Fostering Future Leaders
Georgina Bruce, High School Instructor

This has been a fraught year for us all, and there seems to be no end in sight for the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet anyone watching the news will agree that there are equally serious issues to contend with elsewhere. From firestorms on the West Coast to hurricanes in the South and East, rising sea levels threatening human habitations from Fiji to Wales, and literally thousands of songbirds dying mysteriously in New Mexico and Colorado last week….
 
Science classes at Accelerated are working on creating awareness and brainstorming solutions for the future:
 
Our horticulture students are designing a virtual garden that will make the most of Colorado’s ever scarcer water resources. Clever garden architecture and the right kind of plants can make all the difference – and attract amazing wildlife to our doorsteps to boot. Even better, many of these tiny creatures work tirelessly on our behalf. They act as pollinators and even natural pest control. Some work as holistic remedies while others are good to eat and useful in concocting natural cleaning products or cosmetics. Well done, class, for all your research!
 
In biology, we have been studying arthropods – specifically Horseshoe Crabs. They’ve been around for 445 million years or so, which makes them twice as old as the oldest dinosaurs. Their unique copper-based blue blood contains a substance called "Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate” which is used to assure the sterility of medical equipment and virtually all injectable drugs. If you’ve ever had an injection of any kind or undergone even minor surgery, you have benefitted from these creatures. Ensuring the survival of these endangered arthropods is a most timely topic, given that the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine is on everyone’s mind: we need Horseshoe crabs for the development of a safe vaccine. Additionally, research into their complex compound eyes has led to a better understanding of human vision in the hope of developing remedies for some of the most devastating degenerative eye diseases.
 
The young scientists at Accelerated Schools are leading the way by creating awareness, and by example. We are proud of you all!
Middle School Making it Matter
Debby Sharp, Middle School Instructor
 
I’m pretty positive that everyone here in middle school is happy to be back in the classroom; mask, hand sanitizer, social distancing, and all! I was a little apprehensive when we first came back, but all the kids, for the most part, are being responsible and respectful when it comes to the COVID-19 restrictions. We have been going outside as much as possible for classes, especially in the morning.  

In Science, we spent the first week learning what it means to be a scientist. We learned there is a lot more to the experimental design than meets the eye. By the end of the second week, we were ready to design our own experiment; controls, variables, data graphs, and all. We had so much fun that I have designated Friday as our experimental design day. This week, we started our Earth Science unit into Weather and Climate. So, after we complete the experiments we started last Friday, our experiments will center around weather and climate measurable questions.

We have been exploring and learning about our government in our Social Studies period. We have learned about the structure and power of Congress. We also learned that introducing and getting a bill passed is NO easy task. We even researched the HEROes Act and found out many interesting details about this process.

In Math, we spent the first week-and-a-half, learning what it means to think logically because that’s how mathematicians think. We have reviewed the algorithms for multiplication and division because we can never get enough of that. Just last week, we started into some pre-algebra work by learning what integers are and are not, comparing integers, and adding integers. I’m very excited that all students are feeling confident and successful so far. But, shhh, don’t tell them it gets a wee bit more difficult.  

So, as you can see, we are off to an amazing start, and did I forget to mention we have met some awesome friends and learning buddies!
Why Math is the Most Hated Subject, and How to Fix It
Evyn Marsh, High School Instructor

Just about everyone I meet will tell me just how much they detest math. Of course, there are a few of us that find math fun, but when we consider the general population of people, I tend to find a strong positive correlation between math and confusion. Even though I've loved math from a young age, I've had times when my math classes went too quickly for me, left me feeling frustrated, and had me feeling like I wasn’t “smart.” That's why I feel it's so important to teach math the right way, with patience and compassion.
 
If you're taught math in a way that focuses on only getting the correct answer, of course you're going to run into frustration. Errors are more easily forgiven in other subjects than in math, and this shouldn’t be. For instance, misusing a vocabulary word in an English class might deduct a few points from your essay, but you will still get a good score if the rest of your paper has quality content. However, working on a multi-step math problem only to mess up one negative sign halfway through throws off the final answer and results in zero credit given. This can make people feel a lack of confidence in their math skills even when they are putting in the correct effort. Avoiding praise for "being smart" and instead focusing on praising effort is something I first learned about from Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy. Read this quote from Sal Khan about perseverance in learning:
 
“Recently, I put into practice research I had been reading about for the past few years: I decided to praise my son not when he succeeded at things he was already good at, but when he persevered with things that he found difficult. I stressed to him that by struggling, your brain grows. Between the deep body of research on the field of learning mindsets and this personal experience with my son, I am more convinced than ever that mindsets toward learning could matter more than anything else we teach.” 
 
I couldn’t agree with this statement more, as it shows off the importance of the struggle in learning. Learning isn’t easy, which is why it’s so important to have a safe space in a classroom to try, fail, and try again. Giving my students the feeling of confidence by knowing that their teacher has their back and will notice their efforts is paramount. This is why students should be taught to feel confident in their math skills when they are struggling, but still persevering, to find the answer.
We Won't Stop the Music
Valerie Montaño, Music Instructor

While things are pretty different this year, our students are just as awesome as ever. I am teaching music remotely with the help of our new teacher, Evyn Marsh, who is physically present in the carriage house classroom, helping in-person students with materials and equipment.

We use virtual “breakout rooms,” and to supplement, Ms. Evyn also carries her computer over to students, when needed, to ensure that the students and I can connect one-on-one. We have become quite savvy about getting clear camera angles so that I can see exactly what students have written, and what they are playing on their instruments. With these resources in place, I can give individual direction to each student. 

My desk at home looks like a “Peddler of Everything Wagon” with CD covers, cutouts, pictures, small whiteboards, flashcards, and more, ready to place in front of my computer camera when the time is right.

Students have mainly worked at piano keyboards at their own level to start the year. Also, one of our students has an original composition started, two are researching music, making lists, and writing commentary, and another student is practicing new music on his guitar in China. Also, as a whole class, we are listening to music from the Baroque period. Later in the year, we will study the music of the Classical, Romantic, and Modern periods.

With this fantastic teamwork happening at school, there will be much more music to come as the year progresses. Be well and stay tuned.
5280 The Denver Magazine, Septeber 2020 Issue, "Private Schools of Denver Handbook"
Liam Murphy, Community Outreach and Recruitment / High School Instructor

If you have not yet had the chance, please check out our latest ad in 5280 Magazine promoting the importance of Accelerated Schools of Denver to the parents & families of the educational community.

When making a school choice, families today can select from public schools, charter schools, online schools, and private independent schools. With more than 2,000 private schools in the United States educating more than 700,000 pre-k through high school students, private schools are popular because they offer families a school choice that challenges and nurtures, is mission-driven, and prepares their child for the future. Almost 100 percent of private school graduates go on to college or vocational schools, and half of those attend highly selective colleges.
Field Trip to the Downtown Aquarium
Kyle Pepper, High School Instructor and Enrollment Counselor

At Accelerated Schools of Denver, we believe it is important that students are exposed to the community and rewarded for their efforts in the classroom. Students who qualify are invited to join in on bi-weekly field trips, community outings, and college trips. During the winter months, we offer a ski program for those students who choose to participate. 
 
On Thursday, September 3rd, Accelerated Schools took its first field trip of the 2020-2021 school year to the Downtown Aquarium. The students had a great time exploring the museum and learning about different marine and aquatic animals. Some highlights from the self-paced tour were the flash flood cave and the chance to view tigers sleeping in the tiger exhibit! At the end of the self-guided aquarium tour, students that were daring enough were given the opportunity to touch, pet, and feed stingrays in a shallow pool!
 
We are looking forward to future field trips and community outings that we have planned for this school year! If you have any questions regarding upcoming field trips and community outings, feel free to contact Kyle Pepper (Activities Coordinator) via email at kpepper@acceleratedschools.org or by phone at (303)758-2003 ext. 214.
Never a Dull Moment
April de Roin, High School Instructor

World History- We are finishing up the Iron Age, the last of the prehistory ages. For our next unit of history, students will be doing a jigsaw. A jigsaw is a method of learning where each student researches, develops a project, and presents their section to the rest of the class. By the time that everyone has presented, the whole era will have been covered. I am very interested to see how they will bring history alive for their peers.

Physical Science- We have been studying Groups of Elements and valence bonding. I am hoping to end with the marshmallow bonding challenge. Students will have to match atoms to fill their valence shells.

English- We have been analyzing short stories. I am hoping to study poetry next. We have also done some writing work and some reading skills practice.

Creative Writing- Where to begin? One of my students writes short stories like Anton Chekov. Another is writing a contemporary short story. A third student is working on chapters for a book she hopes to get published. Two have finished senior papers and moved on. Two are doing creative writing while working on their English skills from overseas.
For more than 40 years, concerned parents have turned to Accelerated Schools for individualized learning programs helping students overcome challenges, and excel academically. The fact is, a traditional school system is not designed to meet the needs of every child. When a student is not being successful, or is not thriving in a traditional environment, parents must often look elsewhere for a solution. This is were Accelerated Schools comes in.

Accelerated Schools begins by creating a learning program designed specifically for a student. Our work points are toward changing the ratio of failure to success and by cultivating an environment of accountability. Our students are given attainable goals and are rewarded by celebrating their accomplishments. Once a student starts experiencing success, their attitude, motivation and effort improve dramatically. This ends the negative cycle and leads to positive academic progress and positive self-esteem. 
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