Thursday, April 13, 2017

3D Printing Taking Hold at RAMS

Mr. Conant's social studies classes have recently been exploring their creative side by designing temples and other buildings as a culminating activity in their study of ancient Greece. Students' designs were then printed out using the RAMS 3d printer allowing students to see their designs come to life. This is a great way to increase student engagement with an authentic project that also challenges students' spatial senses and technical ability.

Students first used a number of resources to become experts on ancient Greek architecture and to conceptualize an original building design.

Then, students used Tinkercad, a free online 3d building application, to construct their design. Tinkercad has a simple interface and is being used by students at Miller, but it also is flexible enough to engage our middle school students.

Finally, students sent their creations to Mr. Steiner to be printed out on the RAMS Flashforge Creator Pro. Voila!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Speaking and Listening in the HHS Language Lab

Students in HHS Spanish and French classes make frequent use of the dedicated Language Lab for speaking and listening. The lab consists of 28 student stations that are interconnected by computer to a teacher station. Through headsets, students can participate in a number of language-related activities, such as:

  • speaking in pairs or small groups
  • practicing and review pronunciation
  • creating recordings of speaking for teacher feedback
  • practicing AP Exam-related activities. 
During these activities, teachers can listen on individuals and groups to given targeted, one-on-one feedback and correction. Teachers can also make recordings of student speaking, for later review and suggestions.

Teachers are scheduled in the lab on a rotating schedule, so that students can get as much time in the language lab as possible.

HHS Classes Incorporate Maker Space Technology

Students in HHS classes are learning to use the new Maker Space to combine academics, technology, and creativity to design and make their own interesting products.

Students in Ms. Chestna's and Ms. Rivera's Foundations of 21st Century Learning class have been learning about the process of 3D design, modeling, and printing using the school's new Maker Space 3D printers. Students learn about basic 3D design using free online software called Tinkercad. Students begin by designing customized key chains with their names on them, and then print their designs in PLA plastic. Later in the course, as a part of their culminating project, students then design, print, and iterate their own inventions.

Similarly, some HHS art classes have been using the Maker Space's vinyl cutter to create real-life products. Students in Graphic Design class use Adobe Illustrator to design one-color vinyl stickers that can be precision cut in the Maker Space. Students in Printmaking class use BoxySVG software to design precision cut silk screen masks, to be able to print posters and high-quality T-shirts.

After class, students can also use the 3D printers and vinyl cutter as a part of their own individual learning projects, both during the DSB period and after school.

Friday, February 10, 2017

New Digital Music Lab at RAMS

This fall, Adams Middle School was able to outfit a brand new state of the art music lab consisting of 15 iMac computers, midi keyboards, microphones, and headsets. Mr. Grina has been bringing groups of excited students to the lab all year and told us a bit more about how students are using the lab.

He explained, "All electronic activities take place through the iMacs (except the occasional extra use of Chromebooks when they need to create documents, for example). For web-based learning activities/games, videos, etc., we use Safari. 

The MIDI keyboards need to go through a software on the computer to work, for which we use GarageBand. We are wrapping up our piano-focus unit where we just worked on keyboard skills, now we are moving on to our first recording project using GarageBand's recording features. Later this year we will also be exploring the use of multi-track recording and combining pre-made and custom loops."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#HollistonTechPD Day Focuses on Digital Learning

On Friday, January 13, 2017, Holliston Public Schools hosted its Fourth Annual #HollistonTech PD day!  While the title highlights technology, the main focus of the day revolved around advancing students’ digital learning in meaningful ways.

The day began at 8:00 AM at the Robert Adams Auditorium with guest speaker, Kerry Gallagher.  Ms. Gallagher, an award winning digital learning specialist at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts, presented a keynote speech that demonstrated meaningful ways to engage students by first asking a compelling question, and then leveraging technological tools where students can conduct research, collaborate, problem-solve, and communicate their answers to a broader audience.  She provided educators with both inspirational remarks and tangible examples pertinent across developmental levels.

Educators then headed to breakout sessions; educators chose among a multitude of offerings during three breakout sessions held through the rest of the day.  Each breakout session was delivered by a Holliston educator with a specific expertise to share with colleagues across the district.  We even had Holliston High “PIT Crew” students share their knowledge of Chromebooks with faculty!  Some examples of topics included:
  • Students applying coding skills in projects across the content areas.
  • Student and teacher use of Screencastify to record audio/video over text.
  • Providing greater access through Augmentative-Alternative Communication.
  • Student applications of 3D Printing and Makerspaces across the curriculum.
  • Teachers ability to leverage online Professional Development resources across a multitude of topics.
  • Students accessing embedded rubrics when writing within Google Docs.
  • Online formative assessment applications in use in the classroom to broadly gauge student learning in the moment.
  • Student use of tablets in elementary classrooms during learning centers.

It was a great day of professional learning and we look forward to additional opportunities where these new skills will be applied in classrooms through the rest of 2016-2017.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A NASA Scientist Visited Mrs. Doire's Class for the Hour of Code

Last week at RAMS, Mrs. Doire arranged for a presentation by, Kimberly Arcand, a scientist for the Chandra Space Telescope and NASA.  One of Kim's responsibilities is to intercept binary code from the telescope and then create color to give meaning to what we see in space, which was a perfect companion to the international celebration of the Hour of Code.

Kim began by talking with the students about NASA and her professional background.She then gave a brief overview of the spectrum of light so that kids understood the coding activities that followed. The kids then moved from simple coding activities where they change the color of a box, to a complicated a coding activity where they color exploding and newly born stars in the galaxy. 

This visit was so valuable because Kim helped to give the students context for the coding activities that they were doing. In addition, the students were very interested to know that what we see with our own eyes is so limited and it takes a scientist and computer programming to interpret data from a telescope!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


By Brenda Maurao, Assistant Principal at Miller Elementary School

This fall, Miller students and staff had the opportunity to participate in a global program that brings students around the globe together to discuss a common book. During a six week period, from October 3 through November 11,  classroom teachers read aloud to students and engaged in discussions through a variety of online platforms about a common book.  

Teachers selected between two books to read to students during the Global Read Aloud:  Pax by Sara Pennypacker or The BFG by Roald Dahl.

The idea of the Global Read Aloud is for students to make connections with people around the world based on the shared love of reading. During and after reading the book together in class, students  engaged in online discussions with other students using a platform such as Edmodo, Google Hangouts, Twitter or Skype. Pinterest and Facebook were great resources for teachers, too.   Each teacher participated at a pace and format that meshed with regular classroom activities.  

Fifth graders who read Pax ended the Global Read Aloud with a SKYPE presentation and question/answer session (highlighted in the tweet below)!
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Informal discussions have begun as Miller teachers begin reflecting on this year’s experience with the Global Read Aloud.  We look forward to submitting possible book titles for next year, along with having school-wide discussions to plan the event next year.  Here are the reflections of fifth grade teachers Ashley DeRoy and Sara Peters: Video Interview with Ashley DeRoy and Sara Peters

For more information on The Global Read Aloud, please click on the presentation below!