Monday, May 31, 2010

Skillful students show their stuff!

Lynn Schuster said of the 2-3 students Show of Work on India, as they created a Hindu Temple, played SmartBoard Jeopardy, and shared their Deity essays :
This study was multi-faceted and interdisciplinary. The work and experiences pushed and stretched our students to explore and develop new skills. Writing a thoughtful and interesting essay with greater ease! Creating detailed and beautiful works of art that captured their powers of observation! Dancing! Translating facts into interesting presentations! Showing great poise and confidence as they shared their new knowledge with you and our school community, they demonstrated stamina and an independent commitment to their tasks.

In K-1, the room was transformed into a rainforest in Costa Rica, with rainforest facts, research on birds, creative stories, a pop-up book...

I am reading progress reports right now - the array of deep studies in math, social studies, science, writing, Spanish... wait for the next blog entry for more!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reach Out - Speak Out

The whirlwind of end-of-the-year activities is fully under way! 

Community work day brought out the troops for log hauling, window washing, topsoil spreading, curtain cleaning, and kitchen scrubbing.

4-5's made a presentation to the trustees on the whole-school Reduce, Reuse, Recycle project - they shared posters, power points, a music video, a magazine, a video puppet show, and letters to local companies - all to educate others.

Thesis presentations were magnificent on Thursday night.  8th graders are skilled presenters - clear, concise, interesting, and funny.  The range of their topics was fascinating: the evils of mass produced foods; the truth behind Woodstock; the increase in salaries in professional baseball; the Arthurian legend; the good works of Michael Jackson, the atomic name just a few.

On Friday morning MICE (Make it Clean Everywhere) Teams were out in full force with a new twist:  The Little Cheese commissioner as a helper to the Big Cheese.

My take-away from the week?  Parker students are skilled and practiced communicators.  And they (and their families, too) readily share their time, talents, and energy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Head for the Day

Kiki did an amazing job as Head for the Day!  She greeted students as they entered the school, announced an extra recess at assembly, visited classes and took many pictures, and passed out popscicles!  She brought Zara along for lunch at Alexis Diner - milkshake, mac n'cheese and cheesecake  - yum!  Kiki and Zara agreed that the one thing about Parker that should never change is the nice teachers.  Although they wouldn't mind a pond for ice skating in winter.

The highlight - pulling the fire alarm for a drill.  Kiki was dancing down the hall!  She's obviously a natural.

A wonderful week

We were honored with the presence of a very special visitor this week, Swami Paramandan Ji.  This karma yogi from India visited in the K-1 and 2-3 classes and returned for an evening program on meditation and community service. 

The students were especially curious about the homes for orphans and homeless women founded by Swami Ji, and his meditation practices.  Both classes shared their technique of "finding their silence," a daily practice that focuses them during morning meetings.  Swami Ji commended them for being good and pure children.  He wants to take many ideas he saw during his visit at Parker back to the schools he has founded in India. 

Other highlights of the week:  avid readers in the library, film-making in Spanish class, and presentations this morning in Assembly on our recycling program.  And of course the excitement of having Kiki Cunningham as Head for the Day.  But more on that in a moment!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blast off!!

It was a perfect afternoon to blast off!  Space tourism teams launched their rockets to the delight of the whole school.  Teams also aired their commercial videos promoting space tourism - testimonials, bloopers and all.  "Ride the Vacation With the Stars rocket to the planet of your choice - Only $2,999,999.99 - a huge savings - HUGE!"

The space tourism companies:
Sir Jets-A-Lot
Shooting Stars
To Infinity and Beyond
Ninja Pig Rockets (offers gravity-free bowling on every flight!)
Little Green Men, Inc.
Vacation With the Stars

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More evidence about the power of play

On Moving Up Day, each class visited the next one up - just to get a feel for what it will be like next year!  Lunch was the visiting time with many giggles.

At recess, there was a flurry of building projects - engineers in the making.  The more I read about how play is the way that the human brain develops, the more I treasure the freedom of two daily recesses.  The latest issue of The Atlantic has a great book review about The Evolution of Childhood by Melvin Konner.
Play's the Thing by Benjamin Schwarz

"The smartest animals are the most playful, so these traits have apparently evolved together. It (play) seems to have multiple functions - exercise, learning, sharpening skills - and the positive emotions it evokes may be an adaptation that encourages us to try new things and learn with more flexibility.  In fact, it may be the primary means nature has found to develop our brains."

More evidence to support an education that harnesses children's natural tendencies to their best effect!

Space tourism update

Straws and spitballs can help to determine the trajectory angle - who knew?!  Team members have their assigned roles.  The design phase is over and the construction phase has begun.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

STEM Challenges

On Friday, 6-7's took their cars into the sun!  The Solar Vehicle Challenge had been several weeks in development, and now, with the cars out of the hallways and onto the road, the ultimate test was on.  6-7's learned much about velocity, torque, gear ratios, batteries v.s. solar and lots more - that, really, they will have to explain to you because it is way beyond my knowledge base!

This week their creative juices are turned to a new challenge.  While the 8th graders are in Philadelphia, 6-7's will dedicate their week to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).  The charge:  Develop a prototype rocket for commercial "space-tourism"  Three-person teams (project manager, ad manager, and admin asst - roles changing daily) must design a rocket to be launched through a suspended hula hoop.  They will design a commercial to market their project to consumers.   Their rocket needs to go through NASA certification.  At the end:  a film or skit presentation and a day of rocket launching!

The week is supplemented with an ethics workshop.  And the kids in Philadelphia think they will be busy learning new things!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Auction at the Barn

"Celebrate May Day on Planet Parker" was a great success!  Thank you to all who volunteered and helped, from donating and wrapping auction items, to decorating and delivering balloons! 

We had four Parker alumni attending.  Jonathan Lord, '97 was Master of Ceremonies and Auctioneer.  His brother Alex, '00 is shown with their Mother, Nancy.  Max Gitlen, '96 and Jackie Sher, Assoc.'99 were there, too!  

The Barn in the Rensselaer Tech Parker turned out to be spectacular!  Sarah Biondello's husband, Vinnie brought his band, The Providers.  Past and present parents, friends of the school, teachers - all enjoyed a lively evening.  Funds from the event go towards scholarships and school programming.  The auction benefits every child in the school.  Thank you, everyone!!