Mr. Hood's Monthly Messages

Read about the learning journey at Madison

The newest message will be at the top of the page.

October 2019:

Dear Madison Community, 

Last year several members of the Madison faculty participated in the Stanford Design School’s Shadow a Student Challenge, an experience designed to give educators “a crash course in empathy” as they spend a day walking in the student’s shoes. The faculty who participated were so energized by the experience we have created the opportunity for every member of the Madison faculty to shadow a student during the course of this school year. Ted Dintersmith, a venture capitalist focused on supporting educational improvements and innovations, and more importantly, a Madison graduate, class of 1970, highlights the experience on his Innovation Playlist

Understanding more about the experience of school from the perspective of our students is central to our goal of Deeper Learning for all. As teachers embark on this challenge, they will set a goal for the day, seek out a student to shadow, reflect on the experience, and commit to a change in practice based on their new perspective. Students will be learning more about this experience through a special segment on the Madison News Network, and many students will hear about it from faculty who are interested in shadowing them for the day. Faculty will be reaching out to the parents of students they are interested in shadowing for permission. 

Shadowing students is just one of the opportunities we have designed for faculty to collaborate with students this year. We hope that this experience will set the groundwork for more collaboration between faculty, students, and parents as we continue to pursue a culture of Deeper Learning for all at Madison High School.

Throughout the school year, we will be sharing snapshots of Deeper Learning at Madison during PTSA meetings, and look forward to continuing the conversation about Deeper Learning opportunities for students through these meetings and other forums. 

One recent example of Deeper Learning at Madison: Ninth grade students in biology had the opportunity to learn from certified county and federal forensic scientists. Ms. Kimbrell shared, “The forensic scientists that came to Madison are from the United States Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID).  Many of the scientists that visited are going to deploy in the next few months to take on various investigation cases around the world. We are thankful for their service to the community and beyond!” Students were provided examples of forensic processes that apply to their learning about light processes, biology, and the importance of close observation and evidence. The fusion of science, math and technology showcased the interdisciplinary nature of learning and application of learning in career and civic life. Students and teachers reflected on the experience: 

“Last week, we had 6 forensic scientists come to Madison and teach us about different ways to solve a crime.  Different ways included taking fingerprints from a crime scene as well as using different UV light sources to uncover different types of writing like ransom and suicide note... In addition to teaching us about ways to solve a crime, they gave us background information we needed for our Investigation unit in biology.  We are solving our own investigations and learning about DNA, bone structures, and how everybody has a different make-up of their body and everything within it.” - Nooshon Farhadi (9th grade student)

In future months, we will continue to showcase examples across the grade levels and disciplines. You can also find out more about Deeper Learning at Madison at this link.

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September 2019:

Dear Madison Community, 

Welcome back to another wonderful year at Madison High School! It’s been a great start to the 2019-2020 school year already.

This summer, over twenty of our faculty and staff attended some of the preeminent professional learning conferences last spring thanks to the generosity of the JMHS PTSA. Most recently, twelve faculty members attended the annual Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers, also known as WISSIT. During this week-long conference, our teachers immersed themselves in research based practices of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education’s research group and learned from the researchers themselves, including Ron Ritchhart. Ritchhart’s work has been the foundation of our focus on Creating Cultures of Thinking in our school over the past several years. 

The teachers who attended WISSIT this year have already shared their learning with colleagues and students over these first few weeks of school. Tonia Anderson, a Latin teacher reflects on her learning at WISSIT:  

“Our collaborative and interactive learning experience at WISSIT provided a great model for what our classrooms can be – with students directing and taking ownership over their own learning, incorporating thinking and learning routines to help them understand how they each learn, and using art to make connections with culture. I want to select some thinking routines and art pieces that will work best with each level of Latin and incorporate them in a systematic way throughout the year.” 

The experiential learning that WISSIT provides for our teachers mirrors the kinds of Deeper Learning experiences we are working hard as a faculty to provide for our students. During our first staff meeting this August, we shared our common understanding of Deeper Learning at JMHS with the faculty: 

Deeper Learning goes beyond the surface and provides opportunities for all learners to collaborate and innovate to find meaning and make connections in real-world, relevant, and authentic experiences that unlock our individual passions and collective joy.

Our professional learning plan for faculty this year is an attempt to fulfill this aspirational understanding of Deeper Learning by providing teachers opportunities to pursue their own paths of inquiry that unlock their individual passions and honor their own identity as learners. 

We are excited to continue on our journey of Deeper Learning at Madison, and we are grateful that you are all learning with us.