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By Hannah Hassara, Katherine Gao, Kennedy Petties, Ryan Yang, Mary Flathers, Nathan Laudani, Cecily Bradley, David Ragone, Caitlin Lochhead, Teresa Meyer, and Steven Sinchi, V Form
How the Adolescent Brain Works: In Annotated Diagrams
Editor’s Note: In the culminating assignment of the Biology 30 unit on Learning and the Brain, the students created Annotated Diagrams of their brains and how their brains learn new information. An Annotated Diagram is a formal sketchnote that aims to demonstrate understanding of the information by demonstrating how the information was processed. The following question was posed: “How might the fact that you are an adolescent help you craft learning strategies that work for you and are effective?”
Scroll down for large images of the Annotated Diagrams. (more…)
By Mrs. Barbara Putnam & Her Studio I Class
Drawing a Blank! Lessons from Studio I Art Class
What is it like to see with eyes that learn to notice everything, including what is in between bits of information? What about trying to draw with your non-dominant hand? These are two assignments for Studio I students. Whether you have never risked drawing or have taken many art courses, it is worth remembering what it is like to begin in any discipline.
In the first assignment, “Hard Lines,” students learned that different line widths communicate differently in how we perceive not only a shape but also how “gray” it is. Each student had to randomly pencil out areas to explore these line types while leaving several shapes “blank” or white. One of the areas needed to be drawn directly in felt tip pen with the non-dominant hand… which means that it will be permanent because pen is not erasable. Shaky lines remind us of what it was like when we first began to hold a pencil years ago and how your brain needed to communicate instructions over and over to get your hand to “work.” The white spaces tell us that a shape can be made by the end points of other lines, which is a concept lifted from Geometry.
By KK Behan, Spanish Faculty
Returning with a Full Heart, a Master’s Degree, and a Fiancé!
This summer, I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to finish my master’s degree through Middlebury College. The program lasted for six weeks. I lived in Palermo, a trendy neighborhood with an array of awesome restaurants, art, and architecture. One of my favorite parts about the neighborhood was the colorful murals painted by artists involved in the city’s vibrant street-art scene.
By Samantha Sarafin, VI Form
ASL Sign Language to Popular Songs
In the spring term of St. Mark’s Saturdays, I created and taught this course: “In this course you will learn and practice the foundational elements of American Sign Language, from alphabet-based finger-spelling to more specific signs in vocabulary units. You will learn essential questions and phrases to communicate effectively in ASL and engage with various activities to practice ASL with your peers. You will also learn the history and social contexts of American Sign Language to develop an appreciation for the diversity and cultural richness of the deaf community.”
I designed the final project to be a video performance of an ASL song cover. Each student
found resources and learned the signs to perform one whole song in ASL. Students spent time in and out of class working on the project and presented their videos in the final class. The goals of the assignment were to learn ASL vocabulary, understand how to sign songs, understand ASL word order, and practice sign fluency. This video is a compilation of each of the covers created by the students.
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…)
By Simon Zlystra, Reed Andary, Shep Greene, John Hart, Nick Harrison, and George Littlefield, VI Form
Original Songwriting and Recording
Editor’s Note: These reflections and recordings come from the winter St. Mark’s Saturdays course, “Songwriting and Recording.” The course, taught by Mr. Jason Eslick, covers songwriting and composition in electronic and acoustic mediums while getting students started with the art of recording and production. Students worked to come up with a recorded, mixed, and mastered final project.
George Littlefield: (more…)