When students are learning to create art, it’s important to give them the opportunity to work with a wide variety of mediums, in order to discover what tools they enjoy working with, and what style best suits them.
Last week, when the weather was beautiful, Art Instructor Mr. Aydin Ture took the students outdoors to paint en plein air (French for outdoors) using acrylic spray paint on canvas.
The difference between acrylic spray paint and traditional oil-based spray paint is that acrylic dries faster and combines some of the same properties as oil paint and watercolor. Fortunately, it also washes off more easily!
The theme for this year’s ASL Classes is “Accessibility,” which led ASL Instructor Sarah Hauser to develop a wide variety of experiences in her curriculum. In multi-part Workshop Ms. Hauser taught over the past few weeks, students got an opportunity to experience a simulation of what it would be like to be DeafBlind, and how they, as students, could help someone they encounter who has these physical challenges.
Part 1 of Workshop
Having taken a semester of DeafBlind interpreting, Ms. Hauser decided to provide her students with a DeafBlind Workshop. In the first part of the workshop, the students wore goggles that were treated to simulate aspects of low vision and blindness, including:
tunnel vision, associated with Usher’s Syndrome, a very common DeafBlind illness
She then set up five work stations around the room so the students could experience what it would be like to try to perform everyday actions with vision loss. The students found it quite challenging to do such activities as unlocking combination locks, sorting buttons by color and size, finding images within another image, measuring water, and determining what was in a box when their vision was obstructed.
Part 2 of Workshop
The next phase of the workshop was to experience what it would be like to be a person who was Deaf and Blind, and to be the guide for such an individual.
Before starting the Workshop, they discussed the need to follow COVID protocols. They also talked about how important it was to take the experience seriously so no one got hurt, and to trust and rely on their classmate guide. The classmates then paired up, each taking a blindfold and a pair of ear plugs. The students alternated being the guide.
Becoming the Guide
They learned that the proper etiquette to notify someone who is deaf and blind that they are willing to help is to tap the person gently on the shoulder. Next, they allowed that person to determine whether s/he preferred to put a hand on the guide’s shoulder and follow behind the guide, to hold the guide’s upper arm, or to wrap their arm through the guide’s arm and walk alongside.
When guiding the person, the guide should walk at an even, normal pace, giving the person enough space so they won’t bump into obstacles.
To help a DeafBlind person sit down, the guide puts the person’s hand on the back of the chair, so they can find where the chair is and seat him or herself.
The students alternated guiding each other around the room until they felt comfortable, before they attempted going down the stairs, or out onto the playground.
Going Down the Stairs
Some of the students found relying on another to go down the stairs very challenging.
To help a DeafBlind person descend the stairs, you take them to the edge of the stairs, stop, and take their hand to put it on the railing. Then, the guide descends one step and stops, until the person they are guiding goes down that step. The guide then steps down one more stair, and so on.
If these steps are followed, both the guide and the DeafBlind person can both get down a set of stairs safely.
Every class took their assignment very seriously, and they all felt they got a lot out of the Deaf Blind Workshop.
Excerpts from students’ post-workshop essays:
“It can also be hard not to hear when people are talking because it makes you feel like they are talking about you.” ~Lexi Gagner
“A daily problem that DeafBlind people face that I got from this workshop is having to use more of their senses instead of their eyesight. A DeafBlind person would also need a professional guide.” ~ Lamar Bennett
“The word thing of all was trying to walk outside, trying to step over the barrier. I had Mi’Year as my guide. He was a good guide because he didn’t lead me into a door or fall down the stairs.” ~Derrick Crawford
“During the water station I had mixed emotions. I was nervous I might spill the water. I was curious to see what would happen. I was proud of myself because I got really close to how much water should be in the container. I was uncomfortable because I got wet. At the end I realized how hard it was to be blind.” ~ Julian
“The most challenging activity in the workshop was when we had to solve locks while half blind. It was very difficult to do, it was so hard to the point where we didn’t even finish. After doing the activity it make me think, “This is how hard [it is for] DeafBlind people [to] live in the world,” and I was grateful to know the fact that I can hear and see.” ~ Caleb Hall
Ms. Hauser wishes to thank Ms. Eaker, Ms. Fouchie and Ms. Hamilton for pushing into the workshop classes to make sure everyone remained safe throughout the class.
For more about Hope Hall’s ASL Program, CLICK HERE to view a video from the ASL class’ “Around Town” Unit.
Ms. Shelby Dunning tries to focus on real-life applications in her Environmental Science classes. The year began with her classes exploring such topics as ecosystems, carrying capacity, bioms, carnivores vs. herbivores, and other topics pertaining to the environment. They then transitioned to environmental problems such as different forms of pollution. The focus in the second part of the year is on sustainability, where the students work on projects in which humans can positively impact the environment.
In March, Ms. Dunning sent an email to faculty and staff asking for donations of used paper. Ms. Dunning’s 12th Grade Science classes then, literally, ripped the paper to shreds. The ultimate goal was to upcycle the paper into books. In a multicultural crafting class in college, Ms. Dunning had studied the ancient art of Coptic book binding, which is a way of binding books without glue or staples. This style of book binding is attributed to early Christians living in Egypt some 2000 years ago. And it definitely captured her students’ attention and interest!
Each student was asked to create forty pieces of paper in the multi-week sustainability project, using the following process:
Step One: Shred enormous piles of paper in all colors into small pieces. Place the shredded paper into a powerful blender, along with ample amounts of water, and blend, starting on a slow speed.
Step Two: Add several blenders full of the pulp to basins of standing water, then evenly cover the deckle (which is a rectangular frame with mesh screen) with the pulp. If the mix is too thin, it will fall apart; too thick, and the final product becomes inflexible. Hold the deckle over the basin and allow the moisture to drain.
Step Three: Place the mold on what is called a couching cloth that absorbs the moisture. Tamp the mold down with a sponge to force out excess water and smooth the paper pulp. Tip the flattened, wet pulp onto a clean cloth and allow it to dry.
About the Paper Creation: Different colors in the original paper creates pulp producing variety in the shades and patterns, depending on how the student mixes the pulp and adds it to the basins and the deckle.
Step Four: Iron the paper on both sides with a warm iron, then allow the pages to be flattened for a day or two within a book or compressed between two flat surfaces.
Step Five: Cut front and back covers to size and decorate the covers.
Step Six: Trim the pages to size to match cover size. Use tape to reinforce the inside edge of the paper, then punch evenly-spaced holes through the covers and pages with an awl. Next, use a tapestry needle and waxed thread, to stitch the books so that the pages are exposed on all sides, and so the book will lie flat when opened.
Ms. Kayla Swan used the book as inspiration to have her 9th Grade ELA students write their own version of the story, sharing what they thought was happening in the book. Each had an opportunity to read his story in front of the class, practicing public speaking skills while sharing his creativity. The stories were well-developed with smooth transitions and rich detail. While all of the stories shared the common thread of a young girl helping a runaway slave, the variety of interpretations was fascinating.
The readings inspired the idea to have the students work on a collaborative version in which the group picked out favorite parts from each student’s story to include, harmonizing certain elements, such as the girl’s and the cat’s name, across all sections.
At that point, Hope Hall’s Marketing Manager Ms. Carol White Llewellyn recorded the story, with each student narrating the section he wrote, to create the video book embedded below entitled The Girl Who Helped the Underground Railroad.
The students enjoyed a viewing party on Monday, April 11, complete with popcorn, while discussing the results and commenting on how different they sound in a recording than when they hear their own voices. They’re looking forward to sharing the story with family and friends.
Mr. Jeff Smith is Hope Hall’s College and Career Transitions Teacher, and he takes a very active role in his students’ preparation for life after Hope Hall. Whether they intend to enter the workforce directly, or plan to go on to college or trade school, it’s important to him that the skills he teaches are practical and useful.
Mr. Smith takes a hands-on approach to helping students from 9th grade through Senior year do a variety of tasks to help them find direction, such as taking career surveys, developing goals, and achieving community service hours.
The Juniors and Seniors who work with him come out with both physical and digital portfolios for use in securing employment, or for acceptance into higher education.
“We try to hit on life skills not taught in other schools,” Mr. Smith noted, explaining that he has the students actually fill out sample job applications, write mock checks, check their credit scores, and explore various aspects of banking and financial management, including financial aid for school, and savings and retirement options.
He focuses on developing important skills that include interviewing, time management and organizational capabilities.
“I also have them work on typing, because I always wish I could do more than hunt and peck,” he laughed.
He went on to say that he tries to make all of the activities he teaches as experiential as possible. When students get out in the real world, they’ll feel more confident, having had actual hands-on experience in many of the tasks they’ll have to undertake to find a job or to be successful in a different academic environment.
For example, in the unit they were discussing on the engineering and manufacturing industries, he had small groups of students collaborate to see who could build the tallest free-standing tower possible out of 20 pieces of spaghetti, three marshmallows and a length of tape. He used the experience of working together on the project to get the students thinking about engineering, but also about team work, and what made the process of working together either rewarding or frustrating.
When possible, he has guests come in and give the students an overview of particular career clusters that are of interest to the students. Because of COVID, in-person visits have been much more difficult to arrange, so Mr. Smith often uses zoom or video footage to bring professionals “into the classroom.”
Following the tower building project, the students “went inside” a company, via video, that manufactures metal buildings, to see an interview with an executive at the company who spoke about career paths within the company, the variety of skillsets needed, and what personal characteristics the company looks for when recruiting employees.
On another day, he had a bridal consultant join via zoom for some of his students who were interested in fashion.
Overall, he wants to expose them to as many real-world experiences as possible to ensure they feel confident entering the career force or their next phase of academic life.
To encourage Hope Hall Students to read throughout the month and over the February break, Hope Hall is holding Read-a-mania, a month-long reading competition during February, where kids read books, describe what they’ve read to an adult, record the amount of time they’ve spent reading each day, and have the adult sign the log.
To ensure the kids have enough books at home to read, a table in the lobby next to Assistant Principal McLean’s Harry Potter-esque office was stacked high with books that the kids were invited to take.
As a launch to read-a-mania, the homerooms had a door decorating contest, with judging of the designs taking place on Friday, February 18, the last day before break. Each wing of the school had a different theme:
High school wing: Snow White
Middle school wing: Little Red Riding Hood
Elementary School wing: The Three Little Pigs
Specials wing: Jack and the Beanstalk
Advancement/Accounting: Charlotte’s Web
The doors were judged on the following criteria:
Design/connection to your story
-Inclusion of students (meaning they helped make it)
-Something to do with reading involved
Mrs. Sherron’s winning homeroom group, who did the Jack and the Beanstalk design on the lower right, will get a pizza party when they return to school. The photos below show the doors created by our very creative teams of readers!
As part of the fourth grade curriculum, Mrs. Rachel Capozzi’s Class is studying New York State history. The current unit focuses on Native American people of the region, particularly the Iroquois Confederacy, known as the Haudenosaunee, or “People of the Longhouse.”
The Iroquois did not have a written language, so they often conveyed their history and stories through the oral tradition of storytelling.
Another traditional form of communication they developed was the use of Wampum, or cylindrical beads made of white and colored shells. The wampum belts, which were considered extremely valuable, were designed and hand-woven, documenting the cultural, political, and military history, as well as religious stories of the Iroquois people.
For a fun, hands-on project that would introduce her students to Wampum, Mrs. Capozzi gave the students a template to use to create their own wampum designs, coloring in the boxes in a design they then reproduced using colored beads on pipe cleaners. Their vibrant designs now decorate the walls outside the 4th grade classrooms.
The Iroquois were known as “The People of the Longhouse,” because several families would reside together in longhouses made of wood and bark. Each longhouse was around 20′ wide and ranged from 40 to 200 feet in length. The second project the class did as part of the unit was to create longhouses out of shoeboxes.
The day before Christmas break, students and staff gathered in three separate groups to avoid crowding, in Hope Hall’s Cafeteria for the school’s first-ever Poetry Slam. The event was the brainchild of Ms. Megan Combs, and was a collaborative project of the entire ELA team, who worked with students to explore the various elements of poetry, including rhyme, figurative language, similes, metaphors and imagery. It was made even more festive with the addition of popcorn and cocoa, that everyone enjoyed!
While a few of the students developed pieces they’d already had in the works, for most students, this was an opportunity to explore new territory, without fear of ridicule. The event gave each
student an opportunity to use their voice in self-expression, and to feel empowered.