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Friday, October 31, 2014

Spooky Fun Fair Returns to Sanborn School!

Spooky Fun Fair is a long standing Sanborn School tradition and was held on Saturday night.  The school was transformed overnight by parent volunteers.  Halloween-themed games,  with prizes galore, lined the hallways.  The gym became a Groovin’ Graveyard, full of activities and action.  

The fifth grade coordinated a “haunted house” for all to visit.  This year, the haunted house theme was a “Haunted Cruise Ship” and cabins, dining rooms, gift shops and other ship locales, spooked even the most seasoned cruiser.  The annual “Cake Walk” and Spooky Raffle were both big hits!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mix It Up Day

Mix It Up Day is a national initiative supported by Teaching Tolerance. The event promotes student unity, community culture and kindness. One specific goal is to help students make connections across social boundaries. To that end, students will "mix it up" at lunch and be assigned to tables for that day only. Given the proximity to Halloween, student organizers have chosen the theme, "Don't be afraid to make new friends." Table names are also festive. Look out for the Jack-o-lanterns, witches, skeletons, ghosts, etc.
Student organizers have been working since September to plan a fun-filled day complete with activities and decorations. Doherty's Food Service has jumped on board and will be serving mummy wrapped hot dogs along with dirt pudding. The event promises to be "Spook-tacular."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

HPE 3rd Graders Step Back in Time at Plimoth Plantation

Grade 3 classes spent the day at Plimoth Plantation on Tuesday, October 21st. The students saw first hand how the Wampanoag natives used to live, eat, hunt, and play. We were able to visit with native people from the Cape Cod area and learn about life in a wetu and long house. We saw a mishoon being carved out and helped grind corn into corn meal! 

At the Pilgrim Village, students were able to talk with the village’s blacksmith, help with roasting a duck and spoke with Master Brewster. We learned a LOT! It was a blast! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Andover Innovation Lab & Help Desk:Taking Over The MassCUE Conference!!

On early  Wednesday October 22nd 5 students left early and  travelled to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro,Masachusetts from Andover High School as members of the Andover Innovation Lab and Help Desk to be part of the MassCUE(Massachusetts
On early  Wednesday October 22nd 5 students left early and  travelled to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro,Masachusetts from Andover High School as members of the Andover Innovation Lab and Help Desk to be part of the MassCUE(Massachusetts Computer Using Educators event in the form of the student help desk featured in the main concourse. The students participating were Eli Gukovsky,Ari Primak, Will Owen and Bryce Corbitt.

With the assistance of Dan Downs and Dan Brennan the students set up a video which promoted their endeavors at the help desk and helped outline the curriculum which they are part of at the high school. The video below helps outline the process of the Andover Innovation Lab and Help Desk.

This was a great opportunity for the students to better understand the huge movement they are apart of which empowers students to use technology more efficiently with teachers and enables them to work on their own innovative technology driven project. Students had an opportunity to network with other teachers who use technology as a main part of their instruction. 

The students also had a visit from Andover Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marinel McGrath who visited and chatted and tweeted out her visit with the group.

I was also able to present the Andover Innovation Lab curriculum to a roomful of teachers eager to see how we work on our projects and use blogging as a reflective form of the process. The presentation below outlines the design of the curriculum used at the help desk and provides an overview of several of the students projects. This was a highly beneficial opportunity to share what we do at the Andover Innovation Lab and how this model continues to evolve as we integrate technology in the district.

Full post can be found 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bancroft Dedication

The Bancroft community enjoyed glorious weather for the Dedication Ceremony of the new Bancroft School. Last Saturday, October 25, Dr. McGrath, Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Jack McCarthy, Executive Director, MSBA, the Bancroft School Building Committee, the Andover School Board, town selectmen, the design and build team, Mr. Buzz Stapczynski, Andover Town Manager gathered and officially opened the school.

Bancroft children opened the ceremony with the tradition of all singing of the Pledge of Allegiance. Later in the ceremony, Ms. Evelyn Loynd, Bancroft’s Music Teacher, lead students and adults in the singing of the Bancroft song. The ceremony ended with Ms. Annie Gilbert, APS School Committee Chair, six Bancroft students and a number of officials representing the various groups attending, cutting a wide green ribbon officially opening the school.

Following the ceremony, the public was invited to tour the building. Tours and demonstrations were provided by Bancroft Students. Those taking advantage of the tours visited classrooms, viewed the technology available to teachers and students, had an opportunity to listen to the Bancroft Orff Ensemble and representatives of the first and second grade class singing Welcome Here.  They also witnessed fourth graders demonstrating physical conditioning activities. Once through the school, visitors could enjoy refreshments and conversation in the cafetorium.

Visitors streamed through the new school until 4:00 pm. The event was a great success with the Bancroft and Andover community coming together to view and enjoy the new Bancroft School.

Friday, October 24, 2014

West Students Walk to Benefit the Beverly School of Kenya

West Elementary School has adopted the Beverly School of Kenya as a designated charity for multiple years. For the past five years we have designated our first "Walk to School Day" in honor of this school.

Last Wednesday we hosted the "Quarters for Kenya Walk". West collects about $2000 every year as a result of this walk.
We also donate all of our profits from our Variety show.

We have raised over $20,000 for this school. There is now a classroom named "THE West Elementary Classroom" at the Beverly School.

We are now raising funds to add to their technology.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WMS Gr. 8 Students Investigate the Capabilities of Google Earth

"Students in grade 8, both teams Dynasty and Fusion, used Google Earth to investigate Scientific Notation. The activity came from the website This activity gave students a chance to experience the power of Google Earth as they used virtual rulers to measure the "map length" from London to Tokyo. 

They also collected data about their step, jump and crawl lengths, as well as the numbers of steps, jumps, crawls they can do in ten seconds. We will next use this data in the classroom to see how long it would take them to walk from Sydney to Perth!"

Seen here: Mrs. Andresen's Grade 8 Math students

Doherty Middle School attended the MassCUE technology conference as part of the Student Showcase

Last week three students from the Doherty Middle School attended the MassCUE technology conference as part of the Student Showcase.  Sam Boshar, Erik Glover and Savya Virmani showcased their documentary created for the C-Span Student Competition in 2013 responding to the driving question: 

“Why Should Congress Care about Conservation?

Last year Team 7A focused on “Give a Hoot, Take Action to Protect Our Environment” as part of their Project-Based Learning project.  While the students read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, they visited the Stoneham Zoo to research how biomes differ before creating their own.  Each student team created a biome, wrote letters to Congress urging continued funding for conservation and created documentaries as part of the Student Cam Contest.


As you can see from the pictures above, our students had many visitors stop and inquire about the process.  They were impressed by the inclusion of the four academic areas and the citations students had available for them to view.  The popularity of their display prompted Mass CUE to request a copy of their slides and documentary for their website.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Andover High Math Students Challenge Themselves at the Math Olympiad

This morning 162 Andover High School students participated in the 51st Annual Massachusetts Association of Math League (MAML) Math Olympiad.  The competition consists of 30 multiple choice questions to be completed in 90 minutes. 
 The top 100 scores are considered finalists and go on to compete in the MAML Olympiad Level 2.  The top 20 scorers on the Level 2 receive cash prizes ranging from $50 to $250.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Staff & Students from South Elementary Collaborate for the Scarecrow Festival

Over 75 members of the South School Spirit Committee worked collaboratively to design, build and display scarecrows as part of the Andover Coalition for Education (A.C.E.) Scarecrow Festival. Under the leadership of teachers Crystal O’Keefe, Krista Ludvino, Melissa Maguire, Joellen Defeo and Courtney Lowell, the students met before school to construct these wonderful creatures. 

Working in teams, the students and teachers used old clothing, newspaper, straw, paint and their creativity to craft scarecrows representing the theme of literacy. The students chose to make the main characters from Curious GeorgeThe Lightning ThiefHarry Potter and Where the Wild Things Are. The Spirit Committee at South School is open to any interested student in grade 3, 4, or 5.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Andover Middle School & Elementary Staff Participate in Professional Development for the New Math Program

On October 14 – 17, 2014 elementary and middle school classroom, special education, and ESL teachers participated in  grade level math professional development to support the implementation of the K – 8 Math in Focus math program.  In addition to the teachers receiving PD, parents were also invited to attend an elementary or middle school parent university sessions explaining the pedagogy behind the program.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Ace Scarecrow Festival is coming to downtown Andover (Oct. 18 -25), and Ms. Thorton's class from Shawsheen School are helping out.

With the creative assistance of Art Specialist Ms. Scarfo, the Shawsheen 2nd graders did their part by creating scarecrows of their own as seen above.

Not to be outdone, the administrators in town are also pitching in and demonstrating their creativity.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Utilizing a Variety of Strategies, the New Math Program Comes Alive!

At West Elementary and Shawsheen, students are using the newly implemented Math Program, Math in Focus.  This program utilizes mental math strategies as well as skill and content merging.  As part of the program, students are taking their thinking from concrete to abstract.  Through pictorial methods, the students use Bar-Modeling to solve problems.

In the 4th grade math classes, the free app Thinking Blocks, has been implemented in order for the students to work on word problems on the iPads while using the Bar-Modeling tool.  Consequently, the use of technology and math has made learning more interactive and alive.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

AHS Video Production Team Produces Show Outlining the New Educator Evaluation System

Recently, students in Mr. Brennan’s Film/Video Production class at Andover High School partnered with the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.), and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to produce a half hour television 
show: “Staff & Student Feedback.”

AHSTV 1.jpg

The high school students operated all studio equipment to produce the show including directing, cameras, audio, graphics, lighting, and technical directing under the supervision of Mr. Brennan.

AHSTV 2.jpg

The informative show outlined the framework for the Educator Evaluation system in Massachusetts.  Eventually every educator will be provided two separate ratings, the Summative Performance Rating and the Student Impact Rating.

The show will be featured on the M.A.S.S. website and aired locally on AndoverTV (, Comcast Channel 99 and Verizon Channel 99.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Teachers and Students at Shawsheen School are Finding Ways to Blend Math and Physical Education

Students at Shawsheen are seen here using their math skills in Phys. Ed. class in a game of "Greater Than / Less Than".  Roll the dice! If your number is greater than your partner, run behind you and transfer a noodle piece from one bucket to the other.  If your number is less than your partner, run behind you and tag a cone to come back and try again.  When one team has all their noodle pieces transferred from one bucket to the other, the game is over.
It's always a very close game!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Art Meets Technology: HPE 4th Graders Visit the Addison Gallery

Fourth graders from HPE plan to visit the Addison Gallery next week where they will be looking at the exhibit "Exterior Spaces and Interior Places."  
Shortly after this field trip the students will be creating a technology enhanced art project about their exterior space and interior places. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

World Language Teacher Uses Technology to Promote Creative Writing

In a recent publication, Evangelina Moula of Greece mentions that "although our society is dominated by images, the common practices in education often ignore images and persist in an one-dimensional concept of literacy, due to an ideological (and subsequently naturalized) preference for print literacy.  Nowadays, when the very meaning of text has changed towards a broader and more inclusive definition, students are denied a balanced literacy repertoire and the possibility of learning to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from images."

Later in her essay Moula challenges common practices and asserts that "comics" is a medium through which both print (linguistic-literacy) and cultural literacy can be taught where even more creativity can be released (Moula, E. --2012. "Introducing Comics in the Classroom: a Trojan Horse to Literacy, Linguistic Performance and Creative Writing." Frontiers of Language and Teaching, Vol. 3,174-182).

At Andover High, a World Language teacher has taken on this challenge and has incorporated fun and easy-to-use web tools that enable her ninth grade students to make professional-looking comics in Spanish.

Project description

Samples of student work

Friday, October 3, 2014

Yes You Can ! - An Inspirational Message Delivered at South School

Yes You Can!

South School staff and students were honored to host Dick and Rick Hoyt, known as Team Hoyt, on September 23. This inspirational pair of athletes spoke about overcoming obstacles in all facets of life and shared the message, “Yes you can!”

As a child, Rick was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which prevented him from being able to speak or to walk. His parents Dick and Judy were told that there was little hope for Rick to live a “normal” life. This was just the beginning of Dick and Judy’s quest for Rick’s inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace. With the support of his family and the use of assistive technology, Rick graduated from public high school, earned a degree from Boston University and now lives on his own.

As a teen, Rick wanted to participate in a benefit run for a classmate who had been paralyzed.  Although his dad Dick was not a runner, he agreed. This one race sparked a career: as Team Hoyt, Rick and his father have run numerous road races, marathons and even triathalons.

During their appearance at South, both Dick and Rick (through the use of his computer) spoke to the students and staff about their lives, their training, the races in which they have participated and the many challenges they have faced. 
Students had read books about Team Hoyt prior to their visit and many were thrilled to meet, “the people from the book!” Throughout the presentation, Team Hoyt focused on encouraging everyone to face obstacles and not settle for being told that something is impossible.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Author Gregory Mone Conducts Writing Workshops with DMS Students

Author Gregory Mone visited the Doherty Middle School last week.  Mr. Mone lives in the western part of the state and has written several books, his most recent being “Fish” and “Dangerous Waters”.

After holding an assembly for each grade, Mr. Mone spent two days providing writers workshops for our 7th graders, where they practiced editing a story.

For more information on author Gregory Mone, just follow this link to his website. Gregory Mone

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sanborn's Family Meeting

The focus of the first Wednesday Family Meetings this year at Sanborn School was on Friendship and Compassion.  Wednesday Families consist of small groups of children, either K-2 or 3-5, who meet monthly with a faculty member and each family meeting is facilitated by a Student Ambassador.  Our Ambassadors are fourth and fifth grade students who have received some training from our School Social Worker, Mrs. Hunter-Jones, and have a willingness to take on leadership roles.

The Ambassadors led their Wednesday Families in  brainstorming sessions on "What does friendship mean to you?" and "What do compassionate people do?"  

In each classroom they shared a youtube video of "It¹s a Wonderful World"  and in many of the classrooms, teachers and children were observed singing along with this upbeat video.  Finally in each of the K-2 families the ambassadors led two activities - Double Line and Color the Bear to get to know you (to share
similarities and differences amongst the group). In grade 3 - 5 families, the ambassadors facilitated activities entitled Double Line, Celebrate Similarities, and Trust Path.

We are all looking forward to our next Wednesday Family on October 22 when we will celebrate Respect.
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