When the pandemic sent students home last spring, Mr. Ragan and Mr. Costanzo had a problem— how would they conduct their usual May Term gardening course with all of their students working from home? You see normally, May Term is an immersive educational experience that allows a teacher to teach the same group of students on topics they are passionate about for six days, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. That clearly, wasn’t going to be the case this year.
Enter “Get Out and Grow!”, a day of hands-on instruction for students starting their own patio or yard gardens at home! Weeks before the course, Mr. Costanzo and Mr. Ragan sorted and planted hundreds of seeds in their homes to “start” plants for students who needed them. As May Term neared, Middle School families filled out wish lists of preferred plants and seeds. The teachers then distributed dozens of custom boxes filled with tomato, squash, pumpkin, cucumber, broccoli, basil, sunflower, lemon balm and pepper plants, as well as seeds for lettuce, potatoes, and other herbs and flowers. The boxes were placed physically distanced a part in the school parking lot and families drove up to find their box.
During the four May Term days, Mr. Costanzo and Mr. Ragan co-hosted the course on Zoom from their own gardens, getting down into the dirt to demonstrate gardening techniques such as planting seeds and transplanting starts. Students were given time to work on their own gardens, and, by day’s end, most were off and growing. By mid-summer, they sent photos of vining beans, staked tomato plants, squash plants out of control, and budding peppers! Not long after came shots of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes of all sizes, and basil as a bonus! Next came green peppers turning red, and, as summer waned, pumpkins turning orange. In October, pounds of potatoes were dug up, and the tomatoes kept growing, for some, right into November. One student posted the mashed potatoes she made, and others showed off baskets filled with their harvests.
Mr. Costanzo and Mr. Ragan thank all of the students and their families who participated in their May Term and discovered or reignited their joy for gardening.
We hope that this year will have been the first of many great harvests!
Watch Mr. Ragan, Mr. Costanzo, and Mr. Hopkins starring in “The Tomato Snatcher II: COVID Edition”!
Andrew RaganAndrew came to teach Middle School History at Allendale Columbia School after 20 years in educational publishing and living in Pittsburgh, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, and the Adirondacks. He began writing for young people at Junior Scholastic magazine and has since published hundreds of articles in such magazines as JS, Scholastic News, Disney Adventures, Creative Classroom, and more. After teaching freshman composition at the University of Southern California for several years, Andrew served as the Senior Editor for Disney Adventures Magazine. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Communications, with honors, from Carnegie Mellon University and his master's degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.
Gabriel CostanzoAs an instrumental music teacher at Allendale Columbia School, Gabe teaches 4th Grade Band, 5th Grade Band, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and Music Theory. He held the David M. Pynchon Chair in the Visual and Performing Arts from 2008 - 2013 and is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He earned bachelor's degrees in Music Education and Music Composition from SUNY College at Fredonia and a master's degree in Music Composition from Bowling Green State University. You can also find him on horn and vocals for the local band The Buddhahood.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Highlights, Middle 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.
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 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.
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
Allendale Columbia’s “Biking Beyond Rochester” May Term class is collecting old and used bicycles for R Community Bikes, a partner organization that collects and fixes used bicycles for free distribution to Rochester’s most needy students and adults. They also provide a tune up and teaches basic repair skills to AC’s group. The “Biking Beyond Rochester” students will be collecting bikes at Exhibition Night on June 6th. Bikes can also be dropped off at the AC athletic entrance with a “FOR DONATION” note on it. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Highlights, Middle School, Upper School
Allendale Columbia’s Community Service May Term group is collecting prom dresses, formal dresses, and accessories to donate to Fairy Godmothers, a non-profit organization that gives back to the community. Please bring your gently used dresses and accessories to the Welcome Desk at Allendale Columbia School. Donations will be accepted through Thursday, June 6th. Please contribute!
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
by Gabe Costanzo
Near the end of the last school year, in the second session of May Term, I had the privilege of working with five ambitious Upper School students who took on the task of renovating Allendale Columbia School’s vegetable garden. Danielle Fuller ’18, Kenny Mogauro ’18, Toshi Shizuuchi ’20, Aaron Kalvitis ’19, and Roxy Reisch ’20 met me in the Band Room, my home base, on the first day of May Term, and we had a discussion about the factors that contributed to their participation in this particular May Term course, “Grow Your Own Food.” (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
Every year at the end of the spring semester, Middle and Upper School students at Allendale Columbia complete their usual curriculum and begin May Term. May Term exists to provide educational opportunities outside of the normal structures of the school year to support intellectual discovery, encourage collaboration, and foster community involvement.
Here are some May Term highlights so far this year:
- Students learned about honey bees, built a beehive, planted flora that bees love, and installed a starter colony of bees at the school garden in the “Buds and Bees” course led by Mrs. Guzzetta and Mr. Costanzo. Students will continue to monitor the hive and harvest honey in the fall.
- A panel of judges from the AC Kitchen and maintenance evaluated student culinary creations in a Master Chef-type competition, with students presenting the science behind the creation of those food items in the “Science of Cooking” course led by Ms. Crosby and senior Gio Martino.
- In “Human Impacts on the Environment”, AC students worked with students from the World of Inquiry School 58 at a Water Quality Summit in Rochester to understand the Genesee River ecosystem, which was featured on WROC and WXXI. Mrs. Lisi and Mr. Godkin led this session.
- In “Life Underwater”, students explored the flora and fauna in Corbett’s Glen with Mrs. Guzzetta.
- Students visited the Women’s Rights Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls as part of “Nevertheless, She Persisted” (above) with Mr. Neeley
Other topics included:
- Positive Psychology
- The Great Outdoors
- Console Wars: The History of Video Gaming
- Be Here Now: Mindfulness as a Practice
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What would Susan and Frederick Think? The Legacy of Rochester’s Agitators
- Muse: Making a Magazine
- Bilingual Theatre
- Building, flying and using drones for media production
- Music with Kids
- Confidence & Courage: Dare to Show Up, Be Seen, & Be Brave
- Wheelin’ Through Rochester’s History
- Stigma and Mental Health: Issues and Interventions
- Ornithology Science and Art
- Exhibition Night Planning
- Grow Your Own Food
- Social Impact Filmmaking
- Day Trading and Cryptocurrency Lab
- Making Community Service a Way of Life
- 2019 College Workshop
- The AC Genome Project
- Innocence and Guilt: Learning about the Law
We’ll have additional updates as May Term progresses. Everyone is also welcome to participate in an interactive May Term Exhibition Night where students will discuss their projects on Thursday, May 7th from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
One of the highlights of May Term is our culminating event called Exhibition Night. Each May Term session creates an interactive exhibit with which attendees can participate. Experience exhibits spread across the entire first floor of our school, inside and out. Check out our newest residents in the apiary built during May Term, and taste some of the delicacies created by the Science of Cooking class that investigated the chemistry of cuisine.
This year we will share our learning and experiences on Thursday, June 7th, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. We hope you join us to learn more about the incredibly innovative work happening during May Term. All Middle and Upper School students are required to attend this integral part of the learning experience. For students, this is a dress-up occasion. The Tom Wahl’s food truck will be in attendance for any families who wish to purchase dinner or snacks as they experience the exhibits! (more…)