Mr. Ackerman's Blog

New Reading Teacher

August 13, 2015 · No Comments

We have hired Kate Briggs to replace our long-time Reading Teacher, Linda Volpicelli. Kate comes to us from the Wellesley schools.  Here is a Q and A with Kate to help you get to know her.

Why did you want to become a reading teacher?

I have been a classroom teacher for about ten years, and my desire to become a reading teacher stemmed out of my love of being a classroom teacher.  Over time I realized how incredibly important the ability to read is to students, especially struggling students, and I wanted to learn more about how to help my strugglers.

What excites you about coming to the Lane School?

I have spent almost all of my career teaching third through fifth grade as a classroom teacher, and I am so excited to be able to focus on those grades as a reading teacher. I got such a great, warm feeling being at the Lane School for my interview, and I am really looking forward to working together to collaborate for the success of all of our students.

What is your fondest memory of when you were in grades 3-5 as a student?

I absolutely loved my third, fourth and fifth grade teachers; their faces are what jumped into my head as I thought about this question.  I was a very shy child and I remember being a finalist in the school spelling bee as fifth grader; it came down to myself and an eighth grader, and we went back and forth for a long time.  At one point, my teacher Mr. Horwitt snuck out to call my mom and fill her in and my mom told me later that he was crying.  I just felt so loved and I felt how proud he was of me on that day, which really pushed me to try to take more risks and helped me believe in myself.

Tell us one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

For a short time as a child I wanted to be an actress; when I was twelve I ended up starring in a short film that was an NYU film student’s thesis project.  It premiered at our local movie theater; the highlight of my short-lived acting career!

Any highlights from the summer so far?

I am writing this from vacation in Maine with my family; it is so amazing to be by the ocean and to be out in nature.  I got to try stand-up paddle boarding and am loving it!

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Interview with Jon Mari

August 13, 2015 · No Comments

As some of you may know, our school psychologist, Colleen Farnham, will be out this year on maternity leave. She had a healthy baby girl in July!! We have hired Jon Mari to take her place. Jon will make a wonderful addition to our staff.

Here is a short Q and A with Jon:

Why did you want to become a school psychologist?

Whether it was through early volunteering or tutoring experiences, I have always found it rewarding to help struggling students. It was interesting to discover each individual’s unique experience at school. School psychology has also enabled me to collaborate with other education professionals to hopefully have a positive impact on students.

What excites you about coming to the Lane School?

I am excited to meet and work with the faculty at Lane School. I feel very lucky in joining a great school district. The campus is beautiful and I look forward to learning more about the Bedford community.

What is your fondest memory of when you were in grades 3-5 as a student?

During my fourth grade year, I came in second place at the school spelling bee. The following year, when the competition was again approaching, I began studying word lists daily and even made flash cards for words I had trouble with. It was one of my fondest memories because the motivation and hard work paid off.

Tell us one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

I love attending exercise classes via CrossFit gyms I learn new things every day and surprise myself at the progress I have made the past three and a half years. It is always fun and engaging. Each day is different and there is always a skill that I need to work or improve on.

Any highlights from the summer so far?

The highlight of this summer has definitely been the process of moving from Florida to the greater Boston area. I am excited for new surroundings and looking forward to creating new experiences in such a great community.

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The Ordinary Child

August 13, 2015 · No Comments

This is a summary of a recent Time Magazine article, titled, “In Praise of the Ordinary Child.” Thanks to Kim Marshall for providing the summary. It certainly makes you think about how you parent.

Are We Putting Too Much Pressure on Children to Be Exceptional?

In this Time Magazine article, Jeffrey Kluger bemoans the way some American parents are pushing their children to apply to elite colleges, compete at high levels in sports, and develop esoteric talents in search of wealth and fame. These kids “are being fed a promise,” says Kluger, “– that they can be tutored and coached, pushed and tested, hothoused and advanced-placed until success is assured… Somewhere between the self-esteem building of going for the gold and the self-esteem crushing of the Ivy-or-die ethos there has to be a place where kids can breathe, where they can have the freedom to do what they love – and where parents accustomed to pushing their children to excel can shake off the newly defined shame of having raised an ordinary child.”

Among achievement-obsessed parents, there’s a virtual contagion, says Harvard lecturer/activist Richard Weissbourd. “You see it in this arms race to get kids into selective colleges. A neighbor’s kid has an SAT tutor in eighth grade, so you think you’re denying your own kid if you don’t do the same… There are racial, class, and cultural differences involved. In many working-class and immigrant families, for example, you tend not to see children being told they’re special all the time. There’s more of a collective responsibility.”

Step one, says Kluger, is accepting that there is a downside to force-marching young people to very high achievement. “You can sign your kids up for ballet camp or violin immersion all you want,” he says, “but if they’re simply doing what they’re told instead of doing what they love, they’ll take it only so far.” Sometimes coaches or teachers see a spark of talent in gymnastics or dance or chess and push young people too hard, forcing them to focus prematurely and snuffing out the intrinsic motivation. When genuine interest flags, that’s a signal for parents, coaches, and teachers to back off. “Kids can persist with something difficult or boring only if they can connect with how it’s making them what they want to be,” says Harvard professor Nancy Hill.

RULER is a program developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence whose aim is fostering young people’s “E.Q.” and helping them balance motivation, talent, and goals. RULER summarizes these ways of dealing with emotions and their consequences:

- Recognizing

- Understanding

- Labeling

- Expressing

- Regulating

“You want children to dream and have a vision,” says RULER co-creator Marc Brackett. “But you also want them to have the emotional education to strategize accordingly.” (For more information on the program, see http://ei.yale.edu/ruler/.) Search Institute in Minneapolis has a similar approach. “Children have to feel they have a voice,” says CEO Kent Pekel, “that they have age-appropriate autonomy and agency. This allows them to find their own spark. You want to put them on a path to thrive.” (See http://www.search-institute.org/about for more information.)

Children who are raised to believe they’re exceptional can experience a devastating crash when they get to college or graduate school and find themselves surrounded by lots of other “one percenters.” This can be traced back to parents who get overly invested in their children’s success and smother them with praise, which can raise the pressure to keep performing at unrealistic levels and make kids fearful of failure when they are faced with new challenges. “Parents begin to see their children as part of their own identity,” says Eddie Brummelman of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, “and their kids’ ambitions become their own.” Young people who are brought up this way are often at a loss when they encounter stiffer challenges and competition and don’t know how to ask for help. “Having been so painstakingly raised and tended from birth,” says Kluger, “a student may arrive at college as a kind of temperamental orchid, one that can’t possibly survive in the wild.”

The key is broadening the definition of exceptional. “It’s possible to raise a miserable billionaire,” says Kluger, “just as it’s possible to raise a happy shop owner or social worker.” But the current push for exceptionalism has made jobs like these seem less worthy. Parents and educators can get angry at the suggestion that a student might think about an associate’s degree aimed at skilled trades, nursing, computer technology, or airline mechanics. “These are really good jobs,” says James Rosenbaum of Northwestern University, “jobs that let you use your head, and they’re jobs that society needs.”

We cheat ourselves and our kids, concludes Kluger, “if we view life as a single straight-line race in which one one-hundredth of the competitors finish in the money and everyone else loses. We will all be better off if we recognize that there are a great many races of varying lengths and outcomes. The challenge for parents [and educators] is to help their children find the one that’s right for them.”

“In Praise of the Ordinary Child” by Jeffrey Kluger in Time Magazine, August 3, 2015, available for purchase at http://time.com/3969237/in-praise-of-the-ordinary-child/


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Q and A Megan Farrell

August 10, 2015 · 2 Comments

Ms Farrell joins us this year as a Grade 4 Teacher. She has taught in NYC but calls Boston her home.  Here is a brief Q and A with her:

Why did you want to become a teacher?

I had an amazing seventh grade science teacher who taught me how to think and ask questions while guiding me in the right direction. Since then, I knew I wanted to inspire students to be enthusiastic about learning, similar to how he had done for me. There is nothing better than the look in a student’s eyes when he or she becomes excited about the learning experience.

What excites you about coming to the Lane School?

The Lane School exemplifies the type of community of learners that I have always hoped to teach at in my career. After my visits to the school, it was evident that the Lane School was developing children into well rounded learners who were exposed to all different aspects of learning. I am excited to work with my co-workers to develop cross-curricular, hands on learning experiences to challenge our students to go above and beyond.

What is your fondest memory of when you were in grades 3-5 as a student?

I participated in a fifth grade play that my friends still talk about to this day when we get together to catch up. Looking back as an educator, I realize how amazing it was that my teachers were able to develop a curriculum that not only incorporated the play into our classroom, but they were also able to included every student on multiple levels.

Tell us one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

I am originally from the area, but I have been teaching in Harlem for three years. I also coached the Promise Academy fourth and fifth grade boys flag football team, in which we placed second after a tough loss in our championship game.

Any highlights from the summer so far?

I am headed on a three week backpacking trip to Europe. I will be visiting England, France, Spain, and Italy!

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Q and A Amy Campbell

August 10, 2015 · No Comments

Amy Campbell will be a Grade 4 Classroom Teacher starting this year. She worked as a Special Education teaching assistant and Project Adventure Assistant last year at Lane. Fun Fact….she is a product of the Bedford Public Schools.

Here is a brief Q and A with her:

Why did you want to become a teacher?

Pursuing a career in teaching is something that I have been certain about ever since I was   a little girl. I have always had a thirst for learning and being able to share that with students is something that I am truly passionate about. I love the nature that teaching presents in that it is a never ending, continuous cycle of learning and growth for both teachers and students. I wanted to become a teacher because I want to be a part of making a difference in the life of a child. I want to help them be the creators of their own futures as they learn, discover, take chances, and achieve goals. I want to be able to share these moments with students and inspire them to be the best they can be, just as my former teachers did for me.

What excites you about coming to the Lane School?

This past year I enjoyed working at Lane School and am excited to move into a new role as a fourth grade teacher. I am most excited about working at Lane because of the sense of community and its hard working culture. Lane School feels like one big family in that there is a welcoming and positive atmosphere, making it an environment I look forward to being a part of each day. I am also greatly looking forward to working with a wonderful team of teachers, students, and parents.

What is your fondest memory of when you were in grades 3-5 as a student?

It is difficult to choose just one, however when looking back at my experiences in grades 3-5, the first thing that comes to mind is the incredible teachers I had. I grew up in Bedford, attended Lane School, and had teachers that provided me with learning experiences that have stuck with me my whole life. I especially have fond memories of Project Adventure and creating human mummies during a unit of study on the Ancient Egyptians. Although these may sound silly, I still look back on these moments with nothing but smiles and hope to create these types of memories for my students.

Tell us one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

One thing that people may be surprised to learn about me is that I have a black belt in Kenpo Karate. Karate was a huge part of my youth and although I am currently not practicing today, I still remember a move or two.

Any highlights from the summer so far?

So far this summer I have been able to enjoy some sun and work at a new program at Bedford Summer Adventures.  I am also looking forward to a trip I have planned to Florida in August.

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Parent Survey Results

June 21, 2015 · No Comments

A few weeks back, we asked parents to answer one question to help us gauge our level of success as a school. We interpreted the results as a sign we were doing what the parents expect from us. But we also know there are some areas for improvement.

95% of responses marked either "good" or "excellent"

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10 Pics in 10 Minutes (June Edition)

June 8, 2015 · No Comments

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Its more than just fashion…..

May 1, 2015 · No Comments

What a morning we had at Lane. The first ever Lane Trashin’ Show was held. Designers and models from all three grades showed off their Spring Collection of recyclable clothing. You can watch the Runway Show below. Lots of creativity and fun!!!!!

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Grade 5 Talent Show

April 11, 2015 · No Comments

Our annual Grade 5 Talent Show took place this past week. I like to say “this event is about the kids, not the adults!!”

A few quotes from parents:

The support that I saw students giving one another was something that will bond them together as a class as they grow throughout the next stage in their school experience.

I think everyone worked so hard, and it was so wonderful to see so much talent in the Bedford 5th grade class. These are very driven children- it’s amazing to see such talent- both raw and totally developed. I loved it!

This Talent Show has been an incredibly positive experience for our son

It is a wonderful event and so amazing how these young kids have the courage to go up on stage and perform!

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PARCC FAQ

March 21, 2015 · No Comments

The Lane School will be administering the PARCC test to all students starting next week. Here is my FAQ based on questions I have received from parents.

What is being tested?
Reading, Writing and Math in March and then again in May

Is it being administered online, like JGMS?
No, we are doing ours with paper and pencil

How long does the test take?
Each session is timed at about 75-90 minutes, depending on subject and grade.

Do Special Education Students get more time?
yes, as do English Language Learners and some students on 504s

Was the MCAS timed?
no

Is the PARCC going to be harder than MCAS?
We don’t know, but our best guess is ‘yes.’

Where can I see sample questions?

http://parcc.pearson.com/practice-tests/

What if my child is sick on a test day?
We will have him/her make it up

Does PARCC impact my child being promoted to the next grade?
NO

Are we doing PARCC next year?
We don’t know yet. The State will vote on this in October.

Let me know if there are any other questions…

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