Congratulations to the cast and crew of “The One and Only Ivan” on two fantastic performances!  The play was performed by the 5th & 6th grade drama class with sets and costumes by the 5th & 6th grade art class.  Missed the show?  Watch it here!

 

Ivan and Bob  Ivan Katherine  Sarah

 

 

Whether volunteering for the Miracle League, collecting food for Blessings in a Backpack, or participating in numerous other activities, Alexandria Country Day School students have once again shown their outstanding commitment to community service.  From their first days of kindergarten through eighth grade graduation, ACDS students learn the importance of being community minded citizens and take action through a robust service learning program.  Since school began in September, ACDS students have led or actively participated in eight service projects:

  • Students in grades 3 to 8 braved the pouring rain one afternoon to unload an 18-wheeler full of pumpkins for the Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill pumpkin sale, which benefits local, national, and global charities;
  • Kindergarten students are collecting and creating food packages to be sent home in the backpacks of elementary school students on Friday afternoons through Blessings in a Backpack;
  • The entire ACDS community is collecting loose change in order to bring a Stop Hunger Now food packaging event to ACDS in the spring.  At this event, students and teachers will package 20,000 meals;
  • Sixth graders learned about recreation for children with special needs and began volunteering with Alexandria’s Miracle League;
  • Fourth graders are collecting ingredients and making tuna noodle casserole kits for Christ House in Old Town;
  • Two teams of middle school students are helping elementary school children with homework through Casa Chirilagua twice-a-week after school;
  • Second graders went trick-or-treating for UNICEF;
  • For the third year in a row, the entire ACDS community is collecting gently used shoes that will be sent to Honduras through Art for Humanity with a goal of collecting 1,500 pairs.

Not to be left out, ACDS faculty, staff and parents have not only supported the students’ efforts, but demonstrated their own commitment to service by organizing and participating in a blood drive for INOVA Blood Donor Services.

“We are so proud of the work our students are doing for people in Alexandria and around the world,” said Scott Baytosh, Head of School.  “They are truly living ACDS’s commitment to community and to preparing young people to have a positive impact on the world.”

 

In 1983, a group of visionary educators and committed parents who were dedicated to quality education and interested in providing an environment where children could develop their full potential began Alexandria Country Day School.  Today, many of those founders were welcomed back to their school for a luncheon and it was great fun to hear their stories of the early days of ACDS.  After spending time reconnecting with one another, the founders received an update on the School from Head of School, Scott Baytosh and were treated to a wonderful musical performance by the kindergarten class.

 

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There has been a flurry of excitement and activity in the middle school Science Lab over the past several weeks as the sixth graders built SeaPerch underwater remotely operated vehicles. This morning, they put their work to the test and successfully ran their vehicles through hoops, into crates, and all around a large pool.

 

The sixth graders had a blast on their overnight to Hemlock Overlook.  Just check out the smiles in this video from day one!

 

Alexandria Country Day students had a large presence Art on the Avenue, a large street festival in Del Ray.  The 7th and 8th grade band kicked off the festival’s Concert Band Stage with a fantastic performance. Mrs. Tacktill, Mr. Glaize, and middle school art students painted a DASH bus and helped hundreds of children place their handprints on the bus. Middle schoolers expertly ran our Kids Art Korner booth with support from the Advancement Team and Mr. Bayotsh, and we all enjoyed visits from some of our younger Bobcats and alumni. Several ACDS students and alumni also participated in the festival through their outside activities. Two students performed with their bands, and two students and an alumna performed with their Irish Dancing Group. Thank you, Bobcats for an awesome day!!

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The Middle School is dedicated to placing an increased emphasis on the behaviors of a successful learner. To that end, significant thought was put into revising our Learning Traits categories and developing specific descriptors for each behavior. We believe that these behaviors are just as important as academic success. How we behave as a learner can greatly impact the grades we earn. Learning good work habits now, is one of the most important things our students do as a middle school learner to prepare them not only for high school and college, but also for future opportunities.
The Learning Traits include:
  • Organizes Time & Materials
  • Participates Actively & Positively
  • Works Collaboratively
  • Learns Independently
  • Exhibits Effort & Perseverance
Middle school students were introduced to these Learning Traits in a midweek meeting this past Wednesday and reflected on their own personal performance in each category on Friday during Circle of Power and Respect.
Woods rubric    Mo rubric
rubic     Charlie rubric

This afternoon, our kindergarten through fourth graders were visited by author and illustrator, Bob Shea. After reading several of his books aloud, Mr. Shea showed the students how to draw a dinosaur, unicorn and more.

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Mr. Shea was introduced by three sixth graders who, as fifth graders, advocated for Mr. Shea’s Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great to win the ACDS Mock Caldecott Award.  Click here to watch the video they created to make their case.

Elayna Calem and Isabelle

Thank you, Mr. Shea for a fantastic afternoon!

Bob Shea

 

Alexandria Country Day School celebrated the start of the new school year by swearing in its Student Council members on Wednesday, September 10th. Alexandria’s Mayor, William Euille joined Head of School, Scott Baytosh to perform the swearing in ceremony and discuss the importance of education and the responsibility of leadership. Mayor Euille has been performing the ceremony for the last eleven years; Alexandria’s mayor has been participating in this ceremony for most of Alexandria Country Day School’s 32-year history.

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The following students were sworn in as the 2014 -2015 Alexandria Country Day School Student Council:
• President: Hayden Katz
• Vice President: Gabi Bruehs
• Secretary: Ellie Wilkie
• Treasurer: Zoha Siddiqui
• 8th Grade Reps: Haper Darden and Michael Miller
• 7th Grade Reps: Davis Lyon and Camilla Moore
• 6th Grade Reps: Ana Bach and JT Carpenter
• 5th Grade Reps: Georgia Stanko and Tate Whitmer

This morning at our all school gathering, Mr. Baytosh and Mrs. Davis accepted Mr. Woods’ challenge to take the Ice Bucket Challenge. Our 8th graders had the honor of pouring the icy water over Mr. Baytosh while Russell, our Bobcat Mascot, drenched Mrs. Davis.

Mr. Baytosh and Mrs. Davis were congratulated by Alexandria’s Mayor Bill Euille who had sworn in the 2014-2015 Student Council at the beginning of the assembly. Mr. Baytosh concluded the gathering by challenging the President of the ACDS Board of Trustees, Jeff Loveng and the President of the Parent-Teacher League, Lisa Eskew.

Here is Mr. Woods’ challenge to Mr. Baytosh and Mrs. Davis:

Gift is largest ever.  School will use the gift to build on recent successes and support ongoing advancement.

Alexandria, Va., September 2, 2014 – Today, Alexandria Country Day School (ACDS), a leading K-8 independent school, announced a $3 million gift from an anonymous donor, the largest in the school’s 31-year history. The gift will be used to support ACDS’ recently adopted five-year strategic plan, particularly ongoing curriculum and instruction enhancements, professional development for teachers and staff, interior and exterior improvements and building the school’s endowment. The gift was announced on the eve of the first day of the 2014-2015 school year, at an assembly attended by students, parents, teachers, staff and other supporters of ACDS. A webcast of today’s event is available here: ustream.tv/channel/acdspublic

“This tremendously generous gift presents an unparalleled opportunity for our school,” said Scott Baytosh, Head of School at ACDS. “It speaks volumes about the kind of learning institution that we are and is indicative of the kind of passion and commitment our community shares about our school.”

“When I came to ACDS two years ago, I was proud to join one of the premier K-8 educational institutions in the DC metro region. I was encouraged by the unique and vibrant environment among not only our teachers and students, but the entire ACDS extended family, from parents to alumni. Now, with this gift, we have the ability to immediately move forward with a number of strategic advancements and to build on many key improvements already underway. In doing so, we intend to keep top of mind the things that matter most to us here at ACDS – from small class sizes, to encouraging independent learning, to fostering a sense of authenticity.”

The gift comes alongside significant recent momentum at ACDS, including:

  • Rising Enrollment: 50 new enrollments for the 2014-2015 school year compared with 31 new students in 2013, as well as a decrease in attrition.
  • Strong High School Acceptance Rate: Over the past five years, 81% of graduating students who apply to independent high schools have been accepted into their first choice.
  • Enhanced Curriculum:
    • Developmental Designs: introduced into the Middle School in 2012-2013 to help students establish a blend of good relationships, social skills, and engagement with learning.
    • 1:1 iPad program: expanded to all students in grades 3-8 in 2013-2014.
    • Math in Focus, the American version of Singapore Math: introduced in 2013-2014, as well as adding an online learning program through Stanford University for middle school students who are particularly advanced in math.
    • STEM curriculum: first used in 1st and 6th grades in 2013-2014 and will be expanded in 2014.
    • Reading and Writing Workshop: intensive professional development effort launched in spring 2014 as the foundation for ACDS’ Language Arts curriculum.
  • New Leadership Team: Along with the arrival of Scott Baytosh as Head of School in July 2012, several key positions across the school also have found new leadership, and these leaders have been instrumental in continuing to strengthen the ACDS program.
  • Most Successful Fundraising Year: ACDS runs an Annual Fund to raise unrestricted funds for the annual operating costs of the school that are not covered by tuition. The 2013-2014 Annual Fund was the most successful in school history with $207,576 raised and 90% parent participation. This was up from $170,549 raised and 80% parent participation in 2012-2013.
  • New Website, Logo and Marketing Materials: Working with a committee of parents, trustees, and faculty members, ACDS chose a new graphic identity and logo, now being used in and around the school and in published materials.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled about the direction in which ACDS is headed,” said Jeff Loveng, President of the Alexandria Country Day School Board of Trustees. “This gift is a strong vote of confidence in the standout excellence of ACDS and the leadership of Scott Baytosh. The school’s continued success was already assured, but this generous gift will go a long way to writing ACDS’ exciting next chapter.”

The gift will support advancements in three key areas:

  • Enhancements to the Curriculum/Instruction: Building on the success of the past two years, ACDS will continue to strengthen its curriculum and instruction:
    • Curriculum: ACDS will continue to expand its Math In Focus program; Middle School Math program; STEM program; 1:1 iPad program; Language Arts instruction, which uses Reading and Writing Workshop as its core curriculum; and more.
    • Instruction: Teachers will be provided with new professional training opportunities and better resources and materials.
  • Improvements to the Campus Interior/Exterior: ACDS has contracted both a landscape architect and an interior architect who specializes in innovative classrooms and learning spaces for areas of improvements that include:
    • Classrooms: A redesign of classrooms to allow for more effective instruction and space utilization. These redesigns will be guided by input from teachers as well as the latest thinking and best practices on innovative classroom learning.
    • School Entryway: A redesign of the school entryway to create a welcoming and user-friendly environment that is reflective of the school community.
    • Library: Improvements to the library will highlight the inherent beauty of the space and make the facility more useable for the K-8 students.
    • Playfield: Adding synthetic turf to the existing field to create an area less susceptible to inclement weather and allow for more outdoors play.
    • Landscape Master Plan: A comprehensive landscape master plan will enable ACDS to enhance the look and appeal of its campus and further beautify the dramatic location the school occupies on Russell Road.
  • Building the School’s Endowment: A portion of the gift will be dedicated to building the school’s endowment to help the school continue to excel in educating students for years to come.

About Alexandria Country Day School (ACDS)
Alexandria Country Day School (ACDS) is a leading K-8 independent school located in the Del Ray community of Alexandria, Virginia. ACDS was founded in 1983 by a group of visionary educators and committed parents who were dedicated to quality education and interested in providing an environment where children could develop their full potential. In 1991, having grown too large for its original location, ACDS moved into its present facility, the former site of St. Mary’s Academy. As an educational community, ACDS values academic excellence, character, independent thinking, citizenship, and respect for others. ACDS seeks to inspire creativity, enthusiasm for learning, and confidence in its students through a stimulating academic program, athletics, the arts, and community service.

Please join us on Tuesday, September 9th at Belle Haven Country Club for the annual Bobcat Classic Golf and Tennis Tournament!  Don’t miss this fun event for golfers and tennis players of all skill levels!  Click here for more information and to sign up.  Bobcat Classic Registration 2014

Congratulations Class of 2014! We will miss you next year and wish you all the best in high school at Bishop Ireton, Edmund Burke, Emma Willard, Episcopal, Field, Foxcroft, Georgetown Visitation, Gonzaga, Langley, National Cathedral, Shady Side Academy, St. Anslem’s Abbey, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, T.C. Williams, and West Potomac.

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Our first graders are authors! This morning, our talented first graders shared their books at the annual Authors’ Tea. The engaging stories, which were either a small moment in the author’s life or realistic fiction, were also illustrated by the first graders and included a dedication page and an author bio. Great job first grade!

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This spring, ACDS 7th and 8th graders took the 2014 National Spanish Examinations along with over 154,000 students across the United States.  Twelve of our students attained national recognition for their performance:

  • Bella Hubble and Zoha Siddiqui, 7th grade, earned silver medals
  • Hayden Katz, Mary Margaret Lehmkuhler, and Rachel Suleymanov, 7th grade, earned bronze medals
  • 7th grader Naomi Yared and 8th graders Grace Breitenbeck, Drew Fisher, Mabry Griffin, Heather Loepere, Alex Mathews, and Zach Morris all earned honorable mentions on the exam

The National Spanish Examinations are standards-based exams that measure both achievement and proficiency at seven different levels.  ACDS seventh and eighth graders took the level 01 and level 1 exams respectively.  Congratulations to all of our students!

From its founding, ACDS has emphasized public speaking in its program.  It begins in Kindergarten where students share in morning meeting, and continues to the Author’s Tea in first grade, a public poetry reading in third grade, and our formal Speeches & Sweets program beginning in fifth grade.  In eighth grade, Speeches & Sweets becomes competitive and an boy and girl are selected to represent our school at the Alexandria Optimist Club’s public speaking competition.

At Wednesday’s Optimist Club competition, our two eighth graders placed first and second.  We are so proud of them!  As the first place winner, Olivia moves on to compete against the winners of other Optimist Club chapters this weekend.

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After assembling 20,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now, each grade participated in another service learning project to complete our Day of Service.  Our Kindergartners planted a butterfly garden on campus.  The first and fourth grades volunteered at Buddie Ford Nature Center.  Second and fifth graders cleaned up three Alexandria playgrounds.  The third and sixth graders planted beans in our garden for the Capital Area Food Bank, planted herbs, and created signs for campus recycling and composting bins.  Our seventh grade, working with Alexandria City Parks and Recreation, created an assessment and monitoring plot in Monticello Park.  And the eighth grade cleaned up Four Mile Run.  Well done Bobcats!  What a fantastic day!  For more photos from our Day of Service, please visit our Facebook page.

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To begin our Day of Service, ACDS students, faculty and staff worked together to package 20,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now.   small DSC_0063

The first step was to combine the ingredients into a bag.  Each package, which provides six meals, contains dehydrated vegetables, a soy protein, rice, and a vitamin packet.

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Filled packets were then taken to be weighed and sealed.

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Lastly, they were packed into boxes to be shipped overseas.

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Earlier this year, ACDS students learned that one of these meals costs just 25 cents.  They spent the last eight weeks collecting quarters and were able to exceed their goal of 10,000.  They ended up collecting 11,160 quarters which paid for 11,160 of the meals we packaged today.

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 To see more photos from the meal packaging event, please visit our Facebook page.

There’s no better time to nurture a child’s natural inquiry and love of learning than during the early years.  At Alexandria Country Day School, our K–2 classrooms burst with the delight of discovery as students actively engage in a challenging curriculum within a joyful and caring environment.  Additionally, a low student/teacher ratio allows the teachers to respond to the needs and interests of the children.

Learn more at our Open House for Grades K–2 on April 29 at 9:00 a.m.

  • Hear about our challenging and engaging curriculum from our Head of School and Head of Lower School
  • Sit in on a class to see our students and teachers in action
  • Learn about the entire community on a school tour

For more information, please contact Julie Lewis, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at jlewis@acdsnet.org.

Three ACDS seventh graders presented their science projects at Fairfax County’s first Engineering and Science Fair on Saturday, April 5th.  Kathryn Fronabarger’s project looked at Hydroponics, Shannon Ayres tested the effectiveness of lie detectors, and Kieran Donaldson examined the optimal angle of a trebuchet.  Among the over 100 students from Northern Virginia schools who participated, Kathryn was awarded second place and Shannon received an honorable mention in the sixth to eighth grade division.  Way to go Kathryn, Shannon, and Kieran!

Every culture has its own mythology and now ACDS does too!  

Every year, the Alexandria Country Day School community comes together for a week-long Festival of Learning focused on a single topic.  This year we explored myths and legends from around the world.  Our students read, discussed, compared and contrasted myths in their classes and arrived at definitions of mythology. We generally agreed that a myth is a story used to teach a moral lesson or explain a natural occurrence. First graders enthusiastically consolidated their definition into three words: “love, magic, violence”!

During the Festival of Learning, we heard fantastic stories.  We listened to Native American storyteller Dovie Thomason tell legends from across North America.

 

Storyteller Baba Jamal Koram shared compelling stories from the African and African American traditions.

 

We watched and participated in myths through dances presented by the Nepal Dance School.  

 

Our art students created inspired mythical art work.

 

 

The 5th and 6th grade drama students shared several Greek myths with us.  We joined together as a community (with popcorn and cotton candy!) to watch the 4th graders present the hilarious Circus Olympus (password: “acdsacds”).

 

Best of all, throughout the week, we wrote, drew, filmed and created our own stories, which we shared on Friday morning.  Here is the collected Mythology of ACDS:

 

Kindergarten:

First Grade:

            How Buddies Came to Be at ACDS

Second and Fifth Grade Collaboration:

            Why We Have a Gargoyle

            The Origins of Field Day

Third Grade:

            Why We Play Capture the Pig

Sixth Grade:

            The Misunderstood Monster of ACDS

            Why We are Green and White

Seventh Grade:

            Why Seventh Graders are So Chatty

            The Epic Seventh Grade Overnight

Eighth Grade:

 

 

** ACDS Families– email Elizabeth Lockwood for the password.

On Thursday evening and Friday morning, we were treated to a fabulous performance of Honk! by the 7th and 8th graders.  Students in the second trimester drama class did a fantastic job on stage and as members of the show’s running crew.  The music class learned and played some of the score, and the art class created the scenery and costumes. Bravo 7th and 8th grade!

Pop into the first grade classroom on any given afternoon and you are likely to encounter small clusters of children huddled around a collection of foam trays, felt, colored straws, Scotch tape, and all manner of handy supplies.  There will be much negotiating, demonstrating, and a general flurry of activity.  This is what STEM looks like in first grade.

 

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  It’s a hot topic in education circles right now, but the essence of STEM has long been at home in classrooms here at ACDS.  The heart of STEM is problem-based learning–students are given a problem to solve, then they design something that solves the problem.  In STEM, this problem just so happens to require the students to activate their math skills and science knowledge to effectively solve it.  Sounds simple enough, right?

 

This chart lists the criteria and constraints for their sailboat project.

 

In first grade, the design process follows a series of steps that are similar to the Scientific Method.  The design process follows this path:
1.  Investigate
2.  Brainstorm
3.  Plan
4.  Build
5.  Test and Present
First graders with their plans for the apple container project.

 

To be clear, first grade engineers are just like professional engineers in that they don’t always solve problems using this sequential order!  Depending on the project (or the engineer), our students may jump around to different steps, rewind, jump ahead and back a few more times, and even test and present multiple times before settling on a final design.  This kind of experimentation and revision is highly encouraged!

This apple container went through multiple revisions before completing its task!

 

Just as essential as the STEM concepts our first graders are learning are the collaboration and communication skills they must practice and refine throughout these projects.  You can be sure that a small group of first graders do not all bring similar design ideas to the table, but they manage to come together and execute one group design.  This means you have to understand the different components of your design and their value in order to convince your group.  Luckily, first graders are usually game for anything, and they don’t mind when things don’t go as planned–it’s just back to building for the next round!

Testing out a sailboat!

This year our Kindergarteners have chosen hunger as their service learning topic.  After organizing a food drive for the Backpack Buddies program, the Kindergartners took a trip to visit the Arlington Food Assistance Center to deliver their food.  Thanks to the help of the entire ACDS community, Kindergarten collected 460 pounds of single serving items for homeless children to take home from school on Friday afternoon to last the weekend.  The students toured the food bank and learned about how AFAC helps the hungry people of Arlington.  They also learned that families are encouraged to volunteer and participate in Family Bagging Nights, the second Monday of every month. (http://www.afac.org/volunteer/how-to-volunteer/family-volunteers/).

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On a daily basis, schools across the nation attempt to help students understand how their words and actions have a significant impact on the lives of their peers. Many would expect that helping students learn this important lesson would be simple and straightforward. However, the reality is that the developing frontal lobes of children make this learning process long and complicated. The fully developed adult brain can quickly, effortlessly, and accurately predict the consequences associated with every decision and action. Furthermore, adults can use this information to execute a decision that will lead to a positive outcome. For adolescents, the path to making a good decision is not nearly as clear or easy. Without a fully developed frontal lobe, children must train themselves to slow down and think through the intended and unintended consequences associated with their decisions.

With this in mind, today’s Bullying Awareness Week assembly focused on showing students the many possible roles they could play in a bullying situation. More specifically, students from our Peer Advocates leadership group role-played a situation where a student was making repeated mean comments toward another student during recess.

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The “Bully Circle” was comprised of the target, bully, side-kick, passive supporter, possible bully, disengaged observer, possible defender, and defender. The role-play helped students better understand that anyone who is around a bullying situation is playing a role in the situation. At the conclusion of the role-play, Ms. Mosier encouraged students who find themselves in similar situation to slow down, identify the role they are playing in the situation, and make the decision to become a defender. By taking the time to walk students through the many decisions they face when confronted with a bullying situation, we hope we are training their brains to make decisions that will positively impact everyone around them.

This week was Bullying Awareness Week at ACDS. All week during Morning Meeting/Circle of Power & Respect, students participated in activities designed to raise their awareness of bullying and teach them how to stand up for themselves and others. Today, the entire school came together for an all school activity. The assembly began with the Kindergarten through 5th grade watching “Three Bully Goats Griff” put on by the 5th & 6th grade drama class, while the 6th through 8th graders participated in role playing and watched a video created by ACDS teachers and students about their experience with bullying. Then everyone came together in the gym to read “Fill Your Bucket.” Working with their buddies, students then decorated their own bucket and wrote kind notes to put in the buckets of others.

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At ACDS, the faculty has spent time discussing and exploring best practices in technology integration, and more specifically, how we can use technology to meet our school-wide goal of challenging all students. Earlier this week, our Middle School Spanish teacher, Mrs. Hernandez Basta, created and delivered a technology-laden lesson that is an excellent example of how technology can be thoughtfully and effectively employed to best meet the needs of a diverse learning population.  Outlined below are the key components of the lesson and brief explanations of how the use of technology enriched the lesson.

The period was designed to provide students with an opportunity to review and practice the concept of direct objects which was taught earlier in the week. When the students entered the class, they used their iPads to log into Haiku our learning management system, and then Mrs. Hernandez Basta gave them a brief introduction to the lesson. For the remainder of the period, the students worked in pairs and small groups to successfully complete the activities found on the Haiku course page Mrs. Hernandez Basta had created.

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As you can see from the photos, the students worked through several games, practice quizzes, and videos that Mrs. Hernandez Basta vetted, selected, and embedded on her Haiku course page. Research shows that giving students choice and appropriate control over their learning path significantly increases engagement and success in a class. In this lesson, the students designed their own journey through direct objects.

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In the photos you can also see that the students were able to take practice quizzes and play games. All of these activities provided the students with instant feedback. In the past, students would complete a worksheet that might not be graded and returned for several days. Haiku and other websites allow teachers to create quizzes, tests, and activities that give students immediate feedback which improves and expedites the learning process.

Also on the page were two YouTube videos that were created by other Spanish teachers. These videos allowed students who needed more time to learn about direct objects the opportunity to do so while other students moved onto practice quizzes and games.  In short, all students were being appropriately challenged and could move at their own pace.

Finally, it should be noted that while the students worked in pairs and small groups, Mrs. Hernandez Basta met with students individually to assess their level of mastery related to direct objects.

This lesson is just one example of the many thoughtful technology integration projects employed at ACDS. Next time you are on Haiku, look for other ways that teachers are using technology to meet the needs of our students.

Design a container with a handle that will carry at least three apples for at least ten paces using only the materials provided: foam trays, paper plates, aluminum foil, paper, wax paper, yarn, straws, paperclips, scotch tape, index cards, popsicle sticks and sandwich bags. Doesn’t sound easy, does it? But our first grade engineers proved themselves up to the challenge of this STEM activity. The students first worked individually to brainstorm designs to share with their group.

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Then working together, the team took the best of each member’s design to create a blueprint for their container.

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After building their design, the testing began.

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Although the groups had to problem solve and make a few modifications along the way, everyone succeed in carrying three or more apples ten paces. One group was even able to carry six apples! Way to go first grade!

 

With the school year in full swing, our students are settling into the new routines and procedures of Singapore Math.  Every day during the math lesson students are actively engaged–trying out problems on mini whiteboards and building with base-10 blocks or Unifix cubes while the teacher explains the day’s lesson, explaining their answers (and mistakes!) using models and pictures to help them deepen their understanding, and working independently at their own level to practice the new skill they acquired during the day’s lesson.
Fourth graders are using place value chips to help them learn multi-digit multiplication.


Math in Focus is based upon the pedagogy of Singapore Math, which emphasizes a three-step approach to learning new concepts.  This approach takes students from concrete (working with manipulatives) to pictorial (working with visual models) to abstract (working with numbers and symbols) to help students develop a strong foundation in mathematical understanding.  Typical American programs tend to skip the pictorial component, which can compromise a student’s depth of understanding. Our teachers have been likening the importance of the pictorial step to that of the visualizing strategy in reading comprehension; if readers can understand a story better and experience it more deeply by creating mental images (a “mind movie” as we call it), then won’t mathematicians better understand a problem if they can create a mental image (visual model)?  Without this critical step in learning, our learners may miss important details that lead to greater understanding of concepts.
Below you can see more pictures illustrating the concrete step in Singapore Math’s pedagogy.  Stay tuned for part two of this blog post, where the pictorial and abstract steps will be highlighted.
 A fourth grader gets ready to trade in chips as she multiplies a 3-digit number by 4.
A fourth grader shows the class how the place value chips can show the same value as base-10 blocks.
Kindergartners build with Unifix cubes as they learn about more and less.
First graders figure out the answer in a game using Unifix cubes.

Last spring, ACDS went through a marketing and re-branding effort that made some changes to the external look of the school.  A new logo, sign, refreshed letterhead, and even new school uniforms made their debut which has given the school a fresh look.

As this process was underway, it became clear to me that there was a very important part of the school’s image that needed to be addressed – the Bobcat! A school’s mascot is a major part of its identity. Think of your college or high school – when you think of the image that resonates most with you and excites your school spirit, it is probably the image of your beloved mascot.

Through the years at ACDS, the only graphic representation of our Bobcat that has been consistently used is a paw. Now, I happen to like our paw, but it is not very distinctive (see Clemson Tigers), and it doesn’t really conjure a sense of toughness or fortitude (see fluffy kitten pawing at a ball of yarn). We needed another image that had some teeth (and fur) behind it.

So like any industrious millennial I took to the internet to find a solution to our problem. What I found was a website that was the home of sketch artists who would create custom logos at a reasonable price. Brilliant. I contacted the artists that work at this magical place to commission a rendering of our Bobcat which would become our definitive mascot image for years to come.

Having put a lot of pressure on myself to get this right, I took great care in describing exactly what I wanted the Bobcat to look like. I used words like “strong”, “friendly but not too friendly”,  “good with kids”, and “listens to hard rock but appreciates jazz.” The artist was no doubt inspired and confused, so what followed was a month-long collaboration and a few different attempts that eventually brought us to our winner.

1st Attempt – The chauffeur Bobcat that looks more like a lion and has been taking human growth hormone…



2nd Attempt – The Superhero Bobcat that is amused by something he just heard…




3rd Attempt – On the right track – but still spends a little too much time in the gym…



4th and Final Attempt – The ACDS Bobcat, in living color!



I was incredibly excited and also a little nervous to unveil our new Bobcat to our students, as the new mascot is truly for them. When school started and the kids saw him for the first time, I was relieved to see that he was received well. We then had a school-wide contest to name him, and that resulted in him being crowned “Russell Alexander Bobcat” at the end of September.

Look for Russell to make appearances on spirit wear, at athletic contests, and popping up countless other places at school. Russell’s presence will state proudly, to any friend or rival, that when you are here at ACDS, you have entered the Home of the Bobcats.

On Saturday, ACDS provided a kid’s art activity at Art on the Avenue, a large street festival in Del Ray. Many of our fabulous Middle Schoolers came out and helped nearly 400 children decorate cookies.  DSC_0003 webDSC_0027 web DSC_0024 web DSC_0031 web DSC_0030 web DSC_0008 web

 

 

Effective communication between parents and teachers is essential to developing a full understanding of a student’s character and ways of learning.  It’s also a two-way street.  Here are three things teachers and parents should each keep in mind when engaging in this all-important endeavor:

For Teachers:

  1. Strive to demonstrate to each parent the depth of your understanding of his or her child.
  2. Communicate with parents frequently and early about rising concerns.  Don’t wait for crises, and don’t be afraid to share good news.
  3. Ask questions of parents that show your desire to understand their children through their eyes.
For Parents:
  1. Trust that your child’s teacher cares about your child and has his or her best interest at heart.
  2. Reach out to your child’s teacher with questions rather than demands.  Seek to learn about your child through the teacher’s experience of him or her.
  3. Actively listen to your child’s teacher with an ear to understanding your child’s strengths and challenges.
Each of these ideas only scratch the surface of the very complex dynamic that exists between parents and teachers.  It is a relationship filled with anxiety, hope, and enormous potential for affecting your child’s growth and development.  Following these guidelines can help to set a productive context for dialog and increases the chance of a successful partnership. Educator, psychologist, and author, Michael Thompson, offers a compelling analysis of this relationship in his article entitled, The Fear Equation, which I highly recommend.  Here’s a closing thought from his article:

Children flourish when the adults in their lives agree on them.  Children do not have strong identities of their own.  They see themselves through the eyes of the adults who love and teach them.  For that reason it is important that the adults in their lives see them in a unified way.  If parents and teachers are on the same page with respect to children, it is much easier for the children to feel whole and understood, and to succeed.  That is why it is essential that parents and teachers move beyond the fears that afflict their relationship and create a sturdy alliance between them.

Today, ACDS students were treated to a reading of the first two chapters of the newest “Ivy + Bean” book, “Ivy + Bean Take the Case”, by author Annie Barrows. She also took the time to answer students’ questions about the series and what it is like to be a writer.

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Strong relationships between students and teachers are one of the hallmarks of the ACDS community, and they allow our teachers to push students to excel in and out of the classroom. With this in mind, the Middle School uses Developmental Designs to help forge these strong bonds between students and teachers. A key component of the program is the Circle of Power and Respect (CPR). The daily 25-minute sessions provide advisory groups an opportunity to explore interesting and important character building topics.
CPR sessions have three parts:
The Daily News — Advisory groups start each session by sitting in a circle and reading The Daily News which outlines the activity for the day. The Daily News often poses a question that students will need to answer during the activity portion of CPR.
Mrs. Mosier’s Advisory reads The Daily News.

Greeting – Once the group has read The Daily News there is time for members of the advisory to greet one another.  Greetings range from straight-forward handshakes to elaborately choreographed high-fives.  It is a great opportunity for students to practice using courteous, warm, and welcoming greetings.

Ms. Ball’s Advisory participates in a ball toss greeting.

Activity — During the activity portion of CPR, students have fun participating in lively discussions, playing cooperative games, and engaging in team-building challenges.

The 6th grade prepares for a grade-level cooperative jump rope activity that incorporates some Spanish rhymes.

If you have a Middle Schooler, we hope that you will occasionally check-in with your son or daughter to learn about the conversations taking place in CPR.

 


Strong relationships between students and teachers are one of the hallmarks of the ACDS community, and they allow our teachers to push students to excel in and out of the classroom. With this in mind, the Middle School uses Developmental Designs to help forge these strong bonds between students and teachers. A key component of the program is the Circle of Power and Respect (CPR). The daily 25-minute sessions provide advisory groups an opportunity to explore interesting and important character building topics.

CPR sessions have three parts:
The Daily News — Advisory groups start each session by sitting in a circle and reading The Daily News which outlines the activity for the day. The Daily News often poses a question that students will need to answer during the activity portion of CPR.
Mrs. Mosier’s Advisory reads The Daily News.

 

Greeting – Once the group has read The Daily News there is time for members of the advisory to greet one another.  Greetings range from straight-forward handshakes to elaborately choreographed high-fives.  It is a great opportunity for students to practice using courteous, warm, and welcoming greetings.

Ms. Ball’s Advisory participates in a ball toss greeting.

 

Activity — During the activity portion of CPR, students have fun participating in lively discussions, playing cooperative games, and engaging in team-building challenges.

The 6th grade prepares for a grade-level cooperative jump rope activity that incorporates some Spanish rhymes.

 

If you have a Middle Schooler, we hope that you will occasionally check-in with your son or daughter to learn about the conversations taking place in CPR.

 

Each fall, ACDS Middle Schoolers embark on an outdoor, overnight adventure with their classmates and teachers.  A highlight of the year for many, the trips are designed to take students out of their comfort zone, broaden horizons, deepen sense of self, and build community. 
Our seventh graders recently returned from their two-night stay at Environmental Studies on the Piedmont in Warrenton, Virginia.  As an extension of their Science curriculum, they participated in activities such as owling, bird banding, and mammal tracking.  They also learned how to set camera traps to capture images of wildlife. 
The Camera Trap is Set
Mammal Tracking
Whitewater rafting and ziplining through tree top canopies were the highlights of the eighth grade’s recent trip to Adventure on the Gorge in Lansing, West Virginia.  “It was great to see students really step outside their comfort zone and conquer the challenges put before them” said Mr. Ros, one of the trip’s chaperones. 
Getting ready to go whitewater rafting

Ready to soar through the tree tops

Each fall, ACDS Middle Schoolers embark on an outdoor, overnight adventure with their classmates and teachers.  A highlight of the year for many, the trips are designed to take students out of their comfort zone, broaden horizons, deepen sense of self, and build community. 
Our seventh graders recently returned from their two-night stay at Environmental Studies on the Piedmont in Warrenton, Virginia.  As an extension of their Science curriculum, they participated in activities such as owling, bird banding, and mammal tracking.  They also learned how to set camera traps to capture images of wildlife. 
The Camera Trap is Set
Mammal Tracking
Whitewater rafting and ziplining through tree top canopies were the highlights of the eighth grade’s recent trip to Adventure on the Gorge in Lansing, West Virginia.  “It was great to see students really step outside their comfort zone and conquer the challenges put before them” said Mr. Ros, one of the trip’s chaperones. 
Getting ready to go whitewater rafting

Ready to soar through the tree tops

Lower School at ACDS uses Responsive Classroom to help teach the children to take care of themselves, each other, and the school environment so that everyone can do his/her best learning.  You can read more about the guiding principles of Responsive Classroom in my September letter to parents.  Today’s post delves more deeply into one of the daily teaching practices–Morning Meeting.


Each Lower School classroom begins the day with Morning Meeting, a 15-20 minute gathering during which they practice academic skills, as well as important social skills, such as listening, speaking, problem solving, and participation.


Morning Meeting has four parts:
  • Greeting–Each child is greeted by name and welcomed. Greetings can be as simple as a handshake or high-five or as exciting as a ball toss or match-the-shoe-to-the-owner greeting.
Peyton gets ready to toss the ball during the Ball Toss Greeting.

  • Sharing–A few children share news and interests, which helps them get to know each other.
Alexandra shares about a family event.

  • Group Activity–The class might play a cooperative game, recite a poem together, sing a song, or do a math or language arts activity together.
    Mrs. Sutton’s class plays Double Double.

    First grade sings Mother Gooney Bird.

    Mrs. Stein’s class practices multiplication and division facts using a volleyball.

  • Message–The children read a message the teacher has written that helps them look forward to the day ahead. They also review the daily schedule.
    Aiden reads the Morning Message to his class.

    James shares the kindergarten schedule.

As you wander our halls in the morning, you may want to linger a bit to see Morning Meeting in action.

The beginning of a new school year is always an opportunity to share some big ideas about how we can work together in service to our students.  This year I have focused on three ideas: Partnership, Trust, and Communication, which I have highlighted in remarks to our families at various events.

This new ACDS blog is intended to aid in all three of those domains.  First, the blog will support our partnership with families by offering insight on educational topics, reflection on our practices, and supportive parenting materials for our families.  Second, it will help to build trust as we showcase the good work that we are doing with children and demonstrate our active approach to continuous improvement.  Third, it will enhance communication as we both share information and invite commentary.

You should expect a new blog entry at least once each week.  Lower School Head, Melissa Davis; Middle School Head, Ryan Woods; and I will each make regular entries, and we will encourage faculty and others to share thoughts and information as well.  Our goal is that the blog is practical, insightful, and engaging.  We know you have limited time, so we will also try to be brief!  Please add us to your newsreader and make it a habit to read what we have to share.  I also encourage you to follow us on Twitter where we will post links to new blog entries among other resources.  You can follow school Tweets @ACDSBobcats, and you can follow me @sbaytosh.  We will also provide our blog entries on the news feed of our website as well as on our Facebook page.

We hope you enjoy our blog offerings and welcome any feedback you may have.  Here’s to an exciting year!

Alexandria Country Day School Student Council Sworn in by Mayor Euille

ACDS celebrated the start of the new school year by swearing in its Student Council members on Monday, September 9th. Alexandria’s Mayor, William Euille joined Head of School, Scott Baytosh to perform the swearing in ceremony and discuss the importance of education and the responsibility of leadership. Mayor Euille shared that he got his start in elementary school student government and answered students’ questions about what it is like to be mayor. Mayor Euille has been performing the ceremony for the last ten years; Alexandria’s mayor has been participating in this ceremony for most of Alexandria Country Day School’s 31-year history.

The 5th Annual Bobcat Classic is one month away! This year, for the first time, we will be holding the event at Belle Haven Country Club so that we can add the option of tennis to our already outstanding program of lunch, 18 holes of golf, and an evening reception.

Put together your golf foursome or tennis pairing today for a wonderful day with ACDS and its community of supporters. Spread the word to your friends, neighbors, and colleagues, as they are welcome to participate as players or sponsors. Spots for this September 23rd event are filling up so act soon!

If you would like more information, or you are interested in a sponsorship for you or your business, please contact Matt Sahlin, Director of Development, at 703-837-1313 or msahlin@acdsnet.org.

We are thrilled to share the new ACDS website with you! Take a look around- we’ve added many exciting new features including a searchable faculty and staff directory and an online application. If you have any feedback on the new site, please send it to Meredith Kirchner, Director of Advancement, at mkirchner@acdsnet.org.