Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Global connection

From the 2-3 study of India in May 2010
Susie Merrett writes:
I'm off to south India to visit Shanti Bhavan , a remarkable boarding school outside of Bangalore. Our hope is to establish a relationship between Shanti Bhavan and Parker that will deepen our studies of India and help our students gain connections to children of a very different culture.

Susie is traveling with former Parker parent and trustee Kallanna Manjunath.  Manju's family is from Bangalore where Susie and he are treasured guests of the family.  To read Susie's beautiful travel blog click: http://rcparkervisitsindia.blogspot.com/

Susie is bringing letters from our 2-3 students introducing themselves to Shanti Bhavan students. She hopes to bring back responses that will begin a relationship between the two schools.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Quite amazing

I just got a note from Jennifer Bryan who worked with us last year on gender identity issues.  She was thought provoking and wise - and gave us so much good food for thought and action.  Mark Merrett, Susie's husband, made a film last year when Jennifer was here.  Jennifer just re-watched it and said,  

"The film reminded me that the students at Parker really are quite amazing. I love listening to those 8th graders who are already bringing such important skills to their understanding of the world. I felt proud watching the film; you must feel proud every day about the great work you and the teachers are doing at Parker."

Here is the film:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Science and play

What do science and play have in common?  This wonderful TED Talk analyzes what is needed to be a good scientist.  Guess what? Curiosity, interest, innocence and zeal are key components.  The essence of what we support in our students.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Full circle

The time honored Parker tradition of Buddies brings our students full circle.  Remembering their time in Pre K, K-1 and 2-3, older buddies love to revisit their "youth" as they read, write, create art, or play and take nature hikes with younger buddies.  These very special relationships carry over across the years as the cycle continues.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sweet deal

 Mmm, honey.  Bee-keeper and mentor, Tony Antonucci brought knowledge and honey to today's 4-5 science class.  They are learning all about pollinators as our resident bee-keeping experts.  How sweet it is!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The stimulated brain

All over the school: Picture Day; beginning research on protest music; building block structures; math lesson on graphing; the history of the Brooklyn Bridge; designing an irrigation system and recording the work (while holding a clipboard like a scientist does). 

Read this article about how the brain needs stimulation in the early years for maximum growth later.  A Parker brain is definitely a stimulated brain!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Authentic work

Persevering to get just the right design in LEGO Robotics Club
Charlotte, Veda and Jared present the "Fun Fact of the Week" at Assembly
            In Muddy Boots Club, K-1's and 2-3's decide "Who Eats What in the Woods?"
 ...students work should be something they create on their own, or with others, that has real value in the real world.  They are capable of doing authentic work that adds to the abundance of ways that can make the world a better, richer place.

Teachers discussed the article Should we Connect School to Real Life? from Will  Richardson's new book, Why School?  Richardson envisions how students can create work that is relevant and useful in the world.  Our focus on Signature Experiences for students that develop leadership and communication is exactly what is called for.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Clean water advocacy

Amazing day on the river collecting water and weather data for Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and the DEC.  Thank you to the many parents who helped out, too!  This year we found many fish - even the rare-to-spot striped sea bass, spawned last spring.  Click here for more about Hudson River Snapshot Day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Nature and skills - a magical connection

Egg on leaf.
Now it eats its egg shell.  Now it molts.

Now it makes a chrysalis.  Now it comes out and spreads its wings.
Flys to Mexico and back.  Finds a nice milk weed leaf and lays an egg.
Egg.  The End
A first grader's retelling of the life cycle of a Monarch butterfly.  Beautiful in its attention to detail, composition, and story line.  I love the way it begins with an egg and ends with an egg.  A sophisticated piece of writing and it shows keen skills of observation.  It is also an example of curriculum integration: language, art and science.  Each student's book on the Monarch life cycle was different - and held beauty, knowledge and skills within.

Here is an interesting article about how 50 minutes of walking in nature is proven to increase focus and short-term memory, as well as sense of well-being, Sharpen Your Memory with a Simple Walk in Nature.

It definitely makes a difference in children's learning - Muddy Boots Club, recess in meadows and woods, and classes organized around using the outdoors give our students an edge I think!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

More on character

 Paul Tough argues in his new book that the qualities that predict success are not high scores on tests from preschool to the SAT's, but skills that have more to do with character: perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism and self-control.  You can read more about his ideas in this NPR article, Children Succeed with Character, Not Test Scores.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


There are so many things I think about as I post these pictures from the past week.  Mainly they involve character and how Parker develops students with particular traits.

Parker kids retain their enthusiasm and humor on the soccer field - for them it's about camaraderie and heart, not about the score.  They gain responsibility and joy from their Buddy relationships.  Look in the fourth picture: the 2-3's were negotiating how to accomplish a challenge in Phys ed.  They were able to voice several ideas and decide which one to go with - then go back to the drawing board to try a second time.  They can successfully work together in groups, sharing equipment and ideas.  They are respectful and accepting and excited for each other's successes.

A Parker graduate came to visit the other day - he popped right back into Language Arts class and shared his ideas about a story the class is reading.  The room was filled with the give and take of ideas, sometimes conflicting and often one person's ideas changed the thinking of another, a sign of skilled persuasion and also of intellectual maturity.  This student then spent an hour in the 2-3 class writing a poem with his former buddy.

Giving, passionate, lively, creative - that is a Parker kid.