The 2019-2020 school year kicked off on Monday, August 26th, with staff professional development. The day began with a warm welcome by Superintendent Paolucci who presented “8 Tips for a Successful School Year”. Through the innovative use of Google Slides, audience members were able to participate in the presentation by posting their thoughts on this topic on a screen in the high school auditorium. Dr. Paolucci also welcomed 11 new staff members and recognized staff who were celebrating 5-year anniversaries of service with Smithfield Public Schools.
The rest of the day featured differentiated options for teachers and staff. The majority of high school and middle school teachers worked with Bill Atwood of Collins Writing to continue the work that began last year. After a review of the Five Types of Writing, teachers used covers of the New Yorker magazine to write an analytical essay. An important aspect of high-quality professional development is providing time for teachers to “do the work of the students” when preparing lessons.
The second session for secondary teachers focused on the redesigned advisory program. School counselors and teachers at GMS and SHS revised the advisory program this summer. An integral part of advisory is Naviance, a college and career readiness platform that helps match students' strengths and interests with postsecondary plans. Naviance maintains a profile for each student which will be accessible to parents this year.
Elementary teachers were introduced to a unit unpacking protocol that will be used throughout the year with a focus on mathematics. Teachers began by taking the unit 1 math assessment individually before coming together with grade-level peers to gain consensus on high-quality responses. The teachers then used the updated elementary math curriculum and MyMath resources to determine the type of instruction and activities that will get all students to achieve this level of quality when taking the assessments.
Science and specifically science notebooks were up next on the agenda. Students in K-5 maintain science notebooks where they record their hypotheses to unit focus questions such as, “What happens when rocks rub together?”. Additionally, students record data in the form of sketches, writing, or tables before developing claims and writing a conclusion which ultimately answers the original focus question. This year, students in grades 3 (trimester 3), 4 and 5 will be using blank notebooks as opposed to the premade packets that they had used in the past. This will provide a more authentic science experience for the students.
Another notable session included a presentation by Leigh Reposa from RI Student Assistance Services to our school counselors, school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and physical education staff. Staff members learned the warning signs of suicide and how to prevent it with 3 steps: question, persuade, and refer (QPR).
We are looking forward to our second professional development day which takes place on November 14th for elementary staff and December 5th for secondary staff. There is no school on either of these days as they also serve as Parent/Teacher Conference Days.
November 14th - Secondary Parent/Teacher Conferences
December 5th - Elementary Parent/Teacher Conferences