Friday, April 18, 2008
Shorts from the Regional School Committee, April 8
• Kudos for the bands. CCHS Principal Peter Badalament said, “I am extremely proud of the Repertory and Concert Bands. They put on a fabulous show at Symphony Hall.” He praised Band Director Al Dentino, English teacher David Nuremburg and retired guidance counselor Tom Curtain, who had worked hard to put together the visit in late March of the Sapporo Shiroishi High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble. “It was a fabulous experience for our students.” Badalament also thanked the local host families.
Dentino said, “It was an exciting week for all of us!” He recapped events of the week starting on Tuesday, March 22 with a reception for the Japanese band, Channel 4 News coming Wednesday and interviewing a few students, the Japanese band playing at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston and meeting Governor Deval Patrick at the State House on Thursday, and the Friday night performance at Symphony Hall. The visit ended with a bash at the Roxy, a nightclub in Boston on Saturday night for the bands and host families. The Japanese band left blurry-eyed on 6 a.m. Sunday morning.
Dentino told the RSC that the visit satisfied four criteria: It balanced musical, educational, cultural and social components. He was glad Governor Patrick joined them briefly at the State House. “He was returning the favor,” Dentino said, reminding the committee that the Hokkaido governor had met with the CCHS Concert Band when they visited Japan last April. Dentino said, “In a short amount of time, the kids overcome some challenges. They learn how to interact with the kid sitting next to them even though they can’t speak a word of the other’s language. But they all speak the international language of music.”
• Possible band trip to Japan in 2010. Dentino then asked the RSC for permission to begin planning a potential trip to Sapporo, Japan in 2010. When asked about the cost, Dentino answered, “We are hugely fortunate. We don’t use tour companies. We don’t believe they should be making money off our students. This cuts the costs by a third to fifty percent. The trip last year cost $2,400 and we gave money back.” However, he worried about what costs will look like in two years.
RSC member Jerry Wedge asked what the biggest challenges are. Dentino answered, “Allergies, passports and getting instruments to Japan and back.” This would be the concert band’s fourth journey to Japan. “No one else is doing this in the U.S. It’s cutting edge.” The RSC showed support for the idea, but did not make a final decision.
• Activotes demonstration. A group of Concord second graders came in to show the RSC how to use Activotes. Activotes are small, hand-held devices that teachers distribute to each student in class to do immediate assessment. Each Activote has six buttons, labeled: A - F. The buttons are used to choose associated multiple choice questions that appear on the ActivBoard. An ActivBoard is an integrated white board system that can be connected to a computer, the internet or other media. It also can be used as a blackboard whose drawings can be saved as a file and reused.
The second graders gave the RSC a test called, “Are you as smart as a second grader?” The test included questions on geology, geography and other areas. The young students’ enthusiasm was tremendous.
The Concord second-grade teacher Becky Bristol called the devices ‘assessment accessories.’ “I can see where they are daily. It’s more authentic than a unit test. It’s a wonderful tool for a teacher and it’s very motivating for the kids.” She explained that the technology allows shy children to participate more and they weed out “the followers,” students who raise their hands to agree with other children who generally know the right answers. She said, “They engage kids and teachers.” Bristol added that ActivBoards allowed teachers to share curriculum and collaborate more often.
Presently, the Carlisle School has five ActivBoards and three sets of Activotes. The Carlisle Education Foundation is offering three more ActivBoards for next year. ∆
© 2008 The