M.I.L.K. versus D.O.N.U.T.S.

A 4th grade project inspires outstanding strategies for successful collaboration and some unforgettable acronyms.
“Sometimes you get off topic in a group meeting,” said Arielle ’27 during a presentation to her class on collaboration. Isn’t that the truth!? Thankfully, I paid attention during the 4th graders' presentations of their collaboration projects, and when my meeting started going off the rails, I knew just what to do. Arielle said that raising a green marker into the air—“even if it sounds silly”—would signal to my peers that we needed to refocus. “Remember to carry at least one green thing around with you,” she reminded us after showing off the comic strip poster she’d made. Worked like a charm for me.

“That was smart to use an object,” said Mae ’27 during the “Glows and Grows” feedback debrief.

For her own presentation, Mae collaborated with Brett ’27 and Lulu ’27 to introduce their two acronyms M.I.L.K.* and D.O.N.U.T.** They screened a film they’d created to teach M.I.L.K.—how to behave in a group—and D.O.N.U.T.—how not to behave when collaborating. “If you are not collaborating, usually one of the things from DONUT is happening,” Lulu said. “We tried to use our M.I.L.K. strategy with the three of us while we were doing the project.”

“We made skits, slideshows, movies, and posters about the ways we can collaborate better in groups,” explained Zora ’27. “Talking about collaboration and making these projects also helped us learn to get out of or avoid arguments.” It seems to be working. The students honored each others’ hard work and were enthusiastic about the great variety of strategies presented in both Liz Masi’s and Payal Sangani’s classrooms. Students will have the opportunity to test their collaboration strategies in the coming months both in their study of ancient civilizations (India, China, Greece, and Mali) in humanities and across disciplines.

I, for one, won’t soon forget the parting comment from Brett, Mae, and Lulu: “And that’s why M.I.L.K. is healthier than D.O.N.U.T.s!”

Enjoy the bonus acronym from the team of Ava Comley ’27 and Abby Freedman ’27 below. Their ‘singing teacher’ skit taught us how to use their new acronym SUCCESS***.

*M.I.L.K.:
Make sure everyone knows what is happening.
Include everybody.
Listen to everyone’s ideas.
Keep the group together.

**D.O.N.U.T.:
Don’t pay attention to your group.
Only value your own ideas.
Never help your group.
Underestimate your peers.
Take over the group.

***S.U.C.C.E.S.S.:
Start with an open mind.
Unity: Remember that whoever is in your group, you can collaborate well.
Collaboration: Include your teammates’ ideas.
Cooperation: Cooperate with your teammates.
Empathy: For your teammates’ ideas.
Society: Society has good ideas, too.
Safe: Remember this is a safe space to share your ideas.


Staff writer Danny Stock tells the stories of teaching, learning, competing, creating, and performing at Georgetown Day School. He is a former GDS second grade teacher and current parent.
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Georgetown Day School is a coed, preK-12, non-sectarian private school in Washington, DC with small class sizes and a diverse school community. Our comprehensive, innovative curriculum includes hands-on learning, honors and AP classes, as well as advanced-level math and STEM courses. An education is not just college prep and SAT scores. GDS teachers focus on providing the best education for each child, from elementary grades through high school. The school performing arts program includes theater, dance, and music. The athletics program offers competitive sports for student athletes, including cross-country, track, soccer, lacrosse, and crew/rowing. With our strong commitment to financial aid, an independent school tuition is affordable.