Friday, December 18, 2009

Show of depth

A beautiful Peace Assembly today full of song, spirit, and light.

The Show of Work in 2-3 and K-1 made everyone proud with the depth and breadth of the experiences. 2-3 students demonstrated chlorophyll and turbidity testing from their Hudson River study. They shared a food web of Hudson River life, their essays on scientific testing, their point-of-view poems, their grand mural.

K-1's animal habitats were detailed and lush. Their animal posters were filled with information and color.

4-5's narrated their Native American legend PowerPoints on Wednesday. The stories held humor, irony, suspense. They shared foods, artifacts, games, jewelry and long houses.

I am struck by the high level of communication and the happy competency the children show. One kindergartner when I asked him how he knew that opossums have 52 teeth said, "I did research on Carol's computer and read a book." Of course!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What could be more fun?

Just enough snow for sledding - and eating of course. As the flurries fell this morning, heads were thrown back and little tongues were out to catch a few sweet flakes!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fun learning

I love seeing how our teachers interact with the kids - caring for each student and his or her progress, with big doses of fun. And they are so proud of their students. Rose said to me, "I can't wait until you read the Native American Legends the 4-5's wrote! They are amazing!"

Assembly this morning was a great example of the students taking responsibility. The 8th graders run things and music teacher George plays guitar. Today's features were "Quote of the week," "DeZara's Fun Facts," "The Garbage and Recycling Report," a humorous skit, and rousing choruses of "You are my Sunshine" and "Yellow Submarine."

Breaking news from Planet Parker: We just received the check for $1,445 from General William Mayer Foundation for a Pedal-a-Watt! Kids will pedal a bike to power lights or a radio; even a computer. Definitely a fun way to learn.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Children and anxiety

Our Faculty Professional Development Day was rich with discussion and ideas. Dr. Pat Schuler, a nationally recognized speaker discussed anxiety in children and what we can do in school to help children cope. It was affirming to hear that we are doing many of the things Pat recommended, and she gave us new ideas, too.

I recently found someone's paper from the 4-5 health class, where children wrote "10 Things That Stress Me" and "10 Things that Relieve My Stress."
Among the stressors:

My black belt exam
Getting yelled at
Losing something important to me
If I accidentally spill someone's secret

and some ways to relieve stress:
Hot cocoa
Going outside
Doing a back flip
and # 14 Take my stress out on a Barbie or Bratz doll!

One of the ways we help children cope with stress at Parker is by practicing the simple mindful breathing taught us by C.S., the grandfather of Veda in 4-5. It is one of his life's missions to spread this easy and effective way to reduce anxiety. The breathing technique is practiced regularly by almost all the children in the school.

In the afternoon yesterday we watched the video: Consuming Kids, The Commercialization of Childhood. It was an amazing reminder of how even our youngest children are the target of consumer brands.

We also shared books we are reading and that we recommend to others. Here is the list.
  • Blessings of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogul
  • Play by Stuart Brown
  • Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  • Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof
  • Moral Intelligence of Children by Robert Coles
  • Teaching Children Compassionately by Marshall Rosenberg
  • Teaching with a Heart by Vito Perrone
  • The Hudson River, An Illustrated Guide to the Living River
  • Yardsticks by Chip Wood
  • Doing Good Science in Middle School
  • Nurture Shock by Bronson and Merryman