• Oct202014

    POSTED AT 03:28 PM

    We really lucked our for our walk today. It looked like it could be a gloomy, rainy afternoon, but it was bright and sunny and just the right temperature for enjoying a fall hike. 

    As so often happens, the children found some lovely discoveries. Sylvia found this beautiful maroon/pink fungus growing on a log, one I've not seen before.



    We have seen quite a few unusual fungi this fall.

    Then Olivia discovered a sweet chunky slug.




    It had amazing little eyes!

    Our walks are always inspiring and the children make many wonderful observations. We have a special location in the Glen where we go on a regular basis to make observations about weekly changes in the Glen, to write, and to draw. Some really good writing and artwork comes out of their time to observe and reflect.



    After writing, we gather back together and the children who wish to share their writing with the group reads what they have written and/or drawn. 

    We get so much from our hikes; study of nature and the environment, art, writing, exploring, building, hiking, and joy. I thought you might enjoy this article about the joy factor of hiking.


    I feel so fortunate to be able to teach and learn here!



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    Oct162014

    POSTED AT 05:38 PM

    We had two birthdays to celebrate today, Zay's and Carter's. While Carter is officially a graduate, both he and Ellie, another graduate chose to spend their day off of school here at Antioch School with us. It was fun to celebrate two birthdays, and to have two wonderful grads join the group for the day. 

    While we were in music class this morning, Zay asked Dennis is we could play Aura Lee. We have played Aura Lee many times, and Dennis is moving on to more advanced band pieces with the group, so we don't play that particular piece in music class any more. I have been feeling a bit guilty about not getting the same kind of extra practice time in yet this year as we did last year. We've gotten off to such a busy start, I've had a hard time fitting it in. However, Zay's request was a great impetus to get some fun practice and review time in. The kindergarten were out walking on this lovely afternoon, so we had the art/science room to meet in. We set up chairs for all of the group and took turns playing requests, band and orchestra together. It was fun for the more advanced band and orchestra accompany the beginning musicians on Hot Cross Buns, Lightly Row, etc. Some of the children who took band last year added harmony to our old pieces,  as we enjoyed accompanying the newer musicians. Each group took turns with requests, playing, and listening. We had so much fun, many children did not want to stop. I'm looking forward to more of these practice and jam sessions.

    After our music session, we began preliminary plans for our Enchanted Forest. The initial planning can be a bit slow, as children decide what exactly they want to the Enchanted Forest to be like, and what their skits will be like. We went down to the Enchanted Forest for planning and inspiration. It was a lovely day to get out; I hope we have such great weather for this year's performance.

     


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    Oct152014

    POSTED AT 09:14 PM

    For today's blog, I thought I would talk about how the OG works.


    Children in the Older Group are reaching toward independence. They are holding on to childhood, while pushing toward teen-hood, vacillating between wanting to be a young child and wanting the maturity and responsibility of an adolescent. Their thinking is shifting from more concrete to more abstract understanding of their world, and their minds and bodies are beginning to be affected by hormonal changes. It is an exciting, and sometimes challenging, period of transition in their lives.


    The Older Group is a mixed age group ranging from 9 - 12 or 13 years old, covering what would be 4th - 6th grade (or in some cases offering an extra year as needed) in a traditional school setting. The mixed age groups promote a more natural and family-like setting for learning, everyone bringing their particular strengths, ideas, concepts, and learning styles to enrich the learning of all. The children are not grouped according to grade or age, but according to what skills they are working on at the time. The groupings are, therefore, fairly fluid and allow for easy movement from group to group.

    What does this look like in the Older Group? We begin the day with a morning meeting. This allows children the opportunity to check in with each other and talk about what is on their minds. This can range from telling about what they did yesterday, to what they dreamed, to an illness in the family. It sets the tone for the day, and lets all of us know ‘where we are’ as the day begins.


    At the core of our philosophy, is a respect for children as learners. They love to learn; their brains are growing at a rapid pace and they have a thirst for knowledge. Children learn at different paces and different time tables, and with different interests driving them. The size and structure of our groups permits this to happen. Children are not taught all of the same skills at the same time. Children work independently on class work and projects, while Sally Dennis, Bill Mullins and I work with small groups to teach math, or I work with small groups on other subjects, such as reading, spelling, grammar, etc. At scheduled times, small groups go to Brian for art and science.


    Curriculum is in large part built on the interests of the children. Those are taken into consideration first, and from there, I also incorporate those skills that I know they need to make a successful transition beyond Antioch School. The room is set up so children can explore many different ideas, topics, and skills as they work independently.


    It is not a ‘you can hear a pin drop’ environment. There is much going on, with children pursuing different activities throughout the day. Discovery and learning often entails moving around, working together, and making use of areas beyond the classroom. The children share ideas and knowledge with each other, and are teachers as well as learners. In fact, what better way to strengthen what you learn by sharing that knowledge with someone else? Children in the Older Group also partner with the Kindergarten children as swim partners, reading partners, and often are partners on walks and other activities. The relations they build with the kindergarten children are very valued and carry well beyond their Older Group or Kindergarten years. Frequently an Antioch School graduate, in college or beyond, will fondly mention their kindergarten partner by name.


    Looking into any room at Antioch School, the observer will see multiple activities going on at the same time. Children will be curled up someplace comfortable reading, working in little groups on a project, drawing, working with a teacher, checking in before going outside to practice riding a unicycle, sitting in quiet contemplation, writing a story, working intensely on a difficult math problem, or any one of an endless possibility of choices. While it may not appear so to the eye of someone used to a more ‘traditional’ structure, this is a truly structured environment. Children are learning how to structure their time, their learning, their social interactions, and developing total confidence in their ability to do so. They are learning in the way the human brain works best, motivated by their interests with time to process, and plenty of room to explore, and play.


    Play is a respected element of learning throughout the school. Playful moments are learning opportunities. Play promotes development in a number of domains, problem solving, creativity, social development, longer attention spans. Children need breaks (as do we all) to assimilate things they have already learned, process new information, to work through difficult emotional issues, and just to have fun.


    Children need time to build things, draw, think up jokes, make up magic tricks, invent and play new games, and just relax and day dream. A child who has time to absorb, assimilate, pursue his or her own interests, to play with ideas and other children can learn more deeply, trust in his or her intuitions, ideas, and judgments.



    Structure at Antioch School is the spinal chord, the central nervous system, less visible to the naked eye perhaps, but at the very core of everything we do. It is vibrant and energetic. Learning is propelled by the very nature of children’s minds. They want to learn because growing is learning. They do not learn in isolation. They share ideas, pass on traditions, support each other, delve into exploration with each other.


    “Do you think we can dig connecting tunnels in the sand pile?”


    “Let’s do a report on penguins!”


    “How do you figure out square roots and what are they?”


    The children have self-direction because no one has told them that they are not

    competent to learn without being told to. On the contrary, this self-determination is valued and nurtured. It is this trust in children and respect for their innate desire to explore the world around them, to take in information, to create and explore ideas, that forms the backbone of Antioch School structure. These qualities are what the children take with them into their next schooling experiences and on into adulthood. They have internalized structure, know how to tackle difficult problems, and have confidence in their ability to do so.


    My mission: To have children graduate from Antioch School generating motivation, knowledge, courage, self-confidence, ideas, resourcefulness, love of their own individuality, and respect for the individuality of others.


    Years of teaching have taught me to trust in the in the Antioch School process, what are traditionally called academics absolutely flower and flourish, dramatically so, so as to lead them to be award winning writers and scholars the minute they enter the middle school ; they capture more than their share of achievements and honors as they go on in school. I have the honor and pleasure to see this year after year after year.




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    Oct142014

    POSTED AT 06:36 PM


    I just thought I'd share with you my view on the way home; a lovely welcome home after another wonderful day teaching at Antioch School. 


    This week we have begun learning about fractions in math class. Right now we are working with problems with common denominators, as an introduction to the Younger Olders and a review for the rest of the children.  I already had this question in my fraction introduction class, "Can the denominators be different?" Oh yes, what fun is this math group!!! They are amazing, really. We were able to move forward to adding and subtracting mixed numbers by our second class    We will continue our work nailing those multiplication facts as well as moving forward with fractions.
    While Dennis taught music classes this morning, I taught math and reading, while Sally worked with children on spelling and helped children with any independent work they needed help with.  
    After lunch, I finished reading The Giver. The children loved the book, although the children had mixed reviews about the end; as in many excellent books, the conclusion is not wrapped up and handed to the reader.  The next book on my list to read is The Luck Uglies, written by none other than Bill Mullins' son-in-law, Paul Durham. We have a signed copy of course!
    The rest of the afternoon included silent sustained reading, active games, and project time. One of the really neat projects the children are working on is painting  ceiling tiles.  Ceiling art is a wonderful addition to a room! The tiles are looking great, and will come down to be part of an art exhibit downtown this fall. 
    Getting the tiles down.
     
    Love this project!
     
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    Oct132014

    POSTED AT 04:54 PM

    We had another lovely Monday nature hike. We stopped at Strawberry Nook to observe our surroundings and write poetry. For today's blog, I am sharing several poems that children wanted me to share. We have such great writers!


                                                         


    Falling, draping, drooping, dying.

    These words pretty much sum up Autumn.

    The leaves are falling, the temperature dropping, the plants drooping,

    And the insects are dying.

    Then winter comes and lays a blanket over everything,

    So they can sleep.

    And when everything wakes up

    They can grow

    And grow

    And grow

    Until they are again ready to sleep once more.


    By Selah


                                                                


    In autumn, it’s not getting any warmer.

    The wind blows and the leaves

    Turn to green, to yellow

    And then they fall off.

    Autumn is my favorite season of the year,

    With all of the holidays in autumn.

    In November animals gather food for winter.

    I want it to be fall

    All year long.


    By Dallas


                                                                    



    The ground is covered

    Yellow, brown, and wet from the previous rain.

    The air is crisp,

    Radiant beams of light fall down,

    Weaving its way through the canopies of trees,

    Glowing and bouncing

    Among the moss covered rocks,

    Hitting the rippling water,

    And my hot toes.


    By Lida


                                                                           





    Fall is coming very quickly.

    The leaves are falling,

    They look like they are dancing

    In celebration for fall.

    The air is getting a bit cooler.

    As I look above me,

    I see yellow, orange, and brown.

    I no longer see the color green.


    By Olivia



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    Oct072014

    POSTED AT 02:41 PM

    We had fun in band today. Dennis brought in more challenging music for the band to play. It has different parts for all of the instruments, rather than just a couple of harmonies. We sight read the music today, and practiced certain parts that are a bit tricky. Everyone was up to the challenge and did really well. 

    Tuesday mornings are always a bit long in terms of the children and their normal get out and play time, but they are adapting to the long morning well. We worked on spelling, math, and writing our reports about the Sahara, and the African rainforest and savannas while different band an orchestra groups worked with Dennis. 

    I am still reading The Giver after lunch and the children are really engaged in the story. I have no idea how good the upcoming movie of The Giver will be, but I like the children to have heard the book before the movie ~ especially such a well written one.

    After I read to the group, the children had time for silent sustained reading, which many of them were really looking forward to since they got their new books at the bookmobile yesterday. This was followed by warm apple crisp and creative writing time.

    We had planned some active outside games for the afternoon, but the rain timed itself poorly yet again today. It was only drizzling, but as soon as we went out, it started raining more seriously. So we had a change of plans and went back inside to play blob. We all had fun guessing who the blob (under the blanket) was but we were especially surprised when the blob revealed herself as Ellie, who graduated last year.  

    I am looking forward to tonight's meeting with Antioch School parents to talk about creative ways to grow this gem of a school and keep it thriving and growing into its next 90 years.
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    Oct062014

    POSTED AT 02:31 PM

    I was sorry to miss Anything On Wheels this year. It is an event I have always enjoyed, but I had another engagement I needed to participate in out of town. The children who participated had a great time! A big thank you to Teri Linden for organizing this fabulous event!

    Monday is usually our hiking day, but it started raining at lunch time and the forecast for the rest of the afternoon looked pretty grim. As it is, it did not turn out to be as rainy as predicted, but we had a pleasant afternoon at school and look forward to a pretty day on Wednesday for our hike.

    This morning, the children had spelling and math as independent work so we could review paragraph and and composition writing skills in small groups. We are working on a short composition about the three major biomes of Africa; the Sahara Desert, the rainforest, and the savanna. This is a warm-up activity in preparation to doing research about an area of interest about Africa and a short report about what each child learned.

    We had our first visit from the bookmobile this afternoon; it's always great to see the bookmobile roll in. The children found books to enjoy for this month, and enjoyed getting started reading them. Many of the children are working on painting ceiling tiles so we have more decorated ceilings to enjoy in the art room, OG, and hallway. This was also time to complete folder work, and get any help needed to complete assignments. 

    I am looking forward to people sharing ideas about the best ways to keep our school healthy and growing into the far future at tomorrow night's State of the School and new website rollout. Our unique and fabulous school has been here for over 90 years ~ now on to the next 90 and beyond!

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    Oct032014

    POSTED AT 03:37 PM

    What a fabulous Grandfriends' Day! I always enjoy this celebration of our grandparents and grand friends, and today we had such a wonderful turn out of families to enjoy the afternoon with us. People started arriving around 12:45. Children in the OG introduced their grandparents to the group when they arrived, then we went to tables set up in the hall to make a book with Grandparent Stories. The children and their grandparents/grandfriends wrote and illustrated stories together to compile into a book. 

    Not all of the children had grandparents who could attend; I always enjoy being the honorary grand friend of these children. We had a great time telling and writing stories.




    Jeff Crawford shared the story of how the giant frog in the jar in the art/science room came to have a home there. It was a delightful and interesting story. I actually had no idea how the frog had come to stay at Antioch School ~ it has been an installation here since my children attended in the late '70s. It was great to read the story!

    After we told and wrote stories, the YG performed a reader's theater.



    It was a full house and I was in the back of the standing room. I hear the reader's theater was wonderful, but sadly could not hear from where I stood. They looked great, though.




    We are so lucky to have had Changeling play for us at our last few Grandfriends' Days. Their music is so energetic and joyous it's hard to sit still. You just want to get up and dance.





    They played to a thoroughly appreciative audience, hands clapping, feet tapping, faces beaming.




    Parents prepared a delightful spread for our afternoon tea with the grandparents/grandfriends.  The food was delicious and the tables were graced with lovely flowers.


    Children in the OG helped with all stages of the preparation, making welcome signs, cleaning, and moving chairs and tables before our guests arrived, as well as helping to return tables and chairs at the end of our event.





    Selah treated people dining in the OG to some lovely piano music.




    And Sam was a real trooper all day, finding chores that needed to be done in preparation of Grandfriends' Day and spending quite a lot of time washing and drying dishes at the end of the event. 

    Thank you so much to all of you parents and children who helped with the organization, food, decorations, set-up, and clean-up.  We couldn't do this without you! 
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    Oct022014

    POSTED AT 06:07 PM

    Last week, Timmy came into the lunch room to inform me that some of the children had found a dead bird in the netting covering the new grass on the tunnel. The little bird had apparently gotten caught up in the netting and could not escape, its wing entangled in the plastic. The children wanted to remove it and offer it a proper burial. Timmy wanted to extricate it, so we found some scissors to cut the plastic netting and rubber gloves for him to wear. Once the little sparrow was removed we  found a shovel and went in to find something appropriate to bury it in, while Ibi dug a grave for it. An oatmeal box served as a coffin, children gathered seeds and flowers for the grave, and Lida made a colorful grave marker for it. Ibi did not wish to bury it unnamed, so the little bird was named Mono before burial.




    The children were so sympathetic and respectful toward this little bird, and several children had some words to share before completing the burial.









    The loss of this bird to an accidental entrapment brought an awareness to all of us about the hazards of the plastic netting to wild life, and the children decided it would be best to remove it. It had served its purpose, protecting the new grass growing on the tunnel, and now only served as a potential danger to small birds and other animals.  Being careful to protect the growing grass, they worked together to remove and dispose of, the netting.





    The children have such a strong connection to the life around us and their responsibility to it. The loving way in which they handled finding a dead sparrow is touching and a testament to their kind spirits. 



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    Sep272014

    POSTED AT 07:38 AM

    The entire school celebrated Jonathan Chapman's birthday with Apple Day this Friday. OG children decided it would be fun to dress in green or red to represent apples and come to school with pots on their heads. 



    Pretty sweet! 

    We had several activities planned for the whole school celebration; a visit from Johnny Appleseed at the outdoor stage, apple games on the field, apple print making in the kindergarten, making apple head dolls, and apple desserts at the end of the festivities.

    The OG started preparing the snacks on Thursday, since there were so many different apple recipes they wanted to prepare. On Thursday afternoon, some of the OG children made apple crisp and apple bread. The on Friday morning, other children prepared apple pie.



    Making crust dough ~ mixing in the butter.







    Lucy helped with the baking.




    The also made caramel apple slices.



    While some of the children were baking, the others were in art, drawing still life with apples. Brian showed them still life paintings by some of the great masters, and had an appealing display of apples for the children to draw.




    Since all of the children in the school would be making apple heads in the afternoon, the OG children helped by pre-peeling the apples in the morning so we would have more time for carving in the afternoon.



    It was painstaking work, to peel the apples in such a way as to maintain their shape.

    I'm sure the chickens were happy to eat the apple peelings!


    Some of the YG had requested a parade. Knowing this, we practiced The William Tell Overture theme  in band last week and this week. Children who felt confident in knowing how to play and with marching and playing, played their instruments for the parade, with Eleanor leading the parade as baton twirler.




    This was one great parade, launching the afternoon of apple activities.




    A wonderful time was had by all!

    After the parade, we split into groups to go to the different activities. Since I was in the art room to help the children with the apple heads, I did not get any photos of Johnny Appleseed, the games or the printmaking. The apple head making was a fun activity. The OG partners went around to each activity with their kindergarten partners, and the YG partners went around to the activities with their nursery partners.





    The apple heads all have such unique personalities already. 





    Now the apple heads need to dry and shrivel. After the apple heads finish curing, the children can keep them as they are or make dolls with them.

    We finished to afternoon activities with a delightful feast of apple crisp, apple bread, apple pie, and a caramel apple slice. The OG children are really good chefs ~ everything was delicious!

    Happy birthday, Jonathan Chapman , and thank you for your contribution of apples across the country.




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