Augmented reality is a hot topic in current technology, and many gaming systems and entertainment sectors have capitalized on it, allowing gamers to seemingly experience sights and sounds that would otherwise be inaccessible. Of course, this technology can also be used in a variety of ways for educational purposes, and companies such as Google are jumping on board and inviting schools to sample exactly what augmented reality can offer their students and how it can enhance the educational experience for students of all ages.
Recently, All Saints Academy was honored to be chosen by the Google Expeditions AR Pioneer Program to participate in a day of introduction to the AR software being promoted for schools. We were excited to have Google on campus for a day of training teachers and exposing students to the amazing technology offered and how it can open up a world of learning opportunities in the classroom. While ASA has already incorporated AR into some of our classrooms (like that of Mrs. Kelly McNeil), the software brought by Google is a much higher level than many on the market, allowing students (and teachers) to “go through” and inside objects and see details of the subject matter not previously possible with other programs (such as Quiver AR, NASA 3DV, etc.). For the demonstration day here at All Saints, we had to meet certain classroom requirements and follow guidelines set by their representative, but once we met those they brought in all of their own equipment and were very helpful in using it. The hardware consists of Asus cell phones mounted on selfie sticks (this could change as the technology is further developed before being publicly released) and utilities an app. Mrs. Kelly McNeil says this about the process:
“Once the app is launched, the teacher has a ‘lead device’ and the teacher’s phone can control the other phones in terms of a pause button and go forward in the images. There are QR-type codes on laminated 8.5×11 pieces of paper all around the vicinity where the students are standing. The teacher instructs the students to scan the codes, and when they do, the Augmented Reality image pops up. There were different images based on each teacher and the lesson they chose to lead. I chose DaVinci’s Creations, so the first image was The Renaissance Man. Teachers had bits of information on their devices that they could read about each image, and students walked around the images looking at them up close and through them on their devices. Some images were a little more interactive (like the Crossbow would actually shoot out little pebbles, the Robotic Knight had moving gears, etc.). If you are familiar with Pokemon Go AR – how you can ‘superimpose’ a Pokemon on top of the real background you see through your cell phone camera – this is how AR works. So the students were seeing giant images of all sorts through the camera while also seeing the real background of the library or room they were in.”
Other lessons taught to 362 of our students during the demonstration day at ASA included:
- Jeanine Yacoub – Organic Chemistry and The Circulatory System
- TJ Woolford – The World of Ancient Rome
- John Iskra – Moon Landing
- Amy Jahna, Heather Womersley, Marty Lopez, Kat Morris – Ecosystems of a Coral Reef
- Jen Giansiracusa – The Space Race
- Barbara Sheekey and Valerie Satterfield – Phases of the Moon
- Allison Futch and Eileen Hutton – Dinosaurs
- Virginia Drake-Jacobson and Kelly Harrington – Forces of Nature
- Kelly McNeil – DaVinci’s Inventions
- Grant Lyons – Topographical Continents
All Saints Academy is thrilled to have been picked to participate in trying out the trial of this technology. We look forward to offering our own feedback, as well as the feedback of our students, to further the project and hopefully move the product toward a public release and the opportunity for more schools to incorporate it into their educational programs. We look forward to seeing Augmented Realty become a reality at All Saints Academy, and hope it will only add to the already outstanding curriculum and educational environment we offer at ASA.
- Learning to celebrate diversity. The Special Olympics give insight that people of all backgrounds, walks of life, and abilities have value and are fully capable of achieving their goals. It’s important for children (and adults) to recognize that we all have varying talents, looks, resources, etc. but we are all an important part of society and the world around us.
- Aspirations to achieve goals. Our students get to see, firsthand, the goal-driven and inspirational personalities of the various participants in our Special Olympics event. These athletes overcome obstacles, statistics, life circumstances and more to achieve their goals and our own students come away inspired to do their very best and reach their goals as well.
- Learning to have a servant’s heart. Learning to serve is an important part of learning to be a true leader. By participating in the hosting of our ASA Special Olympics each year, our All Saints students are learning to go through life with the mentality of serving others and enriching the lives of those around them, and that will spill over into their daily life with peers, family, and future relationships.
At All Saints Academy, STEM learning is an integral part of our curriculum in all Divisions, starting in Early Childhood and continuing through our Upper School. We feel strongly that preparing students with strong fluency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will better prepare them for the world into which they will enter. Additionally, as we help them gain these skills, students are also exercising their skills in collaboration, creative problem solving, innovation, and communication, all of which are invaluable as prepare for success in college and beyond. We have intentionally increased our focus on STEM areas in recent years, proactively seeking opportunities to both enhance our programming and highlight the work that our faculty and students have done.
Last week, All Saints Academy’s efforts were recognized with the STEM Excellence Award for high school at the annual Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). This national award was presented to a cohort of faculty and administrators in recognition of our Innovation Studio curriculum and our partnership with NuVu Cambridge. During the presentation, a video compilation of our Fall 2017 Exhibition was displayed for the audience of several hundred attendees, showcasing our students’ work and the unique nature of our Innovation Studio curriculum. Following the award presentation, Mrs. Knowles gave a detailed presentation about our NuVu partnership and how we are inspiring independent thinkers, principled leaders, and humble learners at All Saints Academy.
We are honored to receive the national STEM Excellence award and are excited to see how this will have an energizing effect on our curriculum planning for future years. We deeply believe that the time our students spend in Passion Periods, Tech & Design, and Innovation Studios compliments our core curriculum to establish a learning experience that is unique to All Saints Academy. We are proud of the many ways our faculty draw out each student’s individual talents while also challenging the student to achieve his or her personal best. This drive, paired with state-of-the art learning spaces, like the Baldwin Center for Innovation & Collaboration, create an environment where creativity and innovation thrive.
In the coming year, we plan to expand our partnership with NuVu Cambridge and actively seek opportunities and experiences for our students that result in a transformational education, providing them with the tools and skills on which future success is based. At All Saints Academy, STEM programming is simply an extension of the extraordinary learning opportunities that take place each and every day.
Electives, co-curricular courses, and extra-curricular options are certainly not new concepts to enhance education; however, they can sometimes get pushed to the side or eliminated altogether in the wake of testing requirements or budget restrictions. At All Saints Academy, we recognize the importance of supplementing the core curriculum subjects of language arts, mathematics, science, and the humanities, with coursework that is integrated into the school day through electives and co-curricular options, plus opportunities for extra-curricular activities before and after school. These opportunities both play a major role in understanding and mastery of core subjects as well as allow a student to engage in their learning process in their own way while pursuing activities and experiences about which they are passionate to learn.
In support of this goal, we have tailored our class schedule to give students the opportunity to choose multiple electives, which provides them with exposure to an expansive array of topics to pursue, including fine arts (dance, painting, music, etc.), technology, athletics, and many more. Since electives give our students more chances to connect their in-class learning with hands-on experiences, we know that their education is being enhanced in the best ways possible.
In addition to electives, there are a variety of extra-curricular activities at ASA in which students are actively encouraged to participate. Students have the opportunity to strengthen leadership skills through various clubs and organizations, explore and enhance their talents in dance and theatre, and improve their performance in the athletic arena. Coaches and mentors are pro-active in establishing partnerships that will make the experience shine. For example, our Dance Ensemble students just had the honor of participating in Master Class dance workshops at the Walt Disney World complex, culminating in a performance in front of guests at Disney Springs. This provided the dancers with the opportunity to learn from new instructors and hone their performance skills — both of which helps prepare them for future success.
The best part about our extra-curricular options are they’re not just limited to high school students; dance, sports camps, the musical, and more, are all available for student participation in the Lower, Middle, and Upper divisions.
Are you considering All Saints Academy for your student this coming year? We would love to discuss the many options available, and create an educational experience uniquely designed for your student. Contact our Admissions team today and explore the many ways that electives and extra-curricular courses can enhance your child’s educational journey!
Creative problem solving, innovation, and collaboration are important parts of the curriculum at All Saints Academy. Our students are challenged to carefully consider all angles of a problem and brainstorm multiple solutions both in and out of the classroom, and we encourage them to work with their peers to get a well-rounded perspective and diverse opinions when exploring these solutions. Few things embody this more though than our partnership with NuVu and our Innovation Studio coursework for high school students.
NuVu, based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is by their own definition, a “full-time innovation school” for students of middle and high school age. They teach their students how to understand and participate in the full creative process, from the very beginning when an idea is sparked, to completion of the prototypes, through the final presentation of their product. They do this through collaboration with other students, and offering “studios” rather than courses, where students work with coaches on solving open-ended questions. They give students large chunks of time to work through their ideas, rather than breaking the work into short, one-hour segments like a traditional class model. Throughout the process, NuVu students are creating a digital portfolio, which will serve them well as part of a college resume.
Last year, All Saints Academy unveiled our own dedicated space for our NuVu partnership, in creating the Baldwin Center for Innovation and Collaboration. Our “Maker Space” was even featured in a write-up by the Winter Haven Chamber, and gives our students a place to take their ideas from a simple concept to a fully-developed, tangible product that is able to be used by its intended audience. Named after our Head of School, Carolyn Baldwin, whose vision established the partnership with NuVu, the space offers access to multiple 3D printers, high-end Mac computers equipped with CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, and a laser-cutting machine. There is also common space for students to meet and participate in discussion while collaborating on their topic’s potential solutions, and a variety of studio workspace and materials at the students’ disposal.
If all of this creativity interests you, we’d love to invite you join us at the upcoming Innovation Studio Exhibition, on December 5, 2017 at 5:30 PM, beginning in the Pou Chapel. The exhibition will showcase the work our 9-12th grade students completed in our Innovation Studio this semester, and will give you an opportunity to see how transformational the NuVu partnership has been for our school. We can’t wait to see how our students use the skills mastered in their Innovation Studio as they graduate and head out into the world.
Here at All Saints Academy, the phrase “no pencils required” is often used to describe our educational philosophy. This means we strive to provide learning through a variety of experiences, hands-on activities, rich literature and reading materials, and discussion among educators and students. For our youngest students in our Lower School, a lot of this learning comes through play.
Play is something that comes naturally for children, yet gives them a wide array of educational opportunities, and we endeavor to create an environment where “learning” and “fun” are one and the same for our young students. Walk into one of our Pre-K or Kindergarten classrooms here at ASA and you’ll find days filled with music, dancing, imaginative play, visits to our hydroponic and vegetable gardens and pond habitat, and of course, plenty of time in our “Discovery Zone.”
What is this Discovery Zone? Essentially, this area is where students in Pre-K through Grade 1 are introduced to math, science, technology, and design concepts through the exploration that comes naturally to children of this age. Activities like the magnetic wall, the light table, engineering blocks, sensory table, artistic tinker lab, and even robot exploration are available for children to enjoy through play, all the while building the foundation that will make up their education throughout their time at All Saints Academy, all the way up to our Upper School Innovation in the Baldwin Center for Innovation and Collaboration.
Collaboration is another important part of our Lower School (Pre-K to Grade 5) at ASA, and we incorporate it through programs like our Learning Buddies, pairing students across grade levels,, and through various clubs and extracurricular activities available for various age groups. These clubs and activities also bridge subjects like performing and fine arts, leadership opportunities, technology, and more. Nothing is one-dimensional in the curriculum at ASA. Our goal is for each activity, and each learning opportunity, to engage many parts of our students’ minds, and give them the highest quality, well-rounded education possible.
If you are interested in learning more about how we approach education from the earliest age at All Saints, we have plenty of information here, and with a simple click or two you can learn more about our learning opportunities and curriculum for middle school and Upper School students as well. The spark of a love for learning begins early, and our goal is to fan that flame and turn it into a blaze that motivates our oldest students far beyond their days at ASA.
As we wrap up our fall semester at ASA, the talk of college begins to play a big part in conversations around campus and within the families of our current juniors and seniors. We are a College Preparatory school here at All Saints Academy, as we know that investing in a higher education gives our students a much wider variety of bigger and better opportunities as they start out in life. We take pride in our legacy of 100% college acceptance, and our students know that our College Advising Program is dedicated to making sure they don’t just go to college, but that they find the institution that is the right fit for them and their future! Just this past year, our 2017 graduating class had all 54 students enroll in 4-year college or university. Those are numbers we can be proud of!
All Saints students are accepted into an array of quality, prestigious schools all over the southeast and east, and we currently have alumni attending Harvard, Northwestern, Washington University, Samford, University of Florida, and many more. Elizabeth Martin here on our ASA campus says the big decisions for our seniors will be coming up during second semester, which means we will likely hear exciting announcements of All Saints being represented at a whole new wave of universities for the 2018-2019 academic year. All Saints offers plentiful support during the process of researching and choosing colleges, since we know this is a big decision for our students (and their parents!) and isn’t to be taken lightly.
Nancy Korman, our Director of College Advising, is your go-to person to talk about your student’s upcoming preparation for higher education, and she can let you know about upcoming events right here on campus that can give your child a glimpse into various college choices. ASA frequently has college representatives on campus to visit with our students and discuss their school. The list over recent years has included, but is not limited to, UF, FSU, University of Miami, UC Davis (California), Boston University, Vanderbilt, University of Chicago, University of Alabama, Auburn, Southern Methodist College, Washington and Lee, Davidson, and many more. These opportunities can help students make a short list of schools they are most interested in, and can then focus on researching intently during their senior year.
Another way we prepare our students for the college search process is with our annual college class trip. Each year, our juniors take a trip to visit multiple college campuses including Flagler, Clemson University, Wofford College, Erskine, Mercer University, Oglethorpe, and Georgia Tech. Seeing campuses firsthand gives our students a better idea of what to look for when choosing a university, and some key things they may want to look for and/or avoid when selecting a school. As our juniors are just beginning this journey, many of our seniors are currently working out details of their final selection, and Auburn, FSU, Berry College, University of Tampa, and Furman University are already on the list of chosen colleges for the 2018 graduating class.
Want to learn more about how we handle college advising here at All Saints Academy? Our College Advising Program page has plenty of valuable information (find it here) and can give you an idea of what to expect for your junior or senior student here at ASA. Congratulations to our 2018 graduates who have already chosen their next step, and to those who are still researching and deciding, know we are here for you this school year!
All Saints Academy is proud to offer excellence in education, and as an independent school in Florida, we strive to provide the very best in the educational experience, from extracurricular activities to curriculum choices. It’s encouraging to us as a school to see our students graduate and enter the world as successful young adults, many of whom receive high-level scholarships, internships, and recognition at various universities and companies around the world. Perhaps one of the most exciting events though is when we have a student selected as a National Merit Scholar.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) provides scholarships to students each year at universities across the U.S. The competition is rigorous, and being selected as a finalist is considered a mark of educational prestige and is a huge honor. The NMSC was established in 1955, and chooses its winners each year based on abilities, skills, accomplishments both in and out of the classroom, and their potential for success in college and beyond. Everything from grades to extracurricular activities are taken into account, and they seek out only the most well-rounded, knowledgeable students to participate in the various stages of the competition.
There is no government assistance with the NMSC. It is an independently supported program, with over 400 loyal sponsors committed to recognizing students for their hard work and outstanding achievements in the academic world. While over 1,000,000 students take the tests and enter each year, only 16,000 of these students will be selected to move on to the semifinalist round, with only 7,500 of those semifinalist becoming National Merit Scholar finalists. Approximately half of these finalists will end up being awarded scholarships of various types, from one-time payments to go toward their higher education to annual scholarships provided each year for the selected student.
As a finalist, a student still has many steps to go through before finding out if he or she will be awarded a scholarship. Academic records will be examined, the high school’s curriculum and grading practices will be reviewed, two sets of test scores will be required, and the student’s high school must provide a written recommendation. Additionally, the student’s activities and leadership roles will be looked at, along with an essay written and provided by the finalist. All of these factors will be used to determine whether or not a particular finalist qualifies to earn the status of National Merit Scholar.
All Saints Academy is thrilled to announce that we have not one, but TWO National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalists in our Upper School this year. James Eschrich and William Skipper have worked hard and accomplished much in their time here at ASA, and we couldn’t be more proud of them for making it to this point in their journey to becoming National Merit Scholars! If you see them around campus, make sure to congratulate them, and stay tuned for news of their status in the competition in the coming months!