Thursday, June 30, 2016

Promoting adventure

We have worked in the past with an amazing educator, Ron Berger, and his ideas permeate our school.  He was a teacher for many years in Massachusetts and is now chief education director at Expeditionary Learning (EL Education).  He taught us about the process of critique, of beautiful display of children's work, and of linking classroom learning to real problems and solutions outside of school - the purposeful action we talk about in our mission statement.

The roots of EL Education come from Outward Bound and one of the tenets is "Promoting Adventure" -  the kind that encompasses physical activities in the outdoors, and also the intellectual kind that can involve risk, challenge, and discovery.

EL promotes the kind of adventures that create opportunities for leadership and collaboration as groups of students and teachers face challenges together.  Together, students and adults discover they can do more that they thought was possible, and find aspects of themselves that they didn't know were there.       ~ EL Education Core Practice 30

I love the idea that Adventure is a school goal.  Here is a  Parker example: our STEM Week, where students must work as teams of engineers in a Space Tourism company, to research, design, and build rockets, while making promotional videos for their companies.  Students function like scientists and engineers do, and also entrepreneurs.  They have group goals and individual goals.  They tackle something that is relevant to their lives and is actually happening in the world outside of school.  They reflect on their work afterwards.

Their learning is an adventure.  It elicits students' enthusiasm, excitement, and motivation.  All the goals we have for learning: cooperation, research, critical thinking, creative thinking, and so many others are embodied in activities like this.

Adventure is what keeps kids craving more and is probably why Parker children love to come to school.  Here is a photo of some kind of summer adventure - a kind that can be categorized simply as "fun"!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Time to catch a frog

It's a whirlwind at the end of the school year.  Now as the perfect blue of the June sky beckons, it's time to go out and catch a frog.

There is something about the rhythm and pattern of our school lives that leads to a winding up at the end of the year - and then an inevitable winding down.  Could it be that Shows of Work, field trips, launching a student-made boat on the pond, graduation speeches, our 25th Anniversary Celebration, a ground-breaking ceremony, the Board of Trustees annual al...leave us craving the relative simplicity of summer?  Would we feel such a sense of accomplishment and the sweet pleasure of an iced tea on the patio if the ending of the year were not so frenetic?!

On the radio the other day, I heard a song I fondly remember from childhood and our family's seemingly endless seven-hour drive to the beach every summer.  Now I'm dating myself -  it was Nat King Cole's Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.  That song just sounds like summer to me.

I think that "lazy" is the key word.  It is great to be lazy in the summer - and it can be the impetus for flights of crazy imagination.  Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Broadway's Hamilton expresses it beautifully in this interview in GQ about how the key to parenting might be less parenting.   He recalls a car ride as a kid where a friend entertained himself with a stick - just a stick - for three hours.

At Planet Parker camp, kids are often down at the pond catching frogs - and they develop a whole fantasy about even that.  "This frog can't afford us," I heard one girl say.  What funny story about frogs lead to that idea?!

So, it's officially summer - grab a soda, some pretzels and a beer - or a frog - and enjoy some lazy days.  You've earned it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Our school property is full of wonder.  This spring, the K-1 class was studying birds and an alumni parent, Curt Morgan, took the children out birding.  Curt's son, also Curt, a Parker grad of the class of 1996, is an Emmy Award winning action nature and sports film-maker in Jackson, Wyoming.  I guess a love of nature runs in the family!

Here is what they saw on the bird walk and some of Curt's commentary.

There are more Starlings on your property than any other species mainly due to the presence of the adjoining farm house where they are feeding domestic chickens and geese. 

More of a proof shot, but this is a male Scarlet Tanager seen together with his mate this morning.

 These warblers sure do grace your property.

When I saw this American Kestrel yesterday on your property, the Blue Jays were not too happy.

Beside the possible Black-billed Cuckoo and Veery, this Chestnut-sided Warbler was the most unusual bird for us to see today.

Glad to see Mr. Mallard taking advantage of your beautiful pond.
This is the Parker School Red-tailed Hawk (RTH).  I think that this one and its mate are nesting along the power lines.  If you see an RTH on or near your property then it is this pair, who own the air space for one square mile around your property.

 The two pairs of Canada Geese enjoy the wet area on the southeast corner of your property; the domestic geese (I think that the neighbors have Chinese Geese) make them feel more comfortable in being there.

Thank you, Curt!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Head for the Day!

My name is Christopher and I was Head for the Day, today!  I got to pull the fire alarm!  I was surprised that I had to go make sure that no one was in the bathrooms during the fire drill.  I got to go out for lunch with my friend Max and we got milkshakes and ice cream sundaes!  Because I called an extra recess for the whole school, we went to get popscicles and I gave them out to every body.  I hope I get to do this again!