Monday, May 22, 2017

Day 157 - The Reservoir - Mrs. Cyr - Memorial School Grade 3

We had a great day at the Mill Pond Reservoir today! Thanks to Mr. M., Ms. P. and Mrs. H. for teaching us all about the FIELD, FOREST and VERNAL POOL!

It sure was hot but we made it! ;)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Day 156 - To be an Idol, you can’t Idle - Jason Biundo and Azam Baig - BHS Seniors

State Law Mandates No Idling on School Grounds
photo via:

Global warming. Air Pollution. Smog. These are topics that make the news every single day. But did you know that limiting something you may do daily could have a major effect on reducing the impact we have on our environment? Idling! Idling occurs any time your car is stopped but the engine is running, and it occurs more often than you may think. Whether stopped at a red light, waiting in the drive through, or sitting waiting to pick up your child from school, we spend a significant amount of time idling.
An idling car uses a significant amount of fuel (anywhere between 1⁄5 and 7/10 of a gallon per hour) depending on the car or truck. With gas prices going up, idling costs you money. Contrary to popular belief, a car does not use more gas to restart the engine than to keep in idle. In fact, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than if the engine was shut off. Another popular belief is that the engine needs to warm up before it can be driven. However, that is not the case with modern engines, and the engine actually warms twice as quickly when being driven. There are many obvious economic and environmental benefits from not idling, but there also many health benefits too, particularly for your children. And guess what? IT’S THE LAW!!
A law you ask? Yes! Massachusetts state law (540 CMR) mandates that vehicles not be idling on school grounds or else risk a penalty of $100 for the first offense, possibly escalating to $500 for subsequent offenses. Those fines may hurt the wallet, but idling hurts the body. Idling cars release the same pollutants that moving cars do, and the stationary nature of idling cars leads to the pollutants building up and possibly entering the school building through the ventilation system. The exhaust of cars is linked to adverse health effects such as asthma, allergies, heart disease, increased risk of cancers, and other lung problems (EMA).
So ask yourself…is the minor inconvenience of turning the engine off and on worth the health, economic, and environmental benefits of reducing idling time? We think so. After all, to be an idol, you can’t idle!!
Written By: Jason Biundo and Azam Baig BHS Class Of 2017 and AP Environmental Science Students Extraordinaire!
Works Cited:
Leibrock, Amy “10 Reasons to Turn Off an Idling Car.” Sustainable America . Web. 08 May 2017.
“Attention Drivers! Turn off Your Idling Engines.” Environmental Defense Fund . Web. 08 May 2017.
“Everything You Need To Know About Idling.” EMA . Web. 08 May 2017.
Lawlib. “540 CMR: Registry of Motor Vehicles.” Court System . 07 May 2014. Web. 08 May 2017.
“The Facts about Idling Your Car.” . 17 July 2016. Web. 08 May 2017.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Day 155 - 7th Grade students show off their talent and skill - Ms. Phillips - MSMS Art

Students have been working diligently on creating a self-portrait pencil drawing over the past 4 weeks. They are applying their knowledge of composition, proportion and value to their work. Every student has produced amazing work!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Day 154 - Explain Everything Animation Lesson from Grade 6 Student - Linda O'Leary - MSMS Instructional Technology Specialist

Marshall Simonds Middle School grade 6 student Nicholas assumed the role of Assistant Technology Integration Teacher to share his knowledge of animation with his 6th-grade classmates. Nicholas provided a great lesson using the Explain Everything iPad app. Nick’s techniques mimic the traditional method for producing cartoons. The process included drawing an object (stick figure), recording, replacing with a repositioned object, erasing the first object then re-recording.
Nicholas demonstrated his innate teaching skills through his planned lesson by mirroring his iPad on our AppleTV. First, Nick presented a short animation that he created. Next, he demonstrated to the class how to make the animation with a step-by-step approach allowing the students to follow along. He was careful to point out possible pitfalls offering troubleshooting solutions to avoid snags within the production.
As a follow-up assignment to Nick’s lesson the students were asked to create an animation that told a simple story.
Nicholas did a fantastic job on teaching his animation lesson. I was impressed by his knowledge, teaching skills, lesson planning, clear explanation, patience, punctuality, and follow through without reminders.
I hope Nicholas contemplates education as a career possibility. Thank you Nick for your time and the great lesson!
Linda O’LearyInstructional Technology SpecialistMarshall Simonds Middle School

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Day 153 - Magnet Show with Mr. Musselman - Mrs. Marsh - Francis Wyman Kindergarten

Last week, Mr. Musselman from the Science Center came in and talked to us about magnets!

Discussing the poles of a magnet.

Fishing for things that are attracted to magnets. 

Learning about an electromagnet- and trying to pull it apart!

Thanks Mr. Musselman! We really enjoyed learning about magnets!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Day 152 - Community Helpers Keep Us Safe! - Mrs. Hoyt - Pine Glen Kindergarten

This post first appeared on Mrs. Hoyt's Blog 

We have learned over the course of the week about the different roles of community helpers.  One common theme is they help to take care of us and keep us safe.  Our visit with Officer Sheppard of the Burlington Police Department reinforced that theme.

Police Officers have a lot of equipment that they wear for different purposes.

He told us about his job and what he had to do to become a police officer and then helped us understand about strangers, what to do if we are lost and what number to call in an emergency...911.

Students were given a homework assignment to practice learning their home address and telephone number.

Students loved the interactive Q and A time and winning prizes!  Officer Sheppard is often at Pine Glen and we are looking forward to his next visit!

Friday, May 12, 2017

BPS Blog Day 151 - 10 Takeaways of Education in America vs Italy - Mr. Mistler - BHS Art Dept.

Here I am in Verona, the city of love!

This year I was lucky enough to be chosen for the annual BHS Italian Teacher Exchange hosted by both Burlington High School and Istituto Pilati in Cles, Italy. I was fortunate to have Maria Luisa Corrente, an IT teacher, to host me in Cles. Luisa was so wonderful to me; she showed me the sights of Italy, taught me the language, and exposed me to so many wonderful experiences. I've made a forever friend in Luisa. Recently she came here to America to visit me and see what American culture is like. This was her first time in America.

This post outlines some important points that I learned and experienced regarding Italian education. Below these takeaways, I've posted some of my photographs from my experience.

Cles was the village that I stayed in

Here I am with Luisa and Letizia after our leisurely lunch at Giardino 

1. The classrooms belong to the students, not the teacher

Here is an example of a classroom. Just look at that view!

Here in America, I have my own classroom, where students come to me every day. I really love having my own classroom because it is my space that I can personalize, decorate the walls, and create a safe space for all students. In Italy, teachers travel to students' classrooms so they run around between classes. One pro to that was that all teachers gather in a common area in between classes, which creates a rich sense of community and camaraderie among the teachers.

2. Their lunches are much longer than ours!

Pizzas are usually made for one person. I ordered speck on mine!

Bigoli is a type of pasta. Here it is made with duck sauce (different than our duck sauce) 

Piadina is a common sandwich 

Oh, what a dream it was to have a lunch longer than 22 minutes! In Italy, lunch is the biggest meal to be eaten socially whereas here in America we eat large dinners. Most shops and stores close for lunch so that people may go out to eat. There is no cafeteria in the high school and therefore, students and teachers go to local restaurants and cafes. They usually have at least an hour for lunch. 

3. The government controls where the teachers are sent

Here is Luisa teaching an IT course

Here in public schools in Massachusetts, teachers are given professional status after 3 or 4 years (depending on the district). As long as teachers prove that they are competent, good teachers, they will be given professional status once they meet the 3/4 year mark. In Italy, the term "professional status teacher" is replaced with "permanent teacher," and the principal and the government decide where the teacher is placed. Each year a teacher fills out his/her top choices for a district and then the government places his/her where they see fit. Usually, the principal has the power to choose who he/she wants to stay, but ultimately, the choice is made by the Italian government. This makes it difficult to settle down because a teacher could potentially move schools each year. 

4. The school day and week are structured differently

The entrance to Istituto Pilati

In Cles, Italy, students go to school Monday-Saturday. Most days students go to school from 7:50am-12:20 pm and then are free to leave. Then on Thursday or Friday evening, students have an additional class that they must attend. Additionally, students go to high school for 5 years rather than 4 years, graduating at 19 years old. When you think about it, the amount of time is probably about the same, even though we go to school 5 days for 4 years and they go to school 6 days for 5 years. Speaking to my students though, the days are much less stressful and busy so many of them would welcome this change. 

5. Their rules are stricter than ours in some ways, but more lax in others

We went on a field trip to a grappa distilleria where students of age were allowed to taste it

Cell phones are completely banned in Istituto Pilati, both for teachers and students. Here at BHS, we have an open policy on technology (cell phones, tablets, and laptops). Also, in Italy, many more students smoke and drink alcohol. I was very surprised at the amount of students who smoked, but I think that's more a part of the European culture. Here in America, alcohol and cigarettes are taboo for teenagers. I even saw some students and teachers sporting alcohol related gym clothing.

6. Sports are huge here in America

I received lots of questions about sports in America (the concept of cheerleaders was very new to Italian students). American movies and television really rule the entertainment culture of Italy, and many Italian students see what American schools are like in pop culture. Here in America students join sports teams for after school competitions. In Italy, that doesn't exist in public schools; students must pay to join private sports teams.

7. Students choose their "major" before they enter high school

It is difficult enough to have to choose your career before you graduate high school; in Italy, you must choose your career path before you even enter high school. Once you hit fourteen years old, you must choose the type of school that you want to specialize in (technology, humanities, fine arts, etc). Here in America, most students go to school in the community they live in (ie Burlington), but in Italy, you may travel to another town to get to your specialized school. We also do that here in America, but it is not as usual as it is in Italy.

Here is an engraving of the school logo created by the mechanics' department 

8. Italian students use public transportation

Students waiting for the train for our field trip to see Pygmalion

There are no school buses in Italy! For me, a school bus is a symbol of education. Luisa was so surprised and excited to see American students using school buses. The large bright yellow vehicles are such an anomaly to those outside of America. In Cles, the school is very close to public transportation and most students use trains to get to school and home. Teenagers do not get their licenses until they turn 18 years old.

9. Prom is an American thing

Luisa was so excited to ask my fashion design students about prom. She had never been to prom because it really is an American thing. She was wowed by the amount of energy, time, and money spent on planning prom. She had seen what prom is like in movies and tv shows, but I don't think she was prepared to understand how important prom is to high school students.

10. High school students are pretty much the same

Here we are in Trento on a field trip 

These students were so kind to translate for me. I took a selfie with them! 

They're the same everywhere. Hormones, angst, emotions, and every other amazing thing that makes a teenager a teenager is the same in Italy. They just speak another language! They remind me why I became a high school teacher in the first place.
A final note...

I had such an amazing experience living life (and eating!) as a true Italian. My time there was life-changing; I was able to think and reflect not only about myself as an educator, but I was also able to practice mindfulness, meditation, and self-reflection. And to be honest, I don't think I could leave Burlington and move to Italy! Burlington really is a holistic community that involves so many parts that make up a whole. Between teachers, parents, students, and the rest of the community, the Burlington school district is my home.