Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Math Curriculum

Following eight months of piloting several high quality, standards-aligned Math programs, the School Committee approved Superintendent Zrike’s recommendation to adopt enVision Math as the K-6 Math curriculum for the Wakefield Public Schools beginning in September 2015.  We are confident that our curriculum selection is the very best available to help our students engage and thrive in learning the Math concepts and skills that are key to their academic success.
The grade 7 and 8 enVision Math curriculum is not due for release until this fall, so our plan is to continue our current practice of implementing a standards-aligned blend of CMP3 and OnCore curriculum materials.  Recent assessment data demonstrates strong student progress using this combination of resources.  We will study the grade 7 and 8 enVision Math curriculum in the coming year.

How did we arrive at the decision to adopt the enVision curriculum? This year, 30 grade K-8 teachers, representing all schools, piloted enVision Math and Math In Focus programs.  We used the following quantitative and qualitative data to study the pilot curriculum:

    Pilot teacher survey, guided by the national CCSS Mathematics Curriculum
Materials Analysis Project
    Feedback from grade-level teacher teams upon review of student performance on
common assessments
    Teacher presentations of pilot materials and experiences 
    Principals' classroom observations
    Feedback from other regional school districts, including Melrose and Reading,
who are currently using these programs.

Using this information, the enVision Math curriculum was compelling to us in the following areas:

    Students' deep understanding of Math concepts
    Engaging student text and activities
    Online resources
    Variety and quality of assessments
    Homework materials
    Differentiated materials 
    Teacher resources
    Alignment to standards with focus on the Standards of Mathematical Practices
    Parent resources

Teachers will receive all curriculum materials and training in June so that they will be well prepared for implementing enVision Math in the fall.  We will host a parent information session in September to help parents learn about the new curriculum and how to support their children at home.  The program comes with a variety of parent resources, including instructional videos and access to daily classroom instruction materials.

On behalf of all Wakefield educators, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to all of our teachers who participated in piloting curriculum and in making this important decision.  Their professionalism and dedication has been exceptional.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Parent University

The Wakefield Public Schools, Wakefield Parent Partnership, and Wake-Up Coalition invite you to the 2nd annual

Wakefield Parent University
Saturday, March 21
8:30 - 12:00 p.m.
Galvin Middle School

Featuring keynote speaker, Carrie Stack, M.Ed.
"The Power of Positive: Parents, children, & learning"

Following the keynote speaker, parents will have the opportunity to attend two workshops. Topics include:
  • How to raise & support your reader
  • Understanding BYOD and Google Apps for Education
  • Common Core Standards K-12
  • Anxiety & Depression
  • Social Media/Cyber Safety
  • Helping with homework
  • College financial planning
Free refreshments, door prizes, and community resources will be available


Sponsored by the Wakefield Co-operative Bank

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

STEAM Curriculum in the WPS

An educational framework for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math (STEAM) is essential for students in the 21st century.  The Wakefield Public Schools continues to expand our curricula with coursework in Technology (Computer Science & Programming) and the Arts (Graphic Design & Multimedia).  Perhaps most exciting is the introduction of Engineering at the Galvin Middle School, featuring Project Lead the Way courses in Automation & Robotics and Design & Modeling.  Pictured below are students at work:

Science & Engineering practices that students are learning:

1.  Asking questions and defining problems
2.  Developing and using models
3.  Planning and carrying out investigations
4.  Analyzing and interpreting data
5.  Using mathematics and computational thinking
6.  Constructing explanations and designing solutions
7.  Engaging in argument from evidence

8.  Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Monday, October 20, 2014

Please join us for a Parent & Community Forum:


Teaching & Learning 
The Common Core

Monday, November 3
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
The TSB Theater 
Wakefield Memorial High School

Educators from the WPS will help parents and community members to better understand the Common Core Standards with an inside look into the instructional strategies and learning experiences taking place in our own classrooms. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Math Curriculum Summit

A team of WPS educators held a focused, productive K-8 Math Curriculum Summit in late July.  I would like to thank this outstanding team of teachers:

Gr. 1 - Kim Morse, Amy Yessaian
Gr. 2 – Tammy McDonald, Stacy McGrath
Gr. 4 – Kristin Liberti, Kathy Uva
Gr. 5 – Jillian Balestrieri
Gr. 6 – Lisa Tibbetts
Gr. 7 – Mike Pappalardo
Gr. 8 – Erin Roy
K-4 Assistant Principal – Amanda Sullivan
5-8 Math Curriculum Coordinator – Wendy Phillips

The results of their hard work and effort include a clear plan for:

1) Curriculum pilot implementation 2014-15

In 2014-15 a team of teachers will pilot In Focus and EnVision/CMP3 Math curriculum at all grade levels (K-8) across the district. All other teachers will continue to implement the On Core and Engage NY curriculum they worked with last year.  All Math programs are research-based, robust and effective programs aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

2) Curriculum evaluation and planning for 2015-16

A team of teachers and administrators will meet throughout the school year to evaluate the existing and pilot programs, using a curriculum evaluation rubric as a guide and feedback from all K-8 teachers.  Gr. 9-12 representation will be essential for us to establish vertical alignment PreK-12.

With recommendations from this team, we will make a district decision in selecting one consistent curriculum program for implementation in 2015-16.

3) Common Interim Assessments

During a significant working session of the summit, the team revised our common interim assessments, focusing on "power" standards, to implement three times during the course of the school year.  This plan allows for needed flexibility in the pacing of when instruction occurs and allows students the opportunity to master skills over time.  Ultimately this standards-based tool can be utilized as an effective District-Determined Measures (DDM) to measure student learning and growth over time.

4) An Assessment Calendar

The team created a calendar, balancing the common interim assessment windows with Benchmark and PARCC assessments, accounting for report card timelines.  

5) Common Data Protocols

In the coming year we will establish one or two common data protocols that grade-level teacher teams can use to analyze student learning outcomes and make strategic decisions for upcoming instruction.

Other exciting conversations during the Math Summit centered on establishing innovative collaboration opportunities for teachers using web-based tools and ongoing communication strategies with parents.

Establishing a rich, challenging Math curriculum in the WPS to prepare our students well for college and 21st century careers is an exciting process!   

Exciting new English Language Arts curriculum

It has been an exciting summer as we worked extensively on a plan for Literacy/ English Language Arts in the WPS.  We shaped our objectives around the following questions:
  • How do we continue to align our Language Arts curriculum to the Common Core State Standards in order to strengthen our students' critical reading and writing skills?
  • What curriculum resources and materials, instructional strategies, and aligned assessments will teachers need?
  • How will we support our teachers with professional learning, coaching, and feedback as they implement new curriculum?
A team of Wakefield teachers, representing all schools and grade levels, supported by consultant Elizabeth MacDonald (teacher and literacy coach for the Boston Public Schools),  researched and selected a curriculum unit or module,  tightly aligned with the CCSS, to implement in all grades/English classes:

Gr. K-2  Using selected Calkins' Writing Curriuclum units, a team of WPS teachers and literacy coaches are building a Close Reading/Writing module for implementation in February 2015.

Gr. 3-8  The team selected an Expeditionary Learning module for implementation between November and January of the coming school year.  Check samples of these exciting modules online at   

Gr. 9-12  The high school team selected a Model Curriculum Unit from the MA ESE website for each grade and shared these units with the entire English Language Arts teaching team along with projected dates of implementation.

We have purchased all texts, materials, and resources needed for implementation and they will be available to teachers when school opens.  With a strong understanding of the context of our schools, the teachers developed pacing calendars for each grade level. There is a plan in place to enlist principals, literacy coaches, and 5-12 curriculum coordinator to provide preparatory and ongoing training for teachers, with additional support provided as part of the PD framework for the coming year.

Superintendent Zrike has established a clear vision for our movement forward in Language Arts instruction and has targeted the necessary financial resources for implementation.  Liz MacDonald has provided essential wisdom, experience, and leadership this summer and I am thrilled that she will continue to work with us in the coming year.

And I extend my sincerest gratitude to our talented team of teachers for their insights and hard work throughout the summer on this important project:  Kristen Harper, Estelle Burdick, Kathy Holland, Jean Maio, Rachel Costa, Patty Goodwin, Joanne Minihan, Rick Manzi, Matt Winiarski, Danika Ripley, Michele Labreque, Alyson Smith, Paul Bavuso, Amanda Kennedy, Stephanie Martin, Sharon Yandell, Paul Matteo, Will Karvouniaris, Beth Hughes, and Kim Margolis.