OSS Newsletter: February 2018
Published on Feb 2, 2018 14:28

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Dear Cambridge Community,

Happy February! It certainly has been a long, cold winter to date. Let's keep our fingers crossed that we can survive this month with a minimal amount of snow and ice.

Over the course of this school year, the Office of Student Services (OSS) has been working diligently to help teachers succeed in providing high quality differentiated instruction. Our goal is for all students to thrive both academically and socially in school.

In order to meet this goal, OSS coordinators, Lead Teachers, and Inclusive Instructional Specialists have been focused on delivering professional development, on-site modeling and coaching, and in-class support throughout the school year across all schools. Special Educators and Related Services Providers participated in a series of webinars on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights about how humans learn ([email protected]). Additionally, OSS has partnered with the Morse School in piloting UDL principles and practices school-wide. UDL breaks down barriers to learning for all students by ensuring meaningful access to the curriculum within an inclusive environment. This work has been exciting, challenging, and rewarding. Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done, but, most importantly, we are on the road and moving.

February is Black History Month! This is an opportunity for us to honor the history and contributions of African Americans.

Jean Spera
Interim Assistant Superintendent
Office of Student Services

A Word about Assistive Technology PD for K-5 OSS Staff
Hi, my name is Robin Lewis. I am one of the Assistive Technology Specialists in district. Using the Google Classroom platform, Cameron Smith (Assistive Technology Specialist) and I launched a Professional Development (PD) for The K-5 Office of Student Services (OSS) staff on January 22, 2018. This PD was created to give staff ideas on how they can use Assistive Technology to help implement the guiding principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). We did our best to provide staff with tools that are readily available and accessible in district. The Google Classroom platform was a tool we discuss in our PD and we used this tool to help launch links in a specific layout and order that would make it easy for staff to navigate and understand. This PD consisted of links that were videos, tutorials and helpful resources. We broke our PD down into the following categories: Assignment Tracking, General Organization, Note-Taking, Annotation, Graphic Organizers, Speech-to-Text, Text-to-Speech, Audio Books, Math and finished with Engagement/Assessment Tools. We have gotten great feedback from our K-5 staff on the information provided and how it was delivered.

We hope that our PD has helped to make it clear that the use of Assistive Technology in teaching practice goes hand in hand with the principles of UDL. We know OSS has partnered with CAST to provide trainings to help teach what UDL is and how to implement it.

We hope our Google Classroom has provided staff with a toolbox, which they can now explore using with their students. The use of AT can help you create an environment that supports students of all learning styles.

We now look forward to sharing this resource with our middle school and high school staff!

Thank You,

Robin Lewis M.S Ed., EdS. & Cameron Smith M.Ed.

CPS Advanced Learner Position Update
Please be advised that as a result of the most recent recruitment and hiring process, Mr. Justin Villet has accepted the position of Lead Teacher: Advanced Learning for the Cambridge School District. Mr. Villet comes to us from the Framingham School District where he has served as a Middle School World History and Language Arts teacher since 2012 and Lead Teacher for Framingham’s Gifted & Talented SAGE Program for the last two years. Mr. Villet will officially join the Cambridge Public Schools on Monday, February 26th. In addition, he will spend several transition days in our district between now and February 26th as a way to begin to meet students, teachers, and caregivers. We are excited to welcome Justin to Cambridge.

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An Overview of Section 504:
Supporting Access and Protecting from Discrimination
As part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Congress passed Section 504. This civil rights law (not special education law) protects people with disabilities by eliminating barriers and allowing full participation in areas of life such as education and the workplace. Learn more >>

fidget toys

Tools or Toys?
If you are a teacher or a parent, you have probably heard of a popular gadget called the “fidget spinner”. Fidget spinners are just one of the many types of sensory objects used by teachers and therapists to assist students with attention and focus. With the recent hype of fidget spinners, many people are asking: are “fidgets” tools or toys? Read more >>



Sensory Friendly Movies
Date: February 10
Location: 168 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge

IHOP (Sensory Friendly Dinner)
Date: February 6
Location: 16 Eliot St., Cambridge

Parent Support Group
*1st and 3rd Friday of the Month*
Date: February 2 & 16
Time: 9AM
Location: King School, 102 Putnam Ave., Cambridge 

Parent and Sibling Support Groups
*2nd and 4th Tuesday of every Month*
Time: 6PM 
Date: February 13 & 27
Location: FMA, 225 Windsor St., Cambridge 

More information and registration >>


Immigration Legal Screening Clinic
This FREE monthly clinic offers participants a consultation with an immigration attorney and the chance to learn more about how immigration law affects them and their families. Details >>

See more community programs & events >> 

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Stay informed via our FREE mobile app! 
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Looking for things to do in Cambridge? Then take a peek at Find It Cambridge!


Cambridge Public Schools
159 Thorndike Street
Cambridge, MA 02139


Jean Spera
Interim Assistant Superintendent

Karyn Grace

Shelagh Walker

Desiree Phillips

Nerlande Mintor
Fiscal and Operations Manager



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