March 30, 2018 | Vol. 2 No. 19
EVENT & CLASSES
Sparhawk School is proud to present the 2nd annual Steamroller Printmaking Event! Sparhawk students have created woodcuts and collagraphs that will be inked and printed under the weight of a 2,000 lb steamroller! Tons of family friendly art activities, raffles, food and more!
This year, we have created two community workshops where attendees can create a collagraph that will be inked and printed on the day of the event. Classes are $30 and includes all materials & print.
Steamroller Printmaking Main Event
Saturday May 19th, 11AM-3PM
Sparhawk Upper Campus- 4 Noel Street, Amesbury, MA 01913
Community Printmaking Workshops
April 26th + May 10th 5PM-7PM
$30 (per collagraph, parents & children can create together)
Middle & Upper School
Active Bodies = Awakened Minds
"You Have To Come See This!"
By Jen Silver, Director of Marketing
This was the exclamation of Nate Velluto, Upper School Humanitites teacher, when he found me in the theater. I followed him to his classroom, where students were excitedly animated and crowding tables filled with RISK boards. He was currently teaching his class Lost to the Ages: Ancient Cultures. In this particular lesson the students were learning about Genghis Khan, the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.
I was in complete awe, walking into the classroom- the enthusiasm emanating from the students was tangible. Nate had designed a lesson, using RISK boards, where groups of students were carving up global power. Exclamations of "France is mine!" and "I claim Australia" echoed through the room. They didn't know it yet, but the nations they chose through this experiential exercise would lead into them developing their own global empires on paper.
Focusing on the three pillars of civilization: civics, religion and military, the students were tasked with creating their global empires using the nations they had claimed. This might be a considerable challenge for students who chose countries on the polar opposite sides of the world. Students were also given the flexability to choose the time period that their empire existed, which would significantly alter the outcome of their paper.
I will forever remember that class period- it is a fabulous example of the type of experiential education available at Sparhawk Upper School. Our teachers are experts at taking a lesson, turning it on its head and shaking the boring out of it.
Social & Emotional Learning
By Eric Getz, Middle School Teacher
I love teaching everyday, but especially on Fridays. This is the one day where Diane and I get to blindfold our students, set up seemingly impossible tasks, and—literally--get them to jump through hoops. These activities are all part of a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) class that is designed to teach our middle schoolers the 'soft skills' that raise academic achievement and prepare them for the demands of the 21st century.
SEL classes develop self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Through hands-on, activity-based experiences students learn to work cooperatively, value themselves and others, and efficiently and effectively communicate and solve problems on the fly.
These classes are not traditional and that's a good thing. So far we have had races while blindfolded, volleyed a beach ball to explore the principle of Kaizen (a Japanese concept of continual improvement), and fit an entire class into a single hoop in a game called Star Wars.
The time flashes by. Our students are so immersed in the activities that they are not even aware that there is learning going on. For them it is a hubbub of activity. For us, we see them actively supporting one another, showing resilience, and eagerly embracing every challenge placed before them. Even better, they are taking what they've experienced here into their everyday classes. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays they are better lab partners, more thoughtful contributors, and more daring thinkers.
Thats why I always say, you just can't beat Fridays.
Community & Connection
By Lee Ford & Dana Nuenighoff
Sparhawk's Outdoor Education program combines leadership, team-building and kinesthetic learning opportunities for LEAP students. This year 8th graders have been responsible for creating trails and clearing brush on the wooded part of Sparhawk's 16 acre campus. Recently efforts have been focused on clearing a path to the Merrimack River and building a community fire pit.
These experiences, together, are helping to build community. Students are working together, hands-on, to bring a focused project to fruition. They are connecting with one another in a way significantly different than classroom learning. It has been our experience, that when the students know someone else is relying on them, they want to rise to the challenge.
February and March have been relatively mild, and the snow-fall has allowed us to try a new skill: snow-shoeing! Interacting with their environment, we have seen that weather and physical challenges change student behavior, giving us an opportunity to explore these expressions together. The middle school students have joined the eighth graders for the spring semester. We are excited to see how this will shift the dynamic of the group, perhaps encouraging the LEAP students to take a mentorship role to their younger peers and honing their leadership skills.
Becoming The Lesson
By Jen Silver, Director of Marketing
Middle school is truly the time when students are finding their individual voices, developing a sense of being and building their self esteem. They are also at a crucial and pivotal place in both their academic and in their social and emotional development. Let's be honest, their bodies and brains are going absolutely bonkers and it's our job to help them reign it all in, all while keeping their love and excitement for learning.
How do you do that, right? We have found that teaching our middle school students experientially is our best tool in the vast teacher toolbox. We want our students to be themselves, and we want to hear their unique perspectives on the thematic subjects that they are studying. We have found traditional education methods only get students part of the way there.
- Keeps the excitement in learning! Who wants to be bored and have someone talk AT you all day?
- Allows students the movement that their active bodies require- It is counter intuitive to expect a growing body to sit in one place for eight hours a day (As an adult it would be torture, am I right?).
- Builds critical and creative thinking skills necessary for 21st century minds- Who are you as a student and how do you approach this problem.
- Helps students identify HOW they learn best - In many cases our students have at least eight more years of education ahead of them, they need to know who they are as a student so they can be successful!
- Allows students to fail (often more than once!), rebuild, gain knowledge and find a solution- Life lesson, you are going to fail, if you don't fail, you don't know what to fix.
- Teaches students to work co-operatively and independently to problem solve- Building both skills sets will serve a student long past their educational career.
- Creates moments where students must advocate for both themselves and their classmates- This one is HUGE!
So what does an experiential lesson look like for a middle school student? Glad you asked. Here's some examples of our students becoming the thematic lesson.
- Studying Newtons three laws of motion: Students paired themselves off and wrote, created and starred in video skits that showcase each of the 3 laws.
- Learning about Maya culture: Students practiced adding and subtracting with sticks and rocks in the base 20 scale using the Mayan system of math. Students also created Maya glyphs representing their names with traditional Maya shape structures.
- Aztec art: Students created masks by plastering each others faces, building up the surface of the mask with clay forms and then adding the final decorative layer of found and forraged indigenous materials.
Kinesthetic Learning & Outdoor Education
Involve Me and I Learn
By Paula Renda, Elementary Teacher
What do we mean by "hands-on learning"? Learning which involves the body's senses is an event that sets the stage for the student to digest the information through their physical experience. I have always known, from a very early age, perhaps first grade, that learning must involve the body's movement. In first grade, I was selected as the monarch that evolved from the chrysalis and flew miles away. In second grade, I was part of a duo connecting with a friend to form a square and in third grade, I became the earth's moon revolving around my planet as we both moved around the sun. Why, after all these years, do I remember so vividly these experiences? Think back! Our bodies were connected to the learning, we interacted socially with our peers, we laughed, and we were involved, engaged in purposeful movement. Our bodies remember! This is the evidence for why tactile kinesthetic learning works. As Benjamin Franklin so wisely said, "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
I suppose, and you have heard it said before, teachers teach how they learn. I was the child who fell out of the chair time and time again, the one who took many bathroom breaks and who got into trouble regularly UNTIL… the lesson involved action-a tactile kinesthetic methodology. This approach can be utilized in all disciplines. In social studies, this can look like dressing in costumes and acting out historic scenes, creating a memorable experience over just reading about history. In science, we engage in hands-on experiments, which then inform our paper and pencil data collection, or we observe nature's patterns through sketching. Literature comes alive when we engage in "Reader's Theatre", students taking on the persona of the characters in the story. Imagine a piece of persuasive writing where first a student must present to peers reasoning as to why they should buy toys from his company before engaging in putting it on paper. Math of course readily lends itself to the use of concrete "manipulatives". At a very young age, we learn to count, not only by rote, but also by matching acorn caps to numerals leading to a true understanding of quantity, which then sets the stage for more abstract thinking. The more real-life the activity, the more valuable the lesson.
A transitional connection from the concrete to the abstract can be observed when students engage with a whiteboard, whereby each student has control of their own. While using the whiteboard, students take notes, organize information, try out algorithms, sketch a certain aspect of the lesson, all the while participating 100 percent, fully engaged and involved. The whiteboard is forgiving and easily erased and altered. It sets the stage for success for the student who is hesitant, allowing them to take the risk. And for the student who seeks the challenge, the teacher can easily present one on their individual whiteboard.
The energy of elementary age children is active and it is our goal to find ways to engage our children in their learning in a way that matches their needs for movement. We are fortunate to have flexibility in our curriculum, which allows teachers to be creative and develop learning experiences that match the needs and interests of the students, which inevitably will change year to year. Thank goodness for small classes!
The Lower School Outdoor Experience
By Suzanne Atkins
The Sanderlings (first and second graders) have just returned from a literacy morning at Salisbury Beach, the second of a three part "Poetry in the Seasons" exploration. Their first visit was in the fall on a beautiful sunny day where students sat against the dunes writing about what they saw, felt, heard, experienced. This week, although the children were at first concerned that we had missed the official winter mark, there was still snow on the beach, the wind was bitter cold and best of all, the surf was extremely turbulent suggesting all sorts of juicy adjectives for their writing! We are so fortunate at Sparhawk to have access to vehicles that can hold a whole class to pop over to the beach, Maudslay State Park or any of the many other northshore natural resources. All this is in addition to experiencing the many acres of school property both at the lower and the upper campuses.
Nature is one of our many teachers and we take this seriously. In this day and age when too many children do not spend time outdoors and often too much time on screens, the limitless possibilities of the outdoors invites us to be in the moment, to experience our senses, our whimsy, our creativity, our critical thinking and our bodies. Learning from and in nature is holistic and it can look like many things crossing over to all disciplines. We observe, we make notes, we predict, we research, we experiment. We explore the elements when we build with snow, tap a tree or dig in the earth. Our engineering skills come quickly to life as we figure how to divert water to create streams and then how to carry water or mud to change the course of the action. Sticks and stones, mud and water, this is pure learning and engagement with nature. By spending ample time in different outdoor environments, we support children in fortifying their natural love of play and exploration, and we also foster land stewards of the present and future, imperative for our world.
At the lower campus, children in PreK have a special relationship with our silver maple, "Treesa". She is hugged and observed and drawn through the seasons, we genuinely care about her. Third graders in particular are deeply invested in their self created fort culture, our village of shelters made with sticks and scrap wood. Each fort has a name, constitutional expectations, currency and trading capabilities; civics are learned and practiced here all generated by children's own interest and desire. Fifth graders lead the way in our theme of the year, "This Blue Planet" by learning about bodies of water from puddles to oceans and everything between, to our focus toward the end of the year which will be ecology and conservation. The opportunities for humanities, literature, math and science and engineering are endless and woven into all of our work.
And let us not forget recess! At the lower campus, children are fortunate to go outside four times a day; we begin our day with fresh air, exercise and socialization...what could be better for preparing ourselves for a day of learning and fun? As educators, we recognize the deep importance that recess plays in supporting children in learning throughout the day. It supports healthy bodies, creative minds and lots of important social learning equalling deep impact to the whole child.