Teaching latest technological advances in science classroom

Teaching latest technological advances in science classroom

By Dr. Julie Verdoni
Chemistry/Physics Teacher

Biotechnology is an ever-expanding topic and certainly one that is often years behind in textbooks. Trends in technology come and go as scientists attempt to find the most effective, economical and versatile tools to address both their basic research needs, as well as the needs of the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries. Curriculum changes are therefore up to the faculty to determine the longevity and import of a newly discovered technique.

CRISPR (pronounced "crisper") may be one to stick around. Following the lead started many years ago in using bacterial systems as tools in the laboratory, researcher discovered what turns out to be a "bacterial immune system" which can be translated into most other cell systems, including mammalian, for use as a novel way to modify gene expression. This technology has expanded tremendously in the last 5 years and is being hailed as a revolutionizing tool. Any students planning to pursue education, careers, or internships in biology will likely encounter CRISPR in some way, and it’s important to have a fundamental knowledge of this technology.

Steve Gray compares viral vectors, to FedEx trucks, delivering packages. If conventional gene therapy delivers a package to a building, then gene editing would deliver it to a specific drawer in a specific desk. CRISPR has proven itself in academics to be an invaluable research tool and if it can live up to the claims without consequences, it may also become invaluable in the clinic.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-08-crispr-gene-doomed-therapy-clinic.html#jCp

How to listen better in a math class

By Lea Anne Windham
Math Department Chair

How to listen better in a math classroom

The Math Curriculum at Webb is geared towards a “Growth Mindset”. We strive to – foster risk-taking, creativity, learning from mistakes, understanding the possibility of multiple answers and perspectives, and have the students learn to critique peers’ work and use resources.

Our goal for the students is to foster learning for understanding, ownership of the material, connectedness and sharing. We feel that self-regulated learning helps teach problem solving skills that transfer to most other courses, disciplines and SAT questions (not to mention real life!) It also allows for different types of learners to show their strengths (e.g. writing, computer skills, risktaking skills, discussion strengths, presentation skills).

In order to accomplish these things, students must take part in the struggle of working through problems and the listening (or presenting) of their solutions. Students often work with each other and explain their ideas to a problem and compare different types of solutions for the same problem.

This past week I had my 7th grade students complete a Self-Assessment for first quarter where they self-reported on their Class Contributions and self-assessed their understanding of the concepts and topics. When asked what they would like to do next quarter to improve their overall understanding, many of them said “Listen better” in class. This prompted me to ask them – “What does that look like? - Listening better?” Many of them admitted to not paying much attention once they were done explaining their work or presenting their solutions. The idea that they could learn and benefit from another’s explanation is still a small one in their minds. Some students admitted that once they had an answer they were done. Interestingly though, most students in their mini-conference with me were very mature about their desire to learn from their own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others and make better connections from one problem to another as well as make connections to a “bigger idea” or concept.

I discovered a great handout or set of tools that I intend to give to my students in order to help them be better listeners in class. It is a great set of tips though that can help us all listen better and become better communicators. I hope they are helpful to you.

How do I listen better in the (math) classroom?

Benefits of learning additional languages surpass proficiency, global citizenship

By Kelly Northrup
Latin Teacher

Benefits of learning additional languages surpass proficiency, global citizenship

Writing for The Atlantic, Paris-based historian and writer Cody Delistraty highlights the benefits of learning another language, which are by no means limited to proficiency in that language and global citizenship. Globalism is a driving force in the world economy, so proficiency in multiple languages may well provide an economic benefit in the future for our children. However, regardless of whether Webb students use the languages they've studied in their future careers, there are immediate benefits already being realized as language learning strengthens the development of their brains in ways we might perhaps find surprising. This quick article begins by highlighting unique words that exist in other languages but not in English and then summarizes multiple recent studies about the brain-based benefits of language learning for all. Second (or third or fourth!) language study improves memory, focus, and self-awareness, allowing students to accomplish their goals across the curriculum and throughout life. Mirabile dictu --- What a wondrous thing to say!


Informative pieces about teenagers and vaping

Informative pieces about teenagers and vaping

By Ray Broadhead
Head of School

(The following is excerpted from my Sept. 13 emailed Letter to Current Parents, Students and Faculty/Staff.)

I recently saw a piece on NBC News about teenagers and vaping. Vaping of nicotine, THC, and other substances is becoming a greater problem than tobacco products because these products are not being controlled at an appropriate level. Vaping has been on the increase with Webb students as well in recent years. Here is a link to the NBC piece:


Also, here is an informative PowerPoint produced by Cigna and Freedom from Chemical Dependency which contains very helpful information for us naïve adults.


Every generation of adolescents has to respond to the challenges of substances and possible abuse. We want to work with you to create as safe an environment as possible at Webb. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, and we will help in any way that we can.