Bill Olsen on Nov. 3

Middle School Principals Discuss Plans For Improvement

The following is a portion of a transcript from the Nov. 3 Westford School Committee meeting. For other parts of the meeting, click here.

8:09 p.m. – Robin Whitney of the Blanchard School and Christopher Chew of the Stony Brook School presented their school improvement plans.

While there might be some difference between the two feeder schools to Westford Academy, there still would be collaboration between the two buildings to ensure standardization in preparing students for Westford Academy.

The second goal according to Whitney was keeping in touch with parents, particularly with new social media routes.

Chew then said that Blanchard was able to accomplish much of its goals, but Stony Brook was not.

Whitney also said that the final goal that a clinical counselor will be helping with classroom observations to help with children who are struggling emotionally.

Chew praised Rick McElhinney regarding the models that support students.

He also said that this year there will be a push to examine DDM data and how it impacts student achievement.

Whitney said there will need to be an effort on how to use data to help better instruct students, and that the two schools will collaborate on what they’ve found.

The seventh goal according to Chew is a look at the school schedule.

There will be a look at instructional time, and how foreign language classes have different levels of instructional time versus other classes.

Whitney said that STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) would be given Arts programs to become “STEAM” programs.

Keele thanked Chew and said that the Abbot and Nabnasset Schools send too many e-mails. There is an emphasis on too much communication he said, but he noted that if people aren’t getting the communication, they’re just not opting to find it.

Murray asked about the goal of increasing teaching effectiveness and how it would be done.

Whitney said that the current schedule is a bit choppy since some classes only happen once every six days and even once every 12 days when snow days occur.

Chew added that any class that is portfolio-based has a significant amount of projects, which leads to complicated organization for teachers. However, he noted that it’s different in both buildings.

Murray said that one of the metrics for technology was looking at technology that was introduced and she asked if the town would change to an assessment of how new technology is impacting learning.

Chew said that teachers have been focusing on student growth, not the amount of new technologies that are being brought in.

Murray asked in the future if it could be shown how new technology initiatives can be tied to better learning.

Chew said that Google Docs have helped students in learning about world religions through making a presentation and elaborated on the use of new technological tools in the classroom.

Murray repeated her request for future school improvement plans to provide more proof of how technology is improving the classroom.

Whitney offered another example about how QR Codes were used in a project.

Whitney also invited everyone to come to the new learning commons.

Olsen provided an update on the new learning commons as well.

Ryan said that his child’s teacher used Google Docs extensively and he asked about the gym period coming up once every seven days.

Kohl then asked about how collaboration between the two schools works.

Chew says that the principals and assistant principals meet and provided details.

Harkness said asked if putting the foreign languages into the core subjects would take more time how it might impact how they take foreign language classes at the high school.

Whitney and Chew elaborated, saying that there would be a look at adding more instructional time without adding to the current curriculum.

Clay asked if there was anything the School Committee should look at, such as wellness programs.

Whitney said the principals and assistant principals may have more suggestions later on, but the team is still new.

Bill Olsen on Nov. 3

Bill Olsen on Nov. 3

Clay and Murray asked the student representatives for their input.

Becker said that she had done something similar to the QR Code initiative in one of her classes last year and it improved her experience.

O’Neill agreed that foreign language classes did feel choppy.

Olsen said he is pleased at the collaboration between the two schools.

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