The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 25, 2009


Carlisle School staff devotes summer days to curriculum

Each year, the Carlisle School staff and teachers spend part of their summer vacation participating in professional development and curriculum planning. This year was no exception. Faculty members for pre-school through eighth grade, including those who teach art, music and special education, spent one or more days at the school during July and August.

At a Tuesday afternoon team meeting, sixth-grade teachers (from left to right) Wendy Stack (science), Donna Clapp (language arts), Patricia Comeau (special education) and David Collins (social science) build on summer curriclum development and prepare for the consultant’s visit. (Photo by Beth Clarke)

The teachers held planning meetings for the math and science curriculums, as well as the preschool and kindergarten. Middle school art teacher Courtney Longaker studied the history and techniques of enameling and the physical education department reviewed methods of record-keeping and assessment. They also planned tennis and frisbee activities. The special education department offered recertification in restraint training, and the world language department focused on the Spanish and Chinese curriculum, as well as the transition from middle school to high school. Teachers modified their websites to integrate technology into math and science.

Focus on language arts

Out of the more than 46 separate projects, almost one-fourth were focused on language arts skills, such as reading, writing, literature, thesis development and phonemic awareness.

The focus on language arts was no accident. The school is in the process of reviewing the language arts curriculum, explained Carlisle School Literacy Specialist Sue Helenius-LaPorte in an email. “Two years ago, we started with a review of our writing curriculum. We looked at what was being taught and what our students were learning. This past spring, we completed the writing phase of the review and put forth recommendations to improve our teaching of writing. One of the most important was the recommendation to bring in a professional staff developer with expertise in the writers’ workshop who could help us develop a consistent model for teaching writing at every grade level.”

Author as consultant

Following through with the recommendation for a workshop, said LaPorte, they hired consultant Lester Laminack, Professor Emeritus at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, for a two-day workshop. Laminack is a children’s book author, as well as the author of many resource books, such as Cracking Open the Author’s Craft: Teaching the Art of Writing (Theory and Practice in Action) and Unwrapping the Read Aloud: Making Every Read Aloud Intentional and Instructional (Theory and Practice in Action).

“Teachers interrupted their summer to return to school for two days in August to hear Lester speak,” said LaPorte. “He was a thoroughly enjoyable and erudite presenter and we will be using what we learned to enhance our teaching. We are grateful to the Carlisle Education Fund for helping to support this effort.”

LaPorte was pleased to report that Laminack will return in October for a two-day workshop, “which will give us the opportunity to ask questions and to get feedback on our teaching. He will also be modeling lessons and conferring with our student writers.” Afterwords, she said, “we will have a chance to debrief with him.” ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito