Summer of Learning Series #2 – What are the Contexts of Modern Learning?

In June I gave a graduation speech that briefly outlined some of the changes that are happening, related to the 4th Industrial Revolution, that our students may experience as they travel through their lives.

In the speech I wrote:

I believe it is a time that is destined to make your future lives dramatically different because of the accelerated integration of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, The Internet of Things, Robotics, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, and even Quantum Computing.  As these new innovations work in unison to make our lives easier, our homes smarter, our currency digital, our cars driverless, and our data more accessible I urge you to remember that these technologies can also widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

I wonder how often educators think of these modern contexts and the ways that we can prepare our students to live within them? This morning, I read a fascinating report, “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Learning, Teaching and Education” that I would guess most educators would never read. According to the author, ” Many current learning practices address the needs of an industrial society that is currently being transformed”. (Tuomi, p. 29) Are schools and school personnel having conversations about this transformation? Who would start the conversation and how would the results be synthesized into current learning opportunities? Who will be the first to integrate AI fully into their classroom? School? Can AI negate the need for a classroom? a school?

As I explore these technical contexts, I wonder what other contexts should be included in my thinking. Surely there are rapidly changing social-emotional contexts. Today, our students come to us with a plethora of issues that fall within the social emotional spectrum while also often interfering with school.

According to the website,

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Teachers, students, parents and administrators need to commit to working within these social contexts to help students to navigate the sometimes seemingly impossible, so they can function at acceptable levels while at school.

At our school, we have integrated our guidance team within our wellness classes. A guidance counselor and a wellness teacher work together to help students to navigate current social emotional issues as they relate to the lives, including ways learning can be impacted.

I’m sure I am missing some of the modern contexts as they apply to learning. Please feel free to let me know what your thoughts are and if you think I missed anything, zip me an email.


Summer of Learning Series #1 – Learning about Learning

Today is the Summer Solstice and I thought it was as good a day as any to start my summer learning. This summer I will be participating in a number of learning opportunities that are directly connected to the strategic work we are doing within the district.

Over the next 8 weeks, several administrators will be running book groups for our teachers. Each of the books was chosen based on our discussions at the leadership team meetings about reimagining education. Ultimately we are working towards our why, meeting the needs of all learners by reimagining schools. It is exciting to note that more that half of the district staff is taking part in these book groups. The books are:

  1. What School Could Be – Ted Dintersmith
  2. Building School 2.0 – How to create the schools we need – Chris Lehmann & Zac Chase
  3. Timeless Learning: How imagination, Observation and zero based thinking changed schools – Ira Socol, Pam Moran, Chad Ratcliff
  4. In Search of Deeper Learning – The Quest to Remake the American High School. – Jal Mehta, Sarah Fine

I have read the Timeless Learning book and encourage anyone interested in education to read it. I, along with my colleague, Jen Clifford (Principal of the Culter Elementary), will be running the What School Could Be book group with over 50 educators form our district. We will begin exploring 3 questions with our group:

  1. What holds your school back from innovating?
  2. Are these factors simply obstacles, or absolute barriers?
  3. How can you mitigate these factors?

Along with the book groups, many of our Leadership Team members are enrolled in the Modern Learners Change School. This is an 8 week online course designed to provoke and open your mind to what is possible in education. The course begins by setting the contexts for modern learning , helping you to think about what you believe about learning and ultimately bringing you to develop your own answer to the big question: What is Learning?

I hope to be able to let everyone in on my explorations and ultimately the shaping of my own beliefs about learning in our school. I invite you to come along for the journey and hope that this public space will keep me consistently sharing all that I will be engaged with throughout the summer!

HWRHS Generals at National History Day

Our students and Ms. Borges are back from National History Day. For the first time in HWRHS history every project placed in the top ten.

3rd place Individual Website We Have Dared to be Free: The Forgotten Haitian Revolution Nora Sullivan Horner 
3rd place Group Exhibit Triumph and TragedyTriangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: The Tragedy that Sparked Triumphant Reform
Addy Flanagan, Maddie Rostad, Rosie Safford
7th place Group Documentary Tearing Them Apart: The Tragic Conflict of Boston Busing Charlene Fibbe, Grant Landon, Chloe Ting

Lots of people helped make this possible-
A huge thank you to the entire Social Studies department for the time spent providing feedback and guidance to these students as they refined their argument and presentation.  
Thank you to all of the current teachers of these students for your support in helping them manage their final exams which took place during competition week. The timing of NHD is not great and on behalf of the entire department we appreciate your flexibility.
Finally, thank you to all of the teachers who had these students along the way.  Nearly 3,000 students compete in this week long event . These students gather from all fifty states, Washington DC, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and international schools in China, Korea, and South Asia. Their accomplishment is a testament to the quality education they have received as HWRSD students. 

HWRHS State Tournament Update

State Tournament Update: (June 7th)

Congratulations to HW Boy’s Tennis (CAL Champs, 15-2) on their 3-2 win over Ipswich in the Quarterfinal Round of the Division III North Sectional on Thursday at Gordon College. With the win, the Generals advance to the Semi-Final Round and face Amesbury on Monday, June 10th at Gordon College at 3:30.    

Congratulations to HW Baseball (CAL Co-Champs, 14-7) on their 10-0 win over Mystic Valley in the First Round of the Division IV North Sectional on Thursday at Patton Park.  With the win, the Generals advance to the Quarterfinal Round and face Snowden on Monday June 10th at Jim Rice Field in Boston (1999 Ball Street) at 4:00.

Superintendents Report to the School Committee, 3.27.19


Kindergarten Registration

Kindergarten Registration will be held at the HWRSD District Offices, 5 School St., Wenham on Monday April 1st through Friday April 5th from 9:00 AM to noon.  Additionally, registrations will be taken from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM on Wednesday, April 6th.  Registration information and the required forms are available on the District Website. (

League of Women Voters’ Candidates Night

The Hamilton-Wenham League of Women Voters will host its annual Candidates’ Night on Wednesday, April 3rd at 7:00 PM in the Multipurpose Room at the Buker Elementary School.  Come by a hear from the candidates who are up for election on April 11th.

Program on Vaping at HWRHS

The New Look of Nicotine Addiction:  Vaping and e-cigarettes Discussion for Parents” will be presented on April 2, 2019 at the HWRHS Library at 7:00 PM. …

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