In our continued efforts to keep families informed and updated about the curriculum at Blake, each month we 'highlight' updates from the different departments. We hope this will help facilitate conversations at home and maintain a bridge between home and school. Below please find a Summer 2015 Recap. You will see that our staff have enjoyed a nice mixture of relaxation/enjoyment with professional development/growth.
Welcome Back to Blake! The Blake Art department spent time this summer engaged in various professional and artistic development activities. Christina Delaney took part in a course that examined different learning styles and how they can be accommodated in the Art classroom. She also worked on the curriculum committee for the Summer reading book, Running Dream, and developed engaging Art activities for each grade level. Nancy Deveno traveled to Italy, where she is a frequent visitor. She is also working on a series of paintings that explore the human figure in the abstract. She also spent some time refining her technical skills, experimenting with the glazing technique in oil paints. Kate Jones attended a week-long summer course in preparation for a new Art History course at the High School. Planning and collaboration for the course took place throughout the summer. Ms. Jones also found time to work on her own Art in printmaking and metalsmithing.
Seth Hellerstein took part in a 4-day ropes course in Beverly, Massachusetts, and he shared that, in addition to the personal challenge from the course, he found many lessons in group dynamics that will be helpful in the classroom. Erin Winter spent time with the Blake Summer Reading Group brainstorming activities for the all-school text Running Dream. Ms. Winter created a reflection opportunity for all students to think and write about a time in their lives when they fell short of “doing the right thing” and helping others and how this omission became an important lesson for them. Eileen Hurley and Elise Malone (Grade 6) and Brian Gavaghan and Amy Reynolds (Grade 7) and Ann Marie Fratolillo and Seth Hellerstein (Grade 8) gathered with teachers in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 to discuss and plan the launch of English Language Arts (ELA) Digital Writing Portfolios for Blake and high school students. This long-term initiative will provide a once-per-term digital archive of each student’s Common Core writing assignments, feedback and reflection. These ELA Digital Writing Portfolios will allow grade 6 students graduating from Medfield High School in 2023 to retain a “living document” of their seven years of growth as writers and thinkers.
In Guidance, we are excited for another great school year! Mr. Marenghi is working with the 8th graders; Mrs. Dondero with the 7th graders; and Ms. Allen is working with our incoming 6th graders. This summer, the Guidance Counselors worked together to determine the intended outcome skills for each Group Guidance class, as well as Embracing Diversity and the new Ted Talk course. These intended outcomes include:
Group Guidance - Grade 6
Intended Outcome Skills
- Making successful transitions
- Social Skills
- Empathy and Sympathy
Intended Outcome Skills
Intended Outcome Skills
Intended Outcome Skills
- Multicultural awareness
- Social justice / civil rights
- Human nature
Intended Outcome Skills
- Positive ways to use social media
Welcome back, we missed you! The Blake Middle School Math Department is excited to begin the 2015-2016 school year. The summer was spent working collaboratively with the high school math teachers on completing our curriculum alignment to the Massachusetts Math Curriculum Frameworks. Look for the results of our work in our upcoming annual Blake Divide and Conquer Workshops. Additionally, teachers focused course work on technology integration, the maker-space revolution, growth-mindset and critical thinking. In an effort to "practice what we preach" teachers spent time rejuvenating during the summer months. If you traveled to the Cape or other coastal communities, you may have seen us on the beach with a good book and an ice cream. We are very excited for the new school year. As always, please reach out to your child's teacher if any questions or concerns pop up. Again, welcome back!
This summer Ms. Nothnagel spent time furthering her skills at playing the guitar in order to best serve her students both at MHS and at Blake. She worked on curriculum for the new Intro to Guitar class being taught at the High School, and plans on using her new knowledge base to supplement her teaching of Guitar in the 8th grade. Ms. Nothnagel has recently joined the Boston University Symphonic Choir and hopes to share her love and passion for singing as a member of this ensemble and with her students in Medfield. Brenna Evans attended the MICCA Summer Conference where she got to work with a prominent string pedagogue, Dr. Robert Gillespie from Ohio State University. He is the author of the string method book used at Dale Street and he shared lots of great rehearsal strategies for students at all levels. Eithne Stover enjoyed a trip to Europe which included visiting her mom in Ireland for her seventieth birthday. She spent a lot of time reading about, researching and designing new curriculum for the grade six general music program. Grade six students can look forward to lots of hands on music-making experiences including world drumming, using iPads as musical instruments, composing and creating in the classroom this year.
The 8th grade team worked together on some summer R & D to update the Physical Science curriculum to help integrate more technology and project-based experiences during the year. Mike Gibbs completed four graduate level courses in pedagogy and the unique characteristics of middle school learners. Jason Heim worked at Pilgrim Day Camp and spent time with family. Jillian Shaw finished her masters program at Bridgewater State University by completing an independent study on Optical Laser Tweezers and their Biological Applications. She also spent time this summer preparing for the arrival of her daughter. Janet Robbins took the “Art of Engineering” class at FSU where she designed a challenge for students studying biomes and animal adaptations - the challenge required students to create a biomimicry product that would help humans survive in harsh conditions and to defend their product before a group of investors. Janet said it was a lot of fun to design and implement.
Kristen Musto and Judy Silva updated the curriculum map for seventh grade science and created a Google Site to share all our instructional materials. This will help our new colleague, Josh Walas, transition to Blake. Judy took a class on Inclusion Strategies and worked on organizing the trip to Nature’s Classroom. While in Maine, Judy served as a shoreline steward for Kezar Lake in Maine. To learn more about the invasive plants affecting Maine lakes, she attended a workshop offered by Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program. Kristen Musto visited the Wachoit Bay Nature Reserve in East Falmouth, MA. During her visit, Kristen observed an osprey family and explored the museum, trails and the biodiversity of the estuary. Josh taught an outdoor survival class called Kid vs. Wild in Westwood and began coaching football with the Medfield High coaching staff.
The 6th grade team worked together on a summer R & D to further develop their pilot program on Standards Based Reporting. In their free time they spent the summer with family enjoying the beautiful weather. Specifically Kristin Buley spent the summer vacationing with her husband and son in Bermuda and Maine. Kelly Ruminski worked as an associate director at Camp Harbor View. Marjorie Heim worked at Pilgrim Day Camp and during her time off travelled to the Outer Banks, Maine, and Albany, NY. She also found time to fit in R&D for developing a Digital Citizenship curriculum for all grade levels and a curriculum called Journey North to be implemented during Math MARS.
8th grade teachers Cynthia McClelland, Travis Taliaferro and John Sullivan worked collaboratively to create DBQs (Document Based Questions) which utilize primary sources from the Middle Ages. John visited the Museum of World War II in Natick which houses an amazing collection of WW II artifacts including actual Enigma machines which decoded secret German messages during the war. The recent movie The Imitation Game featured their creation and use. Cynthia spent time this summer reading about and researching her Scots-Irish ancestry.
Teachers Deb Manning and Greg Keohan worked on a project to introduce DBQ skills to 7th graders. These skills are part of the Massachusetts Frameworks and help students analyze sources, identify points of view, wrestle with conflicting opinions and use factual evidence to write evidence based arguments. The seventh grade team also collaborated to create an iMovie project for the popular Greek Week unit and a culminating project for the end of the year wherein students will create their own list of the "Seven Wonders of the World" and defend the choices on their list. Deb was invited to take part in the Senator in Training Advisory Board at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate for the 2015-2016 school year. the Institute is creating programming targeted towards middle school students to launch in September, 2016. As a member of the board, Deb will be working to ensure that the programming follows the Massachusetts Frameworks, the Common Core, and is dynamic enough to hold the interest of middle schoolers. Greg visited several National Parks this summer, including Steamtown in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the Maggie L. Walker house in Richmond, VA, the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York. We welcome new 7th grade Social Studies teacher Mary Ellen (Mel) Bissell. A graduate of Williams College and Harvard University, Mel, a Medfield resident and former Blake parent, is a great addition to the team.
World Geography teachers Mike Gow, Emily Alland, Cynthia McClelland and John Sullivan completed a review of the pilot program begun last year. The teachers reflected on what worked well and identified areas for improvement. By working together over the summer the team was able to break down standards to match the curriculum, fill in components that were missing and add to new and existing unit outlines. The learning standards and exit skills were reviewed and added to as well. The team was very successful in creating a more streamlined and skills based curriculum that will enhance student learning. We are very excited to embark on the second year of our three year pilot program. Mike worked on developing curriculum for a new project in sixth grade called Journey North. This initiative is a an international curriculum that uses math, reading, writing, science, and social studies. In addition, he took a course learning more about Google Sites, a potential tool for using as a portfolio site in middle school.
Blake’s health educators, Mark Nickerson, Kath McCullough and Jeff Cincotta, took on a big project this summer along with content specialist Susan Cowell. They began the process of transitioning away from a content-based health education curriculum to a skills-based health education curriculum. With the help of Dr. Sarah Benes, Program Director for the Health and Physical Education program at Boston University, the teachers analyzed the eight National Health Education Standards along with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Education Frameworks, and started rewriting the entire Blake health education curriculum! Rather than demonstrating that they understand facts about healthy behaviors, students will now learn, practice, and be able to demonstrate skills that apply to all of the health content areas. You can read about the standards here: National Health Education Standards.
We are thrilled to announce that the Blake Fitness Center is getting a makeover! With a generous contribution by The Medfield Coalition for Public Education along with MPS funding, we will soon have a terrific space for functional fitness and strength training classes for Blake students. Installation is expected soon, so stay tuned for information about updates to the physical education curriculum, and before and after school fitness opportunities for Blake students! Thank you MCPE!!
Kathleen McCullough and Jeff Cincotta both completed their Master’s of Education, Kath with a concentration in Health and Family Consumer Sciences from Cambridge College, and Jeff with a concentration in Curriculum and Teaching from Fitchburg State University! Congratulations to both of them on enriching and advancing their teaching careers. Their students have already directly benefitted from their experiences! Jeff qualified this summer for the Massachusetts Golf Association (MGA) Amateur Public Links Golf Tournament, and placed 15th in the Father/Son MGA Tournament! Congratulations, Jeff!
Mark Nickerson enjoyed his summer working at Pilgrim Day Camp, and coaching the 11 year old baseball team to a state championship! That is state championship #2 for Mark, winning his first in varsity girls basketball. We’re all really proud of Mark’s commitment to the success of the children of Medfield. Congratulations, Mark!
We are thrilled to welcome Ellen Gelinas back to Blake’s wellness staff! Ellen will be teaching grades 6, 7 and 8 physical education, along with health and physical education for grades K and 1 at the Memorial School. Many of our students know Ellen well as their physical educator at the Dale Street School, and they are so happy to see her here at Blake! Ellen is returning from a maternity leave which began in January, and she spent her summer rediscovering the world through the eyes of her son, Andrew. Ellen loved every minute and gained a new perspective which she brings to her teaching at both Blake and Memorial.
Consumer Science teacher Susan Cowell spent a good part of her summer in the family gardens. This year’s harvest was bountiful, and everyone enjoyed the beautiful kale, peas, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, corn, celery, basil, chives, rosemary, and cilantro. Sadly, the carrots were not beautiful. If you know why each one appeared more like an orange octopus than a carrot, kindly email her your advice!
We are all excited for the new school year, and look forward to getting to know all of the sixth graders!
The members of the World Language department kept very busy this summer. Some of our activities were near and far away. Some with colleagues, some with families and some with friends. Ms. Toubman, Content Specialist was unable to travel to a Spanish speaking country this summer, so she immersed herself in a course at Merrimack College -Exploring Caribbean Cultures in the Spanish-speaking World. Ms. Manning was very happy to attend the "incorporating the iPad into the foreign language classroom" class at Harvard in July. She found it so interesting to hear what other schools are doing and to share ideas for best practices. She is also very excited to share what she learned with her students. Ms. Boulos celebrated 3 weddings and has two more to this year!. She also spent time with friends and family: nieces and nephews and her husband. She spent time on the Cape, New Jersey, and Virginia and found some relaxing time to read. She also worked on a R&D project with the Digital Citizenship Team at Blake. Ms. Batts spent time exploring Acadia National Park and Charlottesville, VA (with a highly recommended and insightful tour of Jefferson's Monticello!) and ended with 2 glorious weeks on Martha's Vineyard with her entire family! Ms. Gonzalez spent time reading about racism in the US, tutoring, R&D, camping, dancing, and playing with her kids.
Ms. Buckham met with a Wellesley Middle School WL teacher to discuss her experience with the first year of the iPad use in grade six. It was great to share ideas and reflect on how the iPad changed how our classroom looks. She also spent some time on Martha's Vineyard with family and friends and enjoyed an incredible stretch of great summer weather in a beautiful place. Ms. Welling traveled quite a bit this summer.In July she went to Santorini, Greece and enjoyed the sun and food, followed by a visit to England where she toured Suffolk County. In August, she visited Chicago with her daughter and took in the sites there. Other than travelling, she read books, watched French movies and enjoyed relaxing at home with her family!
For Ms. Dalpe, her pictures are worth over a thousand words!