November 2011

11/7/11 EES PTO Meeting Minutes

2:45-4:00PM EES Resource Room

EES Faculty: Shelley Spinner, Beth Lane, Lauren Fagan, Paul Houchens, Greg Gillard, Melissa Hathaway, Janice Case, Elayne Prescott, Suzenne Clark Weishaar, Amanda Bonanni, Meg Flaherty, Danielle Bessette, Janet Bellavance, Dr. Mathais

EES Parents: Signe Daly, Peggy O’Neill, Monika Modlinski, Clare Wool, Rachel Aldrich, Katharine Monje, Leslie Halperin, Paul Crainich, Susan Moakley, Fardowsa Yussuf A, Lisa Brighenti, Carolyn Hanson, Robin Guillian, Karen Newman, Jessica Ticktin, Claudia Renchy Morton

EES Community members:  Penny Stearns, Burlington School District Math Coach, Ward 1 School Board Commissioners Kathy Chasan and Keith Pillsbury

Treats:  Somali ‘sambusas’ by Fardowsa Yussuf

Babysitting was provided.

The meeting was started by a welcome and introductions by everyone.  Goals for the meetings were shared, and Penny Stearns, Burlington School District Math Coach, was introduced.  She began right away by taking questions about the Bridges math program.  A 5th grade math problem was shared and discussed as a sample of Bridges math work.  She and the teachers briefly explained how the lessons work, with number corner and home connection, and how the sample lessons and other can be differentiated for students a different ability levels.

Teachers and Dr. Mathias clarified homework expectations for all grade levels:  If a child is spending more than 20 minutes on math homework, and they are struggling and getting frustrated, a note (email, paper or right on the homework) should be communicated with the teacher.  This is important information for teacher to have.  The teachers and Mrs. Stearns reminded parents that homework is to reinforce lessons from school, for students to practice their math skills, to get parent involvement (especially at the younger grades) and to practice independent work (especially at the 4/5th grade level), but homework is not to learn new material.  The homework expectations from each teacher will vary, and certainly from each grade level.

The discussion of how to help a child with math homework was discussed.  Parents should not give their child the answers to the math problems, but should coach them.  Most importantly, parents should pay attention to their child’s needs, and advise them to take a break from the work, and come back when they are refreshed.

A couple of teachers shared information about their pilot programs of pre-assessment/intervention models.  Teachers are looking for what the students’ approach and strategy to the math problems, and not the final answer.  This tool will give information for instruction, as well as how the Bridges program is working at EES, once implemented at all levels.

Questions come up about how well the Bridges program works – is it better than other programs.  It has been at EES for 3 years now, so Mrs. Stearns explained that there is not enough data (also because the students are taking the NECAPs which are different from the tests before the Bridges program came in).  However, anecdotally, EES teachers shared that they like the program.  They hear from Edmunds Middle School 6th grade teachers that incoming EES students are well prepared (Bridges is only at K-5 program).  Mrs. Case shared that she finds that with the Bridges program, the incoming 1st graders to her class really understand how math works much better than before the program.

The 3rd/4th grade math class issue of numbers of students in the math classes and the time of instruction for some of the students was discussed.  Mr. Houchens and Mrs. Prescott, as well as parents, expressed their concerns.  Dr. Mathias responded that it is a scheduling issue that has been carefully looked at.  Parents confirmed that they need to write letters to Superintendent Jeanne Collins to ask for a better solution (ideally an additional part-time math teacher).*

Parents asked about helpful resources for understanding the Bridges math program.  The best place to go is to the EES school website, the individual teachers’ websites and/or the Math Bridges website (a rich, helpful resource):

EES Website: http://ees.bsdvt.org/

From this website, you can access individual teacher’s websites and link to the Bridges website.

Math Bridges Website:  http://www.mathlearningcenter.org/resources/materials/parents

If you have questions about the Bridges math program at EES you should contact the child’s teacher.

The math discussion was concluded at 3:45, and some parents lingered at the tables to discuss math and other community issues further.  A small group of three 1st time PTO meeting attendees and three facilitators finished the meeting with sharing Clare Wool’s (Treasurer) PTO Budget (which was also sent out to Room Parents via email).  The Fundraising Guidelines Proposal from the October PTO meeting was mentioned as our current process for fundraising and EES community events.  The December PTO meeting (Monday December 5th) time was discussed, whether to have it in the afternoon seeing the great teacher participation or in the evening with more parent attendance.  No decision was reached.  Community members are encouraged to communicate with Peggy or Signe as to what time they would like the December meeting to be.

Minutes submitted 11/9/11 by Signe Daly

Thank you to everyone who attended

*Since the Monday afternoon meetings, Dr. Mathias, Mrs. Prescott and Mr. Houchens have arrived at a better scheduling solution regarding the 3/4 math concern discussed at this meeting.  That information will come from Dr. Mathias later this week.

If you have any questions or comments regarding these minutes or any other school community concerns, please email Signe Daly, PTO Facilitator, at signe.daly@burlingtontelecom.net

EES PTO Mission:  The Edmunds Elementary PTO’s mission is to enrich the lives of students, to support the work of teachers and to build a caring community.

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