Monthly Archives: December 2014

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18 12, 2014

Ancona Announces Summer Program

By |2018-12-17T11:36:00-06:00December 18th, 2014|Parent News|0 Comments

journeys.fwAncona is excited to announce what is going to be the best summer ever! Journeys is a dynamic series of adventures that immerse students in some of the most compelling and relevant experiences of today. Using Chicago’s experts and the city as the backdrop for these experiences, Journeys explores four fascinating and educational two-week adventures that students can take with them forever. Each Journey lasts for two weeks and students have the option of taking one or combining two, three or all four!

Has your child ever wondered what it would it’s like to be a reporter? Explore Reporting the City!

Does your child have a passion for sustainability and learning about being more green? Explore Greening the City!

Would getting hands-on experience and joining the Chicago makers movement get your child inspired? Making the City!

What if your child could participate in real life experiences that shape them into global citizens? Spanish in the City!

Registration for Journeys opens Monday, January 19. Stay tuned for more information.




16 12, 2014

Your Ancona Experience Matters

By |2018-12-17T11:36:01-06:00December 16th, 2014|Parent News|0 Comments

review us_revisedThe holiday break is a perfect time to reflect on your family’s experience at Ancona. Has your child flourished in ways you’ve never imagined? Is your child inspired to come to school everyday? Please don’t keep it a secret. Prospective parents are online everyday searching for our school and reviews make a significant impact on their decision to come see our school in action. Search for Ancona online to be one of the first to write a google review!

16 12, 2014

Student Groups at Ancona

By |2018-12-17T11:36:02-06:00December 16th, 2014|Parent News|0 Comments

sstThe Student Support Team (SST) is excited to announce a number of group opportunities to our student community. Groups are terrific opportunities for students to share experiences, thoughts, and feelings around a shared theme or topic in a protected and supportive environment.  Groups will meet for a limited number of sessions, and be organized with what makes most sense for each child developmentally. They will be scheduled via collaboration with the SST and teachers so as not to conflict with the academic and social needs of the students. Insofar as we have had such group opportunities in the past, they have been popular with both kids and parents.

The following groups are being offered now at Ancona:

  • Ancona School GPS: Learning the to Navigate Your New School
  • Let’s Be Friends:  Friendship/Social Skills
  • Getting Rightside Up When Life Is Upside Down:  Families in Flux
  • Footprints:  Coping with Grief and Loss
  • Keeping It Cool:  Coping with Anxiety and Stress
  • Si, se puede! Yes we can! Improving Self-Esteem

If you feel that your child may benefit from one or more of these group opportunities, please click on the interest form. Teachers may also recommend students for particular groups, and we imagine that some children will recommend themselves. Parents will always be notified before a child is invited to join a particular group. For more information about how a group experience might benefit your child, please feel free to contact the school counselor, Tony Gleason.

12 12, 2014

5 Things Every Parent Should Get from the Admissions Process

By |2018-12-17T11:36:02-06:00December 12th, 2014|Expert Advice|0 Comments

fiona professional headshot_300pixsBy Fiona Farrahi, Director of Admissions, Marketing and Communications


For most families, the admissions process is daunting. Although most independent and private schools have one, all are not made equal. When parents ask me about the admissions process, I have lots of advice, but mostly I try to get across that every school culture is different and every admissions director handles the process according to their specific school culture. Below are five take-a-ways for families in the admissions process.

1. The process and the school are one
There is one thing I know for sure; never separate the process from the school. How your questions are answered, how much time you spend talking to administrators face-to-face, how and if you get to spend time in the classrooms, all of this is a direct sampling of the type of interaction you will have going forward. Not getting questions answered or calls returned is a sure sign that what’s ahead won’t be any different. If you just can’t seem to get a real feel of the school community through the admissions process, there’s potential that things may not change once you enroll.

2. All access
One of the most important decisions of your child’s academic and social development is in your hands. Every admissions process should afford you the opportunity to talk to teachers, parents, students, alums and administrators. As a matter of fact, you should be provided with all access. I personally prefer to hold open house events on school days. I do this because I want parents to see a real day in the life at my school. I want them to get a survey of the students and envision their little one sitting in those chairs or playing that instrument in the music class. When I interview families, I always ask them if they want to see more of the school or if they want to meet with our division head. Our current admissions process encourages parents to visit one or two classrooms. Just recently, I had a parent ask to visit four classrooms, noting that she wanted to get a sense of how the road ahead looked for her three-year-old. I truly believe that if we did not offer the flexibility to do this she may not have chosen our school. Any school, no matter how big, fast and strong, should be open to sharing any and everything with you, no matter how many times you ask.

3. Clear understanding of the educational program
Whether the process takes you to the admissions director, division head or head of school, you should walk away with a sound understanding of what type of education your child will be embarking upon. Is it play-based? What is the high school record? Is there an emphasis on a certain type of learning (e.g., project-based, experiential, inquiry-based)? Most importantly, every person you connect with should be saying virtually the same things. The themes should be matching up, the culture should be connecting, and your perception and understanding should be growing deeper with each encounter.

4. Understanding and expectations of the process
Every step of the process you are expected to undergo should be outlined either on the website or in the admissions materials. You should be provided an outline or overview of how long the process will take and all the people you may be required to meet. Some schools require that families meet with both the admissions director and the head of school. Others require that you meet with members of the school community such as the advancement officer or trustees. Wherever the process takes you, you should have a clear road map to get you through the process that includes decision letter deadlines, interview dates and all parties involved.

5. The right to choose
Many of my colleagues are going to squirm at this, but the need for the school to be the perfect fit for your child and family is far greater than the need for you to meet the contract deadline demands of a school that may not be your first or best choice. Admissions Directors are people too and in most cases, if you ask them to provide a modest and reasonable extension on your contract deadline, they should. I once had a family on the wait list who shared with me that the “other” school they had applied to was using very intimidating tactics to get them to sign their contract. They even went so far as to give this family a time stamped deadline. I know that some schools fill up fast, but this kind of pressure is not representative of the best practices outlined in the national standards and best practices for enrollment management professionals. Bottom line, you have the right to choose, and no admissions professional should intimidate you into thinking otherwise.

Contact us for more information.

4 12, 2014

Registration is Now Closed for The Ancona Effect!

By |2018-12-17T11:36:04-06:00December 4th, 2014|Parent News|0 Comments


Head of School-Elect Ari Frede is looking forward to an exciting discussion with the Ancona community about our competitive program. Thank you for registering for this highly anticipated event! In an effort to ensure this conversation is productive, we have closed registration. Please arrive on time and prepare for an evening of compelling conversation with light fare and refreshments for all. This event is for adults only so please ensure that your child stays in our arranged childcare group for the duration of the evening. We have arranged for students to enjoy fun group activities and pizza. We’re looking forward to seeing you next week!

The Ancona Effect takes place in Mitchell Commons, Tuesday, December 9 at 6:30 p.m. Contact the main office for more information.

4 12, 2014

Ancona’s Teaching Model Takes the Stage

By |2018-12-17T11:36:04-06:00December 4th, 2014|Parent News|0 Comments

Sylvia_teaching.fwAncona Teacher, Sylvia Glassco is presenting at this year’s NAIS People of Color Conference! Sylvia will be unwrapping her project based work at Ancona with the Social Justice Data Fair, and teaching other educators how to model it to engage students in data driven mathematizing. If you see her in the halls next week, ask her about her experience!

4 12, 2014

Winter Concert at Ancona – A Musical Masterpiece

By |2018-12-17T11:36:06-06:00December 4th, 2014|Parent News|0 Comments

performance_winter concert_webThe Ancona Community is invited to attend our annual Middle School Concert, Thursday, December 18 at 6:00 p.m. Students will be performing an array of musical selections. Experience the dynamic music program in action.Please join us in supporting our young musicians!

Note to band parents:
All 5th/6th band and advanced band participants should be in the gym no later than 5:30 p.m with instrument and sheet music. IPA performers should be in the music room at 5:30pm.

4 12, 2014

More Arts @ Ancona: The Fine Arts Program

By |2018-12-17T11:36:07-06:00December 4th, 2014|Curriculum Connection|1 Comment


We are always looking for ways to incorporate and integrate art into the student experience at Ancona.  Our art teachers, Angela Ford in the primary grades and Janet Musich in the Middle School, couldn’t agree more that art is an essential part of educating the whole child. This is apparent in their overview of the art program:

“Our art program develops visual literacy in our students and empowers them to be both creators and appreciators of visual art in all of its fluid and ever-changing manifestations. We accomplish this in a balanced and sequential program that is pedagogically consistent throughout all eight grades. Self-assessment and critical thinking skills are emphasized, and our instruction proceeds in an interrogative format with the active participation of students in discussion. Students are encouraged to bring their own objects, ideas, experiences and inspirations to share in class with teachers and students alike and to recognize that everyone brings expertise and knowledge to the table.”

Like other subjects at Ancona, art education is child-centered. By basing both their appreciation and their developing skills on their personal experiences of the world, and by using high quality tools and the best practices in the discipline of art, Ancona students engage as authentic artists in exploring and expressing the world around them.  They express their own ideas and imaginings in a wide variety of media and to authentic audiences whenever possible.


Artistic Experimentation

When the mind and the hand are both applied to an exploration of the world, things can be unpredictable, but it is often by experiencing the unexpected that children construct an understanding of their world. Finding the right color, creating the right line, and capturing the right contour to recreate the subtleties of a leaf, feather, or a butterfly wing — the “feel” of those natural surfaces–all require iterative attempts and fine adjustments. The Color Experimentation unit in 1st and 2nd grades allows students to try out many variations of pattern, contour, and color to create their own renditions of specimens they gather in their environment. As Angela says, “Autumn provides a nice backdrop for exploring nature’s treasures and transformations through observation and documentation. We notice the brilliant and unique color patterns on autumn leaves, the diaphanous nature of butterfly wings, the smooth skin of apples, the ribbed surface of pumpkins, the softness of feathers, and the intricate design of an osage orange. We discover ways to capture the characteristics of these objects through continued colored pencil experimentation.”

This year, Angela added a new component to the color experimentation unit and was very pleased with the results. After creating rubbings of leaves (more than one so that they could choose to work with a favorite or with a variety) and then coloring them in with pencils as in years past, students also tried using paints to capture the subtle hues they observed in the original leaves. The result was very satisfying, both because the paints blended beautifully to reproduce the transitions between colors and also because the tendency for the paints (watercolors) to overflow boundaries seemed to capture the authentic nature of fall leaves with their overlapping of color and contour in their natural environment.  It was felt liberating to the students who did not feel compelled to “color inside the lines.”


Art as Seeing

What does a marching band look like from above? What does my house look like on Google Earth? These kinds of inquiries get students thinking about the world from a bird’s-eye view and other unusual, seldom-experienced perspectives. Looking at things from unfamiliar perspectives not only expands our view of the world, but also prompts more abstract inquiries into our assumptions about it. Exploring objects this way can increase students’ understanding of the way they perceive and represent objects. In the two-dimensional composition unit, students “consider the phenomenon of the horizon line, the place where the sky meets the Earth. They think about the horizon line in different environments, such as a beach, downtown with tall buildings, in a neighborhood and at a park or playground. They explore the mechanics of vision and prove that people and objects diminish in size and clarity with distance.” But the experience of perspective goes beyond simple observation, as “Each child takes a turn on the playground running away from the group while the other students observe the runner decreasing in size the farther away s/he runs.” Making such real-world connections helps students grasp abstract concepts more securely.


The Science of Art

One of the goals of Ancona’s art program is to equip students with the tools, techniques and strategies artists use to manipulate the materials and media of artistic production. In the 7th/8th grade Linear Perspective unit, students explorate one and two-point perspective, which they study both as a historical development in art and a method for rendering space and geometrical objects. perspectiveJanet describes this middle school art unit as a confluence of these approaches: “Linear perspective was a major development in artistic and mathematical expression in the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance in Europe. The representation of built environments and architectural drawing are heavily dependent on a firm grasp of this concept, and students are introduced to this mechanical drawing technique through the geometric solids. Lessons are built on the intuitive knowledge that things seem to get smaller when they are more distant. Drawings of multiple receding shapes are followed by patterned surfaces on polygons. Students also consider the use of linear perspective in compositions by Edward Hopper, Di Chirico, Da Vinci and others. Works of art are evaluated to yield information about whether lines of perspective are mechanical and incidental or deliberate and adding to the information or content of the work.”

Just as in the primary grades, it is the actual production of art juxtaposed with the historical and conceptual context that makes true understanding and effective skill-development possible. “As part of their exploration of linear perspective, students accomplish a drawing of a single building in a landscape in proper perspective. Many students go on to draw multiple buildings and points of view and add details such as streets, sidewalks and interior space. Weather and time permitting, the students go outside to observe and record visible perspective in the built environment.” Understanding single and two-point perspectives empowers students to enhance the realism of theirs drawings and to further their ability to interpret and appreciate other works of art. It also serves as a foundation for future artistic endeavors, such as the 3-D Construction Project, in which “students consider the relative stability of triangles and squares as a basis for construction. Beginning with a rectilinear shape for the base, students add layers constructed out of toothpicks and glue determining configurations that have the maximum stability as the structure progresses.” There are many potential applications of the geometric and mechanical understandings students construct in this project, such as in the design of earthquake-proof building in their 7th/8th grade science unit on seismology.


The Art of Science

During one of our fire drills this fall, some of our younger students happened upon a recently deceased yellow-bellied sapsucker. The bird was almost perfectly intact, with only the eyes eaten out by the first round of scavengers. The bright red nape and mottled black and white wings were brilliant in the autumn light, and Janet could not let this specimen go to waste, so she gathered it up gently and preserved the bird’s carcass in her collection in the freezer near the art room. This bird, like the other specimens she and Angela have collected over the years, children:hummingbirdwill serve our students (and teachers) to engage in close, careful observation of the world, helping them to understand through concepts like proportion, shape, coloring, and even weight (density) how the world and its creatures function. As Janet writes in one of her unit overviews, “The concept that form follows function is beautifully demonstrated in the anatomy of birds, providing an excellent introduction into the mechanics and aerodynamics of man-made flying machines.”

The relationship between form and function has been linked to a science unit on the invention of flight in years past to offer insights into how flight is accomplished, both by birds and by aeronautical engineers such as the Wright Brothers.bird drawing The study of science and social studies at Ancona involve the arts extensively, both in terms of technique, such as when students use scientific illustration to heighten their powers of observation, and in terms of appreciation and understanding, as when students examine the cultural artifacts of other peoples and periods of history to better grasp their values and their social and political institutions. This year,when 5th and 6th graders will be studying the Middle Ages, they will explore the roots of some of the cultural and economic forces that shaped European society by examining, well, a root vegetable with a very interesting history: the carrot. The introduction of the domesticated carrot from Afghanistan during the 15th Century is just one way–in this case, a very colorful one–to explore how an exchange of ideas and goods can transform societies. Stay tuned . . .



Arts Electives

7-8 mosaicAs one way to offer student choice at Ancona, 7th and 8th grade students are able to choose among three electives throughout the year. Each series of workshops, called Creative Expression Lab (CEL), runs for about 12 sessions, during which students can explore an area of the arts they find interesting. The workshops offerings usually include options mosaic2in the fine and performing arts, and occasionally in digital media; recent examples include mosaic tile design, Rhythm and Blues, Hip Hop Theater and A Capella Choir. Many of the electives allow students to produce or perform something for the school community. For example, the Mosaic Tile workshop completed a mosaic map of Spain last year and is busy creating a similar map of this year’s curricular focus in the Spanish program: Mexico, Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. These maps–four of them eventually–will adorn the hallway in the old building, contributing to the beauty of our school. Performances are also offered by workshop groups; some of these will be featured in our next Curriculum Connection on Performance and Process at Ancona.


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