Reed Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching

Written by Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Laura Blankenship

Grade 3 Teacher Kathy Gates explores Sedona
Grade 3 Teacher Kathy Gates explored Sedona in August 2016

Baldwin provides a wide range of support for faculty professional development, from providing funding for a single-day workshop to an extended trip. We reserve a few special awards that are more substantial and allow our faculty to immerse themselves more fully in professional development. The Reed Fellowship is an award that provides faculty with the opportunity to dig in a little deeper in their chosen field.

The Reed Fellowship is given to a faculty member who is nominated by his or her peers and is recognized for his or her excellence in teaching. He or she receives a stipend to go toward something that will benefit the enrichment of the teacher’s classroom experience. In the 2014-15 school year, Christie Reed, chair of the Science Department, was selected for the award and in the 2015-16 school year, Kathy Gates, 3rd grade teacher, was selected. Both used the funds from the Reed Fellowship to travel this past summer and explore opportunities to bring into their teaching.

Christie traveled to New Hampshire to spend a week at the Biology Institute at Exeter. She took a long course on teaching science using Harkness, and while she questioned how this could be done with such a content-laden subject, she is now a total believer in using the Harkness method. While she may not completely switch everything, there are many ways she has reorganized things to implement much of what she learned and use some of the methods.

Additionally, she had some short courses on topics such as using Vernier probeware in new ways and utilizing Google goggles for teaching purposes. She took field trips to Appledore Island, an undergraduate research facility on an island that is part of the Isle of Shoals, where they learned about the ecosystem there, including the nesting habits of several species of birds.

They visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History and had a behind the scenes tour, along with presentations of some PhD thesis work. They went tidal pooling to collect invertebrates for the tidal table, and they did lots of bird watching. Perhaps the most interesting field trip included an unexpected washed up Humpback whale on the coast of New Hampshire. The whale was enormous, very close to shore and no one was sure why or how it died. It was a full week with little sleep, a lot of collaboration, and a huge amount of professional development in terms of new ideas for how to teach biology.

Kathy Gates travelled to Boston University and attended the 2016 Poetry Institute for K-12 Educators.

Led by Boston University professor Robert Pinsky, current United States Poet Laureate, the Poetry Institute provided educators with a professional development experience based on the principles of the Favorite Poem Project. In conception, the project, with its videos at and popular anthologies, celebrates and documents poetry’s place in American culture. The Institute is devoted to improving poetry’s place in American classrooms. Teachers worked in groups throughout the week to develop lessons inspired by Favorite Poem Project materials and by the presenters, award-winning American poets: Maggie Dietz, Mark Doty, David Ferry, Louise Glück, Major Jackson, Gail Mazur, Eric McHenry, Heather McHugh, Carl Phillips and Rosanna Warren.” Learn more about the Favorite Poem Project: The Summer Poetry Institute.

In addition to her trip to Boston, Kathy recognized that this year, 2016, celebrates the National Parks’ Centennial. So, she chose to visit Arizona and explore National Parks in that area such as The Grand Canyon and The Petrified Forest, just to name a few. As a result of this amazing experience, she plans to include a research project about US National Parks in the third grade States unit this year. She also hopes to be able to connect her 3rd graders to the 9th graders through this unit as the 9th graders are traveling to The Grand Canyon in November.

These two faculty members are just two examples of our amazing team of teachers who go above and beyond for our students every day and who take time out of their busy lives to enrich themselves in ways that will benefit their curriculum and teaching. At Baldwin, our passion for learning isn’t restricted to our students. Our faculty, too, continually demonstrate their own passion for learning through experiences like these, and that passion enriches our whole community.

What We Did Over the Summer

Written by Dr. Laura Blankenship, Dean of Academic Affairs

Myriam Harvey lead a 9-day trip to Peru for Upper School Spanish classes in June.

When I was in school, we often had to write a “What I Did Over the Summer” essay during the first few days of school. I’m sure many of us did, and I’m sure many of us filled the page with descriptions of leisurely activities like swimming, hiking, or just watching tv. While faculty do have the opportunity to get in those leisurely activities, many are just as likely to have spent some portion of their summer participating in workshops or classes, attending conferences, reading new materials for their courses, or redesigning their curriculum. What follows are some of the highlights of the activities our faculty participated in that ultimately create a better educational experience for our students.

Kathy Gates (3rd grade) and Christie Reed (Science) both traveled and did work under the Reed Fellowship. Christie received the fellowship for the 14-15 school year and Kathy received it for the 15-16 school year. Kathy spent time traveling to National Parks while Christie continued her work at the Biology Institute at Exeter. There will be a more extensive overview of their work coming soon.

Athena Anthopoulos (4th grade) spent three weeks in Greece visiting her family and spending time with her two daughters. In addition to some rest and relaxation, Athena also visited museums and historic sites. She also observed and learned from the austerity measures that the Greek population finds themselves under. She says she is already making changes at home to curb the wasteful use of valuable resources and plans to bring some of those ideas into her classroom.

Stephanie Greer (LS DREAM Lab coordinator) was very busy this summer. First, she went to Constructing Modern Knowledge, where she spent the week prototyping, programming, networking, attending lectures and fully immersing herself as a learner. One of the highlights of the workshop was when she had dinner with Carla Rinaldi (of the Reggio Schools in Italy). It was a very special night, she says, as she is a fan of both Carla and the Reggio approach to learning on which she had spoken. She also attended a conference on the Question Formulation Technique, a process she’ll be sharing with the rest of the Lower School faculty and she visited a company that makes a machine that will allow us to upcycle 3D filament as part of her plans to make her classes more environmentally friendly.

Monica Henkel and Carol Beaverson (Kindergarten) attended a class at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Unlocking Creativity. They learned about fostering creativity in students and incorporating playful learning into their classes. They heard from world-class educators and participated in hands-on activities such as creating a Rube Goldberg Machine that encourages creative problem solving. They took away several important messages. From Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute at University of Pennsylvania, they were encouraged to rethink the definition of educational success and the ways in which education might stifle creativity. And from Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Temple University Professor of Psychology, they learned to appreciate the importance of play in the learning process, especially when it comes to interpersonal and collaborative skills.

Anne-Mette Hansell (5th grade) and Kathy Gates (3rd grade) attended a workshop on Google Apps for Education at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. The workshop focused on educational strategies, identified differentiated strategies within Google’s suite of tools and gave the participants an opportunity to experience Google Classroom from a student’s perspective. For more about Google Apps, check out this video.

Lynn Cohen, Christy Renninger, Barb Cass, and Jen Lee (Middle School Math) all worked together to develop curriculum for the new math sequence in Middle School. They created more hands-on activities and plan to leverage tools such as Khan Academy in order to further support student learning and to provide opportunities for review and challenge as needed. Lynn Cohen worked on strategies to support the MS teachers within the classroom, further assisting in differentiation for students. Christy Renninger also spent a good portion of her time developing the new Micro and Macro Economics classes, which she is very much looking forward to teaching.

As part of researching new approaches to the math curriculum, Jen Lee attended the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of Mathematics where she learned about some new techniques for teaching math, both hands on and online. She learned about foldable notes, an interactive physical method for taking and interacting with notes. She also discovered that Rubik’s Cube has a lending program and will be borrowing 30 Rubik’s Cubes to use with her students.

Matthew Bunn used his grant money to purchase some new books and spent time developing the new 8th grade History course. Thanks to Baldwin’s support, he was able to complete the curriculum for all seven of his units!

Kristen Brown (Art), Gabbie Alvarez-Spychalski (Spanish), Cindy Lapinski (MS Director), and Katie Burke (Computer Science) went to the MCRC session with Rosetta Lee and Alexandra Scott. Kristen had seen Rosetta Lee before, but appreciate hearing some of the same topics again. And she was impressed with Alexandra Scott’s discussion of supporting transgender students.

Lauren Friedman-Way (Library) attended Columbia Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project where she learned specific strategies for teaching Reading and Writing. Her big take-home was following: “[E]very student is capable of greatness, but we have to measure that greatness by the abilities of the individual student; that every child works harder when praised for what they did right instead of scolded for what they did wrong; that we have to manage our expectations of our students, while still keeping them high – you have to go into your class assuming that all of your students will rise to your expectations, instead of going in assuming that they will probably fail; and that being a student is hard!”

Aileen McCulloch (Drama) participated in an online course, called Untangled – Educating Adolescent Girls led by Lisa Damour, the author of the book Untangled. She found it tremendously enlightening and recommends the book itself to parents and teachers. She especially learned a lot about the ways middle school girls interact with each other and their parents and how we tend to make some of the changes girls naturally go through into a negative, when we don’t do the same for boys. I highly recommend talking to Aileen about her experience and to look for more details coming out on the blog soon!

Caedmon Haas (Latin) attended Rusticatio Virginiana, a one-week program in which participants pledge to speak, read, and write entirely in Latin for the duration of their stay. She improved her oral proficiency in the language and gained many strategies for using “active” (i.e., spoken and heard) Latin to generate higher levels of student engagement and achievement. One of the official “work” sessions each day had participants reading texts from 100 BCE to 1800 CE (all about Africa; that was this year’s theme), and she came away with a renewed sense of Latin’s importance to cultural continuity in the West.

Vicky Gold (Art) attended a class on making different kinds of books. The class was intense, 9 hours each day. She made 7 different types of folded books, and 3 bound books, a Mongolian Board Book, a Pyramid Book and an Accordion Book. She learned about various inks and techniques to make decorative papers. She cut stencils, made mono prints and layered images on top of the decorative papers. She learned about many different kinds of paste, inks and tools. Every day was a completely new experience. She looks forward to sharing what she learned with her students.

Katie Burke (Computer Science) participated in an online class called Introduction to Independent Schools. New to independent schools, Katie thought it would be important to find out more about the culture and expectations found in independent school classrooms.

With his grant money, Fred Kountz (History) purchased books for his already extensive collection and traveled to the Holocaust museum in D.C. in preparation for his elective on the Holocaust. He hopes to have students visit the museum and conduct research in the library.

Caitlin McLane (History) spent her summer working on curriculum for the new 9th grade Modern World History course. She worked with fellow 9th grade History teachers Ingrid Herrera and Matthew Bunn to lay out the units, transfer the resources from the current 10th grade Modern World History course, and create new, developmentally appropriate assignments and assessments for 9th graders. Ingrid and Caitlin also spent time discussing essential study skills and discipline-specific history skills that they want their new 9th grade course to teach. Along with her work on the 9th grade course, Caitlin spent time revising and building out my elective on Modern East Asian History and attending two professional development conferences: Facing History and Ourselves seminar “The Reconstruction Era and the Fragility of Democracy” in Brookline, MA and Gilder Lehrman’s seminar on World War I in New York City.

Gretchen Boger (History) traveled to France and Switzerland where she visited the sites related to John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation. She was able to see the churches Calvin established for early Protestants and the Huguenots, and a museum documenting much of the Reformation’s Geneva-specific history. In Paris, Gretchen particularly valued an exhibit at the Shoah Memorial Museum about women of the French Resistance. Finally, she spent the third leg of her trip in Normandy, visiting the D-Day beaches, as well as Impressionist sites and the ancient abbey of Mont St. Michel, where she was able to witness Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France.

Josiane Mariette (French) attended the Oxbridge program’s seminar in Paris where she met other French teachers and spent time discussing curriculum and strategies for teaching French. Josiane noted that the teachers were from a wide variety of backgrounds, so she got to hear many different points of view about the teaching of the French language.

Myriam Harvey (Spanish) used the Blair D. Stambaugh Award for Student and Faculty Enrichment grant to lead a 9-day trip to Peru for Upper School Spanish classes in June. The journey began in Peru’s capital city of Lima.There the students spent 2 days learning about the fusion of several ancient civilizations with the Spanish conquest and the city’s evolution into its current contemporary state. Then they flew to Cuzco where the students spent 3 days learning about the Incan Empire. In Cuzco, they explored the ruins of Ollantaytambo and Sacsayhuaman before traveling by train to Machu Picchu. The journey ended in Puno, where they took a boat ride on Lake Titicaca and visited the Taquile and Uros islands. The students spent 3 days visiting indigenous communities living on the floating islands. Most important, the students and Myriam experienced first-hand the importance of learning language and history outside of the classroom.

Adrian Cox (Athletics) directed the Baldwin Summer Select soccer program for U10 and 11 girls. The program ran for five weeks in June and July on Lower Field and attracted over 35 players from the area. The teams trained two evenings per week and played in two tournaments in Lancaster, PA and Fort Dix, NJ. Baldwin varsity soccer players Lauren Bracken ’19 and Celia Page ’19 were assistant coaches in the inaugural program. Megan Adelman’ 23, Violet Paiva ’23 and Gabrielle Reiser ’24 participated in the program and did a fantastic job. The program was a big success and in 2017 there will be teams offered in the U9-13 age groups.

Mira Ramchandani (Jewelry) enrolled in a stone setting class. It was a one-on-one hands-on workshop that focused on four different types of stone settings.  Settings included a pre-made tube setting, claw settings and a four-pronged setting to a rectangular faceted stone. The class was one of the more advanced and fun classes that she has taken in a long time.  She plans to show the girls how to set faceted stones and inspire them to be creative not only in working with metals but in stone setting as well.

Digital Respect, Education, and Safety in the Lower School

Emily Woodward is our Lower School Library Media Specialist
Emily Woodward is our Lower School Library Media Specialist

Young children are taught to look both ways before crossing the street, and teens are given driving lessons before getting behind the wheel of a car. We love our children and want to keep them safe. In this time of emerging technology, this includes instruction on how to navigate an increasingly complex online world.

A portion of the Library/Technology curriculum in the Lower School is focused on the development of “digital citizenship.” According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), this term encompasses respect, education, and protection (safety) around devices and while online. In the Lower School here at Baldwin we teach students from PreK – Grade 5 how to interact with technology, as well as with other people while online. With a solid understanding of what it means to be a digital citizen, our girls are better equipped to manage the information and choices that they will encounter online.

For our youngest students in PreK and Kindergarten, this starts with learning how to care for technology and how to use iPads responsibly. They interact with apps and manipulate different types of media in a safe and controlled environment. As their horizons begin to expand, students in Grades 1-2 are taught strategies for navigating the Internet safely, including how to identify and access safe websites, what to do if something unexpected happens, and why we need to protect our private information. They also visit the Library webpage and are introduced to a social media aspect of the Library catalog. Here in a safe, private environment students learn that our Baldwin Core Values also apply online as well.

This focus continues in Grade 3, where the primary message is that being responsible is important online, just like at home or school. The term “cyberbully” is introduced and we discuss how we need not only to be kind to others, but also to speak up if we observe any negative behavior. In Grade 4, one area of concentration is how to take advantage of the many resources available online and includes copyright and ownership of digital content. Here students learn how to appropriately credit creators of images and other materials.

By the time they reach Grade 5, students are able to incorporate each of these previously taught skills and ideas and to think more deeply about their role as digital citizens. They create a “Digital Citizen’s Pledge” to display in the Lower School hallway, detailing appropriate behaviors online. We also discuss our digital footprints and the fact that once something goes online other people can see it and send it out. In preparation for their future studies, we review how to tell whether or not a website is authoritative and stage a mock trial to determine whether the information provided on a website is of sufficiently good quality.

As a community member of Baldwin, you might be asking yourself how you can find out more information about this topic. Two resources that I’ve found particularly helpful are:

  • Common Sense Media , which offers digital advice as well as book and movie reviews, and
  • ISTE, which provides information and strategies for learning more about technology and online tools.

In closing I would like to quote from the article “Essential Elements of Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship is a complex topic with many facets. We need to make sure we help students understand the issues that might occur online while also stressing the positive impact of technology. As many educators know, most students want to do the right thing — and will, if they know what that is. Let’s help them do great things with technology while avoiding the pitfalls.  

i2 Camp Comes to Baldwin

Pallavi Sreedhar '17
Written by Pallavi Sreedhar ’17

After last year’s exams had ended and summer had officially begun, I still arrived at the residence at 8 a.m. the following week. What was I doing at Baldwin on this sunny morning of June 2015? The oversized blue polo that I was sporting could only mean one thing … the first day of i2 Camp at Baldwin. i2 Camp is a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related program for middle and lower schoolers, developed by leading organizations like MIT and the Museum of Science in Boston. The camp exposes 5th -8th graders to STEM in innovative ways that they might not see during the school year. Taken directly from their mission statement, i2 strives to “excite and inspire campers,” which they do through “hands-on, project-based learning.”

Baldwin is one of the 65 locations where i2 was held, and four weeks of four different STEM courses were offered. Ms. Daley ran last year’s camp and was joined by three Baldwin teachers: Ms. Lee, Mr. Barnes and Mr. Greenhalgh. In addition, Sally Chen ’17, Emma Sass ’17 and I worked at the camp as Near Peers; we assisted the teachers and campers while learning a lot ourselves. In the first two weeks, the courses were Digital Game Design, in which campers used an online program called ‘Star Logo Nova’ to create an original game; and Surgical Techniques, in which campers practiced suturing, performed a biopsy and even dissected a sheep’s heart. The last two weeks were Building an Interactive Friendly Monster, where campers programmed a stuffed animal to light up and make sounds; and Chemical Engineering, where campers experimented with polymers and bio-plastics.

I was a Near Peer at the camp for two weeks and assisted Ms. Lee in the Digital Game Design course. Although I was new to the Star Logo Nova program, I was able to use some of my knowledge from the Computer Science course that I took last year with Dr. Blankenship. In Computer Science I, we had to type out our code in a program called Calico, whereas in Star Logo Nova, the campers dragged different pieces of the code from a toolbox, and fit them together in the correct sequence.

I was amazed by how easily some of the students were able to figure out the program, and I admired the persistence of the campers undertaking the occasionally frustrating task of programming. The best part of the camp for me, however, was the excitement of a student when he or she accomplished a particularly troublesome task. By the end of the week, the campers had mastered Star Logo to a point where they actually recited a list of possible improvements to the program developer himself (through Face Time). Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Near Peer at i2 and I hope to work at the camp this coming year as well.

The Baldwin School will host i2 Camp again this summer, from June 13 to July 8.  Click here to learn more and register!

Computer Science for All

Laura Blankenship
Dr. Laura Blankenship is the Interim Dean of Academic Affairs and Computer Science Chair.

On January 31st, the White House announced its new Computer Science for All initiative, aimed at encouraging schools to offer Computer Science from Kindergarten to Twelfth Grade as part of the core curriculum. The initiative provides funding that will help educate more teachers in Computer Science, conduct research into effective teaching practices, and encourage states to accept Computer Science as a graduation requirement. It also puts the power of the White House behind a movement that’s been building for many years. Organizations such as CSTA,, Girls Who Code and TechGirlz, to name just a few, have been arguing for more CS Education for years. And while progress has been made, there’s more work to be done, and having the White House behind that work will be a big help.

Did you know, for example, that only 1 in 10 high schools even offer Computer Science? And did you know that the AP Computer Science test has one of the lowest number of test-takers? And did you know that only about half of all states allow Computer Science to count toward the Math or Science requirement for graduation (and no, Pennsylvania is not one of those states)? Many of us carry around a device in our pockets that’s hundreds of times more powerful than the computers that got us to the moon in 1969, and yet, knowing how to program that device is not considered a core skill by most schools.

Just following Obama’s announcement about this new initiative, Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, appeared on The Daily Show. In her interview, she said that she thought the lack of CS Education in schools was “the most important issue of our time.” Her program has taught 40,000 girls to code so far, which is a good step toward trying to bridge the gender gap that exists in the technology industry (see an earlier post of mine for more on this). She lamented the “brogrammer” culture that’s developed around the tech industry, which sometimes turns girls off to pursuing Computer Science.  And she talked about how girls tend to approach building things with an eye toward helping others.  

In our DREAM Lab® program, which is under the Computer Science department, we focus on Design Thinking, which is all about designing with empathy in mind. I’m seeing that play out now in my Mobile Computing class. In the class, the students are competing in the Technovation Challenge, which requires them to build an app to solve a community need or problem. The girls have divided into two teams and are working on an app to promote a healthy physical lifestyle and an app to help high school students deal with stress. To complete their apps, they need to be able to empathize with those who struggle with these issues and to see things from their perspective.  As Saujani said, girls do tend to be able to empathize more easily than boys, though it is still challenging for any teenager, as many of you out there know.

I’m very proud of Baldwin’s own Computer Science program, which is one of the few that offers a solid curriculum in Computer Science from pre-K through Twelfth Grade. While Computer Science is a thread that runs through the entire DREAM Lab® program, a required course for girls through eighth grade, in the Upper School CS is an elective. I’m happy to say that the US CS program has grown from just two students six years ago to more than 50 now. I credit that to the exposure the girls are getting to Computer Science in the Lower and Middle School DREAM Lab® as well as the publicity CS has been getting nationally over the last few years.

We have had several students over the past few years graduate and continue on into either Computer Science as a major or a field closely related to it. Jasmine Syed ’15 is in the Engineering School at Duke. Rachel Tipperman ’15 and Hannah Tipperman ’15 are studying Computer Science at Brown. Laura Bunn ’14 is studying Computer Science at Colgate. And Rebecca Haley ’14 is studying Materials Science at Case Western where computing is a key part of the program. And these are just the students I’ve heard from.

If you’re a Baldwin parent, know that your daughters have opportunities to learn Computer Science that many others do not. They get to experience coding and computational thinking in a very hands-on environment in our DREAM Labs®. And once they get to Upper School, there are a variety of courses and after-school activities they can participate in. But if that’s still not enough, there are programs on weekends and in the summer that your girls may be interested in. One that Saujani mentioned on The Daily Show was the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion program for high school girls. Although the program just ended for this year, Google offers students the opportunity to work on real projects and to be mentored along the way through the Google Code-in program. TechGirlz offers workshops on the weekends for Middle School girls. And Alexa Café (part of IDTech) offers summer programs for girls aged 10-12 and 13-15. These are just a few that I’ve heard of this year. Keep in mind that many of these programs offer just a taste of programming or computational thinking. The courses at Baldwin offer a more sustained experience and in-depth experience that can provide the foundation girls need for a career involving technology.