Studio Week

Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: March 6th, 2020
Deborah Brissenden

New and useful. That’s how we have come to define innovation here at BDS—ideas and practices that are new and useful to our students and our community.

In recent days, when I have been able to pull my head up from coronavirus news, I have seen innovation front and center here at Belmont Day. If you haven’t yet perused the pages of the Belmont Day Magazine, I encourage you to explore this most recent issue centered around innovation. The articles highlight the places where innovation manifests in our program, reminding us that excellence in teaching and learning never rests.

Additionally, this week has offered a new and useful program for our eighth grade students who are midway through their Capstone journeys: Studio Week. A quick reminder that Capstone has three equally important phases that take place during the eighth grade year—the research paper written in the fall, the project phase executed in the winter, and the presentation phase which culminates in the Capstone presentations this May. Studio Week is, in many ways, the culminating week of the project phase of Capstone, much how the final research paper represents the work of the fall, and the presentations capture the work of the spring.

So, what is Studio Week? The brainchild of Capstone coordinator Jen Friborg who worked diligently with colleagues to restructure the scheduling of the Capstone process, Studio Week provides an opportunity for students to have sizable blocks of time to work on their projects here on campus. Each day, students have had from three to five hours of open time to work in the Barn or the Schoolhouse to build, test, tinker, code, design, program, paint, survey, interview, or teach as their projects take shape. The range of projects I observed on a walk through the Barn Mezzanine was dazzling. I encountered a Papier-mâché bluefin tuna constructed to scale, and a mural painting in mid-process. Another student was building a gravity well that will teach fourth graders about black holes, and another created a life-sized “tape person” that will help fifth graders better understand the power of gene therapy.

Studio Week (click here for photo gallery) offers our community greater visibility into a critical part of the Capstone learning process. Students who are not yet in eighth grade are walking past these projects in awe. The twenty-eight teachers who served as coaches this week guided students through the rigor of the process. And this group is in addition to the Capstone mentors who have been working with the students all year! The Barn has contributed significantly to the success of Studio Week—every space has been bursting with creativity and focus—from the IMPACT Lab to the art studios to the science classroom and the gym. Finally, Studio Week has been a showcase of the power of equitable access to materials, time, and opportunity. It has truly been something to behold.

As one prescient eighth grader said to me this week, “This is so much better than last year.” Of course, I couldn’t help but ask, “How could you know that?” And, like the fearlessly confident young man he is, he responded, “Oh, I have no idea. But this week has been amazing. So, it has to be better.”

New and useful, indeed.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Click the B to listen to this message at Blue Handprint Studios!

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