The Field School



Hands-On Science, In and Out of the Classroom

One of Field's greatest strengths is our teachers' creativity and dedication to keeping their classes active and experiential, often in unexpected ways in traditionally theoretical subjects. Students design their own cities to learn about angles in geometry and make recipes together to practice the imperative in Spanish. Applied learning is a benchmark of the Field education, not an exception to the rule. This week, science classes featured all kinds of hands-on excitement!
On Monday, 6th graders were treated to an in-school science field trip with special guest Dr. Strouse, who guided them through dissections of pig hearts ("You can put your finger through the ventricle!," demonstrated one student) and had them put electrodes on to have an EKG taken. They got to keep a printout of their own heartbeat!
Meanwhile, at the Natural History Museum, Advanced Biology students went looking for skeletons as part of their exam on natural selection and genetics. Among other finds, each was tasked with identifying which vertebrate skeleton at the museum most resembled Tiktaalik, the "fishapod" who left the ocean to climb on land—and likely the ancestor of all modern land-dwelling vertebrates.  
Physics 1 students are embarking on an engineering unit. They're taking the lessons they learned from making catapults last week to build bridges out of popsicle sticks and put them to the test! Using a bridge measuring tool, they found out how strong their bridges were by applying—and increasing—pressure on the middle of the bridge. After they evaluate their bridges, they'll work to figure out how to make them even stronger!



What's YOUR favorite book? In an effort to get more students reading for pleasure, the English Department unveiled a bookcase of recommendations this past week. Located in the entryway to the Elizabeth Meeting House, the bookcase is a place for students to find and borrow awesome books!

Our first display showcases just a few of our staff and faculty's favorite young adult novels. 

When the call went out for suggestions, the response was overwhelming, and the bookcase highlights just a fraction of their picks. We tried to choose books from a variety of genres and perspectives as well as for a range of ages, and each one includes a personal recommendation from a teacher or staff member. 

We hope to see students use this resource to find books that they'll enjoy—then, in the future, we'll change the theme of the bookcase and keep exploring new texts!

Winter Internship Approaches!

As Fall sports seasons wrap up, Winter Internship season ramps up! This past Monday, students met with their Winter Internship mentors for the first of their small group meetings. These meetings take place approximately every other Monday. This year’s internship period runs from February 22nd to March 4th and the internship confirmation deadline is January 11th.

What is "Winter Internship"?
Winter Internship is an important part of each school year. Students in the sixth grade engage in real-world learning as a group, leaving Field to get experience with cooking in an actual kitchen, for example. All others students work with teacher mentors to find unpaid internships in a wide swath of the community—from hospitals to theaters, from offices to embassies, from soup kitchens to recording studios. (High school students also have the option of using the two-week period to participate in Field’s Winter theater production or to participate in one of several trips that the school runs during this time—this year these are a community service “trip” to DC, a journey to Nicaragua, and a trip to France.) This huge variety of experiences augments Field classroom learning and embodies the program’s mission statement: explore•learn•serve.

Field’s mandatory program stands out from the internship programs at other schools. It is a wide open, experiential educational opportunity that challenges students to land an internship of their choice largely on their own. The school’s four decades of experience running the program assures that students are guided carefully but do most of the work themselves. And Field students graduate with more internship experiences than most students finishing college.

What Students Learn
Over the course of their years at Field students will learn professional phone and email skills, write blog posts, set up a LinkedIn-style profile, write a resume, network, and use on-the-job communication skills. They also have the opportunity to make presentations to their classmates, practice new commutes, and handle lunch breaks (and even snow days or other unexpected situations) as they arise.

"Team WIN" are the faculty mentors, grade heads, and Liz and Carrie in the Winter Internship office. These adults invest great time and care in assisting students in identifying, securing, completing, and reporting on their internships. The entire faculty helps to visit students at their DC-area internships. But families are part of the team too: approving of the internship location for their child each year, providing transportation, and acting as a valuable source for new internship locations for Field students.

Field is looking forward to an incredible Winter Internship season! Please be in touch with your child’s Winter Internship faculty mentor or program coordinators Carrie Johnson and Liz Chausse if you have any Winter Internship related questions.

A Greener Field

The Field School has made more and more effort in recent years to limit our carbon footprint and to increase awareness of about how people can keep our planet a little more healthy if they modify their behavior based on knowledge and care. A leader in this work is our student-directed Environmental Action Club, but there are many ways Field is greener today than in the past.
A few years ago, Field replaced all its water fountains with “Hydration Stations” that additionally provide cold, filtered water for refillable water bottles, simultaneously stopping the distribution of plastic water bottles at lunch. On each station, an indicator tallies the number of wasteful plastic bottles that have been kept out of landfills as a result of its use. And our campus has saved well over 100,000 bottles to date!
This year, Field is also making strides by increasing the number of sustainable plates and utensils it uses for lunch service. All of the lunches served in The Elizabeth Meeting House this year use sugar cane plates and utensils that are biodegrad-able and easy on the Earth. This complements the Meeting House itself, which was designed and built to a LEED (“Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” which is a set of standards promulgated by the US Green Building Council) Silver standard.
The most active face of environmentalism on campus is the Field Environmental Action Club, which is one of the longest-standing SHAM activities at our school. “Last year,” explains student leader Lily Blattner, “we wanted to educate the school about how it could do more to help the environment: by bringing in reusable water bottles, for example, and by recycling with an understanding of what to recycle.” The club had great success selling “Plant-grams” in spring, lovely small plants set into mason jars. “We made some money that we can use this year, but mainly it raised awareness about the club,” Lily explains. Membership in the club went from six last year to about 17 students this year.
This year, the club wants to continue raising awareness about environmental issues and justice with posters and conversation, but also through action. “We hope to get the school to begin composting waste this year,” Lily explains, “but we are starting by doing research and trying to start a very small worm farm as we put together a proposal. Composting would lead to the idea of creating a Field garden to grow herbs and other things for the lunch program. We also want to keep raising awareness about the importance of carpooling.”
The Environmental Action Club is, naturally, using social media as part of its program to get the word out. You can follow them on Instagram and twitter @FieldEAC and on Facebook @FieldEnvironmentalActionClub. Led by passionate advocates like Lily, a senior, and Sawyer London, an 8th grader, you can be sure that the campus is becoming more green!

Writing: Vital All Across the Field Curricula

“Skills of mind” is the central third of Field’s concise mission statement—a commitment to teaching students to master intellectual tools that will serve them well beyond college and into their lives and careers. One of the skills that Field takes most seriously is writing. In learning to write, students put their thinking and reasoning through a rigorous test of clarity, logic, and persuasiveness. Perhaps most significantly, writing skills at Field are taught and required in nearly every classroom.
Writing Where You Expect It
Of course, our English classes stress writing explicitly. “In the English classrooms,” explains Department Chair Dave Nelson, “students write across genres and in creative ways. From the 6th graders to the seniors, we've seen everything from poetry to analytical paragraphs and long essays, from creative non-fiction to collaborative group essays.” It is also traditional that history classes emphasize analytic writing. “Seventh grade historians prepare written statements for a debate on the culpability of minors who acted as child soldiers in active combat,” notes Chair Georgia Warner. “Meanwhile, 11th grade historians write argument-driven and research-based thesis papers on a U.S. history-related topic of the individual students' choosing.”
And Writing Where You Don't Expect It
But instruction in writing goes beyond these relatively typical applications. “Students in the upper levels of French and Spanish are asked weekly to compose summaries, take notes, or write in journals about articles they read in authentic newspapers in different domains: architecture, science, sports, music, or contemporary international events,” according to Chair Ermira Elmazaj. “Writing in this case is used as a tool for learning while students negotiate meaning and make a conscious effort to incorporate words and phrases from their studies.”
Math and science use writing extensively as well. “Field’s math teachers ask students to write explanations of solutions in addition to showing the numerical results in many cases,” says Chair Jeff Kurtz. “I require my Advanced Math Seminar students to prepare a detailed write-up of a fairly complicated problem several times each year. This helps students to merge writing skills with math skills, which becomes incredibly important as they move on to higher level math courses in college.” In science, explains Chair Kate Breslin, “it’s all about the lab reports. Step-by-step writing for the method section and clear articulation for conclusions are a necessity.”
Teachers in the arts are equally passionate about writing, requiring students to reflect on their creativity through “artist statements” that accompany their work on Studio Day, for example. Music classes ask students to become articulate critics of what they are studying and, of course, in our journalism and yearbook classes, students are writing for publication, which explicitly develops skills in editing as well as writing.
The editing that is front and center in journalism has its analogue in lab reports, poetry, analytic essays, and every other form of writing at Field. "Revise!" our writing teachers say. Good advice across any discipline.

Field Goes Into the World, The World Comes to Field!

Being located in a vibrant city, The Field School offers many wonderful opportunities for students to explore the world beyond the classroom—and to welcome that world to Field. The last week and the upcoming week provide ample evidence of how we take advantage of being a DC school.

Senior Search This week, Field’s 12th grade class is off-campus, concentrating their college visits. Nearly every Field senior applies to colleges and universities during this season, and spending time on those campuses is an important and informative part of the process. At the same time, Field believes strongly that the senior year—a full quarter of the high school experience—is a time of critical intellectual and personal growth and it's a year to be enjoyed. Giving students and their families time for “Senior Search” helps our 12th grade classes to remain focused and balanced.

Eleventh Grade to the Newseum Today the entire 11th grade took a Field trip to DC’s engrossing “Newseum” on Pennsylvania Avenue, a museum that traces the history and highlights of our country’s free press across 250 years. The 11th grade history class studies U.S. history, making this an ideal trip for the grade.
Tenth Grade Community Service Day The tenth grade was also off-campus as a group today, taking part in an engaging, active, and positive community service day. The grade split into three groups to volunteer at three DC organizations: Food and Friends, Seabury Age-in-Place, and the Capitol Area Food Bank. Students spent the morning working and supporting the community and then went to the Church of the Pilgrims near DuPont Circle to hear speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless. They were lead through a thoughtful reflection about how their actions help support their local community. Tenth Grade Head Julia Cohen called it “a fantastic and worthwhile day!”

Harmonica Virtuoso Visits Field Music Classes Being located in DC also means that we can invite remarkable people into Field Classrooms. And last week, the two high school “Studio Band” classes were graced with the presence of Frederic Yonnet, perhaps the greatest harmonica player in the world. Just days before coming to Field’s music room with dozens of “mouth harps” to offer basic lessons to our students, Fred had been playing at the Verizon Center with Stevie Wonder as part of his Songs in the Key of Life Tour. Fred—who is friendly with Field music teacher Dominic Redd and was born in Normandy, France—has also played with Prince, Erykah Badu, John Legend, and the National Symphony Orchestra. But last week he was playing with us!

Innovation and Involvement in Field Classrooms

Guided by department chairs and administration and with an eye to our mission, Field’s classroom experience is dynamic and involving. Here are three examples from three different departments that show how our academic experience prepares students to think deeply.

History: The Senior Elective in “Global Narratives”
“Global Narratives is a senior elective in its second year as an offering from the history department. It embodies Field’s belief that student benefit from immersing themselves in advanced skill-building, specifically analytic thinking, writing, and discussion. History chair Georgia Warner, who developed the class, explains: “Global Narrative students pursue topics of their own choosing from the siege of Moscow in World War II to the currently jailed journalist in Egypt. The purpose is to hone their research and writing skills. The first assignment of the year, Project Deep Dive, requires them to investigate the depth of information a single primary source can often provide a researcher. The project will focus on strengthening students' abilities to develop compelling and dynamic research questions as well as to answer that question with clear data points and evidence. A mostly independent-study style course, classes begin with brief skill lessons before students turn to their own work to practice their skills and methodologies.”

Languages: Using Middlebury Interactive Languages Online
This year, the Language Department is deepening its use of the interactive language instruction offered online by Middlebury College. This supplement to instruction by teachers is in its third year in French classes and its first year in Spanish classes. Language Chair Ermira Elmazaj explains that “Middlebury Interactive immerses students in language and culture. It offers our kids exposure to authentic materials and videos that provide real-world reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities. It is very good at helping teachers to provide differentiated learning for different types of learners who can work at their own pace.” At all levels, this program replaces textbooks and provides an array of interactive conversations and writing prompts. “It’s wonderful that the program provides speakers in the target language who are from all over the world,” Ermira adds.

Science: Dedicated as Ever to Hands-on Learning and Observation
Visitors to The Elizabeth Meeting House this week were witness to science in action. Students in the Physics 1 class were learning about air resistance by designing parachutes from plastic trash bags, string, masking tape, and paper cups. Trial after trial measured the speed of the cargo’s descent from the railing of the Meeting House, and prototype designs were continuously modified. In the middle school, students were walking around the campus interviewing teachers to test a set of hypotheses that had been developed but not yet tested and learning the concept of velocity by measuring distances around campus and timing themselves ran, walked, and cartwheeled those distances, followed by graphing their data. And in ninth grade biology, a study of the brain and different capacities of the left side and right side was being illustrated in colorful diagrams created on posters that would soon surround the lab. Science chair Kate Samuel can tell you that this approach to learning has long been purposeful in our science classes. “Hands-on learning gets our students hooked, builds curiosity, and puts the ownership to understand how and why on them. It's not about memorizing, it's about doing. Students, seamlessly, learn more than mere facts.”

Field's Hands-on Learning

One of the greatest hallmarks of a Field education is our teachers' commitment to creating a hands-on learning environment both inside the classroom and out. This means that our students' daily lives are full of projects that allow them to get their hands dirty, simulations that encourage a different way of thinking, and trips that open their eyes to various worlds.

Be Yourself at The Field School

Self-Discovery.  It's the first word in our mission statement, and its pursuit is innate to everyday life at Field.  Students are encouraged to think and learn about themselves, and to grow as individuals over the course of their time here.  They can be studious, athletic, shy, boisterous, latino, focused, whimsical, black, white or anytihng else they want—so long as they are who they truly are.

Field is a place where you can be yourself.


Serious Studies


Be Yourself

Small Classes




2301 Foxhall Rd NW  Washington, DC 20007  202.295.5800