October 15, 2021

Greetings Symbiosis Learning Center Families, Teachers, and Interns!

Hope you are all enjoying this beautiful weekend!  Here is some of what’s happening in our classrooms! (Math is individualized for each student and not included here. Let us know if you would like an update on your child’s math progress.)

Also, a few other notes:
1. Spaghetti & Meatballs tomorrow! Vegan option available.  
2. Hayride and pick-your-own pumpkin field trip is Friday at 11:00 AM to 1:15 PM at Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, MA.  $10 per family. Let’s meet there at 10:45 – park in regular parking lot and walk down to our reserved picnic area.  Bring lunch. Let me know if you can come!
Class Updates!

A World of Particles:  The students have been learning more details about atomic structure. Using the periodic table, we determined the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons of different atoms. We also discussed isotopes, including those that are stable and radioactive. To understand radioactive decay and half-life, we completed an activity using red licorice as our radioactive isotope. Our next chapter is called Moving Electrons, and we will learn about electron configurations in an atom and the role electrons play in forming ionic compounds.

Financial Literacy
Spending Wisely:  We have been learning about savings accounts and the process of saving money. The students learned how to calculate interest payments and ending/beginning balances. We also studied the power of compound interest and applied present and future value to calculate discount factors. We analyzed data from savings spreadsheets to draw conclusions about savings strategies and to determine the amount of time it would take to save a specific amount of money. Next week we will begin learning the ins and outs of checking accounts. 

Writing your way to confidence 
As we prepare to craft our first formal writing, we are taking our time and working through the all-important steps of the Writing Process together. Though they may be at a bit of a disadvantage, the fact that some students were absent last week gave us ample reason (as if we needed more) to review. The plan is to take at least one class on each step (i.e., rewrite, draft, revision, and editing) and to guide the students step-by-step through the Process. As we will be starting the draft Monday, I also plan (thanks to Kristine’s idea) to turn what had been planned as a Review Day (in which students would be invited and encouraged to ask questions) to a combination Review/Conference day in which I will also spend time individually with each student discussing their progress and hopefully eliciting some comments and questions that they might have otherwise been reticent to share.
The students have already shared some fascinating and diverse ideas for their papers and I look forward to proceeding with and learning from them!
10/12 Tues DnD
We started by leveling everyone’s character up to level 2
The party continued travelling northward, and their new companion, Tony, told them he had a task to complete as initiation into a “group” he’s joining, and he wants their help.  He has to retrieve a certain flower- but that flower tends to attract monsters. 
Today was a bit looser and more casual than usual- wanted to make sure everyone got to enjoy their pasta lunch and the start of a short week! 

10/13 Weds Book Club
We read Anton Chekhov’s short story, Joy.  We discussed whether the man in the story is under the influence of the head injury he has suffered- or whether his behavior is actually more understandable and more common than it seems.  We discussed the desire for fame and attention, and what people are willing to do to achieve it. 
We also went over the concept of Chekhov’s Gun, since we were already talking about him- including how it’s used in well known stories to this day. 
As always, the last chunk of class was set aside for the students to read on their own

10/14 Thurs DnD
This group also leveled up to start the session, and then were asked by Tony to help with his mission.  He brought them to the gorge where a cluster of flowers he was told to retrieve are blooming- but they’re being guarded by a Griffon (who seems to see these flowers as a ‘catnip’ of sorts)
Through some shenanigans and some strategy, they manage to distract the Griffon and snag the flowers, then escape
The flowers bloom and open up at midnight, creating a glowing trail that continues North, presumably leading them to their next clue on this mission.

10/14 Art
We looked once again at an artist we discussed once last semester- Manga author, Yoshihiro Togashi- as an example of using ink, pens and paints to create varied types of lines and textures.  
Then, students picked “the weirdest pumpkins they could find,” to use as reference for their drawings.  Using a collection of paint pens, brush pens, and other ink based tools, they illustrated their pumpkins at a variety of angles, paying close attention to the unique bumps and shapes of each one.

Spanish 101
This week in Spanish 101 we have been continuing our Unit 2 theme of la familia y la casa. Today we presented our family tree projects! We started talking about la casa and the Spanish words for the rooms in a house. We will be learning more Spanish words to describe furniture and other parts of the house next week. Upcoming events in class include a “my dream house” project and a fiesta at the end of the month! Have a great weekend!

World History
We wrapped up the Encounters Between Christianity and Islam section, so we made the short trip to the continent of Africa.
In our African history section we are exploring the role of oral history and storytelling, and our reliance on Griots. Griots are poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in Africa. Pre-1490s Africa is unique in regards to primary source material because we do not have as much written documentation as ancient Greece or Rome. Some theorize that the modern day successors to Griots are ‘slam poets’ and Rappers. We analyzed a Griot poem about hunting and gathering for food, specifically elephants. Then we learned about the Aksum kingdom that reached the height of its power in the fourth century A.D. Aksum is located in modern-day Ethiopia, across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday we mapped out trading routes and the economics of providing goods and services in the port city of Adulis, the chief seaport of Aksum. We are fortunate to have a travelers and a shopper’s guide to Adulis written by a Greek sailor 2000 years ago so we read and made notes about that together.

October 7, 2021

Greetings Symbiosis Learning Center Families, Teachers, Interns, and Staff!

Please enjoy update on what is happening in our classrooms!  Monday we will  be having spaghetti & salad lunch using an electric countertop burner brought in by one of our families (thank you Makaih!).  Vegetarian and non-vegetarian options will be available.  Let me know if your child will want spaghetti and please have them bring in $3-5 and/or some salad fixins, pasta, sauce, or parmesan cheese. (Please remind your child to have some money with them in the event they join the Starbucks group when they walk over with intern(s) to get a treat!)

During “Advisory,” students have an opportunity to ask questions about assignments and share thoughts about classes.  This is also a time when they log in to their Google Classroom Advisory & Homework Folder and review the homework for the week.  In their groups, they complete the “What I learned this week” form together.  Students also spend some time organizing their handouts and notes in their binders – and having their homework ready to turn in that day.

World History I – Dave Tamasy
This month we focused on Encounters Between Christianity and Islam to 1500. Class activities have been focusing on complex and very old primary sources with challenging vocabulary. We’ve been learning about the religious and political origins of conflicts between Islam and Christianity, including the causes, course, and consequences of the European Crusades against Islam in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries.  

We read a primary source from 1191 by Beha-Ed-Din describing The Massacre at Acre of prisoners during the battles between Muslim leader Saladin and English King Richard (the Lion Hearted). Crusaders took over the city of Acre and killed 3,000 Muslim prisoners. The goal is to consider the point of view and the motives on each side of the conflict.  

We just finished an active reading and note-taking project about the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries.  Here we read a primary source document dated 1493 titled “The Tribute of Children” describing the form of slavery in the Ottoman social structure. Slavery was common and slaves had the opportunity for social and political advancement.  The readings assigned as homework describe cultural diffusion in 3 Muslim empires and the building of the Taj Mahal during the Mugal Empire in India.

Chemistry – Samantha Rowe
The first three weeks of chemistry have been an exciting introduction for the students with hands-on activities, discussions and focused work. We started with an introduction to chemistry and matter. We went over laboratory safety rules and basic laboratory equipment. We talked about matter vs. non-matter and how to distinguish between them. The students learned about the tools chemists use and got to practice performing and recording measurements with a ruler, digital scale, and graduated cylinder. They used the water displacement method to calculate the volume of different objects and used that information to calculate densities. They each constructed a graph with their data and used it to determine the volume of oddly shaped substances that are difficult to directly measure. This past week we started a new chapter where the students were introduced to chemical vs physical properties and reactions, the differences between an element and a compound, and the law of conservation of mass. The activities this week included making oobleck to observe the different states of matter and color-coding a blank periodic table in order to learn the groups, basic trends and structure of this important tool in chemistry. Next week we will be busy learning all about atoms and the particles which are contained within them and how they behave. Other important topics for this week will be the composition of stable and radioactive isotopes, fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.

Writing your way to confidence – Matt Robinson
Since the beginning of class, we have been building a foundation for improved communication (and thus stronger communication confidence). Starting with grammar, we moved on to sentence structure and then the basic elements of a paragraph. Along the way, we looked at some effective note-taking methods that will hopefully help engage texts in an efficient way and also talked about bias and other matters to consider when engaging and writing texts. We are currently discussing various parts of an essay (e.g., introduction, conclusion) and are on our way to our first formal writing assignment which will be a summary. Everyone seems to be engaged and the questions and comments are flying. A teacher could not ask for much more!

Spanish 101 – Rachel Taylor
Hola, families! So far in Spanish 101 we have been reviewing and learning more about the Spanish basics. This includes: Colors, numbers 0-100, animals, and an introduction to some basic grammar such as definite and indefinite articles and verbs. Recently we have combined our knowledge of articles, colors, and animals by writing short sentences to describe the color each animal is. Coming up, we will be beginning Unit 2 and learning the different phrases that can be used to describe the people in a family and the Spanish words for household items. This week we completed Unit 1 and everyone did really well on the Unit 1 test! Next week, we will begin Unit 2 which will cover more grammar material and the new themes of “families” and “in the house.” 

Math Groups – Samantha Rowe

The geometry group learned how to recognize and name points, lines, segments, rays, planes, and angles. We discussed sets and the meaning and symbols for union, intersection, subset, and empty or null set. The students identified coplanar and noncoplanar geometric elements. Interpreting geometric diagrams is critical for this class and the student had lots of practice over the last three weeks. They also used a protractor to measure and draw angles and learned to recognize the vertex of an angle. 

Algebra 1
The algebra group has been reviewing and practicing pre algebra skills. These include, types of numbers, graphing real numbers, absolute values, real number properties, fractions and integers (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing), variables, constants, and algebraic expressions. 

Pre Algebra
The pre algebra students have been reviewing arithmetic and order of operations. We are now focused on understanding the language of algebra. Topics included expressions and equations, properties of the four operations, simplifying expressions and the distributive property.

Middle School Math Group 
We are reviewing and honing our skills using the four basic operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The students are learning mental math strategies to help them find solutions. We are also cementing multiplication facts using  mnemonic strategies.

Financial Literacy – Samantha Rowe
The students began learning important aspects of building a solid financial foundation on their path to building their future. First they learned some astonishing statistics about trends in the U.S. with regard to spending, debt and saving. We discussed key considerations important for deciding how to spend money. These included needs vs. wants, total cost, taxes, and long-term value. Then the students discussed how to establish a good plan which includes creating a budget. We went over different types of income, monthly expenses and how to put it all together in a spreadsheet to stay on track and analyze the estimated vs. actual budget. Next, we will discuss smart saving including the different ways to save money and creating savings goals.

Teen Talk – Interns Abby, Anh, Sofia
The past few weeks we have been encouraging the kids to interact and connect with their peers.  We have looked at common interests that they share and other hobbies as well.  We have also encouraged the kids to come up with some healthy coping mechanisms that they can use at points where they feel overwhelmed or stressed.  We also discussed how they can support one another as a community.  

Next week we will start “Mythology for Teens,” reading aloud classical myths and relating ancient stories to the culture, history, art, and literature of today.  The book we will be using prompts students to question topics such as vanity and greed, fate, revenge, forgiveness, love, and national identity.  All topics and discussions are age-appropriate and the “tweens” may at times form their own group separate from the older students.  

Book Club – Kristen Kern
Week 1-2
We read “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, then went through the poem and replaced all of the “nonsense” words with “real” words to create a very different story.  Then, we repeated this exercise, but could not repeat any of the same words chosen for the first version.  This way, we ended up with two very different moods and stories from the same base. The goal is to emphasize the importance of choosing certain words to create a specific image for the reader.  Word choices matter! 

Week 3
We discussed two Emily Dickinson poems- “Because I could not stop for Death” and “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”, in addition to talking a bit about Emily Dickinson herself and her life.  We covered some of her struggles as a deeply introverted, possibly neurodivergent and possibly queer female writer, and that her poems were mostly published post-humously. We related the themes in her work to the pressures of social media to be seen and known (particularly relevant in “I’m Nobody!”), and discussed the complications of work being “adapted,” separately from the original intent of the author, which happens constantly now, with holywood currently obsessed with adaptations. As always, we ended the ‘class’ with ten minutes of time for the students to read their own books of their choosing. 

Dungeons & Dragons – Kristen Kern

Tuesday Group
1.  Woke up in Fairland on a dirt road with a note in their hand directing them to the second floor of the Dandelion Tavern that evening.
They go and are told the second floor is reserved, but they show the notes they have and are allowed up.  They introduce themselves to each other, then are joined by a man who calls himself Matthias.  He claims he’s met people like them before- people who were taken from their home place and time and shunted into this world.
He offers them gold and information in exchange for acting as his bodyguards for a time, but doesn’t offer much detail.  They agree, only to immediately be attacked by a bunch of thugs storming the tavern looking for Matthias

2. The group finished off the thugs who were trying to attack their new employer, but quickly noticed the scent of lantern oil, and so used some creative means to escape the now-burning tavern.  In a panic, they escaped town on horseback, while still pursued by the remaining members of whatever group is after Matthias.As night falls, the party and their horses need rest, so they take cover in some bushes off the main road, hoping that their pursuers also need rest and if they keep out of sight, they should be safe for the evening. Thursday GroupThis group began the session dealing with the now-on-fire-tavern situation.  The party managed to escape through various means, while checking to ensure that the civilians got out as well (notably, Felix’s character knocked an enemy out by accidentally falling on him from a second story window) A chase on foot and then on horseback followed, and then the party set up camp when night fell.  During Alex’s watch, he discovered some kind of oversized wolf monster, and we’ll pick up next session with figuring out how to deal with that.

Thursday Group
1. Their circumstances are the same as the other group- having woken up in a strange place with a note guiding them to a nearby tavern, where they meet Matthias, who makes them an offer of gold and information in exchange for protection.
The attack on the tavern commences, and some of the party keep their distance and try not to get involved while the others fight alongside Matthias.  However, when we wrapped up the session, at least one of them had picked up the scent of lantern oil from downstairs, and it seems the situation is rapidly escalating. 

2. This group began the session dealing with the now-on-fire-tavern situation.  The party managed to escape through various means, while checking to ensure that the civilians got out as well (notably, Felix’s character knocked an enemy out by accidentally falling on him from a second story window). A chase on foot and then on horseback followed, and then the party set up camp when night fell.  During Alex’s watch, he discovered some kind of oversized wolf monster, and we’ll pick up next session with figuring out how to deal with that.

Art – Kristen Kern
1. We looked at the work of Art Nouveau pioneer, Alphonse Mucha, as an example of how to properly use references from photos and real life to guide your artwork.  Afterwards, we reviewed and discussed facial proportions.  We first made a loose diagram of a face to understand the generic proportions of a human face, then we looked at a few illustrated characters to see how those proportions were utilized or subverted.  We used these characters as reference for a few practice drawings.

2. We tried something a bit different this week- I had the students draw a portrait step-by-step along with me.  I used the whiteboard to break down the process of drawing a face so that they could each follow along. After the initial portrait, I opened up the floor for some suggestions for characters to draw, so we did two more together, noting the ways in which even very different looking characters can be broken down into the same basic process. 

Music – Ryan Cimon
For music class this year, I hope to engage students in learning musical concepts taking a less traditional approach to musical education.  We focus on learning music, while also making sure everybody is happy and comfortable.  Students can learn music they bring to me, as well as songs we like to make up.  The goal is to surround ourselves with music that doesn’t overwhelm, but excites.

March 4, 2021

Here is an update on our classes, details about the field trip tomorrow, a request for permission to post student testimonials on our website; and enrollment for Fall 2021.

Field trip tomorrow  (TICKETS MUST BE PRESENTED AT ENTRANCE OF PARK – DIGITAL TICKETS FROM THE TRUSTEES OF RESERVATIONS WILL BE FORWARDED TO YOU.)  COST IS $10 PER PERSON.  Please give to Kristine in cash or check payable to Symbiosis Learning Center.

Student testimonials
Fall 2021
Class News

Field Trip tomorrow:  
Those of you who are coming on Friday, let’s meet there at 11:00 AM.  Our allotted time is from 11:00 – 1:00, and the indoor museum is only accessible to us during the 11:00 – 12:00 window.  Guests must present ticket at entrance.  I will forward the tickets to you via email.  The cost for tickets is $10. You can give me cash or check payable to Symbiosis Learning Center.  Here is a link to their website for the address and more information:  de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum.  (Text or call me at 617 564 1089 if you need to reach me.) 

List of RSVP Yes’s!
Kristine & Lucinda
The Rowe Family
Brad, Lilah, Kristopher Staeban
Alex and Joel and Cyon Sawady
Jimmy Driscoll
Ella and Nicholas Adams
Godson Tompson
Jamie Herland

Fall 2021:
If you are planning on returning for Fall 2021, please let me know as soon as possible by completing the Enrollment Form here.  Once I receive the enrollment form, I will send out an invoice requesting a deposit by May 1st and payment in full by July 15th.  As always, installment options are available.

Class Updates:

Earth and Environmental Science – 
In Earth and Environmental Science we finished the unit on environmental health with an in-depth look at toxic substances in the environment and how they affect living organisms. The students were introduced to the topics of bioaccumulation (the buildup of toxic substances in living organisms) and biomagnification (the increased concentration of toxic substances at each step in the food chain). Another aspect of environmental health introduced was how natural disasters affect living things. Volcanoes, earthquakes, storms and avalanches were discussed. As an extension of our discussion on household products and environmental health, students learned about the chemical reaction that produces soap (saponification) in which a fat, lipid or oil reacts with an aqueous alkali to form a fatty acid salt (soap). This week students made their own bars of soap.

3D Design – This week continued our introduction to the new software Blender.  We finished making the basic shape of a wine bottle, with its curves, bends, and bumps.  We finished the week with starting the project of making a tree shape.  This uses the same tools as the wine bottle project.  The tree is just a larger project that requires more fiddling, tinkering, and trusting your eye.  This should give the students something to consider and fiddle with over the break week, should they be inspired by Blender.

Brad’s math – This week we finished folding the modular crane and then began talking about how all the angles and shapes talk to each other.  How one shape informs another and can let you know what the angles are.  We also measured all the angles with protractors to see if we were speaking the correct language.  We finished off the week by looking at the area of a circle and how that formula is created just by drawing triangles in a circle.  

Dungeons and Dragons Weds 2/24 (Kristopher, Lilah, Nick, Ella, Shane):
First investigated the camp where the missing soldiers were last spotted.  They found it picked clean of anything valuable, but did manage to follow some tracks towards a nearby forest. 
Once there, they attracted the attention of two Oni, who were fearsome, but entirely blind.  Once the party discovered this, they used magic and misdirection to get away, then investigate the forest further.  
Eventually, they found a secret trap door in an old, rotted out tree trunk.  On entering, they’ve met what appears to be a commune of thieves who all share the same name to avoid detection.  Next session, they hope to learn more from these thieves. 
Thurs 2/25 (Alex, Sebastian, Jimmy, Ben):
The gang spent most of this session in combat against the two blind Oni that had been attracted to their location by seemingly intentional sounds used to get their attention. It was a tough fight, Alex’s character even getting briefly knocked out. 
Overall though, everyone handled the challenge well and used their characters’ abilities to the fullest.  They survived the encounter, killing one Oni and scaring off the other, and we left off on the party discovering the tree trunk concealing a trap door into the ground. 


– This week, we started working with color!  We began by reviewing the color wheel, primary/secondary colors, and looking at the works and theories of Josef Albers, Then, we applied what we learned to looking at movie posters, superhero designs, and other modern color choices. 
– The students then created color “swatches” of the primary colors, then practiced mixing the secondary colors, then lighter and darker shades.  
– Finally, we tried out a quick song exercise – we listened to “Riders on the Storm” (jointly chosen by me and a couple of the students) and the students used colors and lines to express what the song felt like to them.  I hope to try this sort of thing repeatedly in the future as a more relaxed “cool down” activity that will allow the students to work with color more freely 
– I was thrilled to see that they were fascinated by how brush cleaner works lol.  Everyone helped me clean up a bit, which was lovely, since we did go a few minutes over-time.

Academic Writing 
These past few weeks we have been working on picking a topic and creating a research paper. This week we have been discussing how to find articles and use them as resources. The students have been working one-on-one with the interns who have been helping them develop their ideas and begin the writing process. We can’t wait to see where their research will take them! 

Spanish Conversation 
This week in Spanish we played Spanish BINGO where the students were exposed to a variety of words, and were able to practice them throughout the game. Throughout this class we are trying to come up with fun interactive ideas, and this past week we also watched COCO in Spanish, which was a big hit. We are excited to learn more about the Spanish language and the culture. 

Teen talk 
In Teen Talk we had an open discussion about “social thinking” and our nonverbal communication skills. During our discussion we talked about how to present ourselves appropriately by the way we use our body language and tone of voice. We discussed how these are important skills to have and will continue to practice in the future, and the students were able to connect and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.

February 3, 2021

We are happy to welcome our new intern, Godson Tompson, a senior psychology major at Lasell University. Godson loves sports and looks forward to getting us all outside to play some kickball, basketball, and volleyball when the weather warms a bit. He also enjoys bowling, go-carting, museums, music and anything that keeps him active.  We are also so happy that Jackie, Isabel, and Jamie are back this week.  It isn’t quite the same here without them!

Upcoming important dates:
February 15 – 19 – Center is closed
April 19 – 23 – Center is closed

Below are updates on what is happening in History, Earth and Environmental Science, 3D Design and Printing, Brad’s Math Group, Art, and Dungeons and Dragons!  Will send notes on Raspberry Pi, American Sign Language, Spanish Conversation, and Creative and Academic Writing soon!
In History we have been discussing the history of the House of Tudor monarchy from England. We discussed the reign of Henry VIII and how his desire to have a male heir and his multiple marriages forever changed the power of the monarchy in England. Plus we discussed how his six marriages and the murdes of two of his wives reflect on his legacy and character. We also discussed his eldest daughter Mary I who is best remembered for the many executions under her reign that mainly attacked Protestants and how she struggled as a Catholic ruler in a mainly Protestant country. In one class, students were asked to write a paragraph using text-based evidence to support their claims on why Mary is widely remembered for the executions she ordered. We will be wrapping up our study of the House of Tudor by studying Henry’s youngest daughter Elizabeth I and her legacy and will compare it to her father and sister. 
In current events, we talked about several things including the inauguration of Joe biden, the second impeachment of Donald Trump, and Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

Earth and Environmental Science
The past two weeks the students have been learning about environmental health, including environmental and social health hazards, infectious diseases, epidemiology, and toxicology. They have begun an in-depth chemical investigation to assess the health hazards of common household products. We will continue to explore the chemistry of hazardous chemicals present in the home by creating structural models of these chemicals and understanding how they react with other substances in the environment.

3D Design and Printing

This session in 3d Design/Printing we have started off with a large class project.  Creating a castle siege game.  We have brainstormed the basic make up of the game, targeted the parts that need to be engineered, and assigned teams and individuals to begin making and testing prototypes.  This is our largest project yet and will take the next 2 to 3 months to complete.

Brad’s Math Group
This week we have delved into geometry.  We are using origami to look at how shapes, angles, and lines are interacting.  Geometry is about how all of these pieces talk to each other.  Realizing what that conversation is reveals many things.  We made a modular compass star and started on a modular crane.  Along the way we are analyzing the shapes and angles, measuring them, and discussing the interactions between them all.  

Dungeons & Dragons

Wednesday group
Lilah’s character discovered that the ‘dead end’ in front of them was an illusion by charging into it and falling on the floor on the other side.  From here, the final challenge against a stone golem began.  It was a tough fight, but they eventually took it out.
The Sphinx gaved them several rewards for surviving the labyrinth, including gold, healing, and a bag of magic beans.  It then teleported them back to the capital where their whole first job had begun.  
Back just outside of the city gates, they decided to try out one of those magic beans, and by random dice roll, it spawned a monster they had to fight off.  Nbd.
Thursday group
The bulk of the session was the combat encounter with the stone golem.  This was tough going, but Jimmy’s character eventually managed to force the golem to remain inactive long enough that the sphinx appeared and yelled at them for being “dumb mean cheaters.”  At this point, they managed to make a deal with the sphinx that they would play with her for a bit before leaving, and she was thrilled about this arrangement.
The party received the same rewards as the other group, plus one small extra protective item for Sebastian’s character, then were teleported back home.  They spent some time identifying the magic beans and learning a bit about magic items in general
The group returned to their employer, the Exalt, who was pleased to hear of their successes.  Their boss, Brutus, received word during this meeting that a battalion of soldiers had gone missing, and so tasked the party with hunting them down. 

 Students filled out an index card with info about what kind of art they’re interested in learning, what kind of art they like to look at, their favorite movies, shows, video games, etc. and a few songs that have been stuck in their heads. With this, Kristen has a fairly solid idea of their own goals and what kind of media interests and engages them.
– We discussed that making art comes down to 1. technical skill, developed through practice, critical observation, and challenging our own assumptions, and 2. making conscious decisions.  To illustrate the first point, we did an exercise where each student drew an eye first from memory, then with a reference.  For the second point, we looked at two paintings (The Death of Socrates and The Treachery of Images) and had a group discussion about what choices were made to create the piece and why.  
To give students the tools to break down anything they want to draw into basic shapes, we practiced by drawing the shapes and lines identified in a collection of still-life images.  Then, the students drew their own still-life compositions, first from a photo reference on screen, and then from real life objects in front of them, always focusing on making the process easier and more effective by focusing on basic lines and shapes, critical observations, and comparing objects to one another.

January 31, 2021

Due to the impending snow storm, Symbiosis Learning Center will be closed tomorrow, Monday, February 1st and Tuesday, February 2nd. Stay safe and warm, everyone!

December 11, 2020

Greetings Symbiosis Learning Center Families, Interns, and Staff!

I would like to first say THANK YOU to our wonderful and amazing interns, Jackie, Isabel, Sydney, and Jamie for everything you do for us.  Your kindness, positive energy, and hard work are invaluable to the success of our learning center.  To Sydney, we didn’t get to give you a proper good-bye, but please come visit us when you return from winter break!  (We have to get your handprint on our “Intern Wall”!)  To Jackie, Isabel, and Jamie, we are so happy you will be returning next semester to continue your internship with us.  Have a peaceful, safe, and relaxing winter break with your loved ones!  We are so grateful for you. 

As we begin our final week of the term, I wanted to send out a few updates to families and staff – Students will be working on completing their final projects during the final week and I will be sending out photos and videos, so please stay tuned! On Friday, December 18th, from 11AM to 2PM, we will be celebrating with waffles and hot cocoa, bingo and prizes, and other fun activities!  Please let me know who can come. We will be sharing final student assessments with you by the end of the week!  If you would like to discuss your student’s progress and learning with us, please let me know and we can schedule a time to meet. In the meantime, here are a few of our class updates…

Earth and Environmental Science
For the past few weeks in Earth and Environmental Science we have covered a unit on communities and ecology. This included identifying the different trophic levels in an ecosystem, understanding how inefficient energy transfer affects community structure, and examples of the way the laws of physics control ecosystem function and the interaction between biotic and abiotic factors.
We also completed an exploration lab where the students dissected owl pellets to determine the owl’s diet and to construct a food chain to show how energy is passed from one organism to another in an ecosystem. The students assembled and identified the bones present in the owl pellets and constructed a display. They also learned the process of owl digestion, including anatomy of the digestive system. 
Finally, the students were introduced to soundscape ecology, a specialized field of ecology and environmental research. In addition to learning the new term, soundscape, they were also introduced to the terms bioacoustics, geophony, biophony, anthrophony and anthropogenic, all important aspects of soundscape ecology and bioacoustics research. They watched a short TED Talk given by a leading soundscape ecologist, Dr. Bernie Krause. He discussed how soundscapes have been altered by human actions in the last few decades and how this indicates the negative impacts on ecosystems. 

3D Design & Printing The last couple weeks have been “Let’s focus and get things finished.”  Throughout the class there is a mix of in-class projects, to teach certain techniques or thought processes, and personal projects.  With multiple projects there have been many students with projects at a late prototype stage.  We are working on getting those final issues overcome and final creations manufactured.

Language Arts We completed our identity projects with everyone creating a silhouette cutout of images and words that shape who we are.  As part of the project, students wrote poems and narrative essays about important events and memories that have influenced them.  This last week we read the fable, “The Moth and the Star,” and compared the message with the story of Philippe Petit who walked across a tightrope between the Twin Towers.  Students learned the difference between a formal and informal email by sending their essay analysis in email format to the teacher.  (This makes me think that students might begin thinking about opening a more professional email account.  We can open a Symbiosis email account for those who would like one.)

Dungeons and Dragons
– Wednesday was almost entirely housekeeping matters- everyone leveled up (level 6) and Shane and Michael created their characters (Jimmy was a huge help getting Shane set up), and we caught up newbies and each other on basic plot stuff up to this point.- The party arrived safely on the shores of the mainland and were guided to the capital city, where they will soon meet the Exalt and learn more about the types of adventures they’ve been employed to undertake. – We all discussed their answers to my character prompts as a group, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that just about everyone had responses for every question and seemed comfortable discussing it in person,- On thursday, Alex’s character got involved with some shady folks, who promised riches stashed away in the sewers beneath the city.  They and their companions went forward with this plan, and our session ended in the middle of combat with some ooze-like creatures in the sewage. 

OCTOBER 24, 2020

  • Next Friday, October 30th, we are planning a Halloween party from 11AM – 3PM.  The plan is to carve pumpkins (and roast a lot of pumpkin seeds!) and watch the movie, Princess Bride.  Students can wear a costume and should bring lunch and a pumpkin and carving tools!
  • On Friday, November 13th, at noon, Mitchell College is planning a Zoom meeting presentation for us on its different programs and admissions requirements.  I’ve asked that the presentation address the application process specifically for students who complete their requirements with Symbiosis Learning Center.  Please let me know if you will be attending and send along any questions you might have now and I will ask him to answer during the presentation.
  • This Wednesday, October 28th, at 330 PM, an admission counselor from Landmark College (and a mother of an alumnus who has ADHD), developed a webcast to provide in-depth information about the range of supports for neurodiverse students in post-secondary education today.  Here is a link to the webcast for those interested:  Navigating the College Search for Students Who Learn Differently.  Admissions will also send me a copy of the slideshow that I will forward to all of you.
  • We are sad to say goodbye to our second Dungeon Master, Matt.  Matt has accepted a full time job offer and has brought on a friend, Kristen, to take over the position.  We hope this one stays with us!!
  • Leo Rusinov, the Math in Real Life teacher, has also let us know that he will not be continuing teaching due to his concerns about the virus.  We have been filling this time with other activities, including improv games, an Astronomy lesson with Alex, and independent work.  If you have any work you would like your student to work on at the center with a tutor/teacher, please let us know.
  • I will be sharing with all of you a google doc with class updates and student progress reports at the end of this week.  I will send out a sign up link next week for any parents and caregivers who would like to schedule a meeting with me and the other teachers to discuss your child’s learning and their experience here at Symbiosis.
  • I will also be sending out invoices for the spring term requesting half of the tuition payment by December 5th, and the other half by January 5th.  If there are any changes in enrollment, please let me know, and/or any need for an adjusted payment plan.

OCTOBER 3, 2020

Earth and Environmental Science

This week in Earth and Environmental Science we investigated the relationship between climate and trees as well as the Vermont maple syrup industry. Students considered the habitat and living conditions of a typical maple tree, and the ideal weather conditions for maple syrup production. Students graphed and analyzed long-term climate data from the region in and around Burlington, VT.  

3D Design and Printing

This week was independent study on both the class project and personal projects.  The main challenge for some of the students is the need to clearly define their personal projects, while for others it is not.  Everyone has made good progress on the class project of reverse engineering the spinner.

Nature Journaling

This week, we read aloud short biographies of two environmentalists, Rachel Carson and Jane Goodall, and discussed the impact of their work.  While some of the students focused on independent work and enjoyed our natural surroundings, others worked on using graphic organizers to outline their compare and contrast observation notes on trees from last week.  Some of the students chose to write about Carson and Goodall in their compare and contrast essay.  I’ve encouraged students to continue working on their essay independently and share what they’ve written next week.  On Tuesday, we will be creating “found poems.”  Found poems enable students to compose poetry by ‘borrowing’ lines from a text, or several texts.  For this activity, we will be looking at national park brochures and generating a list of words and phrases, then combining them into a poem, filling in with words of their own.  I will include some examples in my next update!  We will also visit the Lasell pond and take notes in our journal and create some other forms of poetry – zigzag, haiku, and acrostic.


On Tuesday, we focused on discussing the 4th Social Ethic in the yogic practice: moderation. We explored where we find ourselves out of balance off the mat (eating too much sweets, not enough sleep, too much TV, etc.) and then did a flow, paying attention to where creating balance between effort and ease helps to sustain the pose. Next week we focus on the 5th and final Social Ethic, letting go of expectation. Can’t wait to discuss with these amazing yogis!   
Updates on Dungeons and Dragons, Music, History, Teen Talk, and Math in Real Life next time!  Math at Your Level is very individualized and difficult to include here – will be part of student progress report.

I’m excited for our owl visit on Friday.  I am a lifelong owl lover. My nickname when I was little was búho – the Spanish word for owl, because I didn’t sleep at night but would sit at the window and look out at the moon.  

Have a peaceful evening and rest of your weekend.  

My Best, Kristine

OCTOBER 3, 2020

Weather permitting, next Friday, October 9th, from 1:00 – 1:45, “Eyes on Owls” will be visiting Symbiosis Learning Center!  A dynamic team of passionate bird lovers will introduce us to live owls and teach us about their habitats and adaptations, food chains, predator-prey relationships, anatomy, physiology, ecology and wildlife observation, all in an interactive forum. Mark and Marcia Wilson both have a degree in Biology, and are teachers, photographers, and writers.  Here is a link to their website for more details:  http://eyesonowls.com/.  I’ve attached below a description of Mark Wilson’s book OwlingEnter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night (Storey) 2019 for anyone interested. They will bring copies of the book to the presentation. Program will include a slide show and ‘hooting’ lesson!
Let’s plan on arriving between 11:30 and 12 and enjoy lunch together (hopefully outside).  Interns will have planned activities starting at 1030 for those students who would like to arrive earlier.  We will plan to end the day by 2:30 PM.
Please let me know as soon as possible if you will be able to join us.  If not enough people are able to join, we will need to reschedule.  All family and friends are welcome! (Let me know who will be attending so I have an accurate count for the presenter).  
I hope you all have a nice and relaxing weekend.  Stay tuned for a weekly update on class activities and projects a bit later today.
My Best, Kristine

SEPTEMBER 24, 2020

This update includes details about our hike tomorrow; an upcoming Zoom presentation; as well as a brief summary of what we have been learning in some of our classes.
Hike tomorrow, Friday, September 25Let’s plan to meet at 1030 (changed from the original 10:00 time) at the Trailside Museum at 1902 Canton Ave in Milton, MA.  Bring water and a picnic lunch and an extra layer.  I’m thinking we will be back to the bottom by 2-3.  Let me know if the change in time is a problem – I can be there at 10 if necessary to meet anyone who is being dropped off.
Here’s who I have on the list as coming:
Ella and NicholasBen and Sebastian (and mom and dad)Lilah and Kristopher (and dad)KeiraAlex (and dad)
Please let me know if you are coming and not included on the list!
Mitchell College Zoom PresentationFriday, November 6, 2020 at 12 noon.  Colin Brady, Director of External Recruitment and Student Success, as well as current students at Mitchell will talk with us about the programs offered at Mitchell as well as the admissions requirements and application process with a focus on Symbiosis Learning Center students. Please let me know if you will be attending – and the time that works best for you on this day.
Class Update:
Morning meetings – This time gives us an opportunity to check in with each other and share a personal story, project, or thoughts about classes or anything else.  We have been practicing some simple Spanish conversation as well.  Martin Haroutounian has been joining us with an “instrument of the day” and given us a little ethnomusicology lesson on each as well as a brief musical excerpt from a popular song.  


On Tuesday, he brought in a saz (Persian: ساز‎, “to make; to compose”, pronounced [sāz]) and played for us showing us his circular breathing technique.


On Wednesday, he brought in a hulusi (traditional: 葫蘆絲; simplified: 葫芦丝; pinyin: húlúsī), also known as the cucurbit flute and the gourd flute.  It is a free reed wind instrument from China, Vietnam and the Shan State and by the indigenous people of Assam.


Today he brought in a quena (hispanicized spelling of Quechua qina, sometimes also written kena in English).

Earth and Environmental Science (Samantha Rowe)


The first day of class was an introduction to Earth system science and the four interconnected spheres that make up the Earth system. We walked to the pond at Lasell University. This became our study site to observe and infer connections between the different elements of the Earth system contained within the biosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere. There was a great blue heron awaiting us when we arrived. 


Continuing our study of the Earth system, the students annotated a photograph of the pond and its surroundings. They described interactions between elements of the different spheres. We discussed the movement of energy and matter throughout the Earth System.


This class period introduced students to the scientific method, and we discussed how scientists investigate the natural world using a transparent method of inquiry and peer review. We discussed the scientific method in relation to the work of bat scientists studying white nose syndrome, a fungal infection that has threatened bat populations in the U.S.


We continued our study of the Earth system by comparing our study site to other regions. Some specific topics covered included:  Earth’s energy balance, how a change in one element of the Earth systems affects others, the movement of matter between spheres, and the differences between open and closed systems.


We began a new module focusing on climate, weather and the biosphere. Students chose a tree to study to observe and understand the effects of changes in climate on the health and growth of the tree. We discussed the differences between climate and weather, as well as natural climate variability vs. climate change.
3D Design and Printing (Brad Staeben)
In design we approached an in-class project that started with a focus on building using negative space.  This showed the need to plan ahead in many projects and helped students learn or re-familiarize themselves with the most important tools in Tinkercad.
In the printing aspect we have downloaded the slicer for everyone and began showing everyone how to manufacture with the 3d printer. 
Nature Journaling (Kristine Fringer)
The first week of class we spent observing the natural surroundings of our learning center.  Through a combination of sketching, labeling, recording thoughts, and forming questions, we used numbers, words, and drawings to record in our journal what we noticed with our eyes, ears, nose, and touch.  During one of our classes, we each selected leaves from various trees and bushes and sat quietly with our journals to record our observations.  We then placed our leaves in a central area and shared with the class our observations.  Students then tried to guess which leaf was being described.  Next week we will be taking our “compare and contrast” notes on different trees to develop a short essay.  
U.S. History (Katie Marotta)
9/10:-we started to talk about the constitution, asked students if they knew anything about the constitution beforehand. We also spent the first 15ish minutes of class talking about the events of September 11th as the anniversary fell on the day after we had class.
9/15:- We started to go through Article 1 of the constitution which discusses the Legislative Branch. We talked about the Senate and House of Representatives, the requirements to be in Congress, etc.
9/17:We finished Article 1 of the Constitution by discussing the powers of Congress and different things they are able to do under the Constitution. The 17th also marked the anniversary of the signing of the constitution so at the beginning of class we went over some interesting facts about the constitution. 
9/22:- At the beginning of class we talked about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and watched some videos about her life and talked about her legacy. We then began the second article of the Constitution.

Math in Real Life (Leo Rusinov)Aluminum Foil Boats! Students learned about the math behind buoyancy and why heavy objects can still float. We talked about weight, mass, and density. We calculated (using the metric system) the density of objects given mass and volume, and discussed whether or not they would float in water. The students were given a container with water and a piece of aluminum foil, and tasked to spread out a handful of pennies on the sheet such that it still floated. Then, they were asked to take the same number of pennies and the same sheet, but this time crumple it up into a tight ball – they discovered that even though the mass stayed the same, the volume decreased, so the density increased and it sank. Then they were given another piece of foil and asked to experiment creating a design that holds the most number of pennies…they reflected on what they designed and considered how the shape of the foil (tall sides, short sides, etc.) and the placement of the pennies (spread out, all in one place etc.) affected the buoyancy of their boat. A few students even successfully floated rocks on aluminum foil! 
The Great Egg Drop! We connected last week’s lesson on buoyancy to acceleration and gravity. Students learned about the difference between speed and velocity, as well as the formula to calculate force. We talked about how the gravity on Earth is close to 9.8m/s squared, while on Jupiter, and other planets, it is different. We even talked about how scientists consider gravity when looking for life on other planets. We performed some calculations including figuring out the speed of an object vs time after it is dropped from a building. Then, we talked about how an egg breaks when it is dropped because it cannot withstand the force of impact…so we came up with a few strategies to create a contraption to house the egg that would mitigate the force of impact. Ideas included reducing acceleration (using a parachute), increasing the contact surface area (popsicle stick frame), and absorbing the shock (sponges). Finally, students used various household supplies to create their egg casing, and dropped it from several heights to discover which ideas worked. They were asked to explain their best design and think about why it worked so well. 
Yoga (Mary Walek)
The focus in this class is on the Yamas and Niyamas (the social and personal ethics) within the yogic practice. So far we have talked about the first 3 Yamas – Kindness and Honesty and Nonstealing. 
With each class, we discuss one concept and how we are ideally supposed to practice it in our daily lives. We then have a physical practice, where I incorporate that topic as the theme of the physical practice. For example, with kindness, we focused on not over exerting to the point of discomfort, as well as being aware of how our thoughts can become unkind quickly so that we can reframe them to something more positive. 

Because the math class is so individualized, updates are different for each student.  These will be included on student progress report I will send out in early November, unless requested sooner.
As always, please let me know any questions, thoughts, suggestions, etc!
My Best,Kristine

SEPTEMBER 12, 2020

  • Please visit our website to see our staff and intern bios (if you haven’t seen Facebook updates).  There are a few bios that still need to be added, but will be updated soon!  About Us 
  • I am still in search of a music teacher – I have invited Anna Dushanin to join us this coming Wednesday to see if she might be a good fit. She is a college student who teaches piano and music.  She is full of positive energy and absolutely loves teaching music!  
  • For students enrolled in the 3D Design and Printing class on Mondays and Wednesdays, next week they will be starting to use the 3d printer.  To do that, students will need to install the slicer.  They can do in class, but if you would like to download and install Flashprint before Monday, here is the link:  https://www.flashforge.com/download-center.  If you do not wish to install Flashprint on their laptop, Brad can do the slicing for the student, although they would need to email the file to Brad and would miss out on an important part of the process.
  •  For students who attend Math in Real Life with Leo, he has requested a list of supplies for Tuesday’s activity, the Egg Drop Challenge.  If I had more time, I would have no problem collecting all of the materials, but if I could ask that each student bring in some, any, or all of the following 3 raw eggs and as much raw material as you have, for example:  styrofoam, packing peanuts, coffee filters, paper cups/plates, straws, construction paper, rubber bands, a lot of popsicle sticks (10-15 per student), boxes/cardboard, cotton balls, plastic shopping bags, sponges, string/rope (few feet per student), toothpicks, paper clips, masking tape, “a lot of glue” .. in Leo’s words, “literally anything you have lying around..”  I think if we collect everything in one big box for everyone to share, they can figure it out… I have been collecting recycling and plastic bags and will bring in as much as I can, but anything you can contribute would be appreciated!  
  • We will be closed next Friday, September 18, but will be announcing events, workshops, and activities on future Fridays.  Please let me know if your student(s) has interest in attending September 25, October 9, 16, and/or 23 for a day filled with fun activities, crafts, and games with the interns and other guests, including pizza and music (and a movie on some days).  November dates will be forthcoming. Times will be 10AM – 330/4.
  • In November, I would like to begin a series of virtual presentations from several local college admissions representatives.  These presentations will include an overview of the college and its programs; and importantly, the admission process and requirements.  These will focus on Symbiosis Learning Center students specifically, and how our program meets their requirements.  The colleges that will be presenting include Landmark, Mitchell, Lasell, and MassBay.  Please let me know if you are interested in attending and if Fridays work for your schedule.  We will continue the series throughout December and the new year.  I know that it is early for many of you, but if college is or might be a goal for your child, and you would like some peace of mind that Symbiosis (and/or homeschooling) puts you on the right track, hearing it from college admissions can be validating!

I think that is all for now… please do remind your children to wash their hands throughout the day here at the center.  Besides our masks, it really is the best way for all of us to keep from spreading germs!
As always, I welcome your thoughts, feedback, comments, suggestions…Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing all of you next week!
My Best,Kristine

AUGUST 28, 2020

Below are some of our class descriptions, including Earth and Environmental Science, Math at Your Level, 3D Design & Printing, Nature Journaling, and Math in Real Life.  The descriptions of Teen Talk, Yoga, History, and Music will be coming soon.  Also below is a list of supplies and other necessities students need to bring to the center on the first day of classes. 


Earth & Environmental Science

Earth and Environmental Science at Symbiosis Learning Center  is a laboratory and project-based course that will explore multidisciplinary scientific principles from biology, chemistry, physics, geology, meteorology, astronomy and others, in order to provide an understanding of the natural functioning of our planet.  Students will study Earth’s four spheres, the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere, and explore the interactions between this intricate system and all living things. Students will delve further into the biosphere, learning about energy resources, major biomes, ecosystems, chemical cycles and the role of living things in ecosystems. We will learn about fundamental ecological concepts and focus on the consequences of human interactions within our environment. In addition to learning about environmental problems, students explore practical alternatives for protecting the environment, moving toward a sustainable future.  This course will help to increase students’ awareness of global environmental issues, as well as their role on a local and global scale.  

Math at Your Level

21 + 22 is 43.  That is a fact, and what is all this new math about?  While 21 + 22 equals 43 is true, there is more than one way to figure out that fact.  You can memorize it.  You can stack the numbers on top of each other.  You could focus on the place values and say 2 tens + 2 tens is 4 tens and 1 + 2 is 3 ones. Together they are 43. You could also build the problem with manipulatives, as some people prefer a visual representation when solving math problems. Everyone’s brain approaches math differently, and there are different ways to solve even the simplest problems.  In the end mathematics is about thinking and puzzling out a path to the answer you need.  When learning mathematics, effort and the process of discovery count more than how fast you get the answer. 

Here at Symbiosis Learning Center we endeavor to find approaches to learning mathematics that fit each student.  What official level the student is at does not matter, as people learn different aspects at different paces.  An area that is particularly frustrating can be touched on, left behind for a while, and circled back to multiple times if need be, until a better learning approach is found or the student simply has that “Aha!” moment.  Conversely, some students may quickly achieve goals in math and require a faster pace. Understanding in the end is what matters, not how fast that understanding happens. 

In this course, we will help each student create an individual plan for their mathematics education and provide the instruction and guidance to support their success along the way. 

3D Design and Printing

In the past you could draw and render in 3 dimensions on your computer screen.  Now you can manufacture your creation right in front of your eyes.  Whether you are looking to replace something that broke around the house, create a one of a kind toy, or a work of art.  The possibilities of 3d printing are both staggering and extremely fun! This class combines learning how to use the software to create 3d designs, as well as learning what is necessary in the designs so that a 3d printer can actually manufacture your creations.  We will encourage personal projects in this class, which will allow the students to create a personal emphasis on engineering or art, whichever path their passion lies.  Symbiosis owns a 3d printer and students will be taught how to use it to manufacture their creations, as well as maintenance for the machine. 

Nature Journaling

This class will broaden and deepen student curiosity, wonder, and attention.  Through a combination of sketching, labeling, recording thoughts, and forming questions and explanations, students will embark on a journey of scientific inquiry and self expression.  Using such prompts as “I notice… I wonder… This reminds me of…” class will focus on recording and reflecting on observations made in nature (a leaf, clouds, grass, flowers, tree, acorn, etc.) The goal will be to sharpen critical and creative thinking skills, build self-confidence, and improve writing skills.  Activities will focus on using metaphors, similes, and descriptive writing and will include poetry, persuasive writing, narratives, descriptive essays, map making, etc.    

Math in Real Life

Hey – have you ever looked around the world and wondered how math is in pretty much everything around us?  Me too!  This course explores real world math applications.  We will look at how numbers, patterns, and relationships show up in everyday life.  The goal is to provide a fun, interactive, and hands-on learning experience for students looking to see how math concepts apply beyond the classroom ranging from paying your bills, to bridge construction, to parachute design, the election process, stock market, and everything in between!”

US History

For the fall of 2020,  students will be studying several different US History topics. To start out the course, students will be studying the US Constitution and be examining different sections and amendments to understand the Constitution. Students will also learn about the US election process, what happens when you cast a ballot, what the Electoral College is and how it works in order to better understand the 2020 election. Another possible topic students will look at this semester is Westward Expansion with an in-depth look at topics such as The Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Oregon Trail, the Mexican American War, Gold Rush, etc. and one final possible topic would be the Cold War which would cover topics such as the Space Race, The Cuban Missile Crisis, etc. And during each class there will be a few minutes set aside to discuss current events that are going on. This will vary depending on what events are going on at the time and student interest.

American Sign Language

In American Sign Language this semester we have been reviewing the alphabet and numbers, as well as colors, foods, animals, and jobs. We have also covered basic ASL grammar and syntax and are working on applying our vocabulary to beginner conversational skills. In class we also discuss Deaf culture in order to ensure a well rounded understanding of the Deaf community and language.

Teen Talk

Welcome to Teen Talk! In this discussion group we will be building connections with one another while exploring various topics. These topics include mental health, forming healthy relationships, developing mindfulness skills, stress management strategies, exploring current events, planning for life after highschool, and much more! The goal of this discussion group is to support one another in a positive light and experience personal growth as individuals and as a collective. The number one rule for Teen Talk is to HAVE FUN! This is YOUR group. Let’s make it memorable! 


  • facemask (Symbiosis can provide one for students who need one)
  • laptop and charger (let me know if you need Symbiosis to provide one for you)
  • fold-up chair and/or blanket for outdoor classes
  • lunch and snacks
  • water bottle
  • yoga mat (if attending)
  • 5 subject notebook
  • journal for Nature Journaling class (can be lined or unlined – unlined may be better for sketching, any size, can also be loose leaf paper in a binder)
  • colored pens and/or pencils for Nature Journaling class
  • pen and pencil and eraser for note-taking and math worksheets
  • book for quiet reading
  • outside classwork that can be done at Symbiosis during independent work time (teachers and tutors available to help)
  • sunscreen and bug spray

If you have not submitted an enrollment form, you can complete one here: Enrollment Form

As always, please be in touch with questions, concerns, and/or suggestions.  

JULY 22, 2020

Keeping everyone safe and healthy and minimizing the risk of virus transmission is our priority. In compliance with Newton Department of Public Health COVID-19 health and safety requirements, we are working closely with the United Parish of Auburndale to implement the safety and precautionary guidelines listed below.

Daily Checks: We will screen all students daily for symptoms, including a temperature check at the entrance. We ask that any student who has symptoms or any risk of being exposed to the virus, stay at home and self-quarantine for 14 days. We will have online options in the event that a student may need to stay home.

Face coverings: All students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face masks at the center. We will have some classes outside where the mask requirement may be loosened if students are far enough apart from each other. We will provide students with face masks but we ask that students also bring additional personal face coverings.

Social Distancing: Classrooms, offices, hallways, and meeting rooms are being reconfigured to allow for social distancing of at least six feet and in some instances (hallways and some offices and classrooms) no less than 4 feet apart. Our modest enrollment, large open spaces, and access to the outdoors work in our favor. We hope to hold many of our classes and workshops, as well as breaks and lunchtime outdoors whenever possible.

Cleaning and Disinfecting: Our staff and intern team will continue to perform regular intense cleaning of all public spaces. They will consistently disinfect classrooms, common areas, and workspaces to help minimize transmission. Hand sanitizing stations will be installed throughout the center and periodic reminders for hand washing will be announced throughout the day. At the end of the day after all students leave, a cleaning crew will clean and disinfect all classrooms, offices, bathrooms, floors, doors, etc.

We are still working to make sure all guidelines and precautions are in place before the fall. I hope this update on our plans to return to the clean, open, and safe space of our learning center gives peace of mind as families plan for the fall during these unprecedented times.

JUNE 26, 2020

Dear Prospective Families,

I am so very happy (and relieved!) to report that the church has informed me that we are welcome to return to the center in September.  The church administrators and I are currently working together on developing safety procedures to minimize exposure to Covid-19 and keep everyone in the building safe and healthy.  Guidelines will be posted on the website and sent to all families once they have been finalized.

As I work to develop the schedule of classes, I ask that you please confirm Fall enrollment as soon as possible.  Even if you have confirmed verbally or via email, please do complete the enrollment form here:  Enrollment Form.  In the space provided on the form for additional comments, please indicate any requests for a specific class topic.  If you are missing only a few high school requirements and are hoping to graduate this coming academic year, please indicate what those missing requirements are.

Fall classes and days offered, if scheduled:  

Science Math (Mondays and Wednesdays)

3D Design & Printing (Mondays and Wednesdays)

ELA – Nature Journaling (Tuesdays and Thursdays)

Music with Ryan (Wednesdays)

Yoga (Thursdays)

Financial Literacy with Leo (Tuesdays and Thursdays)

Teen Talk It Out

History (World and/or US)

Psychology (Intro or Adolescent)

Art (and possibly Ceramics)

*I am also hoping to start a Dungeons & Dragons group depending on interest. Are you?

Due to public health concerns over the spread of the virus in our shared kitchen, we will not be offering a cooking class this fall.  (We will have plenty of pizza days, however!)

Some other notes:

  • Student updated progress reports should be available in Google folders by July 6.  You will receive an email notification.
  • Ryan Cimon’s summer plans have changed and he will be teaching his music class on Wednesday afternoons beginning July 6 – please let me know if you are interested in participating via Discord.  Class fee depends on the number of students enrolled.
  • We currently have five Lasell students fulfilling their internship requirement with us in the fall!  We love those interns!
  • My hope is to get back into the space by mid-August so that I can offer tours to prospective students.  If you have not done so already,  and if you are so inclined – no pressure 🙂 – I would appreciate if you could take the time to write a review on the website!  These make a difference!  Here is a link for your convenience:  Reviews
  • Once I receive your enrollment form, I will send out an invoice for payment in full by August 14th.  Fees remain the same as academic year 2019-2020 and are as follows:  Part-time is $2,500 per semester.  Full-time is $5,000 per semester.  Additional fees for field trips and some supplies may apply.  If you would like to request a payment plan with the option to pay in installments, please let me know.
  • Classes start on Tuesday, September 8.    

Be on the lookout for more updates and news as we prepare to come back together in September.  

I look forward to seeing all of you! 

My Best,