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Learning Outside the Classroom

December 5, 2017

The faculty in each department consider how best to add practical experience and cultural context to the material that students learn in class. Field trips offer students the chance to encounter what they study in class and to meet experts in the field. At Ursuline, at least half a dozen field trips took place in October and November 2017.

The Film Class visited the Museum of Moving Image, an interactive exhibition dedicated to the history and innovations of film, TV, and digital media. The trip included a visit to the new Jim Henson Exhibit, which includes many of the original Muppet puppets; computer-based interactive explorations of the history of film; and a viewing of the classic "I Love Lucy" chocolate factory episode, followed by a group discussion.

The Museum, located in Astoria, Queens, is an adjunct to the historic Astoria-Kaufman Studios, one of the largest operating studios with seven active sound stages and the only backlot for filming in New York. Sesame Street, for example, has been produced there since the 1990's. Each student in Mr. Lipitz's film class also received free return vouchers as there is so much still to be seen.

Some of our Ursuline student journalists had the opportunity to hone their craft when they joined high schoolers from around the region at the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Annual Fall Conference. Six editors and reporters from Unison, along with co-moderator Mrs. Beirne, attended a full day of workshops on how to find stories, how to report them, and finally, how to put them into words that will keep their readers interested.

They learned tips about layout, writing leads, and even how to create and run a website. Working reporters and editors, along with artists and school newspaper leaders from throughout the country shared their expertise with these budding journalists. Being at Columbia University, where the Pulitzer Prizes are awarded each year, was inspiring to all the students, and some may be interested in turning their experiences at Ursuline into a career in journalism.

Ms. DiIorio's 7th grade art students went on a class trip to the Katonah Museum of Art to view the exhibition OBJECT OUT LOUD: NICK CAVE AND ARMAN. Students learned about how each artist emerged from vastly different moments and backgrounds but shared a love of the commonplace, such as colorful sequins and chains or buttons and figurines. Through these diverse materials, the artists reflect on their experiences, shaped by the reality of the world around them. After viewing and discussing the exhibition with docents, everyone participated in a hands-on workshop and created personally meaningful shadowbox sculptures using found objects, paper, glue and their own words.

Mr. Monacelli took six students in Engineering and Honors Physics to the Engineering Tomorrow program where they took part in two hands-on projects. In the first, the girls designed and built windmills and then measured the power output generated in a wind tunnel. In the second, they used their imaginations to design, on paper, desalination methods, using everyday objects. The program included a presentation by college Engineering students about college choices, the value of internships and the career outlook for engineers.

Sr.Pat and the 6th grade visited Beth El Synagogue Center and enjoyed a special tour with Rabbi David Schuck who explained central elements of Jewish faith. They were privileged to watch closely as Rabbi Schuck read from the Torah scroll and how he used the yad - a traditional Jewish pointer - and followed along. This enhanced their study of Old Testament in Religious Studies class. That same day, the 10th grade went on their Personal Development offsite to hear guest presenter Stu Cabe of Ovation Company who reminded them of the importance of compassion with one another.

Ms. Vasile's Advance Placement English Literature class attended the matinee performance of Time and the Conways on Broadway. Mrs. Antonicelli's nutrition class visited the New Rochelle Farmers' Market and spoke to vendors about the benefits of buying produce locally. And Dr. Shamey's Latin 1 students completed a photo scavenger hunt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, in order to experience many different aspects of classical civilization and acquire a cultural and historical context for the material they are learning in class.

Faculty also go outside the classroom for enrichment, and professional development! Math teachers Mrs. Meechan and Ms. Civitano recently explored new ideas at the Chicago gathering of the National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics. One session presented the use of quadratics to further math concepts. Another was a panel discussion about math conversations with students.