A coeducational day school serving students JK-12

 

TRANSCRIPT

Bobby Oommen teaches middle school computer science and is the eighth grade team leader. He has been at Latin since 2015. 

What did the middle school do in terms of remote learning preparation? 

We focused on one component of the GOA, Global Online Academy, learning to learn online course. And that was specifically, how do you organize your workspace at home? What does it look like and how do you remove the distractions? Secondly, we had different times throughout the first semester where we were trying to help the kids organize their digital selves. We've talked about Showbie, LMS, RomanNet, Gmail, etc. Now that so much of We had different times throughout the first semester where we were trying to help the kids organize their digital selves.
Bobby Oommen, Middle School Computer Science
your portfolio is online, how do you best organize your digital self? And going into the second semester, we're going to continue to give them opportunities to delete apps that you're not using, respond to emails, archive things, put things in folders that you're no longer in need of, unsubscribe to emails that are no use to you and are distracting you through the day. So organizing your digital self is one of the big things that we talk about–really emphasizing the established routines, using Calendly for appointments, most of us use Showbie, and then again, continuing to use their planner. That's what we did as far as preparation and going into remote learning.

How can remote learning help us learn about our students?

Remote learning provided additional data points regarding students and their task understanding, their task initiation and their task follow through.
Bobby Oommen, Middle School Computer Science

Middle school is many things, right. But I also like to think of it as a collection of data points. Remote learning provided additional data points regarding students and their task understanding, their task initiation and their task follow through. It also provided data points for emotional and physical wellness. So when I say data points, that may be a little bit, you know, what is he really referring to? I'm talking about both qualitative and quantitative data points. 

How are you using these data points with the students?

We're going to be encouraging the eighth graders to do this second semester. And I'm hoping that for other grade levels that your students can start to be thinking about this. We're trying to get the eighth graders to use those data points to create self-reflection questions. So for example, regarding task understanding–“do I participate in class?; what do I do when I don't understand something?”–really getting them to think about where am I as a student in regards to task understanding. In regards to task initiation, getting the middle schoolers as a whole to say like, “all right, when the teacher gives me a task, do I set meetings with teachers?; what's preventing me from doing so?; when I get an assignment and I don't need to meet with a teacher, am I initiating it?; when?; do I wait till the last minute?” It’s like getting kids to think about themselves as learners. And then finally one question that they could ask for task follow-through is like, “do I turn assignments in?; is there a gap between me finishing an assignment and then submitting it?; what's blocking me from doing that?” We think it's super important, especially to help them reflect... 

How can I encourage my child to use these data points and ask themselves these questions?

Is this child, is this student ready to transition successfully to high school? There is a fine line between helping your child develop the skills they need and over helping, right? What also confuses that fine line is that at a certain point, they don't want to hear your helpful feedback, right? Like that's just part of the journey of middle school and there are kids along the different spectrum of that. So there's that fine line of like equipping them. I would just encourage us as parents to take your observations, your data points from remote learning. When you look at your child, where are they in terms of task understanding? Do they understand what's assigned to them? Where is your child in regards to task initiation? Do you see them regularly setting meetings with teachers? Do you see issues or roadblocks for them? What are those roadblocks? Do you see them following through on tasks? If not, what's preventing them from doing so? If they are, how can you encourage that more? Taking your observations as parents from remote learning, because you see behind the scenes the things that we as teachers can't see, and using those to form questions. Hey, so-and-so uh, how are you, how was class today? How'd you participate? Do you raise your hand at all? Yeah, no, you didn't. What's preventing you from doing so? For me personally, I have found just in asking those questions rather than telling my kids what to do. I find out some of my kids have social anxiety and it doesn't take place in the classroom, but it takes place being online or another one of my kids kind of switched and vice versa. We're going to use those remote learning takeaways as a team to help formulate what we need to do to best transition kids to high school. Hopefully, there are some pieces there that you already are doing, but maybe there are some you could use as well as we continue and finish up the second semester. 

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Remote Learning Strategies for Middle School Students

 

TRANSCRIPT

Bobby Oommen teaches middle school computer science and is the eighth grade team leader. He has been at Latin since 2015. 

What did the middle school do in terms of remote learning preparation? 

We focused on one component of the GOA, Global Online Academy, learning to learn online course. And that was specifically, how do you organize your workspace at home? What does it look like and how do you remove the distractions? Secondly, we had different times throughout the first semester where we were trying to help the kids organize their digital selves. We've talked about Showbie, LMS, RomanNet, Gmail, etc. Now that so much of We had different times throughout the first semester where we were trying to help the kids organize their digital selves.
Bobby Oommen, Middle School Computer Science
your portfolio is online, how do you best organize your digital self? And going into the second semester, we're going to continue to give them opportunities to delete apps that you're not using, respond to emails, archive things, put things in folders that you're no longer in need of, unsubscribe to emails that are no use to you and are distracting you through the day. So organizing your digital self is one of the big things that we talk about–really emphasizing the established routines, using Calendly for appointments, most of us use Showbie, and then again, continuing to use their planner. That's what we did as far as preparation and going into remote learning.

How can remote learning help us learn about our students?

Remote learning provided additional data points regarding students and their task understanding, their task initiation and their task follow through.
Bobby Oommen, Middle School Computer Science

Middle school is many things, right. But I also like to think of it as a collection of data points. Remote learning provided additional data points regarding students and their task understanding, their task initiation and their task follow through. It also provided data points for emotional and physical wellness. So when I say data points, that may be a little bit, you know, what is he really referring to? I'm talking about both qualitative and quantitative data points. 

How are you using these data points with the students?

We're going to be encouraging the eighth graders to do this second semester. And I'm hoping that for other grade levels that your students can start to be thinking about this. We're trying to get the eighth graders to use those data points to create self-reflection questions. So for example, regarding task understanding–“do I participate in class?; what do I do when I don't understand something?”–really getting them to think about where am I as a student in regards to task understanding. In regards to task initiation, getting the middle schoolers as a whole to say like, “all right, when the teacher gives me a task, do I set meetings with teachers?; what's preventing me from doing so?; when I get an assignment and I don't need to meet with a teacher, am I initiating it?; when?; do I wait till the last minute?” It’s like getting kids to think about themselves as learners. And then finally one question that they could ask for task follow-through is like, “do I turn assignments in?; is there a gap between me finishing an assignment and then submitting it?; what's blocking me from doing that?” We think it's super important, especially to help them reflect... 

How can I encourage my child to use these data points and ask themselves these questions?

Is this child, is this student ready to transition successfully to high school? There is a fine line between helping your child develop the skills they need and over helping, right? What also confuses that fine line is that at a certain point, they don't want to hear your helpful feedback, right? Like that's just part of the journey of middle school and there are kids along the different spectrum of that. So there's that fine line of like equipping them. I would just encourage us as parents to take your observations, your data points from remote learning. When you look at your child, where are they in terms of task understanding? Do they understand what's assigned to them? Where is your child in regards to task initiation? Do you see them regularly setting meetings with teachers? Do you see issues or roadblocks for them? What are those roadblocks? Do you see them following through on tasks? If not, what's preventing them from doing so? If they are, how can you encourage that more? Taking your observations as parents from remote learning, because you see behind the scenes the things that we as teachers can't see, and using those to form questions. Hey, so-and-so uh, how are you, how was class today? How'd you participate? Do you raise your hand at all? Yeah, no, you didn't. What's preventing you from doing so? For me personally, I have found just in asking those questions rather than telling my kids what to do. I find out some of my kids have social anxiety and it doesn't take place in the classroom, but it takes place being online or another one of my kids kind of switched and vice versa. We're going to use those remote learning takeaways as a team to help formulate what we need to do to best transition kids to high school. Hopefully, there are some pieces there that you already are doing, but maybe there are some you could use as well as we continue and finish up the second semester. 

Podcast

Explore Our News & Stories

Lower school students looking at a computer

In a world where students are spending a significant part of their school day online, it is now more important than ever to develop thoughtful and empathetic digital citizens from a young age. 

Fourth grade students are studying what it means to be a considerate digital citizen and maintain a positive digital footprint with Fiona Deeney, Latin’s lower school computer science and technology integration specialist. A digital citizen is someone who develops skills to responsibly use technology, including digital devices and online media platforms. When individuals share information online, they leave a digital footprint. A digital citizen is someone who develops skills to responsibly use technology, including digital devices and online media platforms.

After the students learned the basics of online safety and digital footprints, they were tasked with creating a graphic that encompassed these lessons. In order to complete the assignment, they researched a credible digital media platform to build their piece–Pic Collage was a popular option among the students.

Hear more about what it means to be a responsible digital citizen and how to manage a digital footprint from fourth grade students Colleen C. ’29 and Annabelle W. ’29.

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Jessie Heider

Get to know Jessie Heider who has been Latin's partner from Athletico and athletic trainer since 2010. In January, Jessie officially became the first full-time in-house athletic trainer at Latin. 

Education 

B.S. in Athletic Training - Purdue University
M.S. in Health Education & Promotion - University of Cincinnati

Position and years at Latin

Athletic Trainer - 10 years

Favorite Quote: 

"Today me will live in the moment, unless it's unpleasant, in which case me will eat a cookie." –Cookie Monster

What are your favorite things about Latin? 

There is such a close sense of community at Latin. One of my favorite things about working here is being able to connect with and get to know so many different people.

What are the best parts of your job? 

It’s rewarding to help kids through the rehabilitation process and then get to see them successfully return to their sport after experiencing an injury. I also love that every workday is different… it keeps me on my toes!

Why did you decide that you wanted to work at a school? 

I always found the idea of working at a school appealing because I knew it would give me the opportunity to be involved in so much more than just athletics. At Latin, I’m lucky enough to work with both athletics and our Latin 360 program. It’s also fun to be able to support our students in other ways, such as helping with senior projects or attending dance shows and plays.

What was the last good book you read? 

"American Dirt" by Jeanine Cummins

What are your hobbies and interests? 

I love spending time with my dog, Piper, playing fantasy football and following Purdue sports (Boiler Up!). I’m also excited to get back to traveling again once the pandemic is over.

What was your first job?

I worked as an Athletic Trainer for Women’s Lacrosse at the University of Cincinnati while in grad school, but working at Latin was my first “official” job after finishing school.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited? 

Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada

What's the best advice you've ever heard?

Be present. Try not to focus on what happened in the past or what will happen in the future. Enjoy the “now.”

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US Chess Team  in the Learning Commons during the State Final

On February 12-13, the upper school chess team competed virtually in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state finals and finished in first place in Division 1A.
The students who represented Latin were Waleed B. '21, Matthew S. '21, Mark M. '21, William F. '21, Eli E. '23, Anton S. '23, Collin D. '22, and Maxwell L. '23. The tournament took place online, but participating teams had to play from the same location—the Romans competed from the upper school's Learning Commons. This is the first time in Latin history that the Romans have won the division title.

ABOUT THE UPPER SCHOOL CHESS TEAM: This academic team meets four times a week for practice and competes in the Chicago Chess Conference composed of catholic schools, including St. Ignatius, St. Patrick, De La Salle, Marist, Br. Rice, etc. After the conference play, they compete in sectionals. Then if they qualify, they play in the state championships.  

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hopeful. Excited. Inspired. These are just some of the words that described the way students, faculty and staff felt after participating in the conversations and presentations during Latin’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Commemoration on Wednesday, January 20.

Upper school students began the morning at assembly with an inspirational rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson sung by Latin’s upper school chorus. 

The assembly was anchored by the amplification of student voices answering thought-provoking questions. Upper school affinity groups, including Black Student Union (BSU), Latin American Student Organization (LASO), Chronic Illness and Disability Alliance (CIDA), LGBTQ+ Affinity, Asian Student Alliance (ASA) and White Identities and Anti-Racism Affinity (WIAA), discussed their answers to the question, “What would an equitable and inclusive community look like at Latin?”

Learn more about Latin’s institutional goals and action steps for DEI from Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Eleannor Maajid in this episode of the Latin Learner Podcast. Co-Head of LASO and junior at Latin Caroline C. ’22 echoed the sentiment that many affinity groups offered in their reflection of the question: “An inclusive and equitable community to me acknowledges that from the start this institution might look very different to new incoming students but makes an effort to make everyone aware that their culture shouldn’t define whether they speak up in class or not or be given looks down the halls. No one should be told to tone down their culture.”

The student groups also answered these questions: “Why is it vital for students to be able to organize? How do equity-focused student groups improve community and hold them accountable?” The upper school’s Student Diversity and Equity Committee (SDEC) and Demanding Accountability groups provided insight into this area. SDEC is dedicated to fostering a safe, inclusive environment at Latin and promotes dialogue across all perspectives. Demanding Accountability is a group focused on holding the Latin community accountable for creating the space that the community says they want Latin to be.

These student groups noted that student organizing is important because they have a relevant perspective with insight into injustices that sometimes only students can see. Co-head of Demanding Accountability Kazi S. ’22 was quoted during the presentation, “When students aim for equity, we can be the prosperity of not only ourselves but everyone around us.” When students aim for equity, we can be the prosperity of not only ourselves but everyone around us.
Kazi S. '22, Co-head of Demanding Accountability

In continuing with the assembly’s theme of amplifying student voices some of the other student groups that presented included Student Government, Identity Coalition for Latin (ICFL), “Discourses” and “The Forum.” An inspirational morning concluded with remarks from English Teacher and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Brandon Woods: “We stand ready to listen to you, to partner with you and most importantly, to be challenged by you. You have the ability to make change that you might not even know yourselves, so we stand ready to help you do that and for you to guide us and lead us.”

During the middle school assembly, Educational Consultant Dr. Derrick Gay leveraged Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic "What Is Your Life's Blueprint?" speech to frame Latin’s 2020 I can practice peace.
I can try again, rather than give up.
I can care for my community. 
Mindful affirmations from the book "I Can Do Hard Things" by Gabi Garcia
Middle School Climate Assessment findings. "The idea was to invite you to reflect on your life's blueprint, meaning who you are, your actions, your behaviors, your legacy, your purpose and how we can link your purpose to creating a more inclusive school... a more inclusive world," Dr. Gay explained to the students. He also noted that this speech was written by Dr. King for middle school students. Hear more about the history behind the speech and listen to an excerpt.


In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lower school students engaged in various peace-related activities during the month of January. They also participated in an all-lower school read of “I Can Do Hard Things” by Gabi Garcia. As part of the MLK Day commemoration, students selected a personal photograph or designed an affirmation poster that connected to one of the following lines from the book:

  • “I can practice peace.” What is something peaceful you do for yourself or for others?
  • “I can try again, rather than give up.” What is something challenging (a “hard thing”) that you are learning to do or have learned to do? 
  • “I can care for my community.” What is something that reflects a way that you contribute to or care for your community?

At the lower school assembly, students listened to Dr. Gay read “I Can Do Hard Things” and then watched a video featuring the photos and student work.

Lower school students

Although the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Commemoration at Latin looked much different this year than in years past, students, faculty and staff found a sense of hope, excitement and inspiration from the day’s events.

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