Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Special Friends

A child's family is made up of those who love them.  Thank you Special Friends who visited today!  Happy Thanksgiving, Parker family!

Growing Friends and Caring Connections

2-3's are working with adults with disabilities from Rensselaer County ARC to become friends and to do horticultural projects together.  Four new friends, Jessica, Connie, Paul, and Renee, were given tours of the school by small groups of 2-3's.  Paul played harmonica for the kids and sang a song. 

In K-1 on Fridays, a graduate class from Russell Sage brings therapy dogs to teach about caring for animals. 

In each instance, students reach outside their zones of comfort and perspective.  They practice kind and caring words and actions - and ultimately develop empathy and understanding. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Creative minds at work

This You Tube video was made by three of our middle school students.

Here's the assignment:
Students researched and presented what they felt were important inventions and discoveries from their lifetimes. Expanding from discoveries, the 6th and 7th graders were then challenged to, in groups, choose the "greatest" scientist to research and present. 

They spent several days researching scientists, weighing options, and organizing information. Writing research papers as individuals and collaborating on skits in groups, they delved into the lives and works of lesser known scientists and justified why these men and women are great. Putting together facts, props, sets, and entertainment, their creative skits highlighted famous discoveries and interesting people. Students employed the same problem solving and creative thinking skills while planning, researching and implementing their papers and skits that they use when creating their own scientific experiments.  

Being completely jealous of the skills shown in this video (if you've seen my video attempts, you know why), I asked the creators about how they learned film-making. Zoe told me she had taken a class last summer at Hudson Valley Community College.  I'm signing up!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A foundation of caring

The new pavilion is taking shape! 

And here is the first team of President, Vice President and Secretary of Class for the 4-5's.  Their election process was terrific - from the Bubble Gum Party to the Peaceful Classroom and the Black and White Parties, everyone got involved in a dynamic exercise about government. 

I just returned from three days with other Heads of New York independent schools.  We had thought provoking speakers and discussions about the state of public schools, from the most challenged, to the most challenging. The perils of a system geared towards meeting testing standards seem almost overwhelming.  We discussed kids who want to learn, but the schools aren't teaching them, and on the other end of the spectrum kids under so much pressure to perform that they become sick.

As an independent school believing that positive and caring connections between and among students, teachers, and parents is the most important foundation for learning, we function on a very different premise.  We are so fortunate that wonder, discovery, and delight are our baseline.  Our teachers believe in every child and his or her own amazing potential - and the students thrive. 

We heard from Ned Hallowell who wrote Finding the Heart of the Child and The Childhood Roots of Happiness.  My next reads!