Posted in Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Programs

A Place Where Academics, Collaboration, and Interests Meet

Counting change for the Big Change Roundup to support the Vermont Children's Hospital
CMS’s Community Service club counts change for the Big Change Roundup to support the Vermont Children’s Hospital

What happens to the level of positive energy and active participation in engaging activities when students are encouraged to interact much more readily and work with others who share similar interests?

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Colchester Middle School’s schedule includes a weekly opportunity for students to participate in a wide variety of teacher-directed clubs in an academically oriented effort to further promote a positive climate and a comfortable learning environment. The clubs also provide additional opportunities for students to work collaboratively with others to learn a new skill and make a positive contribution. In this way, students from across houses and grade levels can work with one another toward common goals.

Making bracelets to support ...
CMS’s Caring Cougars making bracelets to support their fundraising goal of $1,500 for Relay for Life

Students can select from an array of clubs ranging from those designed to hone a particular skill to others focusing upon giving back to the community through various outreach projects, including:

  1. Art;
  2. Art 2/Farm to School;
  3. Basketball;
  4. Caring Cougars;
  5. Community Service;
  6. the student journalism group Cougar Chronicle;
  7. Football;
  8. French;
  9. Knitting;
  10. Naturalists;
  11. Peer Mentors;
  12. Science and Engineering;
  13. Student Council;
  14. Study Hall;
  15. Technology; and
  16. Yoga.
studying ...
CMS’s Science club

For more information about this initiative or about any of these programs, please call CMS at (802) 264-5800, or e-mail Assistant Principal Peg Gillard (gillardp@csdvt.org).

Knitting_1s

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Posted in Colchester High School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Malletts Bay School, Other Important Information, Primer Series

Primer Series: Collective Learning Groups—The Importance of Teacher Collaboration and Its Benefits to Our Students

Collaboration allows teachers to capture each other’s fund of collective intelligence.
—Dr. Mike Schmoker

As a component of our educators’ ongoing professional development work, there is increasing emphasis on teacher collaboration as a means of enhancing students’ educational opportunities.

Why is teacher collaboration important, and how does it benefit our students?

  • Teacher collaboration allows teachers to share resources and exchange ideas about a variety of instructional approaches and ways in which they can help to further tailor instruction to meet the various needs of their students.
  • In addition to sharing resources and data, teachers can engage in discussions about methods that work well and ways in which methods can be improved. By reflecting upon their own practices, teachers can benefit from their collective wisdom and experience, applying that wisdom and experience for the benefit of their students.
  • It allows all teachers to share responsibility for the learning of all students; similarly, teachers share a greater sense of accountability for students’ academic achievement. In the same way, the collaboration provides teachers with a strong professional culture and a sense of teamwork.
  • It fosters greater uniformity in the application of school-wide procedures and policies.
  • It provides students with the additional benefit of granting them access to a wide variety of teaching styles.
  • It provides additional means through which students can make the most of their learning opportunities.

A recent example of effective teacher collaboration was at Malletts Bay School, where students practiced important twenty-first-century skills through hands-on learning projects.

As part of the district’s updated social studies curriculum, MBS third graders conducted a comprehensive study of Native Americans, making tribal-inspired traditional crafts and sharing them with one another during a potlatch celebration featuring foods from varying tribal regions. They later delved further into their research, preparing informational presentations and then breaking into groups to share their knowledge with other classes. This independence and sharing with one another created a very high level of energy and engagement for the students. Furthermore, these collaborative learning strategies, including those that involve speaking and listening skills, incorporate important elements of the new Common Core State Standards.

Malletts Bay School students enjoy a recent Native American-themed potlatch celebration as a component of their study
Malletts Bay School students enjoy a recent Native American-themed potlatch celebration as a component of their study.

Another recent example involved world languages teachers from Burr and Burton Academy visiting Colchester High School to exchange ideas around differentiated instruction. Following advanced preparation, the visiting teachers from Burr and Burton Academy observed Mary Romary’s French class and Carrie Robinson’s Spanish classes, after which the educators met to exchange ideas, establish beneficial connections, and cultivate colleagueship.

CHS's Vito Cannizzaro, B&B's Michelle Emery, CHS's Mary Romary, B&B's Katie Bove, CHS's Carrie Robinson, B&B's Sue Richie, and B&B's Chris Nolan.
CHS’s Vito Cannizzaro, B&B’s Michelle Emery, CHS’s Mary Romary, B&B’s Katie Bove, CHS’s Carrie Robinson, B&B’s Sue Richie, and B&B’s Chris Nolan.

At CHS, Principal Amy Minor and science teacher Heather Baron cofacilitate collective learning groups (CLGs) as a means of strategizing how educators can:

  • improve inclusive practices in their instruction;
  • collect and analyze data for the purpose of incorporating current research into their teaching practices;
  • formulate methods of using technology in transformative ways to better facilitate differentiated instruction;
  • identify gaps and devise solutions to them;
  • expand and enrich student learning opportunities;
  • develop methods of creating and incorporating authentic learning experiences into the students’ curriculum;
  • foster interdisciplinary connections and integration;
  • encourage critical-thinking and problem-solving skills; and
  • enhance creativity, accountability, organization, and more.

(It was not for nothing that CHS attracted the attention of the Vermont Agency of Education and the Vermont State Legislature, who have regaled the school as a model for other high schools across the state.)

The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017 emphasizes a number of important pathways to foster excellence in our schools. We are working hard for our students and our community.

For more information about teacher collaboration in Colchester School District, please contact any of our schools.

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Posted in Colchester High School, General, Other Important Information, Programs, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan, Wellness

CHS’s Project Checkpoint Attracting Attention from Surrounding School Districts

In collaboration with Centerpoint Services, Colchester High School has created a research-based partnership called Project Checkpoint, a screening and brief intervention program designed to assist students with substance abuse issues.

As a result of the partnership, students will have increased access to a variety of supports aimed at fortifying school success, addressing substance abuse and/or mental health concerns, and promoting well-being and personal health.

CHS Assistant Principal Justin Brown said of the partnership, “Some exciting aspects are that we have been able to design this service from the ground up so that it is based in research. It comes with its own funding stream so that it costs the district virtually nothing for three years, and despite just starting, we are already receiving inquiries from surrounding school districts asking how they can copy our model.”

This partnership speaks directly to the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017 which has important pathways to which this effort directly relates, including Pathway E: Parent, Community, and School Partnerships Among Lifelong Learners and Pathway F: Wellness-Oriented, Balanced, and Healthy Learners.

For more information, please call CHS at (802) 264-5700 or e-mail Assistant Principal Justin Brown (brownj@csdvt.org).

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Posted in General, Malletts Bay School

Creative Ways to Learn About the Human Body

Some Malletts Bay School Ospreys are hard at work learning about the human body.

MBS third graders in Ashley Laurent's class display their board games
MBS third graders in Ashley Laurent’s class display their board games

In Ashley Laurent’s third-grade class (you can read her classroom blog here!), the students have already studied a number of body systems through a variety of activities, including reading articles, collecting data, and making projects. For example, the students designed and played games to learn about such topics as asthma, pneumonia, and the negative effects of smoking.

Student-designed board game about the respiratory system
Student-designed board game about the respiratory system

In addition to the cardiovascular, circulatory, digestive, and respiratory systems, the science unit will also include the study of the muscular and skeletal systems as well as a study of heredity.

Game 3_S

If you would like more information about this science unit and about what the students are learning, please contact Malletts Bay School at (802) 264-5900, or e-mail Ashley Laurent at laurenta@csdvt.org.

Game 2_s

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Class2_s

Posted in Accountability, Budgets, Community, District Office, General, Other Important Information, Programs

PLEASE READ: Important Budget Information

Communication2_s

We are working hard to make the revised Colchester School District FY 2014 budget information as widely available and accessible as possible. We ask everyone to review the budget materials, ask questions, and generate dialogue as you consider your vote.

A quick fact sheet about your schools and about the proposed budget can be found here.

Information about expenditures can be found here.

Information about revenues can be found here.

Information about the tax impact can be found here.

All of this information can also be found on Colchester School District’s website. You may also call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5959 or stop in at 125 Laker Lane to request copies of the materials and ask questions.

We are working to continue the critically important work of strengthening our schools and our community. Please vote on Tuesday, May 7.

HandsInCircle_s

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Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General

Reflections!

Colchester High School’s annual literary journal, Reflections, will soon be available for the community’s reading pleasure.

Full Moon

CHS English teacher Jason Thime organizes Reflections every year, which contains poems, plays, short stories, photographs, drawings, and more—all contributed by CHS students and even some faculty members. Reflections is designed to be a place for passionate young writers and artists to share their work with their peers. Past issues of the journal (from the 2012 journal all the way back to the 2007 journal) are on display in the Ruth B. Winton Memorial Library at CHS.

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Reflections will be available in the CHS cafeteria, Writers’ Workshop, and in room 117 during the last few weeks of school. Submissions, which are due Friday, May 10, can be e-mailed to Jason Thime at thimej@csdvt.org, and hard copies can be delivered to CHS room 117.
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For more information, please call CHS at (802) 264-5700, or e-mail Mr. Thime.

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Posted in Colchester High School, General, Programs, Student Spotlight

CSD Award-Winning Composer Attracting Considerable Acclaim

The National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) has selected Colchester High School senior Jacob Morton-Black’s composition “Chapter 1, Bar 60” for string quartet as one of fourteen award-winning pieces. As a result, Jacob participated in a forum and panel discussion of young composers, and his composition was performed at the NAfME Eastern Division Conference in Hartford, Connecticut, on April 5.

(Jacob was also on the student team in the recent sixth-annual Battle of the Brains competition; if you missed that article and video, you can access it here.)

CHS's Jacob Morton-Black
CHS’s Jacob Morton-Black

He also applied for a composition scholarship through the Vermont Music Educators Association’s All-State Festival, and “Chapter 1, Bar 60” was selected for one of three scholarships.

The piece, which was composed over a two-week period as part of the String Quartet Project in collaboration with the Burlington Ensemble, includes parts for a cello, a viola, and two violins. The Burlington Ensemble performed the piece on April 6 at College Street Congregational Church, and the piece will also be performed as part of the Town of Colchester’s 250th anniversary celebration on May 31 beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the CHS gymnasium.

Jacob, who plans to pursue higher education in music composition and conducting, often draws inspiration from the work of Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, particularly when writing quartets. “Every piece is unique in its creation process, but they all start with a nugget—and that nugget can come at any time,” he said.

Please join us in congratulating him!

Aspiring musicians abound throughout your school district. Jacob and other fellow CHS musicians also recently participated in the New England Music Festival—a prestigious opportunity to perform with New England’s best high school musicians under the direction of nationally recognized directors and master conductors. Along with Jacob for this opportunity were Lauren Zwonik, Ian Flores, Isabella Bertoni, Andrea Trudeau, and Teremy Garen.

Lauren Zwonik and Jacob Morton-Black
Lauren Zwonik and Jacob Morton-Black
Back: Ian Flores Front, from left to right: Andrea Trudeau, Isabella Bertoni,  and  Teremy Garen
Back: Ian Flores
Front, from left to right: Andrea Trudeau, Isabella Bertoni, and Teremy Garen

At Colchester Middle School, more than sixty students are involved in the April 18 and April 19 production of Willy Wonka Junior, which will begin at 7:00 p.m. on both nights in the community theater at Colchester High School. The students’ extensive preparations for this musical production include memorizing lines, singing, and creating artistic sets. Eighth grader Sam Dickin will play Willy Wonka, seventh grader Ethan Goedken will portray young Charlie Bucket, and eighth grader Mario Houle will play the role of Grandpa Joe. “I am so proud of how hard the students have worked on this,” said Emily Desautels, CMS band and musical director. “They’ve been rehearsing for the past five months after school … they give it so much energy and dedication. They’re all very excited to perform for the Colchester community.”

For more information about the upcoming Willy Wonka Junior production, please contact Emily Desautels at (802) 264-5800 or e-mail her at desautelse@csdvt.org.

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Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General

Friendly Reminder—Calling All Community Artists!

As part of the celebration of the Town of Colchester’s 250th Anniversary (1763–2013), Colchester School District’s art teachers invite one and all to enter the Lighthouse Project art contest. (Please click here to view a flier about the contest.)

As a friendly reminder, community members are invited to create a work of art in any media depicting the Colchester Reef Lighthouse—or any lighthouse—and deliver it to Anne Cummings at Colchester High School by April 17, 2013. (To view a photograph of the lighthouse and to learn more about its history, click here.)

Prizes will be awarded in adult and student categories. For more information, please e-mail CHS art teacher Anne Cummings at cummingsa@csdvt.org.

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Posted in Community, General

A Message from the Town Manager

A message from Al Voegele:

The Colchester Governance Committee is seeking members to study and recommend changes to the Town’s Charter. The committee is sanctioned by the Colchester Selectboard and is one of several priority goals of the Heritage Project. This appeal for membership is directed to parents of Colchester students and Colchester teachers who live in Colchester. The committee meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Colchester Police Department’s Kirker Community Room. Please contact Rain Banbury at rainberry@hotmail.com for further information.

Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

A Fabulous Example of a Twenty-First-Century Field Trip

For several years, Colchester High School students in Will Warren’s AP Biology classes have visited the DNA Analysis Facility at the Vermont Cancer Center with the University of Vermont.

CHS AP Biology students
CHS AP Biology students at the Vermont Cancer Center’s Advanced Genome Technologies Core

“The main goal is to connect the students to the use of modern biology techniques and technology to the ‘real world,'” Mr. Warren said. “It’s a bit of a culminating activity for our genetics unit and an opportunity to learn some things that aren’t in the textbook from practicing scientists as well.”

On the students’ most recent visit, UVM’s Tim Hunter, the director of the Advanced Genome Technologies Core, organized a truly state-of-the-art field trip experience. The students received an overview of current molecular technologies before visiting the pathology teaching lab where they viewed tissue specimens and engaged in a lung tumor discussion.

The students then received tours through the Advanced Genome Technologies Core, the Microscopy Imaging Center, and the Lung Center Lab before performing a microarray experiment.

gloving up in pathology_s

in lab_s

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These are hugely valuable experiences for our students! The study of science is far more than simply the memorization of facts; it teaches fundamental, transferable skills in observation, critical thinking, evaluating and analyzing results, making meaningful connections, developing sound processes, and presenting ideas in a clear manner. Science teaches us how to frame and pose intriguing questions. It helps us to become engaged, conscientious citizens. Aeronautics … medicine … electronics … engineering … environmental conservation … communications … it is indisputable that science and technology have revolutionized the world in many ways, and as such, the importance of studying and applying these disciplines is clearly evident. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas and the Vermont Science Curriculum and Standards also speak to the importance of rigorous science instruction for students of all ages.

Colchester School District’s students surpass the state’s average in NECAP examinations in every grade, including in science. Students’ ability to participate in hands-on, experiential learning is critically important, and your schools work to provide as many hands-on opportunities as possible for students—from partnering with UVM to conduct atmospheric research to working with a state official to design simple water filtration systems … and from seeking grant funding to support the construction of a human-powered generator to teaming up with Colchester Police Department to explore forensics, your schools work to align with the pathways in the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017. This field trip in particular is a superb example of Pathway A: High Standards, Expectations, and Individual Engagement for All Learners; Pathway C: Learning Outside Our Four Walls; and Pathway E: Parent, Community, and School Partnerships Among Lifelong Learners.

If you would like more information about the students’ recent field trip to the Advanced Genome Technologies Core, please call CHS at (802) 264-5700 or e-mail Will Warren (warrenw@csdvt.org).

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