Dec. 17 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

Dear Parent or Guardian,

At the midpoint of the second quarter, please note the following supports available for students with disabilities, English Learners and Gifted students.

Special Education
On Dec. 1, the Office of Special Education held a work session with the School Board and presented a 5-year action plan and goals for special education in APS. The presentation can be found on Board Docs.

On Dec.7, the Office of Special Education, members of the Executive Leadership Team, and the Superintendent held a Town Hall meeting with staff members who are providing support to students participating in Level 1. The topics discussed included instruction, staffing, and health and safety protocols.

On Dec. 9, the Superintendent held a “Super Chat” with SEPTA. He answered questions from the community on a variety of topics related to special education. The recording can be found on the, SEPTA website.

English Learners (EL)
As winter break approaches, here are a few ideas to keep your students engaged in their English language development while on vacation. Reading a book each day/night that can be found through the student’s accounts on their device. If you are not sure how to access the reading materials, please check with their teacher(s) before Friday. Reading for a period of time each night and having a conversation about the story (in English or in the home language) is a fun way to encourage reading and have a family discussion about what was read. Asking students questions about the characters in the book, “Who is your favorite character and why?” or “Which character would you like to be your best friend?” is a fun way to have them think about what they are reading.

Storytelling is another fun way to practice speaking English. Have your student tell a story over a five, six or seven day period. Each day, they can make up part of the story that continues the next day. The idea for the story can be created by the student or chosen from a list of ideas that the family comes up with together. Here are some examples: A story about the first time you saw snow. A story about getting a pet for the first time. A story about a hero in the family. A story about finding a $100 bill. A story about winning a big game. Being able to create a story over many days can be fun, especially if there are family members asking questions to the storyteller about the setting and the characters.

Keeping a ‘winter break journal’ is a fun way to continue writing during the two week break. The journal can have a daily focus or a single focus the entire time. The journal entries can be about what the student did each day. Or, it can be about what they wish for in 2021. They can even take their storytelling to the journal and write about the topic ideas listed above. A journal is often used to write daily gratitudes or daily appreciations. For emerging writers, they can draw a picture and write a small amount about what they drew in the picture.

Visit the Arlington Public Library website as a way to access thousands of free books at all age levels and reading levels. Although the branch library buildings are currently closed, the main Arlington Library is open for picking up books that are reserved online. In addition, the library has online events such as cookie decorating, book talks and arts and crafts activities.

Gifted Services

CTY Virtual Clubs
Johns Hopkins CTY’s new Virtual Clubs offer students interested in Math, Chess, or World Languages a chance to come together, have fun, and learn in real time as a community. Clubs run from January 18 – April 11, 2021. Registration is open with a deadline of January 5, 2021.


Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology (BLAST)
Virginia Space Grant Consortium offers a free educational program, BLAST,  designed to ignite a passion in students who already show an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). BLAST is a 3-day residential, on-campus experience, which is packed with demonstrations and collaborative activities led by college faculty, designed to inspire students to envision a career in a STEM field and motivate them to expand the number of STEM-related classes they take in higher grade levels. Registration is open now and closes on February 8, 2021.


Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted Spotlight on Schools

Carlin Springs 

DTL
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Glebe Elementary School

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Jefferson Middle School 

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Williamsburg Middle School

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Wakefield High School

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W-L High School

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