Students camped out at school with some good books as Allendale Columbia’s Lower School students completed their 100 minutes of reading at Camp Read-A-Lot on May 10th. (Read the preview, Wolfie Stirs Students to Read and Help for May 10 Read-A-Thon.) (more…)
Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade
by Arielle Gillman and Shari Ellmaker, 3rd Grade Teachers
Do you ever find yourself or your child(ren) stuck re-reading the same few books, over and over again?
This past winter, AC third-graders were tasked with completing a challenge to expand their reading stamina and book choice. Similar to the book tasting they did early on in the year (see “Expand the Menu to Enrich Your Child’s Reading”), students were exposed to six different genres of text: poetry, nonfiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, graphic novel, and biography. From here, the third-graders had about six weeks to read at least one book from each genre and complete a short form highlighting key details and their personal reflections about each book they read. (more…)
by Randy Northrup, 5th Grade Teacher
Students from Nursery through Grade 5 gathered in the Curtis Performance Center (CPC) for a Read-A-Thon Kick-off. Mrs. Michelle Feiss, Head of Lower School, noticed all sorts of camping equipment on the stage and, along with the students, figured that AC mascot, Wolfie, was up to something.
Sure enough, Wolfie shared that he was missing all the fun he had at Camp Howl-A-Lot last summer and was trying to recreate the experience. After talking about all of the fun activities he enjoyed at camp, Wolfie asked what students at AC like to do. (more…)
Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Nursery, Pre-Primary School, PreKindergarten, Second Grade, Summer LEAP, Third Grade
From Kindergarteners’ dreams inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech to rhombicuboctahedrons made by fifth-graders, students in AC’s Lower School demonstrated some of their recent work in a Celebration of Learning assembly.
After reciting the “I Have a Dream” Poem in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, each Kindergarten student read a dream they have for the future. These kind-hearted children included dreams for everyone to have a house and car, food, water, give to others, take care of children, keep the world clean, help other people, and for everyone to be loved.
First-graders recalled facts they learned about local animals, with masks they had made with Ms. Alexander. They also performed a rap song they wrote with Mrs. Grossman about recycling:
Save the Earth, Recycling Wins!
By the First-Grade Rock Band
We want to help you know,
where all the trash should go.
If you have a piece of toast,
Where to put it? The compost!
Plastic, paper, cardboard, cans
If you recycle, you protect our lands.
Put them all in the big blue bin!
Do this now, and you will win!
Dirty wrappers, broken toys,
Listen up, girls and boys!
Don’t put things in the wrong space,
it makes our earth a stinky place.
Just as fun as playing!
Saving our earth is thrilling!
Just as fun as playing!
Saving our earth is thrilling!
“Bee Kind” was the second-graders’ motto and recent project, with its bee mascot, Zinger, whose voice made everyone giggle. They presented different ways people could add kindness in their daily lives. They also performed a regal “Kings and Queens” folk dance.
What strategies can be used to multiply numbers? Third-graders performed a skit to demonstrate multiplication strategies they’ve learned, including skip counting by threes, the sevens distributive property, halving the fives, and using solvemojis to “crack the code” of symbols representing numbers in multiple operations, and having an “ice cream party” treasure hunt after solving their 1,000th math problem of the year.
AC fourth-graders presented part two of their Zero Hunger project, explaining how wasting food also wastes money, labor, fuel, water, and time, and giving tips on how to reduce food waste with waste monsters:
- Take smaller portions!
- Eat all your crusts!
- Plan ahead to buy food you will actually use!
- Use up leftovers. Make a soup or an omelette. Just use them up!
- Clean out your pantry. Use up food close to expiration or donate. Preserve, pickle, or can food!
They also wrote and recited a food waste reduction pledge:
As an Allendale Columbia school student, I pledge to do the following.
- I pledge to be mindful about food during lunch.
- I pledge to ask about portions when getting more food.
- I pledge to waste as little food as possible by taking only what I will eat from the salad bar.
- I pledge to try and drink all of my milk, juice, or water each day.
- I pledge to be appreciative of the hard work our lunch staff does on a daily basis.
- I pledge to be courteous when informing others about the importance of curbing food waste.
- If I am out to eat and there are leftovers, I will bring it home in a box.
How many books have you read since September? Fifth-graders updated everyone on their 40 Book Challenge, where each student is challenged to read 40 books from a variety of genres. They’ve read a total of 239 books this school year, and since their last Celebration of Learning in November, they’ve read 102 books. They explained how to make polyhedrons (many-sided objects), starting with “nets,” which are flat shapes that can be folded into 3-D objects; rhombicuboctahedrons, objects made by folding paper into 6 triangles and 18 squares; and stellated (star-shaped) rhombicuboctahedrons with 18 folded pyramids. They also watched the documentary, “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm,” which inspired the students to write letters to the film’s creators.
There’s a whole lot of learning going on in Lower School!
John PalomakiJohn is a parent of twin boys in Middle School at AC, an active volunteer, and occasional contributor of stories and photos. John spent a stimulating 10 years at Microsoft through the 90s as a systems engineer and managing executive relations programs. Since then, John has worked with non-profit organizations and has held leadership roles in independent schools in New Jersey and Connecticut in development, communications, and technology. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences (Biology) from Colgate University.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade
Support Allendale Columbia School by Shopping at Barnes & Noble in Pittsford on December 13th!
Enjoy caroling, guest story readers, student musical performances, arts and crafts, and more! Just mention “Allendale Columbia” at the register and a portion of your purchase will be donated to support our students!
Thursday, December 13th
Barnes & Noble in Pittsford Plaza
3349 Monroe Ave.
Student performances, arts and crafts from 3:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Parents of Allendale Columbia Kids (PACK) invites parents, guardians, and grandparents to help make the AC Book Fair a success by volunteering! Shifts are 30-60 minutes long and include set up, staffing the welcome table, and helping with the craft table.
Sign up to be a volunteer here. (sign in to MyAC required)
The AC community will be onsite at Barnes & Noble spreading holiday cheer. Plan to be there to hear musical performances or a story from Mick!
- 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.: Brass Ensemble and Chorus perform
- 5:00 – 5:30 p.m.: Solo Performances
- 6:00 p.m.: A Story with Mr. Gee, Penguin and Pinecone
- 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.: Brass Ensemble and Chorus perform
Gift Wrapping (Complimentary!)
Now you can buy your gifts AND get them wrapped! Parents and AC staff will be there to wrap your gifts and tag them with AC cheer. Gift wrapping is free but donations to the Allendale Columbia Book Fair are always appreciated!
You can also order a delicious Cheesecake Factory dessert through the B&N Cafe and a portion of the purchase will be donated to AC. The Winter 2018 menu includes Hershey’s® Cheesecake, Red Velvet Cheesecake, Plain Cheesecake, Cinnabon® Cheesecake, and Carrot Cake. (Hungry, yet?!) Order now through Dec. 18th by downloading the order form.
- Pay by cash or check made out to Barnes & Noble.
- Drop off your order form and payment at the AC Welcome Desk anytime before Dec. 13th or bring orders directly to the Barnes & Noble where you’d like to pick up your cheesecake. Orders submitted directly to Barnes & Noble must be brought in between Dec. 13th-18th to count toward the AC Book Fair.
- Pay by credit card in the store by simply bringing your completed order form to the B&N Cafe.
- Pick up your cheesecake at the store where you ordered any time Barnes & Noble is open. They stay open until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve!
- Cheesecakes are frozen so allow a day or two in between your pick up date and your enjoy date.
- AC Book Fair pricing is only good for cheesecake orders placed and paid for by December 18th, 2018.
Can’t attend in person?
Visit BN.com Dec. 13th – 18th and enter our Bookfair ID 12392049 on the payment page at checkout.
Posted in: LS Birches, MS Birches, The Birches, US Birches
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
By Shari Ellmaker and Arielle Gillman
Young readers often get stuck in a particular book genre, especially if they’ve become fond of a series. To expand their palates, Allendale Columbia School’s third grade teachers held a “Book Tasting”, something you can also try at home.
To prepare, we spent some time learning all about a few different genres of texts: biography, fantasy, nonfiction, graphic novel, realistic fiction, and poetry. We also practiced “interviewing” a book to see whether it is a good match for the reader by reading level, interest, etc.
Next, our “Book Taste Testers” entered our classroom restaurant. Their servers, Ms. Gillman and Mrs. Ellmaker, took their requests for an appetizer, an entree, and dessert, and delivered them one at a time. Students sampled the texts and wrote a brief review of each course. By the end of the meal, everyone was full from great books!
Why is reading different genres important for young readers?
Young children love to hear stories read to them over and over again. Many parents encourage their young ones to listen to a different story, but to no avail. Your little one is “feeling like a reader” when they hear predictable text each night. You may notice them “reading” along with you and finishing sentences. They love books with patterns, sound words, and repetitive phrases.
As the children get older, they are more open to different genres. Parents should take this opportunity to explore a new genre. Why?
Students are learning that a genre is a form of text that follows a particular format and structure. Using the word “genre” provides a way for the students to organize and talk about their observations of texts. When a student can identify a genre, they can recognize what they are reading and quickly adjust their reading style. So for example, if they read an article about how to make something, they can read the text at a slower pace in order to follow specific directions. Students will learn information quickly and efficiently when using headings, for example, while reading informational texts.
So, the more children are exposed to different genres, the quicker they will be able to take information and synthesize it for understanding and application. Parents should model reading a variety of genres and spend time reading with and to their children.
How and why should a child “interview” a book?
A reader interviews a book by asking a lot of questions:
- Does the title sound interesting?
- Do I know anything about the author?
- Does the blurb on the back of the book sound interesting?
- Is the book a genre I like to read? (Hint: some books have words like “Mystery”, “Memoir”, or “Fiction” in the corner of the back cover.)
- Did the book win any awards?
- Is the book too hard? Try the beginning and read a page from the middle to decide. Use the “Five Finger Rule” to decide if the book is too hard. Read a random page, put a finger up for each unknown word you encounter. If you reach four or five fingers before the page is finished, it may be too hard. Three may be right and one or two would be too easy.
Setting up a Book Tasting at home is a fun way to get your child interested in different genres and extend your child’s reading range. Have your child help you set up a restaurant-like environment in your kitchen or dining room. Find your favorite apron, table setting, flowers, and notepad to “take the guest’s order.” Use books from your child’s collection and sort them by genre. Begin by serving the child choices from the menu of genres. You can then try swapping roles so the child is the server asking you for different genres you’d like to read. Take some time to interview the book and talk together about your review. By the end of the experience, both you and your young reader will have an appetite for books of all different genres!
Reading Rockets. The Importance of Reading Widely (2010). Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/importance-reading-widely.
Kissner, Emily. Using Genre to Help Students Learn from What They Read. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol5/511-kissner.aspx.
Inquiry By Design, Inc. Setting Up the Literacy Studio (2013).
Sharon EllmakerShari has been an educator for over 26 years, and teaching at Allendale Columbia for 19. She has taught second, third, and fourth grade with experience in public school, suburban, inner-city, independent, and college-level settings. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Bluffton University.
Arielle GillmanArielle has been involved in the field of education, either through volunteering, as a college student, or as a teacher, since she was 14 years old. She has taught students in multiple grades in Penfield, Fairport, Webster, and Newark and has also worked at the Mary Cariola Children's Center and The Community Place of Greater Rochester. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Childhood Education from SUNY Fredonia and her Master of Science Degree in Literacy Education from SUNY Geneseo.
The Nursery and Pre-K children have been investigating our recently renovated Book Nook in the classroom. The children are learning how to care for our classroom library, books, and materials. A puppet theater, flannel board, and other storytelling materials are also featured in this space. We’ve added a writing center as part of this updated space and a listening center will be incorporated in the near future.
The Nursery and Pre-K teachers have been working with Abbey Gebel, the Lower School reading specialist, to enhance the reading program to differentiate instruction and further prepare our children for Kindergarten. This is being explored through Reading Workshop as well as Letter and Word Study.
A Word Wall will be a prominent feature in the classroom, and children will add names, samples of environmental prints, and key words that are being learned through literature and shared reading and writing experiences.
The photos offer a glimpse into the level of interest and involvement the children are experiencing already!
Posted in: Highlights, Nursery, Pre-Primary School, PreKindergarten