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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

US Math & Physics Opportunities

On 9/29/2016, Harvard will hold a placement exam for the Boston Physics Circle. All high school students from Massachusetts are eligible to participate. A group of 50 high school students will be selected, and continuously instructed throughout the year, preparing them for the first screening exam for the US Physics Olympiad team, known as the "F=ma" exam, to be held in January 2017. The mentoring will be done by undergraduate and graduate students, primarily from Harvard, starting in October and continuing through January. For more info visit

Upper School also has a math team that any students can join. These "mathletes" prep and competed in the following competitions. Contact Mr. Rollinson for more information. (Note: you do not have to be a member of the after-school math team in order to compete for BB&N at any of these events.)

  • NEML (New England Math League) - monthly 30-minute contests offered during X-blocks (middle of Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar).
  • Mandelbrot Competition - monthly 40-minute contest offered during X-blocks (early Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar). 
  • AMC 10/12 (American Mathematics Competition) - annual 70-min contest consisting of 25 multiple choice questions offered twice in February. 
  • Massachusetts Mathematics Olympiad Competition - late October - 90 minute multiple choice competition.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

LS AfterSchool Engineering Class

One of the new offerings in the AfterSchool Programs this year is a "STEAM Team" class taking place Tuesday afternoons in our new maker-space. This after school class is exploring a variety of engineering challenges and principles. "STEAM" classes give students experience with challenges that integrate disciplines of Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, & Math. To date, students have explored expanding spheres, and strategies of building and launching a hand-held catapult.

An upcoming unit will focus on robotic bugs constructed with vibration motors and button batteries.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sophomores Welcome Freshmen

The "sophomore guides" group created this welcome video for freshmen!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

US Robotics Team Wants You!

Do you like problem-solving or building cool stuff?  If you answered "yes" to either of the above, you should consider joining the Robotics Team!!  No prior experience is necessary!  The team meets every day after school in the fall to build a robot that will compete in the VEX robotics competition. If you want to learn more about VEX, check out this year's challenge:

We have an Instagram where you can see what the robots we build are like and what we do on the team! Check it out @bbn_robotics Here's a photo of last year's team:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

US Advancing Girls in STEM

This year, thanks to Dr. Long, BB&N's upper school has joined the GAINS network as a member school. GAINS is Girls Advancing In STEM, whose mission is to promote the inclusion of young women in STEM fields, including Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math, (which also incldues computer science, astronomy, robotics, health and medicine etc.) This provides young women at BB&N the opportunity to become part of this nationwide network and participate in their online platform, connecting us with other students as well as female mentors who have chosen to pursue STEM careers. At BB&N, this will be a new club/interest group that will meet every other week during Tuesday X block. 

At our meetings, we will get together, discuss topics related to STEM careers and host guest speakers, visit outside labs and develop a project of our own that we will do. Dr. Long will be recruiting both alumni and local mentors to join the network on behalf of BB&N and help students make connections with them for advice and the chance to get to know someone who has chosen a career in a STEM field. Contact Dr. Long for more info!

Here is a video from the GAINS website: