January 30, 2015
Dear SBS Families,
As we continue through the winter season please remember the many ways to be notified of school closings, delays or early dismissals due to weather. All Side by Side closings are immediately posted on our school website, and an email and phone blast is sent to all families. If you have not been receiving these alerts, please contact Evelyn at ext. 130 to make sure that your contact information is correctly listed in our database. In addition, Side by Side also posts our weather closings on our Facebook and Twitter pages, CTweather.com, and all of the local news affiliates.
The Side by Side teaching staff is continuing with a focus on implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as part of our professional development plans for the school year. One of the major shifts in the Common Core is the requirement for students to be instructed with and exposed to complex texts, regardless of their reading level or ability. To highlight our focus on this topic, the SBS staff has declared February to be our “Close Reading” month. Close Reading requires students to get truly involved with the text they are reading. The purpose is to teach them to notice features and language used by the author. Close reading requires more than being able to retell a story or provide a main idea or supporting details from a text. When students are taught to read a text “closely” they can justify answers to text-dependent questions based on evidence. We plan to hold a parent forum in March for ALL of our parents and families to have an opportunity to experience some “Close Reading” activities first-hand alongside your children. Please be on the lookout for communications about this event from our PTCO.
Side by Side is excited to be part of a pilot program with the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. The initiative is called “Common Ground: A School-Museum-Artist Curriculum Partnership,” and its primary focus is to ensure a direct and positive impact on Side by Side’s curriculum through collaborative partnerships and student engagement. In December, our 7th Grade students took a trip and visited the Aldrich to view several artists’ exhibits. They were guided to view an exhibit of David Scanavino’s work (the artist who will soon be working on-site with our students.) The students were asked specific questions throughout the visit in an effort to engage their individual learning process and give them the opportunity to innovate and explore.
Now, on Monday, 2/2, David will be starting a weeklong residency at Side by Side. During that time, our students will work with David to generate ideas on how to transform their own school space. This week-long residency will end with a few small group student art projects to transform Side by Side's school space—this can include a performance by students; a sculpture; a painting, etc. We’re excited to see how the Common Ground initiative will help students at Side by Side develop creativity and critical thinking skills. Congratulations to Side by Side for piloting this innovative program that helps both students and teachers grow to new heights!