Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
www.ecsnj.org friendsofelysian.org
Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director
Elysian Charter School
Weekly Newsletter

A Positively Different Public School

January 9, 2017         Vol. 12  Issue 18
The school newsletter is sent out on Mondays.  When there is a holiday, the newsletter is sent the following day. 

Please note:  From January 3 to February 10 send news to deb.rosner@ecsnj.org by 10:00 AM on Mondays.

The weekly newsletter is archived on Elysian's website, www.ecsnj.org, so that you can always access both the most recent newsletter as well as all previous ones.
Harry's Corner
From The Washington Post
Published March 20, 2016
(Note: Click on the link in the middle of this article to read about specific studies on homework.)
Principal: What happened when my school ended useless homework
By Valerie Strauss March 18
Anyone who closely follows the debate about the value of homework at different grades knows about a famous meta-analysis of previous research on the subject, published in 2006 by researcher Harris Cooper and colleagues, which found that homework in elementary school does not contribute to academic achievement. You might think that educators would have taken that to heart, but because research rarely informs educational policy, it didn’t.
Today, children in preschool — that’s 3- and 4-year-olds — routinely get homework in the form of dull worksheets. A February 2016 report on New York City’s pre-kindergarten program reported this:
Out-of-school enrichment activities was another way pre-K programs engage parents in children’s learning at home. Homework most often consisted of worksheet packets and reading with the child or instructions to practice with children what they are learning at school. Parents in the focus groups voiced strong opinions about homework, with some favoring it and others feeling it was not age-appropriate for preschoolers to have homework;  some felt their children had too little and others too much. On the positive side, parents enjoyed engaging with their children and saw homework as a window into what they were learning at school.
On the other hand, some parents felt their children had too much homework and preferred their children to spend more time at play. Most felt the daily requirement of reading a book to the child was important and key to their child’s reading and vocabulary progress. One parent pointed out that some of the content of the homework is beyond the child’s knowledge so parents are almost “required” to teach it at home. To encourage children to enjoy reading, one center loans each child a book every week that parents are expected to read with their child.
In Cambridge, Mass., one principal faced the homework issue and did something about it. She is Katie Charner-Laird, principal of Cambridgeport School, which educates students from what it calls “junior kindergarten” through fifth grade. Charner-Laird is a progressive educator who wrote the following piece about what happened when she led her team to reevaluate homework and whether it was important to assign. This appeared on the website of the nonprofit organization National Association for the Education of Young Children, and I am republishing it with permission.
By Katie Charner-Laird
In 2014, I found myself in one too many meetings with discontent parents talking about homework.  Some parents felt the homework was not meaningful.  Others were upset because they felt there was not enough feedback from teachers. Still, other parents wanted teachers to be individualizing homework more.  In each of these meetings, it became uncomfortably clear that I really didn’t know what was happening across the school with regards to homework.
By the end of that year, I had made one firm commitment both to myself and to several parents.  We would spend some time as a staff, before the next school year started, articulating our beliefs and approach to homework, and develop what some might call a homework policy.
Over that summer, I read a number of articles about how we have to get better at homework, the argument being  that homework is a problem for children and families because it is tedious and doesn’t ask children to think critically and creatively.  While I didn’t completely disagree with these articles, I also didn’t find a strong rationale for why we give homework or how much homework we should be giving.
I had heard of Alfie Kohn’s book, “The Homework Myth,” but in truth, I was avoiding reading it.  As a former teacher, I had always felt that homework was a critical part of children learning organizational skills and responsibility and a way to practice newly developed skills.  Moreover, the idea of getting rid of homework seemed a bit too unconventional. But when I finally did pick up “The Homework Myth,” I couldn’t put it down. One by one, my reasons for considering homework an essential part of the elementary school experience were dismantled.
Time management and organizational skills: Kohn points out that rather than teaching time management to students, homework actually requires parents to do more to organize children’s time.
Newly learned skills: Kohn argues that it is rare that all students need the same practice at the end of a lesson.  For some, additional practice may be confusing, while for others, it may be unnecessary.
What the research says: Kohn scoured the research to find that there is no evidence that homework in elementary school leads to an increase in student achievement.
At our opening staff meetings last August, I asked teachers to read excerpts from “The Homework Myth,” and discuss the article with grade-level colleagues.  Many teachers were as dumbfounded as I was when challenged to think about their long-held beliefs about homework.  I asked each grade level team to decide on a common homework approach for the coming school year.  While I knew where I stood on the homework issue at this point, I felt it was important for teachers to make these decisions themselves after I had provided them with research and the opportunities to discuss it. As I met with each grade-level team, I also felt it was my responsibility to ensure that there was some semblance of a trajectory from kindergarten through fifth grade.
The School’s New Homework Policy:
Last school year for the first time, I knew the homework expectations for each class in the school!
  • In kindergarten, students dictate stories to their families on a regular basis, but with no official due dates.  Parents were encouraged to read to their children, but there were no set expectations for how much or how often.
  • Starting in first grade, students were expected to read nightly and this included families reading to children.
  • Most grade-level teams opted out of reading logs or other accountability structures, noting that these often devolved into a meaningless checklists lacking accountability altogether.
  • Third graders were asked to write nightly. Students determine the content and form of their writing, which is not graded.  Third graders are also expected to practice their math facts based on both grade level expectations and personal levels of mastery.
In my experiences as both principal and teacher, parents often voice two significant complaints: homework either took too long, or not long enough; AND parents didn’t understand the homework, so they couldn’t help their child.  These issues have been addressed in our new approach to homework. All homework is now open-ended enough to avoid these common complaints.
Teachers give parents information about other elements also taught in class so they can be supportive of the related homework.  When a teacher asks students to read for 30 minutes, some students may read 10 pages, and others may read 30.  Parents can help children find a regular time to do that homework because the time needed is consistent.  Moreover, if a parent wants a child to do more homework, it is quite simple to just have them keep reading. There is no “wrong way” to do the homework. And this has led to many families reporting that the level of stress in their household has decreased dramatically.
So in 2014, Cambridgeport became “the school that doesn’t give homework,” yet I heard repeatedly from students, teachers, and parents about the significant, meaningful work they are doing at home.  A fourth grader begged to take home his writing notebook on the third day of school so he could keep working on the story he had started in class.  A class of fifth graders  requested additional practice problems to take home with them.  A father-daughter pair showed me the model they created of the setting of the book they were reading together.
Our school may be giving less homework but we have more students engaged in more meaningful learning activities at home than ever before.
Lottery for school year 2017-2018 will be held on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 1:30pm. Good Luck.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS! The Chili Cook-off is Saturday, February 11 at the Elks Club in Hoboken. Stay tuned for more details! 
THANK YOU! Elysian has received 83 computer mice from Albert Barsky of the Barsky Gallery in downtown Hoboken! Thank you also to Mona Sarafa for facilitating the donation! Please visit his gallery and be sure to thank him for his generous donation.
- Go to www.iGive.com/ElysianCharter. Register for the iGive button. It is free. Then go to your favorite online store and shop! Nothing else to do!
During the holiday season, 6 people made $25 through iGive for Elysian! That's $86 for 2016. Please consider signing up for free. This is a true no brainer, but we need more people to sign up.
- Shop through our store at ElysianCharter.ShutterflyStorefront.com to earn 13% for Elysian at Tiny Prints and Shutterfly. 
10 people have shopped through our Shutterfly storefront and earned $142 for Elysian! 
- Go to http://smile.amazon.com/. Click on ‘change your charity’ and select Elysian Charter. Bookmark this address and shop as usual. 
-Keep bringing in those box tops. Just in the first half of 2016, we've made $413.90 from box tops! 
Please forward these links to friends and family! 

One of the great things about the Elysian community is all of the support that exists for giving our kids enriching activities.  This year, the PTSO volunteered to pay for the rental of the beautiful Mile Square Theater so that Elysian students can experience performing in an authentic theater and our audience can comfortably hear and see the performance.  Big thanks to the PTSO for their support of the Elysian theater program!  


Auditions for the younger kids (grades 3 to 5) will be Tuesday, January 24 for 3rd and 4th grade and Wednesday, January 25 for 5th grade during their lunch periods. Interested actors can get an audition packet from their teachers.  The show, Shrek Jr., will be performed on Wednesday, May 24th

Student Dress
Parents, please be sure to dress your children appropriately for winter weather. When we have our monthly fire drills, students do not have time to get their coats.
Elysian Collects Box Tops and LABELS for Education: 
Look for the container near Deb's desk in the office!  Thank you! 
As per state law, we no longer publish the exact location of trips for security reasons.
Please read the calendar weekly, as changes are updated regularl

Monday, January 9
  • All Lottery Applications due by 5:00 PM for the 2017-18 school year.
  • Basketball: 5th Grade Green at Wallace, 6:45
  • Basketball: 6th Grade at Wallace, 7:45
Tuesday, January 10
  • Basketball: 7th and 8th Grade at Multi, 6:15 PM
Wednesday, January 11
  • Half Day of School for staff development. 12:30 dismissal.  After School program available as usual.
  • Elysian Lottery for Admission, 1:30 PM
  • Basketball: 7th and 8th Grade at Wallace, 6:45 PM
Thursday, January 12
  • Basketball: 5th Grade Green team at Wallace, 6:45 PM
Friday, January 13
  •  Basketball: 5th Grade White team at Wallace, 6:45 PM
Monday, January 16
  • Elysian closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Tuesday, January 17
  • Basketball: 6th Grade at Wallace, 6:45 PM
Thursday, January 19
  • Basketball: 7th and 8th Grade at Multi, 6:15 PM
Saturday, January 21
  • Basketball: 3rd Grade White and Green teams at Wallace, 1:50 PM
  • Basketball: 4th Grade at Wallace, 2:40 PM
  • Girls Basketball at Multi, 1:00 and 3:00 PM 
Monday, January 23 
  • Basketball: 6th Grade at Wallace, 7:45 PM
Tuesday, January 24
  • Basketball: 5th Grade Green team at Wallace, 7:45 PM
Wednesday, January 25
  • Basketball: 7th and 8th Grade at Wallace, 6:45 PM
Thursday, January 26
  • Basketball: 7th and 8th Grade at Multi, 6:15 PM
Friday, January 27
  • Basketball: 5th Grade Green team at Wallace, 8:45 PM
Saturday, January 28
  • Basketball: 3rd Grade White Team at Wallace, 1:00 PM
  • Basketball: 3rd Grade Green Team at Wallace, 6:40 PM
  • Basketball: 4th Grade at Wallace, 7:30 PM
  • Girl's Basketball at Multi, 3:00 PM
Monday, January 30
  • Parent Forum: School Climate/Bullying Prevention, 6:00 PM
  • Board of Trustees meeting, 7:00 PM.
Tuesday, January 31
  • Basketball: 6th Grade at Wallace, 7:45 PM

Wednesday, February 1
  • Half day of school for report card writing, 12:30 dismissal.  After School Program available as usual.
  • Basketball: 7th and 8th Grades at Wallace, 6:45 PM
Friday, February 3
  • Community Meeting
  • Basketball: 5th Grade White Team at Wallace, 7:45 PM
  • Basketball: 6th Grade at Wallace, 8:45 PM
Saturday, February 4
  • Basketball: 3rd Grade White Team at Wallace, 12:10 PM
  • Basketball: 3rd Grade Green Team at Wallace, 1:50 PM
  • Basketball: 4th Grade at Wallace, 2:40 PM
  • Girls Basketball at Multi, 2;00 pm
Monday, February 6
  • Basketball: 5th Grade Green Team at Wallace, 6:45 PM
  • Basketball: 7th and 8th Grade at Multi, 7:15 PM
Friday, February 10
  • Basketball: 5th Grade Green Team at Wallace, 6:45 PM
  • Basketball: 5th Grade White Team at Wallace, 7:45 PM
Saturday, February 11
  • Chili Dinner, The Elks Club
  • Basketball: 3rd Grade Green Team at Wallace, 5:00 PM
  • Basketball: 4th Grade at Wallace, 5:50 PM
  • Basketball: 3rd Grade White Team at Wallace, 6:40 PM
  • Girls Basketball at Multi, 1;00 PM
Tuesday, February 14
  • Basketball: 6th Grade at Wallace, 6:45 PM
Wednesday, February 15
  • Report Cards distributed
Thursday, February 16 - Tuesday, February 21
  • Elysian closed for February Break
Wednesday, February 22
  • Elysian back in session. 
Thursday, February 23
  • Basketball: 5th Grade Green Team at Wallace, 6:45 PM
Friday, February 24
  • Basketball: 5th Grade White Team at Wallace, 6:45 PM
  • Basketball: 6th Grade at Wallace, 7:45 PM
Saturday, February 25
  • Basketball:  3rd Grade White Team at Wallace, 3:20 PM
  • Basketball: 3rd Grade Green Team at Wallace, 5:00 PM
  • Basketball: 4th Grade at Wallace, 7:30 PM
Monday, February 27
  • Board of Trustees Meeting, 7:00 PM
Tuesday, February 28
  • Basketball: 5th Grade White Team at Wallace, 6:45 PM

1460 Garden Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director | harry.laub@ecsnj.org | Phone:201.876.0102 | Fax:201.876.9576
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