The BHS 21st Century Fund supports faculty-led pilot programs focused on curriculum innovation, fostering academic success and inspiration for all students.
School Year 2015-2016 VOLUME III
Fund's First Innovation Fellow Was
Extremely Productive
We are delighted to share this report from Sam Dickerman
My work as the 21st Century Fund's 2015-16 Innovation Fellow
I nnovation Fellow
Sam Dickerman
revolved around a website I created called
Th e first goal of the site was to help stude nts plan research questions, record sources, take notes, an d o rganize an outline for writing a paper. This spring my student testers recorded almost 500 sources and took over 2000 notes. The feedbac k was very positive! Next yea r I hope to roll the site out to the larger BHS community, adding support for paper drafts and teacher feedback.
My second project helps deans evaluate applicants for the Junior Mentor program. Each year teachers are asked to provide feedback on over 200 applicants--a rather cumbersome process for both the teachers (looking through the long list for students they know) and deans (parsing the resulting comments). My new tool uses Canvas data to determine which teachers know which students, and gives teachers a fast and easy way to rate applicants. I hope to make the tool available to other application- based programs next year. Also, the data we gather about who knows whom could be used to help students in other ways.
The third project is still in its testing phase, but it was inspired by discussions of bias that have been part of the national debate. I am working on a tool that could take in student work from Canvas and show it to teachers without identifying whose work it is. This should make grading easier for teachers (who will be able to grade all answers to a single test question at one time, for example) but will also eliminate bias (of all sorts) that a teacher might have regarding a student.  
My final project is a response to what I think of as the "tyranny of the screens." Phones and laptops draw students' attention away from the group and can inhibit communication, yet digital devices provide a valuable way of capturing data. Using technology to solve a problem of technology,  I created a digital input device without a screen. This plastic cube can report its orientation to "the cloud."  Students turn the cube to different colored sides to record their responses.  Aside from simple uses like polling the class on a given question, one idea is to create a discussion queue system that would allow the students to regulate their own debates and discussions. In addition, the cubes would register historical data regarding participation and so on. I think some of the most innovative uses of the cubes may come from the students themselves. I have created six working prototypes and have applied for a PTO grant to build a full set to test out next year. The possibilities are very exciting! 
I would like to thank the 21st Century Fund for this opportunity to try out all of these fun ideas. I never would have had the time to play around without their generous, year-long support. 
                                                                     --Sam Dickerman 
June 2016
Saturday, November 19


2016 Good
Citizen Award

Congratulations to Caroline Cutlip, recipient of the 21st Century Fund's Good Citizen Award. Caroline is a just-graduated senior who was selected from the Social Justice Program. She was co-director of the Brookline Literacy Partnership, and she spearheaded a new partnership with the Timilty Elementary School in Boston. Caroline has also been an active member of the Food Justice Program. Her commitment to social justice causes runs wide and deep.

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