Friday, December 21, 2012

Hands On Learning in the 7th Grade

One unit in the 7th grade’s study of the Middle Ages is the development of mounted horsemen, knights, as the defenders of the Holy Roman Empire and the manorial system. Topics included in the study of chivalry, the code of conduct, and heraldry, the identifying of the coats-of-arms of a knight’s family. An important mid-year assignment is the designing and making of a shield that bears a coat-of-arms. Students create their own coat-of-arms, using proper heraldic divisions, charges (symbols),and tinctures (colors). Shields are displayed in the library and at graduation each year, and often linger in a student’s bedroom for many years.

-Mrs. Herre  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Interview Practice in Spanish

The 8th graders recently gained some real world experience using their Spanish skills in mock job interviews. They audio recorded for their interview so that their Spanish teacher could give them feedback. Ms. Basta describes the assignment below. 

In 8th grade Spanish, we’ve been working on the names of different professions. First, we learned the vocabulary words in relation to the places around town, or the places where each profession would work. For example, when learning médico, we did not say “it means doctor.” Instead, we said “Un médico trabaja en un hospital.” This helped students maintain their thoughts in Spanish instead of always switching into English. After mastering the vocabulary itself, students selected a profession for which they would formally apply. 

In groups they wrote simple cover letters telling potential employers where they saw the job announcement, why they were good for the open position, and how they could be contacted. As a final step, students were “called back” for an interview with a teacher who speaks Spanish (but is not their Spanish teacher). The questions for the interview range from “Why would you be good for this job?” to “What experience do you have?” This series of assignments helps students use the language in a real life setting. It also allows them to work on a number of skills in the target language, including writing, speaking, and listening.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hands On Learning in the Middle School

Student Created Terrarium 

Our Middle School scientists have their hands and minds engaged in several projects. The 7th Graders are learning about biomes and ecosystems both in and out of class. Ms. Stein organized a field trip this week to the National Botanical Gardens where the students were immersed in information provided by the museum staff. Getting into the holiday spirit, the students also created mini terrariums inside bulbs (see below). It turns out that our 7th Graders are already experienced in this skill as Ms. Stein had them build their own terrariums which they are using to record data as their plants grow. 

The students on the field trip used their iPads as recording devices to document their learning about plants and biomes. They took photos and recorded video of their learning that they then edited and presented in class. 

The 8th Graders under Mr. Ros' guidance learned about how we use maps and symbols to communicate important information about the world around us. The students created three dimensional maps with land features, topographical lines and symbols. Here are couple examples. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Avenues for Creativity

ACDS students have many pathways to be creative. Just walk into the building and the first thing that strikes you is all of the incredible art being displayed. Head down to the first floor to listen to music flowing out of the music classroom. Look at student generated projects for English, Science, Spanish, etc. and one sees how ACDS students not only use their analysis and synthesis skills but also work to be creative in communicating their own ideas.

Technology supports student learning in several ways including in their creative endeavors. The Sixth Graders recently worked individually and in teams to produce videos for their technology exploratory class. Take a look at JJ's stopmotion video below. A great deal of storyboarding and painstaking picture taking went into her work.

Mrs. Tacktill is continuing the series of field trips to museums in the city. The Sixth and Third Graders recently toured the National Gallery to view landscape paintings. They took videos of one another analyzing the use of perspective, horizon lines, paint texture, balance, etc. The tours ended with students digitally painting on iPads in the courtyard. Here are a few examples of the Third Graders and their creativity in changing the landscape of our ACDS building and grounds. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Media in Social Studies

One of the goals of our Information and Communication Literacies (ICL) and Social Studies curricula is to present many forms of text and media resources to our students. Students learn the ICL curriculum in their library and technology classes to then apply the skills in their other classes. They use their ICL skills as well as historical analysis skills in Social Studies to evaluate, curate and then create their own information. 

Mr. Girard, in his social studies classes, provides digital versions of primary sources, audio recordings (podcasts), video and now eBooks in the form of Apple iBooks. The students are currently reading iBooks on the Middle Ages that Mr. Girard found through the iTunes University app. The students access iTunes U to download the iBooks to their iPads. They also are listening to podcasts and audio recordings of books. One audio book is The Story of the Middle Ages which can be found in the LibriVox website which provides free audio books from the public domain. 

Image Source

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fourth Graders and the Scientific Method

Do video games increase your tolerance to unpleasant cold water? Do dogs have a paw preference? These are just a few of the questions that our Fourth Graders came up with to then use the scientific method to answer their questions. Each student developed a hypothesis to pursue, created an experiment to gather data, analyzed the data, reached a conclusion and then communicated the results to the school. Do stop by the Fourth Grade classrooms to find the poster boards displaying each student's experiment and results.  

A few other questions were:
  • How many pennies will it take to keep the hovercraft from floating?
  • What is the best temperature for growing crystals?
  • Which M and M candy will be eaten the least and therefore be camouflaged the best? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Telling Time, Coins and Making Thinking Visible

What does a student's understanding look and sound like? We can ask students to explain an idea, a concept to us. We can ask them to draw a picture or diagram which helps to demonstrate their thinking. How about combining the audio and visuals to empower students to create videos to demonstrate their understanding? 

Our First Graders are doing just this on the iPads using the ScreenChomp screencasting app. The topics for their videos are how we use combinations of coins to pay for things and how we use movement in the hands of clocks to tell time.  

The screencast videos provide teachers very detailed assessments of student understanding. They can be used to pre-assess before teaching a lesson and to check for learning once the concept is taught. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Categories and Making Thinking Visible

The First Graders started a new social studies unit on Native Americans. Besides learning about the culture of individual tribes, Mrs. Laha and Ms. Carew are teaching their students about how to categorize information. To support the learning process, the First Graders are working in their technology class to make their thinking visible by using mind mapping software that is rich in graphics. 

The students use the library of images provided in the software and draw their own. They work to then match what they learning about their tribes to the provided categories of shelter, geography, clothing, food and location. This concept-based learning has the students thinking about information and how we group it. The mind mapping also extends the learning as the students see connections between the categories. As they build out their mind maps in the coming weeks, the students will have the opportunity to draw their own conclusions as to how the categories are interconnected (e.g., location affects food sources and shelter types). The connections are many.

What is also helpful about digital mind maps is how they provide an easily editable documentation tool with students adding new knowledge and understanding to them over time. The end result provides an excellent assessment opportunity not only for the teacher but also for the reflective student looking back at what he/she learned.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Going Digital in Our Communication

ACDS continues to move towards supporting digital communication by using the PCR grade reporting system to have parents access the upcoming report cards online. Besides saving paper and processing time, going digital complies with how most of us access information.

As reported in a previous post on the anti-bullying guidance curriculum, our teachers are also using the Haiku learning management system (LMS) to support blended learning and improved communication between the teachers and the students. So far it has been the Fifth through Eighth grade classes that are using Haiku. The next step is for our Lower School teachers to use Haiku to share their weekly newsletters and calendars of upcoming events.

Image Source

Monday, November 12, 2012

Learning Management System & Bully Awareness Week

Our Middle School students and parents are becoming accustomed to accessing our Haiku learning management system (LMS) to support learning at ACDS. While Haiku offers several online tools to expand the learning beyond the walls of the classroom, it is also a community building platform to not only support academics but also co-curricular learning through athletics, clubs, and other activities. Haiku is most notably being used this week to support our guidance program.

Mrs. Belsher and Ms. Ball created a Bully Awareness class in Haiku where they have been communicating with teachers to share a calendar of events, list resources and have teachers take a poll all in preparation for rolling out the learning activities for the students this week. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

News Flash: Long Lines at ACDS Election Center

Mr. Girard standing in front of the voting booths explains the ballot to anxious and passionate Second Grade voters. Voting lines are long at midday as students break for lunch and recess. Mr. Girard put out word that voters should see smaller lines by the afternoon. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

If Only Our Politicians Could Debate Like Our 8th Graders :)

Mr. Girard and Mr. Gilbert developed a special election unit for the 8th grade social studies curriculum. The 8th graders not only studied previous US elections but also worked to prepare for their own presidential debate. Instead of just having our ACDS students work in teams for the debate, Mr. Girard and Mr. Gilbert worked with the Capital Hill Day School (CHDS) to match up CHDS students with our 8th graders. This virtual collaboration effort using a wiki (a collaborative website) for documentation and resource sharing helped the students from both schools as they shared their research and developed their debate points using the online workspace. 

The teams were assigned to the following topics that they were tasked to research and build the stance for each presidential candidate. 

  • Job Growth
  • Healthcare
  • National Debt
  • Education
  • Taxes
  • Immigration
  • Energy and Environment
  • Voter ID Laws

Our ACDS students used a listing of websites provided through our Haiku online learning tool to do their research. Each student's initial research was recorded using Noodle Tools. Noodle Tools is an online citation and digital note card research tool that the students at ACDS use for their research. The debate teams then used the wiki to develop their debate plans with their CHDS partners.

The debate took place last week with the CHDS arriving ready to meet face to face for the first time with their ACDS partners. The teams were given time to get to know each other better and to finalize their plans before entering the Performance Arts Center (PAC) to start the debate. Each team by their topic then opposed their opposite political party team to debate using the following structure.

Mr. Girard noted after the debates that the ACDS and CHDS students probably gave more details and offered more depth of information than in the real presidential debates.

Alien Civilizations in the 5th Grade Curriculum

The 5th graders not only study ancient civilizations in their social studies curriculum but they also work to create an alien civilization applying their learning in a year long project. To help the students organize their thinking and work on the year long "alien civilization" project, their teacher, Ms. Cook, teaches them how to use a construct called ESPRAT+G to ask questions about and better understand each civilization they study. ESPRAT+G is the an acronym for the study of economics, sociology (social structure), political science (government), religion, the arts, technology and how they are all affected by geography. 

Another important part of Ms. Cook's curriculum is to have her students apply or transfer their understanding of ancient civilizations to new situations. Ms. Cook's came up with the idea of having her students look at their studies from the perspective of aliens needing to learn from human history so that they can improve their society. 

Ms. Cook frames the challenge as a course of study: 

"This course will delve into the complicated and interesting lives of the alien species called "Homo Sapiens" on the planet Earth. We will explore this species from some of their earliest ancestors to the more modern day looking at how the species evolved, settled, formed communities, and then developed culture."

The challenge goes on to have each student create an alien planet that is dying. The aliens need to relocate on another planet and start a new society. Ms. Cook tasks her students to create their own version of the alien civilization explaining why it has struggled but then how it will improve when relocated. The students draw on their learning about the successes and failures of human civilizations as they create a new and improved alien society (the transfer task). The students use Google Documents to keep a running journal about what the new planet and society will look like using the ESPRAT+G construct explaining what the economy, social structure, etc. will look like. 

The students are at the first stage of creating their aliens and describing the troubles they are facing on their home world. The picture at the top of this post is a drawing of one such alien. Here is a portion of the 5th grader's initial write up about her alien society. 

"The Slupers are aliens that have big “S” shape bodies and stick figure arms and legs. Their bodies are colored red. The Slupers are very big like giants and eat only meat, like carnivores. They love to crawl on all fours and they live on a cloud that turns solid enough for them to stand on it when they say “I’m forcing air come to me, make this cloud as heavy and solid as a tree.” This turns the cloud solid enough for these giants to stand on. They can fly for five days at least and 23 days at most."

Friday, October 26, 2012

First Graders: Location and Perspective

The First Graders recently learned about location which is the first of the five themes of geography. They created a project (see example above) where they also learned about perspective by creating a flip chart of pictures and words starting with the location of their street. They then went on to draw pictures of their Street, Town, Country, Continent and Planet. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Art and Technology Field Trip

Ms. Tacktill is organizing a series of art field trips to various museums that brings together our student buddies to view, discuss and create art. The first field trip took place this week with the 7th Graders and their 4th grade buddies traveling to the National Portrait Gallery. The 7th Graders prepared for the trip by downloading photographs of assigned presidential portraits that they would analyze and discuss with their buddies at the museum.

Ms. Tacktill challenged the students by providing only portions of the paintings (e.g., a nose, hand, etc.) pushing the students to not only problem solve to find their portrait but to then use their iPads to do some digital painting. Each student embedded his/her assigned photograph into an art app from which they would use their imaginations to create a new painting. Here are some examples of the art our very creative students painted. And for more specific details about the learning activities of the field trip, take a look at the Lessons Learned blog.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Animated Stories

The previous post described the Third Graders using the Toonastic app on their iPads to animate the stories they wrote in class. As we have teachers inside and outside of ACDS who might want to do the same project, we asked Ms. Worrell, one of the Third Grade teachers to share directions in how to use the app. 

Interested in having your students turn their stories into cartoons? If so, you will want to check out the Toontastic App on the iPads. The app allows students to create an animated rendition of their own stories, in this case their personal narratives. The students began the assignment by working their way through the writing process: brainstorming ideas to write about, selecting an idea, drafting a story, revising the first draft, editing with classmates and the teacher, and finally writing a clean copy of the story. The next step was to publish their stories. We decided that the students would enjoy creating cartoons based on their personal narratives using Toontastic.

The app is fairly simple to use. Students begin by designing 5 scenes or 'settings' (setup, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution). They then create characters to use in the scenes. Each scene can have up to 6 characters. The characters are the only things that will move in each scene, so some students created objects that they wanted to see move as well (i.e., waves, trees blowing in the wind). Next, they added the characters to each scene and recorded their animations. 

It was easier for the students to first create the animation with no audio, then press 'start animation' again to add their voice-over. For the narration, they simply read their personal narrative into the microphone. Before recording, students had to decide which part of the narrative to read during each scene and to practice reading fluently and with expression. The app then asks one to choose a 'theme' for the scene, which adds background music. Once the students were satisfied with the animation and narration of each scene, they completed their cartoon by giving it a title.

Toontastic has its own ToonTube website where students can publish their movies. The videos are password protected for privacy proposes. We look forward to sharing the videos with you when they are completed. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Story Creation in the Third Grade

Ms. Worrell and Ms. Holland recently worked with their students to write stories using paper and pencil. They then made a digital move to the iPads using an app called Toontastic. Toonastic provides helpful scaffolding embedding the five stage story arc into the app. The story arc is made up of the Setup, Conflict, Challenge, Climax and Resolution scenes.

Within each stage of the story, the students choose a provided background or draw their own. They then do the same with the characters. The next step is to animate the scenes by moving the characters around the scene. The students then go back to each scene to read from the stories they wrote recording the audio with the animation. Everything comes together as the students save their work and play back their newly created animated story.

The students worked in Toontastic during their regular class time and in their technology class. It was pretty interesting watching the students in technology class especially as they chose to draw their own scenes and characters. The incredible art program at ACDS definitely supports the creativity of our students.

The students worked independently at different stages in their stories at times reaching out to one another for help. "Can you help me with the animation? What do you think of my character? Oh yeah! Wow, my animation really works" could be heard throughout the class sessions.

The Third graders definitely engaged their imaginations using their art, spatial, speaking among other skills to create their Toonastic stories. Bravo to Ms. Worrell and Ms. Holland for bringing in this form of multimedia writing into the Lower School. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Olympic Moments Provided by Ms. Z and Mr. B

How do two Olympian PE teachers showcase their physical abilities? How does one do a one finger push up? Is javelin catching a sport?  Find the answers to these questions in Ms. Zaleski and Mr. Baroody's "instructional" video that was a part of the Olympic themed unit they taught.

Creativity through Video

The 6th Graders just completed their six week exploratory with some students taking technology and others drama class. The students in the technology class spent the 6 weeks going through the video production process. Their project assignment was to produce a 3 to 5 minute video to be shared with the class at the end of the six weeks.

The students first brainstormed ideas using a mind mapping tool. They then pitched them to the class receiving feedback to make a final decision. The next was to use a storyboard mind mapping template to plan out each of their scenes. They worked to list the following in their mind maps:

  • the talent needed for each scene
  • the setting  and actions for each scene
  • costumes and props
  • the script for each setting

One student, Camille, decided to try her hand at animation using stop motion software. She was especially creative working painstakingly to build out several scenes of action in a very delightful and fun video. Take a look for yourself at Camille's work.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Audio Books in the 2nd Grade

The Second graders read and listen to books on the computer as one of the learning centers in their classroom. They can listen to books on tape or on the computer from websites such as Children's Stories Online. As the students listen, they are prompted to think about character and setting in their book. The students use Venn diagrams and mind maps to make their thinking visible. They also engage their creativity and imaginations as they rewrite the books in their minds.

Here are the guiding questions the students work to answer as they read their books.


  • Draw the character from the story. 
  • Make a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting you and a character from the story. 
  • What problems did the character have and how did they get solved? 
  • Make a web about the character.


  • Draw the setting. 
  • Describe the setting with your senses. What could you hear? See? Smell? Touch? Taste?
  • Create a new setting for the story. How might the story change because of the new setting? 

Be Creative

  • Create a new ending to the story. 
  • Write a new chapter to the story. 
  • Give the characters a new adventure that includes you in the story. 

Image Source

Thursday, October 11, 2012

8th Grade Science Book Publishers

Mr. Ros Points to an iBook Created by an 8th Grader

A theme running through the curriculum at ACDS is to have students gathering, curating, creating and communicating information that helps to demonstrate their understanding. Mr. Ros worked with his 8th graders last year to help him develop an online science textbook. This year he is working with his students to publish their own books for a younger audience. 

iBook for Kindergarten Readers

Today Allie, Karson, Claire, Nate and Erin shared the iBooks with their Kindergarten buddies. Their iBooks were rich in images and they embedded audio instead of having text for their pre-reading Kindergarten buddies. This adaptive strategy fits well with our overall theme of working to provide differentiated instruction for our students at ACDS.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Finding Shapes in the Kindergarten

Learning about shapes and dimensions is a part of the the Kindergarten curriculum. To connect it with the students' environment, Mrs. Blatt and Mrs. Perkins have their students taking photographs of shapes they find in the classroom. As the year progresses, the students will take their cameras out into the hallways and into the neighborhood on a walkabout as they connect their learning about math and patterns to the real world. 

Image Sources: Kindergarten Students

Making Connections in History Class

Mrs. Herre's wanted her 7th Grade students to learn about sequential and parallel timelines as they began their studies in history class. As Mrs. Herre developed the assignment, she knew that a powerful way to make connections in her students' brains would be to engage the them socially and emotionally. This leads to deeper learning and more understanding. 

The assignment was to interview a grandparent or other relative who has lived through a good portion of the last century. Using their communication skills, the students were to interview and record some of the major personal events of the relative while also learning about the broader historical events of those times. The students had three tools from which to process the interview information and to create timelines of their relative's life along with the parallel historical events. They could either do a poster board as you see above, a Mindmeister online mindmap or a video using images with a voice over. In all three cases the students could use their media literacy and design skills. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Project and Inquiry Learning in the 8th Grade

What does an inquiry driven learning project look like? How will the students use their research skills to gather information, role play and communicate their learning? Let's take a peek at Mr. Girard and Mr. Gilbert's 8th grade history class and their study of immigration in American history to find the answers.

With all of our Middle School students using Haiku, it is easy for students to access assignments, resources, discussion forums and other tools for learning. Here is a copy from Haiku of the recent 8th grade immigration project.


Immigration Scrapbook Project

Sep 19, 2012, 02:10 pm (13 days ago)
Sep 27, 08:00 am

At the turn of the century, new immigrants flooded the gates into America.  They experienced hardships and economic progress. Their story is the story of America’s growth and expansion. To deepen your understanding of the immigrant’s story, you will role-play an immigrant from one country and create a digital scrapbook of their life using Keynote and Pages.  You will select a country (maybe where your ancestors came from; you might even “become” one of your ancestors).

Use resources such as:
and other print/Internet resources to gain a better understanding of immigrants coming from that country

Goals and objectives of this project:
A) Research and “re-live” the immigrant experience through the eyes of somebody who lived it.
B) Become more familiar and proficient in the use of Keynote and Pages.
Use Keynote to create a scrapbook of your life. The scrapbook must include the following (it may include more items if you choose):

a.      A cover page (including a title to your scrapbook and an image that you select).
b.      Artifacts or memorabilia that represent your home nation (ex: flag, national anthem, photographs of historical figures or famous places).
c.       Photographs of your family or friends with caption. You are required to have at least one family photo and one photo of yourself in America.
d.      Artifacts, memorabilia, and information about: your first sight of America, your new home, job, expectations of America and social experiences (ex: pay stub, job description, any school experience, report card, immunization form)
e.      Two “original documents”: Use Pages.  Options could include Ellis Island Registration Card, Medical Evaluation Sheet, Ship Log or Manifest from your journey over, Passport  the options are almost limitless.
f.        Four journal entries including at least one from your trip to America and one of your experiences at Ellis Island (each should be on a separate slide and include a date).
g.      1.5 – 2 page autobiography or biography of your immigrant.  This could take the shape of an obituary, a written life history by a “family member”, or many other creative possibilities.
h.     Each photograph or item must have a caption to illustrate its importance
i.        Creative design features that create interest for others viewing your scrapbook.
j.        The final page of your scrapbook (slide show), will be a bibliography.  The bibliography needs to be completed in the MLA format

Though this project is digital, the documents, artifacts, photographs, and other materials that are used should be historically accurate. You will be graded on completion of requirements, historical content, historical accuracy, and creativity.

The Rubric for the Project

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Interactive Reading on the iPad

How did you spend your summer? Reading an interesting book, perhaps? Maybe one on your iPad? Ms. Parker, a Second Grade teacher, spent her summer advising the very creative people at ReadImagine in their effort to create interactive books for the iPad. Ms. Parker introduced the ReadImagine iPad books to her students last year and will be working with ReadImagine this year to help them better support teachers and students in reading their books. 

The folks at ReadImagine describe their books in the following manner: 

"Our stories have beautiful animation, tablet touch interactivity, and text that adapts to a child’s specific reading level. Text adaptation helps to increase reading stamina, as the reading level remains just high enough to keep children engaged, but not so high that they put the book down. At the end of each story, we ask children what they think will happen next – and then allow them to work collaboratively with their peers to decide upon a direction."

We are excited at ACDS to see how our Lower School students react and learn from reading the ReadImagine books. It is pretty neat to have one of our teachers so involved with a cutting edge company that is working to support reading. 

Image Source

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Olympics, Research, Writing, Team Building, Problem Solving and Movement in PE Classes

Ms. Zaleski is starting the year in many of her PE classes with a cooperative games unit building on student interest from the Summer Olympic Games. Students working in teams use problem solving skills and movement to overcome obstacles as the teams work through series of tasks. The students also are doing research on several countries to learn about their involvement in the Olympics and their respective cultures. Ms. Zaleski has the students researching and writing which supports our writing across the curriculum goal.

Olympic Nations... Greetings... Flags

Here are a few of the activities helping our students use their problem solving, spatial, kinesthetic, and collaboration skills. 
  • Blind Square: The group moves into a large circle around a loop of rope. Everyone is blindfolded. The students pick up the rope. The group is told to form a perfect square with the rope. When they think they have succeeded they can remove their blindfolds. Rules: Each participant must hold onto the rope with at least one hand at all times and blindfolds are to remain in place until they feel they complete the figure. 
  • The Big Knot: Students come together in a group to grasp hands. They must then form a circle while keeping holding their hands while not speaking.
  • Toxic Waste Transfer: This activity requires the group to transport objects across an open space without directly touching the objects or their container. The group manipulates a bucket filled with small objects using ropes attached to the bucket.

Olympic Nations... Greetings... Flags

The students are doing their research on several countries with visual information posted around the gym in the form of flags and greetings.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mr. Ros and the Edtech Co-Op Podcast

Mr. Ros joined Dr. Hofer of William and Mary for a second podcast to speak about how his students use a digital note taking tool. Mr. Ros also spoke about his virtual attendance at a conference over the summer. He learned about how "flipping" his classroom can support the blended education efforts at ACDS. 

Summer Reading and Response Journals

Mrs. Lockwood and our Language Arts teachers organized an afternoon of sharing and reflection time for all our summer readers this past Friday. Everyone met in the gym to calculate just how many books, articles, blog posts, etc. were read over the summer. The students then met with their buddies to individually share their journal entries. This follow up to the summer reading program supported the value of sharing one's learning thus further supporting our learning community. 

Teachers also spent their summer listening to podcasts, reading newspaper articles and reflecting through their journal entries. Mr. Carpenter created an online journal as he wishes he had the penmanship and artistic ability of our students!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mr. Ros Shares His Innovative Teaching Strategies

Mr. Ros was on Dr. Mark Hofer's Edtech Co-Op podcast this past week. Dr. Hofer is a professor at the College of William and Mary where he works with preservice teachers preparing them to be innovative and creative like our Mr. Ros.

Listen to what Mr. Ros has to share about his experience piloting tablets in his classroom while also writing an online textbook for his students.

Image Source

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Staff Get Started at ACDS

Having new teachers photocopy a hand and send it to their email account? What sort of learning experience is this? This is just one of the scavenger hunt “to do’s” that our new teachers did this past Friday at Alexandria Country Day School.

Ms. Lockwood and Ms. Hendrickson came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt to orient new staff to ACDS. As our iPad Pilot is now rolling from the Fifth Grade to the remainder of our Middle School, Ms. Lockwood and Ms. Hendrickson fashioned a way to have the new teachers use their iPads in the scavenger hunt using problem solving skills while working collaboratively to produce a product much like they will be doing with their students.

One driver in these tours is to help new staff learn of the people they need to seek out to meet specific needs (e.g., business office, tech support, etc.) and where to go to take care of everyday tasks like using the copier, getting ice for scraped knees, etc. Ms. Lockwood and Ms. Hendrickson met the new staff and divided them into two groups with iPads in hand. They then emailed them the scavenger hunt list with an expectation for the final product which would be a video slideshow. Using apps on the iPads to create drawings, take photos and compile them into a video would give the teachers some experience in how the iPads can be used in their classes.

Here are a few of the assigned tasks:
  • In the newest part of the school, find the ice machine. Take a picture of one of your team members holding the ice scoop. Save the picture.
  • Go to where you need to get business done. Speak to the "powers" (as in Mr. Powers) that be. Record a video of his answer to your question about how to get reimbursed for a purchase you made for the school. Save the video.
  • If you need more than one, this is where you can multiply your work. Scan one of your team member’s right hands in the machine and send it to your school email account and save the picture.
  • Go to the classroom of your youngest team member. Using the Art Studio app, draw an exit map from that classroom that you could use during a fire alarm. Save the picture.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summer Break & Year in Review

The Adaptive and Innovative Practices blog will take a break over the summer as students and teachers do some reading and journaling through the ACDS Reading and Response program. If you are new to this blog, look to go back to the first post at the start of the school year. You will find the reasoning behind the piloting of the iPads, the development of a new curriculum development system, the use of a content management system (Haiku) and the further shifting our curriculum towards many of the buzzwords in education (i.e., project-inquiry-concept based learning, skills for collaboration-critical thinking-communication-problem-solving, etc.). The reality for our students is that we really are following through on our learning goals. You can find documentation of these efforts as you work through the posts from the year.

One of the drivers of how we design and implement our curriculum is the Understanding by Design (UbD) approach to curriculum development. We adapted the provided UbD unit planning template to meet our specific needs with a specific focus on our Portrait of a Graduate attributes and our Information and Communication Literacies (ICL) curriculum. Here is a link to the template for educators from other schools to draw from and adapt to their needs.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Second Grade Puppet Show

Students and teachers are not the only ones creating videos at ACDS. Parents also are engaged in our multimedia learning community. Catch Anita Donaldson's video of the Second Grade Puppet Show. Thank you Anita. 

Digital Storytelling

Several 5th and 6th graders went through the process of creating short documentaries for their technology class. They brainstormed ideas, pitched them to the class, storyboarded their videos, formed their production teams, shot and edited their videos. 

Take a look at one example by Sam who created a documentary about his very interesting cousin. Nice job Sam! 

Summer Reading Program

One of the fun things about summer is having time to read. And in today's information rich world we also can connect to digital media in the form of TED Talks, educational videos, podcasts, ebooks, etc. Reading and consuming media helps us come to new ideas so naturally it makes sense to write to further expand and develop our thinking. 

With these ideas in mind, Mrs. Lockwood and Mr. Gilbert worked to create an exciting summer reading and journaling program for students and teachers. The program is fully explained in the ACDS Reading and Response Journals website that Mrs. Lockwood put together. Take a look and think about joining your children in this exciting learning journey. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tessellation: Math and Art

Ms. Krishnan's students combined their mathematical and artistic skills to produce tessellations. Here are two examples. The first is by Margaret and the second by Abby.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kindergarten Artists

What is your interpretation of the work of artist Jackson Pollock? Perhaps you took an art class in university. If you are a little foggy on the topic of Mr. Pollock, think about touching base with one of our Kindergarten students. 

Mrs. Lockwood and Mrs. Hendrickson's art curriculum for the Kindergarten students includes the study of famous artists. The students not only learn about the artists and their styles, they also are provided the art materials to create their own interpretations. Enjoy the photos here of some of their work. 

To see more, do mark your calendar for Thursday May 24th at 7:00 PM to attend the annual ACDS Celebration of the Arts

The Kindergarten students added a splash of color to one of the book carts in the library.