Program

Distance Learning Program

DISTANCE LEARNING

Norwood implemented its distance learning plan on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The Distance Learning Guide was sent to all families by Head of School Matthew Gould on March 12, 2020. Please contact Michele Claeys, Head of Middle School, or Mike Risen, Head of Lower School, if you have any questions about Norwood's distance learning program.

Our Commitment to Continuity of Learning

In a time of uncertainty, all of us at Norwood School remain committed to delivering on our child-centered, inclusive Mission and Core Beliefs. The Norwood School Plan for Continuity of Learning maintains the School’s excellent academic, arts, and wellness programs; character and values education; and strong sense of community.
 
Goals for Continuity of Learning 2020-2021
  1. Our number one goal is to provide In-School Learning, safely, for all students, grades PK-8, every day.
  2. At any time, if we are not permitted to be on campus, we will move to our Distance Learning Program. The daily schedules for In-School Learning and Distance Learning, while not exactly the same, will be complimentary, so the transition between them should be seamless.
  3. Whether we are on campus or not, we will continue to provide opportunities for social-emotional learning, academic enrichment and support, and community-building. As always, Norwood students will Be Known.
 
Important Elements of Norwood’s 2020-2021 In-School Learning Program
  1. Continuation of all academic, arts, and wellness programs with appropriate modifications to ensure safety.
  2. Modified schedule and classroom assignments to ensure small groups and to minimize movement throughout the building.
  3. Classroom set-up based on appropriate physical distancing.
  4. Daily outdoor play in small groups, with appropriate physical distancing.
  5. Rigorous adherence to health and safety protocols, including appropriate screening for students and staff, PPE, and cleaning/sanitizing throughout the day.
  6. Distance Learning services provided to students who are not able to attend school in person.
  7. Partnership with families.
 
Important Elements of Norwood’s 2020-2021 Distance Learning Program
  1. Distance Learning schedule that is complimentary to the In-School schedule, with the same teachers and classmates in each group, plus smaller groups as appropriate (depending on age and subject).
  2. Activities at the beginning and end of the school day to provide structure and routine for students working in their home environment.
  3. Intentional blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning every day, throughout the day, including a variety of lessons and assignments.
  4. Required class meetings in all subjects: math, reading and language arts, social studies, science, world language, visual arts, music and drama, and physical education.
  5. On-going assessment of student progress and regular feedback for students (and, in the Middle School, graded assessments using a wide variety of assessment tools).
  6. Connection, community-building, and individual support provided by the Homeroom Teacher or Advisor, and the Student Support Team.
  7. Partnership with families.


COMMUNICATION TO FAMILIES ABOUT DISTANCE LEARNING

List of 21 items.

  • May 15, 2020: MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Hello Middle School, and congratulations on a great turnout for Norwood FUN Day!
     
    I loved seeing your artwork and trick photography in the closing ceremonies, and I’m impressed by how far we walked and ran. Way to go! I hope it was a nice break from routine, and I hope you have a super weekend.
     
    We are heading into the last few weeks of the school year. I couldn’t be more proud of how well you’ve all done at home. I’m also incredibly grateful for your teachers and parents for their hard work and support. Let’s finish strong! And please keep your eyes peeled in the days ahead for details related to wrapping up and preparing for the fall.
     
    Thank you!
    Michele Claeys
     
     
    Michele Claeys
    Associate Head of School
    & Head of Middle School
    Norwood School
    8821 River Road
    Bethesda, Maryland 20817
    301.841.2108
  • May 15, 2020: LOWER SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Lower School Parents,
     
    I hope that everyone had a wonderful Fun Day! It was great to see everyone taking on challenges and activities through the day and fun to connect with so many people on the live session this afternoon. The activities today gave students a good chance to take a break from the usual process of distance learning, and I hope that it was a welcomed change of pace. 
     
    Through the past seven plus weeks, all of us have faced new and unique challenges each day. We all, children and adults, have adapted to new routines, expectations, and structures. We have developed new tools and strategies to manage our work and learning. As adults, we have the opportunity to help children learn how manage new tasks and expectations. How we frame those experiences can have a big impact on how children develop a positive disposition when taking on challenges. As we work with our children, consider:
    • Develop a plan: So often challenges seem big and complicated; they can feel overwhelming. Helping children break them down into manageable chunks and develop a step-by-step plan can help overwhelming tasks feel doable. Children can often surprise us with their independence when a task is broken down into just-right steps. 
    • Model growth mindset: Our language matters and we want children to feel safe taking healthy risks. Telling them directly that mistakes are normal and part of learning helps them to feel confident taking on novel tasks. Additionally, talk through those mistakes with them, asking them what they think the mistake was or how can they do it differently next time. When you work with your child, tell them stories of times you made mistakes, how you learned from them, and how, when you tried something different, you saw success. 
    • Celebrate success: It is great to recognize the end of a project or process. However, when children complete steps in a process, celebrate those, too! Highlight their behaviors that led to that success. For young people who are learning fundamental skills, validation around completing steps can build confidence and energy as they move through projects or tasks. If one of our goals is to create independent thinkers, building up their confidence around processes builds a strong sense of self. I like to use a metaphor of climbing a ladder; celebrate when a child moves to a new rung, and know that it is one step in a larger process so let's keep going!
    I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful weekend!
     
    Best,
     
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School 
    Norwood School 
    8821 River Rd
    Bethesda, MD 20817
    301-841-2109
  • May 13, 2020: LETTER FROM MS. CLAEYS & MR. RISEN RE: NORWOOD FUN DAY

    GET READY FOR NORWOOD FUN DAY!

    On Friday, May 15, academic classes have been cancelled in order to hold Norwood Fun Day! The day will kick off with Founder’s Day Chapel at 9:00 a.m. (look for an email from Mr. Gould with a link to the chapel), which will include a special Founder’s Day video as well as recognition of the following faculty and staff members who are celebrating milestones in their Norwood careers:
     
    5 YEARS
    Cathy Caruso
    Barbara Greennagel
    Andy Morgan
    Mitch Weisbrot
     
    10 YEARS
    Cathy McCoy
    Billy Vargas
    Fielding Winters
     
    15 YEARS
    Maralyn Marsteller
    Cathy Russo
    Lynda Saelens
    Barbara Vaughan
     
    20 YEARS
    Susan Boyd
    Tyffany Mandov
    Annette Matzner
     
    25 YEARS
    Carole Freret
    Terri Woodard

    At the end of chapel, Mr. Gould will kick off Fun Day, and we encourage your family to get in on the action by participating in a variety of creative and physical challenges throughout the day. Open the attached PDF to see all the fun activities, clicking on each one for specific instructions. We suggest selecting two activities from each of the two categories, but you are welcome to try as many as you want.
     
    Be sure to show us (and each other) how much fun you are having by sharing photos and short videos to Norwood’s Facebook page (Norwood School) and Instagram account (@norwoodschoolbethesda), using the hashtag #norwoodfunday. If you are not on social media, you can upload photos and short videos to this SmugMug gallery. We can’t wait to see you in action!
     
    Fun Day will conclude at 2:00 p.m. with a live ZOOM gathering hosted by Mr. Gould. Wear blue and white, and be prepared to hold up a sign with the distance you walked (or ran or skipped) in the Distance Challenge and/or show us one of the items you made (an origami folded box or newspaper sculpture, for example).
     
    Join Zoom Meeting: Fun Day Wrap-up with Mr. Gould
     
    Meeting ID: 883 1560 0267
    Password: 167484
     
    THAT'S NOT ALL! There's MORE FUN to be had when the Norwood Parents Association hosts two virtual Bingo sessions on Zoom: 3:00-3:45 p.m. for grades PK-2 and 4:00-4:45 p.m. for grades 3-8. Beanie Burr will call the first session, and Chris Giles is gearing up to call session two. Click here to RSVP by 9:00 tonight.
     
    We are looking forward to a fun-filled Friday, and we hope you are too! As always, please let us know if you have any questions.
     
    Mike Risen                                  Michele Claeys
    Head of Lower School                Head of Middle School
      
  • May 8, 2020: MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Students and Families,
     
    Wishing you a restful weekend! I hope some of you will use the interview questions from the end of yesterday’s Middle School Chapel – plus some of your own – to have a conversation with an adult in your life… in your home, over the phone, or through a videoconference platform. Consider recording it to look back on in the future. (Jackson doesn’t want to be the only one who had to make an awkward video!)
     
    Warm regards,
    Michele Claeys
     
     
    OPTIONAL STUDENT LUNCH BUNCH – WEEK OF MAY 11
    Interested in a casual lunch hang-out? Want to chat with classmates and/or talk about arranging additional activities? Just email Mrs. Prosen for any of the times below you’d like to attend. Then Ms. Prosen or Ms. Claeys will send you an invite. Feel free to bring your lunch of course!
    • 5th Grade – Monday 11:30 (Ms. Claeys), Wednesday 11:30 (Ms. Prosen)
    • 6th Grade – Monday 11:30 (Ms. Prosen), Wednesday 11:30 (Ms. Claeys)
    • 7th Grade – Tuesday 11:30 (Ms. Prosen), Thursday 11:30 (Ms. Claeys)
    • 8th Grade – Tuesday 11:30 (Ms. Claeys), Thursday 11:30 (Ms. Prosen)
     
    FOUNDERS DAY AND NORWOOD FUN DAY – MAY 15 – NO CLASSES
    Friday, May 15 will be a day off from classes so we can all join in the Founders Day Chapel, recognition of faculty who have reached 5-year milestones, and then a special Norwood Fun Day, featuring a whole menu of challenges and activities. Stay tuned for more information!
     
     
    Michele Claeys
    Associate Head of School
    & Head of Middle School
    Norwood School
    8821 River Road
    Bethesda, Maryland 20817
    301.841.2108
  • May 8, 2020: LOWER SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Lower School Parents,
     
    Thank you for another great week of distance learning. I hope that everyone had a successful conference last week. Especially in the distance learning environment, the parent-teacher relationship is crucial as we support our children's academic, social, and emotional growth.
     
    Moving into our seventh week of distance learning, we are all figuring out how to manage our isolation from one another. In conversations with a number of you as well as checking in with teachers, I know that our children continue to feel the impacts of social distancing. While continuing to support students' academic needs, we also need to attend to their emotional growth. 
     
    An important skill to teach our children right now is around self-care. Our impulse often is to take care of our children without regard for our own needs, but children learn what they see. Taking the time to attend to our adult selves is important so that we are in a good place to support our children.  Consider a few points about self-care:
      • Do things for yourself. If you feel better, it shows! Taking the time to take care of yourself will pay off when you need to be present for your child.
      • Talk with your child about the importance of self-care. While you might understand how taking a walk, gardening, or yoga help you manage your stress, your child may not understand that yet. Engage with your child in overt conversations about self-care. By taking the time to talk directly about what helps you, you are modeling healthy behaviors that children can learn from. Talk to your child about what you enjoy and help them to identify activities that can help them self-regulate.
      • Incorporate language from school into your family conversation. Throughout this past year, students have been taught the Zones of Regulation and have used tools to support being in the Green or "Ready to Learn" zone (documents are attached here). All lower school students are being reminded of these tools in homeroom and life skills classes. You can ask your child to explain the Zones of Regulation to you and create a toolbox for home together.
    As always, if you need any help in this process, please reach out to Rachelle Bowman, our lower school counselor at rbowman@norwoodschool.org.
     
    I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend-- do something you love!
     
    Best,
     
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School 
    Norwood School 
    8821 River Rd
    Bethesda, MD 20817
    301-841-2109
  • May 4, 2020: LETTER FROM MS. CLAEYS TO 7TH GRADE FAMILIES RE: HIGH SCHOOL PLACEMENT

    Dear 7th Grade Families,
     
    I hope this finds you safe and well. I’m writing with information for you as parents of rising 8th graders at Norwood.
     
    HIGH SCHOOL PLACEMENT MEETING
    You are invited to attend a Zoom Meeting about the high school placement process, Wednesday, May 20th, at 8:00 a.m.
    • You’ll receive a Zoom invitation in a separate email.
    • During the meeting, I will review high school placement steps and the usual timeline. I anticipate that I won’t have any information about how next fall’s timeline might be different, but I will certainly share anything I know.
    • I’ll also answer questions; you can email them before the meeting or type them into the chat during the meeting.
    • I’ll record the meeting for anybody who would like to view it later.
     
    RESOURCES TO REVIEW BEFORE THE MEETING
    Before the meeting, I encourage you to review two resources that you’ll want to have on hand from now through March 2021.
    • High School Placement Guide Class of 2021 (attached) – The Guide is dense, but it has everything you need to know, including numerous helpful links to resources about schools and entrance exams. Pay special attention to the two timelines, the general timeline (last page) and the timeline that is specific to entrance exams.
    • High School Placement Group on HawksNest – You will become members of this group a little later this week. Most of the information on the Group page is the same as in the Guide, and a link to the Guide is there on the page. The important addition is the Parent Questionnaire, which is due in September. It’s on the right side of the page (also attached here).
     
    TEST INNOVATORS ENTRANCE EXAM PREP SOFTWARE
    Later this week you and your rising 8th graders will receive individualized login and password information for the entrance exam prep software provided by Norwood through Test Innovators.
    • The email will come from Cathy Russo. Please save it so you and your child have the login and password when needed.
    • The software is web-based and can be used on any computer.
    • I will send an email to the students (and then forward it to you) with instructions and suggestions for how and when to use the software.
     
    HIGH SCHOOL PLACEMENT FAMILY MEETINGS
    After the general meeting on May 20th, Cathy Russo will send a sign-up link where you can choose an appointment for a family meeting with me about high school placement.
    • Most families elect to have their child attend at least part of the meeting, but it is not required.
    • Usually, of course, we meet in person. For now, I am planning on meeting via video-conference. I’ll be ready and eager to pivot to in-person meetings if circumstances allow!
     
    Beginning the high school process can feel a little overwhelming, because of the many details to consider, and just because it means your child is growing older and will soon be a high schooler! Please be assured that we are here with you every step of the way. In addition to the meetings and resources described above, I will be checking in with you and your child throughout the fall and sending regular updates about where we are in the process. Cathy, Travis, Lynda, Brittany and I are here to help! Don’t hesitate to call on us.
     
    Sincere regards,
    Michele
     
     
    Michele Claeys
    Associate Head of School
    & Head of Middle School
    Norwood School
    8821 River Road
    Bethesda, Maryland 20817
    301.841.2108
  • May 1, 2020: MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Good evening Middle School students and families!
     
    PARENT-STUDENT-ADVISOR CONFERENCES
    Thank you all for your participation in our online Parent-Student-Advisor Conferences today (and continuing through early next week). Reflection and goal-setting are essential to self-advocacy, growth, and achievement, and I appreciate your focus and involvement. Special thanks to your advisors for sharing updates from your teachers. Remember: you can contact a teacher directly with questions or issues any time. They are happy to set up a meeting with you.
     
    DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATES BASED ON SURVEYS
    Thank you again for the feedback you shared in the recent student and parent surveys! The results varied widely, but we were able to glean some patterns and determine ways to refine the Distance Learning Program in the Middle School in the remaining weeks. Generally, we are aiming to clarify assignments, offer a variety of daily experiences, and increase synchronous contact time with teachers where it will be beneficial, while also maintaining flexibility for students with different learning preferences and interests. You can expect to see:
    1. Increased clarity in Daily Plans so that instructions, assignments, and links are clear and easy to use.
    2. Variety in instructional practices in Daily Plans and required Office Hours.
    3. Attention to workload – continued clarity on suggested time limits for each assignment, and some reductions in subjects where time needed to complete assignments has been more than intended. If workload is ever a problem, please reach out to your advisor and/or Michele Claeys, Lynda Saelens, Laura Prosen, or Travis Wooden.
    4. Optional challenge/stretch opportunities. Please reach out to any of your teachers or Michele Claeys if you would like suggestions for independent projects in any subject.
    5. Additional required Office Hours periods – each teacher has the option to require a third Office Hours period every week.
     
     
    Kind regards and best wishes for the weekend,
    Michele Claeys
     
     
    Michele Claeys
    Associate Head of School
    & Head of Middle School
    Norwood School
    8821 River Road
    Bethesda, Maryland 20817
    301.841.2108
  • May 1, 2020: LOWER SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Lower School Parents,
     
    Thank you for another great week of distance learning work as well as a great day of conferences. In my position speaking both to faculty and parents from across the division, I know we all feel disconnected from one another. I certainly do. What grounds and inspires me is the partnership through this process and the heavy lifting I see from everyone. Parents are taking on the challenge of supporting their children while working themselves and teachers are working to re-imagine their usual spring lessons to fit into a distance learning format. None of this is easy; all of it is time consuming and I know that everyone is working well beyond their normal capacity.
     
    Somewhere in all of this our children are adapting to this new normal. Students are missing connections and are, after over a month of social distancing, feeling the isolation. Often, the cause of stress for our children is not something we can immediately solve; those situations are always the hardest to deal with as a parent. Often what young children need in these situations is  just for us to be present and hear them. On the school side, our counselor, Rachelle Bowman, is participating in homeroom and specials live meetings to help student process these events. She is also available for any family for individual support. We are here for you in partnership and are eager to help.
     
    I want to follow up on feedback from the survey. Thank you, again, for your participation. Based on parent feedback, there are a few areas where we are focusing our efforts:
    1. Increasing live classes-- we are wrapping up a week of live specials classes that have offered students and teachers a wonderful opportunity to connect. These classes, as well as homeroom-based classes, will continue moving forward.
    2. Increase the quality of instruction-- while distance learning is a new framework for us, we are grounding our instruction in the practices we know work. Our live and recorded lessons will continue to improve as we continue to grow our own distance teaching toolboxes. Our small group and one-to-one approaches to learning allow us to drill down during lessons to check for student understanding. 
    3. Improving feedback-- we will simplify and clarify the processes through which you submit and we receive feedback. Thank you everyone for your patience as we tackle this; our goal is to make it easy for you. Additionally, we will continue to improve the quality and clarity of the feedback we give for student work.
    4. Attending to social-emotional needs of students-- as mentioned above, our students need our support to understand this new way of learning. We are committed to finding ways to create connections for students to help them build the skills to be successful in this environment.
    Again, thank you everyone. We know this is a heavy lift but we are confident that, together, we can succeed through it.
     
    Best,
     
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School 
    Norwood School 
    8821 River Rd
    Bethesda, MD 20817
    301-841-2109
  • April 23, 2020: LOWER SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Lower School Parents,
     
    The weekly note is coming a day early this week to get information about next week to you sooner. Thank you everyone for your participation on the survey from last week; parent feedback through this process has been crucial as we continue to refine and improve distance learning. Among several takeaways from the survey was a clear desire for more live classes; students and teachers deeply value the connection these sessions provide. As you already know, we are adding live specials for every grade level starting next week; more information is below. These will be great opportunities for students to learn in real time and learn with peers and their teachers. 
     
    No video or Power Point this week. Please see below for notes:
    1. Connecting with learning support and school counseling-- Sara Gallagher, our learning specialist, and Rachelle Bowman, our lower school counselor, are both available throughout the week to support you and your child. Please email them to schedule time to connect if you need any additional support through this process. Moving forward, Ms. Bowman will be meeting with students during various live sessions to continue our life skills program. 
    2. Conferences-- with conferences coming up, I want to note how we are addressing assessment of student progress. During distance learning, teachers continue to look at multiple points for tracking growth. They are evaluating assignments and projects as well as, during live sessions, checking for student understanding of key, central concepts in the curriculum. Our small group and one-on-one check in structures make this meaningful interaction possible. While not all work must be returned, teachers are being explicit about which work is to be returned. To be clear, the work done during the first half of this semester also plays a role in our evaluation of students' academic growth and we understand that work completed during distance learning is not necessarily an accurate representation of a student's abilities. As we think ahead to how we start the fall, we are taking into account the nature of instruction during this time. Our curriculum in the fall will be responsive to distance learning; please know we have your students academic growth covered. 

      Sign ups will for conferences will be live tomorrow.
    3. Guidelines for live classes--as we move to more live classes, please be mindful of the guidelines for classes. These come from lessons learned during our piloting. We know that, as we do more live classes, students will learn the class routines. Thank you for your support at home:
      1. Students must use their real name for their ID-- we will not let someone into the class with a name we do not recognize. For instructions on how to do this in Zoom, click here
      2. Screen backgrounds should stay the same
      3. Join the meeting from a quiet, distraction-free room. You may want headphones for extra focus
      4. Use the bathroom before class
      5. Eat snacks and meals before the class
      6. Stay in one spot with your eyes on the device
      7. We love your pets—keep them out of the camera during sessions, please!
      8. Please do not change your background or use the chat feature – unless given teacher permission to do so. This is distracting to classmates
      9. Mute when someone else is talking
      10. Raise your hand to speak or ask a question (just like in school)
      11. Wait to be called on if you have something to say
      12. Use school-appropriate words and be polite to your friends.
    4. Schedules for specials classes-- each grade level has a consistent, daily time for specials classes. Each day will have a different special. See below for those times. Repeating calendar invites are in the process of going out. 
      PK-Thursday (sessions in small groups during the morning)
      K-Monday -Thursday, 12:00 PM start
      1-Monday-Thursday, 2:00 PM start
      2-Monday-Thursday, 2:40 PM start time
      3-Monday-Friday, 1:00 PM start time 
      4-Monday-Friday, 2:00 PM start time (NOTE: science classes on Monday and Thursday will happen earlier in the day--see calendar invite and daily to do for times)
    5. Specials classes and daily to do-- specials class Zoom links, IDs, and passwords will all be listed on the Daily To Do as well. 
    6. Specials classes are an important part of our curriculum. As families have developed schedules and routines for distance learning and have figured out the right work load for them, we understand that a full week's work is sometimes more than fits in the day. Please continue to use your judgement as to what the right work load is for you; there is no penalty to not attending live classes and asynchronous materials will still be part of the week. 
     
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School 
    Norwood School 
    8821 River Rd
    Bethesda, MD 20817
    301-841-2109
  • April 21, 2020: MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Middle School Students and Families,
     
    As we prepare for the upcoming parent-student-advisor conferences, I am writing to share the grading practices middle school teachers are implementing during Distance Learning. Our approach to assessment reflects our understanding that we are all teaching and learning in new ways while managing numerous stressors and variables, from general uncertainty and social isolation, to learning new technologies, WiFi connectivity, printer access, other members of our households, and innumerable additional factors.
     
    Our goal is to continue providing valuable feedback and the opportunity to demonstrate achievement by earning grades while understanding that there will be days when some things are out of a student’s control. We ask that you communicate with your advisor and teachers early and often, so they can make adjustments for you as necessary.
     
    Grading Practices
    1. Teachers are implementing more frequent, smaller assignments and assessments, so students have more opportunities to demonstrate their understanding and can improve along the way.
    2. Teachers are increasingly utilizing graded homework, practice assessments, open-book and open-note assessments, and untimed assessments.
    3. Teachers are working directly with individual students who need enrichment, support, and/or modifications to assignments and assessments.
    4. At the end of the 4th quarter, teachers will look at each student’s 3rd and 4th quarter grades to determine what weighting will be most favorable for the student’s 2nd semester grade. The quarter with the higher grade will be weighed more heavily.
     
    Any student who is fully engaging with the Distance Learning program can expect that their 4th quarter and 2nd semester grades will at least be similar to their fall and winter grades. In PE, students just have to remember to turn in their logs. In visual arts, music, and drama, which remain optional, students who participate will earn an “A” for the quarter; students who opt out will not be graded. If you have questions about our approach, please contact me any time. For questions about grading in a particular class, please reach out to your teacher. This is a new experience for both teachers and students; we want to work with you, and we are here to help you.
     
    Thank you and keep up the good work as we begin our fourth week of Distance Learning!
     
    Kind regards,
    Ms. Claeys
  • April 17, 2020: MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Thank you Middle School Students and Families for another successful week of Distance Learning! Your effort, support, and involvement are hugely appreciated. We’ve accomplished a lot together in just a few weeks. Please remember to complete the online survey by Sunday night, so we can continue to refine our program based on your feedback.
     
    PARENT-STUDENT-ADVISOR CONFERENCES – MAY 1
    We will host virtual parent-student-advisor conferences May 1, which will be a “no school” day for students, other than attending their conference.
    • Each student and their parent/guardian will sign up for one appointment with the student’s advisor.
    • The advisor will share progress-report information from all of the student’s teachers.
    • Watch for an announcement in the Thursday Memo, April 23.
    • Watch for the sign-up link coming by email Friday, April 24.
     
    VISUAL ARTS, MUSIC, AND DRAMA CLASSES
    If you haven’t already, please be sure to visit the activities and office hours for your art, music, and drama classes. We would like to see every student try at least one assignment or project. Many students are fully engaged with their arts classes and enjoy the change in routine. While teachers prefer to keep these courses optional, they recognize that – for those who can manage to participate – the benefits are many!
     
    Best wishes to all of you for the weekend. Please take care and stay well!
     
    Michele Claeys
    Associate Head of School
    & Head of Middle School
    Norwood School
    8821 River Road
    Bethesda, Maryland 20817
    301.841.2108
  • April 17, 2020: LOWER SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Lower School Parents,
     
    Thank you everyone for your continued hard work during distance learning. We appreciate that parts of the program are working well, and continue to refine and revise the parts that need improvement. Specific notes on those improvements are detailed in a video here and are listed as a PDF here. Quick notes:
    1. Thank you for your continued feedback in conversations and on the survey. Understanding the parent perspective is crucial as we continue to grow.
    2. Spring conferences will be held on Friday, May 1. That day, parents and teachers will hold conferences and students will not have classes. Please check the upcoming Thursday Memo for sign ups and details.
    3. Sara Gallagher will again have office hours next week. Anyone can sign up-- the link is here.
    I hope that everyone has a great weekend!
     
    Best,
     
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School 
    Norwood School 
    8821 River Rd
    Bethesda, MD 20817
    301-841-2109
  • April 14, 2020: LETTER FROM MS. CLAEYS TO THE CLASS OF 2020

    Dear 8th Grade Families,
     
    The spring of 8th grade is a very special time at Norwood, and despite the exceptional circumstances we all find ourselves in, we would like to do what we can to celebrate our graduates and their accomplishments to the fullest extent possible. To that end, as you saw in Matthew’s letter yesterday, we have formed a task force to look at our traditional spring celebrations and how we can adapt.
     
    The task force is working on two projects at the same time: 1) short-term virtual experiences, and 2) long-term in-person experiences. Needless to say, there is a lot of uncertainty around when and how we will be able to proceed with in-person events, so we are trying to represent as much as possible virtually while we wait to see what unfolds in the coming months. Where feasible, we could run a virtual event this spring and still host an in-person version of the same event later on. For example, even if we host a virtual graduation in early June, we could possibly have an in-person celebration of some sort when we are again safe to gather in large groups.
     
    I invited the whole 8th Grade to a video-conference meeting last week, and several students joined to share their feelings of disappointment – entirely valid! – and hopes for the weeks ahead. It was helpful to hear what is most important to them, though that certainly could change over time and will always vary from student to student. I understand, too, that what matters most to 8th graders may not match up with what matters most to their parents. Please don’t hesitate to email me with your own thoughts and hopes about our spring celebrations. I welcome your input and will keep you informed as we determine what we will be able to do.
     
    As always, thank you for your support and involvement. Now more than ever, I am grateful to be partnering with all of you!
     
    Sincerely,
    Michele
     
     
    Michele Claeys
    Associate Head of School
    & Head of Middle School
    Norwood School
    8821 River Road
    Bethesda, Maryland 20817
    301.841.2108
  • April 10, 2020: MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Middle School Students and Families,
     
    I plan on sending a weekly memo every Friday for as long as we are following the Distance Learning Program, and I will try to keep other large group messages to a minimum, since I’m sure you’re all managing a lot of communications. That said, please don’t ever hesitate to reach out directly to any teacher or me with questions, problems, or feedback. As promised, there is a survey coming your way next week. Thank you for all your support and involvement the past few weeks, and best wishes for the weekend!
     
    Warm regards,
    Michele
     
    UPDATED MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING SCHEDULE
    I’m attaching an updated distance learning schedule. It’s the same information you already have, including the newly required office hours, but condensed into two pages. You’ll notice:
    1. Beginning Monday, 5th-8th grade, all academic classes will have required Office Hours periods twice per week, so every student will have two periods of required Office Hours per day, Monday through Friday. These periods will be useful for activities and discussions that are better in real-time. Students will still receive instruction in the Daily Plan on days when Office Hours are required, but class work will be reduced.
    2. The requirement to log physical activities is noted, and PE teachers will share those logs with students today or by Monday morning at the latest.
     
    MIDDLE SCHOOL PLANNER FOR DISTANCE LEARNING
    Thanks to Lynda Saelens, Travis Wooden, and Kelly Carr, we have a distance learning planning and task management tool that might be helpful for you. It is attached here and also available in HawksNest (both on the student resources page and the new distance learning resources page for parents).
    1. Students may opt to print the planner and write on it or can use it as an online document. They can also save it in OneNote and share it with their advisor; this could be especially helpful for students who would like their advisor to help them stay organized.
    2. At a minimum, I recommend that students fill in the schedule on the planning tool. If a student needs help understanding their schedule, their advisor or I can help!
     
    STUDENTS CHECKING EMAIL
    Students – please be sure you check your email daily while we are following the Distance Learning Program. Ideally, you should check it at least once in the morning and once at the end of your school day. Please reply to teachers when they ask for a response. Thanks!
     
     
    Michele Claeys
    Associate Head of School
    & Head of Middle School
    Norwood School
    8821 River Road
    Bethesda, Maryland 20817
    301.841.2108
  • April 10, 2020: LOWER SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Parents,
     
    Thank you for another great week of collaboration. I have spoken to many of you, and appreciate the work you are doing supporting instruction at home. We continue to field feedback and do our best to improve our process. From that feedback, the Daily To Do was a big help for many families, and we are improving it this week.  
     
    See below for quick notes; for more details, view  this video or review this Power Point deck.
     
    Week 3 Notes
    1. The Daily To Do now has all of the documents you will need to print for each day in one file. This will minimize access issues and minimize clicking (and hunting) for documents. The file to print is at the bottom of the page for each day. 
    2. We are working to minimize email volume. Thank you for your patience as we navigate this.
    3. We are adding learning specialist office hours. Sara Gallagher will offer sessions throughout the week that are open to any family. Sara is a great resource to answer questions such as what are best practices for supporting your child's learning, how to set up and adapt daily routines, how to manage learning with multiple children, etc. To sign up, click here
    4.  We will continue piloting live classes. This week went well, and we are expanding our live classes this week.
    5. Please know, if your child's work load becomes heavy, stressful, or too difficult, you have our total support to stop that work. If a specific task is frustrating your child or if your child is working well into the afternoon to finish work, we encourage you to stop. If you have questions about work and how to prioritize certain assignments, please reach out to your child's teachers.
    Thank you everyone for your partnership. Have a great weekend.
     
    Best,
     
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School 
    Norwood School 
    8821 River Rd
    Bethesda, MD 20817
    301-841-2109
  • April 6, 2020: MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Middle School Students and Families,
     
    THANK YOU for your teamwork, perseverance, and feedback throughout our first week of distance learning! The teachers and I were all thrilled to see students again, and I enjoyed following the variety of interesting lessons and discussions that took place via the Daily Plan documents posted each morning and the Office Hours videoconference periods in the afternoons. Two hallmarks of Norwood are connection and innovation, and both were very much on display. I am especially grateful to the teachers for their efforts and enthusiasm for this new undertaking.
     
    This week and looking forward, we will make small adjustments to build on our successes. I continue to welcome your questions and ideas along the way, especially you, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders! Everyone’s input has been incredibly helpful.
     
    SURVEYS FOR STUDENT AND PARENT FEEDBACK
    Speaking of input, we are in the process of developing short surveys to collect feedback on the Distance Learning program and how it’s working in your home. You never have to wait for a survey to share what you’re thinking or wondering, but just wanted you to know they’ll be coming soon.
     
    PHYSICAL EDUCATION – STUDENT ACTIVITY LOG
    We all know staying active is essential to our well-being while we are isolated in our homes. As we move to requiring physical activity of all our students, the PE teachers are developing an individual student log where each student will be able to track and report their own daily physical activity. Stay tuned for more information from the PE teachers.
     
    REQUIRED ATTENDANCE IN SOME OFFICE HOURS PERIODS
    Starting in 7th and 8th grade this week and then expanding into other grades, middle school students will be hearing from their teachers about required attendance in some Office Hours periods. While lessons will continue in the Daily Plan documents, we will take advantage of videoconferencing in Office Hours for some activities and discussions that work best in real time. On the third page of the attached Middle School Distance Learning Schedule, the periods in red are those that teachers have the option, at their discretion, to require. The maximum is two academic subjects per student per day. Arts teachers may also require attendance in some Office Hours periods. Procedures for reporting absences are included there on the third page. We completely understand some students may not have complete control of their daily schedule during Distance Learning; teachers will coordinate with students who need to be absent for any reason.
     
    Questions, concerns, suggestions? Please send me an email anytime. Thank you and take care!
     
    Sincerely yours,
    Michele
     
    Michele Claeys
    Associate Head of School
    & Head of Middle School
    Norwood School
    8821 River Road
    Bethesda, Maryland 20817
    301.841.2108
     
     
  • April 5, 2020: LOWER SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE

    Dear Lower School Parents,
     
    I hope that you are enjoying the beautiful spring weather today. Thank you, everyone, for your hard work in week 1. Launching distance learning was a heavy lift on everyone's part, and I appreciate the work from each of you to help make this happen.
     
    Our goal is to improve our practices and make this challenging task more manageable for everyone. Moving into week 2, we are adding two pieces that we think will help-- a Daily To Do list that you will receive from you child's homeroom teacher and some live class sessions with teachers (teachers will be emailing you to schedule these).
     
     
     
    Best,
     
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School 
    Norwood School 
    8821 River Rd
    Bethesda, MD 20817
    301-841-2109
  • March 30, 2020: MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING

    Dear Middle School Students,
     
    I’ve spent the day in virtual meetings with your teachers, and they can’t wait to see you tomorrow! We are eager to begin this adventure together and also mindful that we will begin slowly. If at any point you feel confused or overwhelmed, know that you are not alone! Reach out to any teacher, Ms. Salens, Mrs. Prosen, or me by email anytime and we will help you. (For tech help, email help@norwoodschool.org.) We’re in this together.
     
    SCHEDULE INFORMATION
    I’m attaching our Distance Learning Daily Schedule and Office Hours so you know which classes you have which days (four academic classes per day) and the times for office hours. It’s color coded by grade. Remember – you only have office hours in the classes that meet that day, plus any arts office hours you want to attend. We will adjust this in the weeks to come depending on how things go, and we will be getting your feedback along the way. There are a lot of moving parts! If you’re confused, just ask for help.
     
    PLANNERS        
    I strongly encourage you to use your Norwood planner, a homemade planner, or an online planner – any planner! – while we are in Distance Learning mode. You can note which classes meet which days and when you have office hours in addition to recording assignments and due dates. In some ways, a planner will be even more useful to you now that it was when we were all in school together, since you’ll be more independent. Need help? Your advisor is ready to assist you!
     
    OFFICE HOURS RULES
    As you know, this week office hours (except advisory) are optional. To help office hours run smoothly for everybody, please follow these rules AND any additional rules your teachers provide.
    1. Please join office hours at the beginning of the meeting if at all possible. Leaving early is better than arriving late.
    2. You must be dressed for office hours – no pajamas!
    3. You may not come to office hours from bed; I recommend a table and chair if possible.
    4. Please do not eat during office hours; beverages are ok.
    5. Do not have a smart phone or other electronics nearby during office hours.
     
    FOLLOW A SCHEDULE
    I strongly encourage you to follow a regular schedule every school day. Here is the schedule I suggested last week:
    • 8:00-9:00 – Wake up, eat breakfast, enjoy 10-20 minutes of physical activity, outside if possible. New!...open chapel email to start the day.
    • 9:00-11:00 – Begin lessons for the day’s four classes; take a 5-10 minute break every 30-40 minutes – make it a no-screen break! Contact teachers by email any time, as needed.
    • 11:00-3:30 – Attend Office Hours, take a lunch break, continue with classwork and homework as needed.
    • 3:30-dinner – Make a daily plan for schoolwork and down time activities that suits your household, including arts and physical education activities and time outside if possible. You’ll probably need to adjust this time block day to day, depending on assignments and other commitments. This is also a good time to connect online with friends!
    • Dinner-bedtime – Continue with down time activities, including free reading every day. Ideally, schoolwork is already completed; resist the pitfall of dragging it out from morning through late at night. Maintain a regular bedtime, with all electronics charging outside the bedroom.
     
    I look forward to following your success and hearing about anything I can do to help you. See you somewhere online soon!
     
    Warm regards,
    Ms. Claeys
     
     
    Michele Claeys
    Associate Head of School
    & Head of Middle School
    Norwood School
    8821 River Road
    Bethesda, Maryland 20817
    301.841.2108
     
  • March 30, 2020: LOWER SCHOOL DISTANCE LEARNING

    Dear Lower School Parents,
     
    We are excited about launching distance learning tomorrow. Week 1 will be about figuring out the right systems and routines for families; teachers have fun and enriching activities and lessons planned. Our goal is to keep deadlines and requirements to a minimum and to start with work that should be straightforward for students and families; we will grow from here, but it is important that we all develop a solid foundation that works first. 
     
    Another piece of week 1 will be connecting with you. Teachers will reach out to schedule a phone call or video conference during the first week. These will run about 15 minutes, and the primary goals are to check in with your family, answer any early questions, and setup a time for a weekly appointment to start in week 2. 
     
    As the lower school faculty moves through this process, we are already starting to improve. Two pieces we will add as we move ahead:
    1. Adding a daily checklist of work for your child; currently, you have checklists but they are broken out by class. A quick-reference that puts all work on one page will help you keep track of the day's work. Look for those in week 2.
    2. Materials and lesson plans will be ready by 5 PM the day before. While we have said that materials are ready by 9 AM of that day, having them ready sooner will support families' planning the night before. Teachers will let you know if week 1 is ready for the full week so you can start planning. Moving forward, we want to get into the practice of having materials ready the evening before. 
     
    Please reach out to me with questions about process; every family will function a little differently and we want to develop a system that best meets needs.
     
    Thank you for your continued partnership.
     
    Best,
     
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School 
    Norwood School 
    8821 River Rd
    Bethesda, MD 20817
    301-841-2109
  • March 17, 2020: MIDDLE SCHOOL MATERIALS PICK-UP

    Tuesday, March 17, 2020

    Dear Middle School Families,
     
    Here are the details for supply pick-up at the Middle School on Thursday, March 19. Our goal is to get items to you as quickly as possible while maintaining physical distance.
     
    Do You Need to Come or Not?
    By late Wednesday afternoon, I will email the parents of any middle school students who have nothing to pick up. If you get that email, please do not come to Norwood unless your child has something they absolutely need from their locker. Pick up from lockers is strongly discouraged unless essential.
     
    Where and How to Pick Up
    Please drive into the middle school carpool loop and stop outside the entrance to the Cohen Common Room. We will be waiting inside. Let us know who you are picking up for, and we will fetch the items for those students, including tablet computers, if still at school. We will bring the items in a bag to the walkway outside and then return to the Cohen Common Room so you can load the bag into your car.
     
    If Collecting Something from a Locker
    Only students will be permitted to go to their lockers, and only one at a time (they will wait in their car in the carpool loop). Again, this is strongly discouraged unless essential.
     
    Additional Measures to Ensure Cleanliness
    • The School has been thoroughly cleaned and that process is ongoing.
    • Those handling items for pick-up will be wearing latex gloves as well as following good practices for frequent handwashing.
    Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. Thank you for your continued support and partnership.
     
    Sincerely,
     
     
    Michele
    Head of Middle School
     
  • March 17, 2020: LOWER SCHOOL MATERIALS PICK-UP

    Tuesday, March 17, 2020

    Dear Lower School Parents,
     
    I want to follow up on Matthew's email from yesterday with details regarding Thursday's materials pick-up. Minimizing contact and maintaining good health practices are important, and the process is designed to support those ends. See below for the process we'll use to distribute.
     
    Thursday's Pick-Up Process
     
    Where to pick up
    We will use the Lower School carpool lane as a staging area for picking up materials. Tables will be setup that have materials from your child's teachers. There is some rain in the forecast, and we'll have tents over the tables to keep it dry.
     
    How to pick up
    It works like carpool. Along the lower school circle you will stop at the first station to give your name (or show your carpool sign) and then pull up to the top of the circle where your materials will be on a table for you to pick up. You will need to get out of your car to collect the materials.
     
    If you can't make it Thursday to pick up
    Email me and we can figure out a solution.
     
    Additional Measures to Ensure Cleanliness
    • The School has been thoroughly cleaned and that process is ongoing. While some middle school students may need to reach their lockers, we are resticting access to in the Lower School. If there are any necessary items you need to pick up, email Beanie ahead of your arrival.
    • Anyone handling materials will be wearing latex gloves, as well as following good practices for frequent handwashing.
    • Tables with materials on them (including those at the curb) will be wiped down and cleaned every 30 minutes. 
    Thank you, everyone, for your flexibility in this process. As questions come up, don't hesitate to let us know!
     
    Best, 
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School
Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.