The Pride of East Side

     I would like to share my reflection about the afternoon event this past Friday at our Staff Development Day with Frank Pastizzo.
I know some folks were not there, but you’ll get the gist of what was shared with us.
     Maybe you felt the same thing – maybe not.  But as the leader of our school, I have to say, there was a sense of pride regarding our school and our work environment.  Frank stated that we have a “work life” and a “personal life” but that the majority of our time is spent in our “work life”.  He asked if we looked forward to coming to work.  He also talked about the attitude we bring to work and that we are the moral compass for our kids.  And, at the end of the day, it is about what is best for our kids.
     I felt that  many of the things that Frank talked about, we do already at East Side.  At East Side, we are not perfect.  We agree to disagree, we state our passions, our beliefs of what we think in a manner to not insult or demean each other.  As a staff, East Side holds no punches and you tell it like it is, without holding grudges.  What we  have to put in the forefront and remember is that what we do needs to be what is best for our kids. is it best for our kids?    We have lots of change happening around us and I have asked you to be open-minded and work together as a team.  It truly is a team atmosphere and we always come together to find solutions to our problems.
      As I was sitting in the front, laughing and tearing up at times, I couldn’t be more proud as your principal to have such a devoted team and think, “Yes, we do that!”  Thank you everyone! Remember, you are more than a score and you are the best of the best.  Enjoy the week.
Other News
  • Bus Duty for Mar 24 – April 4  Team 4:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Kathy Buell.  Upcoming bus duty:  April 7 – April 25 Team 5: Gina Caldwell, Kate Spriggs, Megan Weldon
  • The ELA NYSED Tests for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders is April 1, 2, and 3.  All tests will start at 8:30a.m.    We need to start at this time to get extended time in prior to specials.  We need to change the special area schedule.  First Grade will move  into the 5th grade spot, and 5th grade into the 1st grade spot.  Please mark this on your calendar.
  • The pie in the face assembly is Friday, March 28th at 1:55p.m.
Things in the Blogosphere
  • Mike Hynes, Superintendent of Shelter Island CSD on Long Island guest blogs on Peter DeWitt’s blog about Professional Capital.
  • The Buck Institute is using Google Hangout on Air to help with professional development for teachers to implement Project Based Learning in the classroom.  Check  out this post about Managing Projects in Elementary Schools.
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!
Other Items of Interest
  • This SED memo describes the impact of the February Board of Regents action on APPR regulations.  
  • The research about starting school later is making schools consider a change to their schedules.   Here are 20 tips for managing projects, including the application of social media.  
  • This series of videos helps to explain the Common Core – from unpacking to application.
  • Even in the midst of a transition to the CCLS these videos can help.    
  • Here are ten quick questions to ask yourself before giving an assessment.  
  • This interactive story about the completion of the new World Trade Center in New York from Time is informative and pretty darn cool – especially the zoomable 360˚ view.  
  • This article describes one school where they eliminated faculty meetings in favor of comprehensive professional development.   Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) is a coordinated approach for schools to create multiple opportunities where students can be physically active and develop skills to last a lifetime. This free webinar will help you get started.
A Touch of Humor
Close to Home

Some Youtube Favs.

(I thought I would do a fun post today, something not so serious, but related to education and technology. I stole this idea from my friend, Lisa Meade, Corinth Middle School principal.  Have to give her credit!)
It is the age of technology and YouTube has dominated much of our kids lives, no less maybe with some of ours.  Streaming videos, whether on AppleTV, YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix, Hulu, or can be even cheaper than paying that cable or satellite bill.  Even some network stations stream their series, FREE, on their website.  Sometimes I wonder why I spend so much money on Dish Network.  (I love the movies though!)
Anyway, I digress.  One of the neat things about YouTube is that you can share them and favorite them.  Also, you can use some of these videos to help instruction, like Khan Academy, or what would be even more powerful, if you flip your lessons.  Better yet, how about getting our kids to make some videos.  Yes, we need to monitor, but how powerful would that be for our kids.
Anyway, the purpose of this is to share my favorites on YouTube.  They are appropriate and share a glimpse into what influences me.  Some are related to school, some funny, some inspiring.  You can check some of my favorites here.  What are some of your favs?  Have a great week!
Other News
  • Bus Duty for Feb 24-Mar 7 Team 2:  Mindy Backus, Pam Mahay, Denise Croasdiale.  Upcoming bus duty:  Mar 10 – Mar 21:  Team 3:  Jessica Serviss, Teresa Kiechle
  • Our Staff Meeting is tomorrow, March 3rd @ 2:45pm in room 31
  • Thanks to folks who helped out at our AR Night and Hoe Down.  Both events were awesome!
  • Congrats to our OotM Teams.  We did well this weekend.  Thanks Steph for organizing it!
  • In speaking with Donna, we will probably cancel the Tech Meeting scheduled this week.  Look for notification.
  • I will be starting up walk through’s again, especially at the 3-5 level and finishing focusing on staff that will be involved with NYS testing first.
  • 3-5 teachers involved with NYS Testing and for all, April 1st, 2nd and 3rd are the first testing dates for ELA.  Math is April 30th, May 1st and May 2nd. Teacher directions have been placed in your mailboxes.  Please review this and highlight things you need to know to prepare your room.  For everyone, please highlight these dates as we will be busy administering the test and special schedules may be swapped.  More information to follow!
Things in the Blogsphere
Things in the Twittersphere
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!
Other Items of Interest
imageTake the “Education Roadtripofpublic opinion about education across the country. Opinions about different topics are reported, including the Common Core. Interestingly, 66% of Americans strongly support uniform standards but just 31% report supporting the Common Core. Maybe we need to communicate with the 58% surveyed who said that they didn’t know what the Common Core was!

SED has updated the diploma requirements pamphlet to reflect the change to the Regents with Advanced Designation Diploma.

Hold your horses! Many textbooks are still not Common Core-aligned. A studyof ”new” textbooks indicates that they aren’t “new” after all.

SED has updated the math “double-testing” memorandum now that it has been approved.

A different memo explains the impact of the Regents changes to Common Core implementation. There aren’t many.

Google news is back – and it’s easier to use. Students can check out primary source materials throughout the world and much of recorded (newspaper printed) history.

A recently completed meta-analysis suggests that girls do not do better in single-sex schools or classes. Single-sex classrooms do not impact math, science, or self-esteem according to the researchers.

Here are developmentally appropriate versions of presentation rubrics. They are even aligned to the Common Core ELA Standards. It is said that in a New Tech High School students will present at least 100 times. How often do students present in your school? Do we provide them with adequate opportunity and feedback to get good at it?
A good project depends on an authentic audience. Here are some things to think about.

Better standardized test scores does not translate to better cognitive ability. While these two ideas are correlated, the relationship is one-sided: cognitive skills impact standardized tests but not the other way around.

Here’s a quick primer about Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).

This review of literature about class sizes concludes that class size does make a difference.


These tips can help with the flipped classroom. Yes, the video is important, but what goes on in class is more important.

An upcoming [free] webinar will address the relationship between physical activity at school and academic achievement. It’s March 20th at 9a.

A Touch of Humor






The Influence of an Elementary School

How are you influencing your students?
The William Tennent Class of 1983
Thanksgiving weekend usually brings together high school class reunions.  I was privileged to be able to attend our 30th class reunion, the William Tennent Class of 1983.  (Yes, I am a product of the 70’s and 80’s and yes, I’m dating myself.)  It’s interesting to graduate from a large suburban high school, because half of the people in the room, I did not know or remember.  I was walking around collecting donations for the class scholarship, introducing myself, “Hi, I’m Vicki.  Who are you?  I’m sorry, I don’t remember you.”  Sometimes folks would say, “Yes, Vicki, I remember you.”  Oh, oops, sorry for that.  This is what happens when you move away for 30 years.
Although this was a high school reunion, what was very poignant and noticeable to me was our Stackpole Elementary School connections.  A group of us gathered around, reminiscing about our elementary school, our teachers, the Pocono trip we did in 6th grade, and the joy of being an elementary student in a wonderful school setting.  Maybe it was because they tore the building down to consolidate and we are mourning the loss of that building, but there were definitely conversations and laughter remembering the impressions and influences of our teachers and adults from elementary school.  And yes, of course our principal Mr. Hodge.  I was terrified of him, I think we all were.  These were all positive impressions, memories of caring adults, fun times, and a nurturing environment.
It was funny to me that I really did not engage much in a conversation about high school.  Maybe it was because of the closing of our elementary school that we brought the memories back from Stackpole.  The things I remember from high school are of course my music endeavors and that we had a smoking alley.  What was that about?  Things just do not resonate with me about high school, the friendships do, but not the influences of adults other than my music teachers.  Maybe it is because this was the time for all of us to start finding our way in life and wondering what we are going to do after high school.
It was great to reconnect with everyone that night, although barely a quarter of our classmates showed.  (We are a class of over 800.)  As an elementary principal and educator, the takeaway for me that evening was the connections and conversations about an elementary school and the memories we shared.  This is how I would want our elementary students from the East Side to remember us and our school 30 years later.  It’s not only about academics, but the influence and the relationships we set and model for our kids. What will be your legacy?
Have a great week. Vicki Other News:

  • Bus Duty for Nov. 18 – Dec. 6 Team 6:  Connie Tubbs, Kelly Ayen, Bev PhelpsUpcoming bus duty Dec 9 – Dec 20 Team 7: Paula Bates, Marcie Tyler, Sarah Pawananon.
  • Please make sure you are checking the emails from Betty for rehearsals.  Our K-2 concert is December 3rd.
  • A link to the EdcampNJ Smackdown.  Awesome links to check out!
  • Please make sure you are checking your emails and website announcements.  We have lots going on these next three weeks!
  • Our East Side Holiday party is this Friday, December 6th at Paula’s house.  Let’s relax and celebrate!
Things out in the Blogsphere 
Thinks out in the Twitterspher
  • Please check the East Side Announcement page for updated dates, announcements etc.  Lisa is updating this continually!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!

Other Items of Interest

Unbelievable as it may be, the holidays are upon us and it’s time to think about how toappropriately acknowledge the holidays. The ADL has a new, quick guide to “The December Dilemma.”
SED announced that they are going to [slightly] trim the testing times of some ELA and math 3-8 tests. Exact details will be included in the testing guides.
Math This article offers tips and strategies for helping students learn academic vocabulary in STEM classrooms, both Tier 2 and Tier 3 words.
Prolific Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher offer suggestions for tackling informational text (other than literary nonfiction).
Is your school and team working to strengthen your work as a Professional Learning Community? The PLC support group that meets next on December 19th. Come join the conversation.
This Regents item about a set of new standards for the arts provides background about the effort. Any adoption by New York would still be well into the future.
Here are ten suggestions for implementing an iPad program.
Vid 2

This RSAanimate explains “outrospection,” which is a way of looking at the world with empathy and a perspective of social change.

Remember Harry Wong? Many of his columns for Teacher.Net are archived and are perfectly suited to a quick, focused mini-lesson in new teacher training or a faculty meeting. Processes and procedures!


review of research about family involvement in education includes these findings:
  • Family involvement can make a contribution to literacy and numeracy
  • All parents, no matter their background, can be engaged with schools which positively impacts student achievement

The Board of Regents received this update about NY Common Core implementation at their meeting this week. SED is considering making some adjustments to their re-application for an NCLB waiver. They have a “think tank” working on it.

This timeline expresses education assessment changes in New York since the New York State Learning Standards were introduced in 1996.

Thinking about making the switch to Standards Based Grading? This video provides a short introduction.

Which fast-food restaurant best describes how you are implementing theCommon Core? Wendy’s? Burger King? McDonald’s? Or is a slower, more thoughtful approach needed?

Standards-based education and differentiation work together to promote high levels of achievement for all students. As part of the latest cohort of Scaffolding for Student Outcomes: Meeting Diverse Needs, participants will:
  • Explore the similarities and differences in learners and gain insight about how they are likely to respond to classroom instruction
  • Identify options for meeting the needs of the wide range of students including gifted students, struggling learners, students with special needs, second language learners, resistant and reluctant learners Explore UDL and options for scaffolding within CCLS target learning outcomes
This list of eight things about copyrights is pretty easy to understand.

We can talk about grit, perseverance, perspicacity, and advocacy& or we can use the term, agency, to wrap all of this into one term. It’s a big part of true College and Career readiness.

What is the “golden circle” and what does it have to do with leadership? This TED Talk explains the importance of “why.”
As we go through the changes of Race To The Top and the Regents Reform Agenda it is important to remain grounded in what we know works in schools. The principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools are just as research-based as ever.
White paper

This white paper describes the role that the school library plays in the implementation of the Common Core.

All Grades | Math | Scaffolding
All Grades | All Subjects | Discussion
All Grades | All Subjects | Exit Slips
A Touch of Humor

Why So Nervous?

I‘m in Rochester, NY attending the SAANYS conference.  SAANYS is my NYS professional organization for administrators, very similar to NYSUT.  Every year, they have an annual conference around this time.  I’ve been to some, and they always bring in folks from the field to share relevant information and great sponsors and exhibitors.

SAANYS follows me on my twitter feed.  They watched as I presented at the National Association for Elementary Principals conference in Baltimore this past August, following the tweets and reading up on our presentations.  About a month ago, Michelle Hebert emailed me to see if Tony Sinanis and I would be interested in presenting something similar to the SAANYS members.  Sure, why not we both said.  Unfortunately for Tony, he had a family emergency and couldn’t make it, so it’s me!  (She really booked me up too, four presentations around using Twitter and increasing your PLN.) Hence, why so nervous!  (Fortunately, I have some friends helping out today!)

Dave Burgess in his Teach Like A Pirate book states that we, as educators, do not consider ourselves public speakers, but yet, we do this EVERY day in front of our class.  It’s one thing to preach to kids, yet another to adults and peers.  You wonder, “What are they going to say about me, about my presentation?” But why do we feel this way?  I always had a very difficult time turning around and talking to the audience during concerts.  Then one day, during a guest conducting gig in Long Island, I made it a point to turn around and talk to the parents, the adults in the audience.  Mind you, this was a packed auditorium with parents lined up on the side aisles, talk about nerves.  The results were astounding and made for a more personable performance for them and for the kids on stage.  

So, why am I writing this?  Because ALL of you are professionals and you all have something to share.  The most powerful thing for us as a school, team and a learning community is to share what we know and what we do.  So, when I approach you and ask you to share, give it a try and your best.  You all have something great working for you.  What are your tricks?  What engages your students?  Don’t be surprised if I create a Smackdown google sheet for a sharing blitz of strategies and web tools.  Let’s learn and  share  what we know is working. You are the best of the best!  Have a great week!


  • Bus Duty for Oct. 21 – Nov 1 Team 4:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Kathy Buell Oct. 21-Nov 1 Upcoming bus duty Nov 4 – Nov 15  Team 5:  Gina Caldwell, Kate Spriggs, Megan Weldon
  • Mrs. Bushey will or has put out an updated Math PD calendar.  You are all expected to use these days as grade level planning days so make sure that you are meeting  with your WS colleagues.   The expectations is that you sign-up on MLP and call in for sub coverage.  Lori will be updating MLP for these activities and is working to schedule rooms for you to meet.  Charlene knows about these dates.  These days will help you work together as a grade level and work the “kinks” out for upcoming math units.
  • I will be turning around and doing walk through’s again next week, so be ready.
  • The administrative team has set aside dates for 10/22, 10/23 and 10/24 to review the SLO/LLO process.  If you have questions and are not sure of things, I would plan to attend so that you can pose any questions that you may have.  Please see Mrs. French’s email regarding these sessions.  The sessions  start at 3:10p.m. and are being held in room 214F in the MS.
  • My friend Tony Sinanis writes another letter to our NYSED Commissioner
  • Peter DeWitt writes about how to use your community to improve literacy.
  • Carol Burris writes about the Common Core slip here:
  • Please check the East Side Announcement page for updated dates, announcements etc.  Lisa is updating this continually!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!
Other Items of Interest
Resources for the Common Core-aligned Regents Exams have just been posted:
  1. ELA 11 resources
  2. A1 resources
  3. The transition memo (the September update)

WCNY’s grand opening is October 30th. Bob the Builder will be there — how about you?Check it out and help cut the ribbon!

Also just posted is the proposed framework for the Regents Research Paper (a Board of Regents item to be considered next week).

Twenty-eight questions you want your students to be able to answer. These might be more important than most of the questions we answer.

Using averages to calculate student grades is a mathematically inappropriate practice – yet we do it all the time. Here are some ideas to help you reconsider the practice.

The Teaching Channel continues to add more and more videos, including math videos for different levels:

Technology itself can’t have an impact on learning, but the manner in which we integrate technology into learning systems and school processes can.

Daniel Goleman explains how the emotional atmosphere matters in classrooms. It matters that students feel calm and safe in the classrooms. There are a number of videos from Edutopia that explain this and other impact of social and emotional intelligence.
Here are the Top Ten components to planning and delivering a Common Core-based math unit – in common: before, during, and after the unit.


If you want to learn what to expect on the PARCC assessments, these blueprintsoffer the most detailed explanation.


One of the most common applications of GoogleDrive in the classroom is for distributing and collecting assignments and work. Here are some tips to avoid some pitfalls.


Rick Wormeli suggests (on page 41) that making classroom decisions that are based on certain principlescan lead to better approaches to learning and teaching.


Re-blast: There are versions of Implementing the Common Core State Standardsfor secondary leaderselementary leaders, and school counselors.
File photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer


Although it is generally recognized that the understanding of subject-matter is important to successful teaching (and student learning), definitive research hasn’t materialized. Whether or not a teacher can anticipate student misconceptions and misunderstandings does matter.


Contrast NY’s 80%/75% definition of College & Career Ready with the School Success Rubric. Which do you think is closer to what our students need for their future?


An examination of textbooks over the last century suggests that the texts have not been dumbed-down, refuting a fundamental claim made in the Common Core that students need to be reading more complex texts. These authors maintain that the problem is that students are not proficient reading texts at the current level.


This report from the National Clearinghouse provides data about aggregatedcollege enrollment and persistence.

From The Teaching Channel:

Grade 5 | Social Studies | Reading | CCSS

I just love how Ms. Brouhard uses this lesson to help students not only determine important concepts in a text, but also how she empowers her learners.
All Grades | ELA | Evidence
One way to start good habits of close reading: be sure students have a clear purpose for their reading, something that anchors how they interact with a text.In this video, Ms. Norris shows us how a highlighter — matched with clear purpose — helps students close read.
Grades 9-12 | ELA | Engagement | CCSS
Mr. Wallace invites us into his classroom where wesee how three different exercises help students read closely to construct summaries.
A Touch of Humor
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