• January 2017 News

    Posted by Julie DeRoche at 1/16/2017 9:00:00 AM
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  • November-December News

    Posted by Julie DeRoche at 12/6/2016 11:00:00 AM

    Curriculum and Instruction 

    • The New England League of Middle Schools (NELMS) recently conducted the school-wide assessment of MERSD middle school. This comprehensive assessment included: a two-day site visit, school-wide surveys of teachers, staff, and students, school-wide meetings, observations of classroom instruction, and conferences with a wide variety of administrators, community members, parents, teachers and staff. From the NELMS report, we will endeavor to inform our practice as a middle school and create systems of school-wide goals and supports for middle school students, teachers, and parents. We are committed to ensuring a middle school philosophy and look forward to continuously developing our middle school model!
    • MCAS 2016: This year, we analyzed school-wide data trends for the past five years.  Each school continues to score above the state level in most, if not all, standards across all schools and grade levels. Many strengths were noted, as well as areas for continued focus and support.  These data will help us to coordinate a multi-year focus on continuously raising student achievement for ALL students in our schools through assessing aligned curriculum, determining professional development, and supporting our students across all content areas through effective instructional strategy.
    • 2016 DESE ELA and Math Framework Revision Updates: DESE has updated the 2011 English Language Arts and mathematics frameworks to better support classroom instruction in critical areas. This week, we will attend trainings on the upcoming new revisions. To learn more about the upcoming revisions and changes, click here.  To review overview DESE briefs on the curriculum updates, please see:  
    • Curriculum Leaders: Throughout the fall and winter, MERSD curriculum leaders have been analyzing elementary school-wide curriculum in an effort to create a holistic view of elementary learning in MERSD. As we review these curriculum plans, as well as updates to the Massachusetts standards and school-based data, we will determine areas of strength and areas in need of support in the existing curriculum at each grade level.
    • MERSD High School Curriculum Mapping: Recently, the curriculum department chairs trained with an ASPEN consultant to learn how to write and map district curriculum using the ASPEN curriculum mapping module.  Over the course of the year, middle and high school teachers will begin the process of writing grade-and course-level curriculum within ASPEN to ensure that our curriculum is coherent, rigorous, multi-faceted, and aligned to most current Massachusetts standards.

    Professional Development

    • Wednesday, December 7, 2016, is a half-day for the district. Elementary teachers will be learning about the expectations of the new science standards and how these expectations align with the Know Atom science curriculum.  We look forward to working with Dave Lyons, a recent inductee to the Massachusetts Science Teacher Hall of Fame, to support us this year with this important work! Middle school departments will learn about the upcoming changes to MCAS 2.0 and the updates to the Massachusetts standards in ELA, math, and science.  High school departments will continue to write district curriculum in ASPEN.
    • Professional Development Committee (PDC): MERSD PDC is working to create a district professional development survey for staff.  This survey will help inform future decisions related to teachers’ needs for professional development.  In addition, the PDC plans to create a year-long professional development plan for the upcoming 2017 school year.
    • Reaching All Learners: The district continues to offer Reaching All Learners training in grades K-8.  This training supports our teachers with best-practice instructional strategies to ensure that all of our students’ needs are met in the classroom and beyond.
    • RETELL: MERSD has coordinated with SEEM Collaborative to host a RETELL course for our teachers. RETELL is a course required by DESE and designed for classroom teachers of English Language Learners.  The MERSD RETELL course will begin in December at the high school and will continue throughout the early spring.

    State Assessment

    MCAS 2.0: DESE Updates for 10th Grade MCAS Changes: Board Sets Implementation Date for 10th Grade Next-Generation MCAS

    The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously on October 25, 2016 to implement the 10th grade next-generation MCAS in spring 2019 (for the class of 2021). Members of the class of 2021 are currently eighth graders and will take the eighth grade next-generation MCAS this year, giving them some experience with the next-generation version before encountering it as a graduation requirement. Students in the class of 2020 and prior classes will take the legacy 10th grade tests to meet their high school competency determination.

    • MCAS 2.0 Blueprints: Grade-level teachers and departments are reviewing the new MCAS blueprints to learn more about the new exam and expectations at each grade level. Additional information regarding practice exams and grading rubrics will be released in January 2017.

    WIFI Update

    Thank you team! MERSD WIFI is back on track! As we continue to update our WIFI and server, we ask that parents ensure that students’ computers are running updated antivirus software and malware detection on students’ devices.At home, if you are a Comcast user and don’t have antivirus software installed, download your free Norton Antivirus software from Comcast at: https://customer.xfinity.com/help-and-support/internet/downloading-the-norton-security-suite/ as well as free Malware detection software from Maleware Bytes at: https://www.malwarebytes.com/mwb-download/.  Thank you for helping us keep our students’ devices virus free!

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  • October News

    Posted by Del Vollink at 10/11/2016

    So many exciting things are happening in MERSD schools this month!  


    October Professional Development Series

    Reaching All Learners Training

    Our K-8 teachers will be learning instructional strategies for students with disabilities during our extended Wednesday professional development series.

    Middle School NELMS 

    The NELMS survey window for teachers, parents, and students closes on Friday October 14th .  The NELMS review committee will conduct interviews and classroom observations on Nov 2-4 at the MERSD Middle School.  Results and feedback from NELMS regarding the survey, interviews, and observations will be available in early January. 

    High School 

    Year-Long Focus on Student-Centered Learning:  Refining the Principles of Good Teaching

    Departments are focusing on developing the principles of good teaching, expanding student-centered learning opportunities, and developing instructional strategies and authentic assessments.  Overall, this month during departmental professional development, teachers will focus on identifying the underlying expectations for students within the content. These trainings allow teachers the opportunity to focus on the big picture and to develop departmental statements of values and principles. 

    Upcoming trainings will focus on:

    • creating a department tool kit for instructional strategies
    • developing authentic assessments for project-based learning
    • developing guidelines for authentic assessments using expectations for project and student outcomes

    EBSCO Pilot

    Under the supervision of Sue Krause, the middle and high school library will organize a pilot of new EBSCO technology which incorporates all library resources in one searchable database. Ms. Krause will coordinate the pilot of these resources with Social Studies and English department research projects.

    District Focus on Assessing and Developing Student Writing

    Based on analysis of MCAS, AP, and district-based data, the district will focus on assessing K-12 student writing expectations.  Our first meeting in November will focusing on defining norms for Looking at Student Work and assessing the expectations of Massachusetts' grade-level standards for writing.


    Kudos to Del Vollink and the MERSD Tech Ninjas!

    Ms. Vollink is preparing to announce the launch of the tech team YouTube channel! Students have been working on making tutorials and examples for students and staff members. Teachers and students: if any of these make you laugh, or teach you something new, please tell the kids or leave a comment. Check out our Tech Team commercial or follow the tech team on twitter at: @METechTeam

    Essex and Memorial Elementary Schools

    Curriculum leaders met this month and discussed the standard curriculum and instructional strategies used at both Memorial and Essex elementary schools.  We are developing a process for identifying and coordinating how each school uses and expands upon existing district curriculum.  Updates and information regarding grade-level curriculum will be shared between principals, schools, and among teachers as the year progress!




    Kudos to MS. Tamara Burns!

    The month of October is the international celebration dedicated to the importance of drawing in solving problems and changing lives!  Last year we began participating in The Big Draw and it was quite successful.

    This year the theme is STEAM. This is a chance for students to work on the main floor of the high school as a live event.  Students will each choose a direction to work in from weekly sketch book assignments. This choice option added greatly to the excitement and passion shown by students.   

    I will also share The Big Draw info with the faculty(ms/hs)as well as with Claudette Yutkins, newly appointed Art/Music curriculum leader.   The community  is welcome to come in and see our amazing students work as we participate.  I will of course Tweet about this! See the link below for more info and a great logo for publications: http://www.thebigdraw.org/the-big-draw-2016-festival-theme

    The arts are a critically important aspect of education!  Such an event helps to underscore this!

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  • C&I News

    Posted by Del Vollink at 9/13/2016

    Welcome to MERSD Curriculum and Instruction!

    Congratulations to all of our school staff for a very smooth opening to the school year. This week we held parent open houses and very we will soon begin our district professional development series.  Much of our training during 2016-2017 will focus on developing instructional practices to support teaching all learners, student engagement, technology, supporting 'growth mindsets,' and fostering health and wellness in all children. Our elementary schools have been setting routines with children across schools and classrooms-and getting our students very excited for the year ahead! 

    Establishing Routines: Elementary Routines

    Growth Mindset: Carolyn Dweck on Growth Mindsets

    The middle school will begin working with the New England League of Middle Schools (NELMS) to further develop a middle school philosophy focusing on teaching young adolescents. Our training on 9/21 will start with learning about Middle School Turning Points and the Keys to Educating Young Adolescents: This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents

    And, our entire high school is engaging in developing a new schedule and participating in trainings devoted to student-centered and inquiry-based learning.  I experienced high student engagement and inspirational teaching throughout the middle and high school today in many ELA, math, science, social studies, and art classrooms!


    Growth Mindset In HS Art!



     Have a great weekend!

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