WHS Prepares to Launch J-Term in Spring 2018

Slip on your flippers to learn to scuba dive, hiking boots to tackle the highest peaks in the region or sneakers to be your own fitness pal.

The launch of J-Term, scheduled to cap off the 2018 school year, promises to be a week of innovative, authentic and engaging learning at Westwood High School.

“Think big, imagine, dream” is what Superintendent, Emily Parks excitedly announced to WHS faculty as they began brainstorming and designing these fun, unique and diverse courses.

Since Spring 2016, faculty has been designing 37 courses. A few courses include, A Foodies Guide to the History of Boston, Basic Wiring and Carpentry, Dissecting Disney, and Art of the Moving Title.  

Students are encouraged to explore a new interest or dive deeply into an existing area of interest.

J-Term courses will take place the last four days of the school year (where finals have previously been scheduled), and will be graded on a pass/fail basis with 1.25 credits attached to it. English and Foreign Language finals will not be administered, but Science, History, and Math finals will be held the two days preceding J-Term.

Selecting your J-Term course is similar to selecting electives on Aspen. To begin the selection process, students will select 8 of the 37 courses to explore during a Course Selection Fair. Here, students will attend a ten minute overview presentation of each of the eight classes they are interested in.

Parks explained, “The Course Selection fair will allow students to meet course teachers, learn about the curriculum and understand the logistics of the course.”

After viewing all eight options, students will submit the courses they’re most excited for.

Parks is most excited by the tremendous support from faculty. “Planning J-Term has been a fun opportunity for faculty to work together and think across disciplines” she proudly shared.

Ms. Parks will be teaming up with Ms. Harackiewicz, a member of the Art Department, to teach Photography in the Field: Change Your Point of View. Ms. Parks is enjoying collaborating with Mrs. Harackiewicz on the curriculum design for her course, and is excited to learn alongside students about photography under Mrs. Harackiewicz’s expert guidance.

J-term makes a WHS education unique. The hands-on learning model is uncommon among neighboring towns. The Steering Committee–comprised of administrators and teachers– has been in contact with districts located in New Jersey and Ohio who have successfully launched a similar initiative.

For more information about J-Term, check out whsjterm.org

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