Distance Learning Roundup for May 22

The academic year has come to a close and although the finish under distance learning was unexpected, we are excited to share the many creative ways learning happened in our virtual classrooms. This final roundup of distance learning stories in May adds to the highlights from April 16, April 24 and May 1. This issue, you’ll find students designing their dream houses for geometry class, acting out the 3rd Grade History Museum, having storytime in Spanish, learning swim concepts, performing during the virtual band concert, visiting a farm over Zoom, building community and so much more! Enjoy these final distance learning highlights from the 2019-20 school year!

Designing Dream Houses and Creating Tutorials to Practice Geometry Skills

Middle School Math Teacher Dustin Delfin’s sixth grade math class is at it again! After prepping for math assessments with lock box scavenger hunts and using blankets at home to calculate the area of different polygons, they are now mastering geometry skills through designing their own dream houses!

With the knowledge of computing the area of various basic shapes such as triangles, parallelograms, trapezoids and circles to name a few, and with knowing how to compute the area of various composite figures by decomposing them into basic shapes, sixth graders tried their hands as architects to design their dream homes.

“The constraints of this real-world scenario asked students to include at least eight basic shapes in their designs,” explains Mr. Delfin. “Using Floorplanner.com, an online home design software, students explored both the 2-D and 3-D world as they drafted floor plans and digital models of their proposed structures.” Students were also able to apply different building materials to their dwellings and shop for furniture to furnish the spaces they created. Once designs were finalized, students were then asked to calculate the total square footage of their composite figure dream home using appropriate formulas. This project will help lead them into the second half of their geometry unit, which will be on volume and surface area.

Delfin shared, “I noticed that many students were invested in this project because of its real-world application, and they were able to take ownership of their designs. With the limited time given to complete this project, I am amazed with what these mini-architects were able to produce!”

To conclude the Geometry Unit, Mr. Delfin wanted students to interact with their final formative assessment by receiving as much feedback as possible. “Throughout the school year, students watched my own video tutorials to learn the concepts, and I wanted them to end the year by creating their own,” he shares. Students used FlipGrid, an educational social platform where students can create their own videos that can be viewed by their peers. For this assessment, they were given a series of questions which they responded to. If students needed support, they were able to view the videos of their peers to see how others approached the problem(s).

Watch some of the video tutorials below!
Mr. Delfin commented on the tutorials: “As I reviewed and graded each video tutorial, I enjoyed seeing my students take ownership of their learning by justifying their thinking while integrating their personalities with the mathematical concepts.” What a great way to wrap up the year in sixth grade math!

Third Grade Virtual History Museum

Third grade drama students in Lower & Middle School Drama Teacher Missy Heinemann’s class put together a “Virtual History Museum” in lieu of the “Living History Museum” performances they were to deliver last month. In this drama and social studies project, students dressed up and acted as notable figures in history and entertainment such as Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Seuss, Julia Roberts, Johnny Carson, Neil Armstrong, Dolly Parton, Ellen Degeneres and Harrison Ford. Catch just a glimpse of a few of their exhibits and performances below from the following students:

  • Evan G. ’29 (Oklahoma, performing as Sam Walton)
  • Shayaan M. ’29 (Wyoming, performing as Harrison Ford)
  • Heidi H. ’29 (Vermont, performing as Jerry Greenfield)
  • Abby Masiel ’29 (New Jersey, performing as Laurie Hernandez)

Spanish Storytime for Junior Kindergartners

Every Thursday and Friday, Lower School Spanish Teacher Soledad Villagomez has been reading to her Junior Kindergarten students. “I always try to find a book that is not only connected with the vocabulary that the children are learning, but also has a connection and a message for their lives,” she shares.

In early May, she read a book called Choco Encuentra Una Mamá (Choco Finds a Mom). During reading time, the students have the opportunity to listen to Spanish, continue practicing vocabulary about animals, colors, numbers and adjectives such as “big, medium, small,” and think about an important message from the book. In this case, the message was that love is expressed in the same way, even though the animals in the story were different.

The book follows a little yellow bird who wants to find a mom. In his search, he first found a giraffe who told him he couldn’t be his baby because he is too small. Second, he found a penguin who told him that he couldn’t be his baby because they have different colors and he has big cheeks. Then, he found a walrus who told him that he couldn’t be his baby because he has yellow and blue legs. After finding many animals on his way, he finally found a bear. The bear heard the little bird crying and went to ask him what was wrong. He told her he needs a mom who loves him, hugs him and kisses him. The bear did exactly that: hugged him, kissed him and danced with him. In the end, the bear invited the bird to go to her house and eat a yummy cake with the rest of her babies. The little bird accepted and when he got to the bear’s house, he met the rest of the bear’s children: a hippo, a pig and an alligator. What a sweet story for our young Spanish speakers to be read virtually with a sweet message, too!

Band Builds Community and Gets Creative With Games, Concerts and Assignments

Band students are getting very creative while connecting during distance learning! Ms. Becky Long, Middle & Upper School Performing Arts Teacher, has kept students and even their families engaged with a variety of fun games, playing assignments and virtual concerts.

In class, Upper School band students have been playing Family Feud, Scattergories, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Pictionary and Charades. The games have helped connect students together while apart and have strengthened the band community. Many of the games have served as a welcome distraction during what could be a challenging time for many.

Outside of class, Ms. Long has hosted Band Bingo Night with fun themes. They’ve had a luau theme, Star Wars theme, Harry Potter theme and an MICDS spirit theme this final week of school. Mr. Rainey even stopped by during the Star Wars-themed Band Bingo Night to say hello and check out all of the fun.


Back in the virtual classrooms, Ms. Long has been blown away by some of the projects of her Upper School students. From an open-ended prompt that asked them to submit a recording of themselves playing, either solo or working with up to two partners, here’s just a glimpse of what the students created:

  • Students used WeVideo and Acapella to record themselves playing two or three parts of a piece so it sounds as if they are playing a duet or trio, but really they are performing all of the parts.
  • Two French horn students each played two parts of a French horn quartet arrangement of the USSR national anthem.
  • Students found recorded tracks and played their instruments on multiple tracks over it to create a real piece of music. One student played the theme song to Monsters, Inc. Another group played Fly Me To The Moon—the clarinet player even sang the vocals!
  • Students chose to play instruments that they typically don’t play in band, like the tabla and guitar.
  • A few students teamed up to perform on a band instrument with piano accompaniment. Another played a piano accompaniment himself and then recorded another track of himself playing trumpet on top of it.

To top that off, for their final project, students were asked to create a concert program. “They had to pick a theme and find 15-20 minutes worth of band music that would fit that theme,” said Ms. Long. After reviewing the assignments and creative concert programs, it’s no wonder that Ms. Long shared, “I am totally blown away by the creativity and musicianship that these students have shown.”

Below is a video of the Upper School band performing “Hey Baby.” Although you can’t see all of the participants on the call, everyone was dancing and singing along, including Mr. Rainey! What a fun final concert of the school year! Way to go, band family!


A Virtual Swim Week in Junior and Senior Kindergarten

The month of May was to include Swim Week for Junior and Senior Kindergarteners. Although students couldn’t come to the Steward Family Aquatic Center, Director of Aquatics Programs and Facilities Khannie Dastgah didn’t let that stop them from having a virtual Swim Week.

Ms. Dastgah shares, “I wanted to help them learn some of the skills they would have covered at the pool, so I created a YouTube channel, shared some videos and read my first three children’s books to them that I have written on the topic of swimming.” Khannie’s three books are entitled Bubbles With Your Nose, Going Under and I Can Float! Here is one of the sample videos she shared:

She also had video calls with our first, second and third graders who did a water safety review. Thanks for helping everyone just keep swimming, Ms. Dastgah!

A Surprise Farm Sanctuary Tour for Second Grade

For the last day of school, second graders were in for a treat! They logged in to their Zoom call to be met with a surprise, virtual tour of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, a farm in Upstate New York. Students got to see many a goat while being shown the farm. They asked a lot of questions: “Can kids feed the animals,” “Do you milk the goats” and “Have you ever sheered the sheep?”

The tour guide talked about how 380 animals live on the farm. There are goats, sheep, cows, turkeys, chickens, bunnies and pigs. Visitors can feed alfalfa cubes to the cows, give belly rubs to the pigs and grapes to the chickens. Students learned that the sheep get shorn once a year, which happened just last week. That way, the sheep are cooler in the summer while their coat grows to keep them warm during winter.

It was a lot of fun for the students! “I love when they BAAAAaaa,” one of the students exclaimed. Another said, “I wish I could live at a barn.” Thank you to the parents who helped coordinate this special farm “visit” with our second grade teachers. What a fun, final day activity for saying “GoodBAAAAye” in a special way!

Fifth Graders Share Advice to Rising Fifth Graders

In preparation for their transition to Middle School, current MICDS fifth graders spoke with current MICDS fourth graders over Zoom to answer questions about the grade. The older students helped their younger friends feel more at ease about moving on to Middle School. Thank you for sharing your advice, fifth graders!

Peer Tutoring Sessions with Upper and Lower Schoolers

Over the past several weeks this spring, Upper Schoolers have been conducting tutoring sessions with Lower Schoolers. Students had the opportunity to learn from one another as older students mentored their younger friends. Thank you to Erin Hamill, Director of Upper School Community Service, Amy Scheer, Head of Lower School and Ashley O’Toole, Lower School Learning Specialist/Counselor, for coordinating setting up these helpful cross-division sessions!

Eighth Graders Participate in #therealheroesproject

The eighth grade class participated in an incredible movement called the #therealheroesproject, a collaborative tribute to honor the courageous healthcare heroes who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each advisory had the option of putting their own clip together. Here are a couple of their videos below! We are so grateful for these real heroes!

Freshmen Latin Video Adventures

In Dr. Gabe Grabarek’s Latin class, students continued to share presentations about the definition and origin of various words as listed by their teacher. As shared previously, Phoebe Burgis ’23 and Nithya Reddy ’23 put together a video presentation studying the root of the word “pandemic.” Skye Patton ’23 and Kashish Motwani ’23 had their own slew of videos from the year and finished their last day of classes with a video presentation that reflected on their Latin adventures from throughout the year. They studied the words “succedaneum” and “arboreal,” to name a couple. Here are a couple of screenshots from their final video!

Thank you to our creative faculty and students for making the most of distance learning these past couple of months! We are #RamsTogether even when we are apart.