Understanding the Classics Using Today’s Media in MHS English Classes

This is the seventh in a series of blog “snapshots” of how Mercy students benefit from using iPad technology (and other tools) throughout the school day.

In an effort to make Hamlet more accessible to her AP English students, Lynn Waldsmith has them perform a few of their favorite lines from the play and perform them in a 15-second Instagram video once the class is about halfway through the play. Later, in a small group project, students create a short film by performing a scene from Hamlet in a modern setting. Here is a brief excerpt from one of Waldsmith’s favorite video projects.


In Charli Migoski’s  Women in Literature, students used iMessage on their iPads to ‘text’, pretending to be characters from Sense and Sensibility. In the above screenshot, students made inferences for how Marianne and Willoughby would have texted each other at the end of Volume 1. Students could use written text, emojis, and GIFs to display the thoughts and emotions of the characters.

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Students in Hallie Smith’s freshman English 9 class discussed their reactions and connections to Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza’s memoir of the Rwandan genocide. Students were limited to 1:30 so they needed to compose their messages ahead of time, practicing the same organization skills they do when crafting their literary paragraphs.



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This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Library

This is the sixth in a series of blog “snapshots” of how Mercy students benefit from using iPad technology (and other tools) throughout the school day.

Digital access to resources is expected in a library today. Digital catalogs, statewide inter-library loan access, databases, and eBooks provide resources far beyond any one library’s holdings.  Frequency of practice, familiarity and facility prepare our students for an educational environment requiring advanced research skills beyond a simple Google search. Students are encouraged/required to search for current, reliable, global information among the sixty-four (64) GALE/Cengage Learning databases including Gale’s Virtual Reference Library (GVRL), which is the full digital content of 450 published print volumes.  Collaborative tools and spaces enable great work!

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Mrs. Corte, Media Tech, is spotlighted in a student video showing “off” the newest library additions!  New equipment , new spaces, new applications, all available to students for video/editing, 3D printing and collaborative work:

  • MakerBot 3D printer – 5th generation with an assortment of filament colors
  • iMac –  featuring Adobe Illustrator and Final Cut Pro & iMovie for editing
  • 8 whiteboards – outlines, problem solving, role play, study guides
  • 6 MacBook Pros – Adobe Illustrator, Final Cut Pro & iMovie, great for AP courses requiring Flash [to be used in the Media Center]
  • Canon Rebel – HD wireless, 24mp camera with tripod
  • Green screen with lighting – takes you on amazing locations
  • Microphone – Garage Band, audio amplification

Text, photographs and screenshots taken by K. Koskela & C. Corte.   2016-17.

Video created by Sophie VanAcker

Blame English major Larry Baker for the title.

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Apple Teacher Day at MHS

Mercy’s administrative team decided that as an Apple Distinguished School we should shoot for 100% teacher Apple Teacher designation. To further this goal we 1) arranged for staff to get continuing ed credit 2) enticed them with a $20 gift card 3) Most importantly we gave them a full staff day to work on their badges. As I write we are up to 80% Apple Teachers from faculty as well as half a dozen staff. The day was well received. 

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Mercy I.T. Team Presents at State Conference

Mercy I.T. Director Tom James and Associate Principal Larry Baker presented at the 2017 MACUL Conference at Cobo Center in Detroit. On Friday, March 17,  James and Baker collaborated with Chris McCoy of Birmingham Brother Rice High School in a “participate and share” session called Let’s Share Ideas and Strategies for Creating Dynamic Student Tech Teams. The Mercy iWizards and the International Student Tech Team Hub were featured by the Mercy representatives. On Thursday, March 16, Baker presented Walking the Talk: Best Practices of Digital Administrators


Left to right: Larry Baker, Tom James, Chris McCoy  (photo by Chris Janusch)

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Tech in our Science Department

Increasing student engagement and participation in exam review– by Cathy Riley & Sarah McGavin

This is the fifth in a series of blog “snapshots” of how Mercy students benefit from using iPad technology (and other tools) throughout the school day.

As I began thinking about how I would like to approach exam review with students, I wanted to focus on student participation.  Exam review can sometimes turn into the teacher doing all of the work in review of the semester’s content.  As I researched best practices for review I encountered this post: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/163959242663522710/ featuring the use of the Charades App for review.  I was excited to try this as I knew of the app and game, I also knew students loved to play.  Many already had this app on their iPad or phone.  I shared with the Bio teachers. Most used this approach for some of the Bio review.


 Small groups could be assigned semester topics.  These groups can evaluate the topic and decide on key points for focus, developing a Charades review to share with other groups.  Small student groups can meet with each other and take turns playing their review games.  Another approach has the teacher develop the terms for review to share with the class.  Small groups meet to play.  Either way, student must understand topics in order to describe the terms (without using the term) to their classmates.  This encourages them to find different ways to explain semester topics to various students.  This made exam review a little more social and fun.  Teachers could visit with small groups and review/reinforce content as needed. 

Tech in the Lab by Sara McGavin:

Lab work often involves the use of specimens and investigation of specimens under the microscope.  The iPads and phones have proved to be a useful tool in helping students create study guides to help them prepare for lab practicals and take pictures using the microscopes.  The pictures students take are a huge improvement over pencil and paper drawings of the past.  Students take pictures of tissues they are identifying under the microscope.  As teachers assess their pictures and labeling of pictures, they can be sure students are identifying specimens correctly. It is easier to explain tissues and identify structures while pointing to a picture taken by the student rather than trying to huddle into the same ocular lens of a microscope.  This was sometimes a challenge with paper and pencil and we were never quite sure if students were simply drawing the images from lab guides or actually identifying the tissues on their own.


Photo by Sara McGavin


photo by Sara McGavin

Students take pictures of items in lab to look at and study later.  Students can also take these pictures and add notes and drawing to them to help connect ideas.


We also use the camera function to take pictures of magnified views of different specimens under the microscope.  Although an iPhone is much easier to focus due to its size, the pictures can easily be transferred via airdrop to the iPad and inserted into an assignment.  They can then be labeled if the student needs to.  Another neat feature is that a student is actually able to magnify even further in than what is possible with the microscope by using the zoom function on the camera.

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Lots of Learning at 2017 Mercy Tech Talk

Mercy just finished hosting its fourth annual Tech Talk, hosting K-12 Educators throughout Southeastern MI. The conference featured:

– An inspirational Keynote by Theresa Stager on Innovative Spaces and Strategies

– Multiple 2-hour workshops and 1-hour presentations from some of the top speakers in the area.

– Streamed interactive presentations from presenters from Dubai, Korea, Canada, and Massachusetts.

Ann Lusch and I coordinated the event with terrific support from Mercy I.T., staff volunteers, and Mercy iWizards.

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iWizard Workshop 2017

The Mercy iWizards spent a busy day on Friday, February 17. They . . . .

  1. Planned the New Student iPad Orientation
  2. Spent an hour coding
  3. Conducted five Google Hangouts / Skypes 

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    Photos by Cheryl Corte and Larry Baker

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