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By Ms. Casey Pickett’s III Formers
20% Time (Genius Hour) With Freshmen: Civic Action
Editor’s Note: In Ms. Casey Pickett’s III Form English classes, her students pursue 20% Time (or “Genius Hour”) projects. Below are Ms. Pickett’s instructions, a student’s reflection, and several artifacts from the experience. Please keep scrolling!
The purpose of the project is to give you time to pursue something that you are passionate about, interested in, or something you’ve always wanted to do. It is a time for you to be creative and to take ownership of your learning AND your education. If it is important to you, it has value.
What does it mean to be a citizen (global, local, digital)?
What are civics? Why is it important that we are civically engaged?
How can I be a voice for and/or create social change?
A Reflection by Paige LaMalva
As a student, I feel as though there isn’t enough time after academics and athletics to pursue something a student is interested in. At a school like St. Mark’s, for example, we are in class from 8:30am-3:00 pm and then at sports from 3:30-5:00 pm, which is followed by a short period of time to relax before study hall at 7:30 pm. With the 20% Time project, my fellow classmates and I were permitted to explore a topic of our interest. For me, I chose to research pancreatic cancer. Without the 45-minute block per week working on this, I wouldn’t have learned why pancreatic cancer is called “The Silent Cancer.” (more…)
By John Camp, English Department Head
Redesigning Learning Spaces & Flexible Seating
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…)
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.
By Coco Zephir, Head Librarian
The Future of Libraries and the St. Mark’s Library
Libraries are ever changing in both form and function. One aspect currently at the center of library innovation is user-experience (UX). UX focuses on meeting the needs of patrons to improve their experiences by making them more impactful and meaningful. UX is a reiterative process that involves constant conversation with your community. Libraries using UX are implementing human-centered design, or design thinking, to better understand their patron base. Human-centered design, “focuses on defining and then resolving concerns by paying attention to the needs, aspirations, and wishes of people” (Peet 2016). (more…)
By Helen Huang and Amy Kim, III Form [Chinese II] & Soo Bin (Josh) Lee and Shep Greene, VI Form [Chinese IV]
Editor’s Note: from Rubo Fu, St. Mark’s faculty member–“In Chinese class, presentations and role plays require students to use vocabulary and grammar rules they have learned to create their own stories or give opinions. This allows them to develop creativity and have a better experience using the language.”
Click on Image below for “Directional Complements” slide show in Chinese II
Click on Image below for a role play video of dialogue (transcript below) in Chinese IV
By Carrick Zhu, V Form
Empathy Through Education in China’s Xi Ma Yin Village
My mom and I began our volunteer teaching trip in 2014. With the help from the local Red Cross Organization in Ning Xia, China, we were able to find a local primary school situated in Xi Ma Yin village. Xi Ma Yin rests at the base of the Helan Mountain where the water supply is scarce. The villagers are mostly immigrants from the other side of the Helan Mountain. The elementary school where I worked is called Xi Ma Yin Immigrant Development Zone Elementary School. (more…)