All teachers use a variety of strategies and resources, including technology and experiences beyond the textbook and the classroom that actively engage students, emphasize higher order thinking skills and help them succeed at high levels.
Easing the Transition into High School
All freshmen are offered the opportunity to partner with mentor seniors and select juniors called Link Crew leaders. Link Crew is group of upper classmen who mentor underclassmen by supporting them in the transition into high school by offering campus tours, giving advice about which courses to take and by informing them about all the clubs and organizations on campus. Morse values our Link Crew because they help freshmen become part of our community which sets them up for success in their academic and extracurricular lives.
Differentiated instruction is expected of all teachers at Morse High School. The makeup and diversity of Morse, including the varying levels of English language proficiencies, demand a differentiated approach to teaching and learning. Teachers use a variety of strategies in their teaching such as small group instruction, jigsaw activities and Socratic seminars to address all learning modalities within their lessons. Several teachers also use scaffolding, journals, note-taking strategies and discussion boards to encourage student-centered instruction that allows students to engage in independent learning. There is an ongoing emphasis on data-driven instruction and this has helped teachers provide more individualized instruction for students not meeting standards. Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, teachers have been trained in and encouraged to use DataDirector. All of the core departments discuss student data from these exams and strategize ways to help underperforming students. This has led to improved data analysis and as a result, teachers are revising their lessons to support students.
Increased Use of Technology
Additionally, there has been a sustained increase in the use of technology to support and actively engage students. Of particular note is the i21 upgrade that has been occurring for the last three years and will continue beyond the current school year until 100% of the classrooms have received an upgrade. As this upgrade unfolds, each classroom is being equipped with: a Promethean interactive whiteboard, a class set of wireless netbooks, a surround sound system, complete with teacher microphone and a document camera. All of these upgrades in the Math and English classes have allowed for greater student involvement and engagement in the classroom and have provided more opportunities for student-centered activities in these classrooms. Students use netbooks for learning activities such as completing standards-based research and preparing multi-media presentations. Student access to netbooks has enabled them to work towards mastery of the ESLRs and content standards in a more efficient manner that will enable them to enhance their technological skills as well.
Other technology which is in use at Morse High School includes: Learning Upgrade, Language Assessment Skills (LAS) Links, Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS), and Rosetta Stone. All of these are available to provide additional, technology based opportunities for students to receive support in core subject areas, particularly mathematics and English language arts. The programs are designed to be engaging to students, while providing opportunities to enhance the instruction they receive from teachers in the classroom. These individualized programs foster independent learning and provide additional standards-based instruction during the school day.
Morse High School also offers a choice of courses geared towards engaging and challenging students while helping them explore postsecondary options. Morse offers robotics, computer graphics, engineering, computer science, AVID and several ROP courses. The ROP programs offers hands on experience in specific career areas. These courses include the Hungry Tiger (Culinary Arts), Tiger Paw (Auto Body), and Child Development.
Hungry Tiger students learn both culinary skills and job experience. The Hungry Tiger is a licensed restaurant and catering business. Their hands-on experience enables students to learn professionalism and feel prepared to pursue a career in Culinary Arts. Through State Farm Insurance and Ford, Auto Body students are afforded the opportunity for off-campus internships as well. Students experience the technical side of repairing automobiles and have the opportunity to explore careers in the insurance industry. Morse Child Development students learn strategies to meet the needs of all students and get real-world experience at a community elementary school and the Morse Preschool. They design and implement lessons and as a result, they learn the skills necessary to become educators.
Every course on campus incorporates our ESLRs and includes lessons that emphasize critical thinking, problem solving and communicating effectively. It is expected that all instructors on campus integrate the ESLRs within every unit of study.
All students are encouraged to volunteer for community service. In particular, 12th grade students are required to perform a minimum of 30 hours of community service or plan and execute a service-based project requiring at least 30 hours to facilitate. By emphasizing a connection to our local community organizations and career exploration options, Morse students become more prepared to enter a career in the 21st century.
Teachers at Morse High School analyze student work to inform instruction in a variety of ways. Home groups use professional development to create and examine the results of common site and district assessments. These assessments include, but are not limited to: projects, end of unit exams, skill assessments, benchmarks and end of course exams. With the implementation of DataDirector, teachers receive immediate feedback on student progress towards mastery of the content standards. Teachers may also use DataDirector to create standard-based exams that can be shared with other teachers in the school and in the district. Student scores that are recorded in DataDirector remain permanently, and can be accessed when necessary. Teachers also use DataDirector and Zangle to retrieve pertinent student information like: California English Language Development Test (CELDT) scores, EL proficiency, transcripts and performance levels on state, district, or other common assessments which helps them gauge how to best design lessons that meet students at their performance level.
Professional Development focused on Improving Instruction
Teachers at Morse High School are in the practice of observing students and the instruction they receive in other classes, both inside and outside their own content area. It is a school-wide expectation that all teachers participate in this observation process. This allows teachers to see the differentiation of instruction which occurs campus-wide, the critical thinking skills required of the students, and any teaching practices they may want to incorporate in their own classrooms. Teachers also examine student work from all core disciplines to gauge the levels of instruction and critical thinking required of the students at Morse and share conversations with teachers in other disciplines.
Teachers are encouraged to attend professional development which will strengthen their instruction. In the core content areas, teachers are encouraged to take two release days per semester in order to work with the other teachers on their content teams. During these release days, teams analyze student performance data, create common assessments and rubrics, and share best teaching practices. As the i21 implementation continues to unfold, teachers are trained to use the equipment and software, in particular the Promethean board and the Active Inspire software that provides an interactive experience for students. Teachers also are trained to use their class sets of netbooks and the Active Expression software which links the netbooks with the Promethean board. In addition to district provided i21 training, several teachers have also participated in Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) training which emphasizes methods of differentiated instruction focused on helping English language learners. The strategies can be used to improve instruction for all students. Most Morse AP, Honors and Advanced teachers are GATE Certified and have participated in AP training. We continue to build our own professional development on campus through working in interdisciplinary school improvement groups on Modified Wednesdays.
· Link Crew description
· Link Crew agendas
· Group project rubrics and assignment descriptions
· Lesson plans
· Student work samples
· DataDirector reports
· Student work samples
· Student NetBooks
· Flip charts
· Student projects and multi-media presentations
· Learning Upgrade reports (ESL, Math)
· LAS Links data (ESL)
· ALEKS data
· Rosetta Stone Progress Reports (ESL)
· Course descriptions and program brochures
· Student work samples demonstrating he ESLRs
· Community service forms
· Senior Portfolio requirements
· Home group minutes/agendas
· DataDirector reports
· Student projects
· End of Course exams
· Student Observation form
· Staff survey results
· Release day notes
· Professional development listed by department