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What’s new in your classroom?



Last modified: Saturday, September 07, 2013
We asked some local teachers to describe the most interesting new thing they’re trying in the classroom this year. Here are a few more fun submissions.



Making new connections

As a science teacher, some of the new projects I’m most excited to try this year involve collaborations with other teachers and departments.

With help from the Explore the Moon program offered by lunar scientists at UNH and NASA, the math teacher and I have developed a series of engineering and design challenges for the eighth grade. Among other activities, teams of students will create a to-scale model of a section of the moon out of papier-mâché, bury it in sand and provide it to the other team. Each team will then design a method by which to collect, code and analyze data in order to map the buried surface. One of our objectives is for the students to understand how satellites might gather information about surfaces without relying on visible light. These design challenges will be woven into an entire year of studying physical science through the lens of the universe.

I’m also looking forward to developing an elective course with the social studies teacher to investigate cellar holes, stonewalls and other land features. We’ll be working with the local historical society and exploring the history of our area, geography and cartography, and of course the science of archeology!

In a new, interdisciplinary Outdoors course, I will be working to incorporate lessons of leadership, stewardship and adventure into activities ranging from building mini birch-bark canoes, to learning safety and survival skills, to writing reflective pieces about solitary time we’ll spend outdoors.

My excitement stems not only from the opportunity to try new things, but also from the occasions to help the students realize the integral connections between each subject taught in school.

AUBREY NELSON

Science teacher, The Beech Hill School, Hopkinton



These students are better than business-school grads!

This year I will be teaching with Leslie Duford in the 6-4 cluster of Rundlett Middle School. We have been in contact all summer and are excited about getting back to school! Both of us have attended teacher workshops and have shared our new ideas for helping our students meet with success in all that they do at Rundlett Middle School.

During the first week, we will be giving all of our students “The Marshmallow Challenge.” This is a group team-building activity that focuses on the engineering design process. The students will work together to try to meet the challenge, which has been completed by CEOs, lawyers and many other professional groups. I cannot give details about the challenge, as that would give some students an advantage. But I can let you know that recent kindergarten graduates were much more successful than recent business school graduates! The goal for Leslie and me is to help the students understand that in order to find success in anything they do, they will need to learn the “Circle of Success” which will be our mantra and cluster theme this year: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve.

We are looking forward to meeting our new sixth-graders and having an awesome year!

BETSY S. HEATH

English language arts, social studies teacher, Rundlett Middle School, Concord



Seniors meeting seniors

I am always enthusiastic about starting a new school year, and this year is no exception. Every fall (or late summer) we teachers have a chance to begin again, introducing new ideas, materials and techniques and revamping old ones. This year I am especially excited about the “Seniors Meeting Seniors” poetry program some of our Brady seniors will be involved in at Horseshoe Pond Place Senior Center.

As the Bishop Brady representative to the Concord Reads Program committee, I am always looking for ways our students and the Brady community can become involved in and support Concord Reads’ activities. This year Concord Reads is celebrating the works of Pulitzer Prize winning poet and former U.S. Poet Laureate Maxine Kumin, who lives in Warner. In early September students in all of my classes will select several of Kumin’s poems to read and discuss. On Sept. 10 several of those Brady seniors will join Concord-area senior citizens for lunch and an afternoon of reading and sharing poems from Kumin’s Where I Live: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010. Both groups of “seniors” may also collaborate on writing some original poetry. This will be the first in this year’s Concord Read’s Series. I also look forward to developing an ongoing relationship between Bishop Brady’s Interact Club and the Concord Area Seniors programs at Horseshoe Pond Place.

BLITHE REED (DAMOUR)

12th grade English teacher and curriculum coordinator, Bishop Brady High School, Concord



The hemispheres collide!

At Bow High School, teaching 21st-century skills includes integrating the proverbial three R’s with the 4 C’s: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and community.

Our initiative during the 2013-14 school year is to develop an inter-disciplinary infrastructure based on the S.T.E.M. framework. This is the inter-linking of Science, Technology and Engineering using Mathematical elements for the baseline framework. This concept is driven by the notion that many modern-day challenges may be resolved by students who will graduate with a deeper understanding of the inter-relationships of these subjects. The main goal is to provide a framework for students that will translate into direct action. In other words, the ability to act upon challenges to find resolution.

The inclusion of the arts presents a new way of perceiving and processing information, which completes the holistic approach to problem solving. We can now change the acronym to S.T.E.A.M. Anticipating the results of teaching left-brain and right-brain skills simultaneously is exciting for all of us.

Beginning this month, teachers of the aforementioned disciplines will bring students together and provide them with a challenge to solve. The students will collectively and collaboratively engage in critical thinking, problem solving, collaborative analysis and creativity to reach resolution to the challenge presented. They will look at the inter-relationships of all the disciplines, apply knowledge learned separately and collectively to ultimately present their conclusions. Possibly several different conclusions – all viable, all applicable!

The collision of the two hemispheres creates a “whole” new world!

How exciting!

GRACE FREIJE

Art/humanities teacher, Bow High School