Sentinel & Enterprise
POSTED: 12/22/2013 06:55:38 AM EST
Mathematics coach at Longsjo Middle School Tammi Chandler with her outstanding educator award. Courtesy Photo
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BOSTON -- Tammi Chandler, mathematics coach at Longsjo Middle School in Fitchburg and a Fitchburg State University alumna, was among eight honored Wednesday as the commonwealth's outstanding K-12 educators who graduated from the state university system's teacher preparation programs.
Chandler, a native of Fitchburg, earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Fitchburg State. She has taught middle-school mathematics in the city for 11 years.
Recognized for her effective teaching practices, Chandler shifted from teaching to coaching mathematics. Her leadership skills and commitment to the profession have been instrumental in increasing student learning at the Longsjo Middle School.
She is known as a teacher of resilience and a turnaround teacher who embraces the teaching of challenging students. For her, student success is her greatest reward.
"Tammi Chandler is exemplary of the extraordinary teachers that Fitchburg State and the entire State University System are graduating each and every year," said Fitchburg State President Robert V. Antonucci. "These are the great teachers who are adept at helping all students learn and who care deeply about the education and well-being of their students. These are the great teachers who years, even decades later, students can recall as making a difference in their lives."
The outstanding educators saluted in Boston represent eight of the nine campuses across the State University System and received awards for their teaching excellence, especially in the face of challenging situations, as well as their contributions to the communities in which they live and work. Ceremony attendees also included representatives from state university campuses and education leaders in the Patrick administration, as well as members of the House and Senate.
Almost two centuries ago, Massachusetts became the first to recognize the importance of teacher preparation programs by the establishing the first three schools dedicated to educating teachers. Today, these institutions have grown to become comprehensive state universities educating students in multiple disciplines beyond education. The Massachusetts state universities continue to educate more than one-third of all public educators in Massachusetts.
Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/community/ci_24776316/longsjo-math-coach-earns-educator-award#ixzz2oIxBswhA
Sentinel & Enterprise
POSTED: 11/03/2013 06:53:40 AM EST
WORCESTER -- On Saturday, Oct. 19, 16 Longsjo Middle School female students in the Advanced Academic Learning Initiative program traveled with their teachers, Christine DiMauro and Deborah French, to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for the Geek Is Glam Expo sponsored by Girl Scouts of central and western Massachusetts.
Longsjo students attending a trip to WPI for the recent Geek Is Glam Expo: from left, first row, Cizara Al-Aziz, Teyanna Torres, Leomarys Grullon, Diana Castro, Italiana Lulimachi, Lisa Pavan, Taylor Jollimore, Jaclyn Lorigan and Naomi Lynn Small; second row, Kaylee Bray, Lisa Ngunda, Erin St. Germain, Mylori Aubuchon, Megan Duong and Lydia Gnoza. Courtesy Photo
Students were able to: participate in a daylong event full of workshops, hands-on exhibits, crazy inventions and dynamic demonstrations; explore experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); meet and talk to extraordinary women in a variety of STEM fields; take a tour of WPI, eat in the dining hall, and find out what college life is like; learn from talented men and women about the exciting opportunities in STEM fields and how they can make a difference in the world.
This experience was especially beneficial to female AALI students in grades 6-8, of which there are 23 at Longsjo. Many of them are interested in pursuing STEM careers.
This program not only supports the STEM initiative of the school's AALI program, but also gives students the confidence to pursue a career in the STEM fields.
Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/community/ci_24445270/longsjo-girls-attend-stem-expo-at-wpi#ixzz2jgYxZNRc
FITCHBURG -- Students at Longsjo Middle School have shown progress in proficiency of tested subjects beyond many of their Expanded Learning Time Initiative counterparts, program manager Emily Raine of Massachusetts 2020 told the School Committee Monday evening.
While Longsjo is relatively new to the six-year-old program, which has added 300 hours to each school year since 2009, students there have progressed much further than some students in the first rung of participating schools, Raine said.
Massachusetts schools participating in the initiative, most of which are in high-poverty areas, Raine said, considerably outperform the majority of other participants.
She said the program, funded through the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, has demonstrated that several schools, when using the additional time well, have been able to lessen, or in some cases eliminate, achievement gaps that previously existed. Schools are able to add time to each day or create additional school days through the program, but most choose the former, she said.
Longsjo Principal Craig Chalifoux said he has been pleased with the results of adding an hour and 50 minutes to each school day for the past few years.
There are 19 schools across nine districts participating in the program. Others are in Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Fall River, Greenfield, Malden, Revere and Worcester.
Though the majority of schools are doing better with the additional time, some are still struggling with how best to manage and effectively use it, Raine said. Many schools have experienced dramatic rises in English language arts and math proficiency, some as high as 35 percent, while others have made little to no progress, she said.
She said two middle schools, which she declined to name, have recently undergone performance reviews and it was determined that funds would be best allocated elsewhere, in order to give other schools a chance to succeed.
For the 19 participating schools, the program is funded at $13.9 million. Raine said up to $2.5 million in state funding could be available to add new schools to the program next year, through a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the Ford Foundation. She said Massachusetts has already signed on as a lead state, and New York and Colorado are close behind.
Per its performance agreement with Mass2020, Longsjo will be up for its five-year review at the end of 2013-14 school year.
Chalifoux said the program has been of great benefit to Longsjo students and he is excited the school district may have the opportunity to expand.
According to Superintendent of Schools Andre Ravenelle, Reingold and South Street elementary schools have already begun informing their staff of the possibility of participating, as 80 percent of the faculty must be in favor in order to move forward with the program.
Reingold Principal Kathy Brady said there has been some parent concern over increasing the length of the school day, but she believes a longer day would benefit students and parents. She said a survey revealed that more than half of the school's students are enrolled in morning or afternoon daycare or other activities, likely due to conflicting parent work schedules.
South Street Principal Monica Poitras reported similar results, and said the extra learning time would allow for not only more science and social-studies time, but possibly the addition of enrichment activities such as dance, pottery and martial arts.
In other business, Ravenelle announced his appointment of Crocker Elementary School Assistant Principal Adam Renda as an interim replacement of soon-to-retire Principal Therese Grattan for the 2012-13 school year. Renda's appointment was warmly received by the School Committee, and Ravenelle said permanent placement as principal would be discussed the following year.
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Article taken from: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com
FITCHBURG -- Longsjo Middle School teachers and administrators say recent literacy initiatives taken by the school are getting students excited about reading.
All students in grades five through eight are using Renaissance Learning's Accelerated Reader program, a daily monitoring assessment tool designed to chart the skill levels and progress of individual students based on their learning needs, Principal Craig Chalifoux said.
"We've found so many students become frustrated with reading because they're selecting books far above their level of comprehension," Chalifoux said. "This program allows us to determine their reading level and have them back up a bit, find books they're interested in at their reading level. That's where
they start building momentum and building confidence and find enjoyment in reading. That's when they really start to take off."
The schoolwide goal is to log in 10,000 titles by the end of the school year, Chalifoux said. As of Tuesday morning, 3,412 titles had been logged by the school's 575 students, he said. Their progress is being charted via a graph in the school library.
"Students who reach 60 percent of their goal or higher are showing much higher levels of fluency and comprehension," Chalifoux said. "There is a direct correlation between reading efficiency and the programs we are using."
According to literacy coach Tonya Jarrett, all of the books in the school that are included in the program have point values
written on the inside back cover, but students are not restricted to books owned by the school. Students can easily search for books they are interested in reading to make sure there are reading tests available, and if there aren't, teachers can input questions for them to answer.
"Just in the three years since we started Accelerated Reader, there has been a huge culture shift where kids are excited about reading and they're motivated to read," Chalifoux said. "It's not 'uncool' to read anymore, whereas three years ago, before we had Accelerated Reader, it wasn't 'cool' to be talking about reading books for any middle-school kid. But you see kids in the hallway talking about books, whether they're the popular kids, or the tough kids, it doesn't matter who it is. They're excited about reading. That's huge, and good to see."
Chalifoux said students are also participating in a word-generation program in which they read a nonfiction article each week. Five words are chosen from each of the articles and are used in other classes to give the students practice with the words and to fully understand their meaning. Students also discuss and debate the issues presented in the articles, which allows them to gain practice in public speaking as well as learn to be tolerant and respectful of the opinions of others, Chalifoux said.
Eighth-grade students, in a program pioneered by teacher Marylee Harman, discuss books they are reading quarterly with their peers, allowing them a chance to be "painfully honest" about the books and whether or not they would recommend them to others, Chalifoux said. The students rate the books and are able to ask each other questions, rather than the teacher directing all of the questions at the students, he said.
Sixth-grade students have been using Galileo Dialogs for about a month, a program that presents them with reading passages and informational slides that help them to analyze for theme, plot, setting and characterization, Chalifoux said. According to teacher Bill Bourbeau, the program is very closely aligned with the mechanics of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System and allows the students to focus on tackling specific areas of weakness. Fifth- and sixth-graders also compile work they have done in all subjects each quarter into a portfolio for the parents, discussing their own strengths and weaknesses.
"The goal for this literacy initiative is not just to highlight the great work the staff is doing -- and they are doing outstanding, innovative, creative work each and every day -- but also to highlight the enthusiasm of the students and their newfound love for reading and their interest in exploring different genres of pleasurable reading and also informational text and nonfiction," Chalifoux said.
He said it can be difficult to teach students in a way that will prepare them for MCAS and other standardized testing while keeping them engaged and inspire a love of reading and learning, but that the efforts of the school staff are making a difference.
"Our challenge is to present that information in such a way that it is motivating and interesting for the kids and that it's not just school," Chalifoux said. "These are living, breathing pieces of the big puzzle."