Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Instructional Upgrade

With the first month of the school year in the books, I am extremely pleased with how more staff members are embracing educational technology and effectively integrating a variety of tools into instruction.   At New Milford High School we clearly articulate that technology is a powerful tool. Together, with a sound pedagogical foundation, these dynamic 21st Century tools have the ability to assist in transforming learning environments where students are engaged and excited to learn. Here are some highlights from the past month:

Image credit: http://www.custom-build-computers.com/Upgrading-CPU.html
  • Students in Ms. Perna’s US History I course worked on developing a colonial road trip project this month. Students were to develop a trip that someone could take today to explore colonial history through one of the three colonial regions. Students created detailed trip itineraries, after conducting research, and used Google Docs to put together their itineraries. After completing itineraries, they created visual representations of their trips to “sell” it to their peers, and then in class, students set up their trips for a “fair” in which they walked around and viewed other students’ trips. Students enjoyed the project and made colonial history come alive!
  • Since the start of the school year, technology has been a huge part of Mr. Fiscina’s lessons. Each day students are greeted by the interactive SMART board. The students in Geometry honors have learned how to use the board’s construction tools. They now can come up to the board and use the compass, ruler, and protractor (all within the SMART notebook software) to construct different Geometric relationships. Students from Algebra 1B and Elements of Geometry have used Poll Everywhere in order to answer multiple choice questions. A live chart, showing results from the classroom, is posted on the SMART board during this question and answer time. Students can see how they are doing compared to the rest of the class and Mr. Fiscina can assess the class as a whole. Also, in the beginning of the month, Mr. Fiscina used a program called Jing in order to help a student with a problem. Jing is a program where you can select part of your screen to be recorded and make a short film featuring picture and sound. Mr. Fiscina used Jing and the SMART notebook software to make a short video instructing the student on how to use the problem. Mr. Fiscina plans to post videos throughout the year in order to help with difficult problems. The biggest complaint students normally have with math is that they understand the problems in class, do fine with the work in class, but when they go home they have no idea how to do their work anymore. Now with Jing, they can bring Mr. Fiscina home with them in order to help study.
  • One of Mrs. Chellani’s goals at NMHS is to infuse technology into daily math instruction to make the learning process more interactive, engaging, and relevant for students. She has employed a variety of methods in order to accomplish this goal. A recent initiative has been integrating a Smart Board interactive game at the beginning of each class to review key mathematical concepts taught in prior lessons. This initiative not only acts as a cumulative review on previous material, but it creates an engaging, student-centered learning environment and serves as an alternate means to individually assess the learning of each student.
  • Mr. Hawkins has been developing a website for his math classes. This was developed for students to get extra practice on their studies in a variety of ways. It includes random problem generators, solver pages, and videos.
  • Mrs. Morel has been having her art classes utilize their students’ smart phones to look up definitions to art terms, which are shared in class, and design images to further stimulate and influence students’ creativity. The students are excited to share their findings with one another and, if they find images they desire to use as references, they can print them using the computer and printer in the art studio.
  • The World Language Department at New Milford High School has recently gained access to Voki Classroom, a website in which students create their own avatars (graphical representation of the user), and use them to improve oral communication in the target language.  The World Language teachers are currently collaborating and working on different lesson plans using Voki Classroom and plan to implement them within the next month.
  • Mrs. Levy has been creating websites for her courses using Google Sites.  The main website is used for all activities, classes, and communication.  The two websites Mrs. Levy created just for her classes are: U.S. History I - This website allows students to find out what homework is assigned, provides all handouts given in class, lists dates for projects and tests and allows students to submit their homework online via form to Mrs. Levy’s Dropbox. It also enables students to take online polls.  Each week in our newsletter section, Mrs. Levy brags about the superstars of that week who really stood out in class and they get a phone call home too.  World History - This website allows students to find out what homework is assigned, provides all handouts given in class, provides dates for projects and tests and allows students to submit their homework online via forms to Mrs. Levy’s Dropbox.  It also enables students to take online polls.   Each week in the newsletter section, Mrs Levy brags about the superstars of that week who really stood out in class and they receive a phone call home for additional reinforcement.
These dedicated teachers have made a point to upgrade their instruction this year with 21st Century tools, many of which are free, to facilitate authentic learning.  It is an exciting time to be at NMHS to witness this transformation.  The end result, engaged students excited to learn.  How is your school transforming the teaching and learning process?


  1. Inspiring post, Eric! I passed it along to some administrators at my school and posed the question "Could we write a similar update for what is going on in our classrooms?" I am hopeful that we could and that we will! Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. Really, 21st century gadgets and tools are educator's partners that must be used well inside the classroom. In the process, the students do not only learn the curriculum content, they also learn about the correct and proper use of these educational technologies. I wish I could also share this kind of thinking to my fellow teachers, even though Ed-Tech is not the norm in our place.