College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

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Of Engines and Mountains-little engine that could

 

Teaching students to think they can


by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist
Illustration by George and Doris Hauman

In the classic children’s story “The Little Engine That Could,” the little blue steam engine is asked to pull a train full of toys and gifts to boys and girls on the other side of the mountain. Even though the engine is the smallest in the train yard, she gives it a try. She encounters many obstacles on the way up and each time she says, “I think I can, I think I can.” And in the end, as all children know, the little blue engine does make it over the mountain to deliver the toys to the children.

This story came to mind as I was talking with Tianna Tassinari, an English teacher at East Boston High School. Ms. Tassinari teaches underperforming students who want to attend college but are not sure how to get there. Her students are classified as Students with Disabilities. Another classification is SPED: Special Education. These students face obstacles like below average test scores and GPAs, having an Individualized Education Program (IEP) due to learning disabilities, and financial issues. Despite having these issues, they are hard-working and ambitious. At the beginning of last school year, Ms. Tassinari was aware that many students were thinking about going to college but were unsure of where to go, what they wanted to study, and what would be expected of them if and when they got there.

Some students had the misconception that everyone had to go to college. They didn’t know that other options were available to them, like the military, skilled trades that could let them eventually own their own business, or volunteer opportunities like City Year.

During the course of the year, Ms. Tassinari worked closely with her students not only to teach them English, but also to make them aware of the opportunities available after graduation.

Near the end of the school year, she took her students to the Student Disability Support Services Center at Bunker Hill Community College. They met with the coordinator, received a tour of the campus, visited the Writing Center, and learned about free summer courses for students needing academic help. They were guided in setting up a Gmail account and their own personal Google drive for communicating with teachers. The visit answered many of their questions about what to expect in college. In a year full of adroit classroom strategizing, this was one of the best things Ms. Tassinari did for her students.

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How teachers and coaches help students find their own success

How teachers and coaches help students find their own success

By Greg Cunningham, Blended Learning Specialist

“You have a great ability to quickly develop an analysis of the topic. If we can teach you how to speak, we might have something here.”

These were my first comments to Jackson, a new student, almost three years ago after he gave a practice Impromptu speech. “Impromptu” speaking gives the student a random topic on which to speak for four minutes after ninety seconds of preparation. Thus began a journey which would culminate in a way often found in my daydreams, but never allowed to creep into conscious thoughts for fear of jinxing the whole thing.

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Labors Twilight-The Changing American Workforce

The Changing American Workforce

by Gary Kaplan
Photos by Matthew Kaplan

In the 1800s the Calumet region of northwest Indiana was Chicago’s Cape Cod. The baltic blue crescent of Lake Michigan curved serenely eastward from the state line. Tawny beaches and rolling sand dunes offered refuge from the raucous, brawling city of the big shoulders. Windwarped swale and reedy marshland attracted hunters and fishermen, birdwatchers and botanists. The lowslung, undeveloped lakefront lured industrial land scouts.

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JFYNet Partner School Spotlight

Sometimes We Need to Be Reminded…
… that our schools are full of great kids, hard-working and creative teachers, overworked and underappreciated administrators, and effective programs.

Read more about some of these outstanding people, schools and communities in our series: Spotlighting JFYNetWorks Partner Schools… August 2018 edition.

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by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

I fondly recall a ragged rhyme that kids used to chant on the last day of school. Every adult of a certain age knows some version of it, but the one we always bellowed was:

learning new song of summer, Schools not out forever...

Only the most daring or naughty would speak the last word. The rest of us just let it hang in the air as we fled toward the fleet of yellow buses that would ferry us away from the stifling chalk dust-filled confinement of desks and books and droning teachers to the sun-splashed freedom of beach balls, bikes, and the soothing chimes of the ice cream wagon.

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Online Study Apps to Help You SUCCEED IN COLLEGE

Digital assistance in Math and English

Improving Accuplacer scores is a worthwhile idea regardless of remediation policies, because it signifies improved foundation skills. Tests like Accuplacer are not just arbitrary exercises: they measure the skills required for an academic or vocational pursuit. Math and English are the foundation skills. In recent weeks we posted two blogs addressing the importance of being ready for the Accuplacer no matter the version. One post highlighted the MATH component while the other focused on ENGLISH. In both cases we shared various online tools, that if used with consistency, will most assuredly help a student improve Accuplacer scores. Here is a compilation of the online resources.

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Summer Study for Math

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

My last blog post discussed the fact that students don’t understand the connection between Accuplacer scores and remedial college courses until they meet with an advisor and see how many non-credit-bearing courses they will have to take. Although some colleges allow a good high school GPA to substitute for remedial math courses, using high school courses as a proxy is much more common for English than math. It’s generally easier to study English on your own than math, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your math skills. You may not be pursuing a STEM major, but you will still need to take math courses. Not only do you need basic math skills for everyday living, but you will need math skills for many majors including accounting, trades and social sciences. Keep in mind that the skills you build now are the foundation of success in college.

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JFYNet Partner School Spotlight

Sometimes We Need to Be Reminded…
… that our schools are full of great kids, hard-working and creative teachers, overworked and underappreciated administrators, and effective programs.

Read more about some of these outstanding people, schools and communities in our series: Spotlighting JFYNetWorks Partner Schools… July 2018 edition.

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School’s Out—Sort Of

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

’No more pencils no more books, No more teacher’s …’

It’s July and I’m hearing the Alice Cooper song “School’s Out for Summer! “ in my head.

I’ve finished up my work in the schools for the year. Tenth graders took their MCAS tests and seniors took the Accuplacer tests in English and math. Their scores were sent to colleges for placement in courses. Testing was pretty much all I did in May and June. It was frustrating trying to work with the seniors who had mentally already left school despite their physical presence in the building. Every time I thought I was done, there was another teacher asking if I could come one more day to test students who were absent or did not do well the first time and needed scores sent to colleges. I always say yes because I wish my seniors well in their next endeavors, college, work, or the military.

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Summer Study for Accuplacer

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

Many students don’t understand the connection between Accuplacer scores and their immediate future.

They may not see any connection until they meet with an admissions counselor and find out how many remedial courses they have to take. Although some community colleges are now waiving remedial math courses based on certain high school GPA levels, many institutions still require a minimum Accuplacer score for math and all still require it for English classes. Improving Accuplacer scores is a worthwhile idea regardless of remediation policies, because it signifies improved foundation skills. Tests like Accuplacer are not just arbitrary exercises: they measure the skills required for an academic or vocational pursuit. Math and English are the foundation skills. Today, let’s look at some strategies for improving English skills. (Part II will deal with math.)