Distance Learning Roundup, Part 3

Posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2020

As we move further into spring and the beginning of May, Gaynor students continue to showcase their creativity and ingenuity in the classroom. 

Green Cluster students in Head Teacher Alyssa Tucker’s social studies class had a special visitor to close out their study about the Judicial Branch of government. 

New York State Supreme Court Judge Adam Silvera was invited to speak to the class by Ms. Tucker and Occupational Therapy Co-Chair Ariela Weisenberg, who is Adam’s sister-in-law. 

He talked to the students about his start as a judge, his hardest days, and the highlights of his job.

“He really helped this all come to life for the students,” Ms. Tucker said. “We had big plans to take a field trip to the courthouse, so when that couldn’t happen, we decided to bring the courthouse to us! He even wore his judicial robes!”

Orange Cluster Head Teacher Jackie Dobish created a fun project for her math group to wrap up their unit on area.

Students first had to think about what their dream bedroom would look like. Then, taking that idea, they had to design the layout using what they learned about area. 

“Each student found the area of their bed, night stands, desk, rug, and bench,” Ms. Dobish said. “After finding the area, they placed their furniture in their dream bedroom!”

In Reading Specialist Kristi Evans’ reading group, students read the book “Mystery at Bear Lake” by Bob Wright. 

In order to help students have a more immersive, multi-sensory experience, Ms. Evans had the idea for each student to build their very own campsite. 

“Since the setting of the story was a campsite, I wanted to create an activity that would engage with the content in a virtual setting,” she said. 

With guidance, the students had the opportunity to creatively build a campsite at home using items around the house.

“What was so incredible was their response and commitment to the activity, and the attention to detail,” Ms. Evans said. 

She said one student went to Central Park to collect twigs for his marshmallow roast, another student collected all the toilet paper rolls in her house to recreate a campfire, and another student had her dad dig their tent out of storage and put it up.

“We’ve had three classes since then, and some students are still in their tent!” Ms. Evans said.

Orange Cluster Head Teacher Jackie Kolbert’s reading group also put a creative spin on their learning. 

As a final project for their non-fiction book study, the students decided to create their own INFOMag, inspired by the Information Magazines they have been reading.

“We have been reading phonetically-controlled Information Magazines from the High Noon series and thought it would be fun to create one for our friends and the Gaynor community to give them information about activities they could do that didn’t involve so much screen time,” Ms. Kolbert said.

Each day, for the past ten days, students read and analyzed the High Noon INFOMags. They discovered the different features of a non-fiction text, such as a title page, table of contents, and informational articles. 

Incorporating those elements, the reading group brainstormed different activities they have been doing at home that their friends and teachers would enjoy.

“We tried to incorporate our knowledge of homonyms, ‘Wh’ question words, and sequencing words in our magazine to review all that we have learned this year,” Ms. Kolbert said. “We used pictures of our group from when we were together at Gaynor, and we are hopeful that our INFOMag will inspire the Gaynor community to do some of our fun ideas over the weekend!”

Blue Cluster students in Head Teacher Chon Smith’s reading class recently completed a poetry unit where they studied various poets and wrote original poems.

Ms. Smith taught the students about six different poets, such as Emily Dickinson and Lewis Carroll. The students also learned about different types of poetry, such as couplets and imagery poems, by learning about these different poets and practicing writing their own poems.

“I love teaching this unit in the spring, because this time of year inspires great poetry for them,” Ms. Smith said. “Poetry is also a really great break from reading novels, and it exposes them to another form of literature that is more free with less rules.”

To end the unit, Ms. Smith had students create individual poetry presentations based around a famous poet she assigned to each of them. She provided them with links to videos, websites, and copies of their work. 

Students were required to take notes on the poet’s bio, choose three poems that they liked, analyze one using the skills taught in class, write an original poem in the style of the poet, and explain how the poem is similar to their poet. This information was then put into a Google Slides presentation.

“They did a really great job using their critical thinking skills, often seeing something in a poem that I didn’t see,” Ms. Smith said. “Also, giving them a bit of free range when creating their presentations, I saw so much creativity in their work. It truly showed their personalities.”

The class also had a visit from a published poet, F. Renee Hamilton. The students read their poetry to Ms. Hamilton, and Ms. Smith said it had a huge impact.

“Ms. Hamilton and I were so impressed by the students’ poetry, that we were both inspired to write our own poetry,” she said. “Ms. Hamilton raved about them and said she’s now inspired to hold writing workshops for kids because of her interaction with them.”

The first ever Student vs. Faculty Jeopardy Tournament also premiered this past Wednesday on Facebook.

The faculty side consisted of Head of School Dr. Scott Gaynor, Director of Technology and Operations Matthew LeWinter, and Director of Student Life Sue Sortino.

On the student side were Blue Cluster students Yoni B., Andrew F., and Madeline B. 

In the riveting competition, both parties gave questions for answers such as “It was the year Stephen Gaynor School was founded,” “It includes the homes of the NYC Ballet, the NYC Opera, and the Juilliard School of Music,” and “A government whose highest officials are elected by the people who represent them.” 

To see who won the tournament, and to test your own knowledge, you can watch the video here. 

And that’s what you missed this week at VirtualGaynor!