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.
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.
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.
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 AlstyneJudy worked as a reference librarian and childrenâ€™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.
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
By Amy Oliveri, Director of the AC Center for Entrepreneurship and May Term Coordinator
This year’s May Term is focused on helping others. Each Session incorporates service learning into its curriculum. Three charitable drives will run until the end of May Term, which culminates in Exhibition Night on June 6th from 6:00-7:30 p.m. This school-wide celebration showcases the projects and learning that take place during these twelve days of interdisciplinary learning, highlighted by cross-divisional and collaborative teaching models. Some of our sessions are even co-taught by students. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Highlights, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
Allendale Columbia’s 8th-graders traveled to Gettysburg and Washington, D.C. in early May as the culmination of their Middle School experience, with many tie-ins to their Capstone Project. First, they visited the Gettysburg Civil War battlefield where more than 50,000 Americans lost their lives. The visit dovetailed perfectly with the class’s studies, and, as one 8th-grader said, “Being there really helped me comprehend what happened.” Mr. Seth Hopkins, a Civil War buff, guided our bus tour, providing colorful commentary on Gettysburg’s significance and on the considerable sacrifices made by Upstate New York regiments. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School
8th-grade students showcased their learning at the 2019 8th Grade Exhibition Day. This was the fourth year that 8th-graders have spent their second semester immersed in an interdisciplinary capstone experience related to World War II that combined concepts from their history, English, and science courses.
The capstone experience began after reading Most Likely to Succeed by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith, furthering the emphasis on 21st century skills such as research, collaboration, and communication versus traditional classroom learning as students prepare to transition to Upper School and the world beyond. (more…)
By Gabe Costanzo, Music Teacher
Blake Pattengale contacted me around the beginning of March to see if we had any interest in a jazz clinic at AC. I am always looking for ways to bring exceptional performers to school to show students the kinds of experiences they could be having if they continue to develop their musicianship, so this sounded like a great opportunity.
Blake and his band, the Gray Quartet, did not disappoint. They taught our students about jazz by playing a plethora of tunes, starting with today’s pop hits and working back in time to make connections with the jazz tunes that influenced pop music. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
By Beth Guzzetta, Middle School Math and Science Teacher and Lucius and Marie Gordon Chair in Science
It was finally time for the competing architects to present their proposals. Each came armed with their virtual project plans, cost estimates, and scale model to prove that their design had the optimal combination of functionality, aesthetics, and cost-effectiveness. The project: cabins for a special-needs camp in the Northeast that can accommodate ten campers and a counselor, with beds, personal storage, and a bathroom. The judges included the Chairman of one of the most respected and successful construction companies in New York State. The architects: Allendale Columbia 8th-grade math students.
The architect project is a perfect example of how we as Middle School faculty implement numerous aspects of STEM into our curriculum through authentic, real-world applications. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Middle School
The recent news coverage questioning the integrity of the college admission process is unsettling for all of us. Students work incredibly hard to earn a spot into their best-fit college and that is how it should work for everyone. At Allendale Columbia we want to assure you that we have always followed the NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices, which governs the actions of college admission officers, high school counselors, and independent admission consultants.
As your family considers next steps for the college application process, and your friends or family members consider working with AC College Consulting, we wanted to share a few reminders and best practices when it comes to supporting your child in his or her college application process.
- Stay encouraged. The vast majority of college admission decisions are based upon the holistic review of students’ merits.
- Trust our experience. Kristin Cocquyt, College Advisor, and Emily Nevinger, College Advising Consultant, have 30 years of combined admissions-related experience. We believe in the ethical practice of college advising, working with families and students on individualized plans for their college search and application processes.
- Ask our advice. If you ever feel like a company or organization is offering you additional support or guarantees that seem too good to be true, you can contact us for help in evaluating the organization.
- Trust the process. We do not condone the financial contributions of families to colleges for the purposes of preferential treatment in the admission process.
- Know we have your student’s best interests in mind, as do college admission officers. We regularly and ethically engage our professional networks to authentically support our students’ success in the college admission process.
Upcoming AC College Advising and College Consulting Events
College Consulting: Creating an Authentic, Well-Rounded Application – April 6th
What types of classes, extracurriculars, and recommendation letters make a college application stand out? This workshop is designed for students early in their high school careers, when there is time to discover and build a strong foundation. This program is open to the public.
AC Class of 2020 Family College Meetings – Now through May 23rd
Family College Meetings, which include student/parents(s)/host parent(s)/guardian(s), are crucial opportunities for us to discuss the family’s goals for the college process. During this meeting, we will create a student’s standardized testing plan, discuss the important criteria and goals for the student’s college search process, and Kristin Cocquyt will follow up with a personalized list of college suggestions and resources. Families should contact Kristin directly to schedule their meeting after one “Junior Parent Survey” is submitted in Naviance Student. Meetings can be scheduled during a student’s free period or at 3:15 p.m. Skype meetings can also be scheduled with international families. Since early planning is key to a successful college process, Family College meetings should be wrapped up before Strawberry Breakfast on May 23rd.
Kristin CocquytUnlike most of our peer schools, we have a dedicated full-time college counselor. Kristin Cocquyt's primary focus is to support, guide, and advise AC students on their college search and application process. She has been in the field of education for 13 years and has visited over 160 colleges, giving her a solid basis for recommending colleges that are great matches for our students. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Policy from Hamilton College and is a member of both the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
Emily NevingerEmily Nevinger is Allendale Columbia School's College Advising Consultant, guiding students in the greater Rochester area and beyond on the college application process, financial aid, interview preparation, essay review, and more! Emily began working at the university level in 2003 and was a senior member of the admission committees for University of Miami, Emory University, and UNC Chapel Hill. Emily holds a bachelor's degree in Public Policy from Duke University and a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration and Enrollment Management from the University of Miami and a College Access Counseling Certificate from Rice University.
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…)
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