CEF Helps Enrich Spanish Language Study for Carlisle Teachers and Students

In August of 2009, I was honored to be able to attend the University of Guadalajara in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This was made possible through the generosity of the Carlisle Education Foundation, and the Davida Fox-Melanson Grant. This opportunity enabled me to see a country I had not visited before, and expand my knowledge of the Spanish language and culture. I am excited to be able to share this new-found knowledge with my colleagues and students.

During my two-week stay in Puerto Vallarta, I took the public bus to the University and attended classes for five hours each morning. The professors were lively and interesting, and the classes were small so that everyone had a chance to participate. In the afternoon, I returned to my temporary home where the learning continued. Hilda, our wonderful landlady and long-time resident of Puerto Vallarta, would have a meal ready for the tenants in her house. She shared stories and memories with us at every meal. One day she invited a friend to teach us how to make tamales!

My evenings were spent completing homework assignments, watching the local news, and occasionally watching a movie on TV or at the nearby movie theatre—all en Español, of course! I also spent time exploring the town, visiting museums, and attending cultural events with my classmates. I took many photographs including signage, advertising, and food labels to show students how the Spanish language is used for typical daily activities just as English is used here in the U.S. I also captured some of the local wildlife—although Puerto Vallarta is a busy harbor, there were pelicans everywhere. In one small village, I saw a tree with 30 iguanas in it!

I brought back several artifacts including restaurant menus, CDs of children’s music, DVDs of cartoons, Spanish language flashcards, instruments, and a gorgeous print of the Aztec calendar (pictured at right). Not only will I be using the photographs and artifacts in my own classes, but I will also be lending them to my colleagues so that more students can benefit from my great adventure in Mexico.

¡Gracias! CEF

Nicole Baker
World Language
Carlisle Public Schools

Lester Laminack Helps Carlisle Teachers Review and Revise Writing Curriculum

Due to the generosity of the Carlisle Education Fund, Carlisle teachers have had the opportunity and privilege to work with Lester Laminack, a nationally known literacy education consultant. Lester has worked as both a classroom teacher and as a college professor. He is the author of academic books and articles, as well as several children’s books and was co-editor of the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) journal,Primary Voices. He has also been the recipient of many awards given in the field of literacy.

Lester was contacted by Carlisle after the English Language Arts Curriculum Review Team recommended hiring a consultant to help us with our writing curriculum. In August of 2009, all teachers of writing spent two days on campus working with him. Since then his visits have been divided between working with grade level teaching teams, where he tailors his consulting to their needs, working with all of our writing teachers together to ensure that we create a vertically aligned writing curriculum, and modeling effective mini-lessons.

Recently, Massachusetts adopted the Common Core State Standards as our new state standards. The timing of their release has made this an opportune time for Carlisle to be reviewing and revising our writing curriculum. With Lester’s help we are well on our way to having a writing curriculum that reflects these standards.

Some quotes from teachers regarding working with Lester.

“We appreciate the opportunity to have sustained professional development that’s allowed us to reflect on our teaching practices and grow as teachers of writing.” – The First Grade Team

“As teachers we tend to look through a critical lens at student writing, Lester helped us to see that we need to celebrate their accomplishments first.”  – The Third Grade Team