The Outdoor Adventures team took to the trails this week for a rucksack activity, carrying packs they had weighed down with heavy bags of sand.
Creating the Optimal Conditions for Learning
Deborah Brissenden, Assistant Head of School and Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Post Date: November 5, 2021
We are now two months into the school year and our campus is buzzing with discussions, lightbulb moments, supported struggles, and joyful explorations. All of our classrooms, pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, bear witness to the strength of connections within this community, how carefully teachers scaffold information, the depth of curricular excellence, and how willing adults are to create environments that allow for mistakes, missteps, and amends.
I continue to reflect on the difference between this fall and last fall with the help of Elena Aguilar Educational Leadership article, “Emerging Stronger” and a series of four questions she asks of educators. The next up for me is:
What did you learn about creating the conditions for learning?
How did BDS continue to provide educational experiences that fostered growth and learning even in a pandemic? How did our parents, as partners, support this learning? How were our students able to rebound from months of isolation to reenter classrooms and re-engage in routines and relationships? To answer these questions, let’s start with a tool often utilized in classrooms before a topic is introduced: What do you already know? In this case, you are the expert on your own learning. How do you learn best? What do you need to take in new information? How do you make it stick? Time to take out the trusty journal and reflect on how you learn best. How do you know?
On the subject of learning, there is the theory that there are two different conditions that exist for optimal learning–internal and external. Science writer, Annie Murphy Paul, hypothesizes that we use not just our brains but our bodies, our environments, and our relationships to learn. In her book, The Extended Mind, she shares the research that confirms the importance of mindsets and grit in continual brain growth. She also introduces the reader to the power of listening to our bodies and creating the best environments for learning.
Maybe that sounds familiar? Paul’s book certainly confirms what we have known as exceptional educators at BDS for many years: without a strong connection between the brain, the body, and the community, learning can often be stalled. There is a reason you will see yoga and meditation, woods walks, songs, dances, and chants incorporated in our learning. There is also a reason that we at Belmont Day School speak so frequently about community and the importance of the relationships that exist within it. Our curriculum is stimulating, rich, and intentional and it exists on the foundations of safety, support, engagement, and challenge.
Theories of learning help us understand what needs to be in place to create optimal learning environments but they do not address the who. I could not comfortably explore my own or others’ learning without underscoring the importance of the people that supported, extended, and celebrated that learning. The faculty and staff at BDS are exceptional teachers and impressive creators of optimal learning environments. Behind each child that comes bounding out at dismissal or quietly shares a story at bedtime is a faculty member who saw them, listened, helped them solve a problem, championed their idea, pushed them just a little outside their comfort zone, and cheered wildly for them.
So what did I learn about creating the conditions for learning this fall?
I rediscovered that our students learn by sharing their own knowledge and adding new knowledge from teachers, play, and experiences. I saw that they learned most effectively in active social classrooms, where they interacted with information through multiple approaches. I learned that people are at the center of learning. Or perhaps I already knew that!
November 6 to November 20
Online Book Fair: Friday, November 12 to Friday, November 19
Saturday, November 6
Cross Country at State Invitational
Sunday, November 7
12–4 p.m., Fall Festival, Belmont Day School
Monday, November 8
7–8 p.m., Grade 8 Parent Forum, Zoom Gathering
Tuesday, November 9
9:30–10:30 a.m., Author Visit: Rajani La Rocca, Zoom Gathering
3:30 p.m., JV Soccer vs Park; JV Flag Football vs Park
7 p.m., Board of Trustees, Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, November 10
8:15 a.m., Friendraiser Walk & Talk: Special Guest Edition, Belmont Day School
3:30 p.m., Boys’ Varsity Soccer at LCA; Cross Country at LCA; Girls’ Varsity Soccer vs LCA; Field Hockey vs LCA; Varsity Flag Football at Carroll
6 p.m., Finance Committee, Zoom Meeting
6–9:30 p.m., Friendraiser Event: Cooking Class – Learn How to Make Pâte à Choux, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts
Thursday, November 11
School Closed for Veterans Day
9 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Pediatric Vaccination Clinic, Belmont Day School, Barn Gym
Friday, November 12
8:50–9:35 a.m., All-School Enrichment Assembly, Belmont Day School
Sunday, November 14
10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Garden Workday, Belmont Day School
Tuesday, November 16
6:30–8:30 p.m., Development Committee, Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, November 17
8:15 a.m., Friendraiser Walk & Talk: Special Guest Edition, Belmont Day School
Thursday, November 18
Fall Athletics Season Ends
10:45–11:45 a.m., Author Visit: Elaine Vickers, Zoom Gathering
7–8:30 p.m., State of the School, Zoom Gathering
Friday, November 19
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sports Highlights Assembly, Belmont Day School
1–6 p.m., Book Fair: In-store Event at Belmont Books, 79 Leonard St., Belmont
Saturday, November 20
10–11:30 a.m., Admissions Middle School Open House, Zoom Gathering
For all Zoom meetings, gatherings, and presentations, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Pediatric Covid Vaccination Clinic at BDS
Thursday, November 11
9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
We will host a Covid vaccination clinic on campus in partnership with Osco Drug. We acknowledge that the date chosen by Osco is not ideal as it is the day school is closed in honor of our veterans.
The clinic will be held in the Barn gym and administered as students arrive. The clinic will have plenty of vaccines for Belmont Day students based on expressed interest to date; there is no need to be first in line. We anticipate that there will be remaining doses, and we are happy to share them with non-BDS siblings from 2:30 to 3 p.m. This will be first-come, first-served for as long as the extra vaccine lasts.
- The vaccination clinic is for students aged 5-11 only; they must be fully five years old and cannot be over 11 years old.
- Parents must accompany their children.
- The vaccine is free, but please bring your health insurance information if you have it.
- Students can receive the flu vaccine at the same time.
- A second clinic will be scheduled for students to receive the second dose.
- Masks will be available for pick up at the clinic, or students can see Nurse LaRocque any time if they are running low.
THIS WEEKEND! Family Fall Festival
Sunday, November 7
12 to 4 p.m.
Join in for a fun-filled day with fellow BDS families to enjoy many fall activities, food, music, and more. This is an opportunity to connect with friends, celebrate our community, and meet new faces!
The Fall Fest will be held at Belmont Day and all activities will be outdoors so please dress warmly. Also, feel free to bring your blankets and camp chairs to enjoy the afternoon on campus.
November Friendraiser Walks: Special Guest Edition
Wednesdays at 8:15 a.m.
Want to know more about the Belmont Day curriculum? Please join us as we walk and talk curriculum this month with Deborah Brissenden, assistant head of school and director of curriculum and instruction. This is a great time to talk with Deborah about her work at BDS, ask questions, and hear about additional upcoming opportunities to learn more about the curriculum.
Meet at the front circle of the Schoolhouse at 8:15 a.m. and then journey through the woodland trails. Duration: about 40 minutes.
State of the School 2021-22
Thursday, November 18
7 to 8:30 p.m.
Join us for Head of School Brendan Largay’s annual presentation about strategic initiatives for the school’s future. This event will be held on campus and will also be live-streamed on Zoom.
As a reminder, in order to attend an in-person event on campus, parents must provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72-hours.
Lunch & Snack Menu
November 8 to November 12
Snack: clementines; pita chips; animal crackers
Lunch: penne with marinara on the side; pasta with marinara on the side; broccoli; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; crusty rolls; Romano cheese; butter; garden salad; sliced peaches; milk and water
Snack: bananas; Baked Lay’s chips
Lunch: chicken tenders; veggie nuggets; green beans; honey mustard; sweet and sour sauce; ketchup; kettle chips; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; Caesar salad; fresh fruit cup; milk and water
Snack: apples; Smartfood
Lunch: cheese pizza; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; baby carrots; ranch dressing; Caesar salad; apple slices; milk and water
School Closed for Veterans Day
Snack: apple sauce; Kettle Corn Popcorners
TEDx Talk: ‘Charting a Course Beyond Racism’
Parents Invited to Discuss and Explore Topic With Dr. Hoyt
Last summer, Dr. Carlos Hoyt, director of equity and inclusion, was invited to give a TEDx talk that was posted in August. In his talk, “Charting a Course Beyond Racism”, Carlos invites us to consider how conventional views and behavior regarding race make it impossible for us to truly and finally conquer racism. The TEDx talk can be seen here. If you might be interested in gathering with other Belmont Day parents to explore Carlos’ view that the master’s map will never take us beyond the master’s boundaries, please indicate your interest along with any questions you’d like to discuss by clicking the button below.
If there’s sufficient interest in gathering to discuss the talk, Carlos will announce a time for a Zoom gathering in next week’s Scoop. Please, as always, feel free to contact Carlos about this or anything else (firstname.lastname@example.org).
School Photos Now Available to Order
The 2021-22 student and class photos are now available! To sign in to see and/or order photos, please go to Porter Gifford Photography. You will need to enter your email address and the password shared by email to all families Thursday evening.
Porter is offering a complimentary 5×7 class photo to families that place an order of at least $30. The coupon code is classphoto and can be entered at checkout. Since changes to orders cannot be made after the fact, it is important to use this code prior to finalizing your order.
- Photos are organized by grade. Scroll down to just beneath the all-school collage for the menu bar where you can select your child’s grade. Students are not identified by name.
- Click on a photo’s shopping basket to see the sizes available and their prices.
- You may purchase just one or an assortment of your child’s/children’s photos. Digital versions are also available.
- Purchased photos will be mailed directly to the address you provide during ordering.
- If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com.
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
Winter Session Enrollment Opens on Monday, November 8
Enrollment for the after school program’s winter trimester will open on Monday, November 8. We are excited to offer an engaging and enriching program that complements the academic excellence of the school day. Please click the dropdown below for detailed information regarding our winter trimester and registration process.
Information on After School Registration
- We are opening enrollment for our winter trimester for students in pre-k through grade 5: Monday through Thursday, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and Fridays, 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Additionally, we offer programming for middle school students on Fridays from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.
- Registration will take place through Veracross. Enrollment opens on Monday, November 8, and closes Friday, November 26. Click here to register.
- Please be aware that once you register your child(ren), your confirmation email will list the line item of Mon-Thu or Friday. Mon-Thu does not mean you are registered for every day. our child will only be enrolled for the days you selected on the registration page. You can confirm your selection during the three-week enrollment period by clicking launch sign-up on the registration page. We highly recommend taking a screenshot after selecting your child’s schedule, so you have a copy for your records. Unfortunately, the specific days you have selected will not show up in the confirmation email. Our tech team has submitted an enhancement request to Veracross so they can address this issue in the future.
- After school enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please be aware we are unable to provide refunds for after school. You can find pricing for the 2021-2022 school year here.
- You must register children individually for the trimester. There is no drop-in after school.
- We are not offering enrichments at this time. We hope to return to our enrichment programs later in the school year.
- Our winter trimester dates are November 29 through March 11. Kindly note in the school calendar dates when there is no programming, and after school closes early. You can also find these details here.
Students Wrap Up a Great Fall
After school students celebrated fall last week with the annual After School Fall Festival! A scavenger hunt challenged them to work together and search our entire campus for small prizes and clues such as the one below. Can you figure it out? The mummy relay, in which lower school students raced to wrap a middle school student into a toilet paper mummy, allowed students to engage in cross-graded playful competition. The fun included decorating pumpkins, designing beaded spiders, and enjoying seasonal snacks together on Big Blue!
Tales of a pirate, a gnome, or a fairy,
A princess, a monster, a wizard named Harry.
This place you must head,
Let’s hope you’re well-read,
Find your next Fall Fest clue in the…
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly COVID Testing Update
The first week of November brought a positive test. Again, our double-swab testing did its job: an adult pool came back inconclusive, the individual swabs were run, and the positive case was identified. Thankfully, the faculty member is doing well—and as their interactions with students were all outside, there are no close contacts who need to quarantine. Thank you all for your good wishes for the affected faculty member!
Concerts Planned for 2021-22
The music team is excited to announce three special musical events this year: the Winter Concert, the February Ensembles Celebration, and the Spring Concert. Mark your calendar!
Thursday, December 16 at 6:30 p.m.: The Winter Concert will feature the talented musicians who participate in lower school chorus and middle school chorus, the guitar, world drumming, and wind ensembles, and the orchestra.
Thursday, February 10: The Ensembles Celebration will feature our eighth grade musicians and include a special performance by an alum.
The Spring Concert will take place in late April or early May and will feature the ensembles as well as performances by students in general music classes.
Got Extra Candy At Home? Donate It!
Too many treats? Wondering what to do with leftover Halloween candy this season? Donate it to Operation Gratitude, a program that supports deployed troops, local military units, veterans, and first responders. Their Halloween Candy Give-Back Program provides a sweet opportunity for grateful Americans to thank those who serve our nation.
There are other ways to be involved—learn more about participating by visiting the Operation Gratitude website.
Volunteers Needed: Fall Garden Workday
As we wind down our outdoor efforts for the winter season, please consider coming to the garden workday on Sunday, November 14, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Parents with their lower school children are invited and middle school students are invited to come with a parent or on their own. Please contact Kathy Jo Solomon with questions or if you plan to attend.
Spanish Students Learn Traditions of Day of the Dead
El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican tradition to celebrate life and honor loved ones who have died. The holiday is celebrated from October 31 through November 2. Spanish students celebrated and honored this tradition; we watched videos and engaged in different activities. Sixth graders learned the history of the holiday, the differences between Halloween and Día de los Muertos, and drew altars inspired by the four elements and guided by this video; seventh grade students wrote biographies and created altars for a person they chose, and eighth grade students focused on this information to construct altars and bake pan de muerto. Please click here to see the creative approaches students took to celebrate el Día de los Muertos.
Fifth Grade Explores How Languages Get Started
During the fifth grade language, culture, and community class, students observed and discussed how humans started learning language and learned some scientific theories for the first words. After a series of activities and observations, students wrote their hypotheses and shared them with the group. It was fun to see them working as linguists and explaining and discussing their theories.
– Ana Maria Restrepo, grade 5 Foundations for Language Learning and middle school Spanish teacher
PE Update: Trail Adventures
If you happened to be out walking through Lone Tree Hill this week you may have noticed very polite and adventurous students enjoying the late fall sunshine. Our physical education classes were trail-oriented this week, with cross-country, outdoor adventures, and hiking units occurring across the lower school grades.
The trails offer an incredible opportunity to learn about stewardship, develop fitness, and practice mindfulness. We learned hand signals so our shouts wouldn’t disturb other nature appreciators (be they human or animal), paused to listen to the sounds or observe the sights around us, built cairns, and tried our hands at catching falling leaves. It was a reminder of how fortunate we are to have such wondrous landscapes accessible directly from our campus, and a chance to connect with the land and with one another.
– Alex Tzelnic, physical education teacher
Athletics Update: Field Hockey Blanks Charles River, Improves to 3-4
The field hockey team improved to 3-4 on the season following a commanding win over Charles River this week. The Blue & Gold controlled play for the majority of the game and received multiple goals from team captains Eliza Kuechle and Bella Lightbody. Aria Goodpaster chipped in with a goal and a beautiful assist and Ilana Brauner also found the back of the net. The team will look to even their record next week in their season finale, next Wednesday, November 10 at home versus Lexington Christian Academy.
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
More Athletics News
- The boys’ soccer team followed up their hard-fought loss at Friday Night Lights with a pair of wins at home over Fenn (4-2) and Charles River (5-3) this week. Caleb Frehywot finished the week with three goals.
- Niamh O’Brien added two more goals to her impressive point total during girls’ soccer’s 2-1 win over Charles River this week. Alden Largay made some strong defensive plays from her midfield position.
- The JV football team beat Fessenden (27-18) and Fay (24-12) this week. Andrew Green continued his MVP campaign with multiple scores in both games. Jaden Park and August Wilmot provided tremendous defense.
- Elise Goodman (hustle and communication) and Olive Kiraly (defensive pressure and ball control) had their best games of the season for JV soccer. The team finishes off their season at home next week.
- The varsity football team got walloped by Milton this week. Limited bright spots included a quick TD strike from Liam Brodeur to Rami Flummerfelt and a long TD bomb from Bernie Mattox to Zach Kromah.
Arts Update: Sixth Graders Start Strumming String Instruments
After sharpening their rhythmic and collaborative skills with bucket drums, the sixth graders in music class have begun learning to play the ukulele. This week, they kicked off the unit by learning one of the most famous ukulele songs of all time: Aloha ‘Oe by Queen Lili’uokalani. After learning about the fascinating history of the song, the song’s composer, and the cultural context in which it was written, they learned how to play the chords and strum a steady pattern–the first step in playing any accompaniment instrument. Later in the week, they start to play melodies, learn the names of the notes, and compose their own strumming patterns for songs. The unit focuses on breaking down the musical elements of ukulele playing and tinkering with them. What would happen if we strummed in 3 instead of 4? How would it sound if we used different chords here? Questions like these are what we explore in our musical time together.
– Tyler Cotner, music teacher
Eighth Grade Science Learns About Blood Types, Human Inheritance
In eighth grade science, students have been studying patterns of human inheritance, specifically how blood types are passed from parents to offspring. On Tuesday, students had the opportunity to test their own blood to determine their blood type. Using an Eldon card, students combined a small sample of their own blood with the antibodies on the card. Then they waited for the blood samples to react with the antibodies on the test cards. On Thursday, students then took some time to look at the distribution of blood types in their class relative to the distribution of blood types in various races. They found that the distribution of blood types matched pretty well for some blood types and not as well for others for each of the races. For example, about 50% of students who tested their blood were type O while 11% of students were type AB. This activity also allowed students to revisit the concept of probability and the idea that there needs to be sufficient data to ensure that the outcomes provide meaningful information.
– Sandra Trentowsky, grades 7 & 8 science teacher
Second Grade Combines Science and Art for New Garden Mural
Second graders have begun work on their class mural based on the book, Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt, by Kate Messner. This collective mural of the BDS garden will highlight the interconnectedness of the insects and birds to the success of the garden and how the different plants thrive and grow. Each student is using photos of the various garden items including insects, birds, and a variety of vegetables and colors to create a mural showing how our garden grows. As a group, the students will paint a background to show the soil and root vegetables below, the plants growing above ground, and the variety of species of insects and birds helping out above the garden.
As part of their science curriculum, students make weekly visits to the garden to explore, to use all their senses, to participate in garden maintenance, to observe our honeybee hives, and to learn about vegetables and pollinator plants and their importance. These activities set a foundation for their later exploration in the classroom of food access and food insecurity.
– Nancy Fell, grade 2 teacher
Parents’ Association News
The virtual BDS Book Fair, hosted this year by Belmont Books, will begin next Friday, November 12, and run through Friday, November 19. We hope you will support this beloved PA fundraiser. The website will go live next Friday (please remember to use the code BELMONTDAY2021 at checkout so that a portion of the sale goes to support BDS). This is a wonderful occasion to buy holiday gifts–or to donate books to the Erskine Library or individual classroom libraries. Wishlists provided by the teachers will be available.
Please mark your calendars for Friday, November 19 when we will have a special in-store shopping event at Belmont Books! A portion of all purchases made between 1 and 6 p.m. will go to BDS. Friends and family can also support BDS by using the code BELMONTDAY2021 when shopping online–or by shopping at Belmont Books on November 19. Please help us spread the word!
Cooking Class: Learn How to Make Pâte à Choux
Thursday, November 11, 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Cambridge School of Culinary Arts
During the class, we’ll learn the art of pâte à choux. This versatile dough is a superhero in the pastry lineup. We will pull the dough together using simple ingredients and create both savory gougeres and sweet cream puffs. There will be plenty to sample and take home to your children! All ingredients are included and there is no cost to participate. The class is held in collaboration with the parents’ association, the Friendraising Committee, and the development department, and will be led by Elise Franklin Bayard (mom of Brynn, grade 6, and Alexis, grade 2).
This in-person event is full, if you are interested in joining the waitlist, email Elise Bayard Franklin.
Last year a beautiful tradition began in response to community requests to show their gratitude for our faculty. This collection of notes of gratitude can be from your family, a student, or a parent. The note is for faculty as a whole and will be posted on a bulletin board in the main entrance of the Schoolhouse for all to appreciate. You may also upload a drawing from your child to the faculty and it will be posted. Please use this form to submit your responses.
Keep in mind that this is an opportunity to share your heartfelt thank you to those faculty that you’ve connected with. We are grateful for your participation. If you have any questions, please contact Kelly Baker, PA president, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Redistricting: Mapping Equity
Wednesday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Join Belmont Against Racism and UU the Vote Belmont for a panel discussion of the recent state political redistricting. How will redistricting impact voters, especially in communities of color? What impact did community efforts have on the final map? What more needs to be done to achieve equity in voting? The panelists will be state Senator William Brownsberger, chairperson of the Senate redistricting committee, Tanisha Sullivan, Esq., president, NAACP Boston, and Dax Crocker, democracy hub coordinator, Coalition for Social Justice. Click here for more information and Zoom link to this online event.