Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Communicating in new and old ways

Yesterday our teachers met for a workshop on "How to Blog" with parent Alejandra Pickett. The goal was for everyone to leave with a blog. Almost everyone did!

We are moving step-by-step into the future with our communicating. In the next few months, I believe parents will be able to log onto class blogs for the latest in photos, news, and student work. Blogs really do have the potential to give students an audience. And they can give parents and others who are interested a real glimpse of what is going on.

Maybe all the new blogs will make this blog obsolete! But I hope not - I really enjoy the sharing aspect of posting photos and thoughts.

Today's pictures show Hunter in K-1 working on color mixing and the 4-5 class making beautiful covers for their poetry books. K-1 will host a celebration of their work on animal habitats on December 19. 4-5 will be performing a poetry slam at assembly this Friday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanks for giving

This time of year we give thanks for giving. I feel so thankful for Parker students who are giving to others in meaningful ways. In these pictures you can see Jack in 2-3 boxing canned goods the class gathered for Catholic Charities. Gleb in 4-5 and his partner at Evergreen Commons are absorbed in thought during a chess match. Kelsey and Elana are recycling paper. Phoebe, Sasha, Ben and Olivia are stirring batter for the pumpkin bread they'll bake for the Pre K harvest feast for families and buddies.

Thank you to all our Parker teachers, families and friends who give so much to make Parker a vital, relevant, creative and kind place.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Artistic Connections

Yesterday I noticed many things going on in the arts. The excellence of the process and product were so evident.

Jonah is working on an Egyptian tomb painting (incorporating his own profile) that will be part of a hallway exhibit relating to 6-7's study of ancient Egypt. 4-5's are using percussion instruments for the complex rhythms in "Simple Gifts." Leo is illustrating the invitation to his family for the Harvest Feast. Obviously, wearing goggles is crucial to the artistic process.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dancing around

Eighth grade sponsored a Middle School Dance last Friday. I only got one picture, then my batteries went dead - which is probably OK, since I might have gotten some embarrassing shots. So I am posting a middle school picture of band practice.

The dance looked really fun! There was a costume ball theme (costumes optional) and a bake sale. An admission donation was suggested. Eighth graders raised $246.50 for their class trip to Philadelphia. The kids deejayed (is that a verb?) with tunes from Gabe's mom's dance class. It was loud - everyone danced. At the end the seventh and eighth graders cleaned up. It was over by 7:30.

Last night we had a trustee meeting. There are 19 trustees - a combination of parents, past parents, teachers, three acting heads of school (Trudy Hall from Emma Willard, Peter Baily from Oakwood Friends in Poughkeepsie, and me), two past heads (Marlisa Parker and Susie Merrett), and other wonderful people with varied fields of expertise who are kind enough to take on this role. For part of the meeting we took a "field trip" down the hall to Liliana's K-1 class and then to Sarah's middle school language arts classroom.

They told the trustees about how children learn to be writers at Parker. It was an inspiring presentation. It was great to see how consistent the process is from kindergarten through to eighth grade. In K-1 children learn to observe closely and to add detail to their writing. They write for authentic purposes like tracking the development of tadpoles or butterflies. Middle schoolers write every day in journals, keep weekly self-assessments with goals, and chose certain seeds of ideas to bring to fruition for creative writing. For essays they revise several times as they work to make their pieces truly great.

As one trustee said, "There is power in good writing." She was so glad to see that Parker students are held to the highest standards for grammar and style. She sees too much poor writing in the work world.

Then we approved the audit, coordinated committee goals, and talked about fund raising and how well the school is doing. It was over by 8:45.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I love doing Friday recess!

Today on the playground I saw intense digging, sculpting, and engineering in the sandbox. I saw a game that involved vampires, zombies, and bow-and arrows, and lots of discussion in a huddle. There is a group who practices intensely on the monkey bars and rings. Sometimes they fall (there is a thick, cushy layer of wood chips to fall on!) The ultimate challenge seems to be to skip to every other ring - not easy. There were also some chase games that I really couldn't tell you the rules for.

This past weekend I went to a workshop at Emma Willard with author Daniel Pink. Parker faculty read his book, "A Whole New Mind" this summer. His ideas have lots of implications for education. The lecture and discussion affirmed how we teach at Parker. We are giving children experiences that will lead to success in a massively changing world.

One of things we discussed was that play is so important for children. Laughter, humor, games, experimentation, negotiation, and imagination all develop critical skills. Failure can happen on the playground, and failure is crucial for mastery. It's like the old saying "if at first you don't succeed..."

Daniel Pink says that the very most important things for schools to cultivate in children are curiosity and persistence. Then, they can use their strengths to make a difference in the world.