Monday, December 6, 2010

EdCamp NYC - What is That All About?

EdCamp NYC

As I sit on the train riding home to Boston, my thoughts spiral as I consider how I landed in New York City this weekend and what my take away is from the experience. I decided to participate in EdCamp NYC because I was certain this free “unconference” being held at The School at Columbia, Columbia University, would draw some of the most interesting educators. As I sat one of theclassrooms of this elementary school in a building on West 110th Street, I couldn’t’ believe I was listening to Tom Whitby speak on such topics as developing a Professional Learning Network (PLN) using social networks and the relevance of technology in our classrooms. Tom is a prevalent leader in the PLN’s in which I participate. It was then that I began to really consider how being a part of the Twitter and Blogging generation of education has propelled my life forward and pushed me to see technology from a whole new view. Less than one year ago I would not have dreamed I would have attended an “unconference” at Columbia University, NYC. I would never have imagined that I would meet folks whose writings I had read by way of the social network of Twitter. I wouldn’t have known them at all but through their blogposts and tweets. And there I was, connecting with those whose Twitter names I recognized. There I was asking others for their Twitter names so I could “follow” them. If not for this PLN, I wouldn’t have been listening to a discussion with someone called the “nerdy teacher” a person I “follow”. I wouldn’t have participated in a Skype discussion with a group of educators simultaneously participating in Ed Camp Citrus Florida, a session led by Dan Callahan. I wouldn’t have conversed with the technology director from Connecticut who recommended several other conferences nor the “Technology Teacher of the Year” from Pennsylvania. These are but a few of my interesting experiences during my Saturday at EdCamp NYC.

How did this all happen? It all began with a conversation I had in the hallway last spring with Patrick Larkin, principal of Burlington High School. He had often spoken of his experiences using Twitter to develop a Professional Learning Network but I really hadn’t understood it. Once he explained that I did not have to receive tweets on my phone and that I didn’t have to send out tweets but that I could just read them on my computer, I became more interested. He encouraged me to sign- up and just try it. He also informed me about an“unconference” in Philadelphia called“Ed Camp Philly” that was being organized by Dan Callahan (now a technology specialist at Pine Glen Elementary School). The “unconference” concept was quite appealing, but I knew I could not attend the weekend it was scheduled for in May. However, the conversation about it remained with me as I was interested in attending one at some point. I went home that night, started a Twitter account, and that’s how this all began.

I want to make it clear, that is was not just Twitter that made the difference. It was Twitter PLUS the person to person contact that made the difference. Many people think that social networking is replacing human contact. I am finding that for many of us it is enhancing human contact and really making the world small… very small. I have the choice to connect with other educators around the world electronically AND connect with them in person just as I did at this “unconference”. I had the opportunity to actually go to a conference to meet every day educators who I had never met, but had read about their thoughts, opinions, and experiences long before this meeting. It felt a little like a reunion of sorts, and yet how could it be a reunion when we had never met? This is a world I absolutely could not have envisioned less than one year ago. Absolutely not! And yet, there I was, in NYC, on a Saturday in December, engrossed in thoughtful conversations about education with others who share my passion. This was powerful! This experience allowed me to see through a window into our students’ future.

That is why I fully understand the paramount importance it is for me as a principal to be vigilant in my efforts to learn about the world of technology. I need to stay current regarding how it is used in the world and how we can use it in the classrooms. I listened to the frustration of the technology directors and specialists as they asked how they could help their principals understand the importance of supporting advances in using technology in the schools. Technology is changing fast and principals have the ability to move the agenda forward by committing to technology as a priority and by supporting technology though every avenue that is within the realm of a building administrator. The question is not whether or not to allow certain components of technology in schools. The question is how are we going to teach our students to use this powerful tool to enhance their learning and their lives. Educators must be deeply involved in this conversation as it is propelling forward with or without us. Our students need it to be “with us”. They will need to understand how to use technology effectively and responsibly to survive in this world.That is why it is our responsibility to lead the way.

Throughtechnology we can design instruction that exemplifies all the “engaging qualities” that we strive to incorporate. There are tremendous opportunities to provide experiences that are authentic and allow for personal response. Students can learn with others; others not in their classroom, their school or their state. They can produce projects that require them to have a “sense of audience”. They will need to evaluate materials they read, view or listen to via the internet. They will also need to be equally critical of their own writing or whatever they create with technology so that it is of the highest quality. There are limitless ways for students to put their “own stamp on things”, “make it their own”, and essentially bring their learning to the highest levels of Blooms Taxonomy. Technology has the potential to enhance creativity. However, the students need us to provide the clear and modeled expectations so that this medium is used for the best learning outcomes.

As the train slows to a halt, I realize it is back to work tomorrow. I am returning with renewed energy and a revitalized commitment towards the work that lies ahead in bringing technology to the students of my school. There is much work to be done and it won’t happen overnight, but effectively using technology in our classrooms is an essential component of educating this 21st Century generation.

Dr. Conti Discusses Re-districting Plans

Dr. Conti attended the Principal’s Coffee last Monday evening, November 29, to explain how things are progressing regarding the re-districting plans. He reviewed the School Committee’s guiding principles along with the timeline. The plan is to reassign about 140 or so students across the entire district to the new Memorial School. Every school will be affected to some degree. He expects FrancisWymanSchool to potentially lose about 60 students. At this point, he is working on determining the district line changes through the use of a computer program that identifies where each student lives. This allows him to explore many different options with relative ease. He expects a first draft of the new district lines to be shared with parents in a week or two. Once this first draft is released, the upcoming months will provide an opportunity for parents to give feedback. He expects that there will be families who have individual concerns or problematic situations. Clearly, not every concern will be easily fixed, but he is committed to working together with families. Students who will be entering grade 5 next year will be allowed to stay in their current schools if desired, however parents would need to provide their own transportation. For families who would like their grade 5 child to remain at a school but who also have children in lower grades, the parents may write a letter to Dr. Conti requesting that the younger sibling(s) also be allowed to stay at the school. The current policy allows parents to request out of district placements and these requests are approved based on the class size parameters. Below are the list of guiding principles and a timeline for the process. Please be aware that some families at Francis Wyman will be affected and that more information will be forthcoming in the near future.

Proposed Re-districting Time Line

November/December 2010

Present proposal to each elementary school and provide opportunity for feedback and comments.
January 2011

Make adjustments

March 2011

Approve new enrollment zones and transition plan

Elementary Redistricting Principles

1. Assign a student capacity to each elementary school – approximately 80-85%.

2. Redistricting to impact all four elementary schools equally – neighborhoods will not be reassigned solely due to the need for additional specialist staff.

3. As much as practicable, assign neighborhoods to the same elementary school.

4. If practical, students will not ride on school bus past an elementary school to reach a home elementary school.

5. All four elementary schools will have programmatic equality for all students.

6. To the extent possible, equally distribute apartment complexes between the four schools.

7. Research new housing developments approved by the Town and assign them to an elementary school.

8. Allow students who will be in grade 5 in September 2011 the option to remain in their home school for one year with parents responsible for providing transportation. If this opportunity is exercised, the request must be submitted to the Superintendent by (date TBD).

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast

The Thanksgiving Feast is a kindergarten tradition at Francis Wyman School. This feast is the culminating event of theThanksgiving Unit and integrates all that the students learned.  Students read books, wrote, stories, played math games and completed various arts and crafts projects related to this theme.  Students even helped prepare the food. It is a great celebration when the students finally attend the feast. They come to the feast dressed in the Pilgrim and Native American costumes that they made, each one decorated differently than the next. The students join together to sing the songs that they learned. Then the students sit at the beautifully set tables due in large part to the “woven" placements the students created. Thanks to our parent volunteers, the students are served a plate containing a taste of each food item. Students enjoy a variety of selections such as   “Stone Soup”, corn bread, pumpkin bread, cranberry sauce, and apple pie. Without a doubt the most popular food is the freshly popped popcorn! The true meaning of Thanksgiving is apparent at this festive occasion.

December 3, 2010


December 3, 2010

Important Dates:

Dec. 4 – 3 – 5pm Jump Rope Activity

Dec 6. – Professional Development, no school for students

Dec. 6 – 22 – Hat and Mitten Drive, see below

Dec. 8 – Used Bookstore

Dec. 10 – Picture Retake Day, see below

Dec. 15 – 20 – Barnes and Noble Book Fair, see below

Dec. 20 – 6pm, Winter Concert – Grades 4 and 5

Dec. 22 – Kindergarten Nutcracker, times TBD

Barnes and Noble Book Fair Dec. 15 – 20

Burlington Public School invites you to an annual holiday fundraiser at Barnes and Noble. Shop from 9am to 11pm and a % of your purchase will benefit our students. If you shop after school on Decemer 15th, you may see FW teachers and principals there!! Mr. Levin is even making an appearance and reading a favorite story! A flyer, including vouchers, will come home next week. Please bring a voucher with you. You may also shop on-line at and enter code 10321396 at checkout.

Picture Re-take Day… is scheduled for Dec. 10. Bailey’s Photography will be here to take photos of all students that were absent on the original Picture Day. If you are unhappy with your current photos, you may have them re-taken if the entire package is returned. Call the office if you have questions.

Hat and Mitten Drive

As a community service project, FWS 4th Graders are once again collecting *NEW* hats and mittens this month. Collection boxes will be in the office and on the 2nd floor near the elevator.

People Helping People thank you for your support!

Student Council – Coats for Kids Drive

Student Council is collecting gently used winter coats for kids and adults. If you bring in a coat by December 22, you may participate in a School Spirit Day on December 23 – “favorite team day”! Happy Holidays and thank you from student council!

2011 FW MCAS Schedule

MEPA testing March 7 –March 14 – for all ELL students

M T W Th F

March 21

March 22

Gr. 4 Long Composition March 23 Gr. 3 Reading March 24

Gr. 3 Reading March 25 Makeups

March 28

Gr. 4 Reading March 29 Gr. 4 Reading March 30

Gr. 5 Reading March 31 Gr. 5 Reading

Gr. 4 Long Comp makeup April 1


April 4


* Makeups are given as needed.

M T W Th F

May 10

Gr. 3 Math May 11

Gr. 3 Math May 12

Gr. 4 Math May 13

Gr. 4


May 16 Gr. 5 Math May 17

Gr. 5 Math May 18

Gr. 5 Science May 19

Gr. 5 Science May 20 Makeups*

Art News:

For an upcoming art project, the art teachers will need recycled AAA Road Maps or National Geographic Maps. If you have any at home and would like to recycle them, please send them in to the office.

In addition, parents please have your children wear older, easily washable clothing on Art Class day.


NSTAR light bulb orders will be available for pick-up at Francis Wyman on Friday, December 10th. Thank you to everyone for all of your support!

Spirit Wear is in and will be delivered to the school on Friday, December 3rd for distribution.

It’s A Wonderful Life

Burlington High School will present the stage version of the holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, December 5 at 2:00 pm in the Fogelberg Performing Arts Center of the high school. Bring the whole gang to this great family-friendly production. Adults: $10 and Students/Sr Citizens: $5. Tickets available at For more information call 781-A-FUN-TIC.

Parents Night Out, Friday, Dec 3rd, 6-9:00

Let the Den Leaders of Cub Scout Pack 105 take care of your children, grades K-5, while you start your Holiday Shopping, take in a movie or enjoy some much deserved time to yourselves. $15 for the first child/$5 per additional sibling, Fee paid at time of registration. Please make payment to Pack 105 and mail to Kathleen Smith, 127 Mill St, Burlington by Nov 26th.