Francis Wyman Elementary School
Francis Wyman Elementary School continues to place a major focus on developing the Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) instruction also known as Response to Intervention (RtI) . Teachers are continuing to explore innovative ways to maximize instructional groupings to support instruction for all students. We continue to group across the grade for reading in grades one through five and have expanded this model for mathematics in grades four and five. This fall we have changed to a new universal screening tool for both reading and mathematics called I- Ready. We are learning how to implement this new on-line assessment as well as how to interpret and use the data generated from the tool. Student progress continues to be closely monitored with a variety of progress monitoring assessment tools as teachers work together to respond to student needs. Teachers meet weekly with the principal to review student progress and determine adjustments to students’ programs to maximize their learning. The grade level teams work closely and collaboratively with the mindset that all teachers are responsible for the progress of all the students in the grade. This team approach provides students with the benefit of the wisdom and experience of our highly functioning teams and very talented teachers. Our Problem Solving Team process continues to deepen and develop as we work together with parents to individualize students’ programs as needs arise. We have added a number of new intervention options for students such as Lexia for reading and Symphony Math. In addition to interventions all students have access to our I-Ready instruction program for both reading and mathematics. As a result of a successful pilot, we have continued to offer the on-line Accelerated Reader program which supports all students as they develop as life-long readers. We are in our final stages of our implementation of the Fundations phonics program as grade three began this program in the fall. Francis Wyman School was delighted to host visits from several teams of teachers from various Massachusetts school districts as these schools explore how to implement a Multi-Tier System of Support instruction. We were also honored to be featured in the article “The Test Ahead” in the Boston Sunday Globe’s Globe Magazine. Francis Wyman School was highlighted as a success story for how we are finding ways to effectively provide support to all students.
In addition to academics, supporting students in the area of behavior is also part of the MTSS model. As we work to deepen our responsiveness to student needs, the guidance department was restructured from two guidance counselors to one guidance counselor and a school- based school psychologist. Both positions work together with all grades. The school psychologist manages the Problem Solving Team process and works closely with parents, teachers and students to proactively address challenges and concerns. By being an integral part the school, the school psychologist is able to gain a deeper understanding of student needs and is thus able to provide support that is direct and proactive. In collaboration with our guidance department, the FWS Instructional Leadership Team is developing a Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) program with the intent of implementing the program next year.
A new elementary student progress report was developed reflecting a standards -based format. A standards- based format indicates the standards that students are expected to know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The reports were well received by most parents as they provide more detailed information regarding the curriculum. The new progress indicators report progress as measured against the end –of –year expectations.
This year has truly been the year of technology! Every classroom, including those rooms used by specialist teachers, special education teachers and reading teachers, now has an interactive whiteboard. Teachers are constantly finding effective ways to use this technology to enhance teaching and learning. We now have over sixty iPads for student and teacher use. All teachers in grades kindergarten through five along with special education teachers have at least one iPad for use in their classrooms. The rest of the iPads are shared among the classes as needed. In the hands of the students and teachers, these devices have propelled student engagement and interactive learning to new heights. We continue to add more portable computer stations comprised of four computer stations. These stations allow students to access the many computer programs that are now essential components of the curriculum. We have expanded our use of the student information management system, Aspen. This program supports the new student progress reports and allows us to tailor the information to our specific needs. The online access of the report card allows multiple users to access the information at any time. The FWS Technology and Innovation Team is comprised of several teachers who are committed to supporting the school with our technology initiatives and moving our use of technology in a meaningful and creative direction.
Communication has been enhanced through a variety of electronic forums as the school continues to move to a paperless environment. All of the Burlington School District and school websites have been changed and have a new design that provides information in a more consistent format. Parents can now follow Francis Wyman School on Facebook, Twitter, and the Principal’s Blog. Many departments and individual teachers have developed new blogs, wikis and websites. Principal Coffees occur every month alternating day and evening meetings. We continue to offer a variety of afterschool enrichment opportunities. Thanks to the support of the Burlington Education Foundation, the addition of the LEGO Robotics Club proved to be a huge success as over one third of our grade five students participated in this club. This joint venture with the high school LEGO Robotics Team was a wonderful learning experience for the FWS students, high school students, and teachers. We are pleased that this club will be an ongoing offering at FWS. A new club this year is the Reading Club for grades one through three. Family Math Night was well attended by students and families from all grades.
Several new curriculum teams have been developed to facilitate communication, distributed leadership, and shared decision-making in regard to curriculum and instruction. We now have district – wide curriculum councils in Literacy, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. More teachers have participated in “Learning Walks” through either formal training or by simply experiencing the process through classroom visits. This process provides embedded professional development as teachers learn from visiting their colleagues’ classrooms and observing students in the act of learning.
The PTO continues to be an active and supportive organization. Books, materials, field trips and enrichment activities are some of the benefits that the PTO provides through its volunteers and fundraising. The Carnival is the highlight event of the year thanks to the enormous effort of the PTO. Although fundraising events vary from year to year, the PTO remains a constant and steady support to FWS.
Susan P. Astone