Student Agency at HWRHS

Today I wandered into an English classroom that was being run by the students. This particular group was reading The House on Mango Street and learning about social advantage and disadvantage.

The class was divided in half as two different sets of student teachers planned activities for the rest of the students. The first activity was set up in the classroom and the second was in the hallway.

The classroom activity was a twist on the marshmallow and toothpick tower challenge. Initially, there were four groups of students. Each student group was given unlimited mini marshmallows and toothpicks along with the directions to build the tallest tower that would hold up a ball for 5 seconds. There’s where the issues started. What type of ball? Big, small, heavy, light, no one knew and the teachers weren’t telling.

As the lesson went on, some of the students were given some advantages, larger marshmallows, longer sticks and tape. Others were not given any advantage beyond the original toothpicks and mini marshmallows. After the 10 minute time limit, some students were given ping pong balls and others tennis balls to balance on top of their structures. After a few seconds, a winner was declared followed by a planned discussion that was used to determine how people who had advantages felt vs the groups that had limited or no advantage.

The second group in the hallway was given a video with a set of questions to answer. Some had the video and questions in English and others had the video in English and the questions in another language and some had a combination of English and a different language and a few others had it all in another language.

Two different activities planned by students, designed to help students to understand the how people who are at a disadvantage feels when they are surrounded by others that have certain advantages. The point was clearly made and the students were fully active, interested and engaged in the activity and the discussion. What a great way to start the day!

HWRHS End Distracted Driving Presentation

This morning our students were part of a distracted driving presentation by the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers and the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation.  The presentation was interesting and informative.  There are also some scary statistics related to distracted driving.  I found these on the End Distracted Driving website:

  • 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6% from 2015 (data not yet available for 2017) NHTSA
  • 10% of fatal crashes and 15% of injury crashes in 2015 were distraction-affected. NHTSA . (The NSC estimates that cell phone related crashes alone accounted for  27%  of 2015 car crashes – let alone other distractions)
  • In 2015, there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated additional 391,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers NHTSA
  • The fatal crash rate for teens is 3 times greater than for drivers age 20 and over (IIHS), with driver distraction responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes AAA Foundation

As an adult watching the presentation, I found it most fascinating when one of our students said, my dad gets mad at me when I tell him not to drive distracted.  WOW!  I initially didn’t really think the presentation related to me as an adult.  I quickly realized that distracted driving pertains to ALL OF US.  A point made clear by today’s presentation.

While some of the videos were a little corny, they actually made some strong points that kids understood.  I thought this one made the biggest impact.   After watching the video, the presenter asked, “Why wouldn’t you text during a game?”  Student answer, “You have to stay focused on the game.”  Presenter:  “Why wouldn’t you want to be focused when you are driving?”  SILENCE.  Point made.

Tomorrow, we will meet as a school in the same book groups we met with at the beginning of the year.  This will allow all of us to take part in the discussion while reinforcing some of the important points of the presentation.  If you would like more information, check out the End Distracted Driving website.

Thank you to HWRHS Student Government for bringing this presentation to HW!

 

 

Reimagining school…a HW journey.

Since the start of the school year Cutler Elementary Principal, Jen Clifford and I have been talking about ways to help our teachers to look more closely at learning while also thinking about the questions, What is Learning? and What does deep and powerful learning look like?

During the last six weeks, teachers from the HS and Cutler Elementary have been visiting each other’s classes to see how learning is approached at each level.  In the last couple of weeks, the MS has also jumped in with us.  During these visits, we walk through various classrooms and observe, keeping the two main questions in mind while also staying open to new ways we could apply what we experience.

Usually, the elementary and high school levels are thought not to have much in common, but during their visits, our teachers have been able to identify ways in which they can “borrow” or adjust a practice to help them to design better learning opportunities.  Elementary practices like using the walls to support or visualize learning have been starting to appear on HS classroom walls.  Small group remediation/support and removing desks from the classroom have also been ways teachers have tried to reimagine how kids learn in their classes.

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A HS Biology classroom.

As we continue on our learning journey, fifteen teachers at the HS are participating in a book group to discuss the book Timeless Learning.  Each Monday afternoon we meet to discuss two chapters of the book.  The discussions have been lively and have also pushed us to challenge our current thinking about ways kids learn.

Think about a learning opportunity that has stuck with you.  Why does it stick?  Was it because you were sitting in rows in class or because a bell rang every 45 minutes?  I would guess it was authentic, you had some level of agency, you were interested in the topic, and you wanted to learn more about the topic?  How do we make those same connections for kids so that learning sticks and they want to learn more?

 

HWRHS 2018-19 FALL Championship Season Updates – UPDATE (11/2/18 – 10:00 AM)

HW Boy’s Soccer (7-6-3) has earned the #14 seed in the upcoming Division IV North State Tournament.  The General’s will host #19 Stoneham in Preliminary Round action.  There has been a time, day and location change for this game.  The game will now be played at Triton Regional High School on Saturday, November 3rd at 3:00 PM.  There will be free admission to the contest.

Congratulations to HW Volleyball on their 3-0 victory over Madison Park last night in the MIAA Division II Preliminary Round at HWRHS.  With the win, the Generals will travel to Lynnfield High School to face the Pioneers in the next round on Saturday, November 3rd at 4:00 PM.  Ticket Prices will be $7 for Adults and $5 for Students / Seniors.

Congratulations to HW Football (6-2) on their 21-0 victory over Austin Preparatory School this past weekend in the MIAA Division VI North Quarterfinal Round.  With the win, the Generals advance to the North Semi-Finals against #3 Northeast Regional on Saturday, November 3rd at 2:00 PM.  There has been a location change for this game.  The game will now be played at Manchester-Essex Regional High School.  Kick-off remains at 2:00 PM and there will be free admission to the contest.

HW Girl’s Soccer (8-4-4) has earned the #9 seed in the upcoming Division III North State Tournament.  The General’s will travel to Lynnfield High School to face the 8th seeded Pioneers in 1st Round action on Friday, November 2nd at 3:45 PM.  Ticket Prices will be $7 for Adults and $5 for Students / Seniors. 

Congratulations to HW Cheer and Girl’s Cross Country.  Both teams won CAL Sportsmanship Awards at their respective league events yesterday!

Tournament season approaching fast for the Generals!

2018-19 FALL Championship Season Updates (10/22/18)

HW Golf (14-0, CAL Champs) takes part in the MIAA Division III North Sectional Championships on Monday, October 22nd at Far Corners Golf Course in Boxford.  Tee Time is set for 9:00 AM.

HW Boy’s & Girl’s Cross Country will compete in the CAL Championships on Saturday, October 27th at Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, MA.  Races are scheduled to begin at 9:00 AM.  The HW Girl’s Cross Country team has already earned the Regular Season CAL Title.

HW Football (5-2, 3-0) has earned the #2 Seed in the Division VI North State Tournament.  They will host #7 Austin Preparatory School in the Quarterfinal Round on Saturday, October 27th at 1:30 at HWRHS.  Game Day details and information will be posted later this week to this space on the website.  The Generals have earned at least a share of the CAL Title for the second year in a row.

Details re: Girl’s Soccer and Volleyball have all qualified for the State Tournament.  Details will be announced in the middle of next week for those programs.