Archive | August, 2011

Summer Principal’s Report to SB

30 Aug

Here is the text from Underhill’s Summer Principal’s Report:

Summer 2011


Despite the absence of 500 students, Underhill School has been a busy place this summer.  Typical summer facility improvements include maintenance and cleaning by our diligent custodial staff.  The building looks great, complete with base boards that match throughout the building and newly painted walls.  Additional measures have been taken to comply with the Department of Labor’s recommendations including two eye wash stations at various points throughout the building.

Perhaps our most significant infrastructural improvement is one which cannot be seen.  Students, parents and staff will now be able to access wireless internet throughout the building at any given location, even the modular classrooms.  This particular upgrade will be beneficial for Underhill as each teacher seeks to frame their classrooms around 21st Century teaching and learning, consequently effecting students’ learning experiences


Twenty four teachers and the building administration chose to attend the 21st Century Learning Academy.  The academy provided an opportunity for teachers and staff to deepen their understanding of the digital native and their academic and instructional needs.  Participants submitted an assignment  that assessed their current depth of knowledge.  Instruction for the two day academy, August 15 and 16 for Underhill staff, was personalized based on this information.  We look forward to seeing creativity and innovation flourish throughout the year as a result of this academy.


Extended School Year

Hilary Paro, Karina Cosgrove and a strong team of  paraprofessionals worked from July 5th through August 11th, Monday through Thursday each week, in room 2.  The team collaborated with various team members to provide necessary support for their students’ progression toward their individual goals.

Summer Reading is Cool

Approximately 35 1st and 2nd grade students participated in Underhill School’s Summer Reading is Cool program two days per week from 9-noon from July 5th to July 28th.  The program’s goal is to reinforce the development of reading and writing skills, thereby enhancing opportunities for success during the school year.  The program was organized by our reading specialists Karen Murray and Nancy Dupont.  Teachers, Mrs. Devereaux, Ms. Whittum, and Mr. Marino, instructed the students.

A special thank you is in order to Clark and Donna Karolian who donated a sum of money that was used to purchase books for this program’s participants.  The students were able to take the books home as their own in an effort to foster the love of reading.

Ready for Success

This three-week summer program, July 11th through 28th 9:30-11:30, offered 34 newly enrolled kindergarteners who have no preschool experience an opportunity to acclimate themselves to school routines and procedures.  Teachers, Mrs. Pawlusiak and Ms. Cuture, provided a variety of literacy activities to introduce books and build a solid foundation for these emergent readers.

RtI Training

Reading specialist Karen Murray, kindergarten teacher Maryann Boucher and Drew Bairstow represented Underhill School at Advanced RTI Leadership Implementation Training with Shannon Harken & Amelia VanName Larson.  The two-day event was held in Concord on July 7th and 8th.  The training focused on practical tips and applications for schools and districts in the early stages of implementing a three-tier Response to Intervention system.

ESOL Summer School

Mary Lou Donohoe received a grant for the second year in a row from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to fund an ESOL summer program.  10 students participated in hands on and exploratory literacy activities throughout the 4 week program held at Cawley Middle School from July 5 through 28th.

The incoming kindergarten students were introduced to the Imagine It! letter names and sounds with their poems, and older students participated in an Eric Carle author study.  Every student attended every session of the summer program, one testament of its success.


District administration collaborated to create a district wide common assessment schedule.  This will allow for more valid measures.  New to this year is a fall administration of NWEA’s MAP test for grade 2, a winter administration of math NWEA for Kindergarten, and a Spring NWEA administration for K-2.


In June and July teachers from grades K-2 met in grade level teams and collaborated with teachers from throughout the district in aligning the writing and grammar pieces of the Imagine It Reading Program with the Common Core State Standards.  Adjustments were made to assured writing topics, prompts and rubrics to reflect the CCSS.   Grammar topics to be covered in each grade level were also adjusted to reflect CCSS requirements.  Grade K-2 teachers also looked over the assessment plans they  are currently using in Language Arts and made adjustments as necessary to align these plans with the CCSS.  Additionally , kindergarten teachers developed enrichment units to implement with students who need an extra challenge.

Sneak Peek: Opening Day Prezi

29 Aug
To those interested in getting a sneak peak at our opening faculty meeting, here is the link.  It should open in another tab or window of your browser, and you may have to create a free Prezi account to view it.  Enjoy, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Perhaps One of My Favorite Blogs

18 Aug

Below is a link to one of my favorite blogs. Dr. Frank Buck has made a name for himself helping teachers and administrators organize themselves in an effort to become more efficient and effective at their jobs. He focuses on the logistical end of things so we can spend more time on the most important part of ours, teaching and learning.

His most recent post identifies practical methods to organize and utilize technology in the classroom. I’ve copied the post below and I’ve included a link to his blog beneath that.


Computers began to appear in classrooms almost 30 years ago. How best to integrate them into the learning process remains a popular topic. This guest post, written by Lindsey Wright, offers practical advice.

While the use of technology has been touted for awhile now as an essential part of the educational process, many teachers and administrators are baffled by how to integrate computers and other technological tools into the classroom environment and make them a meaningful part of learning. It’s not simply enough to say that you’ll designate time each week for students to work on computers or require them to type their papers. To truly integrate current technology with curriculum, you must be crafty, think outside of the box, and develop new organizational methods for classroom management.

Successful Models for Computer Integration

Science teacher Judi Heitz wrote an article way back in 1999 discussing the problems she encountered working with students. While some of her ideas are a bit dated, especially in an era in which the online school has become increasingly prevalent, her solutions for integrating computers into students’ academic lives still hold up. The first thing that is essential to successful classroom integration of technology is in making its use meaningful to goals of the lesson. Simply letting the computer be a means to an end is not enough.

As such, Heitz required students to communicate with each other via e-mail and use search engines to develop models for a genetically engineered product. While the computing requirements she set forth for the project might seem a bit lax for the current generation, the principles remain sound. Teaching students to work cooperatively across a digital medium is essential. So is teaching them to evaluate internet sources to broaden their knowledge base and develop original theory and thought. While genetically engineered products might not have been part of the basic science curriculum, by asking students to create their own genetically engineered products, Heitz introduced them to a new level of genetics and led them to explore it. Ultimately, as Heitz noted, the project taught the students to explore, to evaluate sources, and to work with one another to develop new levels of knowledge.

Another teacher, Kenneth Beare, who specializes in ESL, makes a number of excellent suggestions in his article “How to Use a Computer in Class” for successfully organizing a lesson that uses the computer. However, the primary thought to keep in mind when developing the lesson is to keep it simple. Having students dashing willy-nilly from the Internet to word processing to spreadsheets doesn’t help them or you. To create a meaningful lesson, the computer should be used as a facilitating tool. The goal should be to master a particular aspect of the curriculum while at the same time mastering a particular aspect of computing.

Beare also emphasizes that, as lessons are typically divided into warm-ups, introduction of materials, class work, and summary, it behooves the teacher to incorporate the computer aspect of the curriculum into at least two areas of the lesson. For an example, the teacher might begin class one day by introducing the topic and including a discussion of how the computer will be used during class work. During the introduction, the students will model the teacher’s use of the computer. Following this, the students will work to complete the class assignment, using the computer as a tool. The next day, a review of the previous day’s material might require them to complete a smaller-scale version of the assignment as a warm-up.

It is also essential that computers be integrated in such a way that students expect them to be part of the lesson. If it’s not possible for every student to have a computer at his or her desk, a computer work center is an excellent solution. As detailed, there are a number of solutions that will keep computer centers running smoothly and facilitate independent use and detailed investigation by students. For instance:

  • Index cards or posters that provide computer instructions can help to keep students oriented as to the basic goals and rules of computer use.
  • Developing activities or assigning students to research or work on a particular website that corresponds to the lesson keeps the computer center relevant and current.
  • Lessons completed in one session tend to work best at computer centers, unless the students can work on the same lesson for several weeks.

By maintaining center organization and encouraging relevant study, the teacher can organize the computer center to foster creative thinking. These centers, due to their somewhat informal nature, are also great for encouraging group work. Keeping extra chairs at the computer center further encourages this, reinforcing the collaborative nature that characterizes good research and digital learning.

Computers don’t belong just in the school computer lab, nor should they be used only as word processors. Rather, the careful organization and integration of computers into the classroom means that students, regardless of their technological capacities at the outset, will learn valuable skills while broadening their knowledge of different subjects. Ultimately with careful lesson planning, a creative mindset, and a willingness to experiment in their organizational styles to discover what works best for them, teachers can integrate computer-based learning seamlessly into their classrooms.

Lindsey Wright is fascinated with the potential of emerging educational technologies, particularly the online school, to transform the landscape of learning. She writes about web-based learning, electronic and mobile learning, and the possible future of education.

Get Organized!: Importance of Organization with Technology and Teaching

iPad Learning Resources

15 Aug

Apple – Education – iPad Learning Resources.

Click the link above for a link to the Apple website.  The page includes multiple links and downloads that can provide multiple resources and ideas for using our iPads in the classroom.

21st Century Learning Academy

15 Aug

The academy has begun! Matt and Becky have outdone themselves. The participants are engaged and engrossed. They have masterfully included a back channeling tool for teachers to ask questions during presentations. This has allowed them to address lingering or “under the radar” questions that need to be discussed. Without that tool, these questions would have been left to fester.

How could a tool like this be used to ensure student understanding?

21st Century Teaching and Learning

9 Aug

We’ve all been reflecting on 21st Century Teaching and Learning this summer. After all, we are already over 1/10th of the way through the 21st Century, so I guess it is about time!  I have found that it is easy to lose track of why we are on this venture to revolutionize and overhaul our educational systems. We can find tools to make us more efficient and effective at what we do. Students obviously need to know, functionally, how to use these tools including, computers, iPads, iPods, etc… For we are preparing them for occupations that may not even currently exist!
However, we should not lose sight of the fundamental purpose and mission we face: to improve the academic success of all children.  Computers cannot replace teachers making professional judgements and decisions while teaching a student to read. They can, though, use these technological tools to engage the students.
Engagement is the great equalizer! Make them want to learn!
Much of the video above is geared towards middle and high school teachers, however, it is applicable to any grade level.  It makes a great case for our mission and reminds us of why we must succeed.