Mr. Ackerman's Blog


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?

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?

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?

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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Transformative Technology

March 19, 2015 · No Comments

Over the past few days I have been collecting some samples of great uses of technology at Lane. We do not want technology which simply substitutes for paper and pencil work. We want technology which can transform the learning experience for our students. Here are a few examples:

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A Note of Appreciation

January 22, 2015 · No Comments

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10 Pics in 10 Minutes (or maybe 11)

January 22, 2015 · No Comments

Here’s a glimpse of a what goes on at Lane.

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Executive Functioning– What is It?

January 7, 2015 · No Comments

There are many educational terms which can be confusing for parents to understand. In this post, I hope to help parents understand one of the terms, which causes confusion. Nowadays the term “executive functioning’ gets used to describe the type of cognitive processes which can help students be successful in school and life.  Harvard University uses this analogy to describe it:

Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.

Colleen Farnham, Bedford Schools Psychologist, writes:

Executive functioning is an umbrella term for the regulation and control of certain mental skills that help the brain organize and act on information. These skills allow us to plan, organize, remember, prioritize, pay attention, and get started on tasks. They also help us to use information and experiences from the past to solve current problems. The most widely recognized executive functioning skills include

Response inhibition

Flexibility/mental shifting

Self-regulation of affect and of emotional control

Task initiation and completion (persistence)

Working memory

Planning/Prioritization/Time Management

Organization of materials


In terms of what parents can do to help strengthen these processes, Ms. Farnham suggests two for planning and time management.

1. Make checklists. Listing the steps involved in a task will make it easier for your child to see how to get started. It also may lessen her anxiety around planning. Checklists provide a visual reminder of where your child left off if she got distracted. You can make checklists for everything from the tasks she has to do before school to how to make a sandwich.

2. Set time limits. Your child may struggle to budget time for an activity and also for each step of that activity. On your checklists, consider giving a time estimate for each step. You can put some inexpensive kitchen timers around the house. Set them for the amount of time your child should be spending on everything from completing a math sheet to brushing her teeth.

For further tips on what parents can do, check out this link from Harvard University and watch this video as well.

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Souper Bowl

January 5, 2015 · No Comments

From Mr Kinney…..

Lane School’s 3rd Annual



January 19th through January 30th 2015

What is the challenge? Your class is challenged to bring in XLIX (49) OR MORE non-perishable items before January 30th!  This number is less than our school goal!

Where will the items go?: The items will be donated to the Bedford Food Pantry.

  • We will be collecting non-perishable food items each morning after announcements and keeping a running tally of how many we get each day.  Our school goal is 2,350 – but we can do better!
  • All collected items will be displayed in the front lobby and students will be asked to help sort and count the items.  PLEASE MAKE SURE ITEMS ARE NOT EXPIRED
  • Let’s pull together support our local team- THE TOWN OF BEDFORD!
  • The winning class will have their class name placed on the Soup-er-Bowl trophy that is placed in the lobby display case!

** Last year we exceeded our goal.   Let’s see if we can do it again!

Suggested Items: soups (all kinds), meals in a can (Spaghetti O’s and ravioli…), and pasta (all types), pasta sauce (jarred and canned), canned fruits and vegetables, tuna fish, macaroni and cheese- just to name a few (the list is really endless)!!!

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Is “New” Math Fuzzy?

January 5, 2015 · 1 Comment

This is a helpful column for parents about the way math is taught nowadays. In short, the “old ways” were not necessarily the “best ways.”

“Common Core math is getting the works from critics: It’s too demanding for most kids; holds back the speedy kids; not the same as what parents already know; makes kids cry. It even promotes “fuzzy math.”

As a professional mathematician, I’m as firmly against fuzzy math as they come. Common Core lays the foundation for students to have a better grasp of mathematical concepts than present standards and sets higher expectations for teaching and learning.”

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December 3, 2014 · No Comments

As I have mentioned before, all students at Lane will be taking the PARCC test instead of MCAS this Spring. The PARCC will test ELA and Math.  Throughout the upcoming months, I will update you on what we expect the test will be like. But keep in mind, this is the first year of the test, thus there are still many unknowns. One thing we do know for sure is that our students are taking the pencil/paper version of the test (many schools in Massachusetts, including JGMS, are taking the online version). For this post, I want to focus on one of most challenging ELA Learning Expectations for Gr 3:

Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic”(ELA Standard Gr 3).

What might this look like for grade 3? See the two links below which show two reading passages. After reading the passages, look at the question below in red.  Your reaction may be “wow this is difficult” or “this seems reasonable.”  Either way, we are working hard to make sure our students can demonstrate proficiency for this high-level skill. Let me know what you think.
Here is one of the questions our students would need to answer:

You have read two texts about famous people in American history who solved a problem by working to make a change.

Write an article for your school newspaper describing how Eliza and Carver faced challenges to change something in America.

•     In your article, be sure to describe in detail why some solutions they tried worked and others did not work.

•     Tell how the challenges each one faced were the same and how they were different

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November 21, 2014 · No Comments

As many of you know, one of the goals of the Bedford School District is to develop ways to embrace and celebrate the diversity in our schools. Over the past month, Mrs Smith, our guidance counselor, has been leading a Friday activity with six classrooms from different grades. The activity has our students forming a large circle and stepping into the circle when the answer is “yes” to Mrs Smith’s statement. This is a great way to have our students think about differences in a quiet and non-threatening environment.

Students are asked:

You have a brother.
You have a sister.
You love pancakes.
People often mispronounce your first or last name.

Mrs Smith then asks the students to self-reflect on what they are seeing and feeling.

More questions are then posed:
You live with both of your parents.
You live with one of your parents.
Some of your family members live in another country.
You speak a different language at home.

Students are again asked to stop and reflect on what they observe and feel.

Mrs Smith then asks the students to listen to another set of questions, including…
You have seen someone be mean to another.
You or someone you know have been teased because of your accent, color of skin, or religious background.

At the end of the activity, the students are asked to think about how we are different? how are we alike? what did it feel like stepping into the circle? was there anything that surprised you?

Mrs Smith wrapped up the lesson with  a poignant message about the importance of diversity and how it strengthens our school.

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10 Photos in 10 Minutes

October 31, 2014 · 2 Comments

Here’s a quick video I put together this morning. I want parents to know all the amazing things our students are doing at Lane.

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