Second Graders Learn About Cities by Meeting with a City Planner and Building Their Own!

Posted on December 10th, 2019 by acsrochester
Learning about cities
As part of our project-based learning in Lower School, our second graders are learning about cities and what goes into designing and building one. Project-based learning is dependent upon the collaboration of several teachers and in-depth planning. Throughout this unit, the classroom teacher, Annie King, sought the expertise of our STEM teacher, Donna Chaback and our art teacher, Shari Ellmaker. They worked on concepts of engineering and the arts as they designed blueprints of their ideal city and then worked in teams to decide where certain businesses, landforms, and organizations should be located. Once they had a plan to propose, they presented their ideas to a mock city planning board comprised of Head of School, Mr. Gee, Head of Lower School Mrs. Feiss, Head of Middle School Mrs. Duver, Director of the AC Invent Center Ms. Crosby, and Director of Food Service Mrs. Reynolds.

 

Meeting with a Rochester City Planner to learn about transportation systems
After receiving feedback from the mock city planning board, the students were ready to design their own 3-D city. Public transportation was an issue the mock planning board raised, so the second grade students began their research in this area and quickly became experts learning about a variety of traditional and cutting edge transportation systems. They were captivated to learn about Elon Musk’s Hyperloop train as well as Sea Bubbles which are being tested in Paris, France. They also met Manager of Special Projects for the City of Rochester, Erik Frisch to discuss different transportation systems and learn more about the city of Rochester as they planned and created their own city, Birchville.

 

“What about a homeless shelter?” turns into donating to RAIHN
Next, students wrote and sent emails to members of the AC community asking what is needed to make a community great. One response they got was about a homeless shelter and how shelters are an integral part of a community. Once the students learned this, a deep and meaningful class discussion took place, resulting in their decision to include a homeless shelter in Birchville. This conversation also moved them to want to take immediate action to help those affected by homelessness in the Rochester community, so they decided to sell the crock-pot applesauce they’d been making in their classroom each week. The sale generated $140 which the students then donated to RAIHN, a non-profit that assists homeless families to achieve sustainable independence by supporting them with shelter, food, personalized case management and a network of caring volunteers.

 

Community Art
The students decided early on that they wanted art to be a part of Birchville, so they took a field trip around Rochester viewing a variety of sculptures to help determine what they wanted in their own city.  Then, Art Teacher Mrs. Ellmaker helped them design a collaborative sculpture (called “Colorful Life”) which is located in the center of Birchville.
The formal “ribbon-cutting” of Birchville was held on Monday, December 9th. Click here to view the Spectrum News coverage of this event.
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Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Highlights, Lower School, LS Birches, Second Grade, The Birches

You Never Know What Seeds are Planted During May Term

Posted on June 6th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Judy Van Alstyne ’88, Head Librarian

You never know what kinds of seeds are planted during May Term. Four years ago, Tony Tepedino and I offered a Middle School May Term called Getting Schooled the Minecraft Way. At that time, Mojang still owned Minecraft; MinecraftEDU was a separate installable modification (mod) which allowed teachers to host servers specifically for their students to engage in Minecraft activities designed for learning all kinds of concepts.

Garrett Wilson, Ethan Truong, Carter Previte, and Ben Smoker work on Minecraft during AC May Term 2015.

We had high expectations for the ten Middle School boys who signed up. They weren’t going to be students in a Minecraft activity designed by us grown-ups; they were going to have Lower School teachers as clients, designing educational activities for students in grades two, four, and five. For the second grade class, four boys (Dylan Reece, Ben Smoker, Jack Wheeler, and Garrett Wilson) designed “U.S. Landmarks” to teach about symbols of the United States. For the fourth graders, three boys (Marlin Bassett, Henry Grasman, and Cameron Perry) designed “Bomber Math” for practice in calculating area. For the fifth graders, three boys (Caden Kacprzynski, Peter Klem, and Kasi Natarajan) created “Island Adventure” to teach geometry, measurement, and economy. The boys worked hard and had fun, and when we concluded by inviting the Lower School students in, everyone had fun playing and learning. It was a success that we were sad to end.

Jonathan Ragan tries his hand at a Minecraft May Term in 20115.

But this past week, the Rumsey Library was alive again with students (this time in Upper School) busily playing and creating with Minecraft thanks to two of those former Middle School students, Caden Kacprzynski ‘20 and Cameron Perry ‘20, running a student-led May Term titled Experimenting with Architecture and Code in Minecraft: Education Edition. Now computer experts, they explained to me much that has changed in the Minecraft education world. Mojang was bought by Microsoft, which created a new product for teachers called Minecraft: Education Edition. Caden and Cameron explained how much easier it is (no need to create a local server, for example) and it has a coding curriculum already built in (in conjunction with Code.org). Learning how to code has the immediate benefit of allowing users to create more efficiently and with enhanced functions, for example, building a wall with one command rather than placing each block individually. There are also more possibilities for saving work to be shared with others in the future.

Cameron Perry ’20 and Caden Kacprzynski ’20 lead a student-led May Term titled “Experimenting with Architecture and Code in Minecraft: Education Edition.”

Caden and Cameron decided that for their May Term, they would keep the parameters somewhat loose, requiring only that students work solo or in groups to create worlds for others to play and explore, so long as they incorporated coding into each world’s creation. Each world provides challenges for players such as finding secret levers, parkour, and escape rooms. They reflected on how much noisier those ten Middle School boys were compared to this group of fifteen Upper School girls and boys. Also of note is how much more skilled older students are with group problem-solving. Although they were initially concerned that their peers might not follow their instructions or be engaged in the work, they were pleased to see everyone working very hard on their projects, even skipping breaks or parts of lunch in order to make more progress. Similar to what Mr. Tepedino and I discovered long ago, giving students autonomy to play and create keeps them very engaged!

In preparing for May Term Exhibition Night, I discovered the laminated Minecraft instructions from four years ago. While the Lower School players from the past are now in Middle School and probably don’t need them, we suspect some parents will find them very helpful! I also found the signs we had put up for each of the projects the Middle Schoolers had created. Cameron and Caden each took one as a souvenir; Caden remarked, “This is more meaningful to me than any certificate I could have gotten from a summer camp.” We are so proud that Caden and Cameron decided to share Minecraft with new learners, and we hope they are proud of themselves! And we hope you found a chance to play a little Minecraft on Exhibition Night, June 6th!

Judith Van Alstyne

Judith Van Alstyne

Judy worked as a reference librarian and children’s librarian in several public libraries in the Rochester area before coming to Allendale Columbia in 1997. At AC, she serves as Head Librarian and teaches Digital Literacy, Information Literacy, and library classes for students in nursery through first grade. Judy holds a bachelor's degree from Tufts University, a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a Master of Library Sciences Degree from Simmons College. Judy is leaving AC after the 2018-2019 school year to complete her PhD in Education (Teaching & Curriculum) with a focus on digital literacies and online learning.
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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Invent, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Fearless Friday: Chopped Watercress Salad

Posted on May 31st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Fearless Friday: Chopped Watercress SaladFor our final Fearless Friday of the 2018-2019 school year, Super Chef Yessie Roman whipped up a fresh chopped watercress salad dressed with a red wine and dijon mustard vinaigrette. Food Service Director Laura Reynolds-Gorsuch and an intrepid group of Lower School taste testers tried it on Friday, May 31st. The verdict: thumbs up with some qualifications, though one student said it was the best thing she’s had all year, and Mrs. Reynolds-Gorsuch really liked it! (more…)

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Posted in: Highlights, Lower School

Lower School Curriculum Unveiled for 2019-2020

Posted on May 23rd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Michelle Feiss, Head of Lower School

View the Lower School Curriculum Night slideshowThis past Tuesday evening, we unveiled Allendale Columbia’s new Lower School curriculum for the 2019-20 school year. Over the past 10 months, teachers have met in various teams to research the best programs globally in order to develop new standards for mathematics, literacy, and our project-based learning units for next year at AC. (more…)

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Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade

Lower School Reads for 100 Minutes at Camp Read-A-Lot

Posted on May 10th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Students camped out at school with some good books as Allendale Columbia’s Lower School students completed their 100 minutes of reading at Camp Read-A-Lot on May 10th. (Read the preview, Wolfie Stirs Students to Read and Help for May 10 Read-A-Thon.) (more…)

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Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade

Rereading the Same Books? 3rd-Graders Rock Reading Challenge

Posted on May 10th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

by Arielle Gillman and Shari Ellmaker, 3rd Grade Teachers

Do you ever find yourself or your child(ren) stuck re-reading the same few books, over and over again?

This past winter, AC third-graders were tasked with completing a challenge to expand their reading stamina and book choice. Similar to the book tasting they did early on in the year (see “Expand the Menu to Enrich Your Child’s Reading”), students were exposed to six different genres of text: poetry, nonfiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, graphic novel, and biography. From here, the third-graders had about six weeks to read at least one book from each genre and complete a short form highlighting key details and their personal reflections about each book they read. (more…)

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Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, Third Grade

Wolfie Stirs Students to Read and Help for May 10 Read-A-Thon

Posted on May 3rd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

by Randy Northrup, 5th Grade Teacher

Students from Nursery through Grade 5 gathered in the Curtis Performance Center (CPC) for a Read-A-Thon Kick-off. Mrs. Michelle Feiss, Head of Lower School, noticed all sorts of camping equipment on the stage and, along with the students, figured that AC mascot, Wolfie, was up to something.

Sure enough, Wolfie shared that he was missing all the fun he had at Camp Howl-A-Lot last summer and was trying to recreate the experience. After talking about all of the fun activities he enjoyed at camp, Wolfie asked what students at AC like to do. (more…)

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Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Nursery, Pre-Primary School, PreKindergarten, Second Grade, Summer LEAP, Third Grade

AC School, Students Win Awards at Terra Regional Science Fair

Posted on March 21st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia won the Terra School Award at Terra Science and Education’s Rochester Finger Lakes Regional Science and Engineering Fair (TRFSEF) hosted by Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC). Thirteen AC students also received recognitions at the event, including the right to advance to higher-level competitions.

Sixteen AC Middle and Upper School students submitted 11 projects, the most of any participating school, which resulted in the award that comes with a check for $2,000 for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiatives. The students packed up their AC Innovation Day Science Fair projects and took the displays the next morning to RMSC. After setting up their projects and passing a Display and Safety check (science can be “messy”, after all), the students went to a lunch keynote address by Maria G. Korsnick, President/CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute.

“Science Fair is inspiring and invigorating, because all these students are excited about science, every student, from fifth graders who are doing behavior projects with their cats and a dog to senior research projects that have to do with cancer diagnosis and research and machine learning, really high-end stuff,” said Maya Crosby, Director of the AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation, and Director-in-Training for TRFSEF. “But everybody who is here is excited about their project and can’t wait to talk about it with the judges who are coming around. That curiosity all packaged in one room is really inspiring; that’s the great part.” (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School