Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A developmental understanding of gender and sexual diversity

Yesterday's workshop with Jennifer Bryan about Gender and Sexual Diversity was thought-provoking for teachers and staff.  She challenged our ideas about diversity and praised our mission that puts emotional security at the heart of learning.  We talked about developing a shared understanding and language,  helping all children feel included, and bringing parents into the conversation.

Watch for more as we explore bringing Jennifer back to school for a parent workshop in the spring.

Special Friends

Before Thanksgiving, we invited family and friends to enjoy a harvest Feast with Pre K and a program in the afternoon.  What a lovely way to share thanks with those we love!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crazy for LEGO robotics

We have robotics on the mind!  We just received a grant from the General William Mayer Foundation to greatly expand our LEGO robotics program.  We'll be adding robotics into the whole school and using some of the robotics challenges for summer camp offerings.   

Math teacher, Shelli has introduced First LEGO League into Math Club.  They will be competing in their first competition this winter.  Here is what it is all about:

In the 2011 Food Factor Challenge, over 200,000 9-16* year olds from over 55 countries will explore the topic of food safety and examine the possible points of contamination our food encounters – from exposure to insects and creatures, to unsterile processing and transportation, to unsanitary preparation and storage – then find ways to prevent or combat these contaminates.  In the Food Factor Challenge, teams will build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT to solve a set of Food Safety missions as well as research, develop, and share their innovative food safety solutions.

My step-daughter teaches at a school outside of Boston.  They won first place in a LEGO creativity contest.  Here's the video that won.  It shows a bit about what First LEGO League is all about.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Your Thoughts, Six Words, Please Send

I recently heard Michele Norris from NPR talk about her new memoir, The Grace of Silence and her poetic project The Race Card.  For the The Race Card project, she started with actual post cards asking for ideas about race using only 6 words.  The profound, funny, poignant, and moving responses are amazing to read. 

Our middle school language arts classes are reading Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and they might try their hands at Michele's challenge.  Favorites of mine: Our Untold Stories Keep Us Separate - and -   Start with kids, and MIX well.  What are yours?

Friday, November 11, 2011

An impossible dream?

The bees were put to bed for the winter with some tasty fat cakes  - and the Bee Club harvested the first batch of honey!

This article, Girls Just Want to Go to School by Nicholas Kristof is inspiring and heartbreaking.  That we are fortunate beyond words is something I think about every day. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Learning like a scientist

Alison Gopnik, U.C. Berkeley professor of psychology talks about the best ways to teach and learn in this interesting interview.   She says: "it seems children learn by exploring—by experimenting, playing, drawing inferences... We all have the capacity to function the way scientists do."  Her books, The Scientist in the Crib and now, The Philosophical Baby, tell us so much about the brain, parenting and teaching.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I just participated in an amazing workshop called The Music Paradigm with conductor, Roger Nierenberg.  I was at a conference for Heads of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut independent schools.  120 of us sat among about 30 string musicians, and experienced the beautiful sound and flow of talented musicians led by a passionate maestro.  We learned that a symphony orchestra can be a metaphor for an organization and it's leader - and that a shared vision can inspire. 

I now can't stop hearing Tchakikovsky's Serenade for strings...and thinking about our beautiful vision for education at Parker!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feeling vital and alive

Getting outside makes you feel better.  Where to Find Happiness, an article from the Huffington Post describes the work of Dr. Elizabeth Nisbit, of Carleton University.  She says, "spending time in nature or going for a walk outdoors is a mood booster and makes us feel more vital and alive."

No wonder Parker is such a great place to work and learn!