All good scientists start with observations and a plan. With that in mind, Lower School students recently spent time in the greenhouse generating ideas to bring the space to life. It will be exciting to see their dreams bear fruit – or vegetables!
Middle School Take on Valentine’s Day
Happy Valentine's Day from Ms. Day's 6th grade World History class! Students were tasked with making Valentine's cards related to topics they had learned earlier in the year, including the early hunter gatherers and ancient Egypt. Your “mummy” will always love you!
Episcopal Third Grader Participates in National Book Club
Third grader Milo Gutfreund is a Kids Book Reviewer Club member. Author/illustrator Grace Lin hosted a contest this spring inviting students to participate in a national book review club, and Milo was chosen out of hundreds of applicants! He’s already contributed two reviews sharing his thoughts on what he has read. You can hear Milo's review by clicking here or check out the transcript here. Congratulations, Milo!
The photos below show Milo on his book club adventure including a box of books he received for his participation. In addition, Milo’s mom and Episcopal teacher Ros Won is pictured with author Grace Lin in 2012. The two posed for a photo at a book signing in Los Angeles holding a picture of Milo.
I Love with “Alma Heart!”
Second graders learned about the work of Black American artist, Alma Thomas, who was the first Black woman to have her own art exhibit. Inspired by her work, they created art to decorate the classroom.
Enchanted Engineering in the QUEST Center in Foster Hall
Once upon a time, first graders had more room to explore in the QUEST Center in Foster Hall. The additional space made it possible for the annual first grade Enchanted Engineering project-based learning unit to expand. Students built a magical fairy tale land and learned to program Bee-Bots to traverse the obstacles. What a great way to make learning fun!
Snaps for Seventh Grade Poets
Mrs. Valentine's 7th grade English students held a poetry slam competition in the QUEST Center to wrap up their poetry unit. Students recited their original poems in front of their peers and a few special judges. Snaps for these brave performers!
Eighth grade students participated in a Step-Up afternoon, where they learned about all of the opportunities the Episcopal Upper School offers its students! They heard from student panels on academics, athletics, arts, college counseling, and club offerings, and were able to ask questions about life in the Upper School.
Happy Mardi Gras, Knights!
Lower School students enjoyed Mardi Gras fun this week before the holiday break.
Fourth graders recently went on a blind date…with a book. The Blind Date with a Book event officially launched the new fourth grade book club. Teacher Liz Crawford wrapped each potential book and wrote short hints about what was inside on the cover. Similar to speed dating, students rotated around four tables in the QUEST Center in Foster Hall, reading the hints to determine which book they wanted to read with their group. After the groups tallied their top choices, students submitted them to Crawford and enjoyed the sweet treats she had provided to make the occasion truly special.
Why would a teacher go to such lengths to allow students to choose a book? Oftentimes, teachers assign students a book and everyone simply begins reading. Crawford says the goal of establishing a book club is to help students connect to reading. Setting up an event to begin creates a level of excitement among the class. “The craziest thing is that it worked,” says Crawford with enthusiasm. Students were thrilled to participate in the book selection process and even more excited when Crawford unveiled their choices. The excitement was so high that students discussed it with their families who were also eager to see which book their child would receive. Crawford is ecstatic that parents are engaged and that students and families are having conversations about reading.
“We learn all the time as teachers that choice and ownership are the secret sauce to teaching,” says fifth grade teacher Nicole Engstrom. “Book clubs start with choice, students feel the ownership which leads to engagement and excitement. That’s why I love book clubs, there is always a buzz in the room!!” That buzz is created because students enjoy leading the discussions, developing the guidelines for those discussions and even determining how many pages they will read each week. While the focus of the book clubs is reading, third grade teachers Amy Arceneaux and Shannon Pesson point out that students are also developing other life skills. Through the experience, students learn to work together, to take turns and how to disagree respectfully with each other. These skills and the benefits of reading are so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement that “recommends that pediatric providers advise parents of young children that reading aloud and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development and parent-child relationships.”
As far as the students are concerned, they simply enjoy the experience. Step into Engstrom’s classroom during book club and you immediately feel the excitement as students discuss what they’ve read with each other. Groups are gathered with books like “Theodore Boone: The Accused” by John Grisham and “A Medal for Leroy” by Michael Morpurgo in hand. There is quiet but enthusiastic chatter as they share what they’ve found in the pages. In fourth grade, Crawford says her students quickly embraced the idea of a book club. Students have asked if they can jot down notes as they are reading to prepare for the next group discussion, and they are eager for each upcoming meeting. She says giving students control over little things like book choice, discussion guidelines and goals results in them paying more attention to the skill of reading without even realizing it. “It’s more about the desire and the depth they’re willing to do it because of the desire,” she says.
Crawford and Arceneaux participated in a virtual professional development opportunity through the Teachers College, Columbia University to prepare for the book clubs. The opportunity was supported by Episcopal’s annual eFund. Arceneaux says the workshop emphasized the importance of books as a connector to a story’s characters, each other and even the world. She says the third grade book clubs look a little different from the fourth and fifth grade clubs because the younger students still frequently read aloud. In addition, teachers have to model for the eight and nine year olds how to talk about books and what they have learned.
“The Nuts and Bolts of Getting Book Clubs Up and Going” helped teachers discover new components to implement in establishing student book clubs. Students developed a constitution of rules that book club members follow. To generate excitement and spark creativity, the students also worked together to create a book club logo. Third graders chose names like The Book Hawks, The Olympic Readers and the Dirt Worms Readers.
The establishment of Lower School book clubs is a perfect example of the creativity and care with which Episcopal educators plan and lead lessons. At Episcopal, reading has always been a priority with a range of events like Battle of the Books, Project LIT and community reads. Ultimately, the hope is that students not only develop strong reading skills but also become lifelong readers. With such a commitment to the effort, we’re sure that students will be turning pages for years to come.
Have you read a great book recently? Share the title with us in the comments section below.
Santa stopped in for the annual second grade Polar Express Day! With hot chocolate, holiday pajamas and big smiles all around, this Lower School tradition is a special way to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
Episcopal math lessons include everything from the latest technology to tried-and-true instruments that humans have relied upon for ages. Recently, the QUEST Center in Foster Hall has been buzzing with the sounds of students crunching numbers in some very creative ways.
A sixth grade lesson on ratios and speed went well beyond calculators and textbooks. To start, students learned a lesson from the track and field playbook and ran laps around the field house track to study speed. For the culminating activity, teacher Nancy Calloway brought students to the QUEST Center’s Digital Media Lab where they used Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots to determine average speed and distance traveled. In small groups, students worked together to make observations and calculations. Calloway says the integration of technology provided the opportunity for collaboration with experienced students taking on the role of experts. “It has been a joy to see these students step up to the challenge and help others along the way,” she says.
Marking Time with Equations
As sixth graders explored speed, just across the QUEST Center eighth graders were creating equations to display the time on a clock. “During the last two or three weeks of this semester, I wanted to work on strengthening some important skills that my students would need for their Upper School classes,” says eighth grade math teacher James Moroney. “One of those skills is solving equations.” However, Moroney didn’t want to simply have students solve problems in the classroom, so he devised a creative, new way to make the lesson more engaging. For the assignment, students had to write an equation that when solved represents the number on a clock. After solving the equation, students then had to design the clock face and construct the clock with gears and hands. The clocks will later be gifted to the Episcopal teacher of their choice.
We Love Fractions
In Kitchen Chemistry, fourth graders baked cookies inspired by the book “The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street” by Karina Yan Glaser. The recipe required the students to use their new knowledge of fractions as they measured out brown sugar and flour. Students also learned how to sift flour and mix dough. When discussing the project and the ½ teaspoons of this and 3 tablespoons of that, the students were confident with fractions. Once the cookies were baked, students rotated to the QUEST Center Great Hall where they used Lego bricks to build a replica of the Vanderbeeker home. It was the perfect combination for a reading and arithmetic lesson.
QUEST Center Space Adds Up
“When problem solving, it is important for students to be able to experiment and test their results,” says Calloway. “Having a space where they can actually see and do the experiment and test the results in real time allows students to make conjectures, verify or refute the results and ultimately improve their ability to ‘apply’ mathematics to the real world.” With 14,000 square feet of learning space, the QUEST Center provides ample space for mathematical exploration. Calloway began using the robots last year, but she says this year the added space in the QUEST Center made a significant difference. “The QUEST Center allows for open spaces where the students are able to spread out (social distance) while still working with a partner or group to complete a hands-on task,” she says.
Moroney says the QUEST Center provides an opportunity for students to explore real world applications of math concepts such as ratios, distance and time. “One of the most important things that the QUEST Center offers to our students, especially in math, is the ability to do trial and error in problem solving,” he says. “The space that the QUEST Center provides as well as the different tools and technology in which the students are exposed allows them to experiment with mathematical (and scientific concepts) in a way that allows them to make mistakes and correct them in an incredibly engaging way.” Moroney plans to continue finding opportunities to use the space this school year. Liz Crawford, whose fourth grade class baked cookies and built houses all in one class period, appreciates the ease of conducting lessons in the facility. “The space makes it so doable,” she says in between measuring and mixing. The fourth grade lesson was appreciated by QUEST Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis. “This week, passing by the Chemistry Kitchen, one could hear fourth graders figuring out the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, the importance of sifting flour, and how to read and to double a recipe,” she says. “Baking chocolate cookies from scratch is a delicious way to practice math skills.”
The learning and excitement that fills the QUEST Center each day is inspiring for Dr. Lewis. “My heart is full when I see students moving around our new spaces, trying different solutions to problems, tweaking their solutions when they aren’t quite right, and then testing out the revised plans until they work just right,” she says. In just a short time, Dr. Lewis and the QUEST Center have already provided a range of new learning opportunities for Lower and Middle School students. We can’t wait to see what they do during the rest of the school year!
There was a sea of red, white and blue for the Lower School Veterans Day parade. Students waved flags and cheered on Episcopal family members, friends and faculty who have served our country. The vehicles were decorated with banners, flags and signs to inspire the crowd. 2020 has been the year of parades, but this show of support and enthusiasm was particularly special. The parade concluded with Episcopal’s School Resource Officer and Air Force Veteran Corporal Kristopher Daniels making a pass through the circle with lights and sirens flaring.
A Prayer for Heroic Service
O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all of the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-From The Book of Common Prayer, p. 839
Check out the links below to read recent alumni spotlights highlighting a few of our veterans.
At Episcopal, we often talk about the benefits of hands-on learning and how these experiences spark a students’ interest and encourage deep learning. A recent visit to the QUEST Center in Foster Hall showcased a wide array of these creative opportunities which are being offered by Episcopal faculty. While many of the lessons have been taught before, this new space is providing the opportunity to expand or even create new and exciting ways to learn. Students and teachers are enjoying every minute of it!
PreK Garden Fixer Upper
Recently, fifth graders got their hands dirty by weeding, painting and sprucing up the PreK-4 garden. QUEST Center coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis and the fifth grade teachers worked with the older students to re-imagine the space. Students drew up proposals and the class worked together to implement their ideas. The result was a space to inspire any 4-year-old, complete with a bird sanctuary, construction zone, prehistoric place, milkweed monitoring, mudpie kitchen and herb and vegetable patches.
After several weeks of hard work and planning, the fifth graders were excited to reveal what they had accomplished, and the PreK students were eager to explore. “Do y’all like it?” asked the fifth graders. “We love it!” shouted the younger Knights jumping up and down. The brightly colored learning environment is just outside the PreK-4 classroom, and it is sure to be the site of countless discoveries this year.
Middle School Monster Mash
In English class, students often read text and write a response. In Martha Guarisco’s sixth grade class, there is so much more to explore. In celebration of fall festivities and an upcoming lesson on Greek mythology, Guarisco introduced a mythical monsters lesson. The lesson began with students using Google Expedition to view ancient creatures including a centaur, Pegasus, Medusa, a phoenix and nymphs. Using inspiration from what they saw, students then had to imagine their own creature and the traits that it might possess. To make the lesson a truly hands-on experience, Guarisco challenged students to mash their creatures with those imagined by their classmates.
This merging of mashed monsters took place in the QUEST Center. Using pool noodles, feathers, duct tape and more, students made creatures such as the “lioermis” created by Hollis, Lilianna and Zoey or the phoenix created by Patrick, Cohen, Pierce and Jace. While using the tools in the Middle School Design Studio was fun, the students were also retaining what they learned. Members of the “lioermis” group were able to describe an ancient phoenix and its rebirth from the ashes. The phoenix group designed a creature, similar to many mythical monsters, that could shape shift from human to bird.
As the sixth graders work on their creatures, they can’t help but see the activity taking place elsewhere in the facility. Guarisco recently overheard students expressing interest in the eighth graders’ Rube Goldberg project. “This is building excitement because it’s a shared space,” she says of the creative work taking place all around.
The Science of a Rube Goldberg Machine
There’s no better way to learn about simple machines than to build one. Episcopal eighth graders are creating Rube Goldberg Machines as part of a lesson on the engineering design method. Science teacher Shyamala Alapati challenged pairs of students to create a machine using four simple machines and 10 events. Students began the process by brainstorming and drawing out ideas on paper. After that, they had a class period to explore materials ranging from blocks and pipes to cardboard and popsicle sticks. In no time, students were using pulleys, levers, wedges and inclined planes to accomplish simple feats. Through the trial and error that is common in science, students are revising their plans as they go along. Once complete, the machines will be combined into one large Rube Goldberg Machine that will be revealed at the QUEST Center open house on Sunday, November 15th at 3:30 pm.
It is exciting when lessons read in a book come to life. Whether it’s the latest technology, recycled materials or simply the space to support a big imagination, the QUEST Center is allowing teachers to do what they do best – inspire the next generation of thinkers and leaders.
Open House - Sunday, November 15th at 3:30 pm
Episcopal families are invited to the QUEST Center Open House on Sunday, November 15 at 3:30 PM. Please click here to RSVP by November 11th and choose an available time slot to tour the new space. QUEST Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis and our faculty have planned an afternoon filled with interactive experiments and a showcase of the wonderful projects for students and families to enjoy.
Did you know that you can learn about the human body in music class? At Episcopal, you can. Second graders recently teamed up with music teacher Tricia Delony to create the sounds of the digestive system. The result is what Delony describes as “good, clean, gross sounding fun.”
Before the students ever recorded a note, they learned more about Foley artists who use everyday objects and things they find to make sounds. Zippers, pinwheels, tape, bags, maracas and even a rubber duck were used as “instruments” to create audio for the mouth, stomach and intestines. As students explored the sounds generated by the objects, there were discussions on non-music related topics. Similar to a science teacher, Delony reminded students of the rule of inertia and how “instruments can’t make sounds by themselves.”
In no time, the music room was filled with the sounds of students squeezing discarded cough drop bags and knocking on wooden blocks. Delony displayed a photo overhead of an internal view of the intestines to provide inspiration, and the students created what Delony called the “pokey sounds of the intestines.” After the initial squeezing, shaking and exploring, students recorded their favorite sound for a compilation track. The recordings, when combined with the recordings of the other second grade classes, created the soundtrack of the human digestive system according to Episcopal second graders.
Episcopal Lower School students participate in music class once a week. The young students are immersed in the Kodaly and Orff method, using solfege and a wide selection of instruments and recorders. As students progress through Middle and Upper School, they build upon what they learned in Lower School and participate in band, choir and musical theater. Delony provides students the foundations of music to prepare them for the learning ahead. Choir director Carrie Poynot appreciates that the curriculum grows with the students as they advance. “It is also wonderful to get to know the students year after year,” she says. “I get the opportunity to watch them grow in their musical independence. I am lucky to take part in shaping their experience as they participate in our choral and musical theater productions.”
The National Association for Music Education points out numerous benefits for students who receive music instruction. On the association’s website, the organization lists positive behavior influences as well as improvements in a child’s spatial intelligence, ability for self-knowledge and expression, and an overall boost in processing language and reasoning abilities. NAfME representatives also share that “students with coursework/experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT.”
For now, the second graders simply enjoyed discovering imaginative ways to make new sounds inspired by a lesson in human anatomy. As they shrieked “ewww” and “gross,” it was clear that the lesson is sure to be a chart topper!
Second graders will show off everything they’ve learned about the digestive system with an interactive walk-through exhibit next week in the QUEST Center in Foster Hall.
Enjoy a preview of the digestive system soundtrack below.
Episcopal fourth grader Annie Engholm is an inspiration for us all. Like many this spring, Annie was bored staying at home with her family. However, unlike many of us, she didn’t spend that extra time snacking or binge watching her favorite TV show. Instead, Annie set to work fighting the virus the best way she knew how.
Annie loves making jewelry. As she created new pieces this spring, she also thought about how much she missed seeing her friends. That’s when inspiration struck. Annie made up her mind to sell her creations and donate the proceeds to a local hospital. With help from her dad, she established a non-profit Etsy shop titled Annie’s Ever After Shop. A quick study, Annie learned how to take photos of her creations, post the images, write the captions and package everything for shipping. In no time at all, her brightly colored, Louisiana-inspired Click Clack Clams, hair clips, rings and bracelets began shipping to her patrons. This young Knight raised $500, and she donated all of it to the Baton Rouge General Foundation to help them help others!
A visit with Annie and her friends Kamrin and Koyomi on the Episcopal deck proves that Annie is full of life and enthusiasm. As the students munch on their lunches, they are excited to learn more about Annie’s quarantine adventures, including the time she was featured on TV because of her generosity. Kamrin grabs a banana and pretends it’s a microphone as he asks Annie questions about the items she sold. Annie is excited to share with her friends that her first item was purchased by a grown-up. “The first day I got so many orders,” she says proudly. In the type of conversation that happens often with young classmates, the students share stories of their own television appearances and Annie talks about the time she and her dad saved a stranded bird that was entangled in a streamer. For these best friends, it seems to be a normal occurrence for someone their age to raise hundreds of dollars to help fight a pandemic.
“This is all Annie,” says Annie’s mom Ginny, with a laugh. “She is a force. If she wants to do something, she does it.” Annie’s Ever After Shop is not Annie’s first effort to make a difference in the world. Ginny says prior to this, Annie and her friends organized an art sale to generate funds to support a shelter for teens. While Annie says it’s hard to decide who to help, she is already making plans to do more. She hopes to soon begin creating a new round of shop items, including a headband design. Once she’s ready, she’ll re-open Annie’s Ever After in an effort to continue raising money in support of health care workers. With optimism, she says that once the quarantine is over, she will begin donating her proceeds to efforts that help children without homes.
Annie’s incredible compassion for others resonates with everyone who hears her story. The physicians and staff at Baton Rouge General were impressed with her efforts and nominated her for a National Philanthropy Day award given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Baton Rouge Chapter. Ginny says Annie is actually the youngest recipient of the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy honor. Annie will be recognized along with other Baton Rouge philanthropists at a special luncheon at the City Club of Baton Rouge next week.
In the meantime, as she shares lunch with her friends under the large oak tree at Episcopal, Annie talks about how to get rid of bees and how to make a keychain. Someday she hopes to be “some kind of scientist,” and she really enjoys creating art. She’s also in the process of designing a board game to play with her cousin. Annie is full of energy and ideas and not afraid to try them. Her mom describes her as “super kind, super creative and fearless.” These traits will serve her well as she grows up and takes on the world. This future leader will certainly go far, and we are proud that she is a Knight.
Check out Annie's Etsy Shop promotional video here.
Share a message with Annie in the comments section below and let her know the Knights are proud of her!
Make it a great day!
Anyone who has participated in a Lower School Morning Meeting has certainly heard this greeting shared between students. Prior to the pandemic, Morning Meeting was a daily gathering in the Greer Center featuring student performances, scripture readings and voices raised in song. When the world of education changed last school year, religion teachers Jenny Koenig and Laura Portwood knew they had to preserve this treasured tradition. “It was the number one tradition mentioned by every faculty member,” says Koenig. “This is how we start our day here,” says Portwood. With classes being offered online, the two teachers set to work offering Morning Meeting online as well. The project required a tremendous effort and a lot of trouble shooting.
Now, with students on campus, Morning Meeting is streamed live from Koenig’s classroom each day. Koenig, Portwood and librarian Catherine Word operate webcams, computers and lights in the space. A different class joins them in person for each production and there are special guest attendees. Recently, students welcomed new Head of School Dr. Carrie Steakley, who was more than happy to spend time with the young Knights.
Morning Meeting is a component of the Responsive Classroom method that has been used in Lower School for more than a decade. The classroom management philosophy empowers students by helping them fully understand the expectations and behaviors required of them. According to the Responsive Classroom website, “Morning Meeting is an engaging way to start each day, build a strong sense of community, and set children up for success socially and academically.” At Episcopal, Morning Meeting is also a setting in which students gain a solid spiritual foundation with students reciting the Episcopal Honor Code, praying and singing together.
“I saw you on TV.” “How did you fit in the TV?” The new Morning Meeting format has certainly made an impression on the littlest Knights. Koenig and Portwood say when they interact with PreK-4 students they are often asked about the production. Portwood smiles when recalling the students asking how she got so tiny. She says these impromptu discussions often lead to talk of cameras and the workings of film creation. Koenig says when she sees students on the playground or on campus, they are excited to greet her and feel like they know her now.
Beginning each day together creates a sense of community among students. It also provides a dependable way to move into a new day of learning. “It provides a calm routine that we can count on,” says Koenig. “It’s comforting to them.” In addition, Morning Meeting is an opportunity for students to develop presentation and leadership skills. Each day, a different group of fifth graders is selected to lead the gathering. “It’s a big deal to get up in front of everybody,” says Portwood. The teachers do not take this lightly, and it’s just one more reason they are committed to continuing Morning Meeting.
Koenig and Portwood laugh about the adventures they’ve had while working on the virtual version of Morning Meeting. There have been occasions where the technology froze and instances where Portwood had to ad-lib her message. While transitioning to an online format has not been without challenges, it has certainly been worth the effort. “It helps us to always remember our sense of belonging,” says Koenig. That sense of belonging is felt whether students are sitting side by side or tuning in from their classroom.
Morning Meeting continues thanks to the resilience and determination of teachers like Portwood, Koenig and Word. In a year like 2020, it is good to know that meaningful traditions live on. Thank you to everyone who contributes to this effort.
Do you love Morning Meeting? Tell us why in the comments section below.
Episcopal students are learning, growing and enjoying their time on campus. As everyone acclimates to the 2020 routine, a new sense of joy and tradition is blooming. Enjoy these moments from around campus.
Going on a Fossil Hunt
Sixth graders recently used the latest technology to delve deeper into the secrets of the past. Students used Google Expeditions AR to look at fossils that were used as evidence to support the theory of Continental Drift.
Wellness Wednesday Finals
“Let’s have some fun!” Division Head Mark Engstrom welcomed Middle School students to the VPAC for the Wellness Wednesday Fall Fest Finals this week. The event was the culmination of several Wednesdays of mental, physical and logic challenges conducted recently during advisory. For the finals, students had to find the differences between images, jump rope for 30 seconds or solve a riddle. The winners received candy to celebrate their success. The best part was being together for a moment of fun!
In addition, students had an opportunity to dress in their favorite fall outfits and enjoy treats from City Gelato to celebrate the upcoming fall break.
Outdoor Adventures in First Grade
Nothing says joy quite like flying a kite on a beautiful October day! First graders enjoyed time outdoors recently on the Coach Dupe trail.