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Redesigning Learning Spaces & Flexible Seating

By John Camp, English Department Head

Redesigning Learning Spaces & Flexible Seating

from The Space: A Guide for Educators (Hare & Dillon, 2016)

As difficult as it may sometimes be to relinquish the manacles of some tradition(s) in education, I have focused on a main mantra when considering change: what is best for students and learning. Thus, driven by this guiding principle and my teaching methods, I decided to pursue a critical trend in 21st-century teaching and learning: the importance of space, flexible seating, and classroom design. The rub, however, was my particular classroom; since I arrived at St. Mark’s in 2008, I have been fortunate to teach in Room 8/Room 136, which historically had been the “Sixth Form Room” until 1995 (read the partner piece to this article on the history of this room here). Hence, making changes to the “seminar” classroom would be bold, as the beginning move would be removing the large, classic seminar classroom table that has been a fixture since 1995. When I teach, I do not often lecture (if at all), and while seminar-esque discussion is a crucial element of my classes, it certainly is not the only element. In all of my classes (VI Form electives “Getting LOST,” “Getting LOST II: The Writers’ Room,” “Rebels with a Cause,” and V Form English class “Books Without Borders”), students work in small and medium groups, write on their own, present to the class, do activities that include movement and interaction, utilize media, collaborate on writing and projects, watch videos/films, brainstorm and note take on the whiteboards, and conference one-on-one with me (see images below for most of these activities in action!). The large oval table was not conducive to quality student learning in these endeavors.  My first stop en route to change was John Warren. (more…)

Video Oral Arguments: Literature on Trial

Students on Film (in order of appearance): Charlotte Wood, Jenny Deveaux, Joey Smith, Amanda Christie, Josh Loveridge, Gabe Brower, Janelle Carmichael, VI Form

Video Oral Arguments: Literature on Trial

Editor’s Note: This is a highlight reel from Ms. Matthews’ Literature on Trial class (2016 VI Form fall semester English). The course is divided into two sections. In the first half, the focus is on trials, plaintiffs, prosecutors and defendants, reading works of literature and brainstorming criminal or civil wrongs committed by characters in the text. Students work in trial groups to gather evidence, prepare witnesses, and put on their best case. The second half consists of appellate work where students focus on the after effects of a trial, reviewing lower court records for Constitutional issues, drafting briefs for appeal and preparing for a final oral argument.

Please click here or on the images for the “student attorneys” in action! screenshot-2017-02-20-19-30-09screenshot-2017-02-20-19-30-57 (more…)

Letter to the Editor: Native American Policy

By Mo Liu and Jamie Lance, V Form

Letter to the Editor: Native American Policy

Dear Editor Jackson,

It occurs to me that there is much attention raised among the general public regarding our government’s policy towards Indians, and therefore in writing to you, I, as a member of the Board of Indian Commissioners, want to clarify my position. Indians cannot be entirely excluded from our picture as a nation. However, the Indian society is not a cultivated society likes ours. One of my colleagues, who is experienced with Indian affairs and always provides us with elaborate information about the Indians, says their tribes are corrupted by “idleness, improvidence, and indebtedness”. The lack of private property or land and the underdevelopment of laws mark the Indian society as barbarous and inferior to ours. Because of this difference, since 1871 Indian tribes are no longer considered sovereign nations. Governments before us circumvented the Indian dilemma by relocating and establishing reservations west to the Mississippi River, yet now with a closed frontier and western migration, conflicts between settlers and the Indians are inevitable. The issue is pressing. (more…)

Math Modeling: Using Math for Flight Path Safety

By Kate Sotir, Cooper Sarafin, Anderson Fan, Shep Green, VI Form and Mo Liu, V Form

Math Modeling: Using Math for Flight Path Safety

Part 1:

The problem at hand is to create a model, a rating system, that would inform potential flyers of the safety of a particular flight. Our solution includes a mathematical equation that gives us a number between 1 and 100, depending on the inputs. Although the values themselves indicate the safety level of flights, we do not want to our audience to read into the numbers: a flight with a safety index of 63 should not be considered a more dangerous flight than a flight with a safety index of 67. Therefore, to make our model directly presentable to our audience, we classified the possible outcomes into ratings. A safety index ranges from 1 to 20 would have a rating of ★, from 20 to 40 would have ★★, 40 to 60 would be ★★★, 60 to  80 ★★★★, and finally, 80 to 100 would have the highest rating of ★★★★★, and flights that fall under this rating would be the safest choice based on our model. (more…)

World War I Primary Sources Collection at the Library

By Marion Donovan, Assistant Librarian

World War I Primary Sources Collection at the Library

As a librarian at St. Mark’s this fall, I have begun to “weed” through our history collection and have taken a deep dive into time travel. In the past, I was a history teacher myself, so the primary sources that bring the past to life call out to me. A particular section in the library especially rich in those sources covers World War I. Both of my grandfathers fought in WWI on the Allied side, one as a doctor and the other as an engineer, so I grew up with stories and artifacts of “The Great War,” as it was first known. When I applied to graduate school for history at the University of Chicago, I discovered that La Verne Noyes, an American inventor and manufacturer of agricultural equipment, book holders, and windmills, had left the bulk of his fortune to scholarships for Allied veterans of WWI and their direct descendants. These scholarships have now expanded to include 48 colleges. April 6, 2017 will be the one-hundredth anniversary of the United States’ entry into WWI. The European side of the war began in 1914, so many newspaper and magazine articles have already examined new and old perspectives on those events. More will be coming with April 6 in view. We at St. Mark’s are lucky to have an extensive collection of first-hand material (diaries, letters, memoirs, news reports, propaganda, art, photographs) from marshals and generals to privates and civilians on wide-ranging aspects of this war. (more…)

Competing in the FIRST Robotics Challenge

By Kate Sotir, VI Form

Competing in the FIRST Robotics Challenge

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Working in the basement level of the STEM building, using lots of power tools, and occasionally throwing out words like “kickoff,” “drivetrain,” or “STEAMworks,” we are FIRST team 3566, also known as Gone Fishin’.

Gone Fishin’ competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” The robotics competition, open to any high school student, was created in order to promote the STEM fields and offer a competitive yet collaborative atmosphere for robotics. In the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), teams are given a challenge, in the form of a game, and then have six weeks to build a 120 pound, $10,000 robot to meet this challenge. After those six weeks are up, teams compete in various regional events. The ultimate goal is to go to the world championship, held in St. Louis, where around 800 teams gather to play the game. (more…)