The Skokie Home Scoop

Dear Skokie Families,

I am writing this week's newsletter from Portland, OR (hoping to get home before another winter storm hits).  I am returning from attendance at the National TASH conference (TASH stands for The Association for the Severely Handicapped), having attended with Beth Carmody (Principal of Hubbard Woods School), Beth Martin (Director of Student Services) and Trisha Kocanda (Superintendent).  We were invited to both attend and present by Dr. Kurt Schneider, Superintendent of NSSED, the special education cooperative that our district partners with.  Kurt extended the invitation in recognition of the work that our district has taken on in several areas to increase inclusive learning opportunities for students requiring the support of a special educator.  This presentation was a joint effort in that districts from Lake Forest, as well as NSSED presented with us.  We were pleased with the turn-out, and even more inspired to speak with educators, parents, advocates and students from across the country with a passionate, personal interest in ensuring that students with needs at all levels are afforded the right to be a contributory, active member of their school and living community.  

When using the word "inclusion" within education, this refers to the practice of providing supports within the general education setting, allowing for students of all strengths and needs to benefit as much from their interaction with each other as they do from the support of their teachers.  Granted, there will still be times when a smaller environment is most appropriate for teaching and growing a set of skills within a student; however, generalization from the small environment back to the classroom or social environment is proof that the supports are working, and often the most challenging to make happen.  When teachers and students are given the opportunity to work together in the environment that represents the real world scenarios they will most often be exposed to, all students benefit.  That was perhaps my biggest take-away from this conference---not the importance of inclusive support for students with diverse needs, but the incredible responsibility we have as educators and parents to expose all of our children to environments with every range of learner, every variance of personality, every strength and challenge of community member.  It is, after all, our job to ready our children for entry into the adult world.  If we are not making it a priority to create environments where are children can learn and practice empathy, compassion, support, and care, balanced with a safe space to be vulnerable, make mistakes, question and experience growth then we have not done our job.  All of the academic success that any child experiences will not matter in the end if we have not fostered the growth of child into an adult we would be proud to work alongside in our community one day.  This is a lesson that has little to do with special education, and so much more to do with our humanity.

At this time of year, it is easy to get caught up in our holiday plans, the shopping lists, the travel, etc.  I am reminded this week of the greater good, the more important gifts we can give in our outstretched hands to each other, no matter the need.  Winnetka does that so well, making it a place I am incredibly proud to work.  Stay warm and dry this weekend, and enjoy the time together with your families.  We look forward to seeing everyone back on Monday for the start of December, the start of the second Trimester, and the final few weeks before winter break! 

Most Sincerely,

Kelly Tess

#beatree  #everybodyin

This year's Home Scoop will feature the "AP Corner," giving our Assistant Principal, Betty Weir, an opportunity to share information each week. You can follow Betty on Twitter at @BettyWeirEdu.

Screen Time and Its Impact On the Brain

As a parent, I find myself frequently contemplating the limits I set for my children with screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics revised their recommendations on screen time in October of 2016, acknowledging the ubiquitous role of media in children's lives. ( ) Within this article, there are several helpful links to policy statements and technical reports that summarize research related to this topic.

Prior to Thanksgiving break, our school psychologist passed along an article she came across related to the impact of screen time on on the brain. The article, " Gray Matter: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain ," ( ) contained some troubling information. The article stated:

" Areas affected included the important frontal lobe, which governs executive functions, such as planning, prioritizing, organizing, and impulse control ('getting stuff done')."

This connects with a trend our educators in Winnetka have noticed, which is an increased number of students who struggle with executive functioning. Many teachers attend trainings related to supporting students with skills such as planning, organizing, and impulse control.

As adult role models in students' lives, it is important that we arm ourselves with this research. We also strive to empower the students to make healthy choices when it comes to technology usage through sharing a variety of articles and readings with them. Our sixth grade teachers recently decided to administer a grade-wide assessment focused on argument writing related to video games. Students will read three pieces that approach the topic from different perspectives, and then be asked to make an argument as to whether they believe video games are "good" or "bad" for kids.

If you are looking to engage in a conversation about this topic with your students at home, Scope Magazine , which some of our classrooms subscribe to, featured an article this month called "Are Phones Making Us Zombies?" You might ask your child if he or she has read the article. Alternatively, if your child has not seen the article, you might take a look at these teaching resources featured on Scholastic's website (the publishers of Scope ):

There is a video, a press release, and a cartoon focused on screen time that could lead to some interesting conversations with your child. This could be a great lead in to a reflective conversation about technology's role in your family and child's life.

The Skokie/Washburne MathCounts team is designed to engage students who have a deep passion and motivation for Math.  Its members engage in the opportunity to compete on several levels (MathCounts teams exist in all 50 states). The competing team consists of up to ten 6th-8th grade students.  Although 5th grade students will not be able to compete in the competition, they will train with our 6th-8th grade students and be more prepared to compete next year.  New members are still encouraged to join.  See Mr. DeGiulio if you are interested or click here to register.  

District News

Please take a moment to read this letter:  , which went out to D36 families on Friday, Nov. 30. A webpage dedicated to Redistricting has been launched and will be updated regularly: .

Kindergarten Registration
Kindergarten pre-registration for 2019-2020 will open on the District website on December 7. Children who will be five-years-old on or before September 1, 2019, are eligible to enroll. The District's Kindergarten Committee and Central PTO unanimously approved shifting to an online process versus an on-site process. This shift minimizes the time needed to pre-register and respects the busy schedules of our families.  This information will be shared with local preschools and printed in local media outlets.

If you have any questions, please contact the District Office at 847-446-9400.

Winnetka Public Schools Foundation Annual Report
The District is incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Winnetka Public Schools Foundation. The Foundation's Board is committed to raising funds that enable District 36 to go above and beyond what is possible with tax dollars alone. Please review the 2017-2018 Annual Report to learn how Foundation grants support innovation in our schools :

Thank you, Winnetka Public Schools Foundation, for the incredible opportunities you continue to provide for our students!

Winnetka Parents Institute Events
Hour of Code
December 5, 2018
4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Crow Island School MakerSpace, 1112 Willow Road
December 3-9 is Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science. CSEdWeek is held in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906).  Each year, millions of people participate in #HourofCode, the largest learning event in history, to promote the importance of Computer Science Education. We encourage families and community members of all ages to join us as our students guide various coding and technology activities as part of the international event #Hour of Code.  RSVP here: .


Dates to Note 

End Trimester I
Friday, November 30

Begin Trimester II
Monday December 3

Trimester I Progress Reports Mailed Home
Week of December 10

Winter Break Begins
Upon Dismissal--
Friday, December 21

Return from Winter Break
Monday, January 7
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