Merrimack Schools Innovate

  • You can't cover everything...

    Posted by Nancy Rose on 3/29/2017

    I just read this quick article on and thought it might be useful to you...


    You Can't Cover Everything


    From my vantage point (not directly in the classroom) I grapple with how educators deal on a daily basis with the question of what to cover and to what depth. This article does a nice job of capturing the importance of how content instruction is "an instance of" (which you may recall from the 2014-15 August Academy sessions on integrating standards). For every content item there's a reason it's important, relevant, and will be good to know at some other point in a student's life. If you cover that, I think you're covered!


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  • Ramping up!

    Posted by Nancy Rose on 3/24/2017 9:00:00 AM

    Sally Agel and Lea Johnson at Merrimack Middle School ramped it up with an activity challenging students to learn some math (and physics) by buildings ramps out of paper and tape. 

    Different thoughts about how to tweak this activity might include:

    • Having students choose materials for the ramp (keep the ball consistent) and bring in some physics concepts
    • Introduce curves (wasn't the twirly slide the best one on the playground?)
    • Have students do the activity and THEY identify the math concepts employed

    These are only a few, submit others!!

    Ramp Lab Info and Data Sheet

    Here are some photos of students at work:

    testing the ramp Designers and builders at work innovative shapes hands on gets smiles!

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  • Fractured Fairy Tales at TFS

    Posted by Nancy Rose on 3/16/2017

    Thorntons Ferry School fourth grade students participated in a What I Need (WIN) activity involving fractured fairy tales. As a group they read different fairy tales, studied the characters' problems, identified some new problems, and then developed STEM challenges to reflect those challenges. After practicing as a whole group they then tackled new fairy tales in small groups. 

    The teachers (Sue Weghorst and Debbie Lane) selected one of the students' creations and then the entire group completed the STEM challenge. 

    The problem and challenge the students created is here:

    Rumpelstiltskin Fractured Fairy Tale


    And here are some photos of their amazing problem solving work:

    working  learning is messy progress! holding its weight! another strong example design variety proud creators

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  • Medieval Shark Tank!

    Posted by Nancy Rose on 1/3/2017

    The Merrimack High School Interdisciplinary Freshman Honors Humanities course presented students with a compelling, integrated challenge. 

    Students developed Medieval Theme Parks "dedicated to the preservation of the medieval time period of history." (Project outline from Carolyn Johnson and Lindsay Seibert) They worked in teams to develop and create artifacts which they used to present their concept (and financial statements) to a "Shark Tank" type of panel of venture capitalists. When I went to talk to the students about this project and what they thought of it, I was overwhelmed with all the kinds of things you'd hope they'd say! (My quotes are approximations, but they said things almost exactly like this.)

    "I liked that it was open-ended. It made it easier to be creative."

    "There wasn't a fixed plan, we could do what we wanted."

    "All the research and creating made understanding medieval times a lot easier."

    "Working in teams let us see who had which individual strengths and how they fit together."

    "Sometimes with projects I feel like 'why am I learning this?' but with this project, I think what we learned has real world application."

    "We learned how to give and take critical feedback."

    The project outline is here.

    Here are a few artifacts... 

    Types of Entertainment





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  • A new venture

    Posted by Nancy Rose on 12/15/2016 1:00:00 PM

    So many great things happen in the schools on a daily basis that are worth sharing. I'm going to start highlighting what I see as well as sharing interesting articles, practices, and innovative approaches to teaching and learning. I'm not limiting myself to technology because I believe technology is a means, not an end. 

    So please check in...

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