Dear Birch Grove families,
We are excited for another wonderful year of learning and engaging in the arts at Birch Grove! This summer, our staff was involved in different projects: attending equity training, reading about restorative practices and trauma informed schools, enriching units with strategies from the National Urban Alliance (NUA—similar concepts of Freedom Schools), preparing art integrated units, searching for culturally based experiences, taking classes and hopefully spending some time with their families.
This will be our second year implementing the math curriculum, Bridges. This curriculum aims at developing mathematical thinking rather than set rules for solving math problems. Students can do hands-on activities as they master math skills. It became normal to hear students say that math was their favorite class or at least one of their favorite classes. District data is showing that our students had significant growth in math which is not common at the end of the first year of implementation. These results speak highly of our staff’s commitment to student learning and our students’ hard work.
We believe that enrichment is a stronger approach to increase student learning than remediation. Therefore, we are requesting funds from the district to offer our popular robotics-based Saturday Academy during the first and second semester. Another goal is to expand our after-school offerings to include more culturally based activities. Families will need to provide transportation after school and on Saturdays for these activities. Breakfast and lunch will be free to our participants.
Our staff will continue using data to provide differentiated instruction. Every other week each team will meet with the school leaders to analyze either math or reading data to focus their teaching and use flexible grouping. Meaning, students are organized based on their academic needs/strengths and they move to a different group as they mastered the skills. Last year, we saw significant growth in both areas and in several grade levels as we began closing the achievement gap. Our goal is to ensure 100% fidelity implementation of Balanced Literacy (reading curriculum), Bridges/Number Corner (math curriculum), restorative practices, increase the use of co-teaching and arts integration.
Social emotional needs are a key area of need at our school. We are beginning this school year with a review of Restorative Circles during the staff workshop days. “A restorative school is one which takes a restorative approach to resolving conflict and preventing harm. Restorative approaches enable those who have been harmed to convey the impact of the harm to those responsible, and for those responsible to acknowledge this impact and take steps to put it right. Restorative approaches refer to a range of methods and strategies which can be used both to prevent relationship-damaging incidents from happening and to resolve them if they do happen” (Restorative Justice Council). We are committed to community building circles, using circles for teaching content and for restoring relationships.
We continually commit to equity and will have more training on district’s policies and best practices during workshop week. The goal is to continue our path from consciousness and conviction to commitment. This year, we will work on fully implementing the CLEAR Model into our lesson plans. Each letter in CLEAR has a meaning. Cultural: Emphasizes the human purpose of what is being learned and its relationship to the students’ own culture. Learning: Encourages students to make choices in content and assessment methods based on their experiences, values, need, and strengths. Equitable: Respectful learning environments in which students racial and ethnic diversity is valued and contributes to successful academic outcomes. Achievement: Includes multiple ways to represent knowledge and skills and allow for attainment of outcomes at different points in time. Responsive: Through positive relationships, rigorous learning experiences are created involving higher order thinking and critical analysis used to address relevant, real(ness) world issues in an action-oriented manner.
It is going be a great school year and we look forward to working together. See you on August 29th 5:00-6:30pm at our Open House!
Dr. Ronald Salazar, Principal