Friday, October 1, 1999
Summertime was learning time for teachers and administrators
The Carlisle School administrators and teachers had a busy summer and the results of their efforts will be apparent in classrooms throughout the school. At the Carlisle School Committee meeting on September 21, principal Andy Goyer reported that 52 teachers had participated in a variety of approved workshops.
During the summer, a team of teachers from each grade level met to discuss the year's curriculum and many attended workshops and conferences. Thirteen teachers participated in the "Understanding Teaching" workshop designed by Research for Better Teaching, and assistant principal Terry Farwell participated in "Observing and Analyzing Teaching." Six teachers received training in the Open Circle-Social Competency Program. Lynne Berube, the physical education teacher, participated in a week-long Project Adventure training and new kindergarten and special education teacher Karen Morse attended a "Math Their Way" workshop. Specialist David Mayall and several teachers attended workshops on technology. Systems mentor Alan Ticotsky and math teacher Rob Quaden attended the Waters Foundation training on systems thinking.
Changes in curriculum
Goyer gave examples of some of the changes to the present curriculum which emerged as a result of the summer meetings. First grade teachers Esther Almgren, Daryl Greenwood and Michelle Toch revised the first-grade curriculum in science and math. They developed four hands-on projects that will rotate through each first-grade class so all students will have the opportunity to explore units about the moon and constellations, whales, a pond, and seeds and plants. The fifth-grade team reorganized the year's schedule so that the major projects and learning units sequence better.
Aware of the need to preserve the integrity of the core arts program for the school, fine arts coordinator Thomas O'Halloran reviewed the status of how music and art are currently integrated in the activities of the K-5 classroom curriculum. The arts teachers also have proposed two new programs: an international art project with a focus on one country for the second grade and a unit on the arts in the period of the Civil War in the fourth-grade curriculum.
The three science teachers, Jim Trierweiler, Sara Bysshe and Wendy Stack, developed goals which would encourage connections between the various topics and themes in the middle school science program. For example, in the grade six curriculum, the students will learn about energy and matter. In grade seven, students will focus on where energy comes from and the various types of energy, including the food chain and photosynthesis. Grade eight instruction will cover the physics of motion, aerodynamics, chemical decomposition, fractional distillation and ecology.
Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson said she has seen tremendous effort among the teachers trying to integrate what was learned in the summer workshops with the classroom programs. Committee member Cindy Nock hoped the teachers would not make great changes in the school curriculum for one question on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment (MCAS) tests.
Fox-Melanson shared the system goals with members of the school committee. The goals attempt to include every aspect of the educational experience in the school, such as to encourage the concept of civility, "engage in instructional activities characterized by high expectations and quality student performance in all content strands," and expand the use of Systems Thinking and Dynamic Modeling in the school. The report also includes a broad list of more specific goals, such as monitoring the Spanish and French FLEX program in the fifth grade, encouraging more use of poetry and dictionary skills, and having a system-wide spelling program. Other key goals are to increase coordination between the school community and town library, be an active participant in the Town of Carlisle's long-term capital plan, to expand the advisor/advisee program in the middle school, and to increase training on allergy awareness. Fox-Melanson said, "When you look at all our programs, it is a challenge to practice and live them on a daily basis."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito