High Rock Creation Lab
- May 31, 2017
Last spring the NEF approved a small grant written by Erin Mack, High Rock’s Technology Integration Specialist (see above), to transform the technology lab into a Creation Lab. We had a chance to sit in on a class in the Creation Lab in March, where everything that Ms. Mack envisioned in her grant application has come to life in her classroom. Where there were once rows of computers facing a whiteboard, there are now lively work spaces defined with colorful rugs, furniture and dividers. During our visit, some students were recording in front of a green screen with plans of dropping in backgrounds suitable to their project. At one grouping of computers, two students were creating a poster together, while another group lay on the floor filming a stop motion film using their iPads, an iPad stand, and a whiteboard. Erin never sat down while we were there – she moved from group to group and answered questions, gave instructions and ideas, and challenged students to think of new ways to accomplish their tasks. In her grant application, Erin wrote, “Imagine a room where teachers can be the facilitator and students have the autonomy to create, collaborate, and learn at different paces, showcasing their learning in various ways. The possibilities for differentiation and creativity are extensive.” Kudos to Erin on a well-conceived grant and accomplishing her vision with the High Rock Creation Lab.
Reaction from staff and students has been very positive, too!
“(I liked) the options available for students to have a choice in their final project for my course. There were designated spaces for kids to work in small groups or individually. All materials were available to help them be successful.” – HR Teacher
“I liked that you could be super creative with the stop motion.”- HR Student
Kindergarten Math Backpacks
- March 29, 2017
A student and his sibling using materials found within the math backpacks
In Spring 2016, NEF funded a $12,000 multi-school grant for math backpacks in every kindergarten classroom across all five elementary schools. With three backpacks per classroom, students take home math-related activities they can do with their families.
Elaine McKenna, grant writer and Hillside/Eliot math coach explains the program, “The kindergarten math backpacks are a great home school connection where the students are completing math activities, playing math games, and are introduced to math literature. The math concepts are aligned with Massachusetts State Frameworks but are introduced and practiced in a fun and engaging way.”
Backpacks contain a journal for students to record their experience with the backpack, which includes books, interactive games and manipulatives. Teachersreport that their students are enthusiastic about the program, “The kids really enjoy using the math backpacks. They come to school excited to tell me that they played the games with their families.” And in the words of several students,
- “I learned how to count by tens.”
- “The books are my favorite!”
Blues Guitar Player Visits Needham High
- January 20, 2017
Toby Walker, Master Blues Artist, teaching NHS students how to play blues style music
NEF was proud to award the “Blues in the Schools” grant to Needham High School to fund a visit from Toby Walker (pictured), a Master Blues Artist and member of the NY Blues Hall of Fame. He provided an engaging presentation to the African American Studies classes that follows the history of blues from slavery, emancipation, and beyond. He also shared his personal narrative of how he came to acquire his knowledge journeying through the south. He also worked with guitar classes to teach them how to play blues style music, including rhythms and picking techniques.
See the article that appeared in the Hometown Weekly.