The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 10, 2010

Carlisle School accepts technology gift, reviews writing curriculum

Carlisle School Superintendent Joyce Mehaffey thanks Randy Laughlin during the December 1 Carlisle School Committee meeting for his donation of software and funds to purchase technology. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

The Carlisle School Committee (CSC) voted on December 1 to gratefully accept a donation of Microsoft software and Promethean ActivExpressions from Carlisle resident Randy Laughlin, whose donation was matched by his employer, Microsoft. Laughlin donated Windows 7 Professional, Office for Mac 2011, Microsoft Visio and Office 2010 Professional.

In addition, he donated funds to the school to purchase a set of 32 Promethean ActivExpressions, which are handheld voting devices used with electronic white boards. The devices allow students to “vote” or reply to questions electronically. They have already been received and are being configured, explained Carlisle School Network Manager Carolynn Luby. “The set … rounds out the school’s inventory of “votes,” which now includes an appropriate set of devices for each grade level (those with texting capability for older students, those without texting for younger ones),” explained Luby.

Writing curriculum. Literacy Specialist Susan Bober gave the CSC an update on the progress of the writing curriculum review. “This summer something huge has happened in education,” she said. Massachusetts has made plans to switch to national education standard tests, she explained, which will take the place of MCAS. She said that it is a good time to be reviewing the writing curriculum, and because the school was already in the process of comparing the writing curriculum to national standards, she said, “We are ahead of other school systems.” After the writing curriculum review is finished the team will review the reading curriculum.

Superintendent/Principal Joyce Mehaffey praised the teachers for creating an online Wiki with writing curriculum scoring rubrics. A “Wiki” is a group of web pages built on Wikispaces. The pages can be accessed and updated by multiple users if desired. Security rules can be used to restrict access. By publishing the writing assessment system online in a secure zone, the teachers have access to a developing document.

The rubrics are used by teachers as a guide to the level of writing that should be achieved by a certain grade. There are eight “anchor standards” that determine good writing, said Bober. “We have good, rigorous standards. It grows from one grade to the next so the child grows as a reader and a writer.”

CSC member Louis Salemy said he has seen a “dramatic improvement” in his son’s writing skills. CSC chair Chad Koski said they have seen “the fruits of that [work] in the MCAS scores.”

Administration busy. Mehaffey said that the new administrative structure is working well. Mehaffey, Principal Patrice Hurley and Director of Student Services/Principal Karen Slack are working to monitor the effect of the change and they plan to survey parents and teachers for their responses. Slack noted that she is “busier” but added that she “forgot how much I like being a principal. There are good and rewarding parts to it.” Hurley agreed that she is busier but also sees the advantages to the change.

Teacher request. Eighth-grade English teacher Marcella Pixley submitted a request to have her son attend Carlisle School. He would start in third grade. The committee will vote on the request at the next meeting.

No major changes to policies. The committee recommended no changes to the following policies to be voted on in January: Attendance, Overnight/Out of State Field Trips, and Equal Education. One minor change was recommended for the Equal Employment policy. Instead of listing members of the administrative team, the policy will state that the policy “shall be the responsibility of the Superintendent and members of the administrative team.”

Votes. The committee voted to approve the disposal of obsolete equipment, and to adopt the new Carlisle School Bullying Plan. ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito