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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Makey Makey Learns a New Language!

In the 7th Grade Science classroom students designed an interactive object using a MakeyMakey kit. Students were asked to create different locations on the object, where by touching will complete a circuit and produce distinct sentences in the language they are currently studying at the Middle School. 

Made with Padlet

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Digital Literacy for Digital Natives

Do young people need to learn digital literacy? Young people after all are facile with devices and technology. Where is the necessity with digital literacy? This article draws a necessary distinction between facility with social media skills and digital literacy. The author, Clifford L. Green of writes: "
Social media skills are vastly different than digital literacy skills such as proficiency in keyboarding, spreadsheets, database, and word processing. These are basic skills necessary for success, and unfortunately those that are sorely lacking. Schools increasingly report the lack of these skills is creating a barrier to student academic performance ...Read More

3Doodle in the 8th Grade Art and Tech Class

In the 8th Grade Stephanie Moon's Art and Tech Class students are exploring 3D Printing Pen and are giving an Art Challenge to design a 3-dimensional "drawing" that communicates a personal and social message to the viewer through the use one of the following concepts:
  • merging multiple images to create symbolic meaning
  • words as visual forms to communicate meaning
  • a close examination to make us more aware of something

Made with Padlet

Use of Padlet at the Middle School

Padlet is a virtual wall, it works like an online sheet of paper where students and teachers can put any content (e.g. images, videos, documents, text) anywhere on the page and from any device. Key features include customizing the wall and the background; choosing how the posts appear on the wall; setting up privacy settings

At the MS teachers use Padlet in Advisory as a way of getting feedback about various units. For example, here is the teacher feedback on 7th Grade Orientation 2016-2017

Students in Sasha's Bergmann Dinnerware and Wheel classes uploaded their photos and inspiring quotes to the class Padlets Dinnerware Hump Mold Set Project and Wheel: Cylinder Project

More Ideas for using Padlet in the Classroom:
  • Use it as a portfolio to share with parents. Snap pictures of student work and share them.
  • Have students sort pictures on Padlet to classify them 
  • Use it as a class back channel and have discussions on it.
  • Have students work a problem, and snap a picture of how they worked it.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

6th Graders Share & Provide Feedback on Their Scratch Challenge

2nd Grade Robot Day

Using Scratch and Legos, 2nd graders design, build and program their own robotic creations.

Prototyping Phase - 4th graders design think their own generator.

Algebra 2 Class Uses Online Tool to Visualize Equations

Upper School math students use old-school blue/red 3D glasses to see GeoGebra in 3D. GeoGebra is a dynamic mathematic manipulation application that allows students to visually explore geometry, algebra, spreadsheets, graphing, statistics and calculus equations. Here's a photo of Christine Oulton's Algebra 2 class using the 3d glasses:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

What is Gerrymandering and who was Gerry?

On NPR’s Fresh Air program: Understanding Congressional Gerrymandering, author David Daley discussed this key question:

"When President Obama won re-election in 2012 and a Democratic tide gave the party a big majority in the Senate, why did the House of Representatives remain firmly in Republican hands? The result was even more striking since voters cast 1.3 million more ballots for Democratic House candidates than Republican ones".

Building off of a National Council of Teachers of Mathematics lesson, students in Randi Currier's 8th Grade Math class discovered a major factor behind the House of Representatives’ incongruous outcome: Gerrymandering.

They masterfully led a discussion about the brilliant Republican strategy, operation RedMap, following the 2010 census. Using the architectural software SketchandCalc, students calculated ratios to objectively evaluate the likelihood that a district had been gerrymandered. They learned the layout of their own Congressional district, how districts are often manipulated, the effect of technology on re-districting, and various relevant analytical ratios. 

Randi Currier's most valuable take aways from the lesson: "Exemplars for us all, they thrived on data-driven, respectful, productive discussions around a hot political topic".

 If you see one of them, ask them who Gerry was!

Gerrymandering Scoring PDF

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

MS D.I.Y. Zone is Now Open for Students

The new D.I.Y Zone at the Middle School is now open for students use. D.I.Y. Zone (Design Inspiring Youth) is a program designed to encourage our middle school students to design, create, and innovate using a variety of tools in our new Makerspace.

This promotional video was created by Kelley Schultheis. Kelley is a MS science teacher. Kelley is also helping with setting up and coordinating all maker space activities at the MS

Interactive Digital Displays at the Middle School

Middle School campus has 3 Interactive Digital Display Boards. We are excited about the new ways of sharing updates, announcements and projects with our community. To create these great looking, dynamic and interactive digital displays we use a web based management tool, Rise Vision.

MS Digital Displays:
  • Terrace Level - general information, schedule, announcements, updates
  • 1st Floor 7th Grade Foyer - September & October presentations
    • Wellness Collaborative Week with Will Slotnick 
    • Banned Books by LLC 
    • Arts for Social Change Elective : Save the Turtles by Guerilla Artists 
    • Andrea Pinkney, Visiting Author by LLC
  • 2nd Floor 8th Grade Foyer - an opportunity to "display" / share current/past work/project: 
    • Arts (Quarterly)
    • Winterfest (December) 
    • Film night (January) 
    • Festival Play (end of April, May) 
    • Spring Concert (May) 
    • Musical (May) 
The morning of October 31st MS digital screens were haunted!  ....  I love remixing scratch programs. In Halloween spirit, I remixed A Song for Halloween. I've added backdrops of the MS images to create a haunted ghost effect in the school!

Full length quicktime played on all the screens

Halloween breakfast sponsored by MS parents 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sound Art Installation Community Project

Roundware app
During three weeks in October, students in Stephanie's Moon Art & Technology elective class at the Middle School worked with visiting artist Halsey Burgund to create a local installation of audio art, "4 Corners & 4 Questions." You can experience this virtual installation on our Middle School campus! Just download the Roundware app from the iTunes store; then when you are on campus, click on LISTEN or click on SPEAK if you would like to participate in answering any of the 4 prompts. Enjoy the experience!

This exploratory project enabled students to learn about the concept of sound art, and to be introduced to the work of Halsey Burgund who is a sound artist in the Boston area exploring the richness of sound as an art form and combining this medium with technological tools to create installation experiences. He works with several institutions including Harvard University, the Museum of Science in Boston, Miami Art Week, and the MIT Media Lab, to name a few. He has also programmed his own phone app (Roundware) which enables the audience to both contribute their voices to the work as well as to experience it. Here are a few other samples of Halsey's work:

At BB&N, the Art and Tech class was introduced to Halsey’s Artistic Process:
  1. Brainstorming a Theme 
  2. Selecting Music, Voices, Ambient Noise 
    1. collecting/creating sounds 
    2. editing sounds 
    3. creating ambient layer 
  3. Assembling the sound booth to collect student voices 
  4. Using Roundware (

The 4 Corners & 4 Questions are now part of the MS grounds virtual installation:
  1. Laughter - Try to make me laugh, tell a joke (as you enter the school) 
  2. Song - Sing a part of your favorite song (by the new sports shed) 
  3. Encouragement/motivation - Say something to makes someone's day better (in the back by the science building) 
  4. Venting - What's bugging you? (on the way to the carriage house)

Collecting the sounds using sound booth on the MS campus

Testing installation with Halsey

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

BB&N's Open House ~ 10/29/16

Students, parents, and teachers share our school with prospective families.,.

Friday, October 28, 2016

MS English Launch Grant Project - Year 2

Middle School teacher Betsy Canaday did a launch grant during the 2015-2016 school year to explore ways technology can help students understand the complexity of the characterization in one of the novels within the curriculum. This novel, The Outsiders, is a story about high schoolers in the 50's. Ms. Canaday wanted students to explore physical and emotional characterization in today's tech setting, using social media and online communication. Her original project blog post is here.

I asked Betsy to reflect on her experience doing The Outsiders project again this year " The Outsiders project was even better the second year. The modification of using Google Doc to create the page template was much easier. It made for a seamless way for students to share with each other and me. I was really pleased that Zoe and Ethan joined in to do this project, too. They reported that it went really well - tons of fun for the kids. Next thing we need to focus on is how to improve the writing portion of the project. Below are the published flipbook projects"

Interactive Pumpkin Display in Middle School Library

Every Friday approximately twenty four students get together for lunch at the Library Learning Commons. They are the students in the Middle School Literary Club. They talk about favorite books, play trivia games, talk about movies and read during lunch.  They also share treats for dessert. Sometimes they also create media projects like the one below. In this interactive Halloween Pumpkin display studnets used Make Makey to create an interactive audio experience. They recorded scary passages from the books. A quick video below captures the feel of this exhibit!


7th grade Country Research Project

Second session of the Library Learning Commons Information Literacy Curriculum corresponds to beginning of country research project for the 7th graders. During the library classes students are introduced to the  Latin American Research Page and all the digital and print resources available for their project.  

In class they have an opportunity to learn:
  • how to access and use the MS library website and catalog
  • how to cite sources properly
  • review Academic Honesty Policy and copyright law
  • watch: how not to plagiarism video and copyright tutorial
  • build a bibliography using Easybib including the following resources:
  1. print source (
  2. website using webpath express
  3. online (electronic) database article

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Museum of Science Field Trip

Early in October, 7th grade students & advisors went on a new field trip to the Museum of Science, a new initiative funded through the Urban Connections Grants program and lead by Kelley Schultheis, MS Science Teacher and Gus Means, MS Math Teacher. The goal of this grant is to develop science understanding while also building community, both within the Middle School and between the three campuses. Field trips to the museum are the first step to allow students to work with their homerooms and develop problem-solving and collaborative skills.

Here is the short video created by Ms. Schultheis, an overview of the trip we showed the students before the field trip of what they would do at the museum:

Klikaklu - Scavenger and treasure Hunt app can be downloaded from the iTunes store

Middle School GPS Haiku Site

For the last two years the "Middle School GPS" Haiku site has become a fundamental way by which Middle School faculty share information and organize faculty resources at the school. All MS teachers are able to create and update any page on the GPS site. A short list of things you can find out using GPS site:
  • Important logistical updates for the week 
  • Upcoming faculty meetings 
  • MS admission visitors 
  • Reminders/looking ahead 
  • Schedules and duties 
  • Important Forms and Links 
  • PD opportunities 

Here is a short video featuring Beth Brooks, MS Librarian using MS GPS

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Podcasting Blog Post

Podcasts are becoming popular. From Sports to fashion there are podcasts on practically most topics. Students here are creating their podcasts. Here are the 3 main steps to creating a podcast.

Krina Patel
Upper School Technology Integration Mentor
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School
80 Gerry's Landing Road
Cambridge, MA 02138

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Going Paper-Free as Grade Dean

The following are the launch grant goals from Miles Billings, MS 7th Grade Dean:
  • Find ways to consolidate all 7th student data into neat, organized, searchable files for faculty (and advisors) to access at all times. 
  • Let this pilot of data consolidation serve as a model for other grade deans to adapt and adopt overtime. 
  • Delineate those data between what is to be public and what is to be confidential, establish more clear policy around that. 
  • Make all parent call sheets (filled out three-four times per year on handwritten paper) to be completed online and paper-free within the same individual student files. This project is big enough that it may require a two year pilot on my end to make it all work. 
Since becoming 7th Grade Dean in 2011-2012, I have sought to be as organized as possible given my yearly charge of over 80 students. Paper organization has never been a strong suit of mine yet I have reluctantly accumulated shelves full of three ring binders over the last ten years at BB&N. I realized that the most efficient way to capture all of these student data, and to keep it organized and easy to sort through, would be to go paperless as Grade Dean. Not an easy task and would also require the help of our entire Middle School faculty.

Our investment in Google Apps has made this possible but, the ultimate goal of complete paperless-ness is yet to be obtained. I would say I am 90% of the way there. Here is what we have transferred from paper to electronic over the years:
  • All incoming student notes from the Lower School and admissions 
  • All matching of students to advisors and homerooms 
  • All current student notes, updated throughout the year, in the form of a commonly shared Google Sheet which is then passed on to the 8th grade team at the end of the year. 
  • All parent communication data from advisors to home 
  • All faculty meeting notes and presentations regarding current students 
  • All academic grades and comments 
  • All Weekly Reports assigned to particular students by the Student Support Team 
  • All Middle School mix faculty chaperone sign ups 

Many of these listed items are not all my doing. Most, in fact, require the help and support of at least part of, if not the whole, Middle School faculty. There are still a few items which I am attempting to address this academic year, and again need the support of certain key members within the faculty. These are:
  • 7th grade detention write ups: done on Google Form by student, submitted online 
  • Club and after school program rosters, consolidated and easily accessed by faculty 
The final truly old school paper-based tradition in the Middle School are the advisor slips, given to students who break certain school rules. There are 4 pieces of paper generated with each issued slip. These individual pieces of paper go to various people, including the student. This system could be turned paperless but I think that goal is a few years away.

In the end, going paperless gives me peace of mind that knowing that I can easily find documents from this year, or years past, and can easily share and collaborate on student data with the whole Middle School faculty.

Miles Billings
History Teacher
7th Grade Dean

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Middle School Classroom 212

Laptops at Upper School

Upper School students using laptops in class...

BB&N's Upper School's approach to computer ownership is currently an optional "Bring Your Own Device" model; in other words, students may bring any type of computer or tablet to school and get on our WiFi. In this classroom it appears that most students use Mac laptops.

In September of 2016 BB&N's Middle School adopted a requirement for 7th grade students to own Mac laptops. As this ownership requirement reaches Upper School we expect to continue allowing any type of computer OS in Upper School (Mac, Windows, Linux, etc.), so long as it can accomplish a baseline of capabilities to be defined by the Upper School faculty (e.g. run Microsoft Office, Google Apps, and a basic video editing program.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

TIM Team

BB&N is lucky to have a "Technology Integration Mentor" for the faculty at each campus. This position is tasked with supporting and coaching the faculty as they integrate technology applications within the curriculum.

Svetlana Grinshpan (MS), Joesph Heitzman (LS), Krina Patel (US)

Friday, September 23, 2016

MS English Launch Grant Project - Publishing Using FlipSnack

Middle School teacher Betsy Canaday did a launch grant during the 2015-2016 school year to explore ways technology can help students understand the complexity of the characterization in one of the novels within the curriculum. This novel, The Outsiders, is a story about high schoolers in the 50's. Ms. Canaday wanted students to explore physical and emotional characterization in today's tech setting, using social media and online communication. Her write-up of this project follows...

In Middle School English we are always looking for new ways to help students to connect with the reading.  A favorite book in our English curriculum is The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.  The book, as many of you will remember, has a rich character list of high school students who clash and connect according to their class status, the Greasers and Socs.  Inspired and helped by Svetlana Grinshpan, we developed an end-of-unit project, The Yearbook.   We first looked at archived Browne and Nichols and Buckingham yearbooks from the fifties, which was great fun.  (They saw how the students have changed (or not) and how the buildings have changed (or not.)  Students then created a yearbook page for their assigned character, which they complied into their own yearbooks.

Each student had to write a formal “goodbye” in the voice of the character that expressed that character’s perspective, wishes, frustrations, etc.

They also had to include a list of clubs and activities the character would be likely to have attended (car maintenance, sunset watching, peace negotiation, etc.) and what their future plans would be after graduation.

The piece of the project that was most engaging to students was the photographs.  Each page needed to include a formal portrait of their character (the students in costume) and a “candid.”  For the candid students employed the green screen and Photoshop in order to place their characters in a school hallway, or park, or church on a hill, etc.

Once each page was complete, the student groups assembled their pages into a yearbook, complete with title, table of contents, front and back covers.

The yearbooks were handed in digitally and we made them into books using FlipSnack and posted them on our Haiku sites.

Examples of yearbooks linked here:
The project was great fun, but more importantly, the students really had to dig into their character and his/her role in the novel, use textual evidence to support their ideas, write coherently in the characters’ voice, and practice tech skills that were new to many.

Thank you for the opportunity to create this project.  It was one of the highlights of the year.

Betsy Canaday
MS English Department Head