From the Principal's Desk at NES...

Welcome to my blog! Check back frequently for more information about how our year is going.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Our Construction

As you must know, we will be undergoing construction for the next year, at least. The construction will be in 5 phases, beginning this summer. We are encouraging everyone to be very flexible during this time. As much as we, as adults, hate disruption of our working space or materials, children are usually quite resilient. These are the times the students will remember!

Once we, as a faculty, have finished examining the large map outlining the construction phases, I will put it in the foyer for parents to see. In the meantime, I will post a small map on one of the boards across from the Office. As is customary for school construction, certain parts of the building will need to be emptied for a part of the year, refurbishing will take place, and then the classes will move back.

It's spring again! We can always tell, because the writing on the bathroom walls begins. Usually our fourth graders begin to feel their oats about this time of year. Actually, there are probably some hormones beginning to inhabit their little bodies, too! We have had several autographs in the bathroom.....some hearts...with names. This can be hurtful to some children. If you have a fourth grader, I would encourage a little conversation about our responsibility to have pride in our school...all parts of it!

Thank you for your support. We are all beginning to develop separation the end of the year approaches.


Friday, February 09, 2007

More Math

I think I have mentioned in earlier posts that one of our math consultants is from The Vermont Institutes. Deb Armitage will be in Narragansett next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. She will work with teachers as they align problem solving tasks from Exemplars (check it out at into Investigations. The Vermont Institute has done a great deal with Investigations, Exemplars, the RI GLE's, and the NECAP assessment. The whole idea here is that all math activities in the school should align with one another in each classroom. The work next week will focus on the curriculum alignment, as well as modeled lessons at each grade level. As an additional treat, Deb will provide an evening demonstration lesson with some of our own second graders! I am very excited about this and think it will be an opportunity for parents to see NES problem solving in action. Please join us in the school Library next Tuesday night at 6:30.

Warmly (in February!),
Susan Naysnerski

Sunday, January 21, 2007

We are being SALTed!!

This week NES will host a team of educators. This group, known as the SALT team (School Accountability for Learning and Teaching), will be with us all week. The purpose of the visit is to verify a self-study conducted by the staff. They will leave us with commendations for things we are doing well and recommendations for future growth. On Wednesday, there will be a parent meeting at 9:20 in the Library. All parents are invited to this meeting to give input to the team. How are we educating your child? Are we meeting his/her needs? Do you feel welcome in the school?, etc. Attending this meeting will help us make NES a better place for teaching and learning. Once the visit is completed, a report will be written outlining the findings of the team.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Math Night

I am hoping that all families received a notice about Math Night. It will be held this Thursday night at 6:30. Please plan on attending. We will talk about what has been happening this year with regard to math, how we are meeting the needs of different levels of students, and will take a look at some actual student work. There will be a time for questions and answers, as well.

In addition, this week you will be receiving a notice about our SALT visit next week. A team of nine educators will spend the whole week with us. At the end of the week, we will be left with a report that outlines our strengths and areas in need of improvement. On Wednesday, January 24th at 9:20, the team will meet with parents. If you are available and would like to participate in this conversation, just come to the school at that time. No RSVP required!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Letter to the Editor

What follows is a letter written to the Editor of the Independent, in response to recent articles about the math program:

Dear Editor,

Out of respect for the teachers that I work with daily, I feel that I must respond to the recent publicity that the math program at Narragansett Elementary School is receiving. I think there is some confusion about how knowledge of basic math facts meshes with the Investigations program.

First and foremost, the teachers at Narragansett Elementary School are highly skilled and experienced at teaching. They are fully competent to teach ANY aspect of primary school education. They have taught mathematics to children for many years and know the skills that children need developmentally. To this end, I am certain that our students are competent with basic math facts. I am also confident that our students are learning more than basic facts about mathematics, because computing is just one small part.

The new reform math programs, of which Investigations is one, uses five strands to “give a more rounded portrayal of successful mathematics learning.”

These strands include:
(Adding it Up; National Research Council; 2003)

Today’s students will live in a world that has changed significantly from the one we remember. Business leaders report that while the “three R’s are still fundamental to every employee’s ability to do the job, applied skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, and communication are also essential for success. These applied skills trump basic knowledge skills in the view of employers AND too many new entrants to the workforce are not adequately prepared in these skills.” (eSchool News; Nov/Dec 2006)

In conclusion, I speak for the entire staff when I assure the community that we are committed to putting forth the BEST instruction for every student. We will not stop at basic facts, because that is not good enough for our students. Our students are entitled to a well-rounded program that includes the five strands of mathematical proficiency mentioned earlier.

On January 18, 2007, at 6:30, we will host a Math Night. At that meeting, we will talk about mathematics in our school. Parents that have questions or concerns before that meeting are welcome to call the school (792-9420) to make an appointment to meet with me.


Susan Naysnerski
Narragansett Elementary School

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Curriculum Focal Points

As teachers and administrators, we have been looking forward to the latest document from NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). I am urging all parents to download this document at This is the most important document to come along in many years and will help explain many math misconceptions that have been circulating Narragansett.

Fennell, current President of NCTM, makes this one statement (among others):

"What some refer to as basic skills (for example, multiplication facts, and fluency with the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers) have always been a fundamental core of elementary school mathematics. Always. But we want more. We want the children to understand the mathematics they are learning, and we want them to be able to solve problems, which is, in the long run, why we do mathematics."

Please download this document and read more or see me and I would be glad to make you a copy.

Susan Naysnerski

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Math Happenings

Now that we are in our second year of Investigations, we are looking at materials to complement the various units. With the help of our Newport colleagues, we are identifying books to purchase that will help us select supplemental materials. The math consultant from Westerly is working with individual grade levels to choose common assessments. On the professional day last week, our entire day was devoted to problem solving and differentiation. We have purchased a program titled Exemplars that will help us embed problem solving tasks into Investigations. Grade levels will work together to identify tasks to use at the end of each unit. These may be in addition to the lessons in each unit or they may replace an activity that is similar. All teachers are hard at work, making the mathematics program at NES the best it can be.