What We Did Over the Summer

Written by Dr. Laura Blankenship, Dean of Academic Affairs

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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.