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A Look into the Classroom: Fall 2021

Kaitlin Resler
Fall Family Weekend festivities are drawing to a close, and the Emma Willard School community is looking towards the long weekend ahead with a much needed rest in mind. Since the start of the year, classrooms have been filled with interesting activities, guest speakers, and once, even some fire. Here’s a look at what’s been going on in just some of the classrooms in these first few weeks of school!

While in-person classes are back on, many teachers have continued to use virtual tools to bring guests into the classroom. Director of Curriculum and Innovation and History Instructor Peter Hatala’s World Religions class hosted two speakers: José M. Tirado spoke about the intersection of Buddhism and wellness (in preparation for his visit, the class read his article titled The Buddhist Notion of Emptiness and its Potential Contribution to Psychology and Psychotherapy) and later in the week, Dr. Aaron Proffitt of SUNY Albany joined to discuss his research on Pure Land Buddhism in Japan.

Science classes have seen several visitors so far this semester, with Karen Holl PhD '85 visiting a class to present about ecological restoration, and scientific diver Steve Resler speaking to a Marine Biology class. The excitement doesn’t stop there in science, as Science Instructor and Sara Lee Schupf Family Chair in Curriculum Excellence And Innovation Megan Labbate’s chemistry class experimented with magnesium ribbon and fire during what was for some, an early experience in a science lab. Peering through blue glass, students held the ribbon in a flame until it was ablaze in white light for a few moments before fading, then recorded their observations. 

Science isn’t the only subject getting experimental. Students in Computer Science and Math Instructor Chiara Shah's class were asked to film a classmate making a volleyball or basketball shot, and come up with three questions about the situation that could be answered with math (for example: how high did the ball go?). Later the video will be analyzed by the students and they will answer the questions by using Vernier Software and the math skills that they are learning.

In the language department, students are exploring words on the page: Students in Holly Ye's Chinese Culture class practiced Chinese calligraphy following a presentation from a fellow student! "They enjoyed the practice, and made some awesome masterpieces," Ms. Ye said. Their work is on display on the second floor of Slocum. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Matera’s Latin III class is getting into the Emmaween spirit with Roman curse tablets. After learning about Roman magic, the students composed curses and inscribed them on sheets of metal before rolling them up and driving nails through them. Their classmates then imagined themselves as present-day scholars, unrolling the sheets and making pencil rubbings before transcribing and translating the curses. 

Of course, this is only a small glimpse into what’s going on in classrooms (and beyond) at Emma Willard School. Our academic program is focused on what matters most in learning—relevance, enduring understanding, and multidisciplinary connection—in order to educate a generation of learners ready and able to meet the most pressing issues of our time. 
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    • Students show off their Chinese calligraphy work.

    • Chinese calligraphy in class.

    • Peter Hatala's class with a virtual visitor.

    • Peter Hatala's class with a virtual visitor.

    • A student transcribes a Roman curse onto a metal tablet.

    • Students make rubbings of their classmate's curses to translate.

    • A student drives a nail through the tablet.

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