Blackstone-Millville


Regional School District

Assistant Superintendent's Corner

Professional Development Days


As we catch out breath after two closely set Professional Days, I would like to take this moment to reflect on the great work accomplish by our staff on the professional days of October 7th and November 8th.  One major district initiative is the continued revision, mapping, and improvement of our curriculum.  Teachers are working in groups to solidify not only what is taught but how and when.  Our focus is to not only revise our instructional scope and sequence but also articulate our expectations, and raise the rigor to include higher order thinking in our classrooms.  This will be an ongoing effort as we continual to revise and improve our curriculum and instruction.   

Another focus is to improve our students’ coping skills through integrating social and emotional learning into our teaching practice.  These social and emotional skills allow our students to better cope with stress, increase their feelings of safety, and increase their ability to self-regulate their emotions.   Without these skills, it is often difficult for students to learn and succeed in the school environment and beyond the school walls.   We especially want them to feel connected to their school and the caring adults who work with them, in educational circles this is referred to as “personalization”.  Developing school-wide systems necessary to achieving this goal, known as Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS), is essential.  We are fortunate to have caring educators committed to this effort, as each school has assembled a team of teachers working on developing PBIS systems in their school.

The opportunity to improve in these areas through our professional development days is paramount to our ongoing efforts to improve our programming and outcomes for our students.   Without making professional time to address ongoing improvement, we would be at a distinct disadvantage in the necessary time and resources necessary to achieve these goals.
Until next time, thanks for reading,

Sincerely,
Dr. Dave Thomson
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September Update


Well the school year is off with a bang!  There are many exciting new things happening in BMR and I wanted to highlight a few.  First, we are continuing the upgrading of our Math program throughout the district with a new middle school program. The Big Ideas Math Program will be rolled out in grade 6 and means that students who began Envisions in grade five last year will continue their enhanced learning at the middle school.  These improvements will continue throughout their time in the middle school, resulting with enhanced math knowledge and the ability to meet higher standards.  Sixth grade parents should stay tuned for information regarding online components and other enhancements as the new math materials come on line.

We were also able to purchase chrome books for a one to one computing initiative, beginning at the high school in grades nine and ten.  Parents of ninth and tenth graders should look for more information in the coming weeks regarding the roll out.  Because of the tenuous budget situation over the summer we were unable to purchase the technology tools until September, which unfortunately will delay our deployment, but we are working to catch up as soon as possible.

Many may ask why such technology tools are needed, and there are many reasons.  Frist, these tools are similar to the ones our children will be using in the future in their both employment and academic pursuits.  Furthermore, the use of technology enables real life applications and fosters creative thinking.  In college, students will encounter blended learning environments (those combining face to face class time with online activities) and the use of learning management software such as Google Classroom and Blackboard. If we want our student to be prepared for the future, we need to use tools that are representative of the tools of the future.  Furthermore, the state is moving to have our annual assessments based on the computer, and if we want our students to perform well on these tests then using technology should become part of our everyday practice.

Once again we are looking forward to another year of growth here in BMR, thanks to the support of our community, families, and professional staff, we continue to demonstrate continual improvement.

Sincerely,
Dr. Dave Thomson
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Elementary Math update 3.18.16


Over the past couple of weeks, I have purposely spent time in elementary classrooms to monitor the implementation of the EnVisions Math program. I am pleased to report that the progress made has exceeded my expectations in this first year. Our Blackstone and Millville students are demonstrating higher skills in numeracy, problem solving, and Algebraic thinking, hallmarks of this program. I am amazed by first graders ability to describe how to balance two sides of an equation and fourth graders ability to explain the relationships between difficult irrational numbers like fractions. This deep level of understanding will build a firm foundation for complex Mathematics in the future.

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank the dedicated teaching staff for their continuous efforts in learning and implementing this new and drastically different program. I would also like to commend the parents for their support and patience as we put into action this much-needed change. Through these combined efforts, we now have our students working to develop mathematical thinking and a deep understanding of the relationships between numbers, often referred to as numeracy. Research has shown repeatedly that developing numeracy and Algebraic thinking at the elementary level provides a gateway to higher level Mathematics in high school and beyond. It is important to understand that the higher earning jobs of the future will pivot on one’s ability to perform higher level Mathematics, especially in the areas of computer programing and engineering.

In closing, I would ask that families continue to support their students in pursuing the higher level of understanding presented in the EnVisions program. Please use the website, Pearson Realize to access assistance, and foster an environment of exploration, effort, and excitement. Obviously, communication with your child’s teacher is also of great importance as we all continue to make this transition.

Sincerely,


Dr. Thomson

p.s. If you have questions about the method of instruction used in your students Math class please watch the following video.


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