Thanks to contributions to the PTA General Fund, PS/IS 217 3rd Graders were able to spend 10 weeks with Main Street Theatre and Dance Alliance learning West African Dance. The culmination of those weeks was a performance in our auditorium for students and families.
217PTA Helps Roosevelt Island Garden CLub STart Organics Recycling PRogram At The Local Green Market
On Saturday, November 28th NYC Compost Project hosted by Big Reuse will be starting an Organics Recycling program at the Saturday Farmer's Market under the helix, with the mission of "Rebuilding Our Soil, Neighborhood By Neighborhood".
Instead of sending organics to landfills via AVAC, Island residents will be able to drop off kitchen scraps at an organics collection station at the Saturday Farmer's Market. The scraps will go to a local composting site under the Queensborough Bridge on Vernon Blvd. The compost created will also be used locally for street trees, parks, and urban gardens.
Island leadership, avid RI composters, the PTA of PS 217, the RI Girl Scout troops and the RI Garden Club are all excited to help welcome this program to Roosevelt Island. If you would like to help out as a volunteer, please contact Big Reuse or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was great to see so many of you at our Open School Week and Parent Teacher Conferences last week. Thursday, November 26th and Friday, November 27th NYC schools are closed in observance of Thanksgiving, and in this time of gratitude we want to thank you for your support!
You are the PTA, and 217 families' active participation helps all our students succeed. Thank you!
Italian "Pizza Ambassador" Ciro Casella from San Matteo restaurant will host a discussion and authentic pizza making experience:
▪ Middle School students must be accompanied by a parent or a guardian
▪ please RSVP to Ms. Lauraine in the Main office and fill out photo release form
Tours for Prospective Kindergarten Families: 8:45am - Tuesday, December 8 & Tuesday, December 14 6pm
Have friends or neighbors with pre-schoolers considering 217? Invite them to the tour!
The kindergarten application period is from December 7 to January 15. Find more information about the process and apply online on the NYC Department of Education website.
Prospective families are invited to learn more about PS/IS 217 at our upcoming tours. Join us on Tuesday, December 8th 8:45am or Monday, December 14th 6:00pm. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
We're looking forward to meeting you and sharing all that's happening at our school.
Please join us on Tuesday, November 24th for one of three parent workshops:
"How to Help Your Child with Math Homework"
"Speech and Articulation"
All workshops will be held from 7:50–8:25am. Students may be sent to breakfast while you attend. Flyers have been sent home with more information prior to each workshop. Workshops are open to all 217 families.
We look forward to parenting with you during this Parent Engagement Activity!
Coach Luce is calling all MS students who are interested in our Hawks morning lifting program!
"We still have 3 available spots for you to be added in our Tuesday/Thursday group. We meet at 7:45am and finish at 8:25am before the start of the school. Weight Lifting is Monday-Thursday."
If your interested, let Coach Luce know.
The School Breakfast Program offers kids a nutritious breakfast at school so they can start their day off right.
Ms. Valerie invites all 217 students to come to school cafeteria for FREE breakfast daily 7:40-8:25am and partake in fun games and activities, including raffles!
Would you like to see more afterschool clubs and programs at PS/IS 217? A recurring topic among parents at PTA meetings is the desire to see more afterschool choices at our school.
The PS/IS 217 PTA is currently evaluating afterschool program options, but we want to make sure that we design a program that will meet the needs of all our interested families. Please share your interest, needs, and thoughts by taking a quick online survey here. We value your feedback.
Due to parent teacher conferences, dismissal is at 11:38am tomorrow, Tuesday, November 17.
Parent teacher conferences - 1-3pm, 4:30-7:30pm.
Please support the PTA tomorrow at our after school popcorn sale!
Popcorn and drinks will be available for $1.
Don't miss your chance to help your child's class win a class prize! Please donate to the PTA's Fall Direct Appeal by November 15, 2015. The PTA's general fund helps every student.
With three days left in our fall direct appeal drive, we have raised over $47,000 since the start of school, and we also have an additional $7,700 pledged thanks to our recurring contributors!
BUT we still have a ways to go. Please JOIN IN to help us reach our fundraising goal of $150,000 for 2015-2016!
For the 2015-2016 school year, the PTA is currently projected to spend at least $105,900 on supplies and enrichment programs, such as art, architecture, dance, yoga & movement, and gardening, as well as professional development for our teachers, support for the music program, science classes and the library. For more information about what the PTA funds, CLICK HERE.
Please do your part to keep these wonderful programs at our school by donating today.
The suggested family donation is $600, but please give whatever amount is right for your family. Or sign up for an automatic monthly contribution - $50 per month is $600, or sign up for a monthly donation that is right for your budget (for example, $42.50/month = $500/year and $25/month = $300/year; $10/month = $120).
To donate online now, CLICK HERE. You can also place your cash donation or a check payable to "P.S./I.S. 217" in a marked envelope and deposit it into the PTA mailbox, on the first floor of the school.
In an attempt to create a safer, more organized start to the school day we will be trying new routines and procedures when entering school. Thank you for your cooperation this morning. We value your input and are hoping to find something that works well for our community.
To help expedite the morning entrance to school, as well as safely share the sidewalk with our island neighbors, please take into consideration the following:
▪ The entryway must remain clear. Please say goodbyes away from the school doors to allow all students to enter easily.
▪ Be mindful of our neighbors and allow passage along the sidewalk. Stand near the building, but away from the school entrance.
▪ Please follow the instructions of school staff and safety officers.
We appreciate your patience and support.
If you think computers can be spooky...
Last Friday 70 Cornell Tech graduate students headed over to PS/IS217 for Let’s Code RI, a Halloween-inspired Hackathon. Cornell Tech’s student volunteers worked with selected PS/IS217 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students on spooky, Halloween-themed coding projects using the coding language Scratch.
This year, the hack took place in the school’s gym and the tee-shirts were white. According to Cornell Tech’s Director of K-12 Education, Diane Levitt, there was another big change. Levitt said, “This project is a Scratch project, a block coding language out of MIT that’s designed to facilitate creativity. We asked the Museum of the Moving Image, which does a lot of workshops with middle school students, to build the project and train our students on it. The last project was a Python project. We’re just trying different things to find out what’s most engaging to the students. We want to give them lots of variety so they have the opportunity to interact with tech in lots of ways, so they know they don’t have to do it just this way or that way. They have options because computing is a problem-solving set of tools in the toolkit.” Each PS/IS217 student was given his or her own laptop for the event. Levitt said, “Last time it was very important to the kids to be the ones with the computer, doing the work.
"We had wifi trouble last time, so this time we created a project that was entirely offline so we didn’t have to worry about internet access. That also meant our Cornell Tech students could use their own computers with the middle school students, which made everything much easier than using borrowed laptops. We shortened the time somewhat, and held the event in the morning, when kids are fresher,” Levitt explained.
Twice as many Cornell Tech students came this time. Levitt explains that Cornell Tech has grown, “We now have twice as many Cornell Tech students in the program.” The Cornell Tech volunteers were engineering, health tech, connective media, and MBA students.
Cornell Tech students Marissa Lowman (MBA) and Maria Shen (Master’s in Engineering) helped organize the event and designed this year’s tee-shirts. Both Lowman and Shen said they are interested in education and want to give back to the community, adding that they were very impressed by the Island and regret that they’ll never attend the new campus.
Lowman and Shen want the PS/IS217 students to understand that coding is not mysterious, but logical. Because there were so many more Cornell Tech volunteers this year, each middle schooler had his or her own mentor.
The organizers expressed the importance of having a personal mentor, both to answer questions and facilitate a deeper exploration of computer engineering. Cornell Tech student volunteer Sam Radabaugh said middle schoolers took advantage of having the ear of a dedicated mentor and said many of them asked how to change the program to customize their own game. (Maybe that will be the idea for the next hack?)
Middle schooler Saryah Lamb appreciated the one-on-one interaction. Her favorite part was making the whole game. She said, “I want to make games to help people and serve the community like my aunt.” Levitt said, “I saw one middle school student spontaneously hug his mentor toward the end.”
Levitt explained the purpose of a hack, “Our number one goal is for everyone to have fun. We use coding as a platform, but the reality is a lot of this is about the younger students having a nice prolonged exposure to the older students – to talk about technology or about themselves, their future careers, what they’re interested in… It’s the mentoring. But also, this is fun, this is cool, and this is real. This is an authentic interaction and it’s technology and that’s our other goal. I always say I’m looking for experiences for students that are at the intersection of rigor and joy.” She also explained, “We did it earlier in the year this time because we thought it would be great team-building for our graduate students.”
In this case, Levitt says, “I loved that when they were done, no two games looked the same, even though they started out alike. That told me that the middle school students really dug in there and built stuff. One student demonstrated to me that she figured out how to incorporate a picture of herself into her game – and it was her first time using Scratch. I saw a group at a table taking a selfie with the computer. PS/IS217 Principal Mandana Beckman said, Throughout the event, I noticed that students were using computational thinking skills and making subtle choices to enhance their games.”
And there was the added Halloween element. “Seeing all the kids working in their Halloween costumes was really special,” said Levitt. Principal Beckman echoed Levitt’s observation, “The middle school students at PS/IS 217 were transformed from just kids in Halloween costumes, to programmers designing innovative computer games.”
The Museum of the Moving Image (MMI) was instrumental in Let’s Code RI as well. The Deputy Director for Education and Visitor Experience at MMI, Chris Wisniewski, said, “It is a natural partnership since the museum is about technology and digital media and is right next door to PS/IS217.” He said that the Queens museum’s mission is to have kids in technology jobs and that the museum has been involved with Cornell Tech from the beginning. The museum participants helped teach the Cornell students how to use Scratch with middle-school students.
According to Levitt, “They actually have more experience teaching kids and teachers to build digital projects than almost anyone else in the City. So we asked them to work with us on this project. They came to Cornell Tech and spent an hour and a half walking our students through Scratch, the game, and the opportunities for the middle school students to change the design and mechanics of the game. Christopher Wisniewski brought a team of people there for the day of the event to make sure everything went smoothly – which it did! I’m so grateful to them.”
Wisniewski said that it can be intimidating on both sides – for Cornell Tech students to teach the middle school students, and for the middle school students to learn technology. Parenthetically, Levitt shared that PS/IS 217 is using their CASA funds (Cultural After-School Adventures Program, through Councilmember Ben Kallos) to bring MMI to PS/IS217 for enrichment this year. Principal Beckman says, “We look forward to more opportunities such as this as we partner with Cornell Tech and the Museum of the Moving Image.”
Other upcoming manifestations of the partnership, according to Levitt, are a focus on professional development so the PS/IS217 staff can gain an understanding of computational thinking and computer science in the K-8 classrooms, including some from MMI. Levitt shared that, “We’ll be bringing our Cornell Tech students back in the Spring for tech events with the third and fourth grades, probably in their classrooms rather than a large open space like the gym. We’re hoping to host a field trip here at Cornell Tech and Google as well. And we’re hoping to bring upper elementary grades at PS/IS217 down to see our campus and learn about the exciting environmental technology we’re using in our new buildings.”
Of the Hack, Beckman said, “Everyone was extremely pleased with this coding event that Diane Levitt, Cornell Tech, and the Museum of the Moving Image planned. I enjoyed playing the Halloween games coded by our students, along with their graduate student mentors from Cornell Tech.” Levitt commented, “You know, as a field, we’re still learning about what works and how to do this.We’re really lucky we have a school like PS/IS217 who’s willing to partner with us and we’ll figure it out together.”
Written by Natalie Remor
217 School Safety Team successfully conducted a fire drill on Friday, November 6.
THANK YOU to 217 families, contributing to the PTA! Your support helps us keep School Safety kits up to date.
For info about School Safety Plan visit PTA website.
Please snip and submit Box Tops 4 Education to support our school. Each Box Top is worth $.10, and they can add up fast. For Grades Pre-K through 5, they can be deposited in the box across from security at the school entrance or given to your child's classroom teacher. Grades 6-8, please deposit them in the box at the entrance.
Please put them in a sealed baggie or envelope, clearly marked with your child's name and class number.
Any child who submits at least 100 Box Tops this year will receive a free scoop card, donated by Coach Scot from Main Street Sweets. If a class collects at least 1000 labels, the PTA will fund an ice cream party for the class.
A full list of participating products can be found here:
Thank you very much,
PTA Box Tops Coordinator
PS/IS 217 K-2 teachers, paras, service providers and administration enjoyed participating in "Brain Gym" Professional Development with Occupational Therapist Mari Miyoshi on Election Day.
Brain Gym is a way of moving the body to wake up the brain. It's movements that calm and or stimulate optimal brain function and aid in completing neurological development. Brain Gym will be happening daily in our K and soon PreK classrooms and all K-2 students will learn these strategies.
Ask you student to teach you about finding their PACE:
Thank you to the PTA for supporting our staff and students!
Kindergarten and 1st grade students have a new resource to boost reading performance thanks to your PTA dollars. At the request of Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers and families, the PTA funded Raz Kids, an online reading program.
Raz Kids is an online library of leveled books allowing kids to practice reading just about anywhere. Students are able to use Raz Kids in the classroom with classroom computers and log in at home to continue practicing reading. (Be sure to download the mobile app!)
Thank you for your donations and efforts to allow the PTA to bring these resources to teachers and students.
Class parents and volunteers needed to assist with costumes at 8:30am in the auditorium. Boys will be asked to wear black pants and white shirts. Girls - all black (leotards and tights are ideal, but black pants, black leggings and any black top is suitable).
217 3rd graders rehearsing:
PS/IS 217 students worked one-on-one with Cornell Tech grad students to create a game they could take with them to play — and continue building — at home.
Last week, 70 Cornell Tech students traveled to Roosevelt Island to teach coding classes to middle schoolers for our second tech event at PS/IS 217, “Let’s Code Roosevelt Island.”
Student volunteers worked with 63 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to develop spooky, Halloween-themed coding games using the coding language Scratch.
Cornell Tech worked with the Museum of the Moving Image, which holds regular coding workshops with middle school students and teachers, to build the project and train the grad student volunteers on working with Scratch. Scratch is a coding language developed by MIT that is easy to learn and use, even for beginners.
The day was filled with surprises and highlighted just how fun and easy coding can be for kids. In the end, no two games were the same, despite starting out alike. One enterprising middle schooler even figured out how to incorporate pictures of herself and her Cornell Tech mentor into the game she created. It was her first time ever using Scratch.
In addition to learning critical computational skills, middle school students got to interact directly with Cornell Tech grad students and we all enjoyed the Halloween costumes!
Let’s Code RI is one of many activities Cornell Tech has planned with PS/IS 217 students for the year. Cornell Tech students will be heading back to Roosevelt Island in the spring to work with third and fourth graders and also hopes to host a field trip for upper elementary-aged students to their campus in the Google building.
Some kids think about candy on Halloween, Lovro does too, but also winning championships. Final jamboree of the season and now the RI Hawks look forward to the championships in two weeks. Thanks to all the parents who have come out to support the team.
We are starting our lower school arts Studio in a School Residency: need volunteers to help the art teachers with setup and clean up, etc.
Residencies scheduled for:
Grades K & 1
11/5, 11/12, 11/19, 12/3, 12/10, 12/17
Periods 2 - 7
Lunch period 4 or 5
One teacher in the art room and another one teaching from a cart.
11/5, 11/13, 11/20, 12/4, 12/11, 12/18
Day one in the classroom
Rest of the sessions in the art room
Periods 2 - 7
Lunch period 5
Email UFokine@schools.nyc.gov to sign up.
Our First Grade classes are leading the charge to collect as many NEW PAJAMAS as we can through November for kids in need this holiday season. We are partnering with Scholastic, which will donate an age-appropriate book to go with every pair of pajamas to help make bed-time more comforting for kids in shelters and transitional housing.
Last year, we met our goal of 300 pairs of pajamas! What a great feeling! This year, so far we are not as close as we should be.
Stores such as Costco, Target and Children's Place have pajamas on sale for as little as $8 - $10 a pair. Please buy AT LEAST TWO PAIRS and send them into school with your child. Conway on Northern Blvd. in the Old Navy shopping center in Queens has pajamas for $5 and up. Infant to adult sizes are needed for babies, kids, and teens.
Please HAND IN the pajamas with your child with a note to their teacher asking that they be delivered to Ms. Zucknovich and the 1st Grade classes at 217. Kid who need a holiday gift will really appreciate it, and the students of 217 can feel good about helping out other kids at holiday time!
The deadline for sending in pajamas is December 1st, 2015.