College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

College Readiness
College Readiness

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Dear Friend of JFYNetWorks,

You may remember a young man named Joey whom we have featured before. Joey was a pleasant, affable high school student with a winning smile and a low opinion of himself. “I want to go to college,” he said, “but I’m not sure I can do it. There’s too much to learn. How am I ever going to make it?” We have recounted how we helped Joey work his way through our College Readiness course by showing him the periodic reports that documented how much he had achieved and how much closer he was to the goal. Our blended learning specialist, Melissa, even counted the number of software modules he had to complete and checked them off as he did them. By the end of the year, he had learned enough to pass the college placement test. In the fall, he was admitted to community college without having to take any remedial courses. We’ll never forget his charmingly modest expression of triumph to Melissa: “I got this, Miss.”

New twists and how not to get tangled up

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

There has been a lot of discussion about the new MCAS 2.0 test. Parents and teachers are wondering how they can help students build the skills they need to succeed. The biggest difference is that the test will no longer be on paper. It’s online. Although students use technology every day, that doesn’t mean they will automatically know how to navigate the test. The first step in preparation is to make sure that students understand how to navigate through the test and answer all questions.

Is access to literacy a constitutional right?

Of Literacy and Democracy

Is access to literacy a constitutional right?

by Eileen Wedegartner

On July 5, 2018, Thomas Birmingham and William Weld co-authored an opinion piece in the Boston Globe titled, “Mass. has to return to its high standards for education.” The former governor and senate president re-visited the 1993 Education Reform Act on its 25th anniversary, praising its successes and making an argument to raise the ante and not relax the push for high standards that has brought Massachusetts success in education.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.)

College Acceptance Letter - Springtime waiting angst

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

It’s springtime, when students check their email and mailboxes for those letters from colleges. Everyone knows a thick packet means acceptance and a letter-size envelope means rejection. The wait is fraught.

From Ethiopia to Architecture: My Journey - Selamawit Balcha's Journey

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

One Student’s Brave Journey

As a Blended Learning Specialist with JFYNetWorks, I have met many students. It’s the best part of my job– meeting people and helping them succeed. I enjoy working with all students, but some naturally stand out. Selamawit Balcha is one of those stand-outs. She was in one of my classes at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in 2014 and I was immediately impressed by her determination and focus. I knew she would be successful. She is now working towards her architecture degree at Wentworth Institute of Technology. I asked her to share her story and she responded with the following account.