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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

West 4th Graders are Developing Their 21st Century Skills

This past week, West Elementary 4th grade students have been engaged in technology enriched learning activities that are proving to be both fun and dynamic.  Students from the classes of Mrs. Plamondon, Mr. McCall, Mrs. Thorner, and Mrs. Marsella-White have started becoming "digital citizens," while simultaneously creating fun and engaging math problem screencasts with the app, Educreations, on the iPad.

Also in 4th grade, the students of  Mr. Price and Mrs. Thorner are using Typing Web, a free online resource, to become super typists!  Cheers to becoming digital learners!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Educreations is Helping Student Work Become More Dynamic !

At Shawsheen and West Elementary, the iPad app Educreations is being implemented into the classrooms.  This app provides students with the experience of writing on a blank white canvas/whiteboard in order to write out work or mathematical equations.

Each student then uses the app to record him or herself on how they reached their conclusions.  This learning approach helps students gain critical thinking and creativity skills when using the iPad in the classroom. Additionally, learning is becoming more dynamic and alive. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

South School - Children’s Stage Adventures

South School is pleased to be hosting Children’s Stage Adventures (CSA) again this fall. This artist-in-residence program is in its fifteenth year touring the northeast with more that 65 residencies scheduled. CSA is a non-profit organization which brings musical theater training to students of all grade levels.

This year, CSA will be partnering with South School students in grades 2,3,4,5 to present The Emperor’s New Clothes. Set in the frontier town of Royal City, this is a new musical telling of the popular tale by Hans Christian Anderson, joined with the spirit of the American West.

After working with the actor/educators from CSA for just five days, over 80 South School students will take the stage to present this classic tale to their classmates and to family and friends.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The 2014 Massachusetts Children’s Book Award contest had begun!

The 2014 Massachusetts Children’s Book Award contest had begun!  Fourth and fifth graders have been introduced to all 25 nominees and have checked out all 75 copies! 

Both grades have watched book trailers, films about Myrmecology (and that was a completely new word to me!), had great discussions about why ants walk in a line, and debated whether or not sharks could live in fresh water. 

We will be conducting research on these subjects over the next month and creating games and movie trailers to promote High Plain’s participation in the MCBA contest.   We’ll be checking in every now and then with new discoveries and results of our school’s MCBA election.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity in action!

DMS students from team 8A have been issued a challenge by their teachers. They will be working together during flex time on one of three challenges:

The Public Art Challenge, for which students will design, plan and build an installation that will be displayed within the building and serve the community in some way.

The Sustainability Challenge, for which students must research, plan and implement an action (or actions) that will reduce, reuse or recycle a resource used and consumed at Doherty Middle School.

The School Spirit Challenge, for which students must research, plan and implement an action to improve the culture or spirit of the school.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

High Plain Elementary teacher vying for National Award

Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 1:00 am
High Plain Elementary School teacher Timothy Harkins has won Voya Financial's 2014 Unsung Hero Award and a $2,000 grant to help fund and bring life to his "Dream Planet Project."
Of the 1,000 applicants who applied nationwide, Harkins is one of only 100 winners, and one of two winners in Massachusetts. He will now compete with other winners for one of the top three prizes — an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000.
According to a release from Voya Financial, Dream Planet Project was Harkins' innovative teaching idea. It will help 90 second-grade students learn about space travel and exploration through project-based learning, where students will discover how astronauts and scientists travel to space, explore new planets and map environments as well as the principals of flight.
The project will use resources from the Space Camp and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, located in Huntsville, Ala. Students will analyze soil from Mars, build water bottle rockets and hot air balloons and facilitate the Mars Rover egg drop.
"Each day, we help individuals prepare for a secure financial future and we are proud to recognize these men and women who prepare students for their future," Bernie Heffernon, senior vice president of tax-exempt markets for retirement solutions at Voya Financial, said in a press release. "We understand that teaching is one of the most important professions in the world and are pleased to help Timothy continue making a life-long, positive impact on the children he teaches."
The award is meant to honor educators' innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and the ability to positively influence the children they teach. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

How's Your Balance?

As part of the Andover Physical Education program, every student in grades K-2 is assessed on the Perceptual Motor Skills Test.  This evaluation has 9 test items that look at skills such as throwing, kicking, balance, and spatial awareness.  

If you would like to know how your son or daughter performed on this test, please contact your child’s physical education teacher.  All testing should be complete by the end of September.  

Remember, keep on moving!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Back to School Night at DMS

Doherty Middle School enjoyed a successful Back-to-School Night. The building and classrooms looked great and the evening was well attended. Parents shared many positive comments about the friendly manner with which teacher's conveyed information. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014


The Andover middle school digital learning specialists; Shelley Coughlin Porter, Barbara Murray and Sarah Menesale, created a book to help guide parents' understanding about social media and the role it plays in their middle school students' lives. A Middle School Parent's Guide to Social Media covers important topics such as your digital footprint, the THINK model, an overview of various current social media being used in and out of school, digital etiquette and safety, Andover’s policies on bullying and cyberbullying, as well as tips on how to manage students’ digital lives. 

The chapters on bullying and cyberbullying have links to great resources to learn more about digital harassment, parent tip sheets, and Andover Public Schools policy and incident reporting form. 

Note: This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iPad, and with iTunes on your computer. Multi-touch books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iPad. Books with interactive features may work best on an iPad. iBooks on your Mac requires OS X.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Andover Innovation Lab at the High School

Bryce Corbitt has been developing a series of tutorials for teachers at the high school to better acquaint themselves with the TurnItIn software available for grading and reviewing student work. Using the resources of the Andover Innovation Lab and the High School video production lab Bryce created two 5 minute tutorials which will help them get started. Bruce is excited about assisting teachers in the Innovation lab & Help Desk. Please view our work at

Another Innovation Lab/Help Desk student Eli Gukovsky is working on the web based formed for the high school teachers to sign out and reserve time to use the Macbook computer carts in the library. He is expected to have this project finished within the week and will promote his form with a video tutorial and hands on sharing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Math Comes Alive in Elementary Classrooms

Math teachers in Andover are using creative ways to make math come alive for their students.  Beth Miner a second grade teacher at West Elementary School used her student’s birthdays to create a histogram (bar graph).  She went one step further by having the students create number sentences about all the different relationships they could find in the histogram.  Some relationships were simple like the number of birthdays in September plus the number of birthdays in November equals the number of birthdays in March. While other compared the values like the number of birthdays in March and January are greater than the number of birthdays in February and December.

Activities like these help create a learning environment that celebrates Mathematical thinking.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Digital Learning Specialist at the Elementary Level

Excited to make their return to the ranks of Andover’s elementary schools, the new Digital Learning Specialists (DLS) are already making their presence felt in their respective buildings.

For the first time in 5 years each elementary school will have the support of a digital learning specialist. These three specialists will each share their valuable time among the two schools to which they have been assigned.  

The new Digital Learning Specialist, Tim Harkins (Bancrofot/High Plain), Beth Kennedy (Sanborn/South), Natalie Pinta(West El, Shawsheen, guide and support the use of all of the district’s technology resources both in and out of the classroom. Their primary role is to support elementary teachers in the integration of technology into the teaching and learning process by providing professional learning, modeling and coaching. In addition, they assist in the research, development and evaluation of new methods and digital tools that advance our programs. They are guides, coaches, and facilitators helping teachers and administrators acquire a deep understanding of digital literacy skills.

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