All posts by Admin

This is not your father’s math class

A familiar car campaign aimed at linking a younger generation to an older-sounding brand reminds me of what I witnessed when I visited an algebra class during the first week of classes. Tablet PC technology has replaced standard whiteboards (my teaching career began with true chalk boards) because smart boards that “talk” to the teacher’s tablet PC have transformed the modern math classroom. Math teachers are now liberated from familiar positions in the front of the classrooms—where they traditionally had to demonstrate and explain problems and techniques within arm’s reach of a white or chalk board affixed to a wall.

In the class I observed, students—clustered in groups of three or four—busily interacted as they collectively problem solved, bringing a modern twist to the old adage that should now read: “Many minds make for smarter work.” Practically speaking, teachers today have tools at their disposal that tear down the classroom walls once and for all. The problems displayed on the whiteboard can be saved to an account so that students can access the notes from a dorm room, library station, or smart phone connected to our wireless servers.

With our first week of classes completed, Williston teachers and students are doing what they do best—creating limitless opportunities for meaningful interactions.

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The Things They Carried

I couldn’t resist heading over to the Middle School as they prepared to depart for an overnight orientation experience at Camp Becket, under the guidance of our incredibly dedicated faculty. Students carried their gear in any manner of expedience, from duffle to plastic bags. I looked for a protruding teddy bear and found one gingerly stowed in one student’s belongings. What I did not see were iPods, cell phones, Blackberries, or other assorted electronic “necessities” of the contemporary teenager’s life.

On their trip, middle school students had a chance to unplug—and in the case of ropes course work, harness up—as they got to know one another better and enjoy camp life for a day and a half. Their learning experiences at Camp Becket were personal, interactive, and intentionally “old school.” In contrast, their world at Whitaker-Bement this year will be defined by one-to-one laptop computing so students can access the work they did at school while doing homework by virtue of cloud-computing—it’s a learning environment of truly astonishing and limitless potential!

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Green Shirts and Green Shoots

There’s nothing at all that approximates the opening days of school on a boarding school campus, and experiencing my first registration and orientation at The Williston Northampton School has been astonishing. Green shirted proctors are everywhere on campus, leading new families through a well-choreographed series of stations and stops; ninth grade students hardly had time to reflect on their new surroundings before heading to an overnight camp for orientation with an incredible team of teachers dedicated to the Ninth Grade Program; the slow gaits of student-athletes making their way to the dining commons following two-a-day practices show that even teenagers can get tired; and our international students have already made a significant contribution to the local community by their volunteer efforts helping to construct a playground — all before classes have even begun. Williston’s 170th year is underway and if opening days are any indication, it’s going to be quite a year!

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