The Sandwich Challenge: Learning Team Roles

This month, Middle and Upper School Head Brian Oliver led the “Sandwich Challenge” in Ms. Prahlad’s Composition classes for 6th and 7th grade.

He writes: The objective of the activity was to get students to experience, appreciate, and reflect upon the value of the different roles on any team. Through an interactive and playful activity we designed and activity that would allow them to “fail forward.” The rules for each group pushed them towards failure — one had to agree universally before they could write anything down; one had to work independently and guess what his/her peers were predicting; and the third had fixed roles assigned randomly and therefore with no focus on the strengths of the individuals comprising the team.
Once the procedure was completed and the sandwiches were crafted by “guest stars,” the students gathered as a whole and each student shared his/her experience: the restrictions of their team, how it impacted their productivity and most importantly how it made them feel.
We then introduced and examined Belbin’s team roles which explain the different roles and focus on each roles’ strength and weakness. The “guest stars” were asked to share their self-evaluation with the group and the students were then asked to reflect on the roles and to order them from most authentic fit to least authentic fit. These self-evaluations will then be used as they shape their team and launch their project.
This was a great example of our Plan-Do-Reflect learning model and it was an amazing experience to be a part of – to watch the kids work so hard to play by the rules, even as their project careened towards failure, to observe them trying to find creative solutions to work around the rules that restricted them, to laugh hysterically when the guest stars followed their procedures literally and to reflect so thoughtfully when the project was completed. I am confident they walked away energized by the activity and emboldened that the knowledge they gained will help them work more collaboratively on their anti-bullying PSA.
The great part about the new Middle School classroom design (desks on wheels, whiteboard walls, and standing desks) is that I could group, regroup, and re-order the students throughout the exercise. The flexibility allowed us to use grouping and physical positioning as a tool to aid instruction. One of the groups was forced to be in an outward facing circle, one in a collaborative cluster and the third was a blend of the two.This arrangement reinforced the lesson and students were quickly able to return to the half-moon for the group observation and reflection.The absence of transition issues with this new furniture is incredibly valuable.

Wakefield senior James Wroe named National Merit Semifinalist

WroeWakefield School senior James Wroe has been named a Semifinalist in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program based on his results from the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Qualifying Test.

Wroe is one of only 16,000 students nationwide who have qualified as Semifinalists.

About 1.4 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2015 scholarship competition by taking the 2013 PSAT; semifinalists represent less than one percent of those high school seniors.

As a semifinalist, Wroe has the opportunity to advance to Finalist standing in the competition by providing a detailed scholarship application that shows an excellent academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and honors and awards received. About 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth around $33 million will be awarded in the spring.

James is the son of Gerard and Sandra Wroe of Ashburn.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955.

Anti-Bullying Advocate Jim Mayer, Bass Player for Jimmy Buffett, Visits Campus

Anti-bullying advocate Jim Mayer, known for decades as the famous bass player for Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, visited Wakefield School on Friday to speak to the entire Middle School.

Uncle Jim, as he calls himself, is also an award winning children’s musician and performer who is leading the movement to change the impact of child bullying through his IM4U Campaign. This movement “exists to support teachers, parents, and the kids they love and teach, as they bring joy to our children and end our society’s bullying epidemic,” according to his website.

He sang several songs to the Middle Schoolers, including IM4U, I’m So Happy, and Zip My Lip.

Middle School students are working on projects about anti-bullying in each of their grade’s innovation periods this trimester. Groups from each grade are producing anti-bullying public service announcements that Jim Mayer has asked to see!

Constitution Day 2014: A Lower School Tradition


Each year on Constitution Day, September 17, the fourth grade class leads part of the Lower School Assembly.

They use this time to gather the entire Lower School around the school’s flagpole and read the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

The fourth graders then explain the meaning of different pieces of the Preamble in their own words to the other students.

Wakefield website design recognized by Finalsite

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 8.51.35 AMWakefield School’s new website was recognized by Finalsite this month as one of the company’s six featured recent launches.

Here’s what they had to say about our new home page:

“We love the color scheme, the interactive design treatments, and all the multimedia on this site! And, since they have one of the most creative mega-navigations we’ve ever seen, you’ll enjoy searching for information on lower site pages.

Here’s what we love most: their ability to engage.

With recent news events docked in their homepage photo slideshow, an interactive “Explore Wakefield” section, call-to-action buttons, video content, and social media links, Wakefield School knows how to engage its multiple audiences.”

Wakefield Welcomes New and Talented Faculty

Are you seeing some new faces around campus this year? Wakefield School has added faculty members to three divisions this year.

Upper School

David Button Jr. joined Wakefield as the new Upper School physics teacher. Mr. Button comes from Prince William County public schools where he spent the past 14 years teaching physics and math. He received his B.S. in physics from Bridgewater College. Of special note is the fact that Mr. Button has done extensive work as a robots coach and mentor.

Tom Campbell is teaching AP European History as well as the World History class. He has a B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University and a M.A. from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He has taught at Squaw Valley Academy, the Fletcher School, St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Mississippi, and Collegiate School in Richmond. Mr. Campbell has a particular interest in German history.

Ruth Marshall has also joined the History Department, where she is teaching U.S. History and U.S. Government. In addition to teaching at Wakefield, she is also pursuing a degree in education at George Mason. She has taught at both Foxcroft and Middleburg Academy.

Dr. Niranjan Rao joined the Upper School Math Department and is teaching classes in Geometry, Algebra, and Trigonometry.  Prior to coming to Wakefield, Dr. Rao worked at Boeing as a rocket scientist and was Chief Engineer, Project Manager and a Boeing Fellow.  He received his BA, ME, and Ph.D from the University of Virginia.  In addition, he has studied at MIT, the University of Alabama, and the University of San Diego.

Middle School

Bethlehem Addis has just completed her M.A. in Public Administration from George Mason University and has joined Wakefield as the Middle School Learning Support Teacher. She did her undergraduate work at GMU as well, with a major in Legal Studies and a concentration in Conflict Resolution and Childhood studies. Ms. Addis has spent the past several years as Site Director at the Loudoun County YMCA. She has also been a graduate teaching assistant at George Mason and an intern at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria.

Jennifer Butler is teaching middle school math. Mrs. Butler has her B.A. in Business and Psychology and her M.A. in Industrial & Organizational Psychology and her teaching certificate. She substituted at Wakefield last school year and helped in the Admissions Office during May. She has more than 15 years of experience teaching students at the elementary and middle school level.

Lower School

Danielle Curtis is teaching lower school art for students in the Early Childhood Center through second grades. She has her B.A. in Studio Art from the University of Mary Washington.

Staff

Tabitha Ward, a 2006 graduate of Wakefield, joined Wakefield this summer as Assistant Director of Admissions. Ms. Ward received her B.A. from Christopher Newport University and her M.A. from VCU in social work. She has worked with youth in a variety of ways, from teaching kindergarteners to high school students and running student leadership classes.

A Wakefield Tradition: Seniors and First Graders

One of the great traditions at Wakefield takes place at the first and last assemblies of each school year.
At the first assembly, the new class of seniors addresses the new class of first graders, then takes the littlest class by the hands and leads them to their classroom.
This tradition represents a sort of official beginning of the educational journey for the first graders — and the beginning of the end of the seniors’ time at Wakefield.
Poetically, the tradition has another side to it. At the end of the year, at the seniors’ last Wakefield assembly ever, the first graders take them by the hand and lead them to our senior garden. The realization that their time at Wakefield (as students, at least) is nearing its end gradually comes over them.
This is just one of the many unique Wakefield traditions that have marked their time, however long, at the school, and one that they will be sure to take with them on their next journey.

Lower School Teachers Attend ‘Responsive Classroom’ Training

LSintro2 This summer, Wakefield’s Lower School teachers attended Responsive Classroom training from August 11-14 in McLean.

According to Lower School Head Dr. Margo E. Isabel, the Lower School is introducing the Responsive Classroom Approach in order to foster, consistently and throughout each classroom and the division as a whole, a learning environment that encourages students to take full ownership of their learning.

The approach incorporates strategies that encourage students to be active, supportive and caring members of their classroom community. The approach emphasizes the need to address and balance the social, emotional and academic needs of the students.

Fostering this environment helps students to become engaged and confident learners.

Components of this approach include: a daily classroom meeting; student generated classroom rules; academic choice; problem solving; and positive teacher language. To read more about the approach, click here.