Friday, June 5, 2009


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

We've Enjoyed Some Great Feedback This Year

Feedback from Educon 2.0 conference presentation, Philadelphia, Jan 25-27:

  • Best session for me personally at EduCon !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Initial feedback from Google, March 5:

  • Hello from Google! I work in communications here -- we were introduced to you by Cara Volpe at Teach For America. (I've also CC'ed some other Google colleagues of mine in events and communications.) Cara was telling us about the inspiring things you've done with Google Docs and online collaboration, both in the classroom with students and and the planning stages among your teachers. We think it's such a great story, and we're interested in seeing if news outlets might want to cover what you're doing.

Feedback from Google Development reps, after meeting with Mr. Levy, Mr. Prinstein and Ms. Jenkins, March 25:

  • "You guys are doing more and deeper work with this stuff than any school we've ever come across."
  • Also: "We don't make commercials, but if we did, you all would be in one."

Parent Expo feedback from teachers, May 2:"What did you like best about the Expo?"

  • The smiles on the students’ faces especially the ambassadors.
  • As a partner with MS 339, I was pleased to receive an invitation and be able to attend.
  • How much the students enjoyed presenting and the hard work they put in.
  • Some kids who I did not think would present did so and were excited and really good.
  • Students who I struggled to get to work on their projects coming around to see their work and taking a great deal of pride in it.
  • The excitement of the 6th graders showing off their work to their parents was really great.
  • The school and community came together as one.
  • Nearly everything, but mostly the united spirit of staff members.
  • The students were very good at presenting their work and the work of the class.
  • Level 1 students presenting. Watching my students teach their parents and operate the laptops and manipulatives.
  • Seeing the look on parent faces and how people from the community or VIPs saw the good things that are happening at our school.
  • The student ambassadors. They were the best.
  • The amount of parents that came out to support their children.
  • My entire team stayed for most of the Expo.
  • Parents telling us that they want us to teach their kids forever!!!
  • The students' work.
  • Being able to shine a light on EVERY student. Witnessing parents and teachers engaged in conversation about students that only accentuated the positive was wonderful to see. The camaraderie between teachers, students and parents as a byproduct of all the shared work.
  • The willingness of one presenter in Team Courage to cover for another team presenter who was absent. Of course, his parent was very proud of his son's ability.
  • Students were extremely excited for their parents to come see their work.
  • Parent turn-out.
  • When a parent advised me that he was proud of his kid’s work. He felt that his child was far advanced than what he was at the middle school age.
  • Seeing all the parents pour into 339, led along by their proud students, to see the work and instruction happening in this school. It was inspiring to see all the families walking the halls, admiring the work- and for once, not here to hear about poor grades or behavior!
  • Hearing my students present their work.
  • My principal speaking Spanish. I am so proud of him, and how proud the children were presenting.
  • Seeing all of the students' writing from throughout the year displayed.
  • The way the students took pride in the school.
  • The way the school worked together as a team.
  • Students were engaged in the community building environment of the school.
  • Seeing students explain their favorite papers.
  • Students felt like they are part of a community.
  • All my students wanted to be involved and helped out more than I expected. Many more parents showed up than I thought.
  • I loved watching the kids working together with their parents and siblings. I could tell how proud they were to make good ice cream.
  • The student ambassadors.
  • Students are proud of their work and the community supporting the school.
  • "Teacher, thank you for all your help.”
  • The desire of students to show off their work to their parents.
  • The excitement and ownership the students displayed in regards to their projects and their school.
  • Our school looked fantastic.
  • Everyone working together to make this event great.
  • Watching my students explain their work to their families.
  • The students wanting to explain and show off their work.
  • When we all congregated in the cafeteria and saw how many people had come felt like we were all part of something important.

Great School Quality Review Feedback

When IS 339 had its annual School Quality Review from May 27-28, the reviewer stated that she thought it was the best use of educational technology that she had seen. This is warm praise indeed from someone who has visited so many schools in England and New York.

What the school does well:

  • The school collects and analyzes a wide range of data to understand and meet the needs of the student.
  • The use and development of technology throughout the school is excellent in enhancing both teaching and learning.
  • The principal and his leadership team have a very clear vision for the future development of the school.
  • Teamwork and collaboration are strong features of the school.
  • There are many good opportunities for professional development.
  • Clear procedures allow the school to operate smoothly and create a positive learning environment.
  • Students are enthusiastic, articulate, and enjoy their learning.
  • Interventions and support services are used well in supporting students socially and emotionally, as well as academically.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Video Media Project

Students in Ms. Averbach's classes created this video as a culminating assessment for the ELA media unit. They selected media topics to research, they read articles, wrote blog entries, and crafted editorial essays. But somehow, in the midst of all this awesome learning, they found the time to produce a film for you. This project was written by, acted in, and partially edited by students. We hope you enjoy the show.

Monday, February 25, 2008

School News Blog Takes Off!

Thanks to all those who have read, commented, or contributed to the school's new student run news blog "The 339 Hard Line."

Please, stay tuned! When Project SCAN picks back up tomorrow, we will be up and running with new student-written articles and editorials about what's happening around the building.

If you have an idea you would like to share with the students and teachers of 339, take it to the keyboard! We welcome any and all faculty Op-Eds up to 350 words. Email you writing to me at, and I will post it IMMEDIATELY.

To check out the blog, go to or click on this link. Please, please, please, share the site with your classes and encourage responsible student commenting. We want this site to be 'by students for students' and that will only happen with your support in encouraging student readership.

I also wanted to extend a special thanks to Ms. Heiser and Ms. Jenkins for making The Hard Line a reality and to all of our student writers for working so hard and sharing their ideas.

Celebrating risk-taking in teaching!

Cheers to 8th grade ELA for getting those blogs up! All student blog addresses are located in a Google Doc called "Eighth Grade Blog Tracker 339;" feel free to leave comments to former students!

Congrats to 803/4 and Ms. Dixon Hall for getting Google Docs up and running for editorial writing!

Cheers to Ms. Johns and Mr. Blanchard for getting their 7th graders set up on Blogger over the weekend for field trip reflections :)

Belated - I'm sorry! - but enthusiastic cheers to Ms. Mason-Escoe for a really, really engaging lesson using MTA bus maps and the SMARTBoard. I wanted to participate..

Cheers to Ms. Guzman and her students for their commercials, which now live in iMovie ..

Cheers to the 8th grade Social Studies teachers - Ms. Kaelin, Ms. Stuart and Ms. Tiller - for launching Teaching Matters, and to Ms. Tiller for co-teaching!

Cheers to Ms. Averbach for attending the Digital Documentaries PD over the break!

and .. cheers to staff for integrating instructional technology into classrooms in such a meaningful way. We had a visitor from iTiL in the building right before break, and this was her feedback to us in an email to me and Mr. Levy:

"I wanted to take a moment to thank you for hosting my visit to see how things are going at your school. Because of you and your staff I was able to take meaningful information back to our Office to inform our work. It was great to see all the online and onsite systems, structures, and environments you and your staff have set up to enhance planning, teaching and learning in your school. Christina shared how well the ongoing Monday after school PD sessions have been going as well as the hands-on support delivered upon request during teachers' common prep/planning periods. She also shared how great it has been to work with an AUSSIE consultant hired specifically for his instructional technology expertise and the success she has had with ongoing meetings live and via Skypecasting. I was impressed with the strides shared by you and Christina that were made this year to ensure that technology integration is sustained in your school. Your staff and students definitely benefit from the acknowledgement you provide teachers for their successes using for online Principal Daily Notes, your coaches' Technology Weekly newsletter, your school's Celebration Blog and your student's Celebration page The fact that you are walking the walk with best-practice modeling and a seamless use of innovative structures is quite powerful."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bringing in the New Year

Our plan for January '08 celebrations will be a focus on each team. Team Unity has already given an indication of the success experienced in '07, so these pages will be well worth reading. We'll also be including photo slideshows and teacher podcasts. February will feature some web tv!

7 Math Celebrations

by the 7 Math team

  • Voluntary weekend curriculum meetings to make backwards long-term plans for each unit.
  • Common assessments and grading procedures allow us to discuss student data.

On the horizon:

  • Celebrating the efforts of higher achieving students

7 ELA Celebrations

by Jenny Johns

The 7th Grade ELA Team can celebrate:

  1. ELA Test Prep at Saturday Academy: Justice, Integrity and 701, 702 students attended 8 Saturdays of test preparation and skill-building before the January exam.

  2. The 7th grade ELA teachers hosted a gradewide spelling bee on December 18. 50 students participated, and the whole grade cheered them on!

  3. The RAFT lessons during test prep and, thereby, the students' use of RAFT on short answer test questions; 7th grade students improved on average from a score of 9 to a score of 14 points on the writing rubric between the first and second Common Assessment during the test prep unit.

    On the horizon:
  • Gradewide showcase of ELA assessments/projects (in the form of a public speaking contest, performance during the drama unit, or "media that matters" film competition)
  • Videotaping "intervisitations" of ELA teachers (similar to videotaping and debriefs being held with Team Unity and soon to be Compassion) - in this way, we can see best practices of teachers in our Content Area Team and improve our own instruction

Team Integrity Celebrations

by Jose Betancourt

  1. Excellent student behavior.
  2. Successful Saturday Academy Program.
  3. Trip to the "Repertorio EspaƱol" Class: 841.
  4. I-Club After School Program for students who need extra-help.
  5. Punctuality: over 95% of students showed improvement during arrival time.
  6. Most of our classes had 100% attendance during the ELA assessment week.
  7. Positive parents' response when required.
  8. Great collaboration along with Team Justice 7th grade classes.
  9. Positive input, recommendations, and results thanks to Friday's Intervention Support Team meetings (IST).
On the horizon:
  1. Parents' workshops.
  2. Health/Values workshop.
  3. Develop life skills - Washington Mutual (WAMU) Assembly: February 6th.
  4. Sport Teams (volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball, etc.)
  5. Trips.
  6. Multicultural Week.
  7. Women's History Month.
  8. Field Day.
  9. Careers Day.
  10. Team Web Page.
  11. Team Monthly Assembly.

Team Compassion Celebrations
by Patrick Blanchard

  • Attendance initiative - absence and lateness reduction
  • Consistent uniform compliance and team wide enforcement
  • Saturday Academy for ELA, Math team planning
  • Compassion teacher-student basketball game
  • Culture, tone and team-building success
  • Fund-raising

On the horizon:

  • Culture Club for students meeting attendance goals
  • Saturday GED/ ESL program
  • Video tape each teacher to improve our teaching
  • Career Fair

Team Unity Celebrations

by Jesse Spevack

  • 97% passing rate for the first quarter because of the "Power of I" grading system.
  • Students re-do work that is not up to standard.
  • I-Club after school extra-help period, every Monday and Friday.
  • Lucky 7's early morning, web-based, academic intervention servicing almost 50 below grade level students.
  • We work on reading and writing using Google Docs, and using for math
  • Monthly progress reports sent home to parents to keep them informed on their child's progress
  • Trip to the Bronx ZooTwo grade wide dances
  • Uniform classroom management system
  • We are now thinking about incentives to add to our management system. Next week we are starting the Unity Dream Team, which will be made up of students in the top 5-10% of section sheet scores. The Dream Team does not have to line up with the rest of the class during transitions. They can also use the bathroom and get water between the first and third bells. There is also talk of a "Dream Team" Badge. Look out because it's going to be loud and proud.
  • Awesome video PD which is almost through its first cycle. Video PD allows all teachers on the team to learn from one another.

On the horizon:

  • Team Unity Talent Show

8 Math Celebrations

by Blair Heiser

  • Our team has created and implemented a consistent curriculum across the grade.
  • Each teacher is using and sharing the same lesson plans, worksheets, and even SMARTboard presentations.
  • All assessments are unified which allows us to track data consistently across the grade.
  • Each teacher is also using, a differentiated online skills curriculum that helps build foundational skills in our students.
  • The 8th grade math department has utilized a Math Wikispace that is used to share all documents with each teacher.
  • 8th grade teachers also use Google Groups to share out materials and update one another on all positive trends within our specific classrooms.

On the Horizon:

  • An 8th grade math competition where students will compete within the classroom to be an ambassador for their class and then compete in an all 8th grade competition.
  • Teacher created online portfolio pieces for each unit of study
  • Specific materials geared towards our high 2s and 3s in the upcoming months to help improve test scores.

8 Science Celebrations

by Melissa Sowin

  • Science339 Wikispaces
  • 4 collaborative units - Scientific Inquiry, Measurement, Living Environment, & Reproduction & Heridity
  • Standards-based Science Assessments
  • Hands-on Lab activities & practicuums

On the horizon:

Boat contest, Science Expo, Science & Technology Center trip

Team Courage Celebrations:

by Chrissy Sa

  • fundraising efforts (bake sale, candy/candle sales)
  • trip to Transit Museum
  • J.V. Girls Basketball Team
  • Varsity Boys Basketball
  • I club

6 Math Celebrations

by Chrissy Sa

  • collaboratively creating Unit tests

Monday, December 17, 2007

December Celebration - Getting Connected

What you'll find in the posts below, and on the links from this site, are descriptions of the journey traveled thus far in the first four months of the 2007-2008 school year. We're celebrating near the mid-point, but we'll also be adding to this collection right up until June 2008.

Ideally, many more people on staff will end up recording successes that can be shared here with everyone.

Why bother? Growth is important, and so is the recording of it. It's uplifting to see that hard work pays off, and it's helpful to know what else can still be done.

Hopefully we're shifting the focus on teaching from merely earning to lifelong learning. We're not just teaching students, but also teaching each other. It's an exciting time, and everyone has taken up the challenge!

Here are the links (so far) to Celebrations Pages:

Setting the framework for 2007-2008:

Getting going with Google:

Building teams:

Technology Set-up:

A focus on teaching:

Focusing on Results:

Cyber Consultancy:

Establishing Routines, Responsibilities, Rigor, Results and Relationships

Mr. Jason Levy (December Daily Notes):

We've established many effective systems, and at this point of the year we must continue to make quality our top priority.

1. September, October, November: Roles, Responsibilities & Routines

  • Roles: What is my function in the school?
  • Responsibilities: What is my job description? What tasks do I do?
  • Routines: What systems and habits do we solidify over time?

2. December through June: Rigor, Relationships & Results!

  • Rigor: How challenging and engaging is our curriculum/instruction?
  • Relationships: How do we develop deep relationships to sustain high functioning teams and classrooms?
  • Results: How do we use/track data to achieve the measures outlined in our goals?

So what makes this year different from any other?

This has been a busy year – there’s no doubting that – but it has also been a productive one. If you compared this to the construction of a house, you’d probably say that the architects have been busy on the plans, the foundations are laid and the frame is up. Sure, the site might be a little untidy, a few tools have gone missing, the tradespeople might be falling over each other at times, and the engineer adds a few new household gadgets each week, but it’s going to be an impressive structure.

Hang on a moment, that’s a terrible analogy.

It’s ironic to be talking about building, given that the focus for the start of the year has been on removing all walls to sharing, accountability and teamwork. That’s right, tearing down the barriers to learning and growth not just for students, but adults as well. This is no easy task given that teaching, historically, can be an isolating experience. In a classroom full of 30 other bodies, you can still be on your own.

So along comes Mr. Levy to announce that you’re no longer on your own – from now on, EVERYONE has to embrace the integration of technology. Great. In an instant, you’ve moved from being isolated to being totally exposed. A techno teacher? Me? I don’t think so.

Nevertheless, we’ve all been thrust out into the world (wide web) together. Instead of walls, we’ll be opening windows. Instead of doors, we’ll be accessing the same domain. We’ll be punching more keys than ever before, and there’ll be no ceiling on our activities.

Not only that, but the coaches have now been absorbed into administrative roles and everything is all about TEAMS. What’s going on? Who’s going to tell me what I should have been doing last week? Is Prinstein still in charge of ELA, and is Bolton still overseeing Math? Someone please explain.

Then we find out that the AUSSIE consultant really will be an Australian consultant – that is, he’ll be perched in front of a laptop on the other side of the planet supposedly helping us from 10,000 miles away (not to mention the time distance). Yeah, sure, we’ll never hear from him again.

Add to the mix a score of new teachers and a few new APs, and we’ve got the makings of a circus. So thank goodness that this ‘circus’ has featured a host of new tricks, some great performers, a cracking effort by the ringmaster, and even a few laughs along the way.

We know you’re feeling tired. You should be. You’ve put in some fantastic work so far this year, and you might not even be quite ready to hear this. Maybe you’re even experiencing a few growing pains, as other teachers surely would be too. We have been stretched in every way possible, discovered things about ourselves that we never knew before, and we’ve started to see our peers in a different light. Sounds like a nasty second dose of puberty doesn’t it? Thankfully it’s just the byproducts of this shared adventure.

At the end of this year, no matter what the final outcomes, at least we’ll all be able to declare proudly that we didn’t stand still. And that’s what this is all about – growth and celebration. Congratulations on your rapid progress this year, and we hope you enjoy reminiscing about some of the triumphs.