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!

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