Students at Allendale Columbia School have a strong team of Student Support Services professionals ready and willing to work with students from Nursery to Grade 12. The team members discussed their various roles at the Parents of Allendale Columbia Kids (PACK) Coffee Connection on November 14th.
Starmeshia Jones, School Psychologist and Director of Support Services
As the School Psychologist and Director of Support Services, I have the privilege of working with students from Nursery through Upper School. I partner with families, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals to foster a safe, healthy, and supportive learning environment. I consult and collaborate with teachers, meet with parents, and provide short-term or crisis counseling to students. Additionally, as needed, I conduct classroom observations and emotional and behavioral screenings. I am a member of the Student Success Team (SST) in Lower School and similar support teams in Middle and Upper School. Working closely with both the Lower School Reading Advocate and Middle/Upper School Learning Advocate and the Pittsford Central School District, I strive to be a resource for information related to special education. I promote problem-solving, anger-management, and conflict resolution, and I reinforce positive coping skills and resilience. I make referrals to, help coordinate services with, and serve as a liaison for individual community-based providers.
Carrie Shone, Speech-Language Therapist
As the Speech-Language Therapist, I provide observations, screenings, and services to children in grades Nursery through 5. I’m also available for consultation in Middle and Upper Schools (Grades 6-12). As a member of the Student Success Team (SST), I support our students in a variety of ways. Screenings are carried out for Kindergarten students, new students, and students referred to the SST. Services may be provided individually or in small groups. The areas I address include articulation, language, auditory processing, dysfluency, voice, pragmatics, and social communication. The student’s teacher and I determine together the best times for services to be provided, and changes are made as needed. Services are provided in the classroom, the Speech room, or a combination of the two. The least restrictive environment is taken into account as plans are made.
Kristen McKenzie, Math Learning Advocate, Lower School
As the Math Advocate for Lower School, my job is to support teachers and students with math related learning. I also serve as a member of the Student Support Team in the Lower School and of the school’s Academic Leadership Team. My first priority is to ensure that teachers have the support that they need in order to provide the best math education for each and every student in the classroom. I meet with grade-level teams regularly to discuss plans for the daily differentiated learning opportunities that are being provided to students in the classroom. In addition, we discuss student needs at all levels. If a child’s individual needs are not being met with daily classroom math instruction, the teachers communicate with the Student Success Team. SST members discuss an action plan that could include my direct support for a student in and/or out of the classroom. If additional support is recommended for enrichment opportunities or reinforcement of concepts, parents are contacted and a schedule is determined with the classroom teachers. Finally, I help evaluate the Lower School’s mathematics curriculum and Exit Learning Objectives (ELOs) to ensure that we are providing a well-aligned vertical curriculum that will provide students with the necessary tools for their future.
Amanda Gianniny, Reading Advocate, Lower School
I support teachers and students with reading and writing instruction and serve on the Student Support Team and the school’s Academic Leadership Team. First and foremost, I work to ensure that teachers have the support and resources they need to provide differentiated instruction in the classroom. I regularly discuss plans and student needs with grade-level teams at all levels. If a child’s individual needs are not being met with daily classroom literacy instruction, the teachers communicate with the Student Success Team, who then discuss an action plan, which may include my supporting a student directly, in or out of the classroom. Parents are contacted and a schedule is determined with the classroom teachers if this type of additional support for reinforcement or enrichment are recommended. I am also involved in evaluating the Lower School’s reading and writing curriculum and Exit Learning Objectives to make sure that our vertical curriculum is well-aligned vertical curriculum and provides students with the necessary tools for their future. Additionally, I serve as the Special Education Case Manager for the Lower School. If a child receives special education services or is being evaluated for possible services, I work with Pittsford, our home district, to make sure those services and provided.
Seth Hopkins, Learning Advocate, Middle and Upper Schools
As the Learning Advocate at the Middle and Upper Schools, my job is to support each AC student in accessing as much of the program and as many of the learning opportunities as is possible and appropriate for that student. I do this by helping to design, create, and manage systematic supports, but I also individual and individualized supports. In addition to working with and for students directly, I also collaborate with AC teachers, parents, and staff in their efforts to support our kids. I work regularly with students at the group and individual level and have worked hard to make myself, and the advocate position, an important member of the entire AC community. I do this because every student, regardless of the level of academic maturity, effort, talent, or acumen, will struggle at some point during their time at AC, and we want them to know that help is only a far as the nearest adult.
In addition to the AC staff listed above, every faculty member and administrator at Allendale Columbia is prepared to advocate for each child’s learning and knows when to suggest additional resources. AC receives additional services as needed from the Pittsford School District.
Posted in: LS Birches, MS Birches, PACK, The Birches, US Birches
A delegation of educators from Belarus, seeking ways to boost innovation and economic development and cultivate a competitive workforce, visited Allendale Columbia School because of its reputation as the best school to visit for its “bottom-up” approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), which formally begins in Kindergarten.
STEM-based education is a very new notion in Belarus, an Eastern European country bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Young people have limited access to STEM-based education due to lack of resources and trained teachers. The goal of this visit was to introduce Belarusian professionals to innovative practices of promoting and implementing STEM-based education programs for school-age children in the United States.
Even in the U.S., it’s estimated that 2.4 million STEM jobs are going unfilled. According to Pew Research, one of the biggest cross-national tests, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), placed the U.S. 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science, and out of the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science. In addition, 78% of high school graduates don’t meet benchmark readiness in math, science, or English. Also of concern is the disproportionately small number of girls/women and minorities in STEM fields.
The solution, according to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and many industry experts, is to begin STEM education at an earlier age. In that, AC is a known leader.
AC Lower School Director of STEM Sue Sorrentino and Lead STEM Teacher Donna Chaback, who have hosted dozens of these types of visits for U.S. and foreign schools, began with an overview of the Lower School program, which begins with basic concepts of navigation using colorful and friendly-looking Bee-Bots in Kindergarten (even Nursery and Pre-kindergarten students are introduced to them in the second half of the school year). They demonstrated a full progression of increasingly advanced concepts and, very importantly, hands-on, team-based problem-solving experiences with a variety of robotics systems, based on the students’ developmental stage through to fifth grade.
“We believe firmly in a bottom-up approach, starting at an early age with age-appropriate experiences,” said Sorrentino. “Children are naturally curious problem-solvers. We teach twenty-first century skills that they can build on, like innovation and collaboration. Students who go through our program are able to tackle much more complex problems when they get to Middle and Upper School.”
Eyes lit up as the delegates heard what young learners were able to do. Their questions ranged from structural issues like the amount of time students spend in STEM education to questions about the progression of programming and how learning is evaluated.
Maya Crosby, the Director of AC’s Invent Center for STEM and Innovation, and Kate Western, Interim Director of the AC Center for Global Engagement, then introduced the visitors to a panel of Middle School and Upper School students. The delegates wanted to know more about how these student’s experience in early STEM education helped them solve engineering problems. Next, the delegates visited with a Middle School physical science class doing a lab on mineral identification. These students were able to demonstrate how the focus of STEM education at Allendale Columbia School is on the “how” of science. Teacher Teresa Parsons explained to the delegates that the goal of the lab was on developing the skills used, not on memorization of content. Finally, the delegates toured the Middle School and the Upper School robotics design and building rooms to see the current space exploration themed challenges students are working on in their FIRST Robotics competition teams.
At the conclusion of their visit, Head of School Mick Gee talked about how Allendale Columbia prioritizes “can-do” versus “must-do”. “Instead of teaching more and more curriculum, we have to be intentional about providing opportunities throughout the curriculum for students to do their own projects, do their own research. We want to give students opportunities to be a scientist, to be an engineer, not just learn about science and engineering.”
Our local partner, Rochester Global Connections, provided some reactions from the group. Two of the delegates mentioned that AC is what they would like their schools to look like in the near future. Another delegate expressed how extremely impressed they were with Sue’s and Donna’s presentation. “The work they are doing is innovative and incredible, and the concepts discussed will be truly useful in helping to structure our own curriculum with children.” During the last action planning session, about half of the group highlighted AC as the best site visit they had throughout the Rochester portion of the program. They were thrilled to have the opportunity to observe a robotics activity and interact with the kids in a classroom setting.
A strong partner with the AC Center for Global Engagement, Rochester Global Connections, helped facilitate the Rochester portion of their tour. Rochester Global Connections is a non-profit organization that works with the U.S. Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and U.S. embassies abroad as a liaison between international visitors and their Rochester-area counterparts. The tour was sponsored by the Community Connections Program of USAID, and was funded through USAID’S Bureau of Education Growth and Trade (EGAT)/Office of Education. The broad public diplomacy goal of the Community Connections Program is to contribute to economic and democratic reform and to promote mutual understanding through exposure to U.S. society and personal connections with Americans and participant countries.
Photos by Zhanna Ivanova from Rochester Global Connections and John Palomaki.
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
Congratulations to Callahan! Our Great Pumpkin weighed in at 122 pounds, and Callahan’s estimation of 111 pounds came the closest to the actual weight without going over! Callahan wins a gift bag with some treats as well as a gift certificate for a free Encore class for the 2018-19 school year.
The U.S. Department of Energy held its Western New York Regional Science Bowl Competition on March 3rd at St. Christopher’s School in Buffalo, New York. Allendale Columbia sent a team of Middle School students to participate for the 13th year in a row in this past-faced and intense academic competition. The National Science Bowl (NSB) is a science and math competition using a quiz bowl format with buzzers. The competition has been organized and sponsored by the United States Department of Energy since its inception in 1991.
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, MS Birches, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, The Birches
How do you help students understand multiplication and division of fractions? Eat them! (The fractions, not the students.)
Beth Guzzetta’s fun approach involved having each of her sixth grade math students bring in a family recipe or researched recipe, nut-free, of course, with several students using recipes with other allergy-friendly foods. She then had them calculate the quantities of the ingredients needed to make 23 servings, the number of students in the class, using multiplication and division to reach the appropriate ratios. Then, after that in-class exercise, the students made their recipes at home and shared them at school. (In a concession to practicality, they could round up the quantities for actual baking, since it’s somewhat difficult to accurately divide some ingredients, like eggs, into twenty-thirds.)
We didn’t interview the teachers of the classes that came after math, but we’re pretty sure the students bounced in from Ms. Guzzetta’s class with a new appreciation for fractions (though some were discovering the potential benefits of moderation).
Posted in: Middle School, MS Birches, Sixth Grade, The Birches
This week, our fifth graders completed their individual, design-oriented projects that they created with their eleventh grade partners. Fifth graders were allowed to choose any material and format to create a winter decoration or object. They began the process by brainstorming with their eleventh grade partners, drawing ideas and making lists.
Through the process, the students learned how electrical circuits worked by including batteries, conductive thread, and colored LEDs to allow their pieces to light up. The project required design, science, technology, engineering, and math skills.
A large group of AC educators were involved in helping the fifth graders realize their respective visions, including the Upper School S.T.R.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) collaborative group leaders Lori Kimbrough Wun, Jeff Lawlis, Artie Cruz, Kelsey Lisi, and Brent Neeley. Also advising students were fifth grade teachers Randy Northrup and Stephanie DePaul-Pragel, Lower School S.T.E.M. teachers Donna Chabak and Sue Sorrentino, and art teachers Mallory Gregor and Amy Oliveri. Design tools that the students employed for their projects included design applications and 3D printing, a Cameo Silhouette printer, hand-constructed patterns and fabric, and sculpture.
Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, Highlights, Lower School, Upper School
The Allendale Columbia School kindergarten is busy practicing addition. We begin our addition unit by discussing the concept of putting groups of things together by having a “bears picnic.” The kids are given a picnic mat with a honey pot that has a number on it. They work in partners to place two colors of bears on the mat to equal the number on the honey pot. Coming up with different combinations of the two colors of bears allows them to see that different numbers can add up to the same answer. For more of a challenge the kids can also work in groups of three.
When we have worked with the bears for a bit, we move on to “Addition Stars.” This game has partners coming up with a number sentence using two addends that equal a sum of twelve or less. The kids use colored blocks for the addends and a number card to show the sum. If the number sentence is built and read correctly, their team gets a star on the board. The teams may earn another star for that round if their sum happens to be the same as the “secret sum” card that the teacher picks and hides before the round begins. The “secret sum” cards are numbered 0-12, like the student cards, but also have a “lowest sum” and “highest sum” card. The game is played for several rounds each day, for several days, until everyone has a strong grasp of the concept. When we are done with the game and have a solid grasp of addition using manipulatives, we move on to paper and pencil addition.
The kids love the game and are eager to earn stars and bonus stars. They even choose to independently use the game in small groups during free time in the classroom. The kids in the Allendale Columbia kindergarten are indeed “Addition Stars!”
Posted in: Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School
“When would I ever use this math?” is a frequent question in some math classes, but not Mrs. Guzzetta’s Math 8 classroom. Her students have been very busy learning about and reinforcing the concepts of ratios, scales, percentages, trigonometric functions, Pythagorean Theorem, area and perimeter relationships, slope, statistics, and more during the first few months of school. Upon entering the class in September, students were put in the role of architects as they developed and planned a summer camp.
During the initial planning stages, students analyzed the landscape to design the best zoo enclosure for the space provided while taking into consideration cost, aesthetics, and functionality. This enabled them to develop a better understanding of the relationship between area and perimeter. Once this concept was better understood, students delved into the task of designing a cabin that could house ten campers and one counselor and included a bathroom. Careful analysis was displayed as students tried to win the bid from the camp directors. Last Friday, the budding architects presented their plans to a “board of directors” from the camp to determine which architecture firm would receive the bid. Students used their Google Docs to assist in their presentations, which also included scale models with two roof options and three-dimensional models made on their iPads using the game Minecraft. Lots of STREAM every day!
Math 8 students never wonder when they will be applying the math that they are learning. It is applied every day to various areas. With the closing of the architect unit, students have become secret agents and are learning about coding. Stay tuned to learn what fun math concepts have been incorporated into the coding unit. As Caesar would say, “pdwk lv dzhvrph!” Just ask a Math 8 student!
Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School