Hour of Coding in Lower School

codingI must say I wondered for a bit what all the hype was regarding “coding,” especially in the lower school classroom. However, as someone who relies on my relationships within my PLN (Personal Learning Network, which includes educational leaders around the world) to stay up to date and communicate about educational realities, the talk about coding was everywhere! I read, as did Headmaster David Colón, a number of articles that stressed its importance. This is what grabbed my attention and pushed me to look beyond my daily blog and Twitter browsing and to make a case for exploring coding in the Lower School:

“…it’s worth pointing out that this push towards helping our students learn the ideas of coding is not simply getting them to write computer programs. It’s about helping them to think clearly; identify and analyse problems; come up with creative, innovative solutions; and ultimately, help make the world a better place. The thing about coding is that it’s far more about learning to think clearly and creatively than it is about doing nerdy computer stuff. Put simply, good coders are good thinkers.”

I strongly encourage you to read the entire article by this Australian Educator.

I know how much we want our Wakefield students to be good thinkers and problem solvers, as well as articulate communicators — and coding can help them get there!  So I talked with Simon Sjogren, who made the coding program “Scratch Jr.” available on our new iPads, and the fun began!  And, I must admit, the second graders beat me to the chase. I was up to par at getting my cat to talk and cross the street, but I just couldn’t get the cat to jump out of the road. I wandered around the second grade classroom, and luckily some enthusiastic student “coders” helped me!

— Dr. Margo Isabel, Head of Lower School

On December 8th, 2014, the Hour of Code began in classrooms at all grade levels across the world. This is an annual event where schools participate and help their students learn coding in a whole new way. During the same time, Wakefield School’s first, second, and third graders also began their one hour of coding in Mr. Sjogren’s technology classes using iPads and the application “Scratch Jr.”

For many students, this was their first experience with coding. The ability to learn coding has been around for many years, although not until recently was coding actually this much fun! Using the new Lower School iPads, the students were able to write lines of code and create programs that moved objects from one side of the screen to another in less than an hour’s time. The students were left excited about the work they had done and the new skill they had just learned.

The ability to code is a skill that has become more widely used in “jobs of the future” and with the ever-changing landscape of technology, the need for such a skill exists – and the students at Wakefield now have the chance to broaden their technical skills into become possible programmers of the future!

–Simon Sjogren, Director of Technology Integration

Class of 2015 Recent College Acceptances

Our Class of 2015 Owls have already racked up an impressive list of college acceptances — with more to come!

College of Charlcollege counselingeston

College of William and Mary

East Carolina University

Georgetown University

Immaculata University

Longwood University

Louisiana State University

Ohio University

Princeton University

United States Naval Academy

University of Delaware

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pittsburgh

University of Vermont

Utah State University

Virginia Tech

Virginia Wesleyan College

Weber State University

West Virginia University

Dr. Margo Isabel on Lower School “Text-to-World” Connections

smile trainAs an educator, I have no greater sense of satisfaction than seeing the “stars align” through a student-led, authentic, collaborative and compassionate service project that sprang from a conversation between a grandson and his grandmother about the challenges and complexities of our world poverty, friendship, and the need to serve humanity. Pair that with encouraging teachers who appreciated this student’s interest and were willing to support him through lunch, recess and after school work sessions. The end result was that this authentic project, a Lower School bake sale, earned $873 to be donated to The Smile Train organization.

Fifth grader Andrew Renz and his grandmother were having a conversation about poverty in our world – which led to a conversation about the main character, August Pullman, in the Fifth Grade Literature book, Wonder, by R.J. Palacios. August was born with extreme facial deformities. Because of constant surgeries, he was homeschooled for much of his life, but thereafter was fortunate enough to attend a school much like Wakefield. Accepting him was difficult for some of his classmates. As you might imagine, August’s story has stimulated multiple important conversations in our fifth grade about empathy, kindness and inclusion.

Andrew quickly made a text-to-world connection between children in less developed countries – born with cleft palate and unable to pay for surgery due to their impoverished background.  At that moment, he decided to put aside his upcoming Christmas money to donate to the Smile Train organization, an organization that sends trained doctors to different countries to perform this relatively simple surgery – for free.

That was not enough for Andrew, however. He wanted to do more. In Andrew’s words, “Sometimes, the little things we can do to show one another kindness and support are the most important. To help a young child, the same age as the kids right here in our Lower School, have a pretty smile instead of living a whole lifetime with a crooked, incomplete smile is a kindness I would like to share.”

With the support of his teachers, Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Williams, off he went to talk with his classmates to organize a two-day bake sale that was held over six lunch periods. He divided and conquered – forming an advertising committee to make posters and announcements at our assemblies, a set-up and sales committee, a baking committee, and a committee to count the profits and announce the result – $873.25 for Smile Train!

Andrew and the fifth grade know the true meaning of the holiday season – a time of togetherness, empathy, joy and service to others. These are the values that we all, families and teachers in partnership, work to instill in our children. We do this by providing students with opportunities to collaborate, problem-solve and serve the greater community – there is no greater gift than active, meaningful learning.

Wakefield’s Justine Jones raises money for Shop with a Cop

H2470022For the second year in a row, Wakefield School eighth grader Justine Jones raised money for Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office Shop with a Cop program. But this year, she raised more than twice as much money as last year!

She and fellow middle school students Molly Cesanek and Gabby Handford raised the funds through a bake sale for all middle schoolers. Last week, Justine handed over a check for $370.72 to the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office during a middle school meeting.

The Shop with a Cop program is organized by volunteers from the law enforcement community to provide assistance and support to the youth of Fauquier County. The group’s main goal is to provide an opportunity for a better Christmas for Fauquier children and teens who have been adversely affected by crime, abuse or other situations which required law enforcement action. Using donated funds, Deputies, Officers, and Troopers take each child or teen shopping at Wal-Mart. They are then treated to breakfast with fun social activities, a visit with Santa, and gift wrapping.

Next year, Justine plans to make the bake sale schoolwide in order to raise even more funds!

Don’t Miss David Colón’s Installation on Dec. 5!

DSC_7367We hope you can attend this special ceremony celebrating and officially installing our new headmaster, David Colón, and featuring student performances. This event features all students, faculty, and staff and is open to the entire community.

The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. and will be followed by a reception in the Art and Music Building, where there will be an exhibition of student artwork.

RSVP to Betty Beamon at 540-253-7540 or bbeamon@wakefieldschool.org.

Motivational speaker and former NFL player Joe Ehrmann to speak at Wakefield

joe ehrmannMotivational speaker and former NFL player Joe Ehrmann will speak at Wakefield School on Monday, December 8, at 6:30 p.m.

Ehrmann, a former Baltimore Colt, is coming to Wakefield’s campus to give a keynote to the community on respect and positive mentoring. This event is open to the public.

He is also meeting privately with students in grades 8-12 earlier in the day.

Ehrmann, a minister and motivational speaker, has founded several organizations and initiatives that address societal issues like domestic violence, child advocacy, and more. He has recently been tapped by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to educate team owners and players on the issue of domestic violence.

Ehrmann also works with community organizations to promote growth, teamwork, effectiveness, and individual responsibility.

He has co-founded with his wife a community-based organization called The Door, which addresses issues of poverty, systemic racism, and social justice. They also founded Building Men and Women for Others, which addresses issues of masculinity and femininity; seeks to redefine and reframe the social responsibility of sports, coaches, parent and players; and addresses issues of violence and child advocacy, according to his website.

Ehrmann played professional football for 13 years and was named Colts Man of the Year. Other awards and recognitions include winning the first Ed Block Courage Award; being named one of The 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute for International Sport; and being the subject of the New York Times Bestseller Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx, his website said. He has often been recognized for his revolutionary concepts of team-building, mentoring and coaching.

He has been selected by Baltimore Business Journal as the Renaissance Person of the Decade for his dedication and commitment to Baltimore City’s betterment; co-founded Baltimore’s Ronald McDonald House; won the National Fatherhood Initiative’s Man of the Year award for his work in improving the well being of children by helping fathers become more involved, responsible, and committed to their children; and been named Frederick Douglas National Man of the Year award for empowering youth to prevent rape and other forms of male violence.

To RSVP, email bbeamon@wakefieldschool.org.

Wakefield’s Paul Sipes to present on NCAA eligibility rules

Paul SipesWakefield School Athletic Director Paul Sipes will present on the new NCAA eligibility rules at the Fauquier County Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

The library will host The New NCAA and the Rules You Need to Know to Play, on Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the John Barton Payne bldg, 2 Courthouse Square, Warrenton.

Read the library’s announcement here!

Sipes will also speak to a group of about 50 youth league basketball coaches in Ashburn on Saturday, Nov. 15, at Farmwell Station. The girls basketball team will accompany him to demonstrate drills and illustrate teaching concepts for the coaches in this group.

Sipes will be in the company of other speakers Joe Wooten, the boys varsity basketball coach from Bishop O’Connell, and Gary Hall, the boys varsity basketball coach from Herndon High School.

Update from China #2: David Colón Travels to Xuzhou Senior Middle School

Wakefield Head David Colón is currently in China. Here is his second dispatch from his trip.
On October 31, I visited Xuzhou Senior Middle School (which, in Chinese parlance, is actually for grades 10-12). Founded in 1721, the school is recognized as a “key school” – one of the country’s top schools. I was hosted by Headmaster Dr. Wang Zhiyong, an accomplished educational leader who is dedicated to innovating Chinese education to develop students who combine academic excellence with a more well-rounded outlook on life.  Xuzhou students, therefore, are also encouraged to pursue the arts, athletics and extracurricular activities such as Model United Nations and debate. Studying current best practices in teaching is also a priority for his school and his faculty are working hard on learning the latest developments in education. While our schools are in different nations with different cultural and educational systems, Wakefield and Xuzhou #1 Middle School share a common commitment to developing young women and men of exceptional character and educational achievement.

The purpose of my visit was to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with #1 Middle School to establish a partnership between our two institutions. Dr. Wang and I discussed a number of potential partnership activities between Wakefield and his school involving a wide variety of areas from student exchanges to athletics to curriculum collaboration and teacher professional development. Since we are just starting our relationship, however, he and I are going to start with a simple short-term student exchange program this spring and summer wherein Wakefield students will visit Xuzhou and Xuzhou students will visit Wakefield. We are also working on hosting a visit from Dr. Wang and some of his faculty to our campus in the next calendar year. Wakefield’s first interaction with Xuzhou was very successful and holds the promise of even closer ties between our two schools.

Dr. Wang and David Colón signing the MoU.

One of the more interesting parts of the visit was that I was accompanied during my visit by Susan Wyatt, the Principal of Mosman High School in Sydney, Australia.  Her school is also in the process of developing a partnership and during the visit, she and I discussed some possible collaboration in the future as well.