Friday, March 11, 2016

Don't worry. We are going for a walk.

K-1 teacher, Jennifer Gresens just wrote a beautiful piece about living in the here and now.  As parents we feel the anxiety of our high stakes world, and we worry about whether our children will gain all the skills and experiences they need to be successful adults.  Jennifer says,

The problem with looking forward, always in preparation mode, is the loss of the here and now. Children will never get those years back.  They'll only be five once.

Her answer?  Children need us to trust that where they are right now is just right.  But for many parents, that's hard!

We do need to trust that in a supportive environment, eventually our kids will learn to read, master multiplication, and get into a good college.  Pushing them too much, too fast, won't help.

For parents who know they shouldn't worry, but are in worry mode anyway, try out some of these 49 Phrases to Calm an Anxious Child for yourself:  "You are not alone in how you feel"  and  "Let's learn more about it." And if all else fails, there is always the time-honored, "We are going for a walk."

Friday, March 4, 2016

Becoming passionate communicators

All kinds of writing goes on in middle school: from mini-thesis papers to the activity above, where a visiting graphic novelist inspired students to come up with their own cartoon-like stories.

Today I got the list of topics for the 8th grade thesis projects - something I look forward to every year.  Middle school kids are passionate about ideas and the range of topics this year proves the point. Students have done their initial research, organized note cards into a system that informs an outline, and then the writing and re-writing begins on a ten to twenty page paper. There is a presentation component, and students rise to the occasion with powerful words and images that condense their ideas into a 5 minute talk.

As social studies teacher James says, "This assignment is designed as a keynote experience for Parker students to exhibit the knowledge and interests developed during their time at the school."

Class of 2016 topics:

The Mexican Border
The Death Penalty
Common Core Standards
Gun Control
Gambling and Gaming
Racial Profiling
Gay Rights
Violence in Video Games
Undocumented Workers
Animal Rights and the Best Approach to Protection
Incarceration and Violence