From the Principal's Office: Daily Inspiration is the Norm

1/20/2014 12:00:00 AM
I'm not going to lie; New Milford High School is an amazing place to work.  We have fantastic students, supportive parents, a Technology Director that gets it, and a Central Office and Board of Education that provide us with the autonomy to take risks. With these elements in place the stage is set for innovation and the creation of a school culture that works for students in the digital age. Change does not happen when all of the gears are not working in concert. What more could a Principal and learner ask for in a place to work?

Makerspace at NMHS

You know what else I love? The fact that there is so much going on these days at NMHS that it is near impossible for me to know all of the great things taking place. This is where my incredible teachers come into play. Not only are they working extremely hard to adjust to the many new mandates enacted in NJ, but in the face of this adversity they have not departed from what makes NMHS a special place to teach and learn.  Instead of shying away from taking risks to improve professional practice, my teachers have readily embraced the autonomy they have been provided.  Not only are they innovative and consistently redefining teaching and learning at NMHS, but they readily share their great work on a routine basis. Below is a snapshot of some of their latest work with students:
  • Mr. Devereaux's AP Biology class used the apps iMotion HD and Stop Motion Studio to create stop-motion videos showing the process of meiosis. They used iMovie to put voice-overs into their videos to describe the process. 
  • Mr. Groff’s US history classes piloted Paperlet, a new educationally based technology platform where students create digital stories that incorporate various multimedia elements including video, sound, and image files. The students worked with Mrs. Fleming on new Google Chromebooks in the library to design their e-books. As part of the pilot program students made recommendations to Paperlet designers on needed changes and enhancements, which were immediately made to improve student experiences. 
  • Mrs. Chellani continues to search for new ways to make the learning environment more engaging and interactive for her students. In addition to playing a review game of jeopardy via the Smart Board in her Calculus classes, she decided to have students use an interactive whiteboard on their phones by downloading the sketchpad app. As opposed to final answers being submitted on paper, Mrs. Chellani had her students use the app to submit the final answers. The learning process was much more enjoyable for the students through the use of the game and much more relevant to them through the use of the phones
  • Students in Mrs. Groff’s Voices in Poetry and Prose classes have been reading independently since the beginning of the school year. They choose their own books to read based on their interests and reading levels. Students then worked with Mrs. Groff and Mrs. Fleming to create book trailers on their favorite books. Students will use WeVideo, Windows Movie Maker and other available technologies to create their videos. These trailers were then loaded onto an NMHS book trailer.
  • Mrs. Fleming provided opportunities for the students and staff (and the district) to participate in Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code. Students were invited into the media center to used the computer programming tool Scratch to create interactive holiday cards. In addition, Mrs. Fleming collaborated with Mrs. Haskill’s math class as they used coding to create various things including creating their own games.
This is but a small sample of what is happening at NMHS.  Each day I can start my morning off with a bang by stopping by our digital journalism class to see what The Lance is up to.  I count my blessings everyday that I work in a school where daily inspiration is the norm.

cross-posted on A Principal's Reflections

Eric Sheninger is a NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), winner of Learning Forward's Excellence in Professional Practice Award (2012) and co-author of Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals and What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science. He presents and speaks nationally to assist other school leaders in effectively using technology. His blog, A Principal's Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2011 by Edublogs.
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