Promoting Teaching & Learning @ NHS

Resources to Increase Capacity for Teaching & Learning

February 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

Chinese New Year is February 8


​Please join us to celebrate 2016 Chinese New Year on February 27, 2016, at the Needham High School Auditorium. This year, ​we're honored to invite Chinese Folk Art Workshop to perform for us Lion Dance, Dragon Dance, Chinese Drum, Chinese Yoyo, and Chinese Folk Art Dances. There are also chances to learn how to make interesting Chinese arts and crafts. Below is a video of the Chinese Folk Art Workshop's work:

The Chinese Folk Art Workshop | High Fly 2015

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!



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 here at NHS on March 2nd to discuss The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs.

Culture & Climate Committee Work

To better update everyone on the ongoing work of the Culture and Climate Committee, we'll try to include the minutes from recent meetings in this space. Please take a look and touch base with your department representative for more information, or speak with co-chairs Steve Plasko and Shakur Abdal-Khallaq.


January CCC Minutes

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Technology & Innovation

Last month, two teachers had the opportunity to visit High Rock to see how their 1:1 iPad program is going in its second year, as well as to prepare for the pilots running at the high school. Here are some key points one teacher came away with:


Helpful Hints:

  • iPads/laptops are just another tool - Think about what you want the kids to do, rather than what application or website you want to use. Does it make sense to do this task digitally?

  • Students generally bring their iPads charged - they want to use them!

  • Must always have a hard copy of activity available (device is broken, wireless is too slow, student has concussion, student prefers paper/pencil for a specific task)

  • Easy access to printing is essential

  • Need loaner devices readily available in case a student’s laptop needs to be sent for repair

  • Have a plan for how kids will organize their work electronically - teach a specific way to title documents, set up and teach how to maintain a file system, etc.

  • Distractibility can be a significant issue for kids with ADHD


Some ways iPads were used during our visit:

  • Checking homework via Socrative

  • Notability (apparently EverNote works similarly on a laptop)

  • MyHomework

  • On-line textbook

  • Readings, videos accessed on teacher blog

  • Students listening to online text

  • Complete templates set up on Google Docs

  • Complete a worksheet

  • Circle/highlight text

  • Color and label a map

  • Graphing

  • Enrichment activity (Khan Academy) for early finishers

  • Lessons, reference materials, readings, videos, etc. posted prior to class

Technology Committee Meeting Minutes

Moving forward, we will try to regularly share the minutes from our monthly meetings in this space. Here are links to the minutes from the previous two 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).


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Interdisciplinary Learning

On Monday, January 25th, NHS hosted Innovation Night, a celebration and showcase of innovative teaching and learning at Needham High. During the event, parents explored displays and multi-media exhibits and interacted with student/teacher representatives from every department. One parent shared the following feedback about the night, “I think Innovation Night was an excellent idea and very informative. I know there was a lot of interest in this event. I'd definitely do it again. Parents really want to know about what's happening.”


The Interdisciplinary Learning Team is proud to announce that the NEF has, once again, generously awarded funding for the Interdisciplinary Learning Initiative. On January 26th, the NEF approved ILI funding in the amount of $48,019 for the 2016-2017 school year. The funding will be divided between the two grants listed below:


  1. Interdisciplinary Learning (IL) Fund: $16,019 - which will continue to fund current IL mini-grants and provide $10,000 to fund new mini-grants ideas.

  2. Interdisciplinary Learning (IL) Specialist: $32,000- which will fund a part-time position at the high school that will include the following job responsibilities:

  • Support and grow IL projects for a broad and lasting impact on student learning at Needham High School.

    Facilitate current and future IL projects-
    Provide support and resources for already-established IL programs at NHS (eg. Greater Boston Project, Kinetic Sculpture, Art in the Dark, Interdisciplinary Math, Studio Physics and Chem, Stats and Infographics, Integrating Engineering into Environmental Science): allocate funds from NEF and school, review reflections from participants, answer questions and troubleshoot issues, provide professional development and resources, attend teacher meetings, and observe classroom initiatives.

    Coordinate NEF grant process and creation of new initiatives-
    Explain and promote opportunities for IL grants to NHS staff, using breakfast meetings and workshops to encourage interested participants. Provide support for idea and grant development in the writing phase. Facilitate review and selection of grant recipients.

  • Develop and provide professional development and resources to staff and community members to promote best practices of IL pedagogy.

    Engage and instruct NHS teachers on IL philosophy and practice-
    Create interdisciplinary professional development for summer courses (graduate credit / PDPs) and Common Planning Time, supplemented by a universally accessible website with materials; coordinate NHS teachers to run their own PD sessions for other staff members.

    Host informational/educational events- Plan, organize, and facilitate school-wide events to promote IL, featuring teachers and students of current programs and special presentations or guest speakers.

  • Engage in regular meetings with teachers, administrators, and community members to promote the success and sustainability of IL initiatives.

    Co-chair Interdisciplinary Learning Team (ILT)- Schedule and plan agenda items, record minutes and follow up with action items, and contact members with news and reminders. Work with NEF leaders to communicate and execute the NEF mission in all IL programming.

    Coach teachers on IL instruction and learning strategies- During preparatory periods and before/after school, arrange meetings with teachers and project groups to provide instruction and support in facilitating IL initiatives. Visit classrooms and/or co-teach lessons with teachers to help introduce or promote IL techniques and approaches. Provide feedback to teachers on their own projects and lessons, as well as create and share projects and lessons as resources for all teachers.

  • Collaborate with technology and media specialists- Hold regular meetings to discuss and align common goals and generate collaborative programming, such as school-wide digital citizenship education; establish a concrete link to the NHS Technology & Innovation Committee.


Stay tuned for additional information about the mini-grant process and timeline.

Interdisciplinary Learning Team Minutes

As noted in other areas of this newsletter, we will try to regularly provide links to the minutes of the standing committee work in this area. Here is the link to the ILT's running notes:


ILT Meeting Minutes

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Social Emotional Learning

The following resources may be helpful in shaping the ways Social Emotional Learning can influence your work with students!

Social and emotional learning: Trish Shaffer at TEDxUniversityofNevada
The Heart-Brain Connection: The Neuroscience of Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning

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School Safety

The following article from last month's issue of Boston Magazine discusses the importance of this work.