The students that volunteer their time and knowledge on Reach a Student are eligible to receive community service hours. We are looking to expand our roster of academic and athletic mentors, interviewers, and video editors to help inspire and answer school-related questions.
Reach a Student is a website established to give students direct communication access to student mentors in various grade levels. Students will be able to reach out to other students and ask any questions they have regarding student and campus life. The site will also stream videos of students sharing their experiences at Windermere Prep as well as activities around campus.
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I remember when the first day the Turning A Page project was introduced to me in 8th grade I was nervous. I wanted to end middle school strong and so I decided to do something unique. I wanted to do something that no one had ever done before, and so I chose the topic of fortunetelling and mysticism. I recommend to students who are looking to challenge themselves to choose a topic out of the norm. By not choosing a hobby or something that I was familiar with, I learned new things. For example, I learned how to read fortunes and I studied the culture of gypsies and fortunetellers. I think that choosing a topic that you do not know well adds a completely new meaning to this project.
Many students may believe that they can start working on the project only a few weeks before their TAP presentation. I think that it is really beneficial to start working on TAP as soon as you can because it takes a lot of time to make your presentation the best that it can be. It gives you time to ask the teachers anything that you may feel concerned about.
Before you start writing your TAP script, start by writing out an outline. I personally preferred making a list. I numbered the list from 1-10 and then I wrote the class subject and explained how my topic could be connected to the subject. It helped to color-code the different class topics. For example:
1. Edgar Allen Poe (A Dream Within A Dream): Explained connection #1
2. Edgar Allen Poe (The Raven): Explained connection #2
3. Writing (Persuasive Writing): Explained connection #3
4: Writing (Foreshadowing): Explained Connection #4
5. The Giver (Conformity): Explained Connection #5
6. The Giver (Colors): Explained Connection #6
After you make your outline, you should show each of your teachers the connections for their class to make sure that they will accept all your connections. Also, it may be helpful when thinking of connections, to refer to Edmodo and look at all of the folders for each class. For math I went through the textbook and read the word problems because they can help for inspiration.
While you are thinking of connections, come up with your visual aids. You can make certain connections by using visual aids. For example, on my topic of fortune telling, I used items such as candles, a crystal ball, and tarot cards. Visual aids are extremely helpful if you know how to use them to your advantage. I made numerous connections to what I read on the different tarots cards. For example I had written:
In the picture of the sun tarot card, you see the planets revolving around the sun. Galileo Galilei, an Italian physicist, astronomer, engineer, and philosopher, proclaimed that the Earth and the planets in our solar system revolved around the sun – a controversial idea at the time as the common belief was that the planets revolved around the Earth. He was also known for throwing two rocks of different sizes off the Leaning Tower of Pisa to see if the heavier rock would hit the ground first. To his surprise Galileo discovered that the rocks, no matter the weight landed on the ground at the same time. As a result of his findings, Galileo theorized that objects of different weights and masses would have the same amount of force pushing them down.
It might be helful when starting to write out the rough draft of your script, to print out your outline. While you type different connections into the script, cross them out from the outline. By doing this you are making sure that you include all of your connections into your presentation. When you are first writing up your script, don't worry about making your writing perfect, just type an outline of your presentation just indicating how each connection will be used. Once you finish the outlining, then go back to finalize and revise it. With your finalized script, it is really important to time yourself as you read it out loud to make sure that your presentation will fit the 15 minute time frame. At first, my script was too long by several minutes and it took a long time to shorten my it down.
One VERY important thing that I learned while making my script is that it is more about making the connections than going extremely in depth on your actual topic. I struggled a lot with time because I had long sections where I talked about my topic and very detailed connections. If you are struggling with time like I did, first simplify the descriptions of your topic before making big changes to your connections. Remember that you are being graded more on the connections, than how detailed you were in explain the topic.
In your presentation, be sure to think of a way to interact with the teachers. Your teachers do not want to hear a 15-minute long speech; they want to feel as if they are being transported into the setting that you have created. Think of how you can use the space that you are given to your greatest advantage. Decorate your presentation area by making it authentic to your project. For example for my fortune telling topic, I decided to make a tent with a lot of gypsy fabrics and lanterns. I researched my topic to see how gypsies decorated their space for fortune telling. I think the visual appearance was one of the biggest contributions that made my project different.
When you are at the final stage of TAP where you are practicing the presentation, and you find it difficult memorizing the order of your script, it may be helpful to make a few note cards with generalized bullets that will prompt you to remember what to say next. Try to separate your script out into different sections and take some time every day to memorize each section one by one, this will make memorizing quicker. For memorizing, I found it helpful to read each section over and over again until I could say the written words without looking at the script.
During my time in middle school, everything seemed easy. Now there were a couple exceptions like TAP, but for the most part it was a breeze. I could go home do my homework in an hour and then watch TV or do something else. I had a lot of free time on my hands. At the beginning of the 9th grade year, I didn't think that 9th grade could be much harder than 8th grade. You would not believe how wrong I was. Now, most of the hard work came from my AP Human Geography class (which required at least 2 hours a night) and I was forced to learn how to manage my time well so I could have time to do some of my extracurricular activities, and other homework. The most efficient way to clear up time is to make use of your weekends. This may seem hard at first because your weekends are your only time off from school, but to manage an AP class with other activities you must utilize it. Utilizing the weekend can reduce the workload. You must stay organized during your 9th grade year or you will fall behind on your assignments. There are a few different apps that I recommend to get organized as they have helped me in the past. Using technology was a big help in knowing what is due and when.
The final difference between 8th and 9th grade is the immense pressure put on by college. When entering high school, you will have a moment of realization that now everything matters. Each test, each project, each choice that you make in high school will affect college. So in May, when you are looking at your course selection actually look at what classes you choose because those decisions can come back and haunt you. Make sure to pick classes right for you, not too hard or too easy but just right. You must put all your effort into each an every assignment because every grade matters and one grade can affect your quarterly grade in a positive way or negative way.
Since Reach A Student is all about getting and sharing insight within school communities, I was hoping to meet the new owners of our school - Windermere Preparatory School when I was on vacation this summer in Hong Kong. I honestly did not know what to expect from my visit to the Nord Anglia Education Head Office. Ms. Sarah Doyle had arranged for me to meet and interview the CEO himself, Mr. Andrew Fitzmaurice.
The interview was scheduled for 11am on a Thursday and our hotel was located in the tallest building in Hong Kong on Kowloon and their office was on Hong Kong Island so our taxi went on a short ride through a tunnel that crossed the famous harbor in just a few minutes. The drive only took a quick 15 minutes to reach St. Georges Building where Nord Anglia Education had the entire 12th Floor.
After a quick wait in their reception area, Ms. Doyle came out to greet me and take me to Mr. Fitzmaurice's office. He has a beautiful office with a great view of the harbor and the Hong Kong Eye (which looks a lot like the Orlando Eye). Ms. Doyle and Mr. Fitzmaurice were very kind and Mr. Fitzmaurice shared some nice stories about himself, his family and Nord Anglia Education.
Ms. Doyle was really kind and presented me with some literature about some of their programs as well as a boxed gift, which was very generous of her. They explained some of the opportunities that Windermere Prep students could now benefit from – like Global Classroom and the Julliard partnership. It was an amazing experience and I can't thank Nord Anglia leadership enough for their generosity with their time and for welcoming a student from 1 of their 41-school family.
If you would like to see some of the photos of my visit to the Nord Anglia Headquarters in Hong Kong, please click the main image and scroll to see more.
While I was in Hong Kong this summer, I not only had the opportunity to meet some of the people in the Nord Anglia Education Leadership Team, but I also got to visit one of the Nord Anglia schools in Hong Kong - The Nord Anglia International School (NAIS) located in Lam Tin. Hong Kong is a former British colony and there is a lot of European influence in the city and at NAIS.
The principle of the school, Mr. Brian Cooklin generously gave me a tour of the new school, which just opened this past September (2014). Mr. Cooklin also allowed me to interview him for Reach A Student and share his insight. Besides the school tour and interviewing Mr. Cooklin, I was also able to interview a Year 5 teacher, Mr. Williams, and his student Ava.
This year was the school's first year operating as a new school, and I must say that it was amazing how developed they were for a school still just 9 months old. Prior to becoming the campus of the Nord Anglia International School, the property was previously used as a Catholic Boy's School and when that school moved out, Nord Anglia was awarded the space to use. I learned that there was a lot of construction that needed to be done and everyone worked very hard to get the school ready in just a few months for new students to begin classes last September.
The learning environment is really beautiful and the students and teachers I met were all very nice and welcoming. NAIS follows a British curriculum and that might be the biggest difference between the Nord Anglia International School and Windermere Prep. I spent a long time looking at a lot of their students work, much of it on display in the corridors and I can tell you that it is all of very high quality. Mr. Cooklin explained they use Nord Anglia Education's High Performance Learning techniques and I was very impressed by their approach.
Another difference that I really like was how they separate students in the school into 4 houses; Windsor (red), Sandringham (yellow), Caernarfon (green) and Balmoral (blue). These are the names of grand homes and castles in the United Kingdom. When students do something well, they are given a colored token that represents their house which they deposit in clear cylinder at the front of the school. The cylinder with the most chips at the end of the year wins, so there is a lot of team or house spirit. These houses also compete in school competitions against each other throughout the year. I thought this house system was really unique and fun.
All their classrooms were well designed and the school had excellent learning facilities. They had a gymnasium similar to ours at WPS, an Art room, Computer Lab, A full Science Lab, Library, Music Rooms and so much more. I saw students doing drama, playing in their playground where Mrs. Cooklin had painted a beautiful Panda and so many other things you might see at a school in America, only this wasn't America, it was all in Hong Kong – a city on the other side of the world from Windermere Prep. Needless to say, I was beyond impressed and it makes me happy to know that we are now a part of the Nord Anglia family of schools.
If you would like to see some of the photos of my tour of the Nord Anglia International School, please click the main image and scroll to see many more.
Besides Global Classroom, there is also a program that might interest aspiring WPS musicians and it is called Global Orchestra. This past March musicians from all the Nord Anglia schools were invited to audition for the opportunity to be selected to participate in the Global Orchestra summer school in New York from June 24th to July 1st. This year 34 singers and 46 instrumentalists were chosen from Nord Anglia schools around the world and spent their week attending music workshops and participated in practice sessions conducted by music experts. This is another wonderful opportunity for Windermere Prep students because we are part of this large family of schools.
Nord Anglia Education will be providing Windermere Prep student with access to their program known as The Global Classroom. This program offers students the opportunity to connect with other students from the other 40 Nord Anglia schools spread around the world.
Global Classroom will allow our students to experience diverse perspectives, new challenging concepts, topics and ways of learning. They accomplish this by using 3 methods:
An Online Learning Environment
Students can connect with students in other schools, debate with them and learn new concepts and ideas. As Mr. Fitzmaurice described, a student who was studying the effects of pollution on plants in China, could connect with a student at one of the Nord Anglia schools in China and get a perspective that you wouldn't find in a book.
Students are challenged in competitions to find new solutions to current problems that plague our planet.
These events bring Nord Anglia students from across the globe to work on community service projects, develop leadership skills towards instilling a sense of global citizenship.
I feel strong that bringing Global Classroom to WPS will allow us to learn and experience new topics and expand our global view. This year Global Classroom offered an opportunity to students to travel to Tanzania in Africa where they could volunteer to help the people there and have other unique experiences.
As a student, I am really excited to use The Global Classroom this upcoming year.
The Juilliard School which was founded in 1905, is a world leader in performing arts education and it is not surprising that students at our school are really interested in finding out more about the partnership between Nord Anglia Education and The Juilliard School.
I think we will see curriculum changes, which will begin with music but will extend into the other performing art categories. WPS musicians will soon be exposed to a "Juilliard-curated repertoire" of music that represents different genres, styles and cultures. Nord Anglia students are to gain understanding how music functions and how it fits into the human experience.
Windermere Prep teachers and students will benefit from being connected to Juilliard's network of teachers and performers. Also, Juilliard teaching artists will be sharing their insight with the Nord Anglia teaching community. The result of all this is so that students at Nord Anglia schools receive the highest level of performance art teaching available.
Performing arts is something that is really important to students at our school and that is why the partnership between Nord Anglia and The Juilliard School will be a huge benefit for our school. Clearly, this will help to enrich our performing arts curriculum as described above. Students will be able to connect with Julliard's countless performers and teachers. I think that this can only help inspire students to excel in this field.
If you are an 8th Grader like me, you probably have a lot of questions about course selection for next year. One of the most difficult decisions I think I will be facing as I enter high school, is whether or not I should challenge myself and take Mr. Zoslow's AP Human Geography class. Over the past week, Reach A Student mentors have been receiving a lot of questions about this class and some students suggested we interview Mr. Zoslow. He has been kind enough to share some of his thoughts and if there is a question you would like him to answer, please email them to me at email@example.com and I will be happy to forward them to Mr. Zoslow for review. I will keep updating this blog post, so be sure to check back often for the latest Q & A.
When you spoke to the 8th graders about your class a few weeks ago, you said that there would be 90 minutes of homework required every day, even on weekends! Students have pointed out that the workload for the same class in other schools in Central Florida, is not as rigorous, do you think this is true and if so, why is there a difference?
I cannot speak for other schools, but these students at WPS in 8th grade can ask former AP students at WPS with regard to whether the rigor prepared them not only for their exam in May but also better prepared them to step into IB.The rigor of AP Human Geography should not be seen only within the context of this one class but also within the context of creating a competitive academic edge for pursuing the most challenging course work through the WPS IB programs.
Another question asked by a student was how were they expected to do 2 hours of extracurricular activities, plus your class homework as well as homework from other rigorous classes?
Each student should choose a level of challenge that is most appropriate for them to pursue, some course selections are less rigorous and should be selected by those who place a higher value on extra curricular activities. WPS provides a curriculum to suit everyone's desired level of rigor. Students highly involved in athletics, robotics, theatre and so on have moved through AP Human Geography with great success because of their desire for rigor both within and outside of the classroom, as well as aided by a strong sense of discipline, organization and commitment. Please reach out to students who have completed AP Human Geography in order to get a peer perspective on the course.
How can 8th graders prepare themselves for your class next year, maybe something over the summer?
Please see letter below.
Is the summer reading the same book that you will be using for your class or is it just a supplementary resource?
Please see same letter below. However, should any student enrolled for AP Human Geography wish to have a text for preview over the Summer they are more than welcome.
Besides the summer reading, do you have any other suggestions that might help students perform better in your class or to be more efficient in their homework?
Read this website's blog for insight from one of the current AP Human Geography students. Discipline, organization, commitment, and a high work rate are beneficial qualities that ease the transition into AP Human Geography. Making the jump from Middle School academics to college level academics is difficult.
How important is note taking in your class and if so, what are some good note taking tips that you can give to your students?
It depends on the student...some students require significant note taking whereas others are better suited to focus on listening and mental processing skills. Also, participating in class discussion is critical to higher level thinking and for students to better integrate themselves with the materials on a richer and more meaningful level.
What are some good ways for students to study for your exams?
Use the course study tools, Textbook, Outlines, Essential Daily Questions, Vocabulary, and after school study sessions, and using these study tools daily to build up the maximum possible knowledge over time for the exams.
Why do you think students should take your class?
This course is not about what I think but about what students think and value...if academic rigor on a college level as a freshman in high school is a valued challenge then wonderful, if not, then that is wonderful as well. "Know thyself..."
To go along with my previous question, what do you think is the core message of your class and what do you stress most for your students?
Again, this class is not about me but teaching to an international standard that will be tested on a Global scale in May...AP Human Geography is about everything there is to know about the world today, to even attempt mastering this takes significant risk taking, hard work, and humility -the understanding that there is much to learn in less than 10 months. These qualities also happen to be or are similar to the IB Learner profile qualities.
Is there anything else you would like students to know?
My door is always open, for those in AP Human Geography, and for those who pursue other paths, every answer will always lead to another question and to that end it will be my pleasure to answer in person any questions concerning any element of the high school experience.
Dear AP Human Geography Students,
I look forward to working with you at WPS as your AP Human Geography teacher. Your suggested Summer Reading to best prepare you for the course is as follows:
Barron's AP Human Geography, 5th Edition (paperback)
Authors: Meredith Marsh, Ph. D., and Peter S. Alogona, Ph. D.
Publisher: Barron's Educational Series, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1-4380-0282-8 (unique identification number for text)
This text and edition provides you with an initial diagnostic exam, as well as dividing the course into sections with exams to test your understanding and retention of material. Additionally, it breaks down material into simplified units for increased comprehension.
This text cannot guarantee results. However, by reading through the materials your understanding of the course information will be richer, and the transition into your AP Human Geography course will be made more seamless.
Should you or your parent(s) have any questions please do not hesitate to e-mail me. I will have only sporadic access to e-mail over the Summer, and e-mail will be the best manner to communicate with me. My best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy Summer!
Justin Lee Zoslow
Social Studies Faculty Residential Dean
I hope everyone has an amazing New Year! I would like to thank Valentina G., a 12th grade student mentor on our site, for suggesting blogging which will add a unique aspect to Reach A Student. This already proves the importantance of peer to peer help and support.
Our goal at Reach a Student is to help the students at Windermere as much as possible by providing tips and help from a student's perspective. Answering questions is a great way for students to connect and share with one another, however, the knowledge shared is limited by the questions asked. Blogging allows students to share their thoughts more freely and anyone can provide their peers with whatever information they think would be beneficial.
Since I believe that every student has some kind of insight that could be useful to others at WPS, anyone can contribute their own personal entries to the blog. I can even make your entry anonymous if you choose to. I also believe that the WPS teachers have valuable experience from when they were students (for example, how they faced and overcame an obstacle that a student might be facing today), so I reach out to all WPS faculty and hope you will contribute to our blog.
If you would like to submit a blog entry, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.