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NEF Continues to Support Interdisciplinary Learning at NHS with Help from Staples Foundation

NEF Continues to Support Interdisciplinary Learning at NHS
with Help from Staples Foundation
March 29, 2017

In its fifth and final year of funding from NEF, the Interdisciplinary Learning Initiative (ILI) is a
collaboration between NEF and Needham High School (NHS) intended to launch an
interdisciplinary model of teaching and learning at NHS. The cornerstone of this collaboration
was the development and implementation of the Greater Boston Project (GBP), a two-block
interdisciplinary class that combines instruction in English, History, and Statistics. The
collaboration has also seeded many smaller units of interdisciplinary learning (IL) programming,
such as Kinetic Sculpture and Art in the Dark.
An important piece of the collaboration has been funding a part-time IL Specialist position at
NHS dedicated to overseeing and supporting current IL projects, seeding new IL opportunities,
and promoting IL at NHS, throughout the district, and in the community. On February 28, the
School Committee voted to accept $36,000 in funding from NEF to support the IL Specialist
position for a second year.
The NEF gift is made up in part by a grant of $500 awarded to the NEF by Staples Foundation,
the private charitable arm of Staples, Inc., through a program called 2 Million & Change. With a
recommendation from Staples associate Jodi Fletcher, NEF was awarded funding in support of
its Interdisciplinary Learning Initiative (ILI).
“We were very pleased to be recognized by Ms. Fletcher,” said Jennifer Quinn, NEF
Co-president, “and we are grateful for the support of all the Needham area businesses and
families, including Staples Foundation, that helped to make this very large, multi-year
collaboration with NHS possible. Funding the innovative IL Specialist position will ensure that the
impact of the ILI remains broad and lasting.”

Large Grant Awarded

Virtual Reality Coming to High Rock

On January 17, 2017, the School Committee voted to accept $9,999 in funding for Google
Virtual Reality Expeditions Kits at High Rock School. The large grant follows a successful
pilot last year and will fund the purchase of virtual reality equipment, including 30 student
devices, 30 Mattel View-Masters, a teacher device and other supporting equipment. High
Rock will use them for a wide variety of purposes, including virtual reality tours of historic
sites, virtual trips to foreign countries for language immersion, and virtual tours of the
galaxy in science classes.

2016 Fall Grant Awards

Needham Education Foundation
Awards $40,718 in Fall Grants

November 16, 2016 – The Needham Education Foundation (NEF) announced the recipients of 12 grants
totaling $40,718 in the fall small grants cycle at the Needham School Committee meeting last night.
Three of the awards are for multi-school grants that will provide funding for a musician residency for
middle and high school string students, reader’s theatre props chests for High Rock and Pollard, and
professional development for K-12 math teachers and school administrators with Dr. Adrian Mims. Dr.
Mims is the national director of the Calculus Project, and his focus will be on narrowing the
achievement gap for students of color.  
Awarded grants also include:
– A series of workshops with young adult author, Tara Sullivan. These workshops at NHS will
encourage students to be global citizens.
–  E-Reader Tools for English Language Literacy to provide powerful comprehension tools for
English language learners at Pollard.
–  Mindfulness equipment at NHS to formalize the mindfulness meditation practice that is part of
the health curriculum.
– A Project VOICE performance, using spoken word poetry, for 8th graders at Pollard.
– Virtual Reality equipment that will provide high school students with the opportunity to
experience and create their own virtual reality environments and videos in the classroom. As a
viewer, students can manipulate an object or experience an environment, like visiting Machu
Picchu.
– Pollard Challenge Course, an adventure education-based challenge course to create dynamic
opportunities for developing resilience in students.
– Differentiating Math at Broadmeadow, which will provide kits for fourth-grade teachers to use to
differentiate learning during small group and independent instruction.
– Two “express grants” benefiting Broadmeadow and Newman which replicate a successful grant
at Eliot for Kore wobble stools.

The NEF is an independent, community-based, not-for-profit organization that raises funds for the
enrichment of public school children in Needham. Since 1990, the NEF has funded more than 650
grants, totaling over $2.6 million, to promote innovation and excellence in education. To learn more
about the Needham Education Foundation and how you can support it, please visit
www.nefneedham.org.

For more information contact:
Tina McHugh, Communications
Needham Education Foundation
tmchugh@nefneedham.org
781-974-2048

NEF Awards $44,351 in Spring Grants

May 11, 2016 – The Needham Education Foundation announced the recipients of 10 grants totaling $44,351 in the spring small grants cycle at the Needham School Committee meeting last night.  These include four (4) multi-school grants benefiting all five elementary schools, the largest of which provides math backpacks for all Needham kindergarten classrooms to build early math literacy around Common Core standards and facilitate math-related activities at home.

Awarded grants also include:

  • An interdisciplinary workshop for African American and Guitar classes at Needham High School (NHS) about the history of Blues with visiting Master Blues artist Toby Walker.
  • The transformation of the current technology lab at High Rock into a Creation Lab that will allow for stop motion and animation creation, green screen videos, audio recording and book creation.
  • A three-film series and panel discussions focused on the future of education and designed to promote family and community dialogue around educational innovation.
  • Number sense challenge kits for all elementary schools which enable individualized math enrichment at all grade levels.
  • Twenty-five (25) Lightbox interactive multimedia learning modules for K-5 students in all elementary schools, including modules on Four Seasons, Continents, Earth’s Water, Forces of Nature and Rock Science.
  • A summer book mailer program, which builds on a successful pilot, intended to prevent “summer slide” among struggling 3rd and 4th grade readers at Broadmeadow.
  • “A Study of Courage” ELA/Social Studies unit for Mitchell 5th graders, in which students study inspirational people who have demonstrated resiliency and which includes a visit from two lost boys of the Sudan as well as service-learning projects.
  • A school-wide book reading program for Newman teachers, administrators, parents and students focused on developing strategies and classroom activities for cultivating grit, supporting resiliency and learning from failure.
  • An “express” grant, which replicates successful grants at Mitchell, Hillside and Eliot, to build more culturally diverse classroom libraries at Newman Elementary and Needham Preschool.

The NEF is an independent, community-based, not-for-profit organization that raises funds for the enrichment of public school children in Needham. Since 1990, the NEF has funded more than 560 grants, totaling over $2.6 million, to promote innovation and excellence in education. To learn more about the Needham Education Foundation and how you can support it, please visit www.nefneedham.org.

 

For more information contact:

Tina McHugh, Communications

Needham Education Foundation

tmchugh@nefneedham.org

781-974-2048

Innovation Night at Needham High Celebrates NEF Partnership

Student projects showcase growing emphasis on interdisciplinary learning May 15, 2017 – On Wednesday, May 10, Needham High School (NHS) hosted Interdisciplinary Innovation Night, showcasing the work of over 700 high school students enrolled in 32 interdisciplinary classes and units of study. The evening also celebrated the conclusion of a successful 5-year partnership and collaboration between NHS and Needham Education Foundation (NEF), in which NEF invested more than $550,000 to launch interdisciplinary units of study at the high school.

Established in 2012, the partnership between NHS and NEF began with the creation of the Greater Boston Project (GBP), a class that integrates social studies, English and mathematics, and in which students use technology to build 21st century learning skills. The partnership grew to fund the Da Vinci Workshop, a lab space for hands-on learning and technological creativity; a two-year dedicated part-time Interdisciplinary Learning (IL) Specialist position at NHS; and four years of a “mini-grant” fund, which seeded many of the interdisciplinary units of study on display at Innovation Night.

While the high school’s formal collaboration with NEF is ending, the partnership established a model for interdisciplinary teaching and learning that will continue to grow both at Needham High School and throughout the district. The NEF will continue to support innovative interdisciplinary programs through its annual small and large grant programs.

“The funding by the NEF has allowed us to grow these programs at a much faster rate than the school would have made on its own,” said Jimmy Odierna, IL Specialist at NHS and one of three founding teachers of the GBP. “It is amazing to see the vast quantity, quality, and diverse types of work happening in the school. There is a lot of pride from both the faculty and students around the success we see tonight. These students are gaining skills and experiences that will better prepare them for the world ahead.”

Odierna organized the Interdisciplinary Innovation Night, which showcased the growing body of student work integrating history, engineering, art, and robotics, among other disciplines. These projects included:

  • Memory and Memorials Project – 10th grade history students utilize the Da Vinci Workshop and art studio to design and build memorials to key moments in history.
  • Kinetic Sculpture – Students in robotics and sculpture classes collaborate to build kinetic sculpture pieces.
  • Integrated Environmental Science – Through field study, students research local ecosystems and build functioning wind turbines out of
    everyday materials.

“The success of our collaboration cannot be reduced to numbers, but the numbers do give you an idea of how this big idea has grown ever larger,” said Jennifer Quinn, co-President of NEF in her opening remarks. “One two-block interdisciplinary class, 11 interdisciplinary units of study, 36 teachers now teaching interdisciplinary classes or units, over 100 teachers participating in professional development, more than 1,000 students impacted. And we are very excited that those numbers will continue to grow.”

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