Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snow Days Don't Stop Digital Learning at #NMHS

The now annual Digital Learning Day was set for Wednesday February 5, 2014. The only problem was that no one told the weather gods this.  As a result, the Northeast was once again hit with a huge winter storm, which came on the heels of one earlier in the week that dumped over 8 inches of snow.  This monstrosity brought more sleet and ice, which necessitated yet another day off from school.  

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Many of my teachers had specific activities planned for Digital Learning Day. Most schools and educators that suffered the same fate as us were probably demoralized by the fact that all of their planning was for naught.  This certainly was not the case for us at NMHS. Why might you ask? The answer is simple. For the past couple of years every day is treated as Digital Learning Day as we have moved to create a teaching and learning culture rich in authentic activities where students are engaged and take ownership of their learning. Below is a rundown of activities that were planned.  I have changed everything to the past tense, as there is no doubt in my mind that my teachers will follow through with these activities.  It is just what we do at NMHS.

  • All students in Mrs. Chellani's Calculus, Pre-Calculus, and Algebra I courses viewed videos, utilized interactive apps on their cell phones, and employed the Socrative app on their cell phones to learn the content, understand its real-world applications, and foster and engage in class discussion.
  • Ms. Chowdhury's students had been learning science mostly through taking notes and memorizing formulas while she was on maternity leave. In order for her students to start learning through the inquiry method starting from the middle of the school year, she needed to re-teach some concepts more effectively. She found a game website developed by a Rutgers University physics education program graduate called The Universe and More.  This website has amazing games that summarize most of the kinematics unit. Students often are not willing to learn the same concept twice thinking that they already know it. These games on the website are fun and challenging, and the students really have to understand kinematics in order to improve levels. Every next level is locked until they can pass the previous level. Some students may be inclined to guess to complete a level, but after a couple levels of guessing they will find a pattern to the guessing, which is really the goal of the game. This will help set the background knowledge for students to learn the next concepts of momentum, energy, electrostatics, etc.
  • The Lance held (or will hold) the first ever live twitter chat party. Jelani Rogers wrote an article about the unique ways that students are inviting dates to prom ("promposals"). She posted a request using a specific twitter hashtag asking all NMHS students to tweet us their promposal pics along with a 140 character story of how it all went down. Responses are going to be incorporated into her article next week as a slideshow. 
  • Mrs. Fleming collaborated with numerous NMHS teachers.  Dr. Asa-Awuku and the engineering class worked on creating innovative inventions using the Makey-Makey kits we have in our Makerspace.  Mrs. Beiner and her students went to the media center to work on molecular gastronomy. They learned how to follow a digital recipe and then later in the week will be making their own digital recipes. Mr. Groff and his students used Mozilla Thimble and HTML and CSS coding to create vintage historical newspapers. Mrs. Collentine's class used TwitterMagnets to create original, creative sonnets.
  • In Mrs. Vicari's Computer Apps and Business Strategy classes she showed students how to create a website using
  • Numerous students always have the opportunity to work on IOCS projects and their virtual courses.
So what did you do on Digital Learning Day 2014? More importantly, how have you embedded digital learning consistently into your school culture so that every day students are engaged in authentic tasks and are empowered to take ownership of their learning?


  1. Great overview of ongoing activities in your school! I appreciated your point about the sustained commitment to learning and collaborating online. When we integrate our lives online within our school community and embed the tools within a culture of learning, we enable students to continue growth regardless of time, place or weather. Well done!

  2. Well, I believe in the saying that it is "good to learn more things everyday, never stop learning new things". Anyway, thanks for sharing this Digital Learning Day, hope I can also join there some other time. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Technology is continuing to grow in our school systems. I feel strongly students have to be more engaged in the learning process and not just an audience. One new technology just launched to middle and high schools is Virtual Microscopy "Virtual Microscope" PetroArc International just launched this technology into middle and high schools. It addresses the challenges teachers and students have faced for a long time, working with microscopes in a classroom. These technologies allow students to participate rather than look at a projection screen. Learn more: if you like this spread the word!