Friday, 22 February 2013 00:00
At the February work session, Mary Harrison, director of guidance, presented information and data on the college admission process at Wheatley. There was discussion regarding recent changes in college admissions and the processes used to assist students in their pursuit of college admittance. The district’s successes in supporting students’ placements in colleges of their choice, as well as important reflection on ways to continue to grow these efforts, were shared.
Moving forward, the District is planning to offer two new courses in the 2013-14 school year. The introduction of a Junior Seminar and Senior Seminar will offer enrolled students an SAT/ACT Prep curriculum while counselors provide targeted assistance on issues related to the college admissions process.
In addition, a workshop is scheduled for high school administrators and staff with an admissions representative from a top-tier school. The admissions rep will share an insider’s view of the college admission process, including maximizing the powerful role of teacher recommendation letters in the college admissions process.
To meet the ever-increasing challenges of college admissions in today’s increasingly competitive environment, our guidance department and audience members shared some of the following ideas for consideration. These included the possibility of increasing the number and variety of AP courses offered, e.g., AP Art History and AP Music Theory, which promote special talents and interests of our students, as well as AP Economics, which is currently offered in neighboring school districts. Further development of our special program offerings, such as science research, math research, and perhaps the addition of a social science research program, were mentioned. Additional suggestions included increasing the focus on vocabulary building throughout the school years, K-12, aligned with the new common core curriculum implementation.
Other ideas for exploration included the strengthening of relationships with colleges and college admission officers by supporting more college visits by our counselors.
The Wheatley Guidance Department hosted a well-attended College Night for juniors and their parents on Feb. 7. A diverse panel of admissions representatives shared an insider’s perspective of the admissions process.
The evening’s discussion centered around the importance of students challenging themselves within the courses available to them, discovering a passion and exploring it, researching colleges that are most appropriate to their profile and a host of other important factors. After panelists addressed each topic, a brief Q&A allowed for parent and student engagement. Students were provided a copy of the Class of 2014 Wheatley College Guide along with other valuable resources to help them in the process.
David Casamento, director of science and technology, shared an update on the sixth-grade iPad implementation at the February work session. Sixth grade teacher Ronald Roaldsen also participated, sharing the teachers’ view from the classroom. Student, parent and teacher surveys demonstrate a positive response to this new initiative.
Positives shared include the opportunity for more differentiated instruction, improved organization as students use the calendar app to keep track of assignments and time management, enhanced communication and student engagement. Examples were shared of students’ taking responsibility for their learning through the creation of supplemental review materials they developed for their classmates for online sharing. Teachers continue to participate in professional development, which started over the summer.
Ongoing training occurs during weekly grade level meetings where ideas are shared for student learning and projects. For the first time, the sixth grade students are using an electronic social studies textbook, which they access from their iPads.
The electronic textbook provides students with many additional features not available in a print version, including enhanced graphics, vocabulary building and audible resources. The present plan calls for continued implementation of iPads in grade seven, when the current sixth-grade students move up with their devices.
Strategic Planning Update
The Community Input Survey was distributed at some district events. You can still respond to the survey by downloading it off the district website at the Strategic Planning Initiative webpage. All input from the survey will be posted on the website on Monday for you to review.
While the five-year strategic planning is taking place, we continue to move forward on a daily basis with many goals that we are accomplishing this year. You may recall that at the start of the school year, I shared our District curriculum and program goals for this year. The 2012-13 District goals are posted on our website. You can view them at www.ewsdonline.org > clicking on the District tab > About Our District > scroll down the red bar to District Goals. In the past month, curriculum leaders and administrators have shared with me their mid-year progress on those goals. Our year-end report will set forth our accomplishments for the 2012-13 school year.
These goals were designed to continue growth in students’ learning and move our school district forward. The introduction of electronic texts and media in sixth grade is one of the goals you read about above.
First grade teachers are well into the piloting of a new first grade social studies text designed to align their class learning with the new rigors of the common core curriculum and non-fiction reading, while alignment of the ninth-grade social studies honors curriculum with the new 10th Grade World History AP course continues. In math, common formative assessments given by all teachers on the same grade level have been developed and are being utilized to benchmark and support student learning throughout the year.
Preparation for a newly developed integrated life science and physical science curriculum in grade seven, starting 2013-14, is in process. The Foreign Language Department has developed a website that provides resources for students and families. You can view the new website by starting at www.ewsdonline.org > Curriculum tab > click on Foreign Languages.
Wheatley musicians had their first rehearsal with professional musicians when the Long Island Philharmonic coached our students on Feb. 12. A joint Wheatley and Long Island Philharmonic Concert will be held on March 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wheatley auditorium.
East Williston School District