Administrative News

Teachers Go “Back to School” in the Summer

Besides enjoying the loveliness of a Portland summer, SMA teachers use this quieter time in any number of ways to improve their teaching. In fact, a number of individuals attended conferences that ignited their enthusiasm for new ideas in the classroom. First, a multi-disciplinary team attended the huge ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) conference in Denver shortly after school got out, and returned with a host of exciting topics.

Alyssa Tormala (Information Science) came away excited about the emphasis on creating learning spaces that are flexible and dynamic, as well as moving students beyond simply avoiding inappropriate behavior online to demonstrating positive digital leadership, a great match for our young women. Alexis Lund (Social Science) is ready to employ new strategies for engaging the very diverse learners in our classes, from using game logic in a lesson or encouraging pictorial notes (See her Sketchnote below!). Maria Fleming (Theology) and Moe Daschel (Science) were invigorated by ways to use design models to encourage risk taking, to connect with students and teachers globally, and to “flip the classroom.” Science teachers are now “having a blast” making short, knowledge-based videos for students to work with at home, saving class time for higher order thinking activities.

Marsi Thelin (Word Languages) honed her skills at using OWL (Organic World Language) methodology in a week long “boot camp” in Ashland. Trust me, this active, student-centered approach, which encourages risk taking and 100% use of the target language, is nothing like the way you probably studied Spanish or French. Michele Taylor (Student Activities) and Ian Park (Social Science) flew to beautiful Park City, Utah, for a MasteryConnection conference that explored the use of data to improve student learning. Particularly they focused on rethinking how we use both homework and assessments in order to move students toward mastery of standards within a course rather than simply working toward a letter grade. Julia Stadler and Moe Daschel devoted a full week to attend a local workshop that focused on incorporating 21st century science standards in chemistry classes. No longer do your daughters dutifully take notes on lengthy lectures; instead, they use the questions and problems in our world to frame the context for learning chemical principles. Through hands-on experiences, like designing a battery, they investigate abstract ideas and are also exposed to more engineering projects throughout the curriculum.

Finally, Mary Worlein (Admissions), Katelyn Callahan (Alumnae Director), and Amy Romm (Counseling) were inspired by the three day SNJM Leadership Forum at Marylhurst. Along with representatives from our six sister schools, from as far away as Winnipeg, Canada, and Tampa, Florida, they were steeped in team building and communication activities that will further foster leadership in the context of the enduring values of the Holy Name Sisters, our founding order. Your daughters’ teachers truly do model the practice of being life-long learners to provide excellence in the classroom.