Innovation in Action: Teachers' Visions Become Reality

Boston Prep is dedicated to providing students the highest quality educational opportunities to develop the skills, knowledge, and habits necessary to succeed in college.  Faculty members are driven and innovative, deeply invested in growth and improvement to achieve this goal.  Our faculty have many ideas about how to enhance instruction to better prepare our students to succeed in college.  However, as with any nonprofit organization, our budget it limited, and unfortunately, many of our faculty members' ideas fall outside our budget for the year.  Nevertheless, we are dedicated to working with our teachers to enhance their instruction and harness the power of their creativity and innovation.  

In December 2015, we launched the Boston Prep Faculty Wish Fund.  Dedicating $5,000 to the cause, we opened a  competitive grant process by which faculty could apply for funding for small projects to enhance instruction or work with students.  Thanks to a generous $5,000 match from a donor, we were able to increase funding for this round of projects to $10,000.  This allowed us to fund three innovative teacher projects, all aimed at bolstering student achievement.  All three projects will be carried out in the spring semester, and outcomes will be evaluated at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.  The three projects are detailed below:

  • Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities: The proliferation of technology has changed the way we need to approach education and meet the needs of our students. In order to prepare students with disabilities for success in college and in life, finding strategies and supports to enable them to be independent learners is essential given that students are not guaranteed accommodations in college and professional life. A wide variety of technological advancements have made it easier for students with disabilities to gain independence and make academic progress.  In an effort to pilot the effectiveness of a variety of technologies, the Support Services department will purchase and introduce the following items: 2-3 iPads, 5 Chromebooks, 1 Livescribe Pen, and 10 noise cancelling headphones.  Awarded to the Support Services department.
  • Online Standards-Based Learning and Assessment in Latin I: In Latin I, instruction has moved from a whole-class model to individual practice in stations, allowing students to move at their own pace, fully mastering skills before moving on, and progressing to challenges as they are ready.  This model has demonstrated significant impact on achievement.  However, the lack of reliable technology presents challenges, particularly around assessment and introduction of new skills. A dedicated Latin I laptop cart will be purchased, allowing uninterrupted access to technology.  A Latin I standards-based website will be created, enabling fully individualized instruction and assessment through high-quality, interactive web-based tutorials and assessments created by the teacher, with a goal of increasing mastery, motivation, and academic independence.  Awarded to Jacqueline Stephenson.
  • Raspberry Pi Microcomputers to Enhance Circuit Unit Mastery: Historically, mastery of the circuit unit in physics has been low.  This is believed to be due to the limited ability of students to experience the causes and effects of circuits, resulting from limited resources.  The science department will purchase Raspberry Pi microcomputers, which can be used to allow students to experience the principles of Ohm's law in action.  Students will be able to not only build circuits but write programs to control them.  The microcomputers will be used for both instruction and assessment, allowing students to demonstrate mastery through completion of tasks.  The skills and confidence students gain with the technology will extend beyond circuits, building a platform for full engagement in 21st century collegiate and professional environments.  Awarded to Marlene Moxness.

It is our hope to continue to grow the Faculty Wish Fund in the future , with help from our supporters.  The second round of applications, evaluating projects to be implemented in the 2016-2017 school year, will be accepted this spring.  If you wish to help support innovative instruction at Boston Prep, such as projects proposed through the Faculty Wish Fund, please donate now or contact us to learn more about how you can become involved.