Express Newsletter

OES Lower School Express Newsletter
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A Message from the Division Head

by David Lowell

I knew the start of school was going to be complicated as we looked to launch in person Prekindergarten, Essential Worker Child Care and online learning for the majority of Lower School students. I had not imagined we would be figuring out how to begin school during a global pandemic and a natural disaster, but here we are. In the face of these challenges, I was so appreciative of Dan Drinkward's comments at the opening Belltower Gathering, when things are complicated do something simple. It turns out there is a whole field of research about complexity bias, how it is human nature to be drawn to complexity and away from simplicity. I believe we will be well served if we resist the complexity bias and choose to do something simple to help us all get off to a good start. 

While Dan was inspired by the great complexity of the rising athletic center, his insight was about the simplicity of what mattered most about the building; that it will be a place to connect with one another, provide a space to build community and that it was only possible because we had come together to help one another make it possible. As we open up school surrounded by complexity we have an opportunity to do something simple, to connect with one another, to build community, to help one another. By doing this we will help create a wonderful start to this complicated year.

Back to School Night

I hope you found Wednesday night's meetings with the teaching teams and classroom teachers informative and that what you learned will help you support your child's online learning. Know the meetings were recorded and are available on the teacher's Seesaw accounts if you missed a session. 

Lower School Technology

Debra Hernanz, Lower School Technology Specialist, and the rest of the technology team are working hard to support all OES online users, over 1000 individuals, in the face of Zoom issues, Google slow downs and some application start up challenges. You have two great resources to turn to for supporting your child's use of technology at home:

  • Debra Hernanz' Lower School Educational Technology Site. Debra has created a number of short videos and provided useful links to help you get familiar with the core applications students are using in Lower School.
  • OES Help Desk. If you encounter a technology issue that the classroom teacher is unable to resolve quickly, please complete a help ticket for the OES Help Desk. Providing a phone number, a detailed description and screen shot of the issue in the email will help the team resolve the issue.

Guidelines for Pod Facilitators

A few questions have come my way about the role of learning pod facilitators in online learning. Please follow these guidelines if your child has a learning pod facilitator.

  • Introduce your pod facilitator to your classroom teacher via email so your teacher recognizes the facilitator's name and cohort. 
  • When possible, have the facilitator listen in on classroom instruction or meetings from the background. If all learners are wearing earphones, the pod instructor should let the teacher know in advance about any desire to join a meeting for the purpose of listening in.
  • Discuss student and teacher confidentiality with the facilitator
  • Prepare the facilitator to observe/listen only, unless invited to participate by the teacher
  • Knowing how to help children connect to a meeting, mute/unmute, sit within view of the camera, raise a virtual hand and submit a post on SeeSaw can be helpful!
  • Facilitator may not be alone in a virtual classroom or breakout room with children
  • Be aware of equity and inclusion sensitivities related to the pod facilitator presence; many children are learning at home without friends in the room or specialized support.


Self Paced Learning Applications for Literacy and Math

We are working to make our students' learning experience full and differentiated. Soon, classroom teachers will reintroduce (and introduce to some) two terrific platforms that will support the growth of our students in their self-paced learning.

  • Dreambox Learning is an online math program aligned to our math standards, and which utilizes visual models consistent with Bridges math, our adopted curriculum. These models support children's conceptual understanding and procedural fluency. Dreambox also adjusts to the learner as they progress through the program, allowing for a more personalized experience after children have participated long enough for the program to learn from their responses. This program can be accessed through iPads, Chromebooks, Desktop or Laptop computers.
  • Lexia Core 5 program is an online reading program aligned with our reading practices. We have been most impressed with this program, both for its adaptive platform and the way it provides us with data and student-specific resources as needed. Lexia also adjusts to the learner as they progress through the program, allowing for a more personalized experience after children have participated long enough for the program to learn from their responses.This program can be accessed through Ipads, Chromebooks, Desktop or Laptop computers.
  • If you have questions about Dreambox and Lexia Coordination please contact Ari Sternberg, LS Learning Coordinator.


Helping Your Children During the Natural Disaster

Vickie Soli-Compton, Lower School Counselor, offers advice and resources to help you and your children manage the threat of the wildfires in Oregon. Please contact Vicki if you have additional questions.

Wildfire Resources

  • Model calm behavior. Children may mirror the reactions of adults around them and will learn ideas for how to take care of themselves from what parents and caregivers do.
  • Provide simple but accurate information in a quiet, steady voice. Tell children that the firefighters are working hard to put out the fire. This helps reassure them that adults are actively taking steps to protect them, their home, and their neighborhood. Also make sure they understand that fires can burn for several days to weeks but this doesn’t mean that their home is always in danger. Help them to understand when the fire is contained.
  • Encourage comforting or distracting activities. Children may benefit from doing slow breathing to calm their bodies or having a stuffed animal or blanket to hold. As outside activity will be limited for a period of time, have them think of activities that don’t exert much physical effort, such as board games, reading, or building a puzzle. View these handouts for some ideas.
  • Practice their own self-care. Parents and caregivers may benefit from finding opportunities to take a moment for themselves, express their feelings, acknowledge that it is a scary situation, and engage in a coping strategy.
  • Helping Children After a Wildfire: Tips for Parents and Teachers
  • Large-Scale Natural Disasters: Helping Children Cope
  • Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents

We're All Socially Awkward Now

A couple of parents shared this article with me. It provides some insights into why we might be surprised by our own and others reactions during these days of physical and social distancing.