The Medfield High School Department has won the honor of presenting not once but twice at the New England Association of Teachers of English (NEATE) Conference on November 2, 2012, in Mansfield, Massachusetts.
At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, the English Department presented two exhibitions to the NEATE board, who also reviewed many different presentations from schools across New England. After undergoing a very “in-depth” review process, according to MHS English Department head Gail Duffy, both of the presentations were selected for the conference.
The first exhibition is titled, “Using Technology to Leverage Core Curriculum Skills,” focusing on how technology is used in the classroom. The teachers presenting will highlight how technology is utilized at Medfield High School—specifically in the English Department—not simply as “ ‘bells and whistles,’ ” said Mrs. Duffy, but to enhance students’ critical thinking abilities as well as provide real-world practice.
The presentation will focus on Animoto, a movie-making website; Discussion Boards, an online way for students to communicate and see each other’s presentations; Glogster, an online blog incorporating many different types of media; Live Binders, a way to group assignments, readings, and references together in a central location; and Voicethread, a place for groups to record and listen to the ideas of classmates.
All of these programs have been integrated into the Medfield High School curriculum in recent years.
The presenters in the technology demonstration are teachers Ksenija Broks, Sarah Brown, Frank Mandosa, Beth Sancher, Gwynne Sawtelle, Bonnie Wren-Burgess, department head Gail Duffy, and Technology Integration Specialists Neal Sonnenberg.
Mr. Sonnenberg works with the MHS departments and teachers to integrate all types of technology and online tools into useful daily lessons.
The second presentation to be given by Medfield High School faculty is “Generating Student Success through MCAS Prep: A Team Approach.”
Medfield Public Schools have long had extremely successful students in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests every spring; a “feather in Medfield’s cap,” said Mrs. Duffy. This year’s juniors (last year’s sophomores), the Class of 2014, tied for first out of 348 schools in the English section, tied for eleventh of 348 in the math section, and tied for third of 341 in science.
These students were the only ones in the state to place in the top three scores in all sections (the eleventh place finish was the third-highest possible score, with just eleven other schools receiving the first or second highest possible).
Medfield High’s success is due in large part to the success of the elementary and middle schools, however there are always students who do not excel at standardized testing.
At the high school, these students are able to take an elective class to practice and improve their standardized-test-taking skills in both English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. The class focuses on testing strategies and skills as well as confidence building for the MCAS tests, though the lessons also translate into other subjects.
MHS teachers Ann Marie Sabra and Jane Woods, the teachers of the ELA and math portions of the MCAS prep class, respectively, will present their program that Mrs. Duffy has described as fostering “community, collaboration, and responsibility.”
Hundreds of teachers from across the region will join the MHS English Department at the conference to learn new ideas about teaching, partnerships, and teamwork. Said Mrs. Duffy, “We are extremely honored to have been chosen as presenters for this conference, and we are excited to share our educator strategies with [other] English teachers.”
By Craig Weisenfeld
This article was written by Craig Weisenfeld, a Medfield High School student and member of the student newspaper, The Kingsbury Chronicle. The piece is part of Medfield Patch's weekly series, "Warrior Weekly," helping provide information about MHS to the local community.