Wednesday, January 30, 2008


2-3's are experimenting with electric circuits. Wow, is this exciting! I can't tell you what their next electricity project is because I have been sworn to secrecy, but I'll keep you up to date as it unfolds.

The last picture is of a Parker alumna, Luaren Romanoff, (on the left!) who is volunteering and observing in the class. How great to have an alumna back in school!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A little more Shakespeare

Here are two more images of our fine actors in 2-3 and K-1. If any parents have some good shots from last Thursday - send them on! Mine came out a little dark...Thanks!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Beyond Shakespeare

Pre K parade with Elizabethan dancing and singing; K-1 Nothing; 2-3 The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard; 4-5 Are You Smarter Than a 4-5? Shakespeare Edition; 6-7 Taming of the Shrew; 8 Macbeth.

What an evening it was! Laughter and delight were on each person's face. Young and old had a wonderful time and a lovely taste of Shakespeare. I will recap the program notes here:

Over the last six years we have also explored Hamlet, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, A Comedy of Errors, and several sonnets.

The younger grades have explored the writings of Shakespeare, Frank Stockton, Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Quentin Blake, Emily Arnold McCully, Broadway musicals, English country songs and dances, and circus skills.

It is part poetry, pageantry, parade, play, improvisation, and process - and lots of production goodies!

Sean Fagan, our visiting Shakespearean clown, helps teachers and kids pull together an amazing show.

Thanks to all who made it all happen, including parents, teachers, and our students!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The calm before the Big Night

It is Shakespeare day - but you'd hardly know it! Excitement is high, but everyone is focused on school work...The performance starts at 6. I can't wait. I have pretty much stayed out of rehearsals so that I can enjoy the surprise of seeing the whole production of "Beyond Shakespeare" as a regular audience member.

Creativity, literacy and energy all combine in this one wondrous production. Sean Fagan, our visiting Shakespearean acrobat and actor, knows everyone's name, and after at least six years of working his magic at Parker, he know the kids well. He can tailor each roll to each child.

The weather looks like it's holding, with light snow flurries. Most kids will stay after school and with lots of volunteer parent help, we'll play games and eat pizza, then get into costumes and the show will begin!

Friday, January 18, 2008

The thesis

Eighth graders went to Emma Willard to use an excellent high school library for thesis research. They enjoyed the extensive sources and the fireplace. After initial research and working with James (social studies), Sarah (language arts) and Carol (librarian) they honed in on a topic that will be just the right depth to sustain a 3-4 month project. They have just written their thesis statements.

The topics offer their usual diverse array, and give insight to the passions within the class. Carol always says this, but "These are the best ever!"

The research component of our curriculum is well defined, giving students practice in good essay writing and in taking a viewpoint. The skill building starts in K-1, when students work individually with Carol to collect note cards on facts about an animal they are researching. It expands each year, until in seventh grade students write a mini-thesis.

College professors among our parents and visitors comment on the sophistication of our students' writing and their ability to properly cite references. During Project Night, eighth graders will present their finished papers for discussion and questions.

Some of this year's topics:

The influence of French cuisine on world cooking
What makes the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry a classic?
How far can you deviate from classical ballet and still call it ballet?
The media's influence on girls' body weight
Banned books for children and young adults
The influence of Hip Hop dance as an American art form
Has the promise of Brown vs Board of Education been realized?
The importance of dogs in society and culture
Professional athletes: legal issues and cultural entitlement

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Great Egg Drop

There were doubts about Max and his partner's parachute...would it slow the egg's descent? It did! It worked! The egg didn't break! I wonder what will happen with Hannah and Alex's egg-protection structure?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book circles, the Globe, the Globe Theatre, Eggs

What struck me today in a trip around the school, was the sense of purpose! These photos show some of it.

Lara and another student in 2-3 are reading Little House in the Big Woods. A book circle with seven students has chosen Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Another is working on Because of Winn Dixie.

I came across Pre K students finding where they live on a globe. They were in the midst of negotiating how to take turns.

Shakespeare has started! Sean Fagan, our artist-in-residence, will be here for 8 intense days, working with every class on an aspect of performance that is some way related to Shakespeare. Here, eighth graders are blocking Macbeth, (the condensed version!) In 2-3, they are taking a wordless book, The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard and in five groups, divided by scene, writing a script. They will choose parts, block, read through, practice lines, find costumes - and be ready to perform by next Thursday!

On the board by the science room, I saw this announcement:
Tuesday, January 15
It's a new day!
2-3 - static electricity!
8th grade math - percent of change
1:30 to 2:30 6-7 science in library -
Surface area: volume
Cell organelles worksheet

It was 1:45 so I went to 6-7 science in the library. Eggs again! They were choosing from a supply of straws, balloons, paper, cotton balls, and tape. Working in pairs, they were building contraptions to protect a raw egg from a fall. I wonder if anyone used one of the rubbery eggs from 2-3? I wonder why they had raw eggs in the library?!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Greeters tell all

A great thing about Parker that guests notice and that I appreciate, is that when you visit a classroom, a "greeter" will come over to tell you what's going on. You'd think I would know what is going on at Parker from day to day, but even though the school is small, I rely on greeters, formal and informal to fill me in.

The weather has been crazy lately. Miriam is ready for anything, so she informed me, with ski coat, ear muffs, and an umbrella. Pre K had a pasta party on Friday with their buddies in 4-5. I got an invitation to that one, and lots of informative facts about pasta at the lunch: "I love pasta!" "I ate all mine!" "Ice cream and pasta are both the best."

2-3's have eggs in their classroom that have turned very rubbery while soaking in vinegar. I know they are rubbery because the 2-3's are constantly testing them - who could resist? Why are they soaking eggs? I'll need to ask the greeter.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

All kinds of teachers

Teachers come in many forms at Parker. This morning a Pre K Dad taught the 4-year-olds about making pasta from scratch as part of pasta week. Yum! Felix was the teacher in second grade math, using Popsicle sticks in bundles for counting. James, our middle school social studies teacher, was demonstrating how to use the new Smart Board. Thank you Jasper, for being the guinea pig!

Some January units of study:
Pre K - Wood scrap sculptures with descriptive stories; pasta week; Doctor’s office
K-1 - Winter weather and hibernation; local birds and bird stories; calendar projects; a Mexican market
2-3 – Writing and illustrating a class book tracing the history of the Hudson River; Hudson River math; monetary systems; floor tennis
4-5 - Power points on tree research; building tree models for the Hudson River display; thousands charts; fractions; archery
6-7 - Ancient Greece; Alexander the Great time machine project; alternative energy presentations as part of Challenge 20/20; viruses, bacteria, and infectious disease; The Taming of the Shrew
8 - Thesis research; Macbeth; creating a Day of the Dead altar in Spanish; archery

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Winter is here; we're calling alumni

We're back! And everyone seems refreshed from a two week break. I have been remiss in my blogging entries! But camera issues and a wonderful vacation with family are over, and I will pick up the routine - although winter at Parker is never "routine!"

The amount of snow is really exciting! Winter Fridays afternoons have started. Skiers and snow boarders took off to hit the slopes; sports kids practiced their form at the bowling lanes, and dance moves and brain games kids jived to the beat. There was intense excitement for this winter ritual at assembly as announcers Kenan and Jasper donned ski goggles and Phil (without Jonah this week) filled everyone in on snow fun facts.

One of our goals this winter from the administrative and board level is to contact every Parker alumni. We sent letters in late December, and now we are following up with phone calls. The Board's Enrollment Committee are the callers, myself included.

Yesterday as I tried to reach people and left several messages, I did actually connect with a few Parker grads. It was great to talk to Kate from the class of 2003. She went to Hoosac School after Parker, was the captain of the lacrosse and soccer teams there, and is now a freshman at Lake Forest. She loves it! She's studying pre law and eventually wants to come back to New York to go to Columbia or Cornell for law school.

Then I got Aaron from the class of 1999 on his cell phone as he was boarding a train to a plane to New Hampshire for some blog work for the primary. He is in Washington D.C and is the coordinator of on-line communications for the One Campaign to fight global poverty. This non-profit organization was founded by Bono. Aaron writes the website, blog, and e- newsletters for them among other things and is active in Democratic politics. He went to Tufts and majored in political science and art history.

I feel inspired! I can't wait to connect with the other alumni on my list!

Display of work

Just before the winter break, there was a flurry of student work that was displayed, shared, and celebrated. Here are just a few of the many things adorning the walls, halls, and classrooms.

Brian shows his page of the K-1 class pop-up book about animals and their habitats. This delightful book is a showcase for progress in writing, research, illustration, and execution. Students shared this book, habitat dioramas, stories, science journals and much more with with Pre K and their parents. They have become experts on local animals such as beavers, squirrels, foxes, coyotes, and many others.

The Hudson River is taking shape down the Pre K to 3 corridor. Daily, new creatures are appearing that compete the display of authentic knowledge: fish, amphibians, mammals, and plants adorn the land and river scape, including displays of the water cycle.

Our student teacher in art, Megan, mounted a display of giant silhouette and color studies from the 4-5's. They are stunning!