Monday, September 28, 2015

Kickoff Week for FIRST Jr. STEAM Ahead!

Here are notes from Legoman Dan about the kickoff week in our fourth grade classrooms in the Manchester School District:

"Week one is over and the great unknown has been breached. I am sure some of you felt like the Pilgrims as they landed on that beach in 1620. But instead of Native Americans, you had 4th graders charging you with boxes of robot parts.  The best part is, unlike the Pilgrims we had no casualties, more proof of how amazing you all are and the great work you did.  For those returning teachers and mentors I love the energy you brought to the class this week.

Today I will be editing videos for next week's programming sessions, and I will be at FIRST for a training session so I will not be on-site.

I have attached the most recent list of mentors so please review your spot as we had a few people need to change dates, and we added a few new mentors.

In addition there is a new discussion question under the group section of Schoology for both Mentors and teachers to complete.

I leave you with this image from Mrs. Tarbell’s class as we STEAM Ahead."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

FIRST Jr. STEAM Learning for our Teachers


Please take a look at what is happening in our Manchester Elementary Schools with Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.  The program is called FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead.

Pat Snow

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

20 Proactive Classroom Management Strategies for Teachers

20 Proactive Classroom Management Strategies for Teachers

  1. Give on-going, honest feedback to all students;
  2. Circulate throughout the classroom and maintain proximity with all students;
  3. Be consistent and fair;
  4. Make students aware of changes in routine(s);
  5. Do not change classroom rules—maintain consistency with all students;
  6. Know your students’ strengths and weak areas;
  7. Embrace the “power” of a phone call home;
  8. Focus on the positive;
  9. Keep notes about students to get to know them better;
  10. Meet and greet students at the classroom door;
  11. Maintain a positive classroom… do not complain about students;
  12. Help students see that their future will be positive; show them that you are confident in their ability;
  13. Give students the responsibility to make a better choice;
  14. Teach common respect;
  15. Take the disruptive student away from his/her “audience”;
  16. Use humor to stop disruption;
  17. Have high expectations of all students;
  18. Over plan highly engaging lessons;
  19. Promote positive self-awareness and acceptance of every member of the classroom;
  20. Start fresh every day.
Source: Edutopia, 2015
Source: Edutopia, 2015
- See more at:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Extraordinary Acts of Learning and Exploration in the iZone this Year

What a fantastic school year!  Our teachers and principals have managed challenging and new programs over the year. Our educators have embraced new and exciting practices and lead the state in professional development of best practices for our students. This has been a year of innovation for the Manchester iZone Schools.  Here is a summary of some of the wonderful happenings at our schools:

The Commissioner’s “Circle of Excellence” recognizes schools and districts that aspire to excellence by being bold and innovative in order to provide the best educational opportunities possible for our children. Bakersville School was  this year’s winner of the “Circle of Excellence” award.
Bakersville staff participated in many learning activities this year.  One of the professional development activities that the staff focused on was deepening educators’ knowledge in math content and pedagogy.  One of the professional readings was Five Easy Steps to a Balanced Math Program by L. Ainsworth:
  • Building computation skills through math review and mental math emphasizing the development of number sense
  • Development of math reasoning and problem solving by providing a structure for problem-solving activities related to the current conceptual unit focus and a general problem-solving rubric or guide that is used through the year to assess student work
  • Deepen conceptual understanding by focusing instruction on grade level standards that are essential for student learning and driven by performance indicators
  • Gain mastery of math facts through student understanding of patterns
  • Demonstrate understanding in a variety of assessment formats that align with MAS and state standards.  These common assessments will be collaboratively designed, administered, scored and analyzed.
Ainsworth, L.  Five Easy Steps to a Balanced Math Program

Beech Street

The motto at Beech is to ‘change life outcomes for our families’. The goal of The
Amazing Beech Street Teacher Adventure was to provide an opportunity for staff to learn about themselves when given a mission and to examine how individuals work with their team, all while having fun. All members of the staff learned about our great city and the people who serve in different roles as each team completed the tasks.
The Research On Team Building:
Over the past several years, management theory has evolved from the promotion of
competitive work environments to the development of cooperative ones. As part of this
transformation, organizations have put increased emphasis on team building. Team
building activities, regardless if they are five-minute games or week-long retreats, teach
essential collaborative skills while helping employees develop trust in each other and
each other’s abilities (Redman, 2015).
Research points to the development of the following critical skills as a result of team
building activities (Redman, 2015):
• Improve Productivity
• Increase motivation
• Foster Problem Solving
• Encourage Creativity
• Build Trust
A debriefing session was held each day for each Academy after the Race.  Teachers
and staff had an opportunity to respond and reflect on lessons learned based on the
essential questions.  The goal of the debriefing was to link the experience to student
achievement and learning at Beech Street School.

FIRST Jr. STEAM Ahead - Beech Street

4th grade students have been participating in a groundbreaking program partnering with FIRST Lego League and technology businesses in the community.  With ongoing efforts to increase science, technology, engineering, art, and math, in an engaging and authentic problem-based program, Beech Street staff and students are exploring real-world problems and challenges, to research and problem solve in teams simultaneously developing core values and perseverance.  Students are engaged and motivated in this hands-on, collaborative environment.


McDonough staff participated in a lot of professional development around their problem of practice.  The staff embraced the feedback from “Instructional Rounds” and adjusted instruction and learning based on feedback from educators within the Manchester School District and other school districts as well.  
The staff is continuously on their learning curve focusing on differentiation for students in poverty.  The current McDonough staff book study is:
McDonough staff are constantly researching ways to empower and engage all students.


Parker Varney was named the 2015 NH Elementary School of Excellence by the NH DOE.  The staff, students, parents, and the community have enveloped innovation and personalized learning for every student and staff member.  Here are the programs that Principal Allen and her staff have implemented in the past two years:  
  • Innovation Lab - students are engaged in learning at their own level through various adaptive programs
  • Instructional Rounds - staff participate in a professional development opportunity that opens up all classrooms to teachers from around the district and state to reflect, observe and recommend best practice to enhance student and teacher learning
  • SAMs - SAM is a professional development process using a unique set of tools to change a principal’s focus from school management tasks to instructional leadership
  • Professional Learning Community-All staff participate in grade level professional learning communities focusing on the following questions:
    • What do we want each student to learn?
    • How will we know when each student has learned it?
    • How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?
    • How will we respond  when a student already knows the content?
  • Student-Led Conferences-
    • Teachers meet with each student and review strengths and weaknesses. This conversation often tells teachers more information about each student and gives teachers and students goals to work on in different content areas.  

Wilson’s staff have been deep in professional development as well this year.  Instructional Rounds, Professional Learning Community  and Leader in Me  have been the focus of learning for the staff this year.  Friday, June 12th, Wilson will have its first Leadership Day open to educators from around the state.  We are very excited for our future leaders from Wilson!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Parker-Varney Earns School of Excellence Award "ED"ie Recognition Means P-V is the Best in the State

May 4, 2015
603-493-8893 Parker-Varney earns School of Excellence Award
“ED”ie recognition means P-V is the best in the state

MANCHESTER Parker-Varney Elementary School has been named the state’s Elementary School of Excellence by the New Hampshire Excellence in Education committee. The “ED”ie Awards recognize New Hampshire public schools that meet high standards of excellence and can serve as representatives of the many excellent schools throughout the state. Students, faculty, and community members were surprised by the award announcement during a school assembly at Parker-Varney.

The selection process is rigorous. It began last December, when Manchester School District submitted an application that described various aspects of Parker-Varney’s culture and successes, including how the school personalizes learning, specific innovations that have made an impact, key strengths of the school, and how the Parker-Varney could serve to inspire other schools.

“We know we must transform the way we educate beyond the traditional methods,” said Parker- Varney principal Amy Allen. “So much of our success is a result of our dedicated teachers who embrace innovation and evolve to meet the learning needs of our students.”

The Parker-Varney award application emphasized project-based learning, in which students are encouraged to design and manage hands-on community service and research projects. Other highlights of Parker-Varney are the Innovation Learning Lab, which provides students with daily individual instruction in literacy and math, and enhanced professional development opportunities for the teachers to learn from each other and try new things. Family and community involvement have been crucial components to the success at Parker-Varney. School volunteers have quadrupled from 25 to 100 participants in the past couple of years.

Once Parker-Varney became a School of Excellence finalist, the EDies selection committee visited the school. That’s when students and teachers had the chance to show off the learning and innovation in action.

We are very proud of Principal Allen, the teachers, students and their families for making Parker-Varney the best elementary school in the state,” said Debra Livingston, superintendent. “Their hard work and enthusiasm show in everything they do while helping students grow to be outstanding citizens and lifelong learners.”

On Saturday, June 6, all of New Hampshire’s Schools of Excellence will be honored at the twenty-second annual “ED”ies award celebration. This gala event is a collaborative effort of most of the major state-wide education associations. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

FIRST Jr. STEAM Ahead Exposition at Jewett Elementary School

        Superintendent Livingston and 4th grade "First Jr. STEAM Ahead" Students from Jewett Elementary School

What an exciting EXPOsition of FIRST Jr. STEAM Ahead by the 4th grade students at Jewett Elementary School last Thursday.  Each team of four students demonstrated the use of a robot to solve authentic problems using math, science, engineering, art, and technology for all to observe.   

A thank you to the 4th grade students, teachers, staff, families,  Principal Lubelczyk and Assistant Principal Sharon Devincent for sharing this exciting program with the community, state and city officials, businesses, City Year, funders, and mentors.  This year,  Governor Hassan has proclaimed 2015 as a year of “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math) for students in K-12.    In Manchester, it is FIRST Jr. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) Ahead for our 4th grade students. A special thank you to Mayor Gatsas, Dean Kamen, FIRST, SEE Science Center, business, City Year, mentors and funders to make this possible for our Manchester students.