Promoting Teaching & Learning @ NHS

Resources to Increase Capacity for Teaching & Learning

May 2016

This newsletter provides additional information and resources on the areas of focus that drive Needham High School's goals and professional development for the year. We believe attention to each of the following five areas provides the best learning environment for all of our students. Comments and feedback are welcome!

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Cultural Proficiency

American Denial

Our cultural proficiency work at the May faculty meeting will focus on a debriefing of the documentary American Denial. The resources below may help us all think about how this work can impact our personal and professional growth in this area, as well as keep everyone up-to-date on the ongoing work of the Culture & Climate Committee.

The Privilege of Blood Donation

On Friday, May 6, NHS will host a blood drive for the American Red Cross. As noted in the article below, gay men have been banned from donating blood for more than three decades. The ban is instituted by the FDA, and under public pressure in recent years from organizations like the National Gay Blood Drive (suggesting all who can donate should since some are excluded), as well as the American Red Cross itself, who have lobbied to change the regulations, they altered the language slightly in late 2015. Under the new guidelines though, many members of our school community will not be allowed to donate blood on May 6.

Resources from Your Colleagues

Many of you have found some terrific resources as we continue our Cultural Proficiency work. Here are a few that you've shared!
Why we need gender-neutral bathrooms | Ivan Coyote

Professional Development Opportunities

The summer IDEAS course offerings are now available for registration. See the link below for specific courses and dates. Please remember that these courses are free to all faculty members! Graduate credit is available for most offerings for a relatively small fee through Framingham State. Although the locations for these courses are not yet set, it is likely one or two will be offered here in Needham.

Signing Up for Courses
All of the courses should be listed on My Learning Plan soon. To register yourself for the course, you need to do two things: (1) Sign up on MLP and (2) email Ingrid Eppelsheimer <> at EDCO.

IDEAS Book Group

Our district's membership in the IDEAS program also means you are entitled to attend the IDEAS Book Group, which next meets at NHS on May 18th to discuss The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.

From "Named one of the most anticipated novels of the year by New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Publishers Weekly, The Huffington Post, and more. From New York Times and internationally bestselling author Isabel Allende, an exquisitely crafted love story and multigenerational epic that sweeps from San Francisco in the present-day to Poland and the United States during the Second World War."

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Technology & Innovation

Moving Toward 1:1

As we move closer to the district's 1:1 initiative coming to the high school in the fall of 2017, the Technology and Innovation Committee has been continuing its work of preparing for the future, including the following:

  • Assessment of 2015-2016 1:1 pilot programs in the Greater Boston Project and Sophomore Academy, as well as discussion of supporting these pilots in the 2016-2017 school year

  • Additional 1:1 pilot programs beginning in September of 2016

  • Continued "Tech Teasers" at faculty meetings and follow-up CPT

  • Expanded Tech Camp opportunities for staff with priority given to those involved in current and upcoming pilots

  • Development of documents to ease the transition from a traditional classroom to one that enhances digital learning

As always, if you have questions, comments, or feedback about any of this ongoing tech work, please see your department representative or speak to either of the committee chairs (Sam Bookston and Johnny Cole).

Technology Committee Meeting Minutes

Here are links to the minutes from the previous months' meetings. If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please reach out to someone on the tech committee or one of the chairs (Sam Bookston and Johnny Cole).

Additional Resources

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Interdisciplinary Learning

Interdisciplinary Learning Team News

For the April committee meeting session, the ILT joined forces with the Tech and Innovation and committee. During the meeting each team shared their mission and vision and then broke up into small heterogeneous groups. The groups discussed how the work of the two committees overlaps and identified action steps for the remainder of this year and next year. The following are some highlights and ideas that came out of the meeting:

  • Creating a website or digital file to share innovative and interdisciplinary resources (toolkit for teachers)

  • Consider developing interdisciplinary team SMART Goals

  • Continue and expand interdepartmental rounds - create a model for observing and analyzing teaching and learning

  • Define innovation as a school

  • Observe and collaborate with middle school around 1-to-1 and PBL model

  • Plan PD for staff

Check out the agenda and minutes from the joint meeting here.

ILT Mini-Grant Update

Friday, April 29, was the deadline to submit NEF Interdisciplinary Learning Mini-grant Proposals. We are thrilled that we received five proposals including the work of 15 NHS teachers. The ILT will review the proposals at our next meeting and a subcommittee, including an NEF representative, will make final funding decisions.

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Most Likely to Succeed Trailer

Most Likely To Succeed

Please see the message below from superintendent, Dan Gutekanst and consider attending the event:

“The entire faculty and staff is invited to view the acclaimed documentary, Most Likely to Succeed next Thursday afternoon, May 5th at 3:30 p.m. in the Newman auditorium.

I think it's a provocative film that affirms many of our values and practices and will also challenge us to think critically about our work with Needham's students. You may view a film trailer here. After the 75-80 minute screening, we will hold a brief conversation/discussion about the film. Snacks and refreshments will be available for all.”

Committee Minutes

For more information on the committee work in this area, check out this link to the ILT's running notes:

ILT Meeting Minutes

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Social Emotional Learning

SEL Resources

SEL Committee Work

The SEL group has been meeting as a district-wide committee to work to achieve K-12 vertical alignment of our district goals. The group's next step will be to align these goals with the forthcoming DESE SEL curriculum and review the state SEL standards report. If you have any questions or feedback for this group, please see our building representative Brad Walker.