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Friday, April 19, 2019

Robotics in the Middle School

Learning how to code - and understand the relationship between software and hardware. This is where Digital connects with Analog!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Science Knight Work in the Maker Space

Students are spending days working in the Maker Space using every tool from the Glowforge (Laser Cutter) to old fashioned hand drills ... Come and visit next week to see the final results! Measure twice, cut once.  Also a good example of a lamp designed and cut on the laser cutter.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Using the Cricut Vinyl Cutter

Upper School art teacher Nicole Stone offered a workshop during ecobash to help students create vinyl stickers for their reusable water bottles. A lot of water bottles look alike, so she thought students might enjoy the chance to personalize them with a sticker.

Ms. Stone went to a workshop at MIT last fall that helped her learn how to use the vinyl cutter. This one is a "cricut" model, and can cut a variety of materials. The computer interface is very user-friendly.


Middle School math teacher Camilla Lau brought the Scratch programming interface into her curriculum this year by way of a launch grant. Following a unit on polynomials, her students created games in scratch to quiz a user to find two integers when given their sum and product. Here Ms. Lau is explaining her launch grant process to colleagues, which is part of the format of the grant.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

English Meets Maker

Our English classes have been reading "A Raisin in the Sun." To better project the work being done, the students are creating visual collages of dreams as they imagine the characters. To support this the English classes have come to the Maker Space (MS2) to sort and cut up old Life magazines and National Geographics from the 1940's and 1950s ... very collaborative. We will highlight the final work in the next post.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

MS Students Making Puzzles

Puzzles ... with the laser cutter students are able to make their own puzzles. This one details statements about autism. It was created from scratch by a 7th grader.

Ceramics Students Making Stencils

From the new Glowforge laser cutter to soap dish in no time! We design patterns on the computer, but them with the laser cutter and then make clay objects ...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

US French Students Create Audio Gallery Using Vocaroo

When Upper School French teachers C├ęcile Roucher-Greenberg and Candie Sanderson began outlining plans for the museum gallery of French artists that their AP class puts together each year, they were hoping to find a twist to enhance the project.
"Candie was terrific and found 'Vocaroo,' a website that let students record their voice, save it on the internet, and use a QR code for others to listen to with any cell phone QR reader app," Roucher-Ggreenberg explains.
The result was an audio-guide to comment on the various French arts displayed in the two teachers' classrooms.

"Each student chose a piece of art, recorded a comment/analysis, printed the QR code and brought it to class along with a print/reproduction of the chosen art."
Students from all French levels enjoyed the experience, roaming the classroom "galerie," scanning the QR codes, and experiencing a peer-led exposition of the art via their phones or mobile devices. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

MS Pasta and Marshmallow Challenge

One of the more popular design challenges is how to build a "structure" out of pasta (spaghetti) and marshmallows. The students are given 5 minutes to do the work after consulting as a team. They only get 5 marshmallows each. This is often done competitively in small teams. Many marshmallows somehow disappear! Great project for collaboration and a willingness to experiement.

MS Students Using iMovie for Science Classes

Middle School students have created a series of  news shorts using iMovie. What is interesting about this project, new this year, is that it is almost 80% about writing and creating a storyboard and script. The tech comes in at the end to pull it together and make it exciting. This keeps the students excited and helps those who learn differently and way to engage as never before.

MS Students Use Virtual Reality to Inspire Poetry

Students spend 5 minutes in VR using a 3D drawing tools called "Tilt Brush." Then they get a copy of the artwork they created, then immediately write a poem/story about their experience. At the end of the day the reflection is more important than the experience.

Friday, February 8, 2019

US Sophomores Create Podcasts in English Class

Ms. Bonsey's students created a new podcast on where they have posted a series of podcasts that discuss the books they've read.  You can see all the episodes here (to listen to it through a web browser), or you can download the free Anchor app to listen to it on your phone.

Here are a few of the episodes:

Show Notes: 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

MS Students Use Padlet for Brainstorming

Librarian Wendy Wunder used Padlet to have 8th grade English students brainstorm about their story projects. She said, "I used Padlet as a platform for a week-long class on Brainstorming the 10-Page Short story. Padlet is so accessible and flexible that it enabled the students to easily share their thoughts and ideas. As 'digital natives,' they were very comfortable beginning their creative process using this digital tool. Using Padlet broke down some barriers to accessing their creativity. They jumped right to it. It was wonderfully collaborative. The other students and I could give them feedback on their ideas. It also supported multimedia, in that they could post photos, videos, songs, links and any media that could inspire their stories. The could shuffle their notes and paragraphs around to help them with structure. It could be a great platform to use in research papers as well. Each 'post' could replace a traditional note card...citations can link right back to online sources etc."

Here are links to a couple of their brainstorm padlets...

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

US Film Students Draw With Light

Upper School students in Mr. Gaines film & video course recently produced a series of still images in which they used shutter speed effects and Adobe software to draw with light. These images are currently on display as large prints in the hallway adjacent to the theater...

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Live Streaming Dr. Price's Entry Report

Thanks to the Communications Office, BB&N has started streaming important school events. On November 8th, Head of School Jennifer Price took to the stage on the Upper School Theater to share a detailed report of her extensive, four-month entry process. This event was live streamed to allow anyone to watch the proceedings in real time.
Dr. Price detailed the wide-ranging data flowing out of her entry process (survey and meetings) and highlighted for the audience the strengths and opportunities that have emerged from her findings.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Old Technology in the MS MakerSpace

Our new Middle School technology integrationist, Bill Castell, has brought some interesting "antiques" into the makerspace for students to experience...

Student 1: "I think you put your finger in the hole and twist it."
Student 2: "This phone is sooooo heavy."

Friday, October 12, 2018

BB&N Faculty & Staff EdCamp is Well Received

On October 9th the faculty and staff participated in an "EdCamp" which is a participant-driven model of professional development. Members of the faculty and staff offered a variety of sessions for colleagues to attend. The tech department hosted several sessions including this one on fun favorite apps, and others on project-based learning and virtual reality.

There were also sessions on meditation, woodworking, clay, and even a drum circle hosted by BB&N's own Greg Fernandes.

This was the third time that this style of professional development was run at BB&N, following on the heels of edcamps run in 2015 and 2016. The survey data continues to indicate widespread satisfaction with this choice-based, participant-driven approach to PD.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

6th Graders Create Novel Displays

Ms. Huff's sixth grade students were challenged in small groups to create a way to display important parts of the novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie. Each group took their own path on this challenge to bring to life an aspect of the novel. Students used the Design Thinking Process to generate an idea and guide them through the creation stages. They used various materials and tools available in the LS MakerSpace, ranging from hot glue guns, pom-poms, LED lights, laser etched images, and the 3D printer.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Kindergartners Build EcoSonic Playground

Ever since 1999, Lower School music teacher Sara Zur had been dreaming of creating a musical play space for kids that would open their imaginations and foster a love of music. During travels in England and Israel, Zur had witnessed sound installations and melodic play areas, including a junkyard in Israel that transformed everyday waste objects into a learning opportunities for children.

“There was something about playing with everyday objects that seemed to make kids be extra musical,” Zur says. “There is a collaborative element, and a stretching of the imagination that can’t be duplicated with regular instruments.”
Made from recycled materials, an EcoSonic playground is essentially a large, unique, music-making structure intended to promote collaborative play. Building one includes a curriculum component for elementary schools to teach students STEM skills through lessons in acoustics, physics, engineering, and design as they work with educators to build the structures themselves.
Zur, who holds a doctorate in musical play, quickly contacted her colleague Elissa Johnson-Green, a music professor at Umass Lowell, who heads up an EcoSonic team comprised of professors and graduate students. Over the course of the year, the EcoSonic team and Zur met regularly with the kindergartners to design and implement the play space. This didn’t just involve the nuts and bolts of putting the playground together.
The students studied sound vibrations in Carol Fine’s science class, and tested different materials with Lower School technology integration and makerspace mentor Mickey Hardt. They drew up designs in their homeroom, and, of course, they studied music proper with Zur.
Finally, this spring, the project came together when the musical playground was unveiled during the last week of school. PVC pipes, an old vacuum cleaner hose, a bike tire, and countless other everyday objects had been pulled together to create BB&N’s EcoSonic playground.
“There is this drumming thing, and there is a tube that you can listen to like a headphone, and you can hear everything, except the sound is smaller,” explains kindergartener Ryan McCullough excitedly. “But designing it was even more fun than playing it, because when you are designing it, you get to play with more people.”
The final result has been an EcoSonic playground that sounds at turns beautiful, cacophonous, and vibrant—but above all else, fun!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Ceramic Artist Students Wikis

In the 8th-grade ceramics courses, students contributed in creating an artist's wiki based on an individual ceramic artist of their choice. Each wiki page included a title page, biography, about the artist’s art and style, about them as a teacher and a video about the artist. This combined project became a classroom resource for students to learn about famous ceramic artists.

EZ Sound with Coil Pots in 7th Grade

In the 7th-grade ceramics course, the final project ‘Music Meets Large Coil Pots,’ students created a pot or sculpture based on their favorite songs. We enhanced the project by adding an Arduino sound module to play the song which the artwork is based upon. Students recorded their chosen songs and created expressive cards stating why they chose their songs and how they illustrated them through their artwork.

Friday, May 18, 2018

MS Drama Video Chats with School in Tanzania

For their second video chat with the school in Tanzania, students performed skits, asked questions, and sang their respective national anthems...

MS Drama Video Chat with Tanzanian School from BB&N School on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Faculty Hub For Academic Support

Our goal in creating a Power School Page/Site entitled Faculty Hub For Academic Support was to create a central location for faculty to access information related to Academic Support Services. By using technology and asynchronous learning, we wanted to facilitate faculty engagement that might otherwise not happen. We wanted to create a resource that faculty could come to on their own time, as needed and when it worked for their schedule. We set out to provide resources regarding learning and development, diverse learning styles and approaches to respond to a range of learners.

The Launch Grant project included the generation and curation of information about terms, strategies, current research, relevant websites and TED talks. It also served as a central location to post useful documents and materials, such as how to interpret ERB scores. In addition, we have generated podcasts and screencasts on particular subject areas which faculty can listen to when the timing works for them. So far we have developed a podcast on Working Memory and a screencast on interpreting ERB test results. We hope to create a podcast about ADHD and its presentation in girls this spring/summer. The time needed to develop the podcasts was significant as we had to learn the technology and generate content and script on the topics. That said, we have learned a lot to now be able to more efficiently create future podcasts.

We expect the site to provide faculty greater access to support materials, to create a common understanding and shared language around learning and support, and to better coordinate efforts in addressing student needs.

Jamie Wallace
Monika Wilkinson
Learning Specialists

Friday, April 13, 2018

Stress Reduction Launch Grant

The launch grant this year supported me to think creatively about how I share stress-reduction, mindfulness-based interventions with kids at the MS. I thought about how I could incorporate elements of arts & crafts, science, technology, - using the Maker Space, the MS campus location, etc.

I piloted this by designing a monthly drop-in "Wellness Wednesday" for kids to test-run, create, explore different dimensions of stress-reduction, mindfulness, etc. We launched with the idea of random acts of kindness and how they create big blips of pleasant feelings even indirectly. Kids designed and decorated 'kindness stones' that they then placed around the campus for people to view, move and even take with them. 

Another month we expanded on positive feelings by viewing a video experiment on the connection between gratitude and happiness and then, in a slightly devious way, having them do the experiment themselves and see the impact on their own ratings of happiness. We also looked at physiological aspects of stress that sparked curiosity and some creations. For example, we tried experiments that tracked body temperature and the connection with feeling stress and tracked it. 

We explored the connection between tiredness and desire for more sleep which resulted in creating weighted, scented eye pillows. Other explorations continue to look at tech/science ways to track physiological markers of potential stress and crafts to ameliorate it, - for example, by universal demand, we will create the highly scientific, evidence-based stress reducer called, in layman terms, slime.

Stefanie Haug, MS Counselor

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Assessment in the Language Classroom

There are many topics within a language class that need repetition in order to achieve mastery. This repetition is and should be a part of the learning process. However, often it is logistically difficult to give a student instantaneous feedback in order for them to adjust as they learn rather than practicing independently via homework or in a group setting in class, both of which often lead to natural missteps and a necessary unlearning and relearning later, hopefully in time for a test!

My grant project aims to improve upon this situation by increasing instances of immediate and useful feedback. The website ProProfs allows a teacher to make “assessments” for both “practice mode” and “exam mode”. In “practice mode” there are many settings that allow for question-specific feedback, and the chance for a student to try again. In both modes, the website keeps track of many valuable statistics both as class averages and per student, per question and for the whole “assessment”. For example, it provides information such as the time taken to complete a question or an “assessment” and the questions answered correctly and incorrectly; it provides the answer itself so that a teacher can also see how a student went awry. It also gives the student immediate feedback: their grade, which questions were answered incorrectly, and the correct answers for those questions.

If a teacher chooses the appropriate setting, the student has the chance to try the “assessment” again. The teacher also has additional capabilities such as giving certain “assessments” a password, or setting an expiration time, or allowing only a certain amount of time for an “assessment”. In addition to providing valuable and instantaneous feedback to a student that is class specific because it is all written by the teacher, this tool also ultimately gives the teacher more time to prepare other class materials.

Since the website auto-corrects, a teacher can spend less time grading and more time preparing other materials or helping students one-on-one. This website also has the ability to incorporate media, such as audio and video, thus giving more potential for broadening types of practice and test questions.

Lourdes Fernandez , MS World Languages Chair

Monday, April 9, 2018

Dr. Baum's Launch Grant Video Library

Dr. Baum used a launch grant to create a lecture video library for one of her upper level courses. Her videos of foundational knowledge serve as a resource for students.

Here is a brief video she made describing this process:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Building Lamps in 7th Grade English

In English class the focus and priority is always reading and writing. It is important, however, to engage students in multiple methods of exploration and multiple ways to express understanding. Our “Choice Read Unit” provides the perfect opportunity to experiment with different modes of this exploration and expression. All students choose their own novel, so the challenge is to create a project that both honors the individual texts and unifies the class in creating something together.

This year students build lamps. The lamp shade has four sides, each depicting plot points and themes from the student’s novel. The class spent four days in the maker space constructing the bases and then decorating their shades using a wonderful wide range of materials, including decorative paper, paint, glitter, marker, googly eyes, etc. The students then wrote comprehensive “artist statements” that explain their novels and the creative choices they made in their lamp design. They are displayed in the LLC.

Betsy Canday
English Department Chair

Made with Padlet

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Springtime in the MS Makerspace

Our Middle School Makerspace is clearly a multi-purpose resource, not just for circuits!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Technology at the Middle School

From the bbns website, March 12, 2018
Technology at the Middle School

MS science teacher Amy Carey with students
in the Maker Space.

Tushar, William, Daniel, and Harrison walk into the Maker Space in the Carriage House. The last bell of the academic day has rung. It's mud week, so there are no sports this afternoon, and these eighth-grade boys have signed up to do a bit of computer design. Svetlana Grinshpan, Middle School Technology Specialist, and Amy Carey, Middle School Science Teacher, are waiting for them. Carey asks, "So you want to do some Raspberry Pi stuff? Have you ever done it before?"
None of the boys have worked with Raspberry Pi, but Harrison offers, "I've done stuff with Scratch, but not this."
One whole wall of the Maker Space is taken over by the Gardening Elective group's seedling trays and grow lights. On the far wall are shelves with bins containing every crafty item imaginable, including pipe cleaners, glue sticks, felt, glitter, paint, markers, and of course, googly eyes. At one large table, Carey is finishing setting up the materials and projecting instructions for building with the Rasberry Pi computer kit. At the other large table, Grinshpan has set up the materials to make light-up greeting cards, just in case any of the boys want to take a break from their work with the computer. 
The Maker Space exists as both a physical space and as an idea. As a physical space, it has a central location and currently holds a variety of tools, craft supplies, beads, electronics, a 3-D printer, sewing machines, and others. As an idea, "maker" creates endless opportunities for creativity and problem solving, and promotes Design Thinking Mindset for the entire school.
The Maker Space is one of the Technology Department's latest initiatives, and it fits into the larger context of the philosophy of technology in the classroom at the Middle School. Demetri Orlando, Director of Information Technology at BB&N, is clear about technology's role as a support for student learning in the classroom. Rather than technology as an end in itself (and a distraction of bells and whistles), Orlando says, "We want student technology to be available for seamless use whenever and wherever it advances teachers' instructional goals. Under the direction of a skilled teacher, technology tools greatly expand the repertoire of what students can be asked to do. It supports basic educational processes such as researching, writing, and communication."
Since the Middle School officially became a one-one (laptop) school in 2017, all students certainly enjoy an easier transition between work at school and work at home. Just as technology opens pathways to student discovery, it also opens pathways of connection between teachers and students. All teachers have a PowerSchool webpage for each of their classes. These web pages are a hub of communication for assignments, supporting materials, showcases of student work, student-to-student support, teacher feedback on student assignments, and more. 
Grinshpan, who joined the Middle school faculty in 2009, has worked closely with every department. She has, in fact, helped nearly every individual teacher to see the possible ways technology can enhance their teaching and further their goals for their students.  Her comfort with her role as Technology Specialist, natural curiosity about all subjects, love of students, and patience with teachers has made her an integral part of the Middle School teaching team. Bill Rogers, head of the Middle School history department, sees that her support has revolutionized the way they approach the history curriculum.
"Svetlana comes to nearly all our history meetings and has been responsible for probably three quarters of what we do with tech. Her ideas of how to extend and improve projects have been key to our work. I do not exaggerate when I say she is the most important change in our Middle School staff in 20 years! She has knowledge, creativity, communications, and dedication." 
Indeed, the history department has made profound revisions to their pedagogy and finds that technology is now an integral tool to their teaching. Students benefit. Rogers lists some of the innovations the department has initiated with the help of Grinshpan: "First, technology has influenced curriculum design. Students now blog for our websites. They create virtual trips, websites, wikispaces, and newscasts. Second, technology has allowed more drafts and easy manipulation of essay teaching, both central to history courses. Third, it has allowed more in-class access to information and short video examples for enrichment. Fourth, it allows teachers to communicate and students to submit work when they are missing school. Fifth, it allows students access to the whole history section when they have questions at home. Sixth, we can project anything important instantly to the whole class." Sasha Bergman, ceramics teacher, also sees that technology enhances her teaching. "I meet almost weekly with Svetlana to continuously push the edges of what is possible for technology to contribute to my ceramics classroom. She seems to constantly have her hands and mind involved in new possible ideas that she brings to me to try out."

Middle School Technology Specialist Svetlana Grinshpan.

All departments benefit from Grinshpan's expertise and innovative contributions. She is always looking for new ways to engage faculty in their own professional development by introducing tools and workshops that increase teacher skills. "Demetri and I share the same philosophy," Grinshpan says. "The best uses of technology in education are when it amplifies a student centered, project-based, constructivist approach to learning. I am very excited about the technology related curricular work MS faculty have been doing over the last couple years. A few summers ago, a group of MS teachers participated in RISD's Art & Tech conference, and another group spent a week exploring the concept of design thinking at NUVU Innovation School in Cambridge. An interesting focus of the faculty's work has been exploring the new approach to learning known as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). It is an interdisciplinary method aimed at helping students develop vital transferrable skills and learning across subjects, through experimentation, trial and error, and creativity. I love the projects that come out of this interdisciplinary approach to learning because they exemplify that the world is complex and messy. Problems cannot always be solved through knowledge of chemistry or physics alone. Integrating coding, electronics, 3D modeling into Arts adds new dimensions to students' expression and understanding."
The use of technology in the classroom will remain integral for the foreseeable future, and the available tools are constantly evolving. Orlando is forward-thinking about next steps and next phases about how it can enhance student learning. He says, "A one-to-one learning environment levels the playing field for all of our students. The Middle School faculty has spent significant time thinking about how students should take best advantage of digital tools and resources while building a positive culture of use. The role of technology is still the same. Technology supports learning, but the availability and reliability has significantly increased, allowing for more sophisticated and fluid use of these tools."
Meanwhile in the Maker Space, the boys settle into their stools at the table. Carey shows them some of the materials and helps them brainstorm a plan. "This is an old monitor we've taken apart. Here's the converter. We'll need a joy stick. Look at the screen to see how they explain the wiring over there, and next steps." Grinshpan crosses the Maker Space to sit with the students in order to observe as they get to work and, if they need it, to lend a hand.
Tushar checks out the projected instructions. "I'd be into that."
Check out the below links for some examples of technology in the classroom in the Middle School:
(Written by Betsy Canaday, MS English department.)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Launch Grant: The Bible and Bookmaking Technology

Upper School teacher Zoe Balaconis did an interesting launch grant with her Sophomore English class:

In Sophomore year, students are required to read excerpts from The Hebrew Bible so that they gain a foundational understanding of a canonical text. While The Bible is exciting for literary and religious reasons, the language often fails to hook students' imaginations and they lose out on the historical weight of the document itself. I plan to use the Tech Launch Grant to create a unit exploring the ancient technology of our first books and compare it to modern technological advances. Not only would we be able to visit the Harvard Library's copy of the Gutenberg Bible, but we'd compare that printing technology to other cultures' oldest texts. Furthermore, we'd be able to use laser-cutting technology to create letterpress blocks to print our own original texts. It is my hope that this more experiential exploration of the physical nature of books will give students more of an appreciation of the trajectory—both from the past and forward in time—of the written word.

 In addition to reading The Hebrew Bible, the Sophomores delved into the history of printing, translating, and disseminating the text—but didn't stop at a survey of its historical timeline. With the expert guidance of Ms. Tangusso and Dr. Patel, groups of students chose passages they wanted to try their hand at mass producing, and, using a variety of printing methods, set about to putting them on paper. Some experimented with letterpress while others made stamps while others researched digital font design. At the end of our unit we had a more interdisciplinary understanding not only of the text's significance, but also the significance of the technology it galvanized. The way that we consume media continues to evolve, and it was eye-opening to examine and attempt to recreate a moment of that story.