Welcome Back! Over the summer, Bonner Springs High School becomes a building void of life and energy, and only becomes a school when our students and staff return. As we begin another school year, I am excited about working with your son/daughter and look forward to great things in 2011-2012. This monthly newsletter will be used to keep parents up-to-date on what is happening at Bonner Springs High School.
Each week I visit as many classrooms as I can so that I can see our students and teachers in action. I share with our staff members in a weekly newsletter some highlights of the great things I see from their colleagues. During the monthly parent newsletter, I will share some of those highlights so you can see the great things happening at Bonner Springs High School. Here are a few highlights from my visits over the first couple of weeks of school.
It is game on in Chemistry this year. Over the summer, Ms. Laughlin has been working on a way to teach chemistry as a video game. Students do "quests" to "level up" as they work through the game. It will be fun this year to see this developed and we will ask her to share out at one of our Professional Development days about this program and it's implementation. Check out this link to learn more:
Kelly Hoopes and Susan Swabb
Mrs. Hoopes and Mrs. Swabb spent part of their summer at a workshop to learn how to teach Spanish through storytelling. Each of them have committed to adjusting their instructional delivery to help make learning a new language more personal. In my visits this week Mrs. Hoopes was collecting information from students, that she said would be "used against them later" and Mrs. Swabb was engaging her students in conversational dialog that simulated meeting a person for the first time. In this photo, Mrs. Hoopes is working with some students in Spanish II on some commands. I'm looking forward to hearing from each on how the new approach has impacted student learning.
Over the summer the Business Lab was retooled with computers that can work in both the Windows or Macintosh format. As Mr. McFarland started out his class he gave students the choice of format to create a presentation about who they are and what they like. We have done an extensive amount of professional development last year in ways to provide our students with choices as a way to increases motivation, and this lab will be another tool to allow students to have options to work in a format that is familiar and challenge them to stretch in less familiar system.
As the chair of both the Social Studies Department and Technology Integration Committee it is not uncommon for Mrs. Schlicht to share with me new ideas and technologies she would like to try in her classroom. She has always been a leader in our building in creating new opportunities for students to learn using technology. She has created classroom wikis, podcasts, animations, videos, interactive gaming, and is constantly finding ways to use technology more effectively in the classroom. This week she shared with me edmodo. It is a social networking site that looks a lot like facebook for school. She can post assignments, students can post questions and comments, turn in assignments, and she can grade and return them on-line. Take a few minutes and check out
and see what I'm talking about. Our staff will hear more about this during our Professional Development as her committee shares ideas on how to integrate technology into instruction to increase student learning.
As the USD 204 nominee for the Horizon Award to recognize outstanding first-year teachers I always enjoy my visits to his class. In his World History class he was introducing an activity he researched over the summer called, "Students teaching Students." Throughout the semester he will facilitate students doing research and presenting in short segments to their classmates. The emphasis is student's getting comfortable speaking in front of a group and owning their learning. Two things impressed me on my visit, his ability to help students be successful and develop confidence presenting to their peers and his classroom technology policy. This year we have modified this policy to do away with a rigid school-wide policy that was routinely not followed in favor of classroom control determined by each teacher. In his class he has developed expectations and communicates those clearly on when student use is allowed. During this activity he provided a handout for students to conduct their research but recognized this was also an opportunity for students to access their mobile device to obtain information. As the students were preparing for their presentation he had the sign below flipped to allow usage at that time, and when the presentations began he turned it to prohibit usage. The expectations were clear, it was respectful, and students followed the policy he developed.
Dan Burns and Linda Horvath
Last year Mr. Burns and Ms. Horvath collaborated on project for our outdoor art lab that recently came to fruition. Mr. Burns' students build metal platforms to display the pottery sculptures created by Ms. Horvath's students. This type of display of quality student work is essential to our growth as a school. High quality student work sometimes requires multiple revisions in order to help our students do they best work. Please take some time to visit this area to see all the pieces, but here are a few for you to enjoy.
In Chemistry class Mr. Klager was doing a delicious lab over the scientific method. The students were asked to make a hypothesis about what was contained in their M&M bag, then measure the contents, graph the data, and extrapolate the trend to a larger bag. There are many ways to teach this important concept, but this is one of the more fun ways I've seen. In addition, Mr. Klager is using name plates created by the students to quickly learn a lot of names at the start of the year.