Second Annual Mini Courses Offer Students Experiential Learning

Gretchen Lee

As part of the continued effort to offer students "experiential" learning opportunities, grades 8-12 participated in a wide variety of mini course offerings during the week after the Thanksgiving break. Middle School students also had the opportunity to enjoy one full day of mini course offerings.

Based upon the success of last year's program and data collected through a student poll, SRDS faculty members developed course content with the goal of teaching important skills such as creativity, critical thinking, research, collaboration, applied learning, problem solving and public speaking. Courses were largely taught on campus with some including opportunities to venture out on field trips that provided experiences to see connections between the instruction in the classroom and the ‘real-world’.

Students were given the opportunity to select a mini course that appealed to them for the 4-day session. The mini courses culminated with students presenting their projects to peers, teachers, and community members. Some of the course offerings included:

The Science of Food - Molecular Gastronomy: taught by Biology teacher Dr. Vanessa Robinson and Science Department Chair Anastasia Kelly, students explored this innovative style of cuisine and learned how chefs borrow tools from the science lab to add to their food ingredients in order to expand culinary possibilities. Students made 'mocktails' in ice spheres, caviar out of olive oil, and disappearing transparent raviolis. They then shared their culinary delights with the community.

Pedaling Across New Jersey: taught by Math teacher Dan Lipper, students learned how to plan and train for a multi-day bicycling trip through NJ; they took a trip on the Saddle River County Park Bike Path for their final project. 

The Secret Ingredient: taught by World Language teachers Alex Giannotti (French) and Lina Akula (Arabic), students explored French and Lebanese cuisine and produced an authentic cooking show.

Publishing an Issue-based Magazine: taught by Graphic Arts teacher Joanne Ciuccio and friend to SRDS Bimpe Fageyinbo, students planned, wrote, edited and published an issue-based arts magazine called "PERSPECTIVES: The Culture Issue."

Film Art & Appreciation: taught by English teacher Kathy Philipp, students viewed and deconstructed iconic films to learn the art of film making.

YouTube Content Creation: taught by Music Director Tyler Capa, students created content for YouTube by filming cover songs. Students had the opportunity to meet professionals in the field, learned how to create and edit videos, publish their work on YouTube and boost content through social media.

"Rebel Yell" - Songs of Protest: taught by technology integrator Verne Becker and History teacher Robert Kettlewell, students were introduced to the history of protest music through research. They wrote their own songs on topics of their choice and performed with two special guest musicians.

Silk Screening: taught by Art teacher Alice Steinke, students learned how to silk screen and create their own works of art.

Write the Play & Produce the Play: taught by English teacher Ken Alrutz, students wrote and performed their own play.

Middle School Mini Courses: organized by the Middle School administration and faculty, the Middle School participated in a variety of options, including a culinary course, acting course, choreography course, and a vocal session taught by Deonté L. Warren (Genie from Disney's Aladdin on Broadway).

Enjoy the photo and video gallery of our students engaged in their mini courses.