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
At this week’s PACK (Parents of Allendale Columbia Kids) Coffee Connection, Amy Oliveri, Director of the new AC Center for Entrepreneurship, discussed her vision for the Center. Though she was only hired for the position at the beginning of this school year, she’s making good progress in helping students not only learn about entrepreneurism but actually become entrepreneurs.
The vision for the new Center is for it to be “a hub for entrepreneurship that will create opportunities for our students/participants to make an impact on the world at an unprecedented level by learning to adapt to a constantly evolving world, connecting globally, and carving their own path. This authentic way of thinking and working develops a universally applicable and transferable mindset and skill set.”
One of the visible changes she’s brought forward is having students run the AC school store, the Wolf Den. Students manage inventory, do marketing, and work as clerks, having learned the Square point-of-sale system that they use in the store and in the new online store at wolfden.allendalecolumbia.org.
Another effort is engaging with the AC Center for Global Engagement on such things as the Senegal trip that has students partnering with an organization to solve real-world problems in Senegal, and with the AC Invent Center on things like TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool. There are also connections to local businesses, such as the Mindset to Skillset program where students pitch ideas to local entrepreneur judges.
Of course, there are many curricular impacts. Lower School offers Junior Achievement and Innovation Day. Middle School students can take such classes as Business and the Entrepreneurial Mind; Entrepreneurship: Makers and Problem Solving; Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, and B Corps; and Modes of Persuasion. And Upper School has a huge range of opportunities, including courses in Behavioral Science, Social Innovation, and the Act of Solving Problems and Having Influence; Innovation and Design; Professional Writing; Financial Literacy: Personal and Business Finance; and Digital Design and Illustration.
If you missed the talk, you can take a look at the slides by clicking on the image, and contact Amy Oliveri with any questions, comments, or opportunities.
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Lower School, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, The Birches, Upper School, US Birches
It’s February and already time to begin thinking about the next school year. Allendale Columbia students and parents transitioning from grade to grade in Lower School, from Lower School to Middle School and Middle School to Upper School have many questions about the changes they’ll experience, so AC’s Next Steps programs help address those questions and make the transitions easier.
Because of the close-knit community and smaller class sizes at AC, the transition from Lower School to Middle School isn’t as traumatic as it might be in larger schools, since many of the students and teachers know each other already. But there are still many changes, in addition to learning where things are in a different wing of the building and switching from being with one teacher most of the day to having different teachers and classrooms for each subject. After some introductory discussions with Head of Middle School Tina Duver and others, the Next Steps program paired sixth grade ambassadors with fifth grade students to guide them through a typical day’s routines, giving an introduction to teachers, classrooms, and schedules.
Students found they will have more independence from teachers and parents in the decisions they can make at school and in having to advocate for themselves and take advantage of the abundant support opportunities when needed. With that independence comes responsibility to get homework and projects done, manage their time well, and keep a key fob to get in and out of the buildings on campus. They enjoyed the idea of choice in electives that increases over time and in choosing (and creating!) clubs to join. By the end of the day, the fifth graders seemed ready and excited for the change.
The transition to Upper School elevates those same characteristics of independence, responsibility, and choice to another level. Head of Upper School Ryan Burke talked about that, in particular pointing out the increased independence and responsibility includes forging their identities and making choices about their friends, relationships, getting the support they need, and use of time. In a panel discussion, current Upper Schoolers shared their experiences with the eighth graders, answered questions, and gave tips, with a lot of interest on time management, workload, scheduling, and preparing for college.
Eighth graders also experienced some of the variety of courses they will be able to take come September when they enter ninth grade. Some of these courses include Astrophysics, Behavioral Science, Biochemistry, Environmental Science and Sustainability, Creative Writing, Modern Middle East, Studio Music Production, and Painting and World Art, in addition to more traditional subjects like History, English, Algebra, and Geometry.
Parents with children transitioning from grade to grade in Lower School are also doing a Next Steps program today, with an introduction and Q&A with Head of School and Acting Head of Lower School Mick Gee and visits to classrooms for the grades they will be moving up to. Students experience a similar walk-through of their next classrooms which is always a wondrous experience for them.
The buzz of transitioning to a new grade and a new Division is often tempered with concerns, but AC’s Next Steps programs help ease anxieties early on to best prepare students and their families for what lies ahead. One of the most exciting parts of the program for all involved is to see the students’ natural curiosity, wonder, and excitement of gaining new choices, independence, and responsibility.
Posted in: Eighth Grade, Fifth Grade, Highlights, Lower School, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, The Birches, US Birches
by Tina Duver
Adolescence is a time where teenagers can struggle with the navigation through the rough waters of social interactions, academics, independence, and self-doubt. Here at Allendale Columbia, we are a responsive community who constantly engages our students in dialogue around topics of community and inclusivity. That dialogue in middle school has led to our participation in the KIND Schools Challenge.
Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert defines happiness as “frequent positive feelings accompanied by an overall sense that one’s life has meaning.” In the Leadership and Experience Lab elective, students clued into this and spent some time discussing what it meant to be happy while being a middle school student at Allendale Columbia. They learned that psychology research has shown a very strong connection between happiness and success in the workplace for adults. Why couldn’t this apply to life as a student, and what would that look like? For our students, words such as belonging, inclusivity, connection, respect, understanding, and relationships came up repeatedly.
When the students in the Leadership and Experience Lab elective came across the KIND Schools Challenge, they sensed an opportunity to create dialogue to continue discussion and for students to truly think about inclusivity and happiness within the middle school and actually put it into action. Knowing that kindness has the power to unite school communities and undermine common issues such as bullying and harassment, Making Caring Common was created. It’s a joint project from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and The KIND Foundation who have partnered to launch the KIND Schools Challenge. Students across the country were invited to envision a project which brought kindness and inclusivity into their schools, budget for it, and have a plan to put it into action.
The Leadership elective went to work and submitted three separate projects. In the end, one project, entitled, B.R.I.C.K., caught the attention of the KIND Schools Challenge organizers and was selected as a top 10 finalist from over 200 approved applications. The concept behind B.R.I.C.K. was the fact that walls are often symbols or barriers or exclusion. For the students in the B.R.I.C.K. group (Josh Nozik, Joelle Blankenship, Sean Li, Keria Donnelly, and Chris Smoker), it meant something much more. Walls can be built to protect and to keep things in, such as along a river or to protect wildlife. B.R.I.C.K. stands for Building Respect, Inclusivity, Community, and Kindness), and their idea was for every student in our community to paint a brick that represents them. The bricks would be discussed in advisory, and students would learn more about each other and encourage a feeling of inclusivity. Then, the bricks would be assembled together in the middle school hallway to represent that every brick of a wall is important, and if one of the students were not part of a community, an empty place would be left behind, making the wall weaker.
Through the generosity of the KIND Foundation and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the project is being funded and supported to be considered for completion to be considered for the grand prize. The students have been engaged in check-in calls with Harvard and The KIND Foundation to make sure they feel supported and to answer any questions. Students are currently working on painting bricks with not only the middle school community, but staff, faculty, and Upper and Lower School students as well. In April, they will submit their impact report to the Foundation.
Tina DuverAt Allendale Columbia, Tina serves as the Head of Middle School. She has taught Science and Leadership at AC for over 15 years. Tina earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She brings her natural curiosity, energy, and excitement to education. Tina is also a die-hard Red Sox fan.
Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, The Birches, US Birches
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, MS Birches, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches
Allendale Columbia has deepened its global impact in Nicaragua by initiating a relationship with the 2 Wheels Bike Project. The project’s founder, Alejandro Solano, believes that every child should have the chance for an education to help them break out of the cycle of poverty. Therefore, he provides bikes to children in need to help them get to school and assist their families with daily life.
AC middle schooler Keira Donnelly led the initiative to sell hand-made Nicaraguan bracelets to students in order to support the project. Due to her efforts and the generosity of the Middle School students, AC raised and donated $100 to the project. This means that two young children in El Sauce, Nicaragua, won’t have to walk over an hour to school any more. They will be able to use their new bikes to arrive safely and quickly to school.
This partnership will come full circle in May when a group of AC students will go to El Sauce to build two homes for families in need and visit a rural school. While experiencing this, our students will see how much of an impact they have made with their humble donation of two bikes.
We hope to make this an annual tradition. If you would like to support this initiative, please visit www.2wheelsproject.org.
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Kid Kudos, Middle School, MS Birches, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, The Birches