Monday, January 6, 2014

FWS Annual Report 2013

Francis Wyman Elementary School
Annual Report 2013

Francis Wyman Elementary School has continued on its journey of providing high quality instruction to assure student growth and achievement in a culture that CARES for all students. The Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics consist of rigorous expectations that require a strong curriculum and highly effective teachers. There has been a great deal of work done by teachers and administrators across the elementary schools to understand the standards and align our curriculum to meet those standards. A new mathematics program, EnVisionMATH, was adopted to address our curriculum needs in grades kindergarten through five. EnVisionMATH aligns to the Common Core Standards and is designed to meet the needs of all students. The writing program Explorations in Non- Fiction Writing was adopted for grades kindergarten through grade two this year with the hopes of possibly expanding it to grades three through five for next year. Non-Fiction reading and writing is a key component of the ELA Common Core Standards and this program will increase and improve instruction in these areas.

Francis Wyman Elementary School has developed an effective Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) instructional structure that meets the needs of all students in the areas of English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. Our universal screening assessment tools include DIBELS, Symphony Math and I-Ready Reading and Mathematics. These assessments provide us with important information as to our students’ skill levels so that students can receive targeted instruction.  We continue to group across the grade for reading in grades one through five and for mathematics in grades four and five.   Kindergarten students are grouped for targeted reading instruction during the Intervention/Extension block. Again this year a team of teachers visited FWS to observe and discuss our RtI program. The teachers from Falmouth, Massachusetts spent the day visiting classrooms, reviewing our procedures, and talking to our teachers and left excited to implement RtI in their school.

This year teachers are being evaluated by a new state-mandated evaluation system. Teachers and administrators are learning how to implement the new system. The new system requires self-reflection, goal -setting, frequent unannounced observations by evaluators, and the collection of evidence to demonstrate meeting the goals and standards. Through this process, teachers and administrators engage in frequent dialogue around effective instruction and student growth. All teachers and administrators are focusing on student engagement as one of the top priorities this year.

The outcome of the 1:1 iPad pilot last year in grade one was most successful as teachers and students found that the device supported increased student engagement. With the opportunities for individualized learning as well as the capacity to develop creative projects, the decision was to move forward with a 1:1 iPad initiative. This year all students in grades one, four and five have a class set of iPads available to them in their classrooms. The plan is to complete the implementation next year with grades two and three. The teachers are finding it exciting to be able to plan and implement lessons that include interesting and authentic applications for using the iPads. Students are most comfortable learning the various aspects of using the apps and iPads. By carefully determining the appropriate use of the iPads along with more traditional instructional methods, the teachers are finding that the iPads enhance instruction and increase student engagement.

Our School-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program is showing great promise in its effectiveness to promoting positive behavior throughout the school. This program is the foundation of our MTSS in the area of behavior and our CARES motto is the basis for all our goals. The CARES acronym stands for compassion, accomplishment, respect, enthusiasm, and self- reliance. Behavioral expectations have been identified for school-wide areas such as the cafeteria, hallways, bus dismissal, the auditorium, etc.  Students receive CARES coupons for demonstrating the expected behaviors in an effort to highlight positive behaviors. Classroom teachers have developed classroom behavioral expectations which are supported by classroom reward systems and grade level systems. These systems utilize the CARES coupons thus providing a consistent school-wide effort.  The rewards for CARES coupons vary but focus primarily on giving students public recognition and time spent participating in choice activities. Students enjoy earning individual rewards, whole class rewards, grade level rewards, and school- wide rewards.

The Accelerated Reader (AR) program has continues to grow in student participation this year. This web-based program is designed to support independent reading for all levels of readers. Students read books of their choice and then take quizzes to determine basic comprehension of the books. The program helps students identify their “just right” level of books based on the success rate of their quizzes. The AR provides thousands of quizzes for a variety of books which allows students a wide array of book choices. Students receive certificates to document their success. Each week, the names of students who have successfully completed quizzes are announced to the school and the students receive CARES coupons for their accomplishment. Students work toward meeting a school-wide goal set by the principal so as to encourage independent reading at school and at home in an effort to develop life-long readers. In February the students met the goal of reading over 2,000 books and by June they had read 4,200 books. This was a great accomplishment and was celebrated school-wide!

Collaboration among teachers is a key factor in providing the most effective instruction to our students. The grade level teams work closely with the mindset that all teachers are responsible for the progress of all the students in the grade. They share ideas and develop curriculum so that students receive consistently high quality instruction. Our students benefit from the collaboration of our very talented teachers. The new teacher evaluation system emphasizes collaboration among teachers and our teachers are ready to meet those expectations.

The PTO has worked tirelessly to support the school through fundraising activities and family events. Books, materials, field trips and enrichment activities are some of the benefits that the PTO provides through its volunteers and fundraising. The students enjoyed the special assembly by the a cappella group “Ball in the House” with their wide range of musical renditions all without instruments. Students also had the opportunity to enjoy the incredible story telling of “Odds Bodkin”. 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.

There were a few teacher retirements this year. Special educator, Mrs. Stephanie Hackbath, and ELL teacher, Mrs. Nancy Todd retired and both had worked at FWS for many years. They were highly dedicated to their students and to the school. Mrs. Betty Morrison, Title I Math Instructional Assistant also retired. Betty worked at multiple schools in Burlington over the course of many years. Mrs. Kelli Stromski was hired as a special educator. Kelli worked as a special education assistant at FWS for the past two years. Mrs. Bonnie Leary took over as the ELL teacher. Bonnie had worked at FWS as an ELL Tutor for the past four years. Mr. Ben Schersten was hired as our Technology Specialist and has been a tremendous support to our teachers in the implementation of the 1:1 iPad initiative. Ben comes to us from Arlington where he was a third grade teacher with a 1:1 iPad classroom. His experience as a classroom teacher along with his technology expertise has been an asset to the school.

Francis Wyman School was the proud recipient of the Educational Alliance Math and Science Grant from ExxonMobil Corporation. This $500 donation will be used to support our math and science instruction. Thank you to the ExxonMobil station on Bedford Street for nominating Francis Wyman and supporting our students. The Ratner Companies, Hair Cuttery, recognized FWS as a school that CARES. We were one of five schools in Massachusetts honored. The Burlington Hair Cuttery presented us with a series of pencil drawings by the renowned artist, Paul Ratner, the brother of the CEO and Founder of the Ratner Companies, Dennis Ratner. The twenty-six pencils drawings of each letter of the alphabet are just beautiful!

Francis Wyman School is fortunate to have an active and supportive school community of students, teachers, staff, parents and area business partnerships that make our school successful and one that strives not only for high achievement but also one that CARES.

Respectfully Submitted,
Susan P. Astone

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