** All ‘school activities’ have been postponed or cancelled during our ‘remote learning’ hiatus from school. As more dates are known, we will be updating them.
Topic/Question for the Dinner Table
To help encourage conversations and dialogue about the ‘things’ you wish and want to learn more about, our topic/question for the week is: What do you wish you had more time to learn? Is it possible to learn about that topic/area/subject during the last few weeks of school? Intentional Learning (Week of 5/25/20) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
Memorial Day Weekend - No Homework Weekend for Blake
Thank you to all of the staff for their support and help in making our 'No Homework Weekend' for Blake this past weekend a reality. This effort was part of our continued work to provide down time for students, staff, and families.
Yoga Flier for Mental Health Awareness Month
Throughout this month, the Medfield Coalition for Suicide Prevention, Medfield Foundation, and Medfield Youth Outreach are offering diverse ways to attend to our mental wellbeing and explore ways to take care of ourselves. We welcome you to join Jenny Kennedy, instructor at Burning Wheel Yoga Studio, and our community in a restorative practice this Sunday evening 5/31 at 7pm.
Slow Flow and Restore
Rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit with postures and movement to increase flexibility and mobility while strengthening your muscles, core and mind/body relationship. This nurturing practice will include breathing techniques for stress reduction and postures to release tension in the whole body. Class will end in a restorative savasana with Jenny chanting a soothing Sanskrit mantra. Grab pillows, blankets or any comfortable props you have at home. All levels are welcome!
Please sign up by emailing email@example.com, and let us know if you would like to participate and we will send you the Facebook live link.
Restorative Practice Yoga Flier
Camp Kinda - From DESE
Camp Kinda: EdNavigator has created Camp Kinda, a free, at-home summer experience designed to keep kids in kindergarten through eighth grade engaged while they’re at home. Each weekday from June 1 to September 1, participating families will get three to four hours’ worth of daily activities, all connected to a weekly theme. Activities will include online and offline offerings. Use registration code KINDA2020.
Blake Away From Blake Olympics
Student Council will be sending out weekly challenges for students to compete in the Blake Away From Blake Olympics. Kids can post their contributions on the Stu Co Website (padlets) or on our Instagram (@blake_stuco)!! Contributions earn points for their grade level. Current scoreboard has 8th grade in the lead!
Plans for Report Cards - Term 3
Term 3 - All teachers will be using a Pass/No Grade system for our final term, and teachers will not be completing interim reports. Our reporting of Pass/No Grade will be focusing on a student’s efforts to engage in learning. Cluster/academic teachers will be completing narratives for students as well. Teachers will continue providing feedback throughout the term for all students.
** Should you or your students have any questions/concerns about the assignments/expectations at any time, please reach out to the teachers directly or the respective guidance counselor. We are here to support all students.
Message for 8th Grade Families (E-mailed 5/11/20)
Although we do not have any defined plans or answers at this point, I am reaching out to all 8th grade families in regards to 'end of 8th grade activities' and closure for our students. I have also e-mailed all 8th grade students with a similar note. This period of emergency remote learning has been trying in many different ways for everyone, and we are cognizant of the impact on our 8th graders at Blake - and, I would be remiss in not articulating the feelings of loss and disappointment that this current group of students has experienced in regards to our traditions in 8th grade (cancellation of canoe/bike trips and trip to Washington, D.C.).
We have been having internal conversations and discussions and are currently in a 'waiting period' (planning and brainstorming potential plans, but nothing is final) regarding end-of-year (for our school and 8th grade, in particular) activities and endeavors. At this point we are awaiting guidance from Governor Baker's guidelines after May 18. The guidelines will help us determine and outline plans for the transition to high school, closure, distribution of yearbooks, and celebrations. There are a lot of unanswered questions at this point, but as we know more we will be reaching out and letting families know.
The safety and well-being of our students is and will remain to be our top priority, and we will be working to do our best to provide opportunities for closure and connections as we navigate this time period and the days that lie ahead. We will continue to support all of our students and families as best we can. As always, do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.
Blake MS Featured on TeachLab Podcast
Many times I have referenced the work of Justin Reich (@bjfr) and his words regarding coherence in schools as the hallmark of learner-centered communities (image attached)...
If we look at the schools that have grown the most in the last five or ten years, schools that have made really significant improvements for their students in learning, these are the places that have had teacher communities that have been willing to come together and pull their oars together towards the same coherent goals. - Justin Reich
Over the last 10 years, Justin has worked closely with Blake and the Medfield Public Schools, and earlier this week I asked him if we would be up for joining one of our Blake Staff check-ins. We were fortunate that he willingly accepted, sharing his thoughts and answering questions from our staff. Justin's podcast, TeachLab, investigates the art and craft of teaching and his latest episode features Blake and the dialogue he had with our staff. I am proud to be part of such a wonderful, thought-provoking, learning environment for students, staff, and community. If you have 29 minutes, check it out…
Emergency Remote Learning in Middle Schools - TeachLab with Justin Reich (29 minutes)
Messages/Flipgrids for all Blake Students and Families
Please know we are thinking of you, missing you, and wishing you and your families the very best. Check out our Flipgrid 'messages' from the staff to all of the students - take a look and enjoy…
Message to Blake Students/Families - 5/22/20
This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - In honor of Memorial Day, I have asked the Blake staff to share some reflections about this important holiday...
What does Memorial Day mean to you? Why is it important? Childhood memories of this holiday? How do you honor it typically? How are you planning on honoring it this year? Thanks!
Message to Blake Students/Families - 5/15/20
(This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - This week I am asking the Blake staff to share their favorite place(s) to visit - both when they were younger and now as an adult (and they may be one and the same). Thanks!)
Message to Blake Students/Families - 5/8/20
(This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, this week I am hoping that everyone can share with our students, families, and community what the best parts are about being a teacher! Thanks)
Message to Blake Students/Families - 5/1/20
This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - This week I am hoping that everyone can share how 'the arts' are a part of their lives....How were the arts a part of your life as a kid (music, art, dance, theater, film, etc.) and how are they now? Why are they important to you? Thanks!
Message to Blake Students/Families - 4/24/20
(This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day this week (April 22, 2020), please share how nature has been and is a part of your life - as a child and as an adult - thanks!)
Message to Blake Students/Families - 4/17/20
(This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - Tell us about a teacher you had who had a positive influence on you and you are grateful for - and, why. We look forward to hearing your stories!)
Message to Blake Students/Families - 4/10/20
Message to Blake Students/Families - 4/3/20
Message to Blake Students/Families - 3/27/20
Message to Blake Students/Families - 3/23/20
** As noted in the e-mails to students, please take some time to remind them of the importance of respecting 'digital spaces' and not resharing/reposting videos without permission.
Resource for All Families
I want to share a link to the district's resource page/website during our Emergency Remote Learning Period - MPS Resource Page - Remote Learning Period. This site is utilized by staff and houses resources for families as well. I encourage you to check it out!
Blake is Social
Blake is Social is still looking for some great pictures and art work from students at home! We also have a zoom time Wednesday @ 3pm. Last week we did a Harry Potter breakout room. Who knows where we will go next? If interested just reach out to Mrs. McClelland (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Blake Student Council
Blake’s Student Council will be meeting this Wednesday from 2:30-3:00. The Zoom code will be shared in the Student Council Google Classroom the day of the meeting. We are looking forward to seeing those who can attend!
Blake GSA Meetings
The Blake GSA will continue to host virtual meetings on Wednesdays, from 3:00-3:30 p.m. through zoom! The Meeting ID and Password will be sent out one hour before the meeting. All are welcome - e-mail Mrs. Cuomo (email@example.com) or Ms. Malone (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions or want to participate!
ADL Peer Leaders should look for some "Food for Thought" posted on Google Classroom this Tuesday. Our next Zoom meeting will be from 3:00-3:30 (note the time change!) on Tuesday 6/2. See you then!
Extracurricular Art with Mr. K and Blake Arts Team 3:00 on Tuesdays
New Extracurricular Offering: Virtual Open Studio with Mr. K! All (students and staff) are welcome to join in a virtual open studio/art making session. We hope to inspire each other to make and create. Send an e-mail to us and we will send an invite 1 hour before our meet-up. We hope to see everyone there!
Wellness Activities this Week
Mr. Nickerson will be offering his Live Yoga class on Wednesdays at 12 p.m. All students and staff are welcome to join! Also, Mrs. McCullough and Mr. Woods are offering a Live Fitness class on Thursdays at 10 a.m. The session will be approximately 20 minutes. While there is no equipment needed, comfortable clothing and sneakers are suggested. The session will include strength, cardio and agility and will be appropriate for all fitness levels. All Zoom details will be in student/staff emails. Hope you will join us!
Message to 8th Grade Families about Trip to D.C.
We have made the decision to cancel this year's 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C. and New York City. Although we had been leaning this way, we wanted to take time to make a thoughtful decision and to gather all information from WorldStrides. We know how much students, families, and staff were looking forward to this experience, but we also know this is the right and responsible decision for everyone's well-being. For many students and families, this decision will bring forth feelings of loss and disappointment and we will do our best to support our students as best we can during this 'remote period of learning'. I want to thank all families for your patience and understanding during this process.
We have been working with WorldStrides to minimize the financial impact for families and are pleased with their responsiveness and the adjustments they have made from their standard cancellation policies. Here is the information...
- All families who purchased the Full Refund Program (FRP - insurance for the trip) will receive a refund in the amount of $950
- For those families who did not purchase the Full Refund Program (FRP), they will receive a refund, with an adjustment of a deduction of $115 that accounts for unrecoverable costs (see FAQ response below from WorldStrides)
- No action is required from families to begin the refund process.
- Due to the high volume of refunds being processed, WorldStrides has asked for your understanding on timing. Families can expect to receive refunds in 6-8 weeks from your scheduled departure date.
Our students and families mean a great deal to us and we are all currently thinking of ways to 'celebrate' and recognize our 8th graders to provide opportunities for closure and connections as we navigate this time period together. As always, do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.
Why can’t we provide full cash refunds?
We have spent the last several weeks working really hard with all of our vendors to recover as much money as possible. Many vendors are only allowing us to use any type of refund for a school deciding to postpone their trip to later in the year. Bus companies, restaurants and ticket locations have been hit hard by this situation and they just can’t give us cash back. This would include deposits for your buses, Etixs for African American museum, the 9/11 museum, etc. The retained amount of $115 will cover just a SMALL portion of the costs we have incurred. Keep in mind, most student travel happens between March and June so we have spent the last 12 months planning these experiences. There were a lot of internal costs associated with that work and those are funds we can’t ever recover.
Links to Posts/Podcasts Shared During Emergency Remote Learning Period
Emergency Remote Teaching vs Online Learning
This Is the Time
Teaching Without Compulsory School
Brené Brown on vulnerability and courage - 60 Minutes
David Kessler and Brené on Grief and Finding Meaning
Is ‘social distancing’ the wrong term? Expert prefers ‘physical distancing,’ and the WHO agrees),
I Refuse to Run a Coronavirus Home School
Online Learning Should Return to a Supporting Role
Dr. Marc Brackett and Brené on "Permission to Feel" (56:41)
Teens in Lockdown Recording (44:53)
Well: Teens in Lockdown (45:41)
Dr. Lise Van Susteren: Emotional Inflammation: A Condition Of Our Time (1:02:47)
Within this podcast, Dr. Susteren discusses PTSS (Pre-Traumatic Stress Syndrome) - thinking about the state of anticipatory angst that many of us (myself included) are experiencing at this time. I found the framework helpful, as an educator, father, and person.
Dr. Marc Brackett: Understanding Our Emotions (52 minutes)
Emergency Remote Learning in Middle Schools - TeachLab with Justin Reich (29 minutes)
Winning the Remote Learning Game - Interview with Jal Mehta (24:13)
Simon Sinek: These Are Not Unprecedented Times
Maintaining Connections, Reducing Anxiety While School Is Closed by Jessica Minahan
a recording of the session, and it has come through! The link to the recording is here:
Rachel Simmons Webinar from 5/19/20
Building Resilience in Uncertain Times (42:17) - from the Mindful Educators podcast along with some notes…
Watching the Pandemic Steal Intimate Moments From Teenagers
by Kathi Valeii in The New York Times
Video Conferencing Info for Blake Students/Families
Teachers will be communicating the timing for video conferencing sessions to students/families - please know that these sessions are one option for connections and are not required for students/families. We are aware that this is a 'work in process' and we will be patient, flexible and adaptable for students as we walk this path together. We appreciate your patience and understanding as well.In order for video conference sessions to take place, please help your students follow these steps on their iPads…
- All students/families need to download the Zoom Cloud and Hangouts Meet apps in the app store.
- If you are not able to download the app in the app store, please click on these directions: Directions for Connecting Remotely to the MDM (Mobile Device Management System). Diane Horvath, our Technology Integration Specialist), has created a screencast that 'walks' you through the steps: Screencast for Downloading Zoom and Google Meets.
- If you have any questions or need assistance with this process, please reach out to Tania Manuel (email@example.com) or Diane Horvath (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- We have established guidelines/reminders for our staff and students for 'digital learning' and video conferencing - please take some time to review these guidelines with your students: Blake's Netiquette Guidelines, March 2020.
Blake At-Home Learning Considerations and Guidelines, March 2020 **
In an effort to help provide some structure/parameters/guidelines for students and families who are looking for it, we have created a potential template for students and families during our ‘time period of remote learning’. Please know that this is ‘one template’ that can be adapted/adjusted to meet the needs of your children and your family. We encourage you to take a look, talk it through with your children, and make it your own…
Blake At-Home Learning Considerations and Guidelines, March 2020
** For Parents/Guardians: Please give yourself permission to try things out, make mistakes, adjust, and move forward. There is no one right path for parenting, teaching, and learning. We care deeply for all of your children and our commitment is to 'meet them where they are at' and help them (and you as families) to grow and move forward.
Resources from Guidance
During the extended school closure, Guidance Counselor are available to our students and families through a variety of means, email, phone, virtual meetings. The Guidance Counselors will send out a daily check-in email each morning, and be available for students by phone and/or virtual meetings. Should you or your student require additional emotional support, please refer to either of the following:
Riverside Community Care (800) 529-5077
You can find additional resources and information on the following pages:
Resources from Office of Social and Emotional Learning
We would like to let you know about some resources and tools in relation to SEL in our district. The Office of Social and Emotional Learning has content related to COVID-19 coping strategies, tips and tools for families to utilize. We have broken the material into Elementary and Secondary levels, and have a section for Educators as well. We also want to let you know that we have partnered with many other districts in the state to form a collaborative, comprehensive and ever evolving website that has lots of great information that may help with mental health and wellbeing in this tumultuous time. We hope these resources can be a tool to support health and wellness in our community. The websites are listed below:
Medfield Office of SEL
Mental Health and Well-being Partner Website
Blake ‘EdChats’ - Adapting and Learning
We are trying out some ‘edchats’ with Blake teachers/staff as a way to connect and share what we are thinking and talking about as a community of learners. Each chat will have a particular focus and we will take some time to talk through a few questions. Check out our chats…
Adapting and Learning - EdChat # 2 (Learning)
(Maura Batts, Tom Woods, Seth Hellerstein, Marjorie Heim, Michael Gow)
Adapting and Learning - EdChat # 1(Learning)
(Jason Heim, Orla Berry, Brian Gavaghan, Susan Bycoff, Marissa Gumas, and Diane Horvath)
For Incoming 6th Grade Parents/Guardians
For your reference, I have copied the link to the presentation and handout along with the Program of Studies 3/4/20…
Blake Incoming 6th PIN March 2020 Presentation for Blog
Blake Parent/Guardian Resources 2020-2021
Blake Program of Studies 2020-2021
Incoming 7th/8th Grade Parents/Guardians
For your reference, I have copied the links that were created for the Incoming 7th/8th Parent/Guardian Information Night…
Blake Incoming 7th/8th PIN March 2020 Presentation for Blog
Blake Parent/Guardian Resources 2020-2021
Blake Program of Studies 2020-2021
Nature’s Classroom Info for Current Sixth Grade Families
As shared via e-mail earlier last week, no decisions regarding the trip for 7th grade students to Nature's Classroom this fall (October, 2020) have been made. We will not be collecting and paper work or deposits at this time - the original 'due dates' previously communicated to families no longer apply. When a plan has been made, we will reach out to all families with an update. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to let us know.
The Blake Site Council has taken time to review the data collected from last year's survey and an Executive Summary will be distributed to families in the coming weeks. Focus areas on the survey centered on the topics of school culture, academic workloads, stress, and habits. Our intent is to distribute the 2019-2020 survey soon with the hopes of gathering the data in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!
Class of 2020 Senior Celebration Day - May 31st
We want to remind everyone that the Blake PTO Annual Appeal is still happening! While Blake is currently conducting learning from home, we’re hopeful that it will be business as usual again soon. And when that time comes, the Blake PTO would like to be ready to help fund initiatives and activities for the students! Please visit MedfieldK8PTO.com to contribute to the Annual Appeal. While we are suggesting $50/child, we understand these are uncertain times for many and will gratefully accept any amount you are comfortable contributing.