Meeting the Needs of All Learners

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During the 2014-2015 the Quabbin Regional School District implemented a reinforcement/extension block during the school day. The WINN block, which stands for What I Need Now, is a 30 minute, daily block during which all students K-6 are working in small groups based on individual needs. Some students are working on reinforcing skills, others are practicing new skills while others are working to extend new skills. Groups are flexible depending on the need at that time in the school year.

To make this happen, additional adults are assigned to the grade level to decrease the size of groups during this time. The staff available during this time may include: Intervention Specialist (1), Intervention Tutors (3), Special Education Teacher (1), Paraprofessionals (3). In addition to our grade-level teachers, this additional support allows us to provide children with meaningful reinforcement and extension during this daily block.

For example, 3rd grade has their intervention block from 10:45-11:15 each day. Seven additional adults join the grade level teachers allowing for ten groups for 75 students. Some groups are as small as three so children can get targeted, intense, daily intervention. Other groups, like the math group, are larger with 16 children playing math games to practice the skills currently being worked on in math class. There is also an extension group of 18 children who are participating in a book club.

WINN is a valuable block of time as it serves to meet the needs of all learners across the continuum of learning. Click here to access a presentation that speaks to this initiative in more detail.

How does your school work to meet the needs of all learners?

World Teachers’ Day: Celebrating My Top Ten

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization sets aside October 5th as World Teachers’ Day. This is an annual celebration “devoted to appreciating, assessing, and improving the educators of the world.” I want to join with others around the world in appreciating some of the teachers who influenced my development. While I am fortunate that there are many others, this is my top ten!

  • Miss Mastrionni, Grade 1, Franklin Elementary, Westfield, NJ: Thank you for fostering in me a love of reading and an understanding that there is an adventure in each book!
  • Phil Dietterich, Methodist Church, Westfield, NJ: Thank you for instilling in me a love for all things musical.
  • Camp Arcadia, Casco, ME: Thank you for inspiring me to make the world a better place because I have been it.
  • Jim Szeyller, Presbyterian Church, Westfield, NJ: Thank you for challenging me not to believe everything people tell me but to ask questions and to form my opinion.
  • Mr. Grigsby, English and History, Oakwood High School, Oakwood, OH: Thank you for teaching me how to write and for showing me the importance and power of perspective.
  • Mr. Slagel, Physics, Oakwood High School, Oakwood, OH: Thank you for teaching me that hard work, effort and perseverance are the keys to success.
  • Karen Beckwith, Political Science, College of Wooster, Wooster, OH: Thank you for teaching me that hard work, effort and perseverance are the keys to success.
  • Penn GSE: Thank you for teaching me to be guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.
  • Beth Wittcoff, Principal: Thank you for believing in me, helping me to be the best teacher I could be and for teaching me about the power of our words.
  • John D’Auria, Leadership Licensure Program: Thank you for teaching me the importance of culture, the art of listening and the power of the difficult conversation.

Who makes it into your top ten?

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“Invest in the future. Invest in teachers.” UNESCO

International Dot Day

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As I turned down the hall to read The Dot by Peter Reynolds to the first class of the day, I looked up and where I once saw a gorgeous window, I saw a dot! I continued down the hall and saw Mrs. Ellis’ bulletin board welcoming “A New Batch of First Graders!” More dots! The cookies were dots! The chocolate chips on the cookies were dots! The Os were no longer Os but were dots! The next bulletin board Wel-gum to First Grade was full of dots instead of gum balls too! I then walked in to Mrs. Cranston’s room and there were dots everywhere! Throughout the day I was amazed at how, because it was International Dot Day, because my perspective changed, I saw dots everywhere!

I shared this with students as I opened my interactive read aloud of The Dot. I went on to share that one of the reasons I wanted to celebrate International Dot Day at Ruggles this year is because it gave me an opportunity to share with students one my favorite books written by one of my favorite authors. The Dot is a story that shares the power we all have to influence someone’s life. In this story it is a teacher who impacts her student allowing her to find the artist inside her. The child then influenced another child creating a chain reaction that each class predicted would continue.

I shared with children that, growing up, I was very fortunate to go away to sleep away camp in Maine. The most enduring lesson I learned there was that it is my job to make the world a better place because I have been it. I take this lesson very seriously and try to live up to it every day. It is why I chose to become a teacher, why I chose to become a Principal, and one of the many reasons why I chose to join this community of learners. I shared with them that each day I think to myself, how can I make the world a better place today because I have been it. I think of one thing that I am going to do that day to live up to this credo and work to make it happen. This past week for example, I had a lunch with a student who had a difficult the day before. I also worked to make a new student feel welcome at Ruggles Lane.

I challenged the students to do the same and asked for their help to make Ruggles Lane the best school on the planet. Each student was challenged to answer this question – How will you make your mark at Ruggles Lane this year? Everyone worked to decorate a dot that has the answer to the question on it. All of the dots will be displayed in the front hallway and students are encouraged to read others ideas. Hopefully, just like in The Dot, we will create a chain reaction at Ruggles too!

Pictures of our bulletin board are coming soon. In the meantime, check out some of the responses to our question:

“I will help the new kid in my class.”

“I will work together with my classmates to improve in our work and get good grades.”

“I will be friends with the new kids.”

“I will make my mark by making good choices and doing well in all my classes.”

“I will greet the new kids with a smile.”

“I will help people when they are stuck.”

“I will help others.”

“I will do a good deed for someone. They can then do a good deed for someone else.”

“I will help the teachers.”

“I will be nice to everyone.”

“I will be a good friend.”

“Being a good friend and helping others.”

“I will be nice to others and make new friends.”

“I will make my mark by working hard.”

“I want to be as kind as I can be.”

“I will stop bullying if I see it.”

“I will help friends if they are struggling.”

“I think I will do National Be Nice to Your Teacher Day.”

I will try my hardest to make people smile each and every day.”

“I am going to behave, be respectful, don’t hit or smack and not argue.”

“We should have a monthly food drive.”

“I will pick up the trash at lunch.”

“I will help little kids and new kids.”

“I will make my mark by helping bullies be better people.”

“I will mark my spot by recycling.”

“I am going to raise money for the school.”

“I am going to get everyone to say please and thank you.”

“I will tell people about friendship and what’s right.”

“I will be friendly to everyone and not exclude anyone.”

“I will share a smile with everyone.”

“I will try to always do my best.”

“I am collecting Box Tops.”

“I will make pictures for everyone.”

“I will donate books to the library.”

“I will work hard every day.”

“I will read to the younger kids.”

“I am not going to litter at the playground.”

“I will sit next to her at lunch and talk.”

“This year I will come up with some fun ideas for my class’ Student Council rep!”

“I will spread peace and kindness throughout my years at RLS and beyond. Stand up and speak up!

They have great ideas and I am looking forward to seeing each and every student “make their mark!”