Lisa Turner: Caribbean Literature: Wor(l)ds Beyond the Cruise Ships
"Caribbean Literature: Wor(l)ds Beyond The Cruise Ships," a senior elective taught by Upper School English teacher Lisa Turner, invites students to enter--and perhaps re-consider--a region often viewed from a distance. In early March, guest lecturer Dr. Maurice Hall of Villanova University delivered a lecture entitled "Social Performance and the Organizing of Culture in the English-Speaking Caribbean." On that rainy Tuesday after lunch, students arrived to the sounds ofsoka music, and then enjoyed a "sneak preview" of Dr. Hall's current academic work on performativity, liminality and Creole culture. Using course texts as a springboard, Dr. Hall examined the social and political implications of Carnival, enlisting senior Jacob Lowe to join him in an enactment of Louise Bennett's poem "Cuss-Cuss" (a verbal sparring session in Creole). Students recently completed visual-literary project combining a watercolor representation of one of the novel's themes and an original "blackout poem." Other lecturers have included EA Upper School Spanish instructor Dr. La Verne Seales-Saley ("Negritude: a Comparative Perspective") and professor/choreographer Tania Isaac ("Helen, Heaven and I": A Theory of Caribbean Identity Through Movement). The course has brought together resources from multiple communities and disciplines--all of the featured speakers are also EA parents!
Grace Wingfield: Merging Geometry with a SMART Board
Upper School math teacher, Grace Wingfield, is taking full advantage of the newly installed SMART board in her classroom. In teaching Geometry, the SMART board helps to show the students accurate drawings and makes the class time more efficient, since the time is spent in analyzing and discussing the work instead of drawing the angles and shapes. She can also post her notes onto Blackboard with much greater ease since they are all saved as Word documents. This allows the students to be fully engaged in the work that is being done in the classroom because they can always print out or review the class notes at a later time.
One specific advantage of the SMART board for geometry is to differentiate instruction in learning how to develop proofs. While some students are able to quickly determine the logical steps of a proof, others struggle. With the SMART board, all the statements and justifications can be given in random order to be rearranged. A removable screen hides the statements initially allowing all students to write and consider the problem before providing scaffolding. The randomly ordered steps give the reluctant students a place to start. Most of all, a student who otherwise might not have the opportunity to go to the board suddenly can participate in an interactive solution process. Students who are able to develop the proof on their own are not held back by the steps and often come up with an alternative solution method to share with the class. Each student arrives with a proof and builds critical thinking skills in the process.
Steven Ramirez: Using Tumblr and Google for American History
Upper School history teacher, Steven Ramirez, has begun to use a Tumblr blog and Google Calendar to communicate with his 11th grade US history class. It's a more fluid way to share information and a better way to distribute documents from anywhere. Steven also has the covenient Google Calendar synched to his class (see screenshot). Steven is also able to post useful links, maps, interactive features, and upcoming assignments. To view Steven’s blog, visit Sramerican.tumblr.com
Matthew Memmo, AP Computer Science - The “May Term” Project
year, Matt Memmo attempts to come up with a creative, real-world applicable
project for his AP students to work on after the AP Exam is taken in
early May. This year, for the “May Term,” the non-seniors
in the class, Alicia Borromeo and Nicholas Paolino, have been working hard to create a
mobile phone app that gives students and faculty instant access to
their class schedules. The task required use of everything they
learned about computer science \during the year plus a quick lesson
in creating effective Graphic User Interfaces. They also used the Web
2.0 tool DropBox.com to share files with their teacher and each
other. Both students worked outside of class time to finish the app
before the semester ended. You can view a screen shot of the finished
app below. In addition, if you have an Android mobile phone (or
tablet) you can download the app now from the following link, .
The app works well, but Nick plans to work on it some more this
summer to refine it. The team also plans to have it ported over
for the iPhone in time for the fall semester. A special thanks to
Alex Pearson for providing the group with the data feeds that make it
Lord of the Flies Final Project
Heather Dupont’s II Form students have been immersed in an end of the year Lord of the Flies Final Project. The students had the ability to take ownership over what types of deliverable they had to turn in. To view some of the student submissions, click here.
Tweets from ’Nam—Innovative Student Responses to the American Literature Curriculum
Upper School English Teacher Lisa Turner’s American
Literature students create non-traditional “products”
that demonstrate deep understanding of a text’s characters and
themes in innovative ways.
‘Multi-Modal Presentations’ draw upon individual
students’ varied strengths as thinkers and
communicators,” Ms. Turner explains, “be they filmmakers,
actors, creative writers, musicians, painters, sculptors, or new
media experts. Students propose, plan, complete, and then share these
projects with each other (and sometimes with other members of the
community) in a kind of celebration. In fact, the students seem not
to care about the ‘point value’ associated with these
assignments, devoting as much or more time to them as they would to
more traditional assignments. I like that the projects extend
naturally into realms outside of the traditional English curriculum,
fluidly incorporating new technologies and other disciplines.”
The year of
presentations began with a hump-shouldered, colonial English speaking
Sean O’Reilly (pictured below), who delivered a diabolical
original monologue in the guise of Hawthorne’s Roger
Chillingworth. For Their Eyes Were Watching God, John Durovsik
and Alex Leto wrote and performed a “Shakespeare-Hurston
Mashup,” transforming Hurston’s vernacular prose into a
two-act play in iambic pentameter, and then delivering the
performance in Shakespearean dress with, sound, lighting, and a
formal printed program. Jay Farrell and Jack Eldridge starred in and
enlisted younger members of the Eldridge clan for their short film
based on O’Brien’s Vietnam-era collection, The Things
They Carried. Brendan McManus, John Durovsik, and Madison Craft
wrote a series of “tweets” (140-character messages) from
the perspectives of various characters from O’Brien’s
novel . Inspired by O’Brien’s character Mary Anne, Amber
Davis (pictured below) created a necklace from her double-dutch rope,
a pen, and other items representing her identity (Mary Anne’s
necklace is made of human tongues!); she wrote an Artist Statement
describing and interpreting her choices.
Josh Raphaelson and Nick Paolino’s short film inspired by The
Things They Carried:
the short film starring Weezie Chakejian, Jenn Adelizzi, and Arielle
Silvera as Vietnam soldiers (and the love interest-gone-AWOL, Mary
Brendan McManus’ Web site showcasing The Scarlet Letter
Cannon Pilot of USIP Peace Curriculum and CAP Project
Sue Cannon’s 6th grade history students pilot United States Institute of Peace curriculum (as they prepare to change the world)!
For several years, students in
Sue Cannon’s 6th grade history classes have been making history
themselves with the Citizenship Action Project (CAP). Cannon writes a
“simple” homework assignment on the board: “Change the world. Details
coming soon.” This year, she introduced a special twist to the
introduction. Cannon piloted several classes developed by the United
States Institute of Peace’s Global Peacebuilding Center in Washington,
D.C. These lessons, in draft form, are intended to “encourage students
to think critically about the world around them and their place in it.”
During these lessons, students developed definitions of conflict and
peace, “met” numerous Nobel Peace Prize winners, and enacted a
conference of actual global adolescents who have worked to make the
world a better place. After introducing several pilot lessons and
filing detailed evaluations to USIP, Cannon showed students a video of
current Episcopal Academy 9th graders describing their CAP projects in
detail. As they watched the older students, current 6th graders added
to their brainstorm lists of ways they want to change the world. Former
students encouraged the younger students, “This CAP project makes us
feel that we have a voice,” said one. Another reflected, “I learned I
can change the world in small doses, one at a time.”
Using the social-change model of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, Cannon helps students to identify a problem in the home, school, community, country, or the world about which they care. They examine root causes and active ways to improve the situations. As they share action plans
with the class, Cannon guides them to make the plans effective and
“do-able” as students work on their CAP plans alone or with others
during the spring. Students report on projects to the class and community in a CAP FAIR on May 24. Finally, students evaluate
the effectiveness of their actions to change the world for the better.
Cannon details this project in her soon-to-be-published book: Think, Care, Act: Teaching for a Peaceful Future.
Click here for photos from the project.
Singapore Math: Web-Based Paths to Sophisticated Instruction and Assessment
This year the Lower School adopted a new math program entitled, Math In Focus: The Singapore Approach, which has helped to foster divergent, multi-step critical thinking and problem solving strategies along with a deeper conceptual understanding of skills. It includes a web-based component that allows teachers, students, and parents to gain online access to not only textbooks and workbooks, but also online assessments. Students receive real-time feedback, and their scores provide key information for teachers to personalize follow-up instruction.
Andrea Danial notes that one of the most significant changes resulting from the implementation of the new program has been attitude. “Our children love math!” she writes. “To visitors, they identify it as one of their favorite parts of the day; we even see children choosing to “play with math” during indoor breaks and recess! This positive attitude is an important factor in developing the other four learning areas developed by the program. Fourth grader Shelby Sheward agrees; she says that the program “helps children learn faster […] and it's easier for teachers to teach because you use bar models and it's simpler.”
With the web-based content available at all times, the “I left my workbook at school” impediment to student work disappears; a student can print workbook sheets at home, and in the case of absences, teachers can send an email to let the student know what pages in the textbook were covered and which practice pages to complete. Because many of the concepts are new (number bonds, bar modeling, unusual terminology, etc.), parents have the ability to review the textbooks online to see how a concept was presented.
Mrs. Pearn, one of the Lower School Math Resource teachers, explains that pedagogically the program offers wonderful benefits: “It helps students become more agile with mental math and gain better number sense. For instance, a 5 is not simply seen as 5 ones, but can be seen as parts of a whole – 3 and 2, 4 and 1, 5 and 0.” While other math programs drill and assess in discrete blocks, Singapore Math keeps circling back to concepts covered earlier, incorporating them into each new unit.
Learning Science Via Facebook Pages!
If you’ve walked the halls of the science building this semester, you may have noticed Facebook pages hanging on the bulletin board. If you look closer, you would see they are the Facebook pages of famous scientists. Angela Miklavcic, Upper School Science Faculty, had her students learn about a scientist by creating mock Facebook pages for them. Students had to pick a scientist that they identified with in some way, research them and, using Power Point templates provided by Ms. Miklavcic, they completed their Facebook pages. The assignment allowed the students to be creative and have fun while performing enough research to fill the scientist’s Personal Info, Wall, Photos and Links Facebook pages. This lesson culminated with the students giving a presentation to the class. Below are the links to two of the mock pages. If anyone is interested in obtaining a Power Point template for use in their own class, please contact Angela.
Project Example 1 | Project Example 2
Creativity in the Classroom
MS Modern Language teacher, Alan Duprez has found an easy way to incorporate several foundational 21st Century Skills into daily lesson plans. Through the use of creative design software found on www.pixton.com, Senor Duprez has introduced creativity, peer-to-peer editing, groupwork, interdisciplinary aspects, and alternative assessments to his Spanish students. Pixton is a web-based program that lets students create and edit their own comic strips. Students are encouraged to be creative and original in their work. By combining grammar concepts that are taught in class and a fun and simple editor, students create different scenarios from shopping at the supermarket to attending classes at school. The comic strips are then printed out for peer editing, correction, and later graded. Most importantly, the students LOVE working with Pixton and the assignments are presented by the students and put on display in the classroom.
Open-Ended Learning: “Affinity Projects” in Carol Leach and Betsy Welch’s 2nd Grade Classes
teaching” challenges instructors to seek out ways to make
learning an internally motivated, rather than externally imposed,
process. This year, Lower School teachers watched the films
"Rethinking Pedagogy, Part 1" and "Learning to Change,
Changing to Learn” as a way of exploring open-ended,
self-directed learning. Second grade teachers Carol Leach and Betsy
Welch designed their “Affinity Project” with this goal in
mind: that students should choose and then pursue learning that feels
particularly meaningful, authentic and exciting to them.
described in Carol’s parent email as an “educational
experience that will ignite passion,” surely met its goal!
Students designed painstakingly crafted dioramas, class displays,
personal costumes, and even mini field trips to share their expertise
on everything from “The Care of Horses,” “The Civil
War,” and “The Life Cycle of a Dog” to “The
US Armed Forces,” “Squid,” and “The Sport of
and Betsy extended the idea of student choice to other aspects of the
project as well, including the final presentation format, the day on
which students would present, and the research methods used to gather
information (students had the December holiday to conduct research
with the help of their families). In class, Carol and Betsy provided
access to library books related to student topics, and worked with
librarian Gretchen Simon to orient and support students in web-based
research, using Pebble Go! as a search tool.
the project, as a culmination piece, the students wrote reflections
using Microsoft Word. Carol Leach reports that they refer back to
their projects often; this month they will write poems about their
topics for National Poetry Month.
Using Jing to Teach AP Chemistry
Angela Miklavcic, Episcopal’s Upper School Chemistry and AP Chemistry teacher, used our Powerful Learning Practices (PLP) program and their technology workshops to create several video lessons using Jing. She created these through the generous Class of 1944 faculty development grant. This is professional development at its best at EA – nurtured by supported graduate studies, inspired by savvy technology training, developed in the summer with professional development funds, and integrated seamlessly into teaching and learning. To view Angela’s Jing lessons/reviews, click here.
Paperless Study of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
The II Form History curriculum spends the entire winter trimester immersed in the conflict in the Middle East. The students refer to this ongoing problem as the Arab Israeli Dilemma. Students in Will Gibbs’ class studied this six week unit in a “paperless” manner.
1.) An makeshift online textbook was used to guide the students through roughly 2000 years of history: http://prezi.com/blg1tzlm98zb/the-arab-israeli-conflict/
2.) Digital/Collaborative Notes were taken using www.typewith.me
3.) Podcasts were created to “tell the story” of the Dilemma: http://inside.episcopalacademy.org/drum/ms/wfg/GIBBSPODCASTS/STORIES/Erin%20Johnson.mp3
4.) Oral tests were taken using Lingtlanguage.com. Students were simply shown six pictures - and using the theory - “a picture is worth a thousand words,” they were asked to “tell the story” of the Arab-Israeli Dilemma using the pictures as their inspiration. Here is a screencast demonstrating how the kids took the test. http://inside.episcopalacademy.org/drum/ms/wfg/Lingt.swf
5.) On March 7th, the entire 8th grade took part in a day long Axis of Hope Workshop where the students negotiated using role playing scenarios to problem solve some of the ongoing issues in the Middle East - specifically the sovereignty and custodianship of Jerusalem. Their final project, a 250 word essay outlining their own proposed peace solution will be sent to President Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East George Mitchell.
The workshop was led by Dr. Carl Hobart: http://www.axisofhope.org/axis/our-founder-carl-hobert.html
Axis of Hope homepage: http://www.axisofhope.org/
Technology and Jazz
Since moving to the new campus and having access to the state of the art MIDI lab, Music Teacher Ryan Dankanich has been using the technology in the lab with the upper school Jazz Ensemble in a creative way. He uses the Apple music editing software, Garage Band, to record the students' individual parts and adds them to a more complicated music piece. This allows them to hear how their part would sound in the context of an ensemble without actually needing to have the ensemble there. Since the software allows you to download the music as an MP3, it also provides students with a tool to use for practice at home.
Here’s an example mp3 recording that Ryan used for Upper School Student, Milton Rico, 11’, click here.
Innovation@EA: “Discovering Weightlessness” Project in Burke Natatorium (Pre-K)
Last week, Nancy Reinhard led two Pre-K classes of Astronauts-in-Training through the rigors of deep-space, including cleanup of free-floating intergalactic refuse and fixing meal plates and utensils to non-floating surfaces. Of course, each AIT remained tethered to a Senior Astronaut for maximum safety (and to avoid drifting away into oblivion).
Conveniently, the space training took place in the Burke Natatorium on the EA campus, where parents and children experienced the wonders of weightlessness . . . in bathing suits. The innovative lesson provided an intensely kinesthetic component to the Joyce Gavin and Kempley Bryants’ students’ extensive study of space (which has included construction of actual spacecraft, design of new constellations, and the viewing of a YouTube video of actual astronauts training for space travel).
The lesson incorporates several elements of “innovation” currently under study by the 21st Century Learning Committee, defined as “student-centered learning that promotes curiosity, encourages innovation, develops critical thinkers, and requires collaboration.”
Check out these two short videos for a glimpse of the Space Training Lesson in Burke Natatorium:
Mini-Interview with Mini-Astronaut Colby Gannon