Holton’s teachers have showcased their remarkable dedication, creativity, and flexibility in shifting to a hybrid learning model this school year, ensuring that students continue to engage deeply and in innovative ways with course content and build core competencies.
Here are just a few of the recent assignments that our students have been immersed in:
GR. 6 CHINESE
Assignment: “Everything Is Better With You”
Teacher: Amy Liao
Details: Students in the sixth-grade Chinese class learned this Chinese-language song—including lyrics and hand movements—as a special thank you to their Holton teachers for all the amazing work they do each and every day, particularly during hybrid learning. It was a beautiful expression of gratitude that also helped the girls build vocabulary, self-expression skills, and confidence. (As we all know from the ABC and 50 states songs, music is an incredible way to help memorize information!)
GR. 8 SEMINAR
Assignment: Multimedia (Slam) Poetry
Teachers/Project Collaborators: Carrie Braun, Stephanie Cordo, Kristen Edma, Elizabeth Zitelli
Details: The annual Gr. 8 slam poetry unit and final performances are a highlight of the Middle School program each year. The project empowers students to bravely and boldly explore their identity, beliefs, perspectives, and social justice issues that matter to them; to collaborate with peers; to learn to speak up for themselves and others; and to creatively and confidently share their stories with their peers and the community. While this year’s projects were framed and presented a bit differently because of limitations caused by the pandemic, students’ final multimedia projects continued the tradition of eighth graders pushing through their comfort zones and confidently presenting powerful and deeply personal works.
US INTRO TO COMPUTER SCIENCE
Assignment: Examining Sexism in the Computer Science Field
Teacher: Tucker Sowers
Details: Computer Science students looked at a variety of media exploring the presence, portrayal, and treatment of women in the computer science field. These included a 2010 Barbie book that attempted to but ultimately failed to convey that women can be computer programmers, too; a 1967 Cosmopolitan article about “The Computer Girls”; and more recent articles and videos about unsung women heroes in the industry and the challenges they’ve faced. Students were asked to reflect on the materials and share their thoughts about the benefits and consequences of challenging the social order. Girls reported being surprised at the level of sexism that previous generations of women have faced and that female programmers continue to encounter, but many said they feel empowered by their years at Holton, where, as one said, “Every day we are pushed to try our best at everything and are taught to be strong, courageous women.” The students were also inspired by the many remarkable women who’ve worked in and broken barriers in the field, like NASA’s Katherine Johnson, a main focus of the film Hidden Figures.
US ADVANCED GLOBAL APPLICATIONS IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
Assignment: TEDTalks on Endangered Species
Teacher: Rachel Lowenthal
Details: In the vein of the hugely popular and engaging TEDTalks series, students had to create a video about an endangered species that would demonstrate deep understanding of the creature, specific ecosystem ecology concepts, and conservation measures that have been taken and how these align with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Students were encouraged to, like TEDTalkers, really connect with their audience and make the information digestible, while also issuing a call to action to help their particular species. Lowenthal was extremely impressed by students’ final projects.
GR. 4 DESIGN TECHNOLOGY
Assignment: Literature Rooms
Teacher: Linda Baily
Details: Literature Rooms are a favorite fourth-grade project that integrates language arts, engineering and construction, visual arts, problem-solving, and—new this year!—social justice, one of Holton’s Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well Schoolwide Goals and Competencies. Students each build a room, complete with electrical wiring, to house and illuminate a scene they’ll recreate from a story about social justice. Among those featured in the books they’ve selected are Ruby Bridges, Dolores Huerta, and Golda Meir.
US ACTING WORKSHOP
Assignment: Dramatizing Text from Historical or Recent Event
Teacher: Elizabeth Zitelli
Details: Upper School Acting Workshop students were invited to dramatize verbatim text from recent or historical events for a video assignment this winter. Not surprisingly, many students chose to present the words of outspoken and often groundbreaking women—including one group that chose Kamala Harris’ November Vice Presidential acceptance speech. Below is an excerpt from their full work.