Friday, May 5, 2017

FY#18 Happy Friday! Student/Parent Postcards!

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Happy Friday! Happy Cinco de Mayo! 


Personal Postcards to Students & Parents 

Got off to a great start this week sending out postcards to at least one of your students who is doing the right things whether it be grade wise, personally, school spirit, or some mixture of those types of things. Here is an example of one here. Special Education teachers and English teachers sent them out this week. Science is doing them today. I will get them to everyone on your next Atlas day. You may address it to the student or parents. We mail them out right from the Academic Office. 

I am sure they will be very happy and excited to get a hand written note from their teacher acknowledging the great things they are doing in your class! That is the personal touch that makes Assabet a special place. Thank you for participating! 

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Friday, March 24, 2017

FYI #17 Happy Friday! Rubric/Checklist Maker - Screen Capture Video

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                                                                 Happy Friday!

Have not sent the FYI in a little while. I know how dearly it is missed! In any event I have been sending screen capture videos to the course I teach at Fitchburg State. One of the things I sent this week was a video of how to use a real simple online rubric maker fittingly called "Rubric Maker". They didn't dig deep for that name.

Since we want to make sure we are always uploading a rubric along with all our assessments in Stage 2 of Rubicon Atlas this is timely.

This may be something you already have seen or use. If so stop reading and there is no need to watch the video of me using it. If not then I have created a short video here of how to use it.

I have always used RubiStar Rubric or a Google Drive template in the past. However, I have found this Rubric Maker to be incredibly simple to use with excellent drop downs with canned verbiage for virtually anything you want your students to do.

What I like best about it is it creates a student checklist for you to give to your students without any extra work on your part.

You can check out the short video of me demonstrating it here. You can make the video larger by clicking the expansion window below the video:



Here is the actual link to the Rubric-Maker site:
http://rubric-maker.com/

At the bottom of the page you can also find a helpful and simple Graphic organizer maker:
http://graphicorganizer.net/

As always if you ever decided to use it please let me know.

Enjoy your weekend!


Friday, November 4, 2016

Assabet Student Integrity & Character- Standing Desk Pilot!

3 Main Things This Week: 


#1 and Most Importantly: 

This was sent to me today from Bobby Corazzini in PE:

Yesterday during my period 2 PE class Brandon Comstock came to Mike with $200 and said that he had found it on a bench outside of the Cafe. The money was brought to Linda and Pat was notified. I just thought it was really cool that he was honest enough to turn it in. I wanted you to know. 

Thanks Rob

I later learned from the man with the longest job title in Massachusetts Dean of Students/Assistant Principal Jerry Gahagan that the student that lost it actually cleaned houses for the money in order to buy a sketching tablet she wanted.  She literally cried tears of joy when it was it was returned to her. 

I talked with Brandon today and gave him and a friend an Epicurean Buffet for next Thursday. Jerry also called home to let his parents know about his good deed. If you see Brandon around please make sure to give him some well deserved accolades for his integrity and character. 

#2 Standing Desk Pilot 

I would like to pilot some standing desks in a few classrooms for students to try. While I don't have a budget to outfit an entire room I would like to get some feedback on the ones we do purchase from both teachers and students. If you are interested in trying a couple out in your classroom let me know. Depending on the interest I cannot guarantee to pilot a couple in all classrooms but we will start somewhere. Let me know if interested. Some studies have shown that these desks can increase engagement in students. 

Here is an article and short video on standing desks:


Here are some ideas of the models we are looking to pilot:








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#3 "22" Powerful Closure Activities 

In my most recent walkthroughs I have seen some very good closure/exit ticket strategies being used by teachers here at Assabet. One of my new favorites which I presented to new staff this summer is using "Plickers" (Paper Clickers). If you have not used this yet or want a demo please let me know. It is free quick, and easy to learn. 

Plickers is a great formative assessment technology tool where no students actually need a device. Only the teacher does.  

You can learn more about "Plickers" here:



Edutopia also put out a very good article and list of other formative assessment/closure activities in this quick read here. I particularly found #5 Paper Slide and #21 Exit Ticket Folder really good. See here: 



Thursday, April 7, 2016

The British Invastion- UK Student Exchange at AV


Signed gifts from our UK guests- UK  chaperones- AV and UK students collaborating on work in Plumbing and Health Tech.


On Friday, March 26th Fifty students from Rugby, England in the United Kingdom took part in the first ever Student Exchange Day here at Assabet Valley. Those fifty students were individually teamed up with fifty of our juniors and seniors and spent the day doing lessons in both academic classrooms and  technical  programs.

The entire day was a great success for everyone. After the UK students arrived in the morning they watched our AV school video and were greeted by Principal Hollick and met their AV student ambassadors. After a little “get to know  you” discussion they were on their way to a day full of lessons which ended in PE class for a final period of collaborative and competitive games. “I am so glad I got to to be a part of the visitation day with the UK students. I quickly became friends with everyone I met that day. One of my favorite parts of the day was taking them around to see the shops and watching their faces light up with curiosity and excitement when they walked into the shops. This was definitely an experience I will never forget” said Health Tech senior Gabi Da Costa.

This was also a complete team effort on a part of the whole Assabet Valley staff for organizing the day. Mr. McCann oversaw the day with help from Mrs. Stuart who made contact with the group from the UK and took photos all day. Mrs. Julian and Mrs. Lewis in Guidance chose the Assabet student Ambassadors. Students did an amazing job being welcoming and showing the UK students around the school. Both academic and technical teachers included UK students as part of their lessons and administrators met with and toured the building with UK teachers and chaperones. Mr. McCann stated that he “was so impressed with the way our students and staff interacted to our guests from the UK. I have gotten nothing from positive feedback from this tremendous learning experience for both our kids and theirs.”

The teacher-chaperones  from the UK were truly impressed with the warm reception they were given by all Assabet staff and were completely amazed by our programs we run here. They were able to see all our technical programs and many of our academic classrooms. Students from the UK were able to do specific lessons in CPWD, Plumbing, Automated Manufacturing, Culinary Arts, Business Tech, and  Drafting. Students from Design Visual filmed the experience for our students throughout the day and will have a video put up on  our website later this week.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

FYI #16 - Fun Friday for Staff!


This week’s Academic FYI is dedicated to the memory of Rosario “Rosie” O’Neill - A great colleague and a better person


I worked with Rosie for 12 of her 15 years here at Assabet Valley. She was a wonderful person and a great part of our academic department. There was seldom a day that Rosie was not smiling and in a positive mood. She was easy to talk and joke with and I remember her always willing to help me during my first years teaching here. She was a favorite amongst students and her classes were always filled. While 59 is way too young to leave us she made an impact on so many including myself and many students and staff during her time here.
She has three wonderful children, 2 grandchildren, and married her high school sweetheart Wayne.
Although I had not seen Rosie in some time I remember her fondly and feel happy about the wonderful tribute and fundraiser our Assabet Valley staff put together on the “Rosie Bowling Night” just a couple of years ago.
While we lost a great one her suffering is now over and she is in a much better place.
Rosie- You will be missed!


Students of the Month- March/April

Please join me in celebrating the following students who were named Student of the Month for March/April. Thank you for those staff who nominated these amazing students! If you see these students in the next couple weeks let them know how proud you are of their hard work!

David Pontes
Lucas Oliveira
Gabriela DaCosta
Ashlie Brooks
Savannah Christo
Tatiana Marcheterre
Yennifer Yaneth Gomez Tecu
Ashleigh Harrington
Victoria Silva
Hannah Silva
Joseph DeChellis
Kyle Kozlowski
Kelsi Taylor
Matthew Cochran
John Zouharis
Jared Brudner
Frankie-Ann Lovejoy
Alexia Munoz
Gabriel Zayas Fernandez


New Academic Department Bulletin Board Info coming Monday!

We will be putting up our new students of the month and new Teacher Shout-Outs this Monday. Please stop down to check out the new look and information.
Here is an example of our new Teacher Shout-Out sheet. I thought this one was especially thoughtful by freshmen Jared Brudner. First I have seen with multiple teachers on it. Statements kids make like this make it all worth it! File Feb 25, 3 34 36 PM.jpeg



January/February Academic Winners:

Student Epi Lunch Winner: Alexandra Ortiz (pulled from a name of students either recognized as a January/February Student of the Month or a student who submitted a Teacher Shout Out!)

Staff T-Shirt Winner: Pulling today at lunch (pulling from a name of an academic staff member)
Winner will receive one our cool teacher t-shirts!


Student European Trip 2016 Blog

I have completed our European Trip Blog which now has our 2 days in London!

A big shout out to sophomore Ashley Valentine for helping me write the blog even though we got back to the hotel exhausted each and every night and just wanted to sleep!

A special thanks to Sarah McCann for doing an amazing job running the trip and our chaperones Andrea Nykiel, Julia Nogueira, Linda McGrath, and Nick Ghiloni for keeping our students moving and safe!

Please see our completed European Trip Blog here: http://avtravelclub.blogspot.com/


Count the F’s

At a recent professional development workshop I attended we were asked to count the number of F’s in the statement below. This all had to do with the overarching lesson that people see and interpret things differently.

Look at the statement below. How many F’s do you see? The answer may surprise you. Scroll to the bottom of the FYI to see the answer after you have looked it over.





























6 is the answer- I got this wrong. Many people don’t count the F’s in the word OF. This is how some people's’ brains work. I made this mistake the other day. I was adamant that it was 3!

Have a Great Weekend and Thank you for all you do for our students!













AV Student Trip to Europe 2016- Check out the daily Blog!

38 AV students and 5 AV staff will be traveling to Europe over February vacation with EF (Education First) tours. 

The group will be flying from Boston to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Brussels, Belgium, Brussels to Paris and taking the "Chunnel" (underwater train) from Paris to London before flying back to the States. 



This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that Mr. McCann and sophomore Ashley Valentine will be blogging about each day. 

Ashley is a sophomore Health Tech student from Clinton and like a lot of the students on this trip this is the first time she will be traveling outside the US. 

The planning and preparation over two years is finally done and we are very excited for the trip to get underway. 

We hope you will follow our blog daily and see what our amazing students will be experiencing and learning! 

Check out the full blog here:

AV Travel Club Blog

Friday, January 29, 2016

FYI #14 How to Manage and give the best Retakes and Redo's







At a professional development I recently attended on inclusion practices the main theme of the entire workshop as it pertained to students was:


This is important.


You can do it.


And I won't give up on you.


What particularly resonated with me was in the "And I won't give up on you" session this quote on giving students retakes and redo's:

To insist that the original grade is the only one that matters sends children the message that education is about scores and deadlines. “These are the things you’re supposed to know, and if you don’t  know them on this date, then the time you put into trying to know  them was wasted, because because we're moving on.”

On the  other hand other hand, allowing students to retake tests sends the  message that what matters is learning. Students should be  encouraged to keep at something until they understand it, whatever  that happens on day one, or day one hundred.  - Jason Lukehart

Love the quote. Makes a lot of sense. Student learning should not have a deadline on it. With that said the large majority of academic staff here are great about students taking retakes- redo's- make-ups etc..

Myself included I know that we have all benefited from retakes and make-ups in our careers. Just think about the number of times many of us have taken MTELs for example.

The following information is not only about the importance of giving students additional attempts at showing their understanding but also about better ways of going about it.

Here are some great articles about making the redo/retake process more valuable for you and your students. If you have other ideas I would love to share them.


  • The article above gives 12 great ideas for enhancing retakes. I particularly liked these these ideas:

5.   If students are retaking a quiz/test, don’t use the same test. The idea behind redos and retakes is for the students to master the essential understandings not to memorize the answers (A, B, D, D, C, F, etc. or Rome, Caesar, Pax Romana, Increased, etc).

6.     Instead of using the same test, change the question style from a multiple choice to short answer or essay. PPT really good especially about 70% of college teachers allowing retests


  • This slide share above gives a lot of good information but I was really surprised and intrigued to learn that nearly 70% of the college syllabi in one of their studies showed that college professors are allowing for redo's/retakes
  • One of the main knocks against giving retakes (especially for Honors and AP students) has been that they won't have this option at the next level. The most recent studies and data are not showing this to be true anymore. Honors and AP students also benefit from redo's and retakes just as much as students in lower tracks.


  • This is a GREAT article which really talks about managing the process of giving retakes.
Here are some highlights of the 14 tips:

3. Announce to students and parents that redo's are permitted at teacher discretion. This means that students and parents may not take the redo option for granted.

8. If the same student repeatedly asks for redo's, something’s wrong. The content is not developmentally appropriate, there are unseen issues at home, or perhaps there’s an undiagnosed learning disability. Investigate.

9. Choose your battles. Push hard for students to redo anything associated with the most important curriculum standards and less so with work associated with less important standards.

Again, when considering your retakes and redo's remember this important maxim:


This is important.


You can do it.


And I won't give up on you.