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Sam Intrator, Head of School and Professor of Education and Child Study
Observations from the Head of School, Sam Intrator

September 19, 2014

Dear Campus School Families:

So the etymology of novice derives from the 12th century Latin novicius meaning "newly imported and experienced." I boldly claim the mantle of novicius in regard to "video production." Yet in the Campus School spirit of always learning, I want to share the story of our first three weeks. It's a story of how all across the school-- our focus has been on building the foundation of a learning community.

Have a wonderful weekend. This year-- as much as I can-- I will strive to share reflections on learning and life here at the Campus School. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH4Wu3CMgkg&feature=youtu.be

Sincerely,

Sam

September 5, 2014

Dear Campus School Families:

There is something uplifting about 250+ voices singing together..

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

Our old gym was awash in those words and sentiment on Wednesday while we sang this Campus School standby as we finished our Opening Day Assembly. As you know, this has been a year of “new friends” joining SCCS and it is with eager anticipation and genuine excitement that our year begins.

One of our “new friends” will be joining us for Parent Night this Tuesday. Smith President Kathy McCartney will speak for just a few minutes at 6:45 pm. As far as we know, having the Smith President join us at parent night is a first for the school. Prior to coming to Smith, Kathy was the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is a world-class scholar and researcher focused on early childhood education and child care. We are excited to welcome her for very brief remarks.

The other two pieces of the assembly are also worth describing as they speak to important observations about our upcoming year.

As you may know, another wonderful Campus School tradition involves faculty and staff identifying a Common Book for the year. This year A Ball of Yarn by Mac Barnett was selected. It’s a lovely book that is on display in every classroom in the school. It’s a story that celebrates the yarn of life: who we are, what we do and create, what we share, what we receive, how we care, and how we can reach out. It’s a book that celebrates how tangled life can be.

In honor of our common book and our opening assembly, Cindy Naughton, amazingly, wrote a song and music inspired by the book. It was quite a feat to teach the whole school the song and then have us sing together...

A ball of yarn is a wonderful thing.

It can make you clothes, it can make you sing.

If you share it around you’ll be discovering

the magic it can bring (the full song is down below)

The last part of the assembly focused on my short remarks to the entire school community. Last year-- I began by organizing my remarks at the opening assembly around one of my most cherished children’s stories Amos and Boris by William Steig. Over the year, I had the chance to read Amos and Boris in a number of classes and when students would come to visit at the office I had copies and we would sometimes find our way back into the book for a conversation. This year-- I selected another family favorite to guide my thoughts: Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka.

It’s a 34-word book accompanied by some wildly engaging illustrations and it tells the story of two children who meet on a street and go through the stages of forming a connection and a spark. It’s a book about noticing somebody, reaching out, and creating a friendship. Ms. Marble (our new librarian) and I read the book and tried to dramatically enact the story, which captures all of what we feel when we start something new: anxiety, hope, loneliness, the moment of bravely reaching out, anticipation, surprise, the spark of connection, and concludes with a sense of joy. The last page of the book is both boys jumping high in exaltation and singing… “YOW!” in unison.


So thank you all… YOW! What a week!


Sam

===

A Ball of Yarn

Lyrics and music by Cindy Naughton
Based on Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

A ball of yarn is a wonderful thing.
It can make you clothes, it can make you sing.
If you share it around you'll be discovering

The yarn can come in every hue
with different qualities just like you
put them together for a beautiful view
so welcoming and new.

A ball of yarn...

Find a talent that you can share
give of yourself and be aware
of who you can help everywhere
create a life with love and care.

A ball of yarn...


June 5, 2014

Dear Campus School Families:

I hope all is well. I am writing with a couple of short updates.

First, I hope you will read the wonderful lead article about the Campus School on the Smith College GATE-- which is the leading news source for Smith College. The article describes an ongoing relationship between the Campus School and a group of professors from engineering and the education and child study departments involving a National Science Foundation grant on engineering education. The article highlights how Campus School students have played a central role in the design and beta testing of a multimedia project that will be widely available to schools across the country. Here is the teaser from the article:

As any graduate can attest, the Smith College Campus School has a long history of making learning fun. On a recent Friday morning, students in Mary Ann Dassatti’s sixth-grade information technology class are discovering that for themselves. They are testing the beta version of a new website, and the room is soon focused and alive with ideas and questions:

“Robots can analyze all the results for every single move in like two seconds!” … ”This robot is a genius!” … ”This is so weird!” … “Wait, there’s a robots’ rights movement?”

Introducing sixth-graders to complex engineering concepts—and getting them to like it—may seem like the stuff of fairy tales. But with the help of “Through My Window,” a multimedia engineering education website developed by faculty at Smith and Springfield Technical Community colleges and funded by the National Science Foundation, it’s actually becoming a reality.

I wanted to also share a quick update on staffing.  As sometimes happens at the school, when positions open up we will have some internal movement across grades. This year Emily Endris will be moving from third grade to fifth grade. Emily is very excited to work with older children and to explore our fifth grade curriculum. She has been a remarkable addition to our Campus School team and we are excited for her to join Paul Matylas in our fifth grade

In addition, Marty Knieriem and Barbara Wright will replace Sally Bagg and work together to coordinate the Instrumental Music program. Marty and Barbara have many years of working in the instrumental music program and are excited to continue to provide nearly 112 students at the school with an opportunity to learn to play and love an instrument.

Finally, just a quick update on the teacher searches. We are making good progress as a committee and we will share news as it develops.

All my best,

Sam

May 24, 2014

Dear Campus School Families:

Last week marked an exciting week of Smith commencement activities.  As a professor, it is often the first time that I meet the families of my undergraduate and graduate students. I am always struck during these encounters with parents, grandparents, siblings, and others that despite appearing all grown up and independent—the educational path of my students has been a collective journey. As one mom of a graduate student once told me, “I can’t believe it’s over. We have been learning and doing school together for 23 years.”

Education and schooling is a shared adventure and in some ways a family affair filled with shared experiences and milestones. I feel this poignantly in my own life whether it is helping Riley plan and build his Riverfest boat in third grade or talking with my oldest son Jake as he worked through ideas for his term papers during his junior year of college.  In my new role at the Campus School, I see the deep involvement and commitment of families in so many ways. I feel it during morning drop-off when children often arrive toting projects that need to be carefully transferred from the car into the school.  I see it in the afternoons when our hallways fill up with parents attending classroom exhibitions or shows. And perhaps the day I felt this most significantly at the Campus School was our Grandparent and Special Elder’s Day. 

There was a special hum at the school that day. The events included performances by the chorus, poetry reading by the sixth graders, the Nikki and Guy second and fourth grade dance show, and the touring of classrooms by grandparents and special elders. In this spirit of celebrating the importance of family, I share with you my remarks that I delivered at the Grandparents and Special Elder luncheon. I tried to convey to the grandparents and special elders the crucial role they play in the lives of our children:

Remarks to Grandparents and Special Elders:

When I first came to the Campus School, I would walk into classrooms and students would be absorbed in discussion.  In the midst of the back and forth, a student would make a comment and all of a sudden fellow students would stick their thumb up in the air and their pinky down to the ground and shimmy their fist. It took a little while, but students finally explained that this distinct hand motion was the Campus School signal for “I agree with what you said” or “I connect with your idea.” 

So—in the spirit of the Campus School shimmy—I offer you a shimmy [I waggle my hand] because today is about connections and the Campus School is a place that does connections well:

  •  We connect art to who we are becoming
  • We connect math to explain the world
  • We connect science to how we understand ourselves
  • We connect literature to our individual and social lives

All of that richness and connection happens each and everyday….

But today is a special day and we are honoring a special connection important to us all that care about how our children grow up.

Today is the day that we think about the role of special elders and grandparents in our life.

As with all things Campus School-- thus begins a meaningful process that originates inside our classrooms. Across the grades teachers help children ramp up to this special day by

  • Talking about meaningful special elders in their life
  • Reading books or articles that describe relationships between children and special elders 

Finally, they write the cards, which adorn our lobby that describe their connection to a special elder. Across the many classrooms at the CS, the prompts vary, but here are typical questions that would guide a student’s writing and thinking:

Think of a special elder in your life

  • What special memories do you have of that person
  • What makes him or her special to you?
  • Talk to a parent about him or her
  • Write about why your special elder is someone you want to remember on this day….

Aside from being poignant-- the cards reveal a special kind of connection that is crucial and transformative in the lives of the children at this school- - and every school-- the connection they have with grandparents and special elders.

I am a researcher and I believe that we can learn a lot about ourselves, our institutions, and our communities by attending to the stories people tell.  In this spirit, I read the placards and organized them into three themes that describe how our children view the impact of special elders on their lives. 

FIRST-- YOU INTRODUCE THEM TO ‘PLACES’… Special elder and grandparents become inextricably linked to a place in the minds and memories of children. If you look closely at the illustrations that children prepared and read the accompanying captions, they describe how they share “geography and location” with children. This reverence for place-- it could be the lake house where they canoed with grandpa or the special sunroom where family dinners unfolded, or the kitchen where they baked with their family. These places take on a mythical quality-- they are home base in a way. The other kinds of places named by children have to do with adventures with special elders… trips to Disney, hikes in the fields, time spent in the garden.

SECOND, THEY LOVE SPENDING TIME AND DOING THINGS WITH YOU.  I have to say that looking through the memory cards and reading about the number of children that cherish memories of playing poker and gin rummy with their grandparents (my takeaway from all the gambling innuendo is that our grandparents and special elders are probably getting fleeced by our kids). Aside from games of chance, our children describe rituals of walking together, exploring together, and cooking and sewing together. They all describe how their relationships with you help them discover their most special passions: art, baseball, music and other activities that imprint deeply and memorably across generations. What they love to do, in many cases, emanates from the passions and interests you introduced them to or participated in with them

LASTLY-- YOU ARE THE SOURCE IN HOW THEY UNDERSTAND THE STORY OF THEIR FAMILY. Grandparents and special elders serve as powerful sources of enduring stories. You are the family historians and the stories you tell about crucial family events define your family’s lineage. Aside from the obvious importance of knowing where and who one came from-- you provide them with the prevailing narrative of how they understand the family that they belong to.

There is even empirical research that suggests that children that know a lot about their families tend to do better and exhibit resilience when faced with challenges. This involves knowing important details such as -- what is the story of how our family came to America, but also less grand details such as, where did mom and dad go on their first date.

Anyway what is interesting in this research is that it’s not the narrative of Kumbaya that serves children best, but a more honest framing that psychologists Marshall Duke and Bruce Feiler call the oscillating family narrative: ‘Dear, let me tell you, we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business and lost it.... But no matter what happened, we always stuck together as a family.’ ”

The research also says that during the early years, children absorb the stories that their elders tell. This absorption is osmotic, but as children become older it becomes both critical to keep on hearing these stories, but also to have opportunity to “go public” and tell these stories of connection and family narrative. I think this is something the Campus School does so well. We provide so many ways for children to share who they are with their classmates and teachers.

Last thing I notice is that our parents and children live in a busy, hectic, giddy-up world. There has been a sea of change in the intensity of child rearing. My mom and dad look at my family and the complexity of our everyday week makes their heads spin: organized sports, music lessons, arranged play dates and the real game-changer: screen negotiations and battles.

And then the grandparents or special elders show up and it’s a reprieve. It’s support. It’s the cavalry and the whole family can breathe a little healthier and engage in rituals that become the source of powerful memories.  So thank you for being here. As the principal, a teacher, and a dad-- I say to you the Campus School Shimmy….

Sincerely,

Sam

Project Coach News: Coaching for Life Success at Monday Night Academy

April 19, 2014

Dear Campus School Families:

Sorry for the hiatus from my long emails, but it was a combination of winter hibernation and the need to finish up some other writing projects from my work in the Education and Child Study Department. I am glad to be back at writing my bi-weekly observations, because it delights me to be on the “lookout” for those stories of learning, teaching and schooling that infuse everyday life here at SCCS. It’s also a reprieve from those long procedural emails on administrative structures and the such that have been flowing from this office…

The last two weeks have been a percolating and busy time on the Smith Campus. All over campus you can see eager and anxious parents touring around with their daughters who have been admitted to Smith for next year. They are “kicking the wheels” of Smith as they deliberate on whether they will accept Smith’s offer of admission. This year, for the first time ever, the Campus School has been added to the “tour” of Smith’s treasures. What that means is that prospective students and their parents can select a Campus School tour as part of their research on whether the College is a “right fit.” Other venues around Campus that merit tours include the science labs, the Poetry Center, the Smith College Museum of Art, the library, etc...

Last week I led several tours to upwards of 20 students and their families, but on Thursday I received a phone call asking if I could give a special tour to a family from Arizona. It was a wonderful tour with a dynamic young woman interested in studying teaching and doing research on children. She was admitted to Smith as a STRIDE Scholar-- which Smith offers to select high-achieving incoming students. A STRIDE award comes with a $15,000-a-year stipend to conduct undergraduate research with a Smith faculty member.  She was ‘as advertised’-- curious, thoughtful, and exuberant-- just the kind of student I love teaching in my Smith classes

As I walked her and her mother (who was a material science engineer) through the school, I found myself focusing on the Campus School and how so much of our core identity and processes emerge from our enmeshment with Smith College. I also found myself explaining the myriad of special, transformative experiences available for Smith students who become part of our Campus School community. Each semester, we have hundreds of visits by Smith students who learn about teaching, conducting research, child development and more.

The “tour” that Marlene Musante, Maureen Litwin and I planned involved emphasizing how the Campus School functions as a special and unique setting for Smith students to learn about children and teaching. Here is a synopsis of the tours we conducted—we began at the kindergarten rooms and wended our way through the building.

Kindergarten: I began our tour by telling students about the kindergarten leaf study, which immerses students in an experience that connects the central ideas of child development with on-the-ground experiences working with children. I explained that students take Professor Susan Etheredge’s Foundation and Issues of Early Childhood course and then work alongside Ms. Block and Ms. Henderson in the Lyman Conservatory. The course begins with a careful examination of the social and cognitive development of young children and then quickly moves to applying that knowledge in this deep and textured project with our Campus School kindergartners. College students get paired up with kindergarten students and do activities like looking closely at leaves with hand lenses and microscopes. The college students then help the kindergartners carefully examine what they have observed and describe what they have learned using scientific language, sketching, tracings, rubbings, photographs, and then turn those observations into poetry and other forms of descriptive language. The essence of the project, as I explained, is to learn to be a companion to a young child as they inquire, form big and little theories of botany, and test their thinking with others.

As our adorable kindergartners waved to them, we moved on to the first-grade wing…

First Grade: Ms. Perkins class was at a gym so we popped our head into Ms. Cowley’s classroom. While we were there, I told them about a pilot project Ms. Cowley has undertaken in collaboration with Shelby Richards, a senior engineering student who has a minor in architecture. Shelby has been working with Ms. Cowley and Professor Rudnitsky from the Education and Child Study Department to develop activities that introduce first graders to the rudiments of how engineers think. The Smith students were keenly interested in the idea of a Smith student taking the lead on an innovative classroom project.

Shelby’s project focused on students designing “sail cars.” The cars have a stick chassis, wheels, adjustable axels and a large sail. The first graders learned to develop hypotheses around the relationship of wheel size, sail positioning, axel length and more.

I described the project as a S.T.E.A.M intitiative, which is a new movement launched by the  Rhode Island School of Art and Design to promote the idea that,  “We need to add Art + Design to the equation — to transform STEM into STEAM. STEM + Art = STEAM”

As Shelby said, “The point of this project was to give the kids a fun introduction to some of the main aspects of engineering. We did a lot of trial and error over quite a few weeks. I think the kids really enjoyed seeing their cars work better, and figure out what helped and what didn't. I loved being able to see them get better at reasoning what was going wrong with every step.”

Second Grade: Peeking our head into Ms. Murphy and Ms. Sussman’s rooms and the prospective Smith students saw tables piled high with bark, twigs and other natural materials.  We shared with them how themes of nature and questions of ecology are integrated throughout all subject areas. We also shared how the second grade was amidst preparing for their culminating field trip to Smith College’s newly renovated 240-acre Ada and Archibald Macleish’s Field Station where a Smith student had organized an experiential excursion investing the ecology of vernal pools.

I told the admitted Smith students how since the Macleish Center has been renovated numerous students and Smith classes have developed projects that involve exploring sustainability, environmental science, and ecology.

Third Grade: Moving on to third grade we poked our heads into Ms. Endris’ room and were immediately drawn to the wonderfully colorful and complicated set of maps designed by her class in activity of creative cartography that tells the story of how rivers progress from young bubbling brooks and tributaries, to mature meandering rivers, to older, wider and stately rivers. We then stop into Ms. Szymaszek’s room and where her students asked us a number of questions and we saw more artifacts from the river study. This opened up conversation about the many ways that Smith students and faculty get involved in the different aspects of the river unit from working with students in our science lab around modeling how river water flows, to visiting the Mill River multiple times, to working with some of Smith’s most notable scientists like engineering Professor Drew Guswa who also directs the Center for the Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability. Professor Guswa worked with Ms. Szymaszek, Ms. Endris, and our student teachers around the concepts of hydrology, which is his scholarly expertise. In reflecting on his work with our river curriculum, "It has been a great pleasure to work with the third grade curriculum. To share my knowledge of rivers and hydrology, and to learn how the underlying concepts might be understood by third graders. This has been stimulating."

Fourth Grade: After meandering past the third grade and the river study, we arrived at the fourth grade where I talked with them about a special dance project between a Smith course on community dance taught by Professor Marilyn Middleton-Sylla. The project involved Professor M-S’s students designing a dance show for us that dovetailed and extended the fourth graders study of world geography and, specifically, the study of Africa. The show took place in the Davis Ballroom and the fourth graders walked over with their kindergarten reading buddies. The Smith students also provided explanations about each dance and described how the gestures and movements had particular meanings. The Campus School students also learned a variety of moves, gestures, and several performed with the Smith dancers. The dance culminated with a quick salsa lesson for Ms. Ananda, Ms. Block, Ms. Henderson, Ms. Ramsey and, Ms. Wimberger.

Fifth Grade: We didn’t see the fifth graders on our tour, but if we had I would have shared how students in Professor Rudnitsky’s course on developing meaningful assessments of learning work with teachers across the Campus School on special projects. In Ms. Cooney’s fifth grade classroom, a team of Smithies took on the challenge of devising an assessment to understand how the fifth graders understand the idea of taxonomy. The team of college students begins the project by observing several of Ms. Cooney’s classes on botany. In these classes, Ms. Cooney introduces the idea of a taxonomy by engaging her 5th graders in a multi-day activity that involves them brainstorming all the plant life they know and then devising a system to categorize them. They then learn about the different forms of taxonomy developed from Aristotle through medieval times and then examine the ideas and principles anchoring the Linnaean taxonomy structure. After observing several classes, the students devise an assessment and then meet to present this to Ms. Cooney. Their initial draft gets revised based on Ms. Cooney’s feedback and ideas shared from others in the class. Once refined, the Smith students administer the assessment to fifth graders.

Sixth Grade: Our tour ended in front of the sixth grade rooms, where I shared the story of how a Smith course titled Growing up American: Adolescents and their Educational Institutions just completed an innovative project with our sixth graders. The project involves the Smith students and SCCS students reading a young adult fiction novel together. This year the group read The Misfits or The Revealers. The structure of the project involves the Smith students preparing lesson plans and then leading book discussion groups over a five week period. This was a very intriguing project for the prospective Smith students to hear about and they had many questions such as, “Does the college student teach a regular lesson to a whole class?” The answer to that question is, “No. The college students work with groups of three or four Campus School students and write lesson plans to guide discussions in small groups.” I told them that one of the highlights for the Campus School students is how they describe the small group conversation as “energetic” because they have many more opportunities to talk and think out loud because the groups are smaller than full-class discussion.

At the end of the tour, we gathered in the front lobby and one of the admitted students said with a bright smile, “I hope I get to work here and learn here when I come to Smith, but I think that even better would have been to come here as a student when I was in elementary school.” That was a ringing endorsement!  In fact, here is a blurb from the evaluation of the tour that was circulated among the key administrators at the College about the tour on admissions day.

The Campus school tour was phenomenal because the school was outstanding! I wish I got to go to a school like that! The musical and social justice components were wonderful.

Sincerely,

Sam

 

February 24, 2014

Dear Campus School Families:

It was a short, but busy week at the Campus School. We returned to our routines and even squeezed in a "redo" of Valentine’s Day! 

In the spirit of Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” and what she describes as the virtue of getting beyond the“comfort zone”  and “stretching...to learn new things,” I have organized this week’s observation as a 3-minute video. 

Communicating in this medium is new to me (so I hope you'll excuse the rough spots), but I am eager to learn more about how to use video, image, sound, and more. I focus on the importance of “talk” in how children learn at the Campus School.

Sincerely

Sam

Campus School Talk VIdeo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tp8VaGbPVY

 

February 1, 2014

Dear Campus School Families:

I have the best office on campus. My windows look out onto the Campus School field and playground. The larger vista includes the downtown steeple of First Church and the Holyoke range looming in the distance. In the early mornings, particularly during winter, the sun creeps over the mountains and glints off the church facade. It’s a quiet and serene postcard scene worthy of Thomas Cole’s “View from Mt. Holyoke.”

At about 11:30 the quintessential New England vista gets infused with surround-sound --Campus School style. Our students stream out for recess and the games begin: foursquare, basketball, hopalong bouncers weaving to and fro on the blacktop, pretend play on the hill, synchronized swinging, and various and sundry tag games all over the field and playground.  Underneath the towering tulip tree outside my office, children gather in a circle of rock boulders where imaginary and magical play unfolds. I have watched children play horsey, wizards, frontierswomen, and puppies. It’s improvisational, high action, child-centered play in its purest form.

I have come believe that providing time, space, and encouragement for child-organized, imaginative play is a signature feature of the Campus School’s educational design. While central to our ethos and practice, it’s important to recognize that the Campus School’s stance on this has become somewhat anomalous. Numerous studies suggest the trend in American education has been to curtail unstructured time during the school day. One organization-- the Alliance for Childhood-- commissioned a research study to examine the state of kindergartens in New York City and Westchester County, New York, and Los Angeles, California. The researchers interviewed hundreds of teachers and did in-depth studies of classrooms. They concluded that “play in all its forms, but especially open-ended child-initiated play, is now a minor activity, if not completely eliminated, in most of the kindergartens in the sample. In its place, teacher-directed activities…”

This trend of maximizing teacher-directed academic instruction has resulted in less time for recess and significant cuts to activities such as art, music, physical education, and drama. Despite a broad and unequivocal research base that concludes, as this study in the medical journal Pediatrics does, “During free play, children increase their imagination and creativity, organize their own games, develop their own rules, learn problem-solving skills, and practice leadership,” schools shave away opportunities for children to engage in creative play. A New York Times report showcases that  “nearly half of all school districts in the country have shifted large chunks of time to math and reading instruction in order to improve student test scores. What’s been cut? Art, music, social studies and recess. The last has been particularly hard hit. On average, American kids get only 26 minutes of recess per day, including lunchtime.” Campus School students get an average 85 minutes in kindergarten, 60 minutes in first and second grade, and 45 minutes in third-sixth grade.  

The role of play in learning and development has long been fascinating to me. At Smith I taught a course titled “Play Time: Theories of Creativity, Games, and Learning.”  The description of the course is as follows: “We will explore the human impulse for play and its relationship to human development and learning. Questions that will occupy our time include: What is the role of play in cognitive and social development? What is the connection between play, learning, and creativity and what social and institutional conditions promote this relationship? What makes for instructional design focused on learning through play? As a companion to the seminar, we will design and teach in an afterschool program for local youth that will be held at the SC Art Museum.” In short, I believe that when children get swept up and absorbed in play it is a sweet spot of learning and development.

The first reading we do in my course is a NY Times Magazine cover story that takes on the global issues of play. In “Taking Play Seriously” Robin Henig writes, “Scientists who study play, in animals and humans alike, are developing a consensus view that play is something more than a way for restless kids to work off steam; more than a way for chubby kids to burn off calories; more than a frivolous luxury. Play, in their view, is a central part of neurological growth and development — one important way that children build complex, skilled, responsive, socially adept and cognitively flexible brains.” The takeaway-- opportunities for dynamic, creative, and improvisational play is central to healthy educational and social development.

In fact, the same Pediatrics study that I reference earlier concludes, “that play and down time may be as important to a child’s academic experience as reading, science and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration and even grades.”

I believe that parents at the Campus School understand this. Earlier this year-- at one of the first Parent Advisory Council Sessions-- we began with the question: Why did your family choose the Campus School? Why, with so many outstanding educational options in the Valley, did you pick SCCS?”

In this year of nonstop learning for me, the responses I heard were fascinating. Parents described the rigor of the academics;  the sense of community; a curriculum that emphasizes ideas, imagination and creativity; the relationship and opportunities that emerge from being an elementary school connected to Smith College, and the rich and vibrant arts, music, physical education and technology programs.  The response that surprised me, and was voiced by a number of parents, focused on how a primary draw of the Campus School was the emphasis on providing time for free play and for children to have outside time during their day.

As the year has unfolded, I have heard how Campus School teachers think about how to infuse principles of play and games into key global features of the school. In speaking to Scott Messinger and Betsy Ducharme about the Campus School’s recess philosophy, I learned about the conscious and deliberate philosophy that guides recess time. Scott Messinger explains, “I think about how important it is for children to learn to play backyard games. This involves providing space, equipment, and occasional support. It’s a process, but children love to play. They want to play and many of our students do lots of activities that are adult choreographed like soccer, dance rehearsal, and basketball practice, which is wonderful, but these activities are often adult structured. Spans of time to play in the backyard or with other children are more rare. At recess we encourage them to play like kids which means design their own rules and, when possible, solve the problems that emerge within their games.”

What this looks like in practice is that children play countless variations of foursquare on the blacktop, a football game that flows as a hybrid between American football, soccer, and tag, and myriad of other games and activities. This is not to say that there aren’t occasional challenges that occur when children feel left out or flashes of frustration that arise as children negotiate over rules and boundaries. Yes, these moments can be raw and sad, but according to the research on play-- the conflict and negotiation that ensues maybe result in pivotal learning.

Andy Bornstein-- who writes a column for the NY Times weighed in on this in an article,”Hard Times for Recess,” which synthesizes a range of studies on the deterioration of recess time. He writes,  “We take it for granted that children know how to play, but the skills that make play fun, that make it possible — like being able to resolve conflicts quickly, knowing how to choose fair teams, knowing and respecting rules —are not innate; they are learned. And they must be practiced.” As Mr. Messinger has often said to me, “Our job is to help them figure out how to play like kids. There is something wonderful and important about what happens when they just play-- but they need to learn and practice those skills.”

Ms. Ducharme echoes this theme, “Recess and time out on the playground is an essential and central part of our Campus School curriculum. First, kids need to move. They need activity. Second, the playground is a shared multi-age space. Children playing soccer and football and tag and other activities need to negotiate how to share the space. It’s a laboratory for social engagement and figuring out how to play together. Third, watching children play and engage provides all the adults at the Campus School with tremendous insight into who they are as people and learners. We- the teachers, student teachers, and I watch all the time-- we try not to intervene, but we learn so much from what transpires on the playground.” Ms. Block-- also describes how time on the playground helps the kindergarten team learn about students, “We learn so much as kindergarten teachers watching children play. We see who they play with, how they interact with others, how they form and reform groups. What we learn on the playground is central to our social curriculum.”

There was also the sentiment that what transpires on the field and in the play structures at the Campus School is a distinct and unique experience for this generation of children. A number of teachers remarked that spontaneous and unstructured neighborhood and friend play was rare for the children they taught. While it might have been common years ago, there appears to be less free play and more structure including, lessons, adult-coached sport teams, and other tightly supervised activities. Ms. Ducharme observed, “Our playground and recess time is a pretty unique space. Kids today don’t replicate situations where you have large groups of multi-age kids playing and interacting. This is what used to happen in neighborhoods. There is something to be learned by kids having to figure out how to share space, invent activities, and play across groups.” I also heard from all teachers a sense of relentless commitment to what they called a core Campus School principle: “You can’t say, you can’t play.”

Let me end by describing a moment from today’s recess that Mr. Messinger shared with me. He and several of the teachers watched the football game dissolve into a big group debate. The students were haggling over rules and it looked like it was getting tense. Mr. Messinger said as he watched he was calculating whether it was getting to the level where adult intervention would be necessary. Just as he was about move towards the group-- several of the students called, “DO OVER.” In an instant, they sprung back into game play. “The power of DO OVER-- is something powerful that they have learned,” said Mr. Messinger. “It may sometimes be busy and chaotic, but they learn about negotiation, compromise, and conflict resolution through the games they play.”

I’m reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

Sincerely,
Sam
           

If you’re interested… a partial reading list of the course….
Texts:
Ackerman, D. (1999). Deep play (1st ed.). New York: Random House.

Bettelheim, B. (1977). The uses of enchantment: The meaning and importance of fairy tales. New York: Vintage Books.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: Harper Collins.

Eisner, E. W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Mitchell, R. G.,Jr. (1983). Mountain experience: The psychology and sociology of adventure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Pink, D. H. (2005). A whole new mind : Moving from the information age to the conceptual age. New York: Riverhead Books.

Articles:

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1988). The flow experience and its significance for human psychology. In Csikszentmihalyi,Mihaly and Isabell Selega Csikszentmihalyi (Ed.), Optimal experiences: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness (). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dickey, M. D. (2006). Game design narrative for learning: Appropriating adventure game design narrative devices and techniques for the design of interactive learning environments. Educational Technology Research & Development, 54(3), 245-263.

Dyson, A. H. (1994). The ninjas, the X-men, and the ladies: Playing with power and identity in an urban primary school. Teachers College Record, 96(2), 219-239.

Grodal, T. (2003). Chapter 6: Stories for eye, ear, and muscles: Video games, media, and embodied experiences. In M. J. P. Wolf & B. Perron (Eds.), The Video Game Theory Reader (pp. 25-46). New York: Routledge

Larson, R. W., & Walker, K. C. (2006). Learning about the 'real world' in an urban arts youth program. Journal of Adolescent Research, 2

McMahan, A. (2003). Chapter 3: Immersion, engagement, and presence: A method for analyzing 3-D video games. In M. J. P. Wolf & B. Perron (Eds.), The Video Game Theory Reader (pp. 25-46). New York: Routledge.

Koster, R. (2005). Chapter 2: How the brain works. In A Theory of Fun for Game Design (pp. 12-33). Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press.

Kirriemuir, J., & McFarlane, A. Use of computer and video games in the classroom.

Pearce, N. J., & Larson, R. W. (2006). How teens become engaged in youth development programs: The process of motivational change in a civic activism organization. Applied Developmental Science, 10(3), 121-131.

           

January 18, 2014

Dear Campus School Families:

Today we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through his words and song. It’s a truly special event that is orchestrated by Cindy Naughton and supported by all the teachers in the school through the study of Dr. King and the many facets of the Civil Rights Movement. It is a moving and powerful all-school event.

You also may have noticed that last week you did not receive an “observations” email. Starting with the Winter Break, I will be sharing observations every other week. Writing weekly reflections has allowed me to share my observations about the Campus School and it has also helped me learn in depth about the curriculum and practices that guide our community. I will continue this practice, but do so biweekly.

My observations this week are inspired by a sad event in my own life. My mentor and graduate advisor passed away last week. Elliot Eisner was the Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education and professor of art at Stanford University, and one of the most influential and creative educational thinkers of this generation. More than that, he was a vibrant, commanding presence who was passionately loyal and supportive to his graduate students. Working with him changed my life.

As I thought of Elliot and spent time mourning his passing and reminiscing about his importance in my own life and journey, I found myself thinking about how much Elliot would have adored the Campus School.  This, quite simply, is his kind of place. Here is why….

Elliot believed that a primary goal of schooling is to help children learn to enlarge their imagination and creativity; the Campus School is a place where children learn to exercise their imagination.   Elliot taught art in inner-city Chicago before returning to graduate school at the University of Chicago. His initial forays into empirical research during the 1960s were grounded in questions that he carried with him from his time spent teaching adolescents in Chicago schools and his own work as an artist. He wondered about the source of individual creativity. He speculated that the idea that creativity was a mystical talent or gift endowed among a rarefied few was wrong. Instead, he believed that the capacity for creativity was a quality that schools could develop, cultivate and grow.

Schools -- he would often tell us-- shape minds and that the curriculum-- derived from Latincurrere or literally the course one travels-- is a mind-altering device. I remember one of the first classes I took with him he asked, “how is a mind different than a brain?” I could remember being intimidated and not want to get that one wrong. I can’t remember what I said or thought as I sat hunched over, but I remember Elliot often saying something like, “Minds, unlike brains, are not entirely given at birth; minds are also forms of cultural achievement.” The kinds of minds we develop are profoundly influenced by the opportunities to learn that the school provides.”

In the spirit of Elliot’s belief that schooling done well develops complex and subtle aspects of the mind, I could imagine him striding up the portico and walking through the front doors. I could also imagine him stopping at full tilt to study with high intensity the variety of representations of the body, faces, and figures on display on the front bulletin board. Mr. Hepner’s project on the human body dovetails with the fourth grade study of human anatomy. The particular project displayed was co-designed last year by Mr. Hepner’s Smith College student teacher, Clara Bauman. The unit begins with students studying the details of Leonardo Da Vinci’s sketch books where he sketched elements of the human anatomy in an effort to understand the science of the human body. Mr. Hepner explains that, “We study DaVinci’s paintings to understand how he used drawing as a scientist to learn through careful systematic observation.” After students look through the sketches they they use white paint on black paper to sketch their version of Da Vinci’s work.

The next day they begin class with an examination of
Jean-Michel Basquiat, a Hatian-American artist who did a series of renditions of Da Vinci’s sketches using bold colors and abstract representations. After studying Basquiat’s work, student return to their original white on black sketches and add colors. They work from the idea that color and shape can as Mr. Hepner explains “help express energy, charisma and life.”

By working through multiple mediums to express content, ideas, and emotions students achieve what Elliot would consider one of the primary aspirations of education: “learning to pay attention to qualities and their expressive content.” This endeavor-- which is a single case of many similar projects at the school-- represent how children at the Campus School exercise creative and imaginative expression.

The Campus School is a place where children learn to frame the world from with an aesthetic perspective. It would take some work to move Elliot out of the lobby, because he loved to study the subtleties of children’s art making. He would get energized talking about the form and patterns. He revelled with a connoisseur's delight at how children play and think in and with a medium. This is to say that eventually I would pull him away and I could take him into a classroom. This week I myself landed in Ms. Murphy’s 2nd grade classroom and I witnessed children writing poetry in a way that I know would have thrilled Elliot.

He believed that being education involved more than the ability to read, write, analyze and think critically. He promoted re-conceptualizing what we mean by literacy to include forms of representation that included the poetic, visual art, music, and somatic knowing. He wrote in an essay titled “What Education can Learn from the Arts” that, “Language used in the service of the poetic is quite different than language used in the service of the literal. One can be literate in one form and illiterate in the other. What schools need to attend to are the cultivation of literacy in its many forms. Each form of literacy provides another way to be in the world, another way to form experience, another way to recover and express meaning.” To this end, he advocated fervently for a curriculum that is multi-literate and teaches children to both decode and understand different art forms and encode and produce different art forms. As he wrote in Arts and Creation of the Mind, “To see the rock formation as a poet might mean that one will not be likely to see it, at least at the same time, as a geologist, painter, or real estate agent.”

Elliot’s vision of this comes to fruition in Ms. Murphy’s class where they work on using poetry to describe “small moments” that they have experienced. Importantly a staple of curriculum would involve students putting together a sequenced narrative that consists of a string of events or entail composing a plot that described the beginning, middle, and end of an event. This type of conventional storytelling is important, but Ms. Murphy was as she describes focusing on a single unitary moment in time. “When we focus on writing poetry, we take that a step further, really honing in on a moment and thinking about the use of different kinds of tools that help us describe these experiences in “poetic language.” A second feature of this activity involved trying to compose quickly and spontaneously. In a sense summoning poetic thought and expression as a natural flowing form of expression. The prompt was to compose three lines:

“First one: an animal / what it does / when”

Deer
Grazing in the meadow
Sun going down like gold


Bird
Going home
In the stars


A little kitten
Snuggling in a blanket soft and cozy
One morning


The next prompt Ms. Murphy described as adapted from a workshop she attended with the poet and teacher Christian McEwen. It was called “Superlative poems” title: the 3 most ______things; each line naming one of the three


The Three Oldest Things
Rocks cradled in moss
Earth withered in life
Space lonesome with blackness


The Three Most Important Things
Taking care of my parents
Making the house neat
Learning in school


The Three Slowest Things
A traffic jam
A turtle crawling out of water
A sloth crawling on a branch

These poems transform small and fragile moments of experience -- evanescent passing thoughts -- into a form of representation that is stable and durable. Elliot would adore this exercise and view it as a demonstration of what he would lovingly describe as a complex “cognitive event” that not only inscribes a moment of time, but also gives us “means to explore our own interior landscape.” These poems maybe short, but they necessitate powerful and consequential forms of thinking.

I could keep on touring Elliot through our school, but let me end by sharing one takeaway that Elliot would have palpably felt during his visit to the Campus School: Joy.  He wrote, “Joy is not a term that is used much in the context of education, but if the arts are about anything, they are about how they make you feel in their presence-- when you know how to read their form.” He considered teaching an art form-- much in the same way that painting or sculpting is an art form-- so he would have given me a stern, but approving look and said, “this is a place of joy.”

Sincerely,

Sam

To learn more about Elliot’s Work:
http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/elliot-eisner

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h12MGuhQH9E

http://www.giarts.org/article/elliot-w-eisner-role-arts-educating-whole-child

 

December 20, 2013

Dear Campus School Families:

I wish you and your family a joyous and restorative holiday season. In lieu of a written reflection this week, I did some learning about other modes of sharing my observations. We have uploaded a 2 minute 45 second video and holiday message. I used the beautiful music of from our Campus School chorus, some stunning photographs taken by Lex Fletcher (who works in our first grade classroom), incorporated a voice over reflection, and depended on Mary Ann Dassatti for counsel and support. 

These are exciting times in education and at the Campus School....

Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy my foray into digital observations! 

Sincerely,

Sam

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzq6yCkeaO8

December 13, 2013

Dear Campus School Families:

When I was teaching in Brooklyn in 1990, Nelson Mandela visited Boys and Girls High School and spoke passionately about what it would take to end apartheid. I was teaching at another Brooklyn high school and I remember how Mandela’s visit created a powerful teachable moment for me and my students.

With my own experience as the backdrop, I have been so aware of the teaching and learning that has transpired this week around Nelson Mandela’s passing. I guess I would characterize it as a week of teachable moments, which is a way to say that while a school’s curriculum is carefully planned -- “teachable moments” emerge as opportunities for learning outside the designed set of activities. Teachers seize these occasions to delve deep or to explore a situation that is timely, relevant, and often deeply motivating to students.  I don’t believe these occasions are fortuitous or happenstance, but discerned and then developed by teachers who understand that connecting the classroom to the real world can be enduringly meaningful to children. I would like to share several of these ‘teachable moments’ that I observed during this busy and intense stretch at the Campus School. This is a period of units coming to a close, parent conferences beginning, student teachers finishing the semester, and holiday break looming.

The morning after Nelson Mandela died, Campus School teachers sprung into action to develop approaches for students to make meaning of this event. By 7:15 am all the books in the library on Nelson Mandela were circulating between teachers as they connected with each other about sharing books and approaches to think with students about this event.

Teachers across the grades started by tapping into what their students already knew about Mandela. Starting with what students know is a fundamental practice at the Campus School as it provides learners with an opportunity to reflect on their own knowledge around the object of study and then come together to weave a community knowledge base. If you peek into different classrooms all over the school you will see a variety of mind maps, webs, and other representations of how classrooms engaged in a knowledge building discussion of Mandela’s life, impact, and contributions to society.

Another strategy teachers used across grades was to share powerful Mandela quotes. The students engaged in discussion around the meaning of the quote and their significance to our time and lives. For example:

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.

As I talked with teachers, one of our ‘insights’ into the learning that was happening at the Campus School involved how students were understanding Mandela not just through their own personal context or through what they had absorbed in the news and media-- but in relationship to experiences they had in the Campus School curriculum. By way of example, in the 3rd grade when students were enmeshed in discussion with Ms. Endris and Ms. Szymaszek the words and ideas they shared included patterns of insight such as:  “Mandela was a great-changer” or he was the “leader of a change movement.”

The idea of “changer” is significant language in the Campus School because it encompasses ideas that our students tangle with in first and second grade. They study “great changers” in first grade and then in second grade they examine how “great changers” inspire and lead movements such as the Civil Rights Movement.

In the spirit of a teachable moment braiding together with the planned curriculum, I would like to share a few glimpses of how our teachers engaged with Mandela’s passing.

In the first grade, the unit on great-changers sets the stage.  Great changers, Ms. Perkins explains, is the study “of people who have made great change in the world by using their words, being peaceful.”  Each first grader is assigned a “great changer” to study and then paired with a fifth grader to read a biography of the “great changer” such as Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, Wilma Rudolph or Martin Luther King. Once they, as Ms. Cowley describes, “know the story in their bones” they start to create a word bank of descriptors in response to the question: “What words describe your ‘Great Changers?”  The word bank included:  “powerful, hopeful, grateful, scared, happy, sad, kind, fair, triumph, and grit.”

In recognition of Mandela’s life as a “great changer” first graders read Kadir Nelson’s beautiful picture bookNelson Mandela, which tells the story of Mandela growing up and his journey to topple apartheid and heal South Africa. This is particularly relevant to the “great changer unit” because first graders study those who accomplish what Ms. Perkins describes as “great change in the world by using their words, being peaceful and, especially in Mandela's case, forgiving people who have wronged them.”

Second graders move to the study of how individual leaders can forge common cause and bring about “great change.” One of the feature units of this study is the beautiful Montgomery Bus Boycott project. Here is Ms. Murphy’s introduction to what is happening:

This week, we began our study of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by building background knowledge. We need to understand what a “right” is before we think about the need for a “civil rights movement.” Students in Group R brainstormed their ideas about what people need for “a good and happy life.” Here are their thoughts:

Sun, light, warmth, school, education, respect, house, pets, experience with nature, water, love, food, grandparents, friends, care, trees, plants, the right to do what they want.

We compared this list to the U.N. “Rights of the Child” and noticed that we had come up with most of the same ideas! Next we used the text,  A Life Like Mine: How Children Live around the World, and worked in partners to learn more about each of these rights. Students practiced taking notes from non-fiction texts, and tried to put those ideas into their own words. Each student is creating a collage that illustrates an important right. When we return in January, we will begin reading the text that guides us through the boycott story.

In third grade, students read books on Mandela and engaged with each other about the significance of his life and achievements. As one student wrote on the class mind map, “he caused a big movement in the freedom fight against the segregation laws.” The language of change and courage showed up in other ways as the class worked through the idea that a good person or a great person can end up in jail and what it means to stand up to power. Students then brought home assignments where they had to speak with their parents or others about what Mandela’s death meant to them and how they understood his role as a change maker and leader.

In the sixth grade, talk about Mandela’s contributions to social change infused the week. One particular episode with threads to the idea of “change maker” and “movements” occurred when both classes assembledon Tuesday for a session with Professor (& dad of a 6th grader) Jon Western’s Government 341 Seminar in International Politics. A group of nearly 60 college and SCCS students convened in small groups to examine the concepts that anchor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Professor Western put together a plan that engaged college and SCC students in a series of provocative scenarios:

“You have landed on a new planet/continent inhabited by aliens. Many are nice. Some are suspicious. They are all curious and welcoming. They have never seen a human being such as you. They ask you, “What is a human being?”

After a discussion on this basic philosophical question, they move to discussing, “The aliens then ask you what things are needed in order to protect, enhance, and fully develop these qualities of a human being.” The next scenario engaged them in developing their own Universal Bill of Rights: “You continue your journey and discover a small new planet. No one has ever lived there. There are no laws, no rules, and no history. You will all be settlers here and in preparation your group has been appointed to draw up the bill of rights for this new planet. You do not know what position you will have in this planet.”

The collaborative groups of college students and SCCS students brainstormed a list of what they considered to be fundamental human rights. Their insights included:

  • The right to an education

  • The right to a job that pays a livable wage

  • The right to secure property

  • The right to have their own beliefs

Once the small group work was completed the entire group assembled to discuss their recommendations for a universal human rights document. The discussion stretched wide, but kept circling back to the 6th grade study of the Industrial Revolution, the importance of honoring an individual’s dignity, and in the words of one of the SCCS students who was sharing in her small group, “how these ideals were what Nelson Mandela fought and sacrificed for in his leadership.”

One of the college students— a senior who was graduating this semester from Smith— said, “This was my last college class. I am so glad to have spent it with these amazing students.”

I know what she means…. there is plenty of amazing that happens around here…

Enjoy the snow-- I know our kids will love it…

Sam

December 6, 2013

Dear Campus School Families:

Monday mornings this semester, I could walk into Ms. Colon-Bradt’s sixth grade classroom and there would be a hum of intense conversation as pods of sixth graders and Smith College students huddled over a spread of photographs. The photographs included iconic photos of child laborers taken during the Industrial Revolution, images of pre-teens standing idly about in 1950’s suburbia, to more contemporary depictions of today’s teens.  College students and sixth graders would be scrutinizing the photographs:

“What do you see in this image?” asks a Smith College student.

“Childhood must have been so sad,” replies a 6th grader looking at a picture of child miners standing forlornly in front of what looks like a cave entrance. She continues, “Look at their faces. They look exhausted.”

“What else do you see?” asks the Smith College student and the conversation and analysis continues. “What might that mean? What does this say about what it means to be a child?

The project that I am describing is an innovative eight-week collaboration between Chrissy Colon-Bradt’s 6th grade class and Professor Shannon Audley-Piotrowski’s Smith course “The Child in Modern Society,” a course “that examines the experience of childhood in modern society and the ways that this experience is culturally defined and socially organized.”

The essence of the project involves the collaborative examination of primary source materials representing the lives and experiences of children from the Industrial Revolution to contemporary times. The project culminated on Monday when 6th graders and college students assembled a timeline depicting the changing nature of childhood experiences from the 1880s to the present time. The timelines, which still hang all around Ms. CB’s classroom, resemble an exhibition at a gallery or museum. Each team of researchers assembled primary source documents from books and the Smith College archives. They then analyzed each document and arranged them into a visual narrative that showed how the experience of childhood has changed over time. The curatorial exercise concluded with them creating an operative metaphor for the changes they discerned. For example, one group wrote, “Childhood is like a book. It starts out messy, gets better, but always has room for improvement once it is finished.”

In thinking about the character of learning that transpired in this collaboration, I found myself thinking about these three themes:

This was not learning history, but being a practicing historian:
We probably all have memories of “doing history” in school. The memories I conjure up involve mucking my way through dense textbooks. The history learning occurring in this project was formidably different—it involved college and SCCS students working with raw primary documents, forming ideas, developing theories, and generating hypotheses. It has been a project that embodies the genuine essence of “doing history” as a historian would do. 

In fact, in a recent article the president of the American Historical Association attempted to answer the question, as he put it, ““What do historians actually do?” He concludes that history—more than anything involves the discipline inquiry of how society changes over time. He writes,  “We most obviously emphasize more than other disciplines is change over time. While the importance of understanding how societies change over time may seem too obvious to mention, it’s worth emphasizing that it involves distinctive skills…”

The study of “change over time” was at the heart of this project and it involved another essential dimension of being a historian: working with original primary source documents.

To Ms. CB—the project enabled her to put her students into the role of being a “critical explorer.” The idea of ‘critical exploration’ derives from the work of Harvard professor Eleanor Duckworth (who was Lara Ramsey’s doctoral advisor at Harvard). Ms. Ramsey and Ms. CB met in early fall to discuss the approach of critical exploration and for Ms. CB to adapt the unit Mr. Weiner had developed on the Industrial Revolution. According to Professor Duckworth—the approach to critical exploration relies on two approaches to learning:

“First, we aim to put the learners in direct contact with the subject matter  …  a poem, or historical documents, or an arithmetic problem, or some writing that needs punctuating. Second … we find that when we are interested in the learners’ thoughts, the learners take a deepening interest in their own thoughts, too.  We find that we focus on the learners’ thoughts rather than on our own, as the engine for what generates the intellectual life of the classroom. In part this is because the learners think better that way; and in part because it is by paying attention to what they are thinking and doing that we as teachers can see how next to call on our knowledge of the subject matter—what resources to provide, what next questions to ask.  These two aspects of how we use our knowledge make for a powerful way to help people learn: depend on carefully selected aspects of the subject matter, and listen carefully to the learners’ ideas about them.”
Eleanor Duckworth, “Helping Students Get to Where Ideas Can Find Them,” The New Educator 5 : 3 (2009), pp. 185-188.

Ms. CB’s aspiration to get her students into “direct contact” with subject matter also meshed with Professor AP’s goal for her course:

This course’s larger aim is to help students develop a theoretically, historically, and culturally informed perspective on childhood and child development and to  use this knowledge to think about (and hopefully address) the dilemmas that confront children and families in modern societies. Unfortunately, most sources that record experiences of childhood are written by adults and for adults. What is missing is children’s voices, past and present.

Small group discussion with college students empowered sixth graders to think analytically and expansively.
One of the challenges of teaching involves pushing students to delve deeper. When Ms. CB and Professor AP planned this experience they imagined that the college students would take on the role of facilitator of thinking. Professor AP prepped her students to push and prod the sixth graders to expand on their thinking and describe in more depth what they observed. The sixth graders were acutely aware of this element of the activity. As one 6th grader said, “The Smith buddy helped me understand things better. Not only was she an engaging thinker, my buddy was kind. When I had an hypothesis, she would add on or say something to grow my idea to its best.”

In reflecting on the project, Ms. CB recognized that the ratio of Smith students to 6th graders enabled the discussion groups to interrogate artifacts with a depth that wouldn’t be possible in large group discussion or even just a cluster of 6th graders. “The Smith students pushed my students to interpret and critically explore the primary source documents.” As you can see by the reflections of the 6th graders, the role of college students in deepening and complicating their thinking was a key facet:

Working with my Smith student was absolutely mind blowing. She opened my mind to ideas that I had never thought about  before by asking me complicated questions. Even though I’m not a very big fan of history, she found a way to turn looking at primary documents into exploring.  It was suuuuuuuuuuper fun, and I learned a lot!

Working with a Smith student was really different. Since we were learning about how childhood changes over time, it was really beneficial to be learning WITH someone who was a child not long ago. I really liked how we go to work TOGETHER, and how neither of us knew the true answer. It helped my primary document decoding strategies to know that there is no right or wrong.

My learning has been affected by working with our Smith buddies in a big way. I definitely would rather work with them than on my own because they helped me think about the questions more deeply. They also provided good questions that they came up with. I mostly liked working with them though, because they were learning as we were and weren’t always waiting for us to figure out what they already know. I became good friends with my Smith buddy and I will miss her forever.

Learning to teach and talk with young people about ideas:
In reflecting on her experience, one of the college students who is a psychology major and an aspiring teacher wrote, “There is no better way to learn about children than being with them. No book or lecture can ever be as influential in understanding children without interacting with the children themselves.”

One of Professor AP’s goals for the project involved helping her students (many of who are aspiring teachers) to develop the pedagogical capacity to get children to think analytically, critically, and justify their positions using evidence. The ability to nudge children to think and express their views is  a fundamental skill for teachers to develop.  Developing a style to push young people to think with more sophistication entails more than just following a script of questions. Learning to talk and think with children involves a nuanced language of question asking and listening.  

I personally loved working with Smith students. I think it was great how we actually were able to talk to Smith students instead of being on the same Campus as them and not really getting to know them. I loved the idea of the whole one-on-one or two-on-one education. I learn better that way. Overall it was wonderful to get to be friends with Smith students and learn. I loved it.

A college student—who is a studio art major—described this type of learning as an “intergenerational partnership” focused on the study of children. “Thinking together—knowledge building – across generations even more exciting as knowledge building with peers, and certainly more interesting than just ‘teaching’ my partner.”

Have a great weekend, 

Sam

 

November 22, 2013

Dear Campus School Families:

Q: What do Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckenberg, the Miami Heat’s Chris Bosch, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and all Campus School teachers and 2nd-6th grade students have in common?

A: They have all tried their hand at computer programming.

The longer story is that a non-profit named Code.org produced a video titled “What most schools don’t teach” on how computer programming is the language American schools do not teach. The all-star cast on this short video celebrates the power and creativity of computer coding and entreats schools to expand their curriculum to include programming. According to the facts provided by Code.org-- less than 10% of high schools offer computer programming and even fewer elementary schools. This -- is a tragedy according to the video because as Black Eyed Peas star and coder Will.iam. tells us on the video in a quote that made me giggle, “Great coders are today’s rockstars.”

Watch the video here: http://code.org/learn/scratch

The point to this leadup is to say that we fall into that small minority of schools that teach computer programming Our students are learning to code and this past Wednesday-- Ms. Dasatti ran a workshop for all faculty that introduced us to the code program used at SCCS: Scratch. Here is the story of how our students learn to code:

More than 30 years ago Mary Ann Dassatti read Seymour Papert’s classic Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas. Ms. Dassatti’s background is in math and early-childhood education so encountering Papert’s work was catalytic. Papert is a mathematician from MIT who trained with the great developmental psychologist Jean Piaget. Papert viewed computer programming as a transformative context for children to think, explore, imagine, and tell stories. He developed a programming language called Logo where children could learn to program and explained it as the following:

Many children are held back in their learning because they have a model of learning in which you have either ‘got it’ or ‘got it wrong.’ But when you program a computer you almost never get it right the first time. Learning to be a master programmer is learning to become highly skilled at isolating and correcting bugs ... The question to ask about the program is not whether it is right or wrong, but if it is fixable. If this way of looking at intellectual products were generalized to how the larger culture thinks about knowledge and its acquisition we might all be less intimidated by our fears of ‘being wrong.’

Like Papert-- the power of technology for Ms. D involves the magic that occurs when children imagine ideas and then manipulate pixels to create worlds filled with story, color, movement, and sound. “Using computers,” Ms.  Dassatti tells me, “allows children to become makers and users. When using computers they control the environment they create. They don’t sit as passive users of technology, but they become makers.”

Our students learn to “make” through a program we use at the Campus School called Scratch. Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab-- it’s a free computer coding program that enables children to develop complex programs on the computer. “With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community.Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.”

You can download the program on your home computer and it’s a mind-bending experience to try and learn how to program the sprites, sounds, colors, and movements. It’s daunting but with my 8-year old son Riley at my side impatiently rolling his eyes at my clumsy efforts and every now and then offering a tidbit of advice-- I learned the rudiments. While I never moved past the most crude stage of manipulating basic shapes and icons-- you could feel and sense what is possible with Scratch as a learning environment.

Any day in the computer room, you can see our students operating the icons and tools of Scratch. Ms. Dassatti gives them design tasks that involve building a maze, introducing themselves through the characters on Scratch (called Sprites), or for the older students-- the extremely complex programming challenge of inventing a game. (We can’t send links to the games, but you can see similar projects listed below).

To see more about Scratch-- see the following:

Dance Party:

DJ Scratch Cat: (Be sure to hit the letters so you can add sounds)

The energy of the technology lab feels unique to me. Students-- no matter the age-- buzz with activity, but it’s not a solo enterprise, which sometimes we associate with computers. What stands out to me when I watch students in the Lab is the intense collaboration as they work through design choices. They almost never make a choice without consulting their classmates. For example, “I just put my character here and then moved in this pattern on the screen, what do you think?” A question like that will elicit three or four responses as they crowd around a screen and then melt back to their own console. The level of interaction, revision, adjustment, and critique around concept, aesthetics, and structure is the signature aspect of this work.

Here are some reflections from 4th grade students on what they experience using Scratch:

Scratch is where you get to make games and stuff.  It can be hard if you want to make games challenging.  You can start off with easy stuff like making sprites move and say things.  When you make games you can use variables to make lives for your characters.  It’s easy once you learn how to do it. The Operators are the hardest.

I like making games with Scratch and see what I can do with scripts (programs).  I like making backgrounds and mazes.  I use Scratch at home as well as at school.  I’ve even been teaching my dad how to use it.

I started using Scratch in second grade.  There’s an orange cat and lots of other “sprites” (the characters you can program in Scratch).  You can make sprites do things.  You can make games – It’s really fun.

Scratch is an easy to learn programming language.  You can make games, videos – pretty much anything.  I like that you have the ability to program it yourself – not like just playing video games.  In Scratch you can change things any way you like.

With Scratch you can create games and little skits and stories, plays and movies.  I really like how you can pick a character and customize it.  It’s not like there’s something you have to do.  You can just open it  and figure out what to do.

Scratch is really fun.  You can design games and picture.  I like making cool backgrounds and putting crazy things on them.  Scratch can get complicated when you’re designing games, but it’s easy just to mess around in Scratch.

You can design your own thing.  It’s an inspiration to do things you never done  before.  You can do it at practically any age – and it’s fun.  In the game Abigail and I designed you get to pop bubbles. You can take pictures and make recordings.  You can become a character in your own project.

As you can see, our students love the challenge and thrill of programming. It matches what Marc Zuckerberg says in the video I referenced earlier, “I started programming and I wanted to make something fun.” That is what Ms. Dassatti loves too!

Sincerely,
Sam

Here is sample of links and other resources to learn more about Scratch, coding, and working with children around the design of powerful ideas mediated by computers:

Mitch Resnick  MIT Media Lab, Lifelong Kindergarten

Reading, Writing, and Programming: Mitch Resnick at TEDxBeaconStreet

Scratch website

Scratch Ed – site for educators and parents

Origins of Scratch – Seymour Papert and Logo:
Mindstorms by Papert

Reviving Papert’s Dream by Mitch Resnick

News articles on SCRATCH from the New York Times:
Very Young Programmers

November 15, 2013

Dear Campus School Families:

Last week I walked into my office and my desk was covered by a teeming horde of ants.

These weren’t ordinary ants-- the kind that overrun your picnic or clamber over and around a stray piece of food on the ground. These were supersized ants in garish colors with twisty legs and swirly antennae. These were ants straight out of Jurassic Park. Standing proudly over his ant troupe stood the grinning Bob Hepner holding several clay sculptures of branches.

“How do you like what the first graders created?”

These ants and branches are the product of two ongoing projects between Mr. Hepner and the first grade teachers: Ms. Cowley and Ms. Perkins. The work and thinking being done by our first-grade artist-naturalist-scientists is a story worth sharing.

It begins -- at least in part--  in Ms. Cowley’s barn:

Last year,  shortly before school began, I was in the barn looking for a horse halter when I tripped over a discarded bird feeder. I immediately thought of the students entering my classroom and remembered that their kindergarten teachers had both reported that there were bird lovers coming my way. An image of a child sitting by our windows, watching and recording the daily activity of birds, flashed through my mind. The feeder seemed to provide the perfect opportunity for children to engage in some scientific writing, observation, and idea and theory building. I shared my idea with Al Rutnitsky, because together we believed in the importance of observation, writing for real purposes, firsthand scientific investigations, and improving ideas. The idea came into fruition.

Ms. Cowley’s reference to Professor Rudnitsky is an important part of the story; it traces back to long-standing collaborations done with Professor Al and other faculty members from the Department of Education and Child Study. Al’s research involves studying how children learn and perhaps more critically-- how children and communities learn together. His work derives conceptual inspiration from research done by cognitive psychologists Carl Bereiter and Marlene Scardamalia.  Their work advances the idea that deep learning occurs when a group pursues a question that feels urgent, open-ended, and fascinating. They advocate for a process they describe as knowledge building. The central product or outcome of knowledge building is a group deeply engaged in learning, theorizing, and sharing what they have come to understand about the question under study.

In thinking about the work that he has done with Campus School teachers and children over the years, Professor Rudnitsky notes, “Children learn to see each other intellectual resources and also come to see that their ideas can always improve. It’s through good community talk and thinking together that all this happens.“

In other words, Ms. Cowley’s class embarks on the study of ants not only to “learn about” ants, but to advance the state of knowledge. So their observations about the ant kingdom and the ants that they have created with Mr. Hepner exist as contributions to knowledge on ants that lives within the world.

It’s heady stuff, but the idea is exciting: first graders embark on a learning journey together. The methods of pursuing deeper understanding involve interactive questioning, observation, reading, dialogue, continued development of questions, research, and discussions focused on how they can deepen and improve their ideas. The old metaphor of the “teacher as the sage on the stage” becomes irrelevant with the teacher now occupying the role of the “guide on the side” for children who actively do the planning, research, and evaluating of ideas. Bereiter and Scardamalia would be delighted to see their theories of mind come to life as creepy, crawly ant study inside our classrooms.

Now back to how Ms. Cowley transitioned from birds to supersized ants:

This summer as Ms. Cowley was getting ready to launch BIRDS 2.0: The Sequel, she described having an epiphany of sorts. “The bird project was wonderful, but it occurred to me that developmentally maybe we could do something different. In studying birds, their questions were more sophisticated than their understandings. For example, they asked a wonderful question: ‘how do birds fly?’ What can be better than that question; however, flight is really hard for first graders to understand.’  Ms. Cowley’s insight turned her focus from the sky to the ground.

This year I decided to get my class an ant farm. I remember that when I was a kid I would spend hours watching ants in my backyard. I was fascinated by how they seemed to work together to find food, build tunnels and carry things much heavier than themselves.  I thought the kids in my classroom would also enjoy watching ants, but like the bird study, I had no idea how deep the learning would be.

One of Ms. Cowley’s first steps was to contact Mr. Hepner: “Bob and I have this wonderful relationship that is so rich. It begins when he walks up to me and says, ‘What are you up to-- birds again?’  

Mr. Helpner explains, “Gina and I met and I asked her, birds again? She looked at me and said, ‘no, we’re going to study ants.’ I thought wow, great! I love how Gina does these studies that emerge from where her students are. We began by looking closely at ants: pinchers, antennas, shape of the body, movement patterns in tunnels, and from there we create.”

In Ms. Cowley’s class-- the close observation of ants and an ant colony begins with wonder: What do first graders wonder about when they study and closely look at a teeming colony of ants? A bulletin board in Ms. Cowley’s room is chock full of yellow sticky notes with these wonderings:  (Note to adults: notice the ideas not the spellings)

  • How do ant’s dig?

  • How do ants wock [walk] without slipping?

  • Are they boys or girls?

  • Why do ants tunnel?

  • How do the tunnels stay open?

From this brainstormed list of questions, a focus question emerged: How can they tunnel without tools? This question then guided their future observations from which they generated a series of theories on how ants dig tunnels:

  • Tay uos tar pinsers? Or tay eyt it? [they use their pincers or they eat it]

  • They dont have a tool box

  • They bring it to the top and eat some of it

  • Maybe they have little clows [claws]

These theories and fascinations become guiding ideas in the formation of their ant sculptures with Mr. Hepner. As one boy told me, “Ants tap their bellies on the ground to communicate.” This idea drawn from his learning inspired his artistic representation of an ant, which he described, “My ant had no legs, but its belly touched the ground.”

In the other first-grade class the focus of study is forests and the collaboration between Ms. Perkins and Mr. Hepner follows a similar process. The goal of this project involves mounting what Mr. Hepner calls a “public beautification art project.” There is a space on the Campus School that is tucked away behind the new wing. The windows in Ms. Perkins classroom looks out onto what is essentially a concrete alley. Ms. Perkins and Mr. Hepner aspire to transform the space into a public art exhibition by having their first graders sculpt a life-sized forest.  The first installment will be the branches and trunk that the first-graders designed and sculpted during their study of trees. Each student sculpted a branch and a piece of the trunk. In designing the branch they paid attention to texture and all the patterns of geometry that comprise a branch: how they join together, how they stagger, and the math of the patterns. This year they will install the tree and in ensuing years they plan to add animals, insects, and other clay sculptures that accompany Ms. Perkin’s forest study.

What do we call this dynamic, interpenetrating conversation happening between Mr. Hepner and the first grade teachers? To resort to jargon such as interdisciplinary learning or multidisciplinary teaching feels palpably inadequate. What unfolds in the first grade between art and science represents a fusion deriving from the experience of six and seven year olds looking closely, sharing their ideas, developing theories, and testing their hypotheses. Robert Eskridge, the director of the Art Institute of Chicago, evokes how art and science seamlessly work together in an approach like knowledge building,”  “Science and art naturally overlap. Both are a means of investigation. Both involve ideas, theories, and hypotheses that are tested in places where mind and hand come together—the laboratory and studio. Artists, like scientists, study—materials, people, culture, history, religion, mythology— and learn to transform information into something else.”

Sincerely,
Sam

Dear Campus School Families:

You probably noticed, but the school has had a little bit of that “Black Friday” day-after-Thanksgiving-energy to it this week. Instead of lines of shoppers buzzing after plasma screen televisions and video game consoles, our Campus School vibe emanated from the excitement of our book fair.

Our library, which is normally a pretty serene space with typical library signs like: “When in the library use your quiet voice”, felt like the SkippyjonJones crew had arrived. It was animated good fun as children and adults sifted through the piles of books checking out illustrations, reading snippets out loud with each other, making stacks of their favorites to purchase and lists longling described as ‘for next time.’ As one student wrote to me, and this is an exact quote,  “When my class went to the bookfair, I was soooooooooooooooooooooo excited to see books I haven’t read.”  Incidentally, we’ll be gathering for a wine and cheese from 6:30-8:30 -- which conveniently dovetails with the Kid’s Night Out.  Thank you again for the wonderful work done on the part of all who volunteered to make this a special week at the Campus School.
One of my favorite moments of the Book Fair week began underneath the portico during pickup. A boy came over to me holding his grandpa’s hand. “Mr. Intrator, is the book fair still open?”

I told him it was and he pulled his grandpa up the steps. “Grandpa, I have to show you all the great books” and led his Grandpa into the school. A few minutes later I saw that our enterprising Campus School student had talked grandpa into buying him quite the impressive stack!

My takeaway watching this community event that included two riveting lectures for students by Angela and Tony DiTerlizzi that had our children laughing with delight as they shared how the stories they write and illustrate are rooted in the stories they read when they were children and how all ideas flow through that mystical force of mind we know as imagination. During his lecture Tony D-- or as he told the group ‘T-Dog’-- flashed a picture of Albert Einstein on the screen and cracked us all up by telling us about his own encounters with book reports, before turning serious and sharing this quote Einstein, which I have been thinking about since:

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”  

As I thought more about the book fair this week and it’s contribution to the “more fairy tales” equation of getting more intelligent, I came to realize that it represented our community coming together to celebrate our collective love and passion for books, reading, and story. This is a beautiful and powerful thing. This book fair is not just about ‘selling books’ or ‘exposing us to new titles’, but instead it showcases a core and essential value of our community: reading for pleasure is part of who we are.

I don’t want to overstate or exaggerate the claim that cultivating the yearning and habits of ‘reading for pleasure’ represent ‘an educational panacea’, but when you start to look at the research on the positive effects that unfold when children read for pleasure, I start wondering, deeply wondering if the fascination with testing and accountability systems hold up to the simple and enduring power.

In a report commissioned by National Literacy Trust on Reading for Pleasure, they describe the far-ranging outcomes:

When children read for pleasure, when they get “hooked on books”, they acquire, involuntarily and without conscious effort, nearly all of the so-called “language skills” many people are so concerned about: they will become adequate readers, acquire a large vocabulary, develop the ability to understand and use complex grammatical constructions, develop a good writing style, and become good (but not necessarily perfect) spellers.


They also review a range of studies that point to the positive impact on achievement:

  • general knowledge
  • a better understanding of other cultures
  • community participation
  • a greater insight into human nature and decision-making

And recently there was a much talked about  NY Times article “For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov” that reported on conclusions from a research published in the journal Science Reading Literary Fiction Improves the Theory of Mind. It found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

It’s a fascinating article and the researchers conclude that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.

Given all these findings, I thought it would be fascinating for us as educators and parents to have some advice from a group of experts on what we can do to cultivate reading for pleasure and instill a passion for reading outside of school. In this spirit, I took my questions into Ms. Colon-Bradt’s sixth grade classroom and asked them to share their thoughts on reading out of school and reading for pleasure. They wrote up little note cards as letters. I provide some of the key themes below, but will begin by sharing one notecard in full:

Dear Mr. Intrator:
Gosh, I don’t really know what to say. I mean you could hang me upside-down and I would still be reading! Well I supposed I could tell you about my dream of reading on a cloud, or in a tree. One night after promptly reading (unauthorized by flashlight) before bed, I woke up thinking about traveling to wondrous places and exploring all kinds of new books! It was fabulous! That was the best dream I have ever had!
I hope dreams of good books come your way,
O-6


The importance of special places for reading:
I love to read. I love reading outside, inside at night, in the day, at school, at home traveling, sitting, lying down in a quiet place or a LOUD place.


I like to read in a very comfy place. Maybe in my bed or on my couch. Once I am comfy I do not move. I could stay there forever.


My favorite place to read is the chair in my living room with a good goodk, a glass of water. I’ve been known in to sit in my chair for hours devouring my books until my parents make me leave for dinner.


I love reading on my couch with the windows open during the fall. It’s so beautiful. I love fantasy adventure. Percy Jackson is my favorite series.


When do they read?
I always read in my bed at night. I turn on my bedside lamp and crack open a good book. If I get to bed on time I usually read for about an hour before turning off my light and falling asleep.


I really like reading early in the morning before school.


I love to read a good book in the morning when I awaken.


I like to read at night before I go to bed. I also like to read with my family. My mom and dad read aloud to my brother and I.


How do they find titles that they enjoy and what is the role of choice?
I know people say not to judge a book by its cover, but when I see a book cover that I like I read the book and…..I like it!” So-- don’t judge a book by its cover unless it’s a compliment.


Even though I love reading everywhere, I am very particular about the books that I read. I mostly like fiction stories about adventures and magic, but I always love going to the bookstore or library and branching out.
My favorite way to get new books is through recommendations. I am always interested to know what my friends are reading and I enjoy talking about books with them.
Usually I get recommendations from my friends who have the same taste as me. Then I go to the bookstore and browse and see if I see it there. My older sister also recommends a lot of books for me. When I am in between books, I will read one of those really cheesy, predictable books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid -- I have read the series 11 times-- but only until I find a new, good book.


I love reading! I read lots of different kinds of books. I love getting recommendations from my friends, who often have very different tastes for books. I love getting lost in a world, different or similar from mine, with intriguing characters, plots, and settings. I always look forward to a time where I can read.


I used to be in a book club, but it didn’t really work. I will start a new one soon with friends. I love book clubs because I get recommendations from friends and I get to talk about books, which is something I love to do. I LOVE it!


What about when reading is hard?


I sometimes have a hard time sitting still and reading. I just get too bored, but I love listening to stories and I walk around with books on my mom’s phone listening to Audible. I can do that for ever and I can often do other things while I’m listening.


When I was younger I did not really enjoy reading, but last year when I was in 5th grade my dad came home with a book in his hands called Wonder! It was one of the best books I have ever read! And ever since, I have been glued to reading!  Sometimes I can’t find “the right book,” and when that happens I either ask my parents , or I just pick one.


And some suggestions by our teachers:

  • The oldie, but goodie- read together everyday or almost every day.  Try to extend the book into everyday life.  Compare daily activities in the book to your family's life.  Look into cooking food or listening to music or viewing art or visiting places that are mentioned in the book.
  • Make things in the book come to life.  Build something, act it out, draw pictures, make a map.
  • Extend the topic with other materials- watch the movie and compare, read a book review, find out more about the author or illustrator.  Read more books by the same author.
  • Go to places that glorify reading- Go to the Eric Carle Museum, go to Modern Myths, go to the library.
  • Sharing books through read-alouds is vital to encouraging an enjoyment of literature – and embedding vocabulary, pronunciation and intonation in young children’s minds.  In addition to reading aloud as a parent, listening to audio books together is a great way to share reading and multi-task – drive, fix dinner, do chores.  And discuss, discuss, discuss.  Make reading and discussion of books are regular and frequent part of your day!

    So the takeway from our group of experts… they love reading with their family and their friends. This is wholly consistent with all the research, which shows that when children grow up in a context where reading is a revered and pleasurable activity---many good things happen….

    Sincerely,
    Sam

 

Past Observations:

November 8: Observations from Head of School Click here >>
The Book Fair and Love of Learning

November 1st: Observations from Head of School Click here >>
The Fifth grade Play - Group L5

October 25th: Observations from Head of School Click here >>
President McCartney visits the Campus School

October 18th: Observations from Head of School Click here >>
The Long Look: Faculty and Peer-Education

October 11th: Observations from Head of School Click here >>
Thinking about the Common Core

October 4th: Observations from Head of School Click here >>
Connections with the College - Smith Students at the Campus School

September 27th: Observations from Head of School Click here >>

September 20th: Observations from Head of School Click here >>

September 13th: Observations from Head of School Click here >>

September 6th: Observations from Head of School Click here >>

 
   
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