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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

- Authored by: Cathie Maglio

Cultivating the Garden, Cultivating Students

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

A teacher is not unlike a gardener.

Time flies so quickly, especially as we get older. It’s now fall and a new school year is underway.

Last weekend as I prepared my garden for winter I started to think about how educators are like gardeners. A gardener sows seeds and then watches the flower seeds turn into beautiful flowers and the vegetable seeds yield their harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, beets and squash. No two flowers are the same, even if the seeds came from the same package. I love seeing the different colors of zinnias and marigolds and the shapes and sizes of tomatoes, each one unique, even on the same plant.

The growth and blooming of flowers and vegetables does not happen spontaneously. The gardener has to water them, feed them, prune them and pull up the weeds. The plants also need the warmth of the sun and the diffusion of rain to grow.

A teacher is not unlike a gardener. To a teacher, students are the flowers that bloom and the vegetables that mature. But unlike the gardener, teachers do not always see the seeds of knowledge planted in the classroom mature and blossom.

I work in high schools and follow students from freshman year until they graduate. I watch them grow and develop over those four years. In those years, students grow physically and mentally with the help of their teachers, administrators, fellow students, and of course families. I marvel at meeting a student as a freshman and then seeing the transformation that has taken place when the student has become a senior. Sometimes I can’t believe it’s the same person!

Teachers are the ones who get to witness the greatest growth in their students. Teachers plant the seeds and then watch the flowers grow. EL teachers will watch their students go from speaking and reading very little English to being noticeably and measurably more proficient at the end of the school year. I have seen this growth in an EL class. The class used our JFYNet reading comprehension program. In September, they needed to have the assignments read to them in English. By the end of the school year, they were reading English by themselves and were able to increase their ACCESS language proficiency test scores by two to four levels. The teacher who planted the seeds of English in these students had a beautiful bouquet of flowers at the end of the school year.

Teachers often get to see the result of a seed or a concept planted by another teacher bloom when the student finally gets it. I have witnessed this delayed flowering many times in my classes. It is exciting to see the light bulb go on when the student finally puts it all together and understands a concept. Or it might be a student who hated math coming to love it at the end of a semester. I teach a small class of adults and only have students for a semester. Imagine how exciting it is to see this happen to all the students a teacher has taught in the four years of high school!

Teachers have the unique ability to plant ideas, concepts and seeds of knowledge in students with the hope that someday they will blossom and the student will realize what a gift has been given. Teachers are not alone in this garden: parents, peers and other friends and relations also plant seeds and cultivate growth. With sun and rain, young people grow and blossom into the unique person they are meant to be. And each season, we plant again.

The Importance of being a teacher

It’s More than Imparting Subject Knowledge

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

Schools are people— students, principals, deans, librarians, janitorial staff, office staff and teachers. Of all these groups, the teachers are the most influential. They are the largest constant bloc, staying largely intact as students pass through, and they have the most direct contact with students. They are the ones who make the school what it is.

Reflections on the Blue Line - A school year draws to a close

A school year draws to a close

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

Here I am at the tail end of another school year. It’s been busy getting students ready for MCAS, both in ELA and Math, and ready for college. This year I have been responsible for two schools, Revere High and East Boston High. Though only a few stops apart on the Blue Line, they present very different challenges. I’ll get off at Maverick first and save Revere for next time.

Travel Advisory-Pay Attention
I am always amazed that students ever make it to class on time!

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

Navigating the corridors of a high school during the changing of classes is a challenge. I’d rather drive on the expressway in rush hour. Students move in packs down the middle of the corridor making it difficult for anyone to pass. They congregate at the ends of the corridors blocking anyone from getting around the corner. They stop abruptly to greet a friend and you almost bump into them. Or they almost crash into you texting on their cell phones oblivious to their surroundings.

MCAS 2.0: Standards-based assessments support data-driven, student-centered instruction

How standards-based assessments support data-driven, student-centered instruction

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

The JFYNet program creates opportunity by using technology in the form of student-centered blended learning to help young people develop the skills to thrive in school and ultimately in the world of work. This is accomplished by working in schools to help students improve their reading, writing and math skills. There are a few ways to measure the skill development of each student: MCAS scores, quizzes embedded in the software programs, scores on SAT and Accuplacer, and finally placements directly into college-level classes without remediation.

Tragedy and Triumph, The Highs and Lows of Working in Schools

The Highs and Lows of Working in Schools

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

The schools I work in have been back in session since the beginning of September. I was excited to get back to see teachers I have worked with for years, to meet teachers who are new to the JFYNet program, and to see all the students, new and returning. I have also gone to new schools, giving presentations on the JFYNet blended learning program. I enjoy doing these demonstrations since it gives me a chance to meet other teachers and principals and to show them a program that I know helps raise students’ skills and scores on MCAS and college placement testing.

Language Arts and Math

Two disciplines with a common purpose

by Cathie Maglio, blended learning specialist

Ever since fifth grade I wanted to be a math teacher. I fell in love with the subject at that point and never wavered from it.

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in math, I knew I wanted a master’s degree but didn’t know in what. It took twenty years to find the right program, a Masters of Education with a concentration in Technology in Education at Lesley College (now University). The program was being offered at a local school one week-end a month for 22 months.

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.

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.