little help. This occurred to me last night as I sat with my third grade daughter as she attempted to complete her math homework. Yes, third grade homework was stumping me - I’m not ashamed to admit it - but in my forty-one years on this planet I don’t ever recall learning “Partial Sums” method of multiplication, and had it not been for the fantastic tutelage of Mrs. Jacques a year or two ago on this topic, I wouldn’t have already known about the “Lattice” method either. Thirty years ago, math was...well...math. These “new-fangled” approaches sure had me on the ropes trying to assist my daughter, and I admit wholeheartedly that I needed a hand myself.
As I was driving into work this morning, cup of Starbucks coffee and a bagel in hand, I was thinking about the frustration I felt and wondered what I would have done if I hadn’t had Mrs. Jacques’ help, or the resources of the internet (Khan Academy is perhaps the single greatest math online tutor on the planet! www.khanacademy.org) to assist me. Most likely, many people feel similarly, and perhaps it is a good reminder to help parents think about what they can do to support their child when either the child (or the parent) is confused. Step one is to recognize that homework should NEVER be a task that the child is unfamiliar with. Unless it is an assignment in which a child is gathering resources for an upcoming class activity, the act of completing homework is an opportunity for practice. And just so that you know, all those coaches who used to yell, “Practice makes perfect!” were wrong. Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes “Habits of mind.” - and imperfect practice makes imperfect habits of mind - which are darn hard to get rid of later down the road. Therefore, we strive to provide opportunities for kids to practice only that which they are familiar with and have demonstrated successful learning experiences with in the classroom.
However, memory is a tricky thing, and if the learning experience is not solid, kids can experience difficulty recalling the act, instruction, or even the topic itself. When they attempt to “practice” they will often replace missing elements of the task with erroneous information, and develop a bad habit. So what is the morale of the story? If you child is struggling to recall the process to complete a homework task, it is much more beneficial in the long term to observe them, assist them if you know the method being used, or if you do not know it, write a note back to the teacher attached to the unfinished product letting the teacher know the child did not understand the assignment. The teacher can then take the time needed to reteach the task, and ensure that “Perfect practice, makes perfect habit.”
On a completely different subject, please take a moment to discuss the dress code again with your child. I know this is not the most entertaining or enjoyable task as a parent, and that the struggle to convince pre-teens that fashion is not more important than modesty is not fun, but your help is critical. Clearly, there is a substantial difference in our world between “weekend clothes” and “school clothes”, the latter protecting children’s modesty, ensuring their safety, and maintaining a positive climate in school. Sure we all need to be comfortable and demonstrate self-expression through clothing choices in school, and we really want kids to feel “at home” in their community, however, we also must remember that modesty is key to our clothing choices.
Finally, we have had a large number of students arriving at school prior to 7:30 AM. Please remember that no staff are available to monitor children prior to 7:30 and that students should not be arriving prior to that time. Thanks!
Have a great week ahead!
Principal, Maple Street School
mbessette at hopkintonschools.org
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