Summer camp at The New Century School is always exciting, but summer 2018 promises to be extra special. Not only is this year’s camp lineup the best yet, but TNCS welcomes a new Summer Camp Director to oversee daily operations!
Brittany Jackson is a native Marylander, from Chesapeake City in Cecil County. “I grew up there and spent most of my childhood on the water, especially since that area is known for its water-based recreational activities, such as fishing and crabbing,” she said. After graduating from Bohemia Manor High School, she attended Salisbury University. There, she participated on the cross country and track and field teams and double majored in English and Secondary Education. She then went on to obtain a Master’s of Education from Loyola University in Educational Administration and Leadership.
She began her teaching career at Dulaney High School in Cockeysville in 2015. “I have had the pleasure of teaching all levels of English and Language Arts as well as Journalism and AVID, and I will be returning to Dulaney for the foreseeable future,” she said. Lucky for TNCS, however, she lives in the Fell’s Point area and had become familiar with the school: “The past few summers, I have worked closely with families who have either attended TNCS or who know of others who have, and I have only ever heard great sentiments about the experiences they had here. When I initially applied, I had no idea if they were still hiring or not, but I figured if not this year, maybe next year. I knew that TNCS was a place I wanted to get the experience of working at eventually.”
When Ms. Jackson was approached about her application and met with a few members of the current administration, everyone agreed that she is a great fit to take the summer helm. Her initial goal is to acclimate to the TNCS environment, by familiarizing herself with the classes and curriculum offered. “I want to immerse myself in the learning and experiences that the students are offered so that I can speak better to it,” she explained.
She also feels it’s important to connect camp curriculum and activities to the local community. “I want to find attractions, shows, exhibits, museums, and even restaurants that go hand-in-hand or build upon a topic that students were exposed to in their camp and send that information out to parents in a weekly newsletter. I think that could be a neat way to involve the families in the community and for the students to see what they are learning and doing translated into the ‘real world’.”
That goal aligns perfectly with the TNCS ethos of being an active part of the city, and Ms. Jackson’s enthusiasm will ensure a wonderful summer camp experience. It will probably be a fun change for her, as well, to temporarily work with younger students rather than high-schoolers and to be in a city rather than county school.
“Simply put,” she said, “I am eager to work with the TNCS community and to learn all that I can about the learning experience of the students.” Welcome to TNCS, Brittany Jackson!
The New Century School is unique in combining a robust music and arts program; triple language-learning; and a student-driven, inquiry-based approach with a competitive academic environment. Although TNCS embodies the antithesis of the “three r’s” (reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic) approach to education that focuses on rote learning, math is a paramount discipline that is duly emphasized.
Math Programs at TNCS
While doing math includes a certain amount of repetition, the purpose of math does not reside in knowing the times tables for the sake of knowing them. Applying math to real-world problems makes math dynamic, interactive, and meaningful at TNCS. Math hones powers of reasoning, creativity, abstract/spatial thinking, critical thinking, problem-solving ability, and communication skills. Math opens up possibility.
At TNCS, math starts early. The youngest preschoolers on up through the primary division have access to Montessori math materials, for example, which help children progress from concrete/discrete “manipulatives” to abstract concepts. Once TNCS students graduate to the elementary program, they have dedicated math classes that consist of some combination of a Daily 4 rotation. They work independently, in small groups, one-on-one with the teacher, and with a computer.
The crux of the elementary math program is Singapore Math, the basic components of which are 1) a Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach, 2) model drawing, 3) teaching to mastery, 4) spiral progression, 5) and metacognition. In middle school, the Go Math! curriculum is used that emphasizes conceptual understanding, fluency, and application.
Differentiation is a part of every math division—wherever a student happens to be on his or her math journey, that student is supported and guided forward. Moreover, math is taught as a uniting, globalizing force. While students are doing math, everyone speaks the same language no matter what country they are from. This concept is conveyed best by TNCS’s annual participation in the Math Kangaroo competition, a math contest with 6 million participants worldwide. In Maryland alone, over 800 students participate. TNCS has had multiple students place nationally since joining the competition.
In the 2018 Math Kangaroo competition, three TNCS students placed in the Top 20 nationally!
Math in Summer: Practice Makes Progress!
Math is a constant presence in our lives, whether or not we are always conscious of its ubiquity. Sunflowers, snowflakes, nautiluses, and even Romanesco broccoli are geometrically inclined examples of how the Golden Ratio, also known as the Fibonacci sequence, manifests in nature. (Need a Fibonacci refresher? Each number is the sum of the two numbers that precede it: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and so on, ad infinitum). This cosmic numbering system is phenomenal enough, but animals even down to the Arthropoda actively employ math–cicadas count years, butterflies use physics to plot and adjust complex flight trajectories, ants calculate the fastest paths to their destinations, and now bees are thought to understand zero.
Just as math is a part of everyday life, for students to excel in math, they should do math every day. Summertime is no different: Daily math is critical for optimal student success. Each summer, TNCS offers resources to support student gains made during the school year and to combat the summer slide. (Scroll below for a list of where you can access past years’ offerings.)
Research has shown that math achievement is often the hardest hit over the summer months, if math practice is not kept up. TNCS administrators recommend that TNCS students practice math every day (or at least three to four times per week) and have made summer workbooks available to help students get in the habit of daily math.
The workbook is ideal for summertime, because it can be done in the car during road trips, while vacationing, before and after mealtimes, and on days of inclement weather. Its convenience makes it easy to work in frequent small increments.
“My strong feeling is that children should do math daily,” said TNCS Co-Executive Director/Co-Founder Jennifer Lawner. “Just like music. It is hard to get kids to practice if you make them do it intermittently, but easy if it is a required part of the day. Even if they only do 15 minutes of math on a given a day, it keeps the mind going.”
An essential component for daily summer math success is parent involvement. Parents are encouraged to review work completed periodically to ensure students are staying on the right track. Make and post a schedule to help your student maintain discipline and to avoid fights.
If daily math is not possible, encourage as many days of the week as possible with a schedule like this:
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: Math practice from 8:00 am–8:15 am
Sunday: 15 minutes of math practice for bonus
Bonus can be whatever your family enjoys doing together, such as taking a walk or bike ride in the park, making a trip to the library or the zoo, and so on.
The workbooks will be collected and reviewed the first week of the 2018–2019 school year by your child’s math teacher.
“The reality is that there is an entire globe of students doing daily math through the summer, and, if our children are not doing it, they are not going to be competitive,” said Mrs. Lawner.
Although workbook practice is the preferred method of doing daily summer math, math game apps and websites are another option that can be used supplementally. However, these are not as effective at keeping skills sharp, and they have the added disadvantage of contributing to screen time, so, ideally, they should not be the exclusive means of math practice during summer. A more effective supplemental way to encourage daily math is to help your child work it into other daily activities. Find some creative ways to “Get into the Daily Math Mindset This Summer” on TNCS’s brand-new web page: Summer Learning Resources.
The bottom line is, if you set expectations and work with your children at home, you will foster strong mastery and a love of math that will serve them well academically and professionally. As math is necessary for art and music, it is also a bridge between the humanities and the natural sciences. Said mathematician-turned-philosopher Bertrand Russell: “Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere . . . without appeal to any part of our weaker nature . . . yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.”
Last month, TNCS was thrilled to welcome back the Queen of Green for a collaborative art project with TNCS K/1st-graders. Ms. Parlato’s art generally has a social message, and the ocean-themed project she undertook at TNCS was no different. Tying into the oceanography unit the lower elementary students were doing, Ms. Parlato first spoke to the classes about the art they would be creating together and why. “We’ll be making a mandala, which is a special symbol that shows how things are connected. How are we going to use this art to help people, the ocean, and the world?” she asked them. After getting some very thought-provoking audience responses, she thanked them and summed up their ideas: “Your art is going to make people think about why it’s important not to litter.”
Art with K/1st Classes
Ms. DeMatteo’s and Prof. Caceres’s classes launched the project. With the younger students, Ms. Parlato’s focus was on textures. They first discussed different types of textures that might be found in the ocean (“squishy like a jellyfish,” “wiggly like an anemone,” “gooey like seaweed”).
“Now your job is to paint some of these ocean and water textures, using some recyclable materials like cereal boxes and cardboard I have brought in for you,” the RecyQueen explained. “Once you make all of the textures for me, I’m going to make a special kind of collage out of them.”
Mrs. Jenks’ and Sra. Sanchez’s classes took over phase 2, which was making the fish that would swim through the oceans created by the younger group.
Here, the focus was more on ecosystems and the delicate balance ocean life requires to thrive.
La Reina de Reciclaje
After her two visits to TNCS and having accumulated four classrooms’ worth of mandala components, Ms. Parlato put it all together and unveiled the masterpiece at TNCS’s 2018 Art Show on Thursday, May 31st. It speaks for itself.
“These kids want something else,” commented Ms. Parlato. “They don’t want an environment full of styrofoam and trash. They are speaking change through this art, and kid art is powerful.”