Branching Out With STEM – BPS Tech Savvy Parenting Digital BootCamp Series (March 2)

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We are excited for our next Tech Savvy Parenting event on Monday, March 2 at 6 p.m. in the Marshall Simonds Middle School Library. The topic for this month’s workshop is branching out with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Please register here if you plan on attending. We welcome parents from neighboring communities, so bring a friend.

Blizzard Bags A Potential Replacement For Some Missed Snow Days

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Back in early January, before we were buried in over four feet of snow, the Burlington School Committee approved further discussion of “Blizzard Bags” for Burlington Public Schools to potentially make up days of schools lost because of snow. Burlington, along with Wayland, is one of two school districts in the state,  that has the approval of the Massachusetts Department of Education to explore an alternative model to making up snow days at the end of the school year.

This pilot program will explore the creation and completion of assignments and projects that students will be able to complete to meet time on learning minutes from school days that are canceled.  Of course the number of days that would be added back in would depend on the amount of work involved in the assignments. However, before going too much more into logistics, it is important to discuss school calendar construction/requirements and Blizzard Bags further.

School Calendar Construction:

State regulations require that the district create a 185 day school-year calendar although only 180 days are mandated.  The five, built-in days allow for up to five days of cancellations within an approved calendar year.  We are currently within our five day allowance already built into our school calendar.  If everything stays as it is (no more cancellations), the school year will end on Thursday, June 25, 2015 (except for seniors).

School Requirements:

Massachusetts requires elementary and middle school students to attend school for 900 hours per school year and high school students 990 hours per school year.  These hours take place over 180 days.  The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has not allowed any exceptions to the 180 requirement in prior years.  The “Blizzard Bag” pilot provides Burlington with the possibility of maintaining the learning hour requirement but over a reduced number of days.

What are Blizzard Bags?

The concept of Blizzard Bags is not new. The practice of assigning work to students to make up snow days is already happening in states like Minnesota, Ohio, and New Hampshire just to name a few.  One difference in some states, like New Hampshire, is that the students are assigned work to do on a snow day and are expected to have it completed when they get back to school. However, this “homework” will not be the option that we will be looking to replicate this year.

Our district is exploring using a model where a sufficient amount of lessons/projects will be developed to equal the amount of instructional time students would have received for the days of school that we are looking to count. Once the assignments are created for all Burlington students, we will create a due-date for their completion. We will continue to offer frequent updates and will have a website with all of the assignments as well as resources to support their successful completion.

We believe that these learning projects will be more educationally relevant than additional worksheets.  We are also exploring ways to leverage the technology that the community provides to extend learning.

Any proposal will require school committee and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education approval.  In addition, there may be working condition considerations in regards to school staff.

Branching Out with STEM: Tech Savvy Parenting Night at BPS


Our next Tech Savvy Parenting night is coming up on March 2 at MSMS. Please spread the word and feel free to tell friends outside of our district. For more information check out the post below from our BPS EdTech Team.

Originally posted on Burlington High School Help Desk:

The BPS Edtech team is excited to announce our next Tech Savvy Parenting night, “Branching Out with STEM.” This is the third installment of our Digital Bootcamp Series and this time our focus is on STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.
Tech Savvy Parenting-Branching Out STEM to STEAM (1)

Members of the BPS Edtech team, along with BHS Help Desk students, will provide parents and their children with information about the current state and future trends of STEM, including opportunities for young women. Parents will receive an overview of the K-12 STEM curriculum offered in Burlington and learn about potential college majors and STEM related career paths. We will also provide a list of FREE resources designed to keep children of all ages engaged in STEM activities year round. The evening will conclude with hands-on Hour of Code activities for the entire family. Parents and students will select from a variety of free coding tutorials and…

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Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Rolling In For BPS Students

It is the time of the year where we hear back from various state and national organizations regarding the work of our students that has been entered in various competitions. Once again, there is a great deal of good news to report. Congratulations to the following students and the teachers who have supported their efforts in the creation of outstanding artwork and writing!

Scholastic Art & Writing Award Winners from MSMS

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have existed since 1923 and the contest affords students across the country the opportunity to be recognized for their talents.  Notable winners of these prestigious awards include Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Redford.  Judges look for originality, technical skill, and development of a personal voice and/or vision.  At the regional level, students are selected  to receive the Gold Key, the Silver Key, or Honorable Mention.  Additionally, each state nominates five selected Gold Key level awards as American Visions & Voices Nominees to be further judged with the hope of achieving the distinction of “Best of Show”.

At the national level, regional Gold Key works will advance to be judged for gold or silver medals.   Last year, Marshall Simonds was honored to have Benny Grubner’s work receive a National Gold Medal and his work was also selected to travel throughout the country in the national exhibit,  Art Now.

The 2015 MSMS award winners were selected from more 16,000 pieces of art and writing submitted to the Massachusetts Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards!  All of the writing awards went to current BEAM students, while the photography awards went to students in the MSMS digital photography Activity Block and newly formed after-school Photo Club.  

The two photos below by Jordan Casaubon and Olivia Virgin each won Gold Keys, the highest recognition possible. Additionally, Jordan’s photo was one of five in the state which was moved on as an American Visions and Voices Nominee.

Train Ride by Jordan Casaubon (photography), Gold Key and American Visions nominee

Uncle Henry by Olivia Virgin (photography) Gold Key

For more on our MSMS students from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, check out the following post from Mrs. Rogers Blog at MSMS – MSMS BEAM Students and Photography Club Excel at Scholastic Art & Writing Awards!

Scholastic Art & Writing Award Winners from BHS

2015 Gold Key Winners for Writing:

Anjali Seereeram (Short story: “Youth”)
Kavya Sebastian (Short story: “3 A.M. Coffee”)

Anjali’s short story, “Youth” was nominated for the American Voices Award by the Massachusetts branch of the Scholastic Writing Awards. Only five written pieces earn this nomination each year out of the 1,300+ written submissions that come in, from nine different categories of original writing. Anjali’s story was the only piece from the Short Story category nominated for the award, and her work will automatically be entered in the national Scholastic American Visions and Voices competition, which will be decided in mid-March.

Congratulations, Anjali, on this incredible achievement! You can read Anjali’s wonderful piece “Youth” by clicking here.

2015 Gold Key Winner for Art:

Anne Zhang won two Gold Keys for two separate pieces.  One of those drawings, a pen and ink drawing of BHS Latin Teacher Mr. Stringer,  is pictured below.

zhang schol arts stringer

Overall across the district, we had six Gold Key Winners (two which received American Voices and Visions recognition, 12 Silver Key Winners, and 11 Honorable Mentions.

Click here for a complete listing of our BPS Scholastic Art Winners


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