Thursday, February 21, 2013

App Making Makes Progress!

We admit App Making has taken a long time to get off the ground, but with the addition of some new sophomore members to RealSchool and a new action plan, the team is making steady progress now! We've registered RealSchool as an App Developer in Apple's App store and now we're working on the features of the RealSchool app.

Timesaver: the RealSchool App Team decided to use templates and not to code from scratch
Here's the app in the making:

The app links to RealSchool's webpage
and also will collect the Health and Environment team's green recipes
RealSchool's faculty advisor knows nothing about making apps, so all the progress the students have made has been on their own!

Who's the Fairest of Them All?: Fashion Show Update

Our Charity


It's confirmed: part of the proceeds of the Who's the Fairest of Them All?, our Fashion Show this year, is going to Not for Sale, an organization that works to end slavery. Also confirmed is our Fashion Show date: May 19!

Here's a video from the founder of Not for Sale:

We may want to consider the ethical products available from the Not for Sale store: Not for Sale Store, and we also want to contact the organization to see how we can work together for the show.


Speaking of making contacts, we also worked on a script for the girls on the show's finance team. Those girls are going to be contacting vendors who will sell their ethical products at the show. 

Here's our script:

Script for Vendor

Hi, my name is _________________, and I’m calling from The Frisch School. We’re making a fashion show for women only on May 19 called “Who’s the Fairest of Them All?” and we’re focusing on fair food and fair trade practices. Our school has over 500 students and is connected to the local Bergen County community, and an active parent association and alumni network. We’re donating part of the proceeds from the show to the school and part to Not for Sale, an organization that works to end slavery around the world.

We wanted to bring in vendors to sell products that are in line with our ethical fashion focus and fashion in general. Before and after the show, anyone attending will have time to shop and eat fair trade food products. Since you sell ___________, we wanted to know if you wanted to display and sell your merchandise at our show.

Script for Fair Trade Chocolate or Coffee Donation

Hi, my name is _________________, and I’m calling from The Frisch School. We’re making a fashion show for women only on May 19 called “Who’s the Fairest of Them All?” and we’re focusing on fair food and fair trade practices. Our school has over 500 students and is connected to the local Bergen County community, and an active parent association and alumni network. We’re donating part of the proceeds from the show to the school and part to Not for Sale, an organization that works to end slavery around the world.

We want to know if you’re interested in donating fair trade food products such as kosher coffee or chocolate. We’ll include your store name in emails and print media we create to advertise the event. We’ll also prominently display your store name on the night of the event, on posters and near the food tables.

Orange is Our New Black

Don't think our choice of script color is accidental: Orange is our new black, because orange is the anti-slavery color. That means our Fashion Show T-shirts are, of course, going to be orange. We've set some artistic students the task of coming up with a logo for the fashion show, which we'll then put on a T-shirt we sell for the night. Our models will wear the shirts as well, when they come out for their final turn on the catwalk.

Choosing the Models

On Monday, Shushan Purim, an appropriate day for this, we think, we'll be choosing the models for the show. The way we choose is as follows: we announce to all the girls of the kingdom, sorry, the school (we got carried away with the Shushan Purim thing), that they can submit their names to be chosen for the fashion show. We'll have a box for each grade, and we'll choose 4-8 girls per grade. We'll have to decide, and we'll have to see how many girls submit their names. The selection will take place on Monday afternoon, at Mincha.  

The Clothes

Once we have our models, each grade's designers can see what size and shape girls they'll be dressing. The designers will work out the outfits they want for the two styles of clothes they have to create (see the earlier blog post if you forgot: Outline of the Show). Once the designers have their ideas, we'll contact a department store to see if they want to loan us clothes. We'll also raid all of our own closets and perhaps also work with Project Ezrah, an organization that donates and/or sells gently used clothes at reasonable prices to families that are experiencing financial difficulties. Project Ezrah works well with the ethical fashion mission we're on!

Great work, Fashion Team! We're getting so much done!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Am More Than A Test Score

Juniors, are you ready for the March SAT's? What we mean by that is: Do you know what you're wearing to the test? How about this?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Student Choice for Black History Month

One of RealSchool's values is that students should have choice in what they learn. Of course, that value has to be balanced with the need to have students know about important events and concepts that are part of our culture and society. Here's an assignment for Black History Month for students who are in the middle of reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The assignment, then, is a way to deepen learning about the black experience and do so in a way that allows for individualized learning:

Getting Started in EdReform

An educator getting started in PLNs and the Twitterverse and blogosphere asked us for a list of our go-to sites. Here's what we sent:

So this is our RealSchool blog post about the first top ten education reform videos we watched to get us started:

This is a great video about PBL (project-based learning). If kindergartners can do it, anyone can! And if older kids can do it, why not kindergartners?

The whole edutopia site is great:

Here are some more of our favorite blogs:

Will Richardson is the education reform guru. He's a superstar:

And we like Scott McLeod too (and the name of his blog):

Have fun! If you watch any of the videos or read any of the blogs, share your thoughts in the Comments section!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Frisch Fashion Show: Who's the Fairest of Them All?

This past week, the Wednesday night #jedchat discussion touched on learning by failing and learning in real life experiences, both of which are a big part of RealSchool's philosophy (the latter practice is even embedded in our name). Many people have asked us to explain what RealSchool is and it's always a challenge because it encompasses so many things, but the discussion last night has prompted us to try and explain what we do through a real-life example and by revealing the curtain to show Oz, even if it means that some of the things we tell you turn out not to work and not to end up in our final project.

The Frisch Fashion Show

This past week, RealSchool began planning in earnest the second annual fashion show. This year, the theme for the show is "Who's the Fairest of Them All?" and we're focusing on fair food, fair fashion and a fair world. This theme enables almost all of the RealSchool teams to be involved, though admittedly only girls are planning and starring the in show. 

Outline of the Show

At an earlier meeting, we had decided to focus on Biblical women in the fashion show, and during this week's planning session, we decided that each grade would walk the runway twice with presentations by the Frisch dance team and a girls' a capella group interspersed throughout the fashion show. Here's our program so far:

Round 1: four models per grade, with a formal dress as the final piece

Freshmen: Eve and the Foremothers, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah
Clothing: Flowers a la Alexander McQueen and clothing with flower motifs

Dance routine by the dance team: Depiction of Miriam's song by the Red Sea

Sophomores: Egyptian women: Pharoah's daughter; Shifra and Puah
Clothing inspired by ancient Egypt

Juniors: The daughters of Tzlafchad, who petitioned Moses to allow them to inherit their father's land even though they were (gasp!) women
Clothing for the professional woman

Seniors: Biblical female military leaders: Yael and Deborah
Military wear

Military-inspired dance routine

Round 2: four models per grade; the seniors will model only formal wear

Freshmen: Ruth
Clothing with a royal theme, since Ruth is the forerunner of David

Freshmen planning their part of the fashion show

Sophomores: Evil Biblical women: Jezebel, Vashti, et al
Goth clothing

Edgy dance routine

Juniors: Juniors with mothers: We're the inheritors of Biblical women, living chains binding each generation together
Mommy and Me outfits!

Seniors: Esther
A beauty pageant

Seniors discussing what their models should wear

To be decided: When and what the singers are performing


Before the show begins, those attending will be able to view a student-made art exhibit on female oppression and female entrepreneurship that the RealSchool Arts team is creating. On one side of the walls lining the auditorium will be artwork depicting female oppression in the world. (No, we're not afraid to insert some gravity into a fashion show). On the other side of the room will be artwork showing female entrepreneurs. Therefore, the exhibit will show what we still have to do to ensure fair treatment of women and what women are doing to empower themselves and enrich the world with their talents.

The Arts team discovered the work of Kara Walker, a black American artist.
We may imitate her style for some of the art students make for the night.
During the viewing of the exhibit, attendees will also be able to buy fair-trade chocolate, and we also want to have female vendors selling vintage clothing so people can engage in ethical fashion practices by buying "recycled" clothing. We also plan on contacting Frisch female alumni who are artists, so they can show and sell their work at the event. Female jewelry vendors and the like will also be welcome.


We have yet to decide on the charity that part of the event's proceeds will go to. In keeping with the night's theme, we want to give a portion of our proceeds to an organization that works to end female trafficking and sex slave trading. The remainder of the proceeds will go to our school, Frisch.

Our To-Do List

* RealSchool's graphic designer, Karen, is working on a "Who's the Fairest of Them All?" logo for the event, one we can also print on a T-shirt we'll sell.

* We need to write a script for the Finance and Marketing team, so they know what to say to the vendors about the night and the charity we want the proceeds to go to.

* We want to weave commentary about the Biblical women into the fashion show presentation, in order to make the event have more religious purposefulness. RealSchool's Religious Identity team is working on that.

* Each grade's representatives have begun discussing the look for each outfit they want to model. Once the girls have a sense of what they want the outfits to look like, we'll use our contacts to find clothing. 

* Last year, Glam Salon in Englewood, NJ, did the models' hair and make-up. We want to contact them again as well as create student hair and make-up teams for each grade.

We'll keep you updated on our progress as the planning progresses! 

Planning and implementing an event like this shows:

1) students are excited and motivated when they're invested in the learning. We're taking a passion many girls have -- shopping and modelling clothes -- and using it to create a learning experience. Because the base of the learning is a fashion show, the girls are more interested in hearing about topics such as female oppression, female artists and fair trade practices than they would be if we brought those issues up in a regular class.

2) by widening the scope of the show and including opportunities for artists, future businesswomen and those interested in Jewish learning, we can involve more students in the project and create an event that showcases many students' talents and interests and not just one group's. The wide range of interests being combined into one event also allows students to practice an intricate type of collaboration. 

3) students can learn content that they can use in real-life settings. The information the students are learning for the event has an immediate relevance in their lives and gives them something important to consider and remember once they go out into the world. 

4) people want to care about other people. By focusing on fair trade and a fair world in our fashion show, we're taking an event that could be superficial and me-focused and turning it into something that the students can use to help others. We want them to see that they can always use their interests and passions to better the world. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

RS: Finance and Social Action: Lessons in Fundraising

Sophomores raise money at the Frisch Africa Green-a-thon

Sophomore Benny weighs in on what he learned from conducting a fundraiser for Innovation: Africa, an organization that uses sustainable Israeli technologies to improve life in Africa:

I spent countless hours working on the Green-a-Thon. The Green-a-Thon, a fundraiser and an awareness promoter, occurred at The Frisch School for a week during December.  While the event only lasted for one week, the preparations for the event were endless. The idea of the Green-a-Thon was to spread awareness about the over-consumption of energy, while at the same time, raise money for an organization that gives energy to energy-deprived villages in Africa. In order to blend these two ideas, we came up with the idea to make a coffee stand. We provided eco-friendly cups and sold African coffee beans. We also decided to hold a raffle. While there were many different great characteristics I was able to develop throughout this experience, one of the more important ones was the financial knowledge I obtained through leading this event.
            Leading a fundraiser takes many qualities. The qualities include strong leadership qualities, time-management skills, and most importantly, financial abilities to reach your fundraising goals. Coming into this event, I would have to say I possessed little to none of these traits. But coming out of it, I am able to say that I grew in all these areas. Most importantly, I obtained many financial skills.
             What I learnt was simple yet essential. The most important part of a fundraiser is raising funds. It is important to set a monetary goal for yourself, yet it is dangerous to set it too high or too low. We set our goal for this fundraiser at a very high 5,000 dollars. For one week, for a committee of high-school students, this is a very high number. In fact, all we really needed to raise was $2,500 dollars to obtain our goal. By making it 5,000 dollars, we were very disappointed at the end of the week when we counted our 2,700 dollars. When we realized we passed the true amount of what we needed to raise, I learned my first lesson in finances, not to set the bar too low, and possibly more important, not to set it too high.
            Another important lesson I learnt is pricing. This is a very important lesson for businessmen and storeowners. At the beginning of our week, we set our prices very high. Since I assumed that the demand for good-quality coffee was very high among the students, so I made its price very high. This was a mistake. I noticed after a day that many people turned away when they saw our prices, so we decided to lower them, and after a day, we nearly doubled our profits. This pricing lesson is invaluable to many businessmen who may be tempted to be too greedy. I was greedy when I set my original price for coffee, but after I learnt my lesson, my profit increased.
            One last important financial lesson I learnt through this experience was that too much variety is just as bad as too little variety. In all businesses, there has to be equilibrium of variety. I learnt this lesson too late for my raffle. A couple of committee members and I spent many nights looking around for raffle prizes, and thanks to the generosity of local restaurants in Teaneck, we got many prizes. We were ecstatic and thought with all this variety, we would surely make a lot of money. Sadly, this was not true. Giving people ultimatums on choice of products is important. People would come to our raffle and be turned away at the overwhelming thought of reading through all of our prizes. It is, however, important to give people a little variety. It is not a good business model to force people into buying something. We learnt this early in selling coffee. Originally, we had only asked our provider for three different kinds of coffee. And this did make money; however, after one day we realized people may want more. So we asked our provider for lattes, hot chocolate, etc. and again, our profits increased. So the important lesson I learnt from this was not too give too little choice, but at the same time, to be careful not to give too much choice. 
            The lessons I learned during this experience are invaluable. The business ethics and financial skills I obtained through this event will be very useful in life. Horace, a Roman poet, once said, “Life grants nothing to us without hard work.” This quote culminates all of the lessons I learned. To be successful in anything in life, especially finances, takes hard work and perseverance. It requires doing something, failing, and than trying it again. And this lesson is what I derived most from the Green-a-thon. All high schools teach arithmetic and mathematics, but what few teach are skills that are absolutely essential to be successful in life. And these are the lessons that I truly received through the Green-a-thon. 

For more information about The Frisch Africa Encounter, click on the following link:

The Frisch Africa Encounter