On the first day of school, I tell my students that the hardest thing I am going to ask them to do during the year is to THINK. I don’t want them to repeat my words or recite from a textbook, but rather to give me mindful answers that they have thought about. I often start the day with a “Question of the Day.” Some examples are: Why are most barns painted red? Why do dalmatians have spots? What is your favorite day of the week? I am never disappointed with their answers. Actually, my students often think of things I didn’t, and I find great joy in sharing their responses with parents and my colleagues.
In the IT field, an organization’s collection of computers, infrastructure equipment, and software is often referred to as an “environment”. However, in my own thinking process, it sometimes helps me to envision it as a box or collection of boxes, as this approach helps me to select the right equipment and software for our students. Each box in your collection contains tools that can hold, process, and/or communicate some data. That data, for example, could be pictures from the last field trip, grades, or GPS data on the wildlife roaming nearby campus. Each box has its own limits of what you can and can’t do based on the nature of the box, in other words, what tools the box has built inside it and what can they be used to do.
Do you believe that summer reading helps or harms a child’s desire to read?
This is a debate going on at schools across the nation, and both sides make some strong points. Even though my school does assign reading, we discuss its purpose each year as the school year draws to a close.There are many factors to consider, including how to choose a book that the majority of students will enjoy, whether to direct the students to a list of books or assign one for the entire group, whether to include a writing element, and finally, whether to assign reading over the summer at all.
The benefits of being outdoors have been proven, both for children and adults. In September 2010 the National Wildlife Federation published an article by Kevin Coyle entitled Create High Performing Students. The research he cites reveals that outdoor education, greener school grounds and more outdoor play time in natural settings contributes to some of the following benefits:
- Usefully employ all of a child’s native intelligences, ranging from math and science smarts to interpersonal communications
- Quantitatively increase student motivation and enthusiasm to learn
- Help students concentrate for longer periods and help mitigate attention deficit problems
- Help students to learn across disciplines and make them better real-world problem solvers
- Measurably improve classroom performance in math, science, reading and social studies.
In my fifth grade math class, students learned about fractions as they created works of art. When I first introduced the unit on fractions, I noticed my students were struggling with the concept. In an effort to combat the initial nerves of learning something new and complex, I asked students to use a ruler. I discovered that the students first had to learn to properly use the ruler itself, to understand about increments of an inch. Then, they began drawing straight lines on an x/y axis. The final result was a beautiful piece of art made one straight line at a time! Here’s how it worked:
Curiosity vs. Intelligence
Research has shown that a person’s Curiosity Quotient (CQ) is as important as their Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Most classroom teachers would agree that qualities like curiosity and work ethic tend to outweigh intelligence in student performance. But how can parents help their children to develop curiosity? It turns out there are several ways. One is through play. By allowing children the space and time to interact with one another, they will develop both curiosity and imagination. Another is through reading. Books can take students on a journey to foreign places, throw them into the middle of a mystery, or surround them with a dystopian world. Books can help students discover people who are like them, or who are very, very different. Reading can lead to a deeper interest in the world as it is, and help students imagine how it could be.
As the Head of a school that enrolls four year olds through fourteen year olds, I am often asked “Why do you end in middle school? How does this serve children differently from other school models?” These questions have opened the door to many valuable discussions about the benefits of a school that culminates in 8th Grade. I witness the value of a PreK-8th Grade program in our classrooms and in the interactions between our students, faculty and parents every day, but with all the different educational options available to families, why should you consider sending your child to a PreK (or Kindergarten) through 8th Grade school?
Kindergarten students learn to share, and as adults we try to remember those early lessons. Middle School students also love to share, but they enjoy sharing information. A group of sixth grade students was asked to review videos on the site TED-Ed and to recommend their favorites through a class blog. Students previewed videos here, and shared their favorites with their peers. Find some student recommendations below:
Every year, every season, teams start out as undefeated. In middle school athletics, no one generally thinks about being undefeated until after their team at least wins a few games. However, at my school there is a tradition of memorializing an undefeated team by hanging a banner in our gym. The banner lists the team, the year and the team’s final record for the season. By the end of the first practice, all of the players, including the new ones, are aware of this tradition.
Our boys’ soccer team hadn’t had an undefeated season since 1996.
As the school year unfolds, many opportunities present themselves as a chance to think about intention.
A legitimate intention, one that you take seriously, is both enticing and attainable. When you set yourself on an intention, you are taking into account the larger picture of who you want to be and the steps necessary to get there. Intentions are authentic desires, high ideals rooted in what matters most to you. This process compels you to make a commitment to align your actions with your inner values. This is not just about going through the motions of changing behavior for the sake of change. The anticipation of the good and worthwhile feeling we believe will come from honestly working toward something makes an actual improvement in our lives possible. By setting intentions, we get to the source of what we truly want. Because intentions are not oriented toward a future outcome, it becomes more deeper and more profound than meeting a goal. Living with intention is a path, a practice, a responsibility, and an indication of character.
Here are a few things to consider when you decide to create an intention.