Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The link below will take you to an interesting article that was in The New York Times on the iPad.   We currently have two iPads at Pine Glen School.  They are constantly signed out of the library and are a favorite educational tool for both teachers and students.

New York Times and iPad link 

St. Jude Children’s Hospital

We recently received a letter from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital congratulating Pine Glen School on the success of our Math-A-Thon, which was held on October 5, 2010.    Pine Glen raised $1,294.00, which will help doctors find cures for childhood cancers and provide pediatric care for children with cancer.   Along with the letter came a plaque that is now proudly hung in Pine Glen’s lobby.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Principal Notes

Throughout the school day I talk to students.  It could be while they are lining up, at recess, in the cafĂ©, walking through their classroom, etc.  The students tell me everything.  They tell me about their interests, what they are learning, what they want to do in the future, how they might want to change the world, what is funny, how the Mickey Mouse tie I am wearing today is better than the alphabet tie I had on yesterday.   They also have tons of questions for me.   I love these conversations!  

Some of the most insightful and humorous comments I have ever heard have come from elementary students.   There is an honesty and passion to children this age that is nothing short of being just wonderful.   Children never stop imagining and dreaming.   Elementary students have the highest levels of creativity and it is when we engage their creativity they learn.

Last night as I was watching the Boston Celtics game I was thinking back to how my experience at the elementary school age related to whom I am now in my 30’s.  My mom, one of my role models, was an elementary school teacher so it naturally made sense that I went into education.  My dad was and still is a huge Celtics fan.  So again, it would naturally make sense that I would feel the best book I have read this year is 100 Things Celtics Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. 

As I thought more about watching those great Boston Celtics Teams of 80’s with my dad and brother I realized I wasn’t just watching them.   I can remember my dad throughout the game asking questions such as:

-“O.k. this player’s free throw percentage is 68%, do you think he will make this shot?

-“He is mostly a perimeter player, what’s better man on man or zone defense?”

What I realized in this reflection was that my dad was teaching my brother and I math.  He more specifically was teaching us number sense, probability, and key math vocabulary. 

 I also thought how we had a subscription to Sports Illustrated (SI Kids didn’t exist then).  My brother and I would read articles particularly related to basketball so we could be ready for questions.  The great thing was although the text was a written for an older audience we knew a lot of the content vocabulary like basketball terms and player names so we had an internal sight word list. 

       In fact, today when I talked to my dad we discussed how “The Truth” (aka Paul Pierce) had over 30 points.  We then immediately went into mathematical comparisons to previous Celtics teams prior to the All-Star Break.  (Somehow in all this my brother became more of a Bruins’ Fan as an adult and went into biotech.)    

       A great idea to do over February vacation is bring your children to the public library and introduce them children’s magazines. This is a terrific way to promote reading non-fiction.   Likewise, when watching sports with your children have a blast with the math talk.   Most importantly enjoy the humor, brilliance, and creativity in conversations with your children.   It is really at this time in their lives you are helping to create their life-long dreams, interest and desires.  

Burlington Baseball & Softball

BBSA - As a friendly reminder, the Burlington Baseball & Softball registration is ending Monday, February 28, 2011.  If you have not registered yet, it’s not too late – go on-line at for registration.

Notice from PAC

 Dear PAC Members,

Our next PAC meeting will be held on Wednesday March 2, 2011 at 7:00 P.M. in the school committee room at Burlington High School. 
Understanding My Child’s Learning Style: The different ways people take in and generate information can greatly affect how and whether they succeed in school and in life. This workshop will delve into different learning styles and show how they can be understood and harnessed to achieve success in many different environments, including the classroom. This seminar will be presented by Melinda Parry from the Federation for Children with Special Needs

As always, I ask you to share this information with everyone you know. Many children struggle with aspects of their life and understanding how they learn is a huge boost in the right direction.
 Dennis McCarron

Fox Hill Character Breakfast

Fox Hill Character Breakfast
Saturday March 12, 2011
8:30-11:00 am
Fox Hill Elementary School Cafeteria

Come join in the fun and visit with SpongeBob, Scooby-Doo!, and Elmo at our character breakfast.  Continental breakfast buffet served.  Admission $5 for children, FREE for adults and children under age 1. 

Burlington Girl Scouts

The Burlington Girl Scouts will be having a cookie booth at the Burlington Papa Ginos on Wednesday, February 23rd from 11a to 8p.  While there, relax and have a sandwich, some pasta or some tasty pizza! When you come, bring the flyer posted here ( and the Burlington Girl Scouts will receive 20% from your order.  So come and join us for great food and support a great cause!

Project Bread

"Join us on Sunday, May 1, 2011 for the Walk for Hunger! 
The Walk for Hunger is an annual tradition and a rite of spring in Massachusetts! Join 40,000 caring friends and neighbors and raise money for those struggling to make ends meet.   For more information visit"

5 Star Generals

Congratulations to the following students below who have achieved the rank of 5 Start Generals in our Pine Glen Reading Corps.  

  • Zachary 

  • Aloisi

  •  Robert

  • Aloisi III

  •  Andrew

  • Buxton

  •  Cole

  • Capobianco

  •  Dilan

  • Churchill

  •  Maitri

  • Dedhiya

  •  Judith

  • Desmond

  •  James

  • Desmond

  •  Elaine 

  • Felizardo

  •  Alexandria

  • Floyd

  •  Erin

  • Mackey

  •  Shreya

  • Majumdar

  •  Madison

  • O'Toole

  •  Divyansi

  • Pandey

  •  Julia

  • Papasodoro

  •  Jeenal

  • Patel

  •  Jayson

  • Poland

  •  Seema

  • Risman

  •  Poleena

  • Risman

  •  Ellie

  • Risman

  •  Angela

  • Russo

  •  Valerie

  • Wine

  •  Victoria

  • Withycombe

  •  Nadia

  • Zaganjori

  • Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Math and Cooking

    I love being a principal and loved being a teacher.  One of my favorite subjects to teach students was math.  I also greatly enjoyed teaching teachers about math.  Prior to coming to Burlington I had the opportunity to provide professional development to teachers in several districts in Massachusetts and New Hampshire on teaching math and specifically ways to differentiate instruction for all learners.  One of the great things about being a principal is that I can share this knowledge with staff daily.   
    When I went from teaching sixth grade to second grade, I became aware of a spiral.  I saw the instruction I was providing in second grade being the foundation for future higher level math and science.  For example, a traditional algorithm with regrouping which is similar to what I imagine most of us received instruction in school had multiple steps with the main one being “carrying.”  This was not a bad instructional approach.  However, students often didn’t get the concept of place value.  The partials method on the other hand, another way of doing multi-digit addition I found had many added benefits.  
    Solving a multi-digit problem with the partials method would look something like the example below.
    40 + 20 =  60
    8 +   9   =  17
    60 +  17 = 77
    Grasping the concept of part to whole relationships is an underlying concept to grasping algebra, fractions, and balancing chemical equations.  Often in the past students would simply just memorized computational facts.  When student arrived at older grades in the past, they often didn’t have number sense.  
    I greatly appreciate how parents reinforce the importance of reading at home.  It is wonderful how parents read to their children at night, have home libraries with fiction and nonfiction, and model being a reader for their children.  Students are learning how to read at school and parents are helping to instill an enjoyment and love of reading at home. 
    There are likewise many things that can be done in the home to help instill number sense.  One of the best ways is having your children help you cook.  Their is an unbelievable amount of math involved in cooking.  Also, children love to create.  It is a way to make abstract concepts such as math be concrete in the manner of food.  Furthermore, it is a great way to teach sequencing, following directions and health. 

    Cooking with your child is also a terrific bonding experience.  Food Network Celebrity chef, Giada De Laurentis, has talked in interviews about how she came to the United States in the 70's and didn’t speak a word of English.  She found the adjustment very difficult.  Giada found that learning to cook helped her to feel better about herself and boost her confidence.  Dr. Robert Brooks would call this building an “island of confidence.”  Capitalizing on children’s strengths is a way to boost children’s self-esteem.  The smile I have seen on my first grade daughter's face when we sit down to a dinner she has prepared is amazing.  It is the same smile I saw as I teacher.  As a principal I continue to regularly see this same smile from students and teachers delighting in their student's achievements.  It is why I love being a principal.  

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    DORA Frequently Asked Questions

    Please see the slideshow in this post for more information about the DORA.
    DORA-Diagnostic Online Reading Assessment feb 4

    Note from PTO


    Send in Coke bottle caps or donate points directly by logging onto  By entering codes found under caps or inside carton boxes, Pine Glen will redeem points for art supplies.  You may send in the caps/carton codes to school or log on yourself and enter codes.   Simply log onto the website, click right-hand tab "Donate to Your School", enter 01803 zip code, tab down to "Pine Glen", register and enter codes.  Contact Laura Kaye at with any questions.  
    Send in Campbell’s Labels for Education to help redeem points for school supplies.  Last year, Pine Glen acquired great outdoor recess equipment that all students enjoyed playing with.  Simply cut UPC labels on specially marked products such as Campbell’s Soup, Goldfish snacks, Bic, V-8, Post, etc… and send them into school.

    Send in Box Tops for Education to help provide additional funding for library books.  Last year, this program raised hundreds of dollars that were used to purchase books for the Pine Glen Library.  Keep sending in those Box Tops!

    Note from BEF

    • Winter Trivia Night!  Friday, March 11, 2011
    • As you while away the “Weekend in New England”, get ready for Burlington Education Foundation’s 3rd Trivia Night.  Last year’s movie theme was spectacular and featured stars from Weekend at Bernie’s, Men In Black, Braveheart and Titanic.  “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” that this year’s theme is Music Trivia.  So dig out those 8-tracks, LPs, Walkman and iPods and show us how well you listen!  Last year’s attendees remember “Oh What a Night” it was, as the Freeport Friends and the Castaways battled it out to “The Final Countdown”.  Again this year, teams of four to ten people will compete throughout the night. The Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Eric Conti himself, will “Shake it Up” with specially selected and prepared trivia questions.  Last year’s Movie Trivia night teams came dressed to play.  They prepared savory spreads and decorations for their tables, and put their heads together to come up with the right answers.  There was fun, surprises and lots of laughter.  It was a real “Thriller.”  Congratulations again to the winning team of The Buddhas!  Don’t forget that this winning team gets to enter our March 2011 Trivia Night free of charge!  We again plan to have prizes for the winning team and for the best costume. A total of 20 teams in last year’s event created “Good Vibrations” when they helped raise close to $2,500.  So if “You Got the Beat”, and are in the mood for a “Party in the USA”, give your teammates a “Wake Up Call” and get them in on the gig!  And if you have a wealth of music knowledge, we’d love your “Help”.  Contact Stephanie Marchese at or 781-365-4005 with any ideas!  Plan now to take a “Slow Ride” over to the Woburn Sons of Italy on Friday, March 11, 2011.  “We Will Rock You!”

    BHS Music Boosters

    The BHS Music Boosters will host Youth Movie Night this Sat (2/12/11) and featuring Toy Story 3 from 6-9 pm in the Fogelberg Performing Arts Center. Safe check-in and check-out, babysitting by Select Singers and parent volunteers. Benefit for Select Singers Carnegie Hall performance. Games and prizes. Concessions .Reservations preferred … request more info at

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Thursday Morning DORA

    On February 16th parents will receive a summary of their child's most recent DORA (Diagnostic Online Reading Assessment) results.  This information will be sent home in children’s backpacks. 

    To help parents have a better understanding of this test, there was a Parent Information Meeting on DORA that was held on Monday, February 7, at 7:00PM at the Francis Wyman Elementary School auditorium.  This meeting was for parents from all four elementary schools.  Dr. Conti and the four elementary school principals shared information about the test to help parents have a better understanding of this assessment.

    I will be hosting a morning Parent Information Meeting on Thursday, February 10, at 9:00 AM at the Pine Glen Elementary School for Pine Glen parents who were not able attend the Monday evening meeting. I will be sharing the same information that was presented on the 7th

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    After School Program

    Big News!  The Burlington Public School's After School Program is coming to the new Memorial School in September 2011.  Registration for the Francis Wyman and Memorial programs will be open from February 7 through February 18.  Registration forms are available at under the Resources tab or in elementary school offices.  For additional information, please email Laura Driscoll at

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Public Library

    One of my favorite T.V. shows when I was little was Happy Days.  I particularly loved the character of the Fonz.   In one episode the Fonz gets a library card.   After this show aired, there was a huge national increase in the number of people visiting public libraries and the number of new library cards that were issued.   This was also a time when people in the country had ten or less T.V. channels and cable television was rare. 

    Recently, I came across an interesting study reported by the BBC.   (The link below can bring you to the article.)    The article stated that,  “Children who use their local public library are twice as likely to be above average readers.”  

    The article further went on to state, "Family engagement is well understood as a key element in supporting educational achievement, and it seems that public library use, as well as being associated with similar positive child outcomes to school library use, has in addition a particularly specialized correlation with family support for reading.”

    It has been my experience that my children love to go our public library.  The children’s room is a fun, exciting and safe environment.   The best part is that it is free.  If you are feeling a little “cabin fever” from all this snow the library is a great place to visit.   We might not have the Fonz to encourage us but this research is compelling.


    In the next couple of weeks, parents will receive a summary of their child's most recent DORA (Diagnostic Online Reading Assessment) results.  To help parents have a better understanding of this test, there will be a Parent Information Meeting about the DORA on Monday, February 7, at 7:00PM at the Francis Wyman Elementary School auditorium.  This meeting is for parents from all four elementary schools.  Dr. Conti and the four elementary school principals will share information about the test so that parents will have a better understanding of this assessment.

    Burlington Public Schools Allergen Policy for Students with Life Threatening Allergies

    The Burlington Public Schools recognize the increasing prevalence of student allergies and the life-threatening nature of the allergy for many students.  The Burlington Public Schools cannot guarantee to provide an allergen-free environment for all students with life threatening allergies, nor prevent any harm to students in emergencies.  The goal is to minimize the risk of exposure to food allergens that pose a threat to those students, to educate the community, and to maintain and regularly update a system-wide protocol for responding to their needs. 

    The Burlington Public Schools will maintain a system wide procedure for addressing life threatening allergic reactions by incorporating measures to reduce the exposure to allergens and procedures to treat allergic reactions.  For any student whose physician (primary care or board certified allergist) has informed the school in writing that the student has a life threatening allergy, the school nurse will oversee the development of an Allergy Action Plan or Individual Health Care Plan (IHCP), which will includes an Allergy Action Plan (AAP) that addresses the management of anaphylaxis. Parents/guardians have the responsibility to inform the school district when a child’s medical condition might affect the child’s welfare or safety.  Effective communication is vital among all parties.

    The district wide procedure addresses:

    1.      The training and education for all Burlington Public Schools employees.  The training will include the education on
    a description of severe allergies
    signs of anaphylaxis
    the proper use of an epipen and
    the specific steps to follow in the event of an emergency. 

    2.      The Burlington Public Schools is making every reasonable accommodation to lessen the possibility of exposure to food allergens by designating that at all schools, during the school day, implement the following:  birthday recognition will be food free, classroom snacks will be “known allergy free” in accordance with the Individual Health Care Plans of each child of the students within a given classroom, and the use of food for curriculum purposes will be restricted to approval by the Principal.  Notification will be sent to the parent/guardian if food is used with principal approval for curriculum purposes. The parent can choose to provide a food or non-food based alternative.  The use of food as a reward in school will be eliminated.  The Principal will implement a No Food or Utensil Sharing practice with particular focus at the elementary level.

    3.      The school nurse in conjunction with the parent/guardian and the primary care provider/allergist will prepare either the Allergy Action Plan (AAP) or the Individual Health Care Plan (IHCP) which incorporates an Allergy Action Plan (AAP) for any student with a life threatening allergy.  The IHCP and AAP will be updated annually.  The nurse will review the IHCP and AAP with teachers of the students in their classes and respond to emergencies as per the emergency protocol documented in the IHCP or AAP.  The Teachers will leave pertinent information in a substitute file.

    4.      Each elementary school will provide an allergen sensitive table(s) in the cafeteria.  At the middle school and high school appropriate accommodations will be made as needed.

    5.      The school nurse will recommend to administration the appropriateness of each field trip and consideration of safety of the student with life-threatening allergies.  Parents of a student at risk of anaphylaxis will be invited to accompany their child on school trips, in addition to the chaperone. 

    6.      The Principal and Food Services personnel will establish a routine cleaning protocol for all food consumption areas (to include a protocol for hand-washing and table/desk cleaning before and after food/snacks have been consumed).

    First Reading:  1/11/11
    Second Reading: 1/25/11

    Adopted by Burlington School Committee: 1/25/11


    Dr. Eric Conti and Burlington High School Principal Patrick Larkin were on the news this morning discussing the high school utilizing iPads.  The following link contains more information.