Dear 183 Families,


First, I want to wish each and every one of you a healthy and exciting 2018!  As an educator, I always feel that there’s two school “New Years” in a school year – the first, being the first day of school and all the excitement a new grade, new classmates, and new teachers bring.  The second, being mid-way through the year, after a restful winter break.


Now that we are just a few days into 2018, it’s nice to use this time to reflect on the year thus far.  I know many of us as adults sometimes use January 1st to think about personal goals, as well as goals for our family for the coming year.  I know I’m going to try and swim at least three times a week and at least get some answers on the Thursday and Friday NY Times crossword puzzle.  For our children, it’s also important to talk with them about their year thus far and think about goals they too want to set for themselves.  Goals, of course can be of an academic nature – “I want to read every night,” or “I’m going to practice my addition/multiplication/subtraction facts for 15 minutes each night.”  It’s also important, when talking to your students about goals, to think about social goals as well.  With the New Year there’s always that opportunity to talk to your child about possibly making a new friend or trying a new activity to learn something new, reaching a little outside the comfort zone.


At 183, our teachers work with your children to set goals in their classroom, as well.  In reading, writing, and math, students have goals they are working on, based on conferences with their teacher and current in-class assessments.  In the lower grades, you may see a sheet in their folders that say Strategies to Habits.  Our goal is that strategies we work with your child on each day eventually become something they do habitually.  In the upper grades, students have goal sheets they sometimes set based on their own analysis of their current class work or work with the teacher to set mutual goals.  When teachers work with your children during individual or small-group conferences, they reference these goals to help your child attain them.


While January is the perfect time to set goals, it is also marks the end of our first marking period.  Students in grades K-5 will receive a school report card on Friday, January 26th.  Our school report card will be backpacked home in a letter sized envelope.  Since the report card is a printed copy, you may keep the copy that is sent home.  All we ask is that you return the envelope, signed, to your child’s classroom teacher.  Report cards, too are also a great conversation starter not only with your child’s teacher, but your child as well.  At 183, our teachers use the Common Core Grading Scale of 4-3-2-1.  While many of you may automatically equate a 4 with an A or a 3 with a B, etc, it is important to note that this not a direct correlation.  As a staff, it is important to note how we view these records of your child’s progress.


Level 4 = Exceeding Grade Level Standards

For this marking period, child is exceeding grade level expectations in the content taught up to this point in the school year.  The child responds to instruction, displays evidence of understanding the material covered, and consistently engages in higher level thinking and problem solving.


Level 3 = Meeting Grade Level Standard

For this marking period, child is performing at grade level for the standards taught at this point in the school year. The child is responding to instruction and displays evidence of understanding of the material covered.  A level three means the child is learning what is expected at this grade level. 


Level 2 = Approaching/Does Not Meet Grade Level

For this marking period, the child is approaching grade level standards for the standards taught at this point in the school year.  The child is beginning to respond to instruction and displays some evidence of understanding for the material covered.  The focus will be to continue to provide extra support to assist the child by providing them with strategies and skills to help them meet grade level expectations.


Level 1 = Below Grade Level

For this marking period, the child is performing way below grade level expectations in the area of focus.  The child is having difficulties responding to instruction and displays little evidence of understanding the material covered.  The focus will be to continue to provide extra support to assist the child’s development as an independent learner.


It is important to view your child’s report card as a mid-year progress update.  It’s a chance to see what areas your child is excelling or meeting and which areas of the curriculum your child still needs extra support.  The report card is an opportunity started at November Parent Teacher conferences to continue the dialogue on how to support your child both at home and school.  I strongly urge you to reach out to your child’s teachers should you have questions about the report card grades and the comments provided.  We at 183 are committed to helping your child grow and succeed, and strengthening an open communication about your child’s academic and social needs is our top priority.


On a different note, Nerdy Birdy, by Aaron Reynolds and Matt Davies is our January Book of the Month.  Nerdy Birdy tells the story of a “nerd” bird who has trouble relating to all the other birds in the flock – such as Eagle, Robin, and Cardinal, the “cool birds.”  One day, when he meets others like him, he feels welcomed and part of a group.  However, he soon realizes that this new group of birds rejects the new bird in town because, like nerdy birdy, he’s different and doesn’t fit the mold.


This is a wonderful book to explore the dynamics of peer relationships – what is it that binds us to our friends.  It’s also important to think about how our friendship groups can expand to include others who may not always like what we like.  Do we want to only hang out with friends who are like us, or do we want to include different friends into our circle who have different interests and ideas.  It’s a great book to explore these larger social questions.


Here’s to warm”ish” January,



December, 2017 – Martin Woodard