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
As News 8 Anchor Adam Chodak said, “You can add that to the list of things I never did in school.” Allendale Columbia’s 7th-grade scientists got out of the classroom and into knee-high water boots to survey a portion of Irondequoit Creek in the hopes of returning more than 160 trout back to nature. Just another Earth Day at AC.
It was all part of a Trout in the Classroom project that AC Science and Math Teacher Beth Guzzetta initiated back in September. She received brown trout eggs from the Bath Fish Hatchery and guided the students through the lifecycle stages of caring for the eggs, watching them hatch, and keeping the fish strong and healthy in a classroom aquarium. Students helped to set up the 60-gallon aquarium and monitored the water quality daily (even over breaks!) to make sure it was safe for the fish. If the students weren’t sure about something, they had to do the research and then make adjustments based on what they learned. Regular water changes were a must, so students learned how to safely complete 25-gallon water changes. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, Seventh Grade
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 Andrew Ragan, Middle School History Teacher
Game of Empire has become an activity every year that seventh-graders really look forward to.
We’ve been focusing a lot on the colonial era. In the Americas, of course, that largely relates to Britain’s colonization of the Americas and the great mercantile (trading) system of the British Empire. Game of Empire simulates the whole British mercantile system in the Atlantic. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade
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
With the importance of connections being central to the mission of Allendale Columbia School, we treasure opportunities for collaboration across members of our community. On Friday, March 1st, students, teachers, staff, administrators, and family members came together in a special after-school event to build connections through music-making as a band. This side-by-side concert was coordinated by instrumental music teachers Lynn Grossman and Gabe Costanzo.
What is a side-by-side concert?
Side-by-side concerts are opportunities for musicians of various ages and ability levels to get together to perform together as a group and learn from each other while celebrating learning and growth in a fun, low-stress environment. In this event, parents, older siblings, grandparents, extended family, and family friends were all invited. School faculty, staff, and administrators were also welcome to join in the fun. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Fifth Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade