What's New at 610 Henry

November 2015

Welcome Back to the Unity Newsletter

This newsletter will showcase the collaboration between the Brooklyn New School and the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies.

BNS/BCS shared mission statement:

At 610 Henry Street we envision a diverse and inclusive learning community of students and the adults who work with them, all engage in thought, dialogue, and exploration. Through the use of a project-based inquiring curriculum, we help students become independent thinking human beings, who understand how to learn. At each stage of learning, educators foster the development of young people's voice and sense of personal and social responsibility.

Apple Fest: A BNS/BCS Community Affair

Saturday, October 24

With the hint of fall settling in, a cascading array of crimson, gold, green, and orange-tinted foliage, and weather that climbed to 60 degrees, hundreds of BNS and BCS children, families, friends, teachers and staff came out to make Apple Fest—BCS/BNS annual community building fundraiser—a success that people are still buzzing about as they recall a day of family fun, laughter, the bouncy slide, the Zombie fashion show, plentiful servings of chili, volunteers who generously gave of their time, and so much more!

Our recently refurbished small and big yards hosted this year’s Apple Fest.

Passerine Project: Nov 2 and Nov 6

On Monday, 11/2, in our auditorium, 5th graders from Laurie & Amanda's class & the 6th grade performed the songs they wrote for the Passerine Project: a Benefit for the Afghan Women Writers Project.

On Friday, 11/6, at the Passerine performance at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, Grade 5 and Grade 6 students with the Grade 6 ELA team and Stephen Simons (in support of Shevy and Kendall) helped raise $20,000 to support the Afghan Women’s Writing Project! This is $20,000 that BNS & BCS helped raised to support the fight for human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. We couldn’t have summed the evening better than Amy did: “Each and every child who performed last night had that look: proud that they overcame their fears of performing on a real stage in a real theater, proud that they contributed to a cause they believed in, and proud that their parents, teachers and strangers recognized this.” Go BCS/BNS!

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Rebranding Math: 4th Graders Help 11th Graders with Learning Exhibition

On Thursday, October 1, BCS kicked off its first Upper Grades Thursday Expeditionary Thursday (ET) of the year with a focus on math. All of the high school students spent the day outside of the classroom engaged in fieldwork experience where they applied what they learned in the classroom to a real world situation. Students went on a walking tour of bridges, visited museums, business organizations, and universities of higher education where they discerned mathematical patterns in art, interviewed professionals about how math is used in their field, listened to lectures from statistician, created their own surveys, and explored design thinking.

11th graders in the BCS Advanced Algebra class used what they learned about crafting questions from their college visits to interview BNS students in Josh and Cora's 4th grade class. BCS students engaged Josh and Cora's class in a discussion about how they felt about math. The 11th graders used the input from the 4th graders to design an ad campaign to rebrand math. Josh commented that fourth graders enjoyed the visit from BCS students. "Students who had until that point never spoken in a whole-class meeting were quick to share their ideas.”

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Pass It On: Laying the foundation for PBAs at BNS

On Thursday, October 22, BNS teachers participated in the first of four sessions devoted to our work around performance based assessment. For our first foray into this process, we went to the experts. Many thanks to Scott Henstrand and Beth Mowry, long time high school teachers from Brooklyn Collaborative Studies (BCS), for sharing their practice. Although many BNS teachers have had the opportunity to participate in the performance based assessment process at BCS, this was the first time that we got insight into the thinking that is necessary for the implementation of Performance Based Assessments (PBAs)

The workshop provided an invaluable opportunity for BNS teachers to draw upon Beth and Scott’s pedagogical and instructional experience with Performance Based Assessment Tasks (PBATs) to ask them insightful questions about implementation, best practices, logistics, developmental suitability, and much more. Scott said he felt the excitement at BNS about taking on this project. He pointed out that BNS teachers had thoughtful questions and the “right hesitation” as they embark on the next phase of building toward instituting PBAs at BNS. “It is powerful to work in this building because students are all working to the same objective which means that going to college becomes a very powerful message at a very young age.”

Middle School Admissions Update: Opportunities for BNS Families/Students to get to know BCS

During Middle School admissions season, BNS students who wished to visit BCS and participate in the tours were provided with this opportunity. Friday, December 4 is the last tour of the season.

In addition to the scheduled tours, on October 27, several BCS 6th & 7th graders were part of a panel of BNS alumni from many schools who spoke to current 5th graders and their families about the transition to middle school.

65 fifth graders chose to come upstairs to a 6th grade classroom on November 2 to participate in a Q & A with 6th grade teachers about middle school at BCS. The questions were plentiful and included questions about the average amount of homework given, the type of writing students do, the field trips student go on, recess, camping trips, and some much more to make for an engaging discussion!

Join Anna (BNS), Amanda (Director of Lower Grades at BCS), and students and parents who have moved between the two schools at Moving On Up: BCS Middle School for BNS Families.

Date: Tuesday, November 17 @ 8:15 a.m.

Location: School Library (401)

A group of BNS parents, with the support of school leadership at both schools, is looking to strengthen the special connection between our two schools. Our hope: to have a larger cohort of our kids and their friends move upstairs to BCS, making 610 Henry a toddler-to-teen bastion of diverse, child-centered learning.

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Music Share: 6th graders, 2nd graders and 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day'

On Friday, November 13th, Christine, the BCS music teacher, invited the 2nd grade to participate in her 6th grade music class. 6th graders read the book and accompanied themselves on percussion instruments. After the reading, BCS students invited BNS students to jam.
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Pedagogy of the Soil: Gardening as a Bridge

Johanna Esteras, BNS Sustainability Coordinator, is a familiar face at 610 Henry. She entered through the school doors over 10 years ago as a BNS parent. For Johanna, “gardening has been the bridge to BNS and BCS”. Since October, she has worked with the BCS Lower Grades After School program to deepen their experience with the BCS/BNS garden. Johanna meets twice a week with BCS middle school students assisted by 11th grade intern, Mecca. They water, weed, taste herbs from the garden beds, plant bulbs to decorate the ball field, and navigate their way around the Kids’ Kitchen as budding chefs.

Johanna explained that she enjoys being connected to both schools because “we are one building. It is a community. We [both schools] are trying to achieve the same thing for our children.” Johanna appreciates what results when she and children at 610 Henry get their hands dirty--”pure magic”.

Ease on Down the Street: The Tech Wiz of 610 Henry

Ed Kelly, former BNS/BCS parent, is the technology coordinator for BNS and BCS and is fondly known at 610 Henry as Eddie, the tech wiz. On any given day you may find Eddie meticulously tending to a motherboard and cultivating his garden of mice, keyboards, monitors, printers, circuitry, CPUs, megahertz, gigahertz, power supply units, silicon chips, software, apps, graphic cards and an assortment of other tech-related items. Eddie shares his enthusiasm for technology as he assists teachers in integrating technology in the classroom to improve student achievement.

Eddie also runs the fourth and fifth grade robotics class and the fifth-grader maker club where students learn to create 3-D printed items at BNS. At BCS, Eddie supports robotics in the middle and high school. Additionally, he coaches the BCS Robosharks competitive robotics team. “One of the great aspects of my job”, Eddie shared, “is that I get to work with all ages of students."

While Johanna works alongside students digging into the soil to excite and teach them, Eddie also teaches by doing---working with students to take things apart to investigate how they work and to build something new. Eddie acknowledged that “it can be challenging at times looking at technology for an elementary school and then to middle and high school because the needs are different. But in the end what makes it all work is the strength of the administration and the staff’s commitment to the mission of each school. In the end, technology doesn’t control the curriculum but it has to support it.”

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BNS/BCS Library as a Community Space: A World of Stories at your Fingertips

Susan Westover, BNS/BCS librarian, is immediately recognizable by her welcoming smile as she invites you to a world of stories just at your fingertips. Susan is the keeper of stories, advocate of reading and transporter to alternate worlds and universe. She along with Amanda Clarke and Karen Klein have worked tirelessly to help make the library an exciting part of children’s lives.

Susan created the Library at 610 Henry when we first moved into the building with the support of then-superintendent Carmen Fariña. For Susan, working with BNS and BCS brings together the best of both worlds. "The BNS/BCS Library is one of the few spaces in the building that is shared and used by both schools simultaneously. Unlike the gym and cafeteria, our library is open to students, staff and families from BNS and BCS each school day.”

Susan enjoys that the BNS/BCS library is a “real community space where projects like our Walt Whitman Poetry project, After School Library, and Book Fair are opportunities for our schools to work and interact in different ways.” She finds tremendous reward in the relationships that she has developed with students which have helped her to gain a deeper insight into and “a real sense of who our students are”.

Susan explained that a big highlight in working for both schools are the “thoughtful, dedicated colleagues and administrators sharing a vision for our schools. Working with BNS and BCS is the best of all possible worlds.

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A Shared Space: A Vision of Collaboration for BNS/BCS PTAs

On Oct 27, BNS PTA chair AnnMarie Matava attended a BCS PTA Executive Board meeting. Below are some of her reflections:

I had a chance to discuss how we (BNS & BCS) work together for Applefest & EDDS. We discussed the ways they could jump in without attending all the planning meetings, by having a few meetings with a couple of the planning committee members at times that are more convenient. Saturday meetings at Ikea over meatballs were mentioned.

It was definitely great to put faces to the names of the Co-Presidents, plus nice to see familiar faces like Briam Moser and Anthony Van Dunk. I'm hoping that it has opened a dialogue, at the very least.

Marilynn Doore, BCS PTA Co-chair:

I recently reached out, on behalf of the BCS PTA Executive Board, to the Executive Board of the BNS PTA in an act of unity and friendship to invite them to come out and meet the members of the BCS PTA Exec. Board on October 27. It was a difficult night for BNS as they were having their Alumni Event in the auditorium that evening but we were joined by AnnMarie Matava. I really enjoyed meeting her and we both expressed interest in collaborating more in joint BNS/BCS projects and events and the sharing of ideas.

The sharing of the Parent Room, room 108, means to me a show of solidarity between our two groups with a common interest: the well-being of our students in our respective schools. We share a philosophy of education and building and should show each other mutual support and understanding. Sharing the room is also practical since extra space for separate PTA offices is at a minimum.

With that said, the room is a small one and right now not very organized to accommodate the BCS PTA. It needs to be re-arranged to make room for storage as well as file space for both Exec. Boards. I would be willing to come in on a weekend to work with my BNS counterparts to work on that.

Right now the two big events that BNS and BCS collaborate on are Apple Fest and EDDS. I want to commend the efforts of our Treasurer Anthony Van Dunk and our Member-at-Large Eddie Edwards and his wife Lucia for being such enthusiastic volunteers at this year's event. Going forward I would like to improve upon that. For EDDS I think it would be to BCS's benefit to form a committee that can attend the planning meetings for the event and be able to report back to the BCS Exec. Board. I think it is crucial that we work together to make the event successful for both schools.

As for future collaborations, I am open to brainstorming meetings with BNS to see what else we can do to work together to better both schools and help our students. I think this is important especially from what I heard at last night's PTA meeting that more than a few of our new 6th grade students are alumni of BNS. I think we can learn a lot from our BNS friends who have a stellar record of results when it comes to fundraising and budget making. And I think BNS can learn from us given the difference in our parental bodies and perhaps empathize with some of the difficulties we face.

I relish a chance to combine our strengths for the betterment of both schools.
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In Our Next Installment

  • College March, Friday, December 11
  • Reading in the Round