SF ROI E U NDING S N D S A C A D E M Y 1088 tucker road, north dartmouth, ma 02747 www.friendsacademy1810.org spring 2012
Dear Friends, The spring issue of Soundings brings to life a potpourri of Friends Academy happenings. Readers will discover the many ways math infuses life at the school; the regional successes of our mathletes are most impressive. References to the research and experience of Dr. Adam Cox, a leading children’s advocate who conducted a professional day workshop with the faculty, support our efforts to provide authentic, meaningful work experiences for FA students. Think woodshop, beekeeping, and the garden. Details of Art and Poetry Night highlight the power of creativity in the life of Friends Academy students of all ages, while a look into “Teaching for Understanding” gets to the heart of an approach to teaching that is central to much of what goes on in an FA or SBS classroom. You’ll also find a fond farewell to Mr. Perrine. Underlying much of this issue of Soundings is the reality that “sage on the stage” type teaching has evolved into a model that highlights the teacher as facilitator, coach, and expert on the different and individual learning styles of students. While a certain amount of information may be delivered to shape the context, students are learning more as questioners and seekers of solutions, as they apply skills and previous knowledge to unlock doors, find meaning and understanding, and, of course, formulate new questions. In our small classes, every step of the way, teachers are guiding, supporting, encouraging, and challenging students to challenge themselves. They are structuring and modeling lessons for active, rather than passive learning, the kind of learning that goes beyond superficial factual knowledge to genuine meaning and lasting understanding. Working as a team to solve problems has empowered our mathletes. Solving a design or structural problem in the woodshop leads to tangible results, successful outcomes, and genuine confidence that carry over into other pursuits. Listening to Upper Division students read their own poetry, one easily feels the connection their writing skills and their emotions have forged. Wit, pathos, cleverness, humor, insight, longing, and reflection fill the room as one student after another steps to the podium. The artwork lining the halls of Friends Academy shows us how we each see the world differently. Sharing those perceptions, whatever the medium, brings the entire FA community closer together. It’s just one of the ways students learn to appreciate, to empathize, and to broaden their horizons. Service learning, a powerful educational tool so advocated by Bill Perrine during his years at Friends Academy, directs students’ energies toward the meaning of community, champions the dignity of work, and teaches young people to believe they have the power to shape their own world. There are indeed many ways to learn and grow at Friends Academy, ways that lead to both a comfort with and a joy in the world of ideas. Everyone, it seems, talks about the value of an education that highlights creativity, hands-on learning, real life experiences, and academic success…the stuff of genuine life-long learning. As this issue of Soundings shows without a doubt, Friends Academy is doing something about just that. Sincerely yours,
Stephen K. Barker, Head of School 1
NEW ENGLAND MATH LEAGUE
For the fourth consecutive year, eighth grade math students finished first in the region (southeastern Massachusetts). The seventh grade also finished first, marking the third time in four years they’ve done so.
COMPETITIVE PROBLEM SOLVING IN MATH
Our kids love games and many will turn just about any activity into a contest. Math contests can inspire them to excel at mathematics just like sports encourage physical fitness. Eventually, students put aside the games, and by then, hopefully, a lifelong interest in math will have taken root. Beginning in fourth grade, Friends Academy students are given multiple opportunities to exercise and test their math chops. Participating in a series of local, regional, national, and international contests, students compete with themselves, their classmates, and their peers across the planet to measure how well they solve higher-level math problems. Working individually and on teams, they reason, compute, solve word problems, and play games that require them to simulate real life activities. MATHCOUNTS
Each year, FA sends a team to the MATHCOUNTS chapter and state competitions. Students participate as individuals and in small teams to solve problems that test their computational and problem solving acumen. This year, eight students attended the Southeast Regionals competing with 165 students from twenty schools. “The level of mathematics started with eighth grade algebra and went up from there,” math teacher and coach, David Lobato says. “Despite working on problems that featured material not yet covered in class, and competing against teams from much larger schools, Friends walked away with an impressive second place finish.” 2
This day-long celebration of math takes place early in March, when everyone in the school devotes a day to solving problems alongside millions of math students from around the world. Traditionally, the event occurs on the first Wednesday of the month, but FA students, after learning that the game itself is open “any time it is the first Wednesday in March anywhere in the world,” start competing on the Tuesday before, and continue through the Thursday after. “This makes for a great class discussion on time zones and the purpose of the International Date Line,” Mr. Lobato says. MATH OLYMPIADS FOR YOUNGER STUDENTS
Fourth and fifth graders have the opportunity to take part in the after-school national Math Olympiads program overseen by Mr. Lobato. Students practice and participate in a series of monthly contests. Designed to spark interest in mathematics and teach problem-solving skills, students meet once a week and awards are presented in May. Math contests play a strong role in providing social and intellectual opportunities for students. “Interscholastic competitions stress teamwork and encourage students to cooperate and solve problems together,” says Upper Division Head, William Perrine. Mr. Lobato credits student preparedness for the school’s strong showings to date. “We don’t practice for any of these competitions (except the Math Olympiads) and we would not have experienced the success we’ve had if the kids weren’t well prepared by the teachers they’ve had before me,” he says.
Test Yourself! Here are some sample problems from this year’s eighth grade New England Math League contest. See if you can tackle them. 1. I am thinking of three different 2-digit whole numbers. The ones digit of two of the numbers are equal and the tens digit of two of the numbers are equal. How many different sets of three such numbers are possible? A) 6480 C) 7290 B) 7200 D) 8100 2. The ratio of Will’s integral height to a giant’s integral height is 2:5. If Will was 20 cm shorter and the giant was 20 cm taller, the ratio would be 1:3. Will’s height now is how much less than the giant’s? A) 240 cm C) 280 cm B) 260 cm D) 320 cm 3. If I want to be 850 m from where I am now on a flat surface, I cannot go A) 238 m north, then 816 m east B) 510 m north, then 680 m east C) 360 m north, then 780 m east D) 400 m north, then 750 m east
Friends Academy Math Team pictured from the top row, left to right: Thomas Chou, Sarah Walker, David Lobato, Upper Division Math Coach, and Karan Tandon. Bottom row, left to right: Madeleine Carr, Nick Velcea, and Lulu Russell. Answers to above problems: 1. A, 2. A, 3. C
WORLD MATH DAY
AN AUTHENTIC EDUCATION What should schools be teaching in the twenty-first century? How can we at Friends Academy foster the emotional well being of our children and adolescents in an ever-changing world? How can we move beyond diagnostic labels and limited concepts like IQ to pinpoint the critical differences in capable children and build on those skills now? Earlier this year, FA teachers convened for a full day of workshops and presentations led by Adam Cox, Ph.D., author, lecturer, and board certified psychologist to explore these very ideas. A leading children’s advocate, Dr. Cox’s perspective on fostering the capability of young people is based on recent studies he has conducted for the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC) and a career devoted to private counseling, coaching, and research. Although Dr. Cox’s findings for the IBSC were published under the title, “Locating Significance in the Lives of Boys,” he contends that his research applies equally to girls.
by Kyle Riseley
Many of the kinds of programs Dr. Cox envisions are already well underway in our beekeeping and gardening initiatives, our Constellations projects, and the ServiceLearning component of an FA education. Although no one is looking to rest on their laurels, it is encouraging to hear that our institutional instincts are in sync with the current findings of a nationally commissioned study. Dr. Cox’s research bears out the fact that young people are more engaged in their education when they are focused on the meaning of the work they do, instead of on abstract career goals and job titles. Enrichment programs at FA address the needs and values of our own school community and direct student energies toward authentic work, involving them in relevant problem solving activities.
For example, our woodshop students have built two Lego tables and eight stools that are currently being used in our kindergarten classrooms. For the second year running, they are building a raised One of Dr. Cox’s findings is that young garden bed for the residents of Emeritus people today want and need to feel that Assisted Living in Dartmouth. And most the work they are doing and preparing for ambitiously, they are constructing a is needed. “We must design our schools bridge to allow easy passage over some so students can develop a shared sense run-off areas next to the Lower Division of purpose and a belief that they have the playground on the way to the Lower power to shape their own world,” he says. Ropes Course.
Cox’s study also stresses the importance of modeling ethical entrepreneurship in a school. He has noticed that when schools assign teams of students to work together to solve challenges in their own community, those schools and students are empowered with a new sense of optimism. This finding reinforces the value of so many of our programs here. FA students work together to plant, weed, divide, and harvest organic produce that provides literally tons of food to people in need in the city of New Bedford. When the beekeeping program needed to become self-sustaining this year, students created a name brand—School Bell Honey— and sold jars in the car line to raise funds for annual program purchases like honeybees, sugar, pressed wax foundations, and jars. And in our Constellation groups students are engaged in a myriad of Service Learning projects that benefit the wider community. The dignity of work is a powerful teacher. When schools enable students to experience the authentic and transcendent nature of problem solving by working with their hands and hearts to serve their own communities, confidence, a sense of purpose, and institutional momentum ensue.
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER Lauren Tennyson
With renovations to Lower Division classrooms complete, thereâ€™s only one way that Friends Academy could possibly improve on the look of its newly-painted hallways. This past April, FA art teachers did just that by filling every wall, nook, and cranny, from Herring Lobby to the Commons, with extraordinary student artwork. The occasion, Arts and Poetry Night, is an annual artistic celebration that showcases the enormous talent and creative energy residing here. Art teachers Wendy Goldsmith and Susan Cogliano, along with a cast of able and enthusiastic volunteers, hang and display over 600 pieces of art in every conceivable medium. When the doors open at 6PM, our brightly festooned hallways provide an exuberant backdrop for this special evening of gallery hopping and poetry readings.
FA students and their families explore individual masterpieces and experience the cumulative effect of a yearâ€™s worth of artistic expression in two and three dimensions. Astounding projects include: charcoal drawings, pastels, mixed media, paintings, printmaking, sculpture, origami, ceramics, textiles, and more. Ms. Cogliano and Ms. Goldsmith are clearly inspired in their lesson planning by many sources. A first grade unit using geometric cutouts in bright primary
colors takes its inspiration from Matisse. An Art Nouveau inspired lesson produces bold watercolors with raised black lines resembling the work of Tiffany. Sometimes, an academic unit will trigger an art assignment, as when the third grade created Japanese brush paintings relating to a unit on Asian culture. Inspired by cultures from around the world, Upper Division artists created colorful origami dragons to coincide with the Chinese New Year. Handmade, block-printed fabrics based on Adinkra symbols from Ghana and the Ivory Coast were fashioned into pillows and scattered on a bench outside the Herring Lobby. Frameable textiles suitable for wall hangings were hung bazaar style on laundry racks in front of the Library. The evening can best be summarized with the image of families, led by their
Here with my head in the clouds,
Olga and Sebastian Lassalle with Maisie
some say that maybe I’m dreaming, but I’d rather fly than be found. Cassie Zammito
student/tour guide, wandering through galleries, not only pointing out their own masterpieces, but sharing details about an artist or a style of art that they digested over the course of the year. Art teachers work with students to prepare them for the evening, says Ms. Cogliano. “As a class, we tour the ‘museum’ in advance of the show and try to model ways of responding to art that help students demonstrate an interest in each others work.”
Poetry is a singular way of expressing ourselves that allows us to connect with others and share the different ways we see the world. Friends Academy poets generously shared their different ways of seeing the world at Arts and Poetry Night—an event of unprecedented originality and inspired thinking.
Where I’m From (partial text) by Abigail DeRego
From glass encased sailor’s valentines to ceramic pizzas, students and the dedicated teachers who inspire them have created a memorable art show worthy of the school’s expansive new exhibit space. But that is only part of the Arts and Poetry Night story.
I am from the farms of my grandfather, from the coyotes that wander into my backyard, I am from the lightning-struck tree at my grandmother’s house from the jagged clamshells my hands rest upon time and again.
While the Art Show is underway, students from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades who study with Marlaina Trepanier and Stephen Walach, gather in the gymnasium or the Commons to delight listeners with a program of stunning and incredibly thoughtful poetry.
I am from the busy schedule that is my Friday,
from the sketchbook I keep in my room,
I am from my pillow-soft poetry book. I am from fear and effort, I am from peace and love,
Students take to the microphone by grade, and one by one, read or recite their very own words. Inspired by poets from Emily Dickinson to Langston Hughes, their poems are personal, poignant, funny at times, surprising at others and wholeheartedly original.
by Brendan Conroy and Cameron Coelho
I am from melancholy and despair, I am from family gatherings and joy.
A beauty of wonder Pulcher miraculi The conclusion to the day
Who are you? I am me.
Finitio diem The stunning, sunset Stupefaciens, solis occasus Isabelle Robinson reads her poem, I Hear FA Singing, in homage to Walt Whitman
TEACHING FOR UNDERSTANDING What is the difference between understanding and knowing? Ask Mary Pierce, Upper Division science teacher. She’ll tell you that when students “know” something, they regurgitate a piece of information or demonstrate some skill. But “understanding” goes beyond knowing. “It is the ability to take knowledge and do thought-provoking things with it, such as make predictions, generalize, apply, and analogize,” she says. In this way, students demonstrate their grasp of a topic and advance it. “Knowing is reproducing what the teacher has stated, while understanding is reconstructing and applying what has been taught in a different way or in a new context.” “Teaching for Understanding” is a framework for teaching that provides educators with the tools for creating, conducting, and reflecting on classroom practices that nurture student understanding. It provides a stunningly effective way for students to work together to solve problems through experiential, inquiry-based projects. It causes a shift away from the teacher as the focus at the front of the room model, to the teacher as a facilitator of student learning model. Mrs. Pierce, as well as several other Friends Academy and Sally Borden School teachers, first learned of the concept in an online, interactive course offered through the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s WIDE World. Throughout the semester’s coursework, teachers renovated a piece of curriculum 6
and applied the tenets of the understanding philosophy. Mrs. Pierce uses the “Teaching for Understanding” framework to guide her curricula development. In the spring, it’s “sludge” time in Mrs. Pierce’s 8th grade science lab. Students are geared up with goggles and aprons, ready to receive their sludge, which is really a mysterious mixture. In this lab test/role-play, students are members of the R&D team of a major corporation. Working against the clock, their team must determine the composition of the sludge or “hazardous waste.” Can it be used? Is it benign or toxic? Can it be sold? This classic “Teaching for Understanding” unit requires students to work together to identify all of the mixture’s components, and to separate out each substrate. They must bring to bear all that they have learned so far in class and apply it to the task at hand. They have honed skills that they will need to implement their plan: how to use a Bunsen burner; how to read a graduated cylinder with confidence and accuracy; and how to set up and use distillation apparatus. They have learned how to track data and to read and record it efficiently.
by Katherine Gaudet istic properties are used in the separation process. Second, students utilize lab techniques to separate their mixtures and identify the component parts. Finally, students learn to step back, analyze, and rework the process when things don’t work out as they planned. Mrs. Pierce explains, “My initial reaction to this unit is always, “WOW! I love how students approach this problem and how they tease out pieces of the puzzle. Slowly but surely, they apply all of their understanding about the characteristic properties of matter and the techniques needed to identify them. Science student Hannah Dawicki concurs. “The best part of this project was being able to try whatever you wanted to separate the sludge. It was fun because we put together all our knowledge from past labs,” she says. Why use “Teaching for Understanding?” Mrs. Pierce sums it up this way, “Kids remember what they use, what they hold in their hands. Graduates return and tell us they are better prepared for high school science classes because of the work they did here.” According to their respective “Boards of Directors” the two teams that made the
Mrs. Pierce began preparing for this unit asking, “What do I really want my students to understand?” She came up with three “Understanding Goals” that drive the unit. First, students apply their understanding about the makeup of a mixture and how differences in character-
best presentations of how to deal with the “sludge” problems were (inset photo left) Team Venus: Sarah Levine, Maddie Carr, Izzy Robinson, and Holly Kazama, and (inset photo right) Team Titan: Ashley Adelberg, Hannah Dawicki, Brendan Conroy, and Shane DeSousa. Top left: Science teacher, Mary Pierce
A Restless Farewell
by Peter Zine, Sixth Grade Science and Social Studies Teacher The arrival of spring is bittersweet. While I usually welcome the season and the changes it brings, this year it feels like I’m turning the final pages of a novel I hoped would never end. I’ve anticipated this feeling since I found out that Bill Perrine had been hired as Head of Oak Meadow Montessori School. It has taken a fair amount of reflection to look beyond my own interests and to be grateful for all that Bill and his family have given to this community, and be glad for this next step in their lives. Before coming to Friends I never could have imagined that I’d come to see a group of colleagues as family. Far ranging in years and personality types, there are, of course, differences of opinion, but the atmosphere is overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging. And while I value and respect all of my colleagues, it is Bill Perrine who sets the tone for the division, and who has made Friends Academy a place where middle school students and teachers look forward to going each day, a place where I feel privileged to work. When I first started teaching at Friends, I knew that I had an ally in Bill. His easy-going attitude made him extremely approachable. It was only once I got to know him that I recognized him as a scholar and philosopher, and by then it was too late to feel intimidated. Bill has been a mentor to me, challenging me to be my best and offering support and
encouragement along the way. While I always strive to impress him, I don’t worry about judgment if I fall short. His criticism is always constructive, and his manner forever humble. It is Bill’s humility that keeps his scholarliness and accomplishments out of the limelight. Bill is not a seeker of attention or accolade, but rather works hard because it’s in his nature, and because he cares about the school and the kids we serve. The Service Learning program in the Upper Division is a perfect example of this.
without Bill’s commitment to providing the most enriching middle school experience possible.
Bill’s influence on the school community extends far beyond his tiny office on Three years ago Bill envisioned a program the lower floor of the Stites Building. that would dedicate two periods every And though Bill won’t be in that office Friday to service—an ambitious approach, at the start of the next school year, the perhaps unprecedented for a middle community he helped foster through his school. He knew that providing kids with contributions as administrator, teacher, opportunities to connect with each other basketball coach, Faculty Band member, to address real challenges would enhance and mentor, will remain. I’m grateful to their academic experience at Friends be a part of it, and indebted to Bill for his Academy, while benefiting the school and leadership and friendship. community. Getting a program like this off the ground wasn’t an undertaking that Bill had to tackle, but we’re all glad he did. While the program continues to evolve, it can boast many initiatives— from the student driven proposal of a substantial solar array for the campus, to over ten thousand pounds of produce grown in the school garden and donated to local food pantries. While each success Bill Perrine, as coach, with the Championship relies on the dedication of our committed Girls Basketball Team, as musician, with faculty who facilitate the Service Learning the Faculty Band on Peace Day, and as groups, none of them would be possible division head, on Class Day.
ANNUAL FUND FALCONS are on the move! U U U U U
Faculty Giving 75% PS/K Giving 45% Grade 1-3 Giving 42% Grade 4-5 Giving 35% Upper Division Giving (grades 6-8)
SF ROI E U N D I N G S N D S A C A D E M Y 1088 tucker road, north dartmouth, ma 02747 www.friendsacademy1810.org spring 2012
Since the Falcons arrived, we have increased our participation levels by 50%. At this rate, we should be able to reach 80% participation and celebrate with an ice cream social before the end of school. Therefore, if you have not already done so, please take a moment, now, to join with fellow families, faculty, friends, and alumni to make a meaningful connection with Friends Academy by way of Annual Giving. Show your support for the school that, over the past two centuries, has nurtured generations of young learners on the South Coast. Remember, it is not the size of your gift that matters, but the fact that you give, allowing us to bolster our operating budget to allow for: U course-based field trips, and outdoor education activities like Chewonki U professional development opportunities and enhanced teaching materials U new uniforms and equipment for our athletic teams U stocking our art rooms with tools and supplies U helping our music and dramatic arts programs to thrive
Help us cross the finish line! Make your tax deductible contribution online at www.friendsacademy1810.org
Soundings, Spring 2012