Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Elias caught in the act of homework.
I'm putting together the next East Side Monthly column about homework's benefits and limits. My daily perspective is limited to elementary school, so I'd love to hear from readers who are in or who are family members of middle or high school students about your sense of role homework plays (or does not play) in supporting young people to make meaning of what they're learning. And of course, elementary folks too, please weigh in.

My own view: homework has its limited uses. However, what makes a real difference are extended school days featuring longer classes that allow time for students to work independently or in groups with the right kind of support in suitable learning environments.

More to come. What do you think?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Message from Kathy Crain, PPSD Board President - school shut-down volunteer help needed today/tomorrow

This message is from Kathy Crain, Providence Public Schools Board President, asking for volunteer assistance today and tomorrow with the shut-down of several schools that won't be open next year. Please respond to Kathy at kathleen.crain@ppsd.org if you can lend a hand.
Dear Friends/Supporters of Providence Public Schools,

As you know, many schools have undergone major changes this summer, including the closure and transfer of schools.  Our financial condition prohibits us from hiring outside assistance to catalogue and move supplies and other materials in preparation for next year.  Accordingly, we are asking for volunteers this Monday and Tuesday, June 27th and 28th to help out at the following schools:

BRIDGHAM MIDDLE SCHOOL:     10-20 volunteers
WEST BROADWAY AT DELSESTO:   10-20 volunteers
CARL LAURO:     10-20 volunteers

If you are available to volunteer, please email me back as soon as possible!  Please feel free to pass this email along to anyone that may be willing to help out.  Any all donations of time and labor are greatly appreciated. Thank you for supporting the Providence Public Schools, and most importantly, our students, in a true time of need.


Kathy Crain

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Providence Schools Nutrition Advisory Group via Kids First - meeting tomorrow, 11am, 7 Stars on Hope Street

Serendipitously, July's East Side Monthly issue with "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Breakfast" caught the eye of Jennifer Quigley-Harris, Communications Director at Kids First / Real Food First and a parent of two kids in the Providence Public Schools.

Jennifer asked me to share the following opportunity:
I'd like to pass along an open invite to any parents, guardians, grandparents or interested community members in Providence that would like to be a part of a newly forming Providence Schools Nutrition Advisory Group for next school year to join us at a very informal first meeting on Thursday June 23rd at 11 am at Seven Stars Bakery on Hope Street.

Representatives from Kids First will be in attendance and hopefully some kind of plan for action will begin to come together to address the need for further positive improvements in the school food system and offerings district-wide.

Please bring your enthusiasm and positive attitude!  All welcome.
Yes, this gathering is happening tomorrow. Jennifer mentioned that if you can't make it and would like to be part of the conversation as it continues, you should be in touch with her at jqh@kidsfirstri.org, and please spread the word to others who might be interested.

I'll be there tomorrow though will be arriving late. (Why late, you ask? I'll be coming from the Mosaic Dedication at MLK Elementary - the fabulous "We Love to Read" mosaic featured on the home page of this blog was the product of King's annual mosaic in 2010. This year: volcano! It's awesome. I'll post photos tomorrow.)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Breakfast

In response to the wide variety of reactions I've heard from parents, teachers, and kids to the Breakfast in the Classroom program that's been phased into Providence Public School Elementary classrooms this year, I wrote "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Breakfast" for July's East Side Monthly, which has hit the streets but isn't yet online. Here's a slightly longer version of the piece that's in ESM.

To get connected to the Providence Schools Nutrition Advisory Group that's being convened by Kids First for conversation and action about the challenges and opportunities of school food and nutrition, see the next post, and please share in the comments.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Breakfast

Every morning just before we head off for school, my three bleary-eyed and crazy-haired sons eat breakfast: yogurt, cereal, milk, a bagel, waffles. On a really good day, a piece of fruit.

Every morning just after the school bell rings, teachers unzip coolers, one with milk and juice and the other with food: muffins, yogurt in a tube, cereal bars, or pancakes that are served in a bag at room temperature. All food is sealed up in plastic bags, unless it’s in a tube.

During breakfast at home, we multitask. Who has a baseball game? Is that book report in your homework folder? Yes, I am going to comb your hair! Sit still for a second, you monkey. We make lunches, sign permission slips, scan fliers fished out of backpacks. They fight over the sports section. They eat. We leave.

During breakfast in the classroom, teachers and kids multitask . They take attendance, collect homework, listen to P.A. announcements. Breakfast in the classroom is available for all. Most kids eat what’s provided with little hands-on help from teachers. They throw away wrappers, wipe up spills, and grab the broom from the corner of the classroom to deal with errant muffin crumbs. Within ten minutes, the school day continues.

Breakfast at home happens because someone is on hand to wake the children, find the cream cheese buried in the fridge, and otherwise expedite kids through their morning and out the door. Our family represents what is possible but not necessarily what is typical. We have resources and systems that provide enough time, money, and clarity to shop for food, roust the kids from bed, and ensure that they are passably clean, dressed, and ready to roll. Some days, despite our best intentions and favorable conditions, the whole circus of our morning routine disintegrates. One kid or another abandons breakfast in favor of last-minute homework completion, a lost shoe, or a temper tantrum. That kid is hungry until lunch, or was, before the breakfast in the classroom option.

According to Rhode Island Kids Count, before Providence’s breakfast in the classroom program began in 2011, 34 percent of the city’s low-income children participated in the universal breakfast program. Eighty-eight percent of Providence Public Schools’ students qualify for free or reduced price lunch. While some of those children may eat breakfast at home or en route to school, many do not. Unless they ate breakfast when they arrived at school, those kids were hungry until lunch.

Prior to the breakfast in the classroom program, Providence Public Schools already provided universal breakfast—free breakfast for every student without regard to the financial status of that child’s family. Most schools served it in the cafeteria before the school day started. Kids had to get there early enough to grab some breakfast, and they had to be hungry and focused enough to eat it in the same space where all of their friends were running around, playing, gossiping, and blowing off steam before the school day started. Late to school? No breakfast. Distracted? No breakfast. Though everyone theoretically could have breakfast, not enough kids actually did.

Hundreds of low-income urban communities nationwide are implementing the breakfast in the classroom program. Food manufacturers produce items for the program that meet state nutrition standards. More food eaten means more food purchased. Follow the money, if you’re so inclined. Of course, you can also follow the money trail left by the box of Cheerios in our kitchen cupboard.

Kate Keizler, parent, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School at Fox Point: “When I look at the breakfast in the classroom program, I see students who have what they need to take command of their morning, and that sets the tone for them to feel in control for the rest of the day. I see a society that is committed to making sure that kids get what they need to be ready to learn and enjoy school.”

Kathy Sullivan, third grade teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School: “I think that the breakfast in the classroom program is a good thing because more kids actually eat breakfast, and it doesn’t really take up any extra time at the start of the day. That part is easy. But it’s not right to say that it doesn’t require extra time during the day. The kids are having an extra drink, and that means an extra bathroom trip later in the morning. We don’t have that kind of time. Kids can’t miss ten minutes of the most important teaching time of the day.”

If kids are going to earn the NECAP scores needed to demonstrate that they are learning at the pace the state has set for them, they need both that breakfast and that extra bathroom break. Somehow, we need to find a little breathing room.

Ellen Santaniello, parent of a second grader at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School: “I worry that our kids are being required to take mostly highly processed, sugary food at 9:00am. For my kid, this is like being given drugs. Since this program began, her lunchbox comes home nearly full, she is frantically hungry at 3:00pm, and both her teachers and I have noticed a decrease in focus and self control. I felt I had no choice but to tell her teacher that she can't participate, but now she feels isolated and ostracized while the other kids eat. Does anyone know what, if any, choice we have here?”

Does the choice really need to be between no breakfast at all and an industrially produced breakfast in a bag? What would it take to create other options?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TONIGHT! Deborah Gist at PCTA for community forum, 6:30pm


Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist will hold a community forum Tuesday, June 21, 6:30-8:00pm at the Providence Career and Technical Academy, 91 Fricker Street.

During the course of the school year, Commissioner Gist has held community forums in every school district in the state. More info here: http://www.ride.ri.gov/Commissioner/Visits-Forums.aspx

Thanks to Better Providence for the heads up about this.

Providence School Board Seat Open - Applications Due Friday, 6/24

The Providence School Board Commission announced yesterday that it is searching for candidates to fill the Providence School Board seat left empty by Phil Gould's recent resignation.

Information about the position and the process is online here in English--http://cityof.providenceri.com/mayor/commission-launches-search-to-fill-school-board-0--and Spanish--http://cityof.providenceri.com/mayor/comision-inicia-busqueda-para-llenar-asiento-0. The position's full description can be downloaded here: http://cityof.providenceri.com/efile/651.

The application deadline is this Friday, June 24 at 4:00pm. You can download the application here: http://cityof.providenceri.com/efile/1119. The application notes that interviews are likely to happen on Monday, June 27.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"The Inconvenient Truth behind Waiting for Superman" screening tomorrow

Heads up for anyone who has some free time tomorrow evening. A film called "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" will be screened at 6:00pm at the Providence Teachers' Union Office, 99 Corliss Street in Providence.

The film screening is being sponsored by the Coalition to Defend Public Education. More about the film can be found here: http://www.waitingforsupermantruth.org/

I haven't seen it but am happy that someone took on what I considered to be the misleading narrative of "Waiting for Superman." Several PPSD parents who I know have seen "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" recommend it, so I'm passing it on.

Providence City Summer Lunch Program, July 5-August 19

Starting July 5, the City of Providence will serve lunch (and, at one site, breakfast) to kids who are 18 years old and younger. Lunches are served Monday through Friday through August 19. More info on the City of Providence's website here.

During the 2010-2012 school year, 88% of Providence's school children were (and for this the final week of school still are) eligible for free and reduced lunch during the school year. The city expect to feed 5,000 kids per day during the summer at the following locations:

Davey Lopes Pool
227 Dudley Street
11:30AM – 1:30PM

Fox Point Waterpark
Wickenden Street
11:45AM – 1:45PM

George J. West Waterpark
Chalkstone/Mount Pleasant Avenue
10:45AM – 12:45PM

Joslin Recreation Center Pool
17 Hyat Street
11:00AM – 1:00PM

Harriet and Sayles Waterpark
199 Oxford Street
11:45AM – 1:45PM

Neutaconkanut Recreation Center Pool
675 Plainfield Street
11:45AM – 1:45PM

Recreation Department – Main Building Waterpark
11 West Drive
11:45AM – 1:15PM

Pleasant Street Waterpark
Pleasant Street
12:00 – 1:30PM

Sackett Street Waterpark
159 Sackett Street
11:00AM – 12:45PM

Selim-Rogers Recreation Center Pool
60 Camden Avenue
10:45AM – 12:45PM

Southside Waterpark
674 Prairie Avenue
11:15AM – 1:15PM

West End Recreation Center Bucklin Pool
109 Bucklin Street
12:00 – 1:30PM

Zuccolo Recreation Center Pool
11 Gesler Street
12:00 – 1:30PM

Elmwood Community Center
155 Niagara
10:30AM – 12:30PM

Lockwood Plaza
50 Prairie Avenue
11:30AM – 1:30PM

Billy Taylor Playground
Camp Street
11:45AM – 1:45PM

Candace Street Playground
Candace & Orms Street
10:30AM – 12:30PM

Dexter Training Ground
73 Dexter Street
10:30AM – 12:30PM

Fargnoli Park
Across 950 Smith Street
11:00AM – 1:00PM

Mattie Smith Playground
Glenham & Taylor Street
8:00 – 9:00AM (Breakfast)
11:30AM – 1:00PM (Lunch)

O’Brien Park
Corner of Regent Street & River Avenue
10:30AM – 12:30PM

Pearl Street Playground
Pearl & Providence Streets
11:15AM – 1:15PM

Riverside Park
50 Aleppo Street
11:15AM – 1:15PM

Wiggins Village
207 Cranston Street
11:00AM – 1:00PM

Donigian Park
247 Valley Street
11:30AM – 1:30PM

Hope High School Theater Students Ready "Triangle" for Scotland - performances in Providence this week!

Hope students performing "Triangle" earlier this year
As previously on this blog shared here and here Hope High School's theater company will be performing Laurie Brooks' "Triangle" at the American High School Theater Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland in August. Local fans and supporters can catch performances of "Triangle" this week - Hope's theater students will perform at the Carriage House, 9 Duncan Avenue in Providence on Friday, June 24 at 7:00pm and Sunday, June 26 at 3:00pm. Tickets are $10 and as Channing Grey reported in the ProJo over the weekend, "will help defray travel expenses. Students, parents and the community have raised all but $10,000 of $106,000 needed to send the students to Scotland."

"Triangle" focuses on the modern-day connections to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which happened in New York City in 1911, killing 140 workers. Hope High School's appearance at the American High School Theater Festival marks the school's third time at the even in recent years, an extraordinary accomplishment for Hope theater teacher Christine Auxier, her students, and everyone who has supported them.

Get out to see "Triangle" this week and celebrate our local - soon to be international - talent!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Learning Opportunities - Providence and Statewide

Related to my question yesterday about low- or no-cost opportunities for summer fun and learning for kids in Providence, I have three resources to share:

1. Providence After School Alliance (PASA) is offering summer opportunities for Providence middle school students during July. You can access PASA's summer AfterZone brochure here

2. Mt. Hope Learning Center is offering a low-cost summer camp for kids in grades K-5. Information available here - and for more on Mt. Hope Learning Center's work, you can read this from March 2011's East Side Monthly.

Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance's Summer Learning Map
3. My friends at Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance (RIASPA) reminded me of a map that they've created that provides information about summer learning opportunities statewide; you can access the map through this link on RIASPA's site.

The summer learning opportunities map is a great source of comprehensive information about summer opportunities for kids that combine fun and learning - and for more on that, RIASPA's policy brief on summer learning is well worth a read. You can download the PDF here.

I am happy to help spread the word about other opportunities for fun, meaningful summer learning in and around Providence, particularly low- and no-cost options. Thanks for these suggestions, and I welcome more! Post in the comments or email me at jill(dot)davidson(at)gmail.com.

Interim PPSD Superintendent Announced: Dr. Susan F. Lusi

WRNI's Education Blog and GoLocalProv have the news that Dr. Susan F. Lusi, the outgoing Portsmouth, RI superintendent, has been appointed as Providence Public Schools' interim superintendent. Dr. Lusi will serve as the Providence School Board conducts a nationwide search for a permanent superintendent.

This being Rhode Island, I know Dr. Lusi slightly; she and I crossed paths at the Coalition of Essential Schools long ago. Her experience, which includes work as chief of staff to two previous PPSD superintendents from 2001-2003, is well suited to keeping the district stable and moving forward. I'm very excited to welcome Dr. Lusi back to Providence and, as a member of the Parents Advisory Committee, to collaborate with her. And it's encouraging to have this piece of the puzzle in place as we start to get our minds around PPSD's future.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Providence Parks and Recreation Department summer sports programs for kids

As my own kids remind me as frequently as possible, just 9 days of school left! My fifth grader has calculated that amount to the hour, minute, and second, exclusive of lunch, recess, and gym, which in his judgment "don't count." It's a thoughtful calculation, executed with confidence and accuracy. PPSD's mathematics curriculum and pedagogy in action!

Onto summer! Information about Providence Parks and Recreation Department's summer sports programs for kids can be found here, and you can click on the flier to the left for program info. The youth sports programs are free, with free lunch provided, and most are available for kids age 9-12. 

In a future post, I'll pull together information about other low- or no-cost summer options. If anyone has already compiled or knows of such a list, please give me a heads up.

Monday, June 13, 2011

No Achievement First Mayoral Academies Regents' vote this week

WRNI's Education Blog has posted the news that the RI Board of Regents won't be voting this week on the Achievement First Mayoral Academies proposal to create charter schools in Cranston to serve Providence and Cranston students. The vote was to have taken place at 11:00am on Thursday, 6/16; now the vote has been postponed (no date announced) and Thursday's Regents meeting will include a hearing on the charter proposal.

If you're able to attend, the Regents meeting will take place in room 501 at the RI Department of Education (RIDE), 255 Westminster Street, Providence. Sign up for public comments is at 10:30.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Say it, Helen Gym - what parents want must be central to the discourse and action about our kids' schools

Philadelphia parent activist Helen Gym's op ed in CNN today, "Reformers, please listen to what parents what from schools," is making me so happy. Gym clearly defines the mismatch between current reform rhetoric and the qualities and services that matter most to parents. A small part of her piece:
For many parents, the elements of what makes a quality school seem completely at odds with the national buzz about education reform:
-- While parents talk about programs rich in the arts, sciences and history, politicians talk about covering the basics through a one-size-fits-all curricula.
-- While we talk about building critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers for a complicated and dynamic world, they talk about hiring billion-dollar testing companies that infiltrate every aspect of teaching and learning, drilling the notion of knowledge down to a single test score.
-- While we talk about smaller class sizes to help students and teachers build nurturing relationships with one another, they talk about maximizing capacity and "creating efficiencies."
-- While we talk about building an experienced, stable and professional teaching force where teachers are prepared with a depth of knowledge in their subject areas and are committed to the profession, others talk about relying on a temporary teaching force or focusing on education managers.
-- While we talk about sustainable change based upon policies that have been proved to work, politicians and the private sector demand dramatic and disruptive changes that do little to significantly improve children's educational experiences.
And in this lies the critical difference between what many parents see as their hopes for a quality school system and the politicians and billionaire venture philanthropists dominating the education reform landscape. The latter have become so enamored with the structure and management of education that they've forgotten about the substance and practice of it.
Thank you so much, Ms. Gym. I am sharing this with all of the parent activists I know so we can have a bright star to focus on and remind us what our work is really about.

Organizations that Gym mentions in her piece and/or are useful associated resources:
  • Philly's Parents United for Responsible Education group
  • Parents Across America, which I am going to connect this blog with in a more meaningful way in the coming weeks
  • The Notebook, for which Gym writes a weekly blog, is Philadelphia's online and print resource for independent news and views on the city's public schools and is one of my inspirations and aspirations for this blog

Celebrating Central High School Girls' Softball: Division III State Champions!!!

Kudos to Providence's Central High School's girls' softball team for winning the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Division III Championship! The undefeated Knights beat the Central Falls High School Warriors in a best of three series on Sunday, June 5 at Rhode Island College. The ProJo's coverage is here

Except for the standings listed on the Rhode Island Interscholastic League's site, that ProJo story is the only coverage that I can find anywhere. Not for the first time do I wish that there were a blog or other site that covered high school sports in Providence.  Calling aspiring sports journalists . . .

Providence Public Schools - one hour delay today, June 9, 2011

PPSD has a one hour delay today, June 9, 2011.

I missed the Parent Link cal that came in at 6:13 (must remember to return the cordless phone to its charger in my bedroom - it always wanders off) that conveyed the news that PPSD has a one hour delay due to damage from last night's storm, which until I learned it caused damage that had this sort of impact I thought was awesomely mesmerizing. Found out when I went to PPSD's website to check a fact for another blog post (yay Central High School girl's softball!) and saw the one hour delay news on the home page.

Update: Fortes Elementary, Lima Elementary, Fortes/Lima Annex and Webster Elementary School are all closed today due to last night's storm damage.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So what's up with Providence's libraries?

Yesterday, in the context of a post about Providence Public Schools' summer reading lists and the Providence Community Libraries' summer programming, I mentioned a conflict that's threatening our libraries.

For those who want to know more, WPRI's Ted Nesi ran through the facilities dispute between Providence Community Library and Providence Public Library that's triggered PCL to send layoff notices to all of its employees and may imperil community use of the library starting July 1.  It's the clearest presentation that I have read of the conflict, its origins, and what Mayor Taveras, District 4 State Representative Gordon Fox, and City Council members are doing to find resolution to keep our libraries open this summer so that kids and adults can access the world of ideas.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Providence Schools' 2011 Summer Reading Lists - the actual lists

These are the Providence Schools' 2011 summer reading lists for grades K-8 that I referred to in the previous post; original in PDF form is here on the Providence Community Libraries site. 

Grades K & 1
Anansi books / various authors

Jamela's Dress and other Jamela books / Nikki Daly

Moon Rope and other titles / Lois Ehlert

Koala Lou and other titles / Mem Fox

One Afternoon / Yumi Heo

A Cool Drink of Water and other titles / Barbara Kerley

The Owl and the Pussycat / Edward Lear

One Leaf Rides the Wind / Celeste Mannis

Please Malese / Amy McDonald

Uno Dos Tres / Pat Mora

Just a Minute and Just in Case / Yuyi Morales

Bikes for Rent / Isaac Olaleye

A is for Africa and other titles / Ifeoma Onyefulu

Bee-Bim-Bop / Linda Sue Park

Mice and Beans / Pam Munoz Ryan

All the World / Elizabeth Garton Scanlon

Madlenka and other Madlenka books / Peter Sis

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten and other Miss Bindergarten books / Joseph Slate

Jack and the Box / Art Speigelman and other TOON books

Apples, Apples, Apples and other titles / Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Bunnies on the Go / Rick Walton

Yoko and My Kindergarten / Rosemary Wells

We Are in a Book and other Elephant and Piggie books / Mo Willems

Seven Blind Mice / Ed Young

K-1 Spanish/Bilingual

The Party for Papa Luis = La Fiesta para Papa Luis / Diane Gonzales Bertrand

Oh, Crumps! = Ay, Caramba! / Lee Bock

Magda's Tortillas = Las Tortillas de Magda / Becky Chavarria-Chairez

Freight Train = Tren de Carga / Donald Crews

Dia de mercado y los otros / Lois Ehlert

La primera luna llena de gatita / Kevin Henkes

Uno Dos Tres / Pat Mora

Arroz con frijoles-- y unos amables ratones / Pam Munoz Ryan

Donde viven los monstruos / Maurice Sendak

Leale a su conjito / Rosemary Wells

Grades 2 & 3
Juan Bobo folktales / various authors

My Painted House or Kofi and His Magic / Maya Angelou

Frantastic Voyage and other Franny K. Stein books / Jim Benton

Going, Going, Gone! with the Pain and the Great One and other “the Pain and the Great One” books / Judy Blume

The Intrepid Canadian Expedition and other Flat Stanley books / Jeff Brown

Runaway Rice Cake / Ying Chang Compestine

Bink and Gollie / Kate DiCamillo

Around the World: Who's Been Here and other "Whose been here" books / Lindsay Barrett George

Never Smile at a Monkey and other books / Steve Jenkins

We’re Sailing Down the Nile / Laurie Kreb

Pop / Meghan McCarthy

Adele and Simon / Barbara McClintock

Bad News for Outlaws / Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

On the Road and other "Down Girl and Sit"books / Lucy Nolan

Pictures from Our Vacation / Lynn Rae Perkins

Mirror, Mirror / Marilyn Singer

The Karate Mouse and other titles / Geronimo or Thea Stilton

Chato Goes Cruising and other Chato books / Gary Soto

Lulu and the Brontosaurus / Judith Viorst

Coming to America: A Muslim Family’s Story and other titles / Bernard Wolf

2-3 Spanish/Bilingual

The Princess and the Pea = La Princesa y el Guisante / Francesc Boada

Rene Has Two Last Names = Rene tiene dos apellidos / Rene Colato Lainez

Family Pictures = Cuadros de Familia / Carmen Lomas Garza

The Bossy Gallito = El gallo de bodas / Lucia M. Gonzalez

I Wish I Had Freckles Like Abby = Quisiera tener pecas como Abby y los otros / Kathryn
Heling y Deborah Hembrook

Frederick / Leo Lionni

La verdadera historia de los tres cerditos / Jon Scieszka

Chato y su cena / Gary Soto

Carlos and the Cornfield = Carlos y la milpa de maiz / Jan Romero Stevens

Sonia Sotomayor: a Judge in the Bronx = la juez que cresio en el Bronx / Jonah Winter

Grades 4 & 5
From the Bellybutton of the Moon and other titles / Francisco X. Alarcon

How Tia Lola Came to Visit Stay and other Tia Lola books / Julia Alvarez

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and other titles / Lynn Curlee

Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School / Candace Fleming

Nory Ryan’s Song or Maggie’s Door / Patricia Reilly Giff

Turtle in Paradise / Jennifer L. Holm

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon / Grace Lin

Touch Blue / Cynthia Lord

Emily’s Fortune / Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Boys of Steel: the Creators of Superman / Marc Tyler Nobleman

Come with Me: Poems for a Journey and other titles / Naomi Shihab Nye

Masters of Disaster / Gary Paulsen

Junkyard Wonders / Patricia Polacco

Green / Laura Peyton Roberts

Erika-San and other titles / Allen Say

How I Learned Geography / Uri Shulevitz

Dancing Pancake / Eileen Spinelli

What Happened on Fox Street / Tricia Springstubb

Gator on the Loose / Susan Stauffacher

My Life as a Book / Janet Tashjian

Grades 6-8
Chains or Forge / Laurie Halse Anderson

Strange Case of Origami Yoda / Tom Angleberger

Anything but Typical / Nora Raleigh Baskin

Warriors Don't Cry : a Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High / Melba Pattillo Beals

Chasing Vermeer/ Blue Balliett

Colibri / Ann Cameron

Breadwinner / Deborah Ellis

The Graveyard Book / Neil Gaiman

Letters from Rifka / Karen Hesse

Scat / Carl Hiassen

Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf : A Year Told through Stuff / Jennifer L. Holm

Across Five Aprils / Irene Hunt

Color of My Words / Lynn Joseph

The Merchant of Death and other Pendragon books / D.J. MacHale

A Dream of Freedom : the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1968 / Diane McWhorter

A Single Shard / Linda Sue Park

Voyage of the Frog / Gary Paulsen

True Meaning of Smekday / Adam Rex

The River Between Us / Richard Peck

Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi

Keeping Corner / Kashmira Sheth

When You Reach Me / Rebecca Stead

One Crazy Summer / Rita Garcia Williams

American Born Chinese / Gene Luen Yang

Providence Schools' 2011 Summer Reading Lists

Via Kidoinfo, I found info on the Providence Community Libraries' "Un Mundo, Muchas Historias/One World, Many Stories" summer reading program and the Providence Schools' 2011 summer reading lists for kindergarteners through eighth graders (FYI, that link opens a PDF - here's the summer reading list in quickly converted text form). The list offers lots of interesting titles that the Providence Community Libraries will have on hand. I don't know how the Providence Schools' list was developed nor how individual schools may plan to use it; I'll ask around to try to find answers to both of those unknowns.

A few are our family favorites; I know that Rosemary Wells' My Kindergarten will be in heavy rotation among Henry's nightly books as he gets ready for kindergarten in the fall. Many are new to me, and I suspect new to my kids, who, in addition to the rising kindergarteners, are heading into third and sixth grades.

Our incoming sixth grader is already fired up for lots of reading time this summer; he already has plans to get busy with The Hobbit, an interest sparked by what he's learning in library during school, which offers the perfect chance to say yay and thank you, school librarians! I'm interested to see titles from the list catch his eye.

Our incoming third grader was breezing through the Harry Potter books for  a few months with great delight but he's slowed down. At home, he isn't reading as much as he used to, and I'm not sure why. I've been looking forward to unrushed trips to the library with him and have been eager to figure out what will capture his interest.

And as Mr. Incoming Kindergartener would tell you, he can't read yet. But he's getting very very close! He loves books passionately and doesn't let his place on the far side of the reading line slow him down. I am eager to keep him swimming in a sea of books all summer; there's nowhere he'd rather be (except maybe in a sea of Legos) and there's no better way to get him ready to learn in the fall.

Assuming (hoping desperately) that the current dispute between the Providence Community Libraries and the Providence Public Library will be resolved, we'll see you at the library this summer!

Update: Here's a bit more about Providence's library dispute.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Achievement First Mayoral Academies hearing in Providence, June 9, 6pm, Alvarez High School

For those who may be following the progress of the Achievement First Mayor Academies proposal to open a charter school to serve Cranston and Providence students, please note that there will be a hearing in Providence on the matter on June 9 at 6 p.m. at Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, located at 375 Adelaide Ave. in Providence.

For those who would like learn more about the Achievement First Mayor Academies charter school proposal:
Providence people, please try to attend the hearing next week on Thursday, June 9, 6 p.m. at Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, 375 Adelaide Ave. I am exceedingly frustrated that I cannot go; I have a the final meeting of the PPSD Parents Advisory Council group, of which I am an active member. This hearing is an opportunity to express whatever views you may have about possible impact this proposed charter school, which would serve up to 900 students from Providence.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

PPSD middle school placement letter has arrived

On Saturday, we received notification from PPSD that Elias had a spot at Nathan Bishop Middle School. He'll start there in the fall with many friends from MLK Elementary School and elsewhere--preschool, soccer, baseball, religious school, camp, the playground. Bishop is our neighborhood school, both in terms of PPSD's definition (neighborhood = kid lives within a mile and a half of the school) and in the very real everyday sense, because we live across the street (no, we don't live in the Brown Stadium).

I've written a bit about our process of identifying which middle school option would suit him best, and I think that he and his friends will have a great experience at Bishop. Mostly, I am relieved to have certain word that he'll be there in the fall.

Patiently waiting is not in my natural skill set, so I didn't enjoy this extended process of waiting to hear about middle school placement. For sure, I am not the only person who felt that way. And for sure, not everyone is as satisfied with the outcome. One of Elias' classmates who lives on the other side of the city desperately wanted a seat at Bishop. She well below spot #50 on the wait list, and she is crushed not to be heading onto middle school with her friends. I don't know how far beyond her spot Bishop's wait list extends, but I suspect there are many more.

I hope that the families who wanted to attend or remain at soon the be closed Bridgham Middle School are happy with their children's assignments. And of course I hope that all families across the city will send their newly minted middle schoolers to schools that will help their kids be their best selves as they get ready for high school and the next steps in their lives.

It will take a whole lot more than hope, of course. For those families who did not get a seat at the middle school of your choice, I hope you get involved with your kid's school and direct your passion and energy toward making it the high quality school it needs to be for your kid and all kids.

I will be right there with you; I'll be representing Bishop next year on the district's Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), which meets monthly for collaborative school improvement work and problem-solving, and I am eager to connect with representatives from the other middle schools across the city. If your kid attends or will attend Greene, DelSesto, Roger Williams, Gilbert Stuart, or Esek Hopkins, please join us at the PAC so we can work together with school staff to create the best places for our kids to learn and grow. I'll be posting next year's PAC dates here, and if you have any questions or want to talk, post a comment here or email me at jill.davidson (at) gmail (dot) com.