While you were away...

As a parent, I know sometimes it is a struggle for students to have the day off during the week. However, I want to assure you that our teachers at Upper Campus were hard at work on Friday, learning new things to improve our student experience at Warren John F. Kennedy. I just wanted to take a minute to show you what was going on while your student was away!

Last March, after first being hired as the principal, I spoke to many of you at our Just For Kicks Live and Silent Auction. As an introduction to our "5-minute Tech Drill", asking for donations towards Chromebooks for our students, I told you how these devices can change the depth of student learning. Many thanks for your generous donations that put these devices into the hands of our students! Now it is MY turn to give you what I promised that night--a unique and positive student experience because of the addition of these devices. 

Half of the teachers' day was spent with a trainer from Nearpod, an interactive presentation and assessment tool. With Nearpod, the teacher presentation appears on the student device. The teacher can use one of over 4000 pre-made lessons (and edit them to be their own) or upload a presentation he or she created. Within the presentation, teachers can pose multiple choice questions, ask students to draw an answer, write short answer responses, or use "collaborate mode," where students can share their answers with each other. The teacher instantly collects feedback to gauge where their students are and adjust the pace or content of the lesson as needed.

Teachers in our Learning Center....LEARNING!
Nearpod also has Virtual Reality headsets and field trip lessons for every content! Smartphones can be used to log into the lesson and then put the phone inside the VR headset. The view changes as you move the headset around. This tool is not only REALLY cool, but it also supports our professional development plan for increasing student engagement. A lesson about congruent shapes becomes a trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa; a day spent on persuasive writing is a day spent on the surface of the moon; the lecture about the Boston Tea Party actually takes you to Boston Harbor. Want to try it out? Click here to see a Nearpod VR field trip to the rainforest. You don't need a VR headset to experience the field trip, but it does make the experience cooler!

Where in the World are Mr. Carrabbia, Mr. Catale, and Mr. Malcolm?
The other half of the day was spent with our book study related to increasing student engagement. I am a firm believer that we cannot TEACH until we have students' ATTENTION. As a teacher, I was known to put exclamations in my notes (about geology...I know, not everyone loves learning about rocks, but it is EXCITING to me!), jump on counters to talk about plate tectonics, sing songs (badly) about the energy from the Sun, and play competitive games to learn content terms. Our teachers at JFK are passionate about their content and passionate about the kids. I cannot tell you how full my heart is from hearing them share what they love about their class and their profession. As a mom, I ask, "what did you do at school today?" and my kids are still young enough that I get an answer. Those of you with students at the upper campus may hear "nothing" as a response. My hope is that your student is so engaged with the content, "nothing" isn't an answer. The teachers are learning new tools and strategies to make the topics like the French Revolution, William Shakespeare, and triangles as exciting to the STUDENTS as they are to the TEACHERS that are passionate about them.

Throughout the year, we will be continuing with student engagement with a focus on educational technology integration. Time not spent educating our students is being spent learning to benefit our students. Our academic excellence is growing by leaps and bounds by offering an environment rich in educational technology that promotes understanding of our core curriculum; providing innovative and relevant electives; and most importantly, teachers who make their classes captivating for all students.

Until next time,
Mrs. Alyse Consiglio


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