Welcome to Daniel Bagley!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Recess time!

(Refer to earlier post on a typical day's schedule for more on recess)

Generally, the recess periods are staggered so that the younger grades (K/1/2) are outside at a different time than the older grades (2/3/4/5).  Of course, with the overlap of mixed grade class compositions, this doesn't always work out perfectly; for example, does the 1/2 class go outside with the K/1 group, or the older group?  Hmmm...  Anyways, the point is that there won't be any unnecessary trampling of 5 & 6 year olds whenever the students are set free from the confines of the classroom.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The deal with mixed grade classes and Montessori

(Original post 8/26/2011; updated with some new information 8/30/2011)

You will have noticed by now that all the classes at Daniel Bagley are mixed grade (K-1, 1-2, 2-3, or 4-5).  I understand that this is common practice in Montessori programs to accommodate a range of ages and skill levels; our school's Contemporary program has mirrored this.  I'm not sure whether it is for consistency, or flexibility with maintaining class sizes, or ensuring equivalent learning opportunities, or best practices, or a combination.

Have a question? Check the archives!

I'm noticing a lot of activity on the blog as we approach the beginning of the school year, so I suspect there are quite a few first-time readers visiting the site.  I never imagined we'd be getting 100 hits a day.  Crazy!  Many thanks to all you wonderful Daniel Bagley families for checking it out.

If you have a specific question, take a look at previous posts (there are only about 30 of them, so you can scan the titles easily), but if the answer isn't there, PLEASE email me and I will post something as quickly as possible.

(mom to Alex - 1st grader, and Isabelle - kindergartener)

p.s. Look for teacher assignment letters in the mail any day now!

p.p.s. New family social at Welcome Night (Tuesday September 6) - come & hang out at the playground and front lawn any time between 5:30-6:30.  Bring a blanket and a picnic and meet the other families in your class (and school).  Meet-the-teachers starts at 6:30.

p.p.s.  First day of school next Wednesday September 7 - bell #1 is at 9:25am (when the kids line up in their class lines on the playground).  Bring your camera for first day pictures and stick around for the annual all-school flag ceremony immediately afterwards.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Field trips and other extracurricular events

Yup, there are field trips in kindergarten, about one per semester.  Usually parent chaperones are requested (if you are unsaddled with a younger sibling), and usually there is school bus transportation.  Field trips are often  held in conjunction with other classes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bit and bites from this morning's playdate (waitlist, teachers, after-school classes, etc.)

Thank you to all the families who came out to our New Family playdates!  It was wonderful to see all the new (and older) students making friends over the last two weekends.  We estimate that there were about 25 families who came out today, and about 25 last weekend as well.  That's a pretty good representation of the new Bees.

Here are a few thoughts on some of the items that came up this morning:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making the transition to Kindergarten

Granted, I don't really know much about this (my kids usually tell me to 'go away' as soon as they get to camp/soccer/gymnastics/school because they're fiercely independent), but some children have a harder time transitioning to full day kindergarten.  There might be clinging and tears for a day or two, or it might continue for weeks, depending on the child.

There are tons of web resources and books out there, but a good (and important) strategy is probably to talk to your teacher to find out how she prefers to approach the situation.  It's not like she hasn't gone through it before with hundreds of other five year olds.  She'll know how to smooth the transition with minimal disruption to other students.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kindergarten/New Family Playdate this Saturday, 10:30am, Greenwood Park

Our second and final K/new family playdate will be this Saturday, 10:30-12, at Greenwood Park (87th and Fremont, a few blocks east of Safeway).  Look for the yellow balloons & grab a nametag.

Our principal Ms. Ayer will be there again to answer your questions, and there will be lots of other Bagley families, both veterans and rookies, so it will be a good chance to connect while your kiddos run amok.

It's supposed to be sunny & hot again, so bring your hats, water, and sunscreen, and a couple of us will donate sufficient quantities of Otter Pops to aid any Bees in need of cooling off.  I'll plan to bring a cooler if you have anything you'd like to store with the Otter Pops (e.g. cold drinks, picnic lunch...)

We had 20-25 families there last weekend, most of whom came before 11am.  Hope to see you there on Saturday!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Computerized testing, report cards, and more

Wondering about how your child's progress is monitored, assessed and evaluated?

Well, the teachers have all sorts of ongoing systems and strategies, and you can find out more at Curriculum Night on September 15, where you'll have kid-free time to talk to the teacher about this stuff, and at Parent-Teacher Conferences just before Thanksgiving (either the three days before t-giving, or if you take that week as vacation, you'll schedule an evening time somewhere around then).

Here are a few:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Understanding the wait list

***Update August 27 2011 - there is movement on the Montessori list, so there is hope... Look for an email from SPS noting that you have been offered a spot (check your spam folder)***

Being in limbo is not easy, and based on discussions at this morning's playground meetup, there are quite a few of us in this position!

(Great to see so many families out to play in the sunshine at Greenwood Park this morning, BTW - another one next Saturday morning, 10:30-12 - cross your fingers for more summer weather!)

Right now, many Seattle families are still making decisions about their fall school choices, and sometimes students will not withdraw from Bagley until the last minute, when they accept a spot at another school, and open up a spot for someone from the wait list.

Friday, August 19, 2011

How can I help to make our school even better?

Especially in the wake of BIG budget cuts, there is a tremendous need for community support in order to ensure the successful education of our kids.  Our school relies on parents to fill any needs not funded by SPS, to keep Daniel Bagley top-ranked in the state.

Some of the ways we can help include:

  • Joining the PTA
  • Donating/fundraising/collecting receipts to fund all the PTA-supported programs (previously discussed)
  • Stocking up the classrooms with supplies that otherwise would be paid for out of the teachers' wallets or PTA funds
  • Communicating regularly with the teachers about your child's progress, or any concerns
  • Helping your student to learn at home
  • Volunteering in the classroom
  • Coming on field trips as a chaperone
  • Joining one of the many PTA committees to create a vibrant, healthy Bagley community

Reminder: kindergarten playdate #1 tomorrow!

Hope to see you on Saturday, 10:30-12, at Greenwood Park!

Our principal Ms. Ayer will try to be there, and there will be lots of other Bagley families (both veterans and rookies), so it will be a good chance to connect while your kiddos run amok.

Look for the yellow balloons (hmmm, might even get helium if I have time) & grab a nametag.

p.s.  All families, new to Bagley or not, are invited to attend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Bagley Buzz!

Hot off the presses, a new edition of the Bagley Buzz is here!  Our school's newsletter is issued mostly-weekly, with a super-sized 'Big Buzz' once a month, this year prepared by Heather (thanks, Heather!).

Most of us get the Buzz by email (you should get on the vlist to make this happen), but if you opt-in for hard copies, you'll receive them in kid mail.  I *think* Big Buzz is hard copy for everyone anyways.

Anyhoo... since I have no idea how to post a PDF on Blogger, I have uploaded it to my googledocs, so if you want to find it, try viewing it here.  It will not automatically open in a new window, since I don't know how to do that, either.  Maybe the link will work.  If not, someone should tell me and I'll come up with Plan B.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Daniel Bagley Greenfield Project

So, you are probably asking why the playground is fenced off, with backhoes and excavators and dump trucks parked all over it.   Why, it's for the new Bagley Greenfield and playground!

From the Greenfield committee before school ended:  "This is what we can expect to come back to in the fall":

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Planning for sick kids, early dismissals, and days and days and days off

Working parents, be forewarned: you should get your backup plans in place now.  There are early dismissals/PD days planned every other week, and lots of week-long breaks during the year.  At times, it seems like the kids are out of school more than they are in it.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons your students will not be at regularly scheduled school, and you can plan around them.  A handy calendar is at the end of this post.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What is a typical schedule? How much recess do they get? What happens when it rains? What is curriculum night?

Rest assured, your kindergartener will be exhausted after school, for at least the first few months.

Approximate Daily Schedule

A typical day looks something like this (times rather approximate - you'll get specific info from your teacher):

  • 9:00-9:25  arrive at the playground, run around like a maniac, play soccer, climb on equipment
  • 9:25-9:30  line up in class line at first bell and go inside by second bell
  • 9:30-11:00  class time + mid-morning snack
  • 11:00 recess
  • 11:15-12:00  class time
  • 12:00  lunch for 15 minutes + 15 minutes of recess (see previous post on the 'eat lunch in 5 minutes to get more recess' issue)
  •  12:15-2:00  class time
  •  2:00  recess
  •  2:15-3:35  class time
  •  3:35  end-of-school bell 
...so, quite a lot of outdoor playtime.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The scoop on fundraising, and how to make it mostly painless

If you are about to have your first experience in the Seattle Public School system, you are on the cusp of discovering the importance of the PTA.  Especially in a time of big budget cuts, parent volunteers and donors are essential to creating an enriched school environment.

At Daniel Bagley, we're darned lucky to have fabulous teachers, staff, parents, and PTA, who contribute their own time towards our great community.  But we also need to raise money ($95,000 this year) to cover costs not funded by the school district, such as:

  • $52,500 in staff subsidies (K-1 classroom tutors, nurse salary, math and reading specialists, and special education)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Bagley parents: what are your concerns?

Seriously, let me know!  What interests you?  I'm trying to remember what it was like to be a kindergarten parent last summer, and then jotting down ideas as they occur to me.  If there is something that you don't understand, please use the form at the side, or just email: lexyrelph at gmail dot com.

Meanwhile, best ways to get connected before school starts:

  • Join the vlist, the Bagley family listserve: http://www.danielbagley.com/happening_vlist.htm
  • New Family/Kindergarten Playdates at Greenwood Park:
    87th and Fremont Ave. Saturdays August 20 and 27 from 10:30-12. 
  • New Family/Kindergarten Welcome Night:
    Tuesday, September 6, 5:30 pm. BYO picnic social in the playground. At 6:30 pm, meet your teachers, principal and PTA.
Details on all of these were previously posted - look for the links on the sidebar.

Topics I might try to address include:

  • volunteering/getting involved with the PTA and at the school
  • more about the greenfield project
  • where to buy cool Bagley t-shirts, and scrip cards
  • how you can help fundraise without having to ask anyone for money, sell anything, or shell out cash ('Free Money'!)
  • afterschool programs and extracurricular activities
  • how to help your child adjust to kindergarten; what is MAP testing?
  • how to deal with the incredible frequency of early dismissals and days off, and whether we will get thanksgiving week off again this year
  • help me fill out my forms; and 
  • what does the PTA actually do?

Is there homework in kindergarten? How does the Bagley library work?

Homework is teacher-specific.  Some teachers assign homework to kindergarteners, and some don't.  If you have strong feelings one way or the other, talk to your teacher.

Last year, our son did receive a homework folder at the beginning of the week, which was to be completed and handed in by Friday.  This consisted of a few activity pages (e.g. draw a line from the word to the picture, connect-the-dots, draw pictures of things in your house that are square and label them) and a book appropriate to the student's reading level.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

How do I get to school?

I'm glad you asked!

Bagley students come by car, school bus, bike, and foot. SPS has new guidelines for which students are eligible for bus service this year based on location (more effects of big budget cuts), so we can expect to see a shift towards more cars, bikes and walkers.

No matter what modes of transportation you will be using,note that the playground is supervised starting around 20-25 minutes before the first bell, so you can leave kids at school just after 9.

Friday, August 5, 2011

New family social before Welcome Night, Sept. 6, 5:30-6:30

Pack a picnic for dinner, bring a picnic blanket, and join your fellow Bagley kindergarten families on the Bagley front lawn and playground, right before Welcome Night! You will have a chance to talk to the other parents in your child's class (you won't know your teacher assignment in time for the other playdates) and your new Bee will relish the opportunity to give the play structures a test drive, while meeting their classmates.

PTA reps will be there to answer questions, and we'll have Popsicles for the kids as an extra treat towards the end. Get a sneak peek at the soon-to-be Greenfield!

Once the Welcome Night agenda kicks off at 6:30, there won't be much time for chit-chat, so this is a great way to connect with other parents (think: future carpools and playdates) before school starts. At Welcome Night, you will meet your teacher, the principal and the PTA, tour the main areas of the school, and recieve valuable information, all before the evening program closes at 7:15.

P.S. We don't really have a backup rain option, so keep your fingers crossed for sun...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What does my child need for school? SUPPLIES INFO POSTED!

*Now posted on the main page at danielbagley.com*
From Ms. Ayer: "Each teacher on the K/1 team will take care of purchasing the bulk of the student/classroom supplies necessary to begin the school year. Over the years we have found this to be the most cost effective way to buy our materials. It is also nice for the students to begin the year with the exact same supplies, in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts and hurt feelings. These items will vary slightly for each teacher, but they consist of things such as: pencils, pencil grips, erasers, glue sticks, markers, name tags, binders, folders, tissue boxes, post-its, etc. The cost will be $20 per child. We will collect $20 cash or checks: payable to Daniel Bagley Elementary, during the first 2 weeks of school. If you can give extra for our scholarship fund, terrific! If you will need a scholarship, no problem… just ask!"

K/1 families: Please send the following items for collection in the first week if your last name begins with:
A-H: 2 boxes of tissues, wet wipes, one 24 pack of Crayola brand colored pencils and sandwich sized Ziploc bags
I-N: 2 packs of white board markers, and 1 pack of Pink Pearl erasers
M-Z: 1 bottle of hand sanitizer, band-aids, 1 1/2” X 2” Post-its, gallon-sized freezer weight Ziplocs.

How big are the classes, and are they all mixed grade?

****UPDATE #2: last year's data from Dan is posted in the comments - shows # kids per grade****
****UPDATE: actual info for 2011-2012 from Erin is posted below and in the comments. ****
"Great information! The class sizes are spot on.
Here's some additional information based on the Principal's update at our last PTA meeting.
All classrooms will be multi-grade this year. The Contemporary program will have K/1, 1/2, 2/3, and 4/5 classes. The Montessori program will be K/1, 2/3, and 4/5.
The district projected our enrollment to be a little over 400 and our average enrollment last year was 389.
The class configurations in the Contemporary program are subject to change if summer enrollment numbers shift significantly from projections. The Montessori program is less likely to change since it is an opt-in program and Montessori teachers are more difficult to hire.
Hope this helps and welcome to Bagley!
Erin Reid, PTA Co-Treasurer"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Full Day vs. Half Day Kindergarten

You will have noticed by now that the Seattle Public School District is charging you $237/month for kindergarten. They have already asked us to submit payment information for the upcoming year (which is an improvement over last year's process).

You will also have noticed that if you opt for half-day kindergarten, there is no fee.

So, if half-day kindergarten a realistic option?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Drop-off, Pick-up, Lunch, Snacks, Boys & Girls Club

You received a 'what to expect your first week of school' letter in your June mailing from Bagley. Here's a summary of how key parts of the school days work:

* School starts at 9:30; students line up in their class line up (in the playground behind Bagley) by the 9:25 bell.
* Typically, your child will find their line, drop their backpack, and play until the 9:25 bell.
* On the first day, you may come into the school with your child to see them off (ask your teacher where their line will be - it is the same place all year), and then stay for coffee with other parents and the all-school first day flag raising ceremony.
* Car drop-offs can be done in the parking lot, or you can walk or bike to school. There are bike racks in the playground near the garden.

* School ends at 3:35.