Faculty/Staff Blog

Banners for blog.jpg

 






Our teachers have a profound impact on our students and therefore our school culture, the greater community-and ultimately the nation.  We depend on their expertise in choosing curriculum and leading our students towards success.  What inspires them? Find out in our blog! Each week they share fantastic TED talks, books, interviews, and articles of interest to serve as a resource for parents, while demonstrating the philosophies and priorities of The Webb School.

__________

Webb students get to dive deep into Québec’s rich and unique heritage
By Elizabeth Bigham '18

In this week’s blog post from the Foreign Language Department, junior Elizabeth Bigham reports on Webb’s Winter Break trip to Québec with Language and Friendship, a travel group that plans trips based on exposure to language and culture. It’s more than a sightseeing tour - Webb students got to dive deep into Québec’s rich and unique heritage. Even students who aren’t in French classes got to try out the language and feel at home in this little pocket of Europe in North America. 
Read more

____________


How "iY" students learn
By Elyse Messick ’11

English Teacher
During our collaborative day we read a few excerpts from Tim Elmore's book entitled Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future . The latest wave of millennials (our students) are called "iY" because of the prominence of the Internet in their lives, and "for many of them, life is pretty much about 'I'". We discussed passages that addressed what life is like for iY students, how they learn, and how we as teachers can best communicate with them.
Read more  

 

__________

Beating procrastination
By Aimee Hoover
Day Admissions Liaison
Is procrastination your enemy? Many people wish they procrastinated less. Beating this cycle takes commitment! In this Ted talk, Tim Urban encourages us to think harder about what we're really procrastinating on to shake this habit.

https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_urban_inside_the_mind_of_a_master_procrastinator

Procrastination itself is just a symptom. There are a vast number of reasons why students — and people in general — procrastinate. Here are some of the most common along with ways to address them.

http://creatingpositivefutures.com/12-reasons-why-students-procrastinate/

__________ 

Suggested readings offered

Frequently Head of School Ray Broadhead addresses the
Webb community with a personal letter sharing school news
and suggested readings. Below are two he offered last week.

On how to distinguish mood swings
from depression in teenagers

Nighttime social media and sleep

__________ 

Teaching Students how to learn
By Tabetha Sullens

Middle School Head
A student's success is often influenced by their effective use study skills and organizational techniques. These abilities must often be developed through direct instruction and opportunities to practice. As Middle School Head, I reflected on these observations in developing a unique program for Webb students.

The Webb School’s sixth grade students participate in a Focus class four days a week in which they utilize tools in a variety of disciplines including technology (specifically Google), writing skills, reading comprehension, library skills, and organizational study skills. The sole purpose of this course is to support and strengthen their use of these tools in all other disciplines across the curriculum.

The article below shares suggestions on how parents can support student success from home. http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/study-skills-for-middle-school-and-beyond/ .

__________ 

Lessons from China about the American College Admissions Process
By Chris Rodriguez
This article, from The Economist 's lifestyle magazine 1843 , was recently shared with the faculty by Webb's Director of International Programs, Daiva Berzinskas, and though it focuses on the experience of Chinese students, I felt the lessons from it are still quite relevant to all of our families.

In this piece, we follow the college application journeys of several Chinese students from families that are either very wealthy, very well-connected politically, or both. These young men and women have decided (or their parents have decided for them) that they wish to attend American universities rather than remain in the Chinese higher education system that is so highly reliant on scores achieved on the notoriously difficult gaokao exam. Unsurprisingly, not just any American institution will do - they set their sights solely on those considered the "best."

We learn that although the vast majority of Chinese students attending American universities eventually settle on larger public institutions, many of which (such as the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Michigan State University) are located in the Midwest, at the outset, the sole focus is on a small number of "elite" institutions. The author describes this obsession with status as being akin to a "cult-like allure." Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Unfortunately for these students, the obstacles in the form of numbers alone are beyond daunting: of the approximately 40,000 Chinese students applying to universities in the U.S. during the 2014-2015 admissions cycle, a mere *200* were accepted into the eight heralded Ivy League schools. Harvard University, long thought of as the pinnacle of American education, accepts, according to one international admissions expert, just "seven or eight Chinese students a year...and one of them is bound to be the offspring of a tycoon or a leader." Statistics for domestic students at these schools are not much more encouraging, especially when one considers the large number of legacy students, recruited athletes, and "development cases" (read: wealthy donor parents) who magically find acceptance letters in their email or mailboxes come spring.

Many Chinese students also hire and work extensively with admissions consultants, who charge exorbitant amounts of money (gladly paid by families) for helping students navigate the confusing American admissions process. These consultants plan community service trips to other countries for their clients, train them how to interview, teach tricks of the SAT (and in some cases even arrange for others to fraudulently take the test for them), and often write the essays and personal statements required on most applications. Because in many cases these consultants are paid more if they win students an acceptance to one of the supposedly "top" universities, they often push students to cast a wide net in their application process by applying to as many schools as possible.

Asian students are often unfairly typecast by admissions offices as only interested in STEM fields, but one of the reasons this happens is that these teenagers are frequently pushed by their parents into indicating an interest in majoring in areas such as Math or Engineering or Biology. The belief is that pursuing a career in medicine or engineering or research is the only way to guarantee a large income and a happy life.

I would urge all parents to read this article for what it can teach our community about what students of all nationalities face in the college admissions process. Though the focus here is on high-status Chinese families, it could just as easily have been written about families in Maine or California or Bell Buckle. College admissions in the U.S. has become an arms race, and no matter who wins, students are the ones who will lose. The focus on the verifiably-false notion that there are such things as "elite" and "non-elite" colleges is driving us all to madness. Rather than worry about where a student will be happy and what schools will leave families in the best position financially in the future, we are more concerned about what our neighbors will think of our college bumper stickers or how it will look to others if our students attend, gasp, community college. Similarly, our collective focus on the importance of STEM fields comes at the expense of the wonderful, rapidly-disappearing world of the humanities. We need words and ideas and emotions just as much as we need equations and projections and cures, if not more.

Monsters only grow larger if they're fed. The beast of competitive college admissions can be quite scary, yes. But by rushing around constantly worrying about maximizing test scores and adding one more extracurricular activity and pursuing only financially-lucrative majors (regardless of personal interest in them), we are giving up our souls and feeding them to the monster. Don't be afraid to walk right past the monster without giving him a second thought. He needs you and your anxiety far more than you need him.

https://www.1843magazine.com/features/the-long-march-from-china-to-the-ivies

__________

Helping students develop growth mindset
By Kay Young
Dean of Faculty

The phrase “growth mindset” is heard a lot in education circles and beyond.  The math department decided in the fall to have our students do a math mindset survey.  For our January collaborative meeting, we shared our results from our students’ surveys.  While preparing for our meeting, I came across an article on helping foster a growth mindset in students who struggle.  The article gives fives strategies to help these students develop a growth mindset.

https://www.edutopia.org/article/helping-struggling-students-build-growth-mindset-donna-wilson-marcus-conyers  

__________ 

The Link Between Music Lessons and IQ in Children
By Janet Linton
Fine Arts Department chair
This is an article written by Heather Nicole Winter in a recent "American Music Teacher" journal. In recent years there has been a plethora of articles and studies conducted on the efficacy of music lessons in children. Here is yet another thoughtful piece on the subject. Ms. Winter writes and comments on several studies involving music and the brain and how music clearly has a "unique and exceptional impact on the brains of young children, leading to improved IQ, improved academic performance, and improved executive functioning." The article shows many other positive aspects of musical study also.  Apart from benefits to the brain, music is a wonderful way for students to explore a creative way for expression and communication.
https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-464981041.html  

__________

 

Learn more about Webb's Outdoor Program and W.I.L.D in Times-Gazette feature
http://www.t-g.com/story/2378770.html

__________

Library Director on hand for Youth Media Award announcements
By Hannah Byrd Little
Library Director
The 2017 Youth Media Award announcements will take place on January 23, 2017, at 8 a.m. (ET) from the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta.  I will be in Atlanta for the announcements! These awards include the Newbery and Caldecott medals. I attended the awards announcements six years ago and it was a unique experience and when I heard the event was so close I was excited to attend the event again. If you are curious about the "Newbery / Caldecott buzz" here are a couple of prediction articles.

School Library Journal - Newbery / Caldecott 2017: Fall Prediction Edition
Mia Wenjen - My 2017 Newbery Predictions - PragmaticMomBlog

My choice for Newbery would be "Pax" by Sara Pennypacker. I have always wanted a pet fox! If you are fast and can secure an online spot, you may be able to watch the live webcast .
Otherwise, I will be tweeting live from the awards. My twitter name @hannahlittle .

__________ 

Interesting articles shared

Frequently Head of School Ray Broadhead addresses the Webb community with a personal letter sharing school news and suggested readings. Below are two he offered last week.

Lisa Damour, author of "Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood." (an excellent book!)
Click for article.

What Do Teenagers Want? Potted Plant Parents
Click for article.

__________

 

How important is teamwork?
By Scott Dorsett
Director of Athletics

Is teamwork important in the big scope of life? I have been pondering this question for many years as one who worked in a corporate setting, as an athletic coach, and as an athletic administrator. I truly believe that we were meant to work together as human beings on this thing we call earth. So, I have answered the basic question, we do need each other and we need to know how to work together. The second part of this question is the most intriguing. How do we effectively work as a team in all that we do? I feel like this lends itself to being involved in a variety of areas that require a team i.e., athletic teams, plays, academic teams, etc. The skills learned within these teams are invaluable life skills that our students carry with them. I think it is so important to encourage our students to step outside of their comfort zone and get involved with teams that will give them perspective on building teamwork skills. Below is an article discussing the importance of teamwork skills in both work and school. As parents, please encourage your children to get involved in an area where teamwork is very important to the outcome of the team efforts.
Read more
 

__________

Why Gizmos work
By Dr. Jeff Bonner
Science Teacher

During the recent Science Collaborative Day, we examined the application of virtual labs in biology, physics, and chemistry. In particular, Pamela Seals demonstrated Gizmos, a virtual laboratory simulator created by ExploreLearning. Although these labs look excellent and are grounded in inquiry-based learning, they do not provide the experience of physical laboratory equipment. However, with learning the ultimate goal, the interactive content of Gizmos facilitate proven techniques for improving student outcomes in science. Check out the Research Brief Link composed by ExploreLearning on the effectiveness of Gizmos.

Although I am hesitant to diminish the role of physical laboratory equipment, there are trends in higher education to do just this. By utilizing virtual laboratories, departments can save money on equipment and supplies. Additionally, virtual laboratories can mimic “actual” scientific research that would otherwise be unachievable in a school laboratory setting. After utilizing Gizmos in middle school Life Science and upper school Biology, I am impressed with their professional design and inquiry-based activities, and anticipate incorporating them in the future.

__________ 

Language Department busy as first semester winds down
By Moira Smith

Language Department chair
The Webb Language Department is buzzing with activity as we wind down the first semester. The sixth grade Passport to Language program changes to Chinese and cultural activities in the second semester, and we look forward to enjoying our youngest students’ experiences in language.

Webb Spanish teacher Robyn Kerstiens and Latin teacher Kelly Northrup
were among those who moderated sessions at the recent Tennessee Association of Independent Schools Conference.

Read more about TAIS session, and winter break and 2018 travel.  

__________ 

Does change focus on the mission?
By James Garcia
Director of Studies
We discussed the following article last week during our weekly academic council meeting. When discussing change within in a school, I feel it is important to focus on how this change focuses on the mission. I think the following article is a good reminder of the mindset we should have when dealing with change.

https://isminc.com/e-letters/academic-leadership/vol-13/no-4/seven-excuses-that-dont-matterand-one-that-does

__________  

 

On Larry Silverberg’s True Acting Journal Entry
By Ruth Cordell
Speech and Theatre Teacher, Theatre Director 
“The mark of all great artists is their ability to be simple. What exactly does this mean for the actor?” … or the speaker, or the designer, or the director, or the technician? Yes, w hat exactly?

From my earliest days in taking classes, teaching sessions, rehearsals on stage as an actor, a director, a dancer, or in the mime company, this concept, tutorial, …admonition has always been ubiquitously prevalent - front and center. The phrase “simplify, separate, amplify” continue to pulse in silent but insistent reverberation.

As a director, an actor, a teacher, I constantly ponder necessity or fun or emphasis, or diminution of the power of a moment. Notwithstanding the limitations of budget and time and availability of space, this order of simplicity can be challenging and welcoming, or not so welcoming, depending on the project.

One of the most wonderful treatments of this ability to be simple, with some very clearly thought out and clearly written guidelines is from Michael Shurtleff’s AUDITION, a book dating back to January 1980. His chapters on comedy and the interview situation are so simply and thoroughly spelled out, there is no mistaking just how important this work of constant refinement and repetitive out loud rehearsal is to the performer.

Quote form Larry SIlverberg: “ The difficulty is that for many actors, the habitual need to convince the audience that something is happening that is not actually happening is so deeply ingrained that they are truly not aware of their own false theatrical behavior.”

Replace this difficulty with staying focused in the moment, after having done the investigative homework and preparation in craft, and it’s been a good day.

__________ 

By Dr. Molly Barger
English Teacher
Attached, please find the article provided for today's meeting as well as a lengthier summary and a blank storyboard template. Dr. Bruce was my advisor at UB, so I was excited to share some of his work. 

David Bruce discusses the potential uses for storyboards in the classrooms as a prewriting activity. Storyboarding is a tool used by film makers to plan and organize a movie before the cameras are ever turned on. It helps plan visuals as well as the order of the scene. While using this technique in his classes for digital composition (movie) projects, Bruce recognized the potential for its use a a prewriting and planning activity, especially for students that may struggle with traditional printed text analysis and writing. It also provides a way to conquer the fear of "the blank page."

The activity provides an alternative, particularly for those visual learners, to show their understanding of a text in graphic rather than written form. I have often found that even when not using a storyboarding activity for a class text, students who have worked on storyboarding in the past will use the languages (visual, cinematic, musical, and transactional) they have  learned from those activities. Most importantly, by providing a way for students to see how others read and understand texts, storyboarding helps students learn that interpretations are not fixed. Rather, they are subjective and mutable, and readers can interact with texts in a number of ways. (Bruce, 2011, 85).
https://www.thewebbschool.com/data/files/Gallery/CC-Handouts/Bruce_article.pdf

https://www.thewebbschool.com/data/files/Gallery/CC-Handouts/Bruce_David_Storyboard_2011.pdf

https://www.thewebbschool.com/data/files/Gallery/CC-Handouts/Storyboard_template.pdf

__________ 

Succeeding on standardized admission tests
Caroline Smith ’11
Admissions Coordinator  
Admissions tests are notoriously difficult for students and confusing to parents, especially when otherwise high-performing students get “low” scores. While there are many possible reasons for a student to under-perform on a test, we’ll tackle some of the most common. Hopefully this will give you some insight into how to help your child succeed on a standardized admission tests.   
http://www.bellcurves.com/blog/2012/01/11/ssat-and-isee-what-makes-these-tests-so-darn-hard/

http://www.bellcurves.com/blog/2012/02/02/isee-and-ssat-parents-just-dont-understand/

The SSAT is required as part of The Webb School’s application process. The test is offered on our campus the following dates -11/12, 12/10, 1/7, 2/11, 3/4, 4/22 & 6/10. The registration deadline is generally 3 weeks prior to the test date. Visit ssat.org to learn more about test prep and registration.

__________ 

Where are we headed with the sport of football in America today?
By Scott Dorsett, CAA
Director of Athletics
This is a hot topic in the athletic culture of today.  Football has come under attack from all sides, medical professionals, politicians, and even former players.  There is a real concern about the health risks versus the positive impact in players’ lives.  I look back at my own playing days and question how many times I might have had a concussion, and I continued to play.  I think of the nagging injuries I would have all through the season and how it would take me half of the basketball season to recover from those injuries.  I love the game of football and would never want to see the game go away, but I do believe it is time to make some adjustments.  I do feel like football has taken the brunt of all the injury inquiries in sports today.  When playing sports, there is a risk of injury, and we understand this risk.  From an Athletic Directors standpoint it is good to see all the strides being made in safety of all sports.  Here at Webb, it is a goal of the Athletics Department to make sure our athletes are using equipment that exceeds safety standards that are put in place by the National Federation of High Schools.  In football today, the major concern is understanding the dangers of concussions.  To keep this game around, it is imperative that we make every effort to minimize the unnecessary risk to our athletes.  In the program here at Webb, we continue to make strides in this effort by doing base line testing on all of our athletes.  In football we have added the helmet impact system by Riddell to monitor the hits to the head that our athletes are taking.  Mr. Arrowood, our athletic trainer, stays on the cutting edge of research in concussions and all injuries by attending conferences and staying up to date in journal reading.  We also have made a bigger effort in training our coaches on the role of addressing concussions within their teams. 

I feel like American football is not going away but is in need of coaches and administrators to be diligent in making sure the game stays as safe as possible. I know at Webb we will continue to educate our coaches, administrators, and our families in the health and safety of not only football, but all of our sporting activities. I just read a great article in the Aug/Sept 2016 edition of Athletic Management entitled, “Danger Ahead?” by Dennis Read. A link to this article is included. If you have a chance, please take a look at the insights he brings out in his article. I would like to hear feedback from you on this topic.
Scott Dorsett, CAA - Director of Athletics, The Webb School
sdorsett@webbschool.com
Read more

__________ 

Student-centered learning in science
By Jeff Bonner
Science Teacher
At the most recent science collaborative day, we discussed Eric Mazur’s peer instruction model, a student-centered learning pedagogy. I presented a summary of the peer reviewed article Peer Instruction: Ten Years of Experience and Result (Crouch and Mazur, 2001). This article was selected for the purpose of engaging science faculty in reflection of their own use of student-centered learning, and in particular, variants of the peer instruction model. This model is commonly utilized in post-secondary science courses to foster student-student discussion and problem solving relevant to course content. Here, students are challenged to construct correct responses through collaborative discourse while relying on existing knowledge and critical thinking skills. The instructor facilitates this discourse through appropriate questioning that prompts students to think, discuss, and respond rather than just passively taking notes.

At the post-secondary level, results show that students learn significantly more from peer instruction when compared to sole reliance on traditional, didactic lecture. Although research is lacking on the impact of peer instruction in secondary science education, the impact on college students should not be ignored in a college preparatory learning environment.

In summary, we found that our science faculty members were familiar with and using peer instruction regularly in the classroom. This type of teaching and learning alters traditional roles held in the classroom in that it places responsibility on the learner during class and challenges the teacher to cross the imaginary barrier between the lectern and students. Looking forward, we are planning to expand on this initial discussion with a classroom demonstration of peer instruction followed by expanding intentional implementation of the peer instruction model utilizing developed classroom curriculum designed for this.
Read more
 

__________ 

Beauty of mathematics is being lost
By Karla Schaffer
Math Teacher
The math department read A Mathematician's Lament by Paul Lockhart. The piece argues that the beauty of mathematics is being lost and that mathematics really is a form of art. Similar to a poem, a mathematical solution or proof needs to make sense, be a sound argument, be simple and elegant, and "dig deep into the heart of the matter" (Lockhart). Many of America's mathematics classrooms, the author argues, has taken away the inquiry, beauty, and creative parts of mathematics. We want our students to want to explore the questions and gain inspiration and experience solving problems. Lockhart says, "By concentrating on what, and leaving out why, mathematics is reduced to an empty shell." The author says that our society needs to get away from all repetition and more into discovering mathematics.

Website from this PLC meeting

The math department explored more capabilities that Desmos.com has made available for teachers. They now have a teacher website (teacher.desmos.com) and student website (student.desmos.com) where many activities have been made to enhance discussions around transformations of functions, shapes, and many other topics. One activity that we focused on was the marble drop where students sign into the classroom and must manipulate equations to pick up stars that are placed on the board. They launch their function to drop marbles in the hopes of collecting all the stars. The teacher can see all the students work and how far they are into the activity. The teacher can project certain students’ answers, keeping them anonymous or not, and even pause the activity if the class needs to come back together to discuss a topic. After every couple of problems, there are review questions to make sure that the concept is being understood. There are activities on this website for all levels of mathematics.

__________  

 

Successful students combine hard work with “true grit”
By Larry Nichols
History teacher
Successful students not only work hard to achieve their goals, but they put their best effort into all they set out to do. It takes “True Grit” to be on top in today’s society. Many schools across our country are teaching our students to be  gritty and to have “character”. Students who take risks and pursue their dreams will be the leaders of tomorrow.
Read more
   

__________

Students who are afraid they won't be perfect
Carmel Cordero

Specials Department
The following is a summary of an article that the members of the Specials Department discussed at our first Professional Learning Community meeting on August 26. Our discussion centered on how we as educators encourage students to focus on the outcome of learning rather than a grade. Developing strategies for facing challenges and overcoming them have great rewards in the future.

In this Inside Higher Ed article, Joseph Holtgreive (Northwestern University) observes that many of his high-achieving students did well in high school with relatively little effort, but find things more difficult in college. Some of these students panic when they get a low grade on a midterm and want to drop the course.

The problem, says Holtgreive, is that they’re focusing on their GPA, the way they did in high school. “Yet while these students think they’re keeping their eyes on the ball,” he says, “they are actually just staring at the scoreboard. For students who found high school relatively easy, staring at the measurement of their performance is affirming. Even more affirming is the gap between their outcomes, in the form of grades, and their input, in the form of effort. The wider the gap, the smarter they feel…” But when they do less well on challenging courses in college and have to work harder, they feel dumb.

The solution to this bind, says Holtgreive, is for students to redirect their attention from the scoreboard to the game of learning: “Focusing on learning creates a direct relationship between input and outcome: the more effort they invest, the greater the opportunity to learn… When the goal is to be smart, the formula is reduced to maximizing grades while minimizing effort. When the goal is to learn, the formula becomes about maximizing learning while optimizing effort. The more effective their effort, the more they can learn.” Better grades are a natural byproduct, rather than the end goal.

Too much focus on grades reinforces what Carol Dweck calls a fixed mindset. “If students believe that how they perform at one moment in time exposes the limits of their potential rather than serving merely as a snapshot of where they are in the process of growing their abilities,” says Holtgreive, “feelings of struggle and uncertainty become threatening rather than an opportunity to grow.” The anxiety can lead students to tighten up and self-sabotage.

Holtgreive describes how he counseled a young engineering student who loved her Russian literature class but wanted to drop it because of a bad midterm grade. A look of true excitement crossed her face “when it dawned on her that she got to decide how she would show up for her learning. There is no shame in going all in, and just maybe the rewards will outweigh the risks.”

“Too Smart to Fail?” by Joseph Holtgreive in Inside Higher Ed, August 16, 2016, http://bit.ly/2bfPcYY

__________

 

Teaching Writing Effectively
By Jacquelyn Boyanton

English Department Chair
"Writing is a major focus in the English classes at The Webb School. It is essential for students to leave Webb and take good writing habits with them to college and beyond; therefore, the Webb student practices writing skills as a sixth grader and continues to improve on those skills throughout their Webb career."
Read more

__________

Importance of Teaching the Humanities
Kelly Northrup
Latin Teacher
Recently in the Foreign Language Department PLC, we discussed this article about the importance of teaching the Humanities. The author Dr. McClay reminds us that education, in order to be “useful,” must prepare us to live as well as to work. He questions critics of the humanities, asking, “If you're so rich, why aren’t you wise, or happy?” Here at Webb we're proud that our educational goals include reading, writing, ’rithmatic, but also our Enduring Understandings, which can help students pursue a meaningful life as well as a meaningful career and success in college.

Case studies may "balance" teaching historical content

Case studies may “balance” teaching historical, historical content
By Jonathan Chicken
History Teacher
One of the struggles of the discipline of teaching history is whether to focus on teaching content--dates, concepts, terms, ideas--or methodology--how to read historical documents, apply historical thinking, etc. This article suggests an alternative method using smaller "case studies" as entry points into American History, which seems to offer a balance. While we teach a variety of courses in history at Webb, we all strive to balance these ideas, teaching historical thinking as well as historical content.
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/02/harvard-history-class/460314/

Is the Drive for Success Making Our children Sick?

Is the Drive for Success Making Our Children Sick?
By Mike Quinn
Art Teacher
I happened upon the above article a while back and added it to my collection of "why do students seem so stressed out nowadays?" material. I remember thinking this same thing when my sons attended Webb years ago, and pressures only appear to be increasing.

Although the above article is opinion, it is based on extensive research and experience. Vicki Abeles definitely has an agenda. Her writings and documentaries ("Race to Nowhere" and "Beyond Measure") emphasize that "High grades, high test scores and admission to one of the nation’s elite colleges ... is actually harming children and families, and distorting our educational institutions."

I admit that I tend to agree with Abeles. I also tend to go off the deep end in agreeing with John Taylor Ghatto in "Dumbing Us Down". Part of the appeal of abandoning Biology instruction over ten years ago in favor of teaching Art was not only control of a learning space, but an increase in curricular ability to provide students with more opportunities for independent learning and individual control. It is sometimes a difficult balance to simultaneously impose required academic rigor while trying to instill and allow individual curiosity, creative exploration, and provide physical and mental personal learning space.

This may open an unpleasant can of wormy considerations, especially for a college prep school community, but even the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) has long recognized and attempted to addressincreased levels of stress. I can't help but wonder if all of the pressure to perform and succeed is actually providing our students with a more stimulating, healthier and happier life.

Which reminds me, it's about time to start going fishing again on Fridays after school. Listen for Chapel announcements.

Increasing volume of reading and writing

Increasing volume of reading and writing
By Buck Smith
English Teacher
Today for our English Collaborative Day, we discussed the following blog by Kelly Gallagher titled, "Moving Beyond the 4 x 4 Classroom." In this blog, Gallagher urges English teachers to increase the volume of reading and writing that students perform. In order to encourage students to read and write more, he prescribes more freedom of choice for students to determine what they read and write about. Gallagher argues that teachers should spend less time grading. Instead, teachers should spend more time conferring with students and modeling the writing process in front of them.

http://www.kellygallagher.org/kellys-blog/2015/7/14/moving-beyond-the-4-x-4-classroom

It's important to take responsibility

It’s important to take responsibility
By Scott Dorsett
Director of Athletics
I was given a book from my wife that has made a big impact in the way I look at responsibility. The book is written by John Izzo, Ph.D. Mr. Izzo is a bestselling author and a sought after speaker on leadership and personal development. The book is entitled “Stepping Up, How taking Responsibility Changes everything.” It’s one hundred and fifty one pages of powerful, practical, and life changing words that unlock your full potential to success. This book has made such an impact on me that I have given a copy to my staff to read and am looking to get copies for my coaching staff. The neat thing as I read the book is it applies to all of us. Here are some of the key themes that are in the book:
Read more

Be frank with children when talking about their fears

Be frank with children when talking about their fears
By Tabetha Sullens
Middle School Head
The Middle School years encompass the most change your child will go through in a short amount of time. Your children want to feel secure in a time when they do not. Every day awakens new emotions and questions about self and the world around them. Anxiety is a natural occurrence. When we let our children know we accept them, we allow them to feel secure in one area of their lives when everything else may seem daunting to them. In this article Paula Prentis explains how we should be frank with our children when they talk about their fears. We should not “paint a perfect picture” of life because life isn’t perfect. Rather, we should face trials with our children. We should spend time developing tools with our children to help them face anxiety, adversity, and failure. These tools will help them long term. When we “baby” our children or fix their problems for them we are cheating them in the long run. We do not allow them to grow their own grit and resilience. I applaud parents who allow their children to feel anxiety and disappointment. Facing these trials is how our children grow. At Webb, we pride ourselves on teaching tools that your children will use for a lifetime. I say these things from experience. I remember facing adversity with my advisor and being anxious on senior survival. I also remember the teacher who stood beside me and said, “Just make it to the next tree.” These words have been engraved into my heart and mind and those words helped me grow grit as a tool I have used so many times over the years. Allow your child to feel anxiety and to grow from its presence.

http://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet/TabId/270/ArtMID/888/ArticleID/579/Anxiety-in-the-Classroom%e2%80%94Another-Learning-Disability.aspx?_cldee=dHN1bGxlbnNAd2ViYnNjaG9vbC5jb20%3d&utm_source=ClickDimensions&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=011216%20-%20AMLE%20Newsletter

__

Links provide good reading about teenagers

Links provide good reading about teenagers
Ray Broadhead
Head of School

Frequently Head of School Ray Broadhead addresses the Webb community with a personal letter sharing school news and suggested readings. Below are two he offered last week.
The best way to fight with a teenager

By the way, the article was written by Lisa Damour, who recently wrote"Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood." I read this book a couple of weeks ago, and it is excellent. I wish I had read it when my own daughters were growing up! -- Ray Broadhead

Journal entries used to develop understanding in math

Journal entries used to develop understanding in math
By Karla Vogt
Math Teacher
Recently at a PLC meeting, the math department focused on an article addressing journal entries. The department has been trying to implement journal writing as a way for the students to communicate what they know about a problem, topic, theorem, or concept. Being able to articulate, clarify, and organize their thoughts help them dig deeper into the material and develop a better understanding of why students are performing the steps they are performing. The article gives specific ways to introduce the complex idea of journaling, what it can look like and how to use it in mathematics courses.

https://www.teachervision.com/math/letters-and-journals/48947.html?page=1

Important of writing skills

Importance of Writing Skills
Jacquelyn Boyanton
English Department Chair
Writing is not only important in English class, but it is also important in all subjects at The Webb School. Good writing skills are beneficial throughout your life.

/data/files/Gallery/CC-Handouts/Importance_of_Writing_Skills.pdf

Are gravitational waves even science?

Are gravitational waves even science?
By Brian Polk
Science Teacher
It was not that long ago that I would have been called a natural philosopher instead of a scientist, so I hope you will indulge me this philosophical musing. In our late modern times (some would say post-modern), as is often our reductionist tendency, we have defined science as the application of the scientific method to understand the world in which we live. This definition is wrong, and its promulgation has consequences. By this definition Einstein would not have been a scientist.

I have always been fascinated by epistemology, and as a result, I am interested in the nature of science. I think science is often misused and at times abused. Science is a way of knowing, or a piece of the puzzle. The authority that science is granted by society, I would argue, is a misinterpretation of both its nature and ours. The article attached is enlightening for these reasons. By properly understanding science as models, we see both its strength and weakness. Models are simultaneously right and wrong, depending upon the question posited.

I must admit though, that I used the three words for far too long, but I am now reformed, and I hope you will be as well. For if we can not admit when we are wrong, we have no business talking about science in the first place.

http://www.wired.com/2013/03/three-science-words-we-should-stop-using/

Teaching students to have empathy is important

Teaching students to have empathy is important
By Larry Nichols
History teacher
Empathy begins with awareness of another person’s feelings. One of the most important skills we can teach our students is empathy. Empathy is the ability to see and value what another person is feeling or experiencing. It is to emotionally put yourself in the place of another – to be “in touch with” your feelings -- and to help children stay in touch with their feelings.

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2016/01/20/building-empathy-in-classrooms-and-schools.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-mostpop&_cldee=cmJyb2FkaGVhZEB3ZWJic2Nob29sLmNvbQ%3d%3d

On Professional Development

On Professional Development:
By Ruth Cordell
Sp eech and Theatre Teacher
There are many significant takeaways each and every time fortune smiles and gifts the opportunity of performing with area professionals. The students benefit from meeting and learning from area professionals, long time or new friends and colleagues, that work regularly as public speakers, voice over artists, the theatre, television, and entertainment business. The willingness of these friends to be of service regarding mentorship, as teaching artists, as substitutes, as collaborators, and all the lots of etceteras is indeed remarkable.

The takeaway for me, first and foremost, is to see a student, through repetition, begin to absorb and own the information being shared, some measurably quicker than others. BUT…We all start from where we start. Some of us mature quickly in performing arts and public speaking. Some of us seem to struggle only to arrive one day with great revelation of light, the great “ah-ha!” moment. Some of us realize that the learning and struggle for excellence never ends. There is always a new goal, a deeper understanding.

Each time I am engaged with Nashville Repertory Theatre, Studio Tenn, Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival, local television, or an independent film, I am reminded the demands on these young artists are great. It is so easy to be the critic when someone else is striving to create the work. Wait… not just create the work, but create something from nothing, to understand and to learn the craft of the work. What makes it valuable? What makes it good? Even more than this, to understand and to own the studied craft of just how to be the critic, how to critique for improvement in the allowed time frame is the task. Ah, “there’s the rub…!”

The Webb students manage tremendous work loads and very full schedules. Still, I witness excellent performances on the stage, behind the the curtain, in the tech shop, in the control booth, and at the lectern in the speech classes. The stakes can be high with the intensity and duration of the assignment and rehearsal schedules in speech class, theatre class, and especially, on stage. The expectations when the curtain goes up are substantial. I thank these students and players for sincerely striving to understand the process. The mission: to train tomorrow’s professional from day one , is sustained and supported with each work day, ultimately having a cumulative effect on the product and the learner. We start where we start. Hopefully without too much procrastination and competition of time, we end with a delightful and meaningful presentation. We were two for two last year on the boards. Even if the students are not planning a professional career in arts and entertainment, studies prove time and time again that the sustained learning in the arts equals greater success in math and science.

The following blog shared from THEATREFOLK is a very basic area where anyone who breathes or speaks, especially anyone who performs in any way verbally, may certainly benefit. The take away here may even be better health and energy. Enjoy.

http://www.theatrefolk.com/blog/a-simple-breath-control-exercise-for-actors-singers/

http://www.theatrefolk.com/blog/why-isnt-my-actor-projecting-their-voice/

Environmental preferences of introverts in contrast to extroverts

Environmental preferences of introverts in contrast to extroverts
By Chris Rodriguez
Director of College Counseling
With great debt to Susan Cain's revelatory 2012 book, Quiet , introverts have in recent years emerged from our shadowy lairs to make ourselves known to the outside world. We, who thrive on self-reflection, limited external stimuli, and above, all, time to ourselves, have for far too long been misclassified as "shy," "anti-social," or "stuck up" for doing our best to avoid environments that overwhelm our senses. Introverts do not dislike other people (well, some of us do); rather, we simply require time to, in effect, "recharge" after interacting with others. This is in contrast with extroverts, who feed off of those same interactions and become drained when not able to speak with others.

Even as cultural awareness of introversion has grown, however, societal sensitivity to the needs of introverts has eroded to dangerously low levels. In many work environments, you will now see a movement toward "open" office plans, with newsroom-like bullpens free of dividers replacing traditional offices with doors. Ostensibly, these changes are designed to increase communication and emphasize teamwork amongst colleagues. In practice, however, this has created nightmare scenarios for introverts, who have to listen to their neighbor's Kenny G Pandora station all day or constantly look across their desk to see someone clipping their nails or picking their nose.

The field of education, as we learned in this insightful article from The Atlantic, has unfortunately not been spared from the national trend toward favoring extroversion at the expense of introverts. New studies are showing the alarming rates at which introverted teachers and administrators are burning out of the field, overwhelmed by the constant demands for their valuable social interaction capital. What the article points out is that it is not the actual process of teaching cited as reason for burnout by the educational refugees; that part they actually love. Rather, it is the insistent emphasis on collaboration with colleagues in meeting after meeting, few of which actually are, in the grand scheme of things, necessary to the education of students. Even lunch offers no respite, as those choosing to eat alone and perhaps read an intellectually stimulating book to mentally and emotionally center themselves for the remainder of the day are looked at as cold or even misanthropic - "What, are we not good enough for you?" they ask.

What we as educators at The Webb School need to internalize is that introverts make up a large portion of the population, and include both teachers and students. By not caring for the needs of those preferring quiet contemplation over boisterous exchange, we risk alienating those with special gifts and unique perspectives in our community.

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/01/why-introverted-teachers-are-burning-out/425151/

The value of art in education

The value of art in education
By Sue Wood
Pottery Teacher
This is a wonderful article on the developmental benefits of Art. It very simply gives us an overview of the importance and value of the arts in the lives of our children. So if you have ever questioned the value of art in education read this. The benefits are more far reaching than you can imagine.
http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-arts-and-creative-problem-solving/

A Boring Snow Day?

A Boring Snow Day?
By Hannah Little
Library Director
I remember a very short conversation with my grandmother:
Hannah [about 7yrs]: "I'm Bored"
Granny Sullivan: "Surely not, only boring people are bored."
No response. [Well, I knew I wasn't "boring" so I decided I wasn't bored.]

We just had a snow day and chances are, after building a snowman and sledding, you heard the phrase "I'm bored." With teenagers however, you might not have heard a single word for hours because they were "glued to a screen." I believe that it is essential to teach our teens to self-regulate and put the devices away for a time. If this was a 'mandate' at your house you probably heard "I'm bored" from your teen as well. There are lots of things to do inside and outside to take a break from technology. We really love the new coloring books. We also play games, build puzzles, and make simple crafts.
The statistics about teens and technology

Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015 by Amanda Lenhart
"24% of teens go online “almost constantly,” facilitated by the widespread availability of smartphones" -
http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/

Regulating Screen Time - How and Why
Teaching Kids to Self-Regulate Screen Time - http://kansascity.citymomsblog.com/teaching-kids-to-self-regulate-screen-time/
Kids must learn to control their own screen time -http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-x-0107-screen-time-keilman-column-20150107-story.html|
How to Negotiate Screen Time With Kids - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-howerton/screen-time-kids_b_2119827.html
Here’s What Happens To Your Eyes When You Look at Multiple Screens -http://time.com/4171966/digital-device-eye-strain-screens/

Boredom
Helping Children out of Boredom - http://www.theparentingplace.com/parenting/behaviour/helping-children-out-of-boredom/
Book -- Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun by Joshua Glenn, Elizabeth Foy Larsen, Tony Leone - Unbored is the guide and activity book every modern kid needs. Vibrantly designed, lavishly illustrated, brilliantly walking the line between cool and constructive, it’s crammed with activities that are not only fun and doable but also designed to get kids engaged with the wider world. With contributions from a diverse crowd of experts, the book provides kids with info

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13538790-unbored

Research has brought concussion issue to forefront

Research has brought concussion issue to forefront
By Scott Dorsett
Director of Athletics
The word “concussion” is a huge buzz word in today’s athletic world. Research has brought the concussion issue into the spotlight, and research can help combat it. Through this research we are seeing there are several components to the concussion issue. The education of concussions continues to grow at every level of sports in our country and around the world. In my six-plus years as Athletics Director at Webb, we have made great strides in putting measures in place to protect our student athletes in the area of concessions; i.e. better equipment, and baseline testing. Our Athletics Trainer has also teamed with local physicians in the management and treatment of concussions. This is not a topic that is going away and one that should not be brushed off lightly. Concussion protocols have been put in place to make sure student athletes are given return-to-play directives that are driven my medical personnel. I just finished reading the first part of an article addressing the other side of the concussion issue, returning to the classroom. I found this to be a very interesting article dealing with our student athletes return to the classroom after a concussion. The author of this article, Joe Keller, CAA, Athletic Director of Fife High School, in Tacoma, Wash., takes a look at student-athletes and their readiness to function at the same level in the classroom prior to their concussion. The article is located in the winter 2015 edition of the Interscholastic Athletic Administration professional magazine on page 10. I will follow up with part two of this article in my next blog post.

/gallery/zoom.aspx?myurl=/data/files/Gallery/CC-Handouts/CCI01182016.jpg&FileID=51728&Title=&Content=

/gallery/zoom.aspx?myurl=/data/files/Gallery/CC-Handouts/CCI01182016_0001.jpg&FileID=51727&Title=&Content=

/gallery/zoom.aspx?myurl=/data/files/Gallery/CC-Handouts/CCI01182016_0002.jpg&FileID=51726&Title=&Content=

Students get a moral education

Students get a moral education
By Tabetha Sullens
Middle School Head
One aspect of a Webb education that I feel strongly about is the fact that students get a moral education. The Honor Code is the pillar of the school. Whether or not you are aware, your child actively engages in morally challenging and thought provoking questions in all classes- even as early as sixth grade. Teachers at Webb spend countless hours planning and preparing their lesson plans. Many teachers practice exactly what this article touches on. Rubio notes that the concepts of education in one disciple may not be the only concept taught in that classroom. Many of the courses taught at Webb blend the curriculum. The Honor code is present in all of the classes as well. The impact of a Webb education does not simply prepare your child with an understanding of mathematics or foreign language. Rather, a Webb education prepares your child with a morally sound background so that he or she may go into the world with a sense of who they really are, and more than this, what they really stand for as an individual.

http://www.nais.org/Independent-Ideas/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=439&_cldee=dHN1bGxlbnNAd2ViYnNjaG9vbC5jb20%3d

Developing executive function

Developing executive function
By Angela Rasnick
Director of Studies
Executive function is the neuro-psychological concept referring to the cognitive processes required to plan and direct activities, including task initiation and follow-through, working memory, sustained attention, performance monitoring, inhibition of impulses, and goal-directed persistence. The executive functions allow people to begin and complete tasks. Many students who are struggling in their classes can find the root of the struggle in under-developed executive functions. The good news is that executive functioning skills can be developed. This article includes age-appropriate ways to strengthen the various components of executive function.

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Enhancing-and-Practicing-Executive-Function-Skills-with-Children-from-Infancy-to-Adolescence-1.pdf

Succeeding on standardized admission tests

Succeeding on standardized admission tests
Caroline Smith ’11
Admissions Coordinator
Admissions tests (while this post is focused on the SSAT and ISEE, it’s also applicable to the SAT and ACT) are notoriously difficult for students and confusing to parents, especially when otherwise high-performing students get “low” scores. While there are many possible reasons for a student to under-perform on a test, we’ll tackle some of the most common. Hopefully this will give you some insight into how to help your child succeed on a standardized admission tests."

http://www.bellcurves.com/blog/2012/01/11/ssat-and-isee-what-makes-these-tests-so-darn-hard/ http://www.bellcurves.com/blog/2012/02/02/isee-and-ssat-parents-just-dont-understand/

How I learned to Let Go of My Lesson Plan and seize a teachable moment

How I Learned to Let Go of My Lesson Plan and Seize a Teachable Moment
By Mike Quinn
Art Teacher

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2015/10/07/letting-go-of-the-lesson-plan.html

"There is nothing wrong with lesson plans; they guide the development of the skills and knowledge my students need to be successful. However, don’t be afraid to let go of those plans every once in a while, and grab hold of those teachable moments and unique opportunities to make learning authentic, real, and powerful."

The above paragraph appears toward the end of a tenth grade teacher's brief article about a spontaneous yet especially rewarding lesson. The subject of her particular class is indeed important and valuable, but the specific topics for such precious and ephemeral teachable moments may not be as important as the opportunities they present to connect with each other with depth, compassion, and understanding. Of course we must adhere to our specific curricular commitments and cover our academic material in meaningful ways that will ensure the success of our students, but it is also important for we teachers to remain alert and flexible enough to recognize, welcome, and allow teachable moments to distract us from our objective plans for the sake of enhancing our humanity.

InteGRITy

InteGRITy

By Kathleen Camp
English Teacher
This afternoon, the class of 2016 participated in the Webb School tradition of receiving their Senior Blazers embellished by the Webb medallion. Clint Hall, Webb '99 addressed the class of 2016 by emphasizing the foundation of the Webb School: "There is no substitute for your integrity." I felt a light-bulb illuminating over my head in chapel and looked around to see if anyone else saw it. Thankfully the coast was clear. What hit me is that grit is an essential component of the word integrity, ergo grit is an essential component to the cornerstone of The Webb School. Addressing the overall decline in student's grit is the ubiquitous lament of teachers as the rise in electronic use increases. In the English Department's Professional Learning Community meeting on Monday, the concept of how to teach grit was evaluated based on a variety of sources beginning with the following article on what grit is and how it can be taught. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/true-grit-measure-teach-success-vicki-davis

The Webb faculty takes the school's mission very seriously and we strive to teach the students "the finer points of morals" and to "practice them in their daily living"; the meaning of integrity.

Department's musings on math anxiety

Department's musings on math anxiety
By Teddy Schaffer
Math Teacher
Anxiety may be more prevalent in mathematics "because "mathematics offers what is perhaps the clearest and most concentrated example" of intelligent learning, "which is to say the formation of conceptual structures communicated and manipulated by means of symbols" (Skemp, 1971, p.16). The article mentions a "positive cycle" between Success, Confidence, and Pursuit, with each characteristic often leading to the others. The "negative cycle" of Failure, Anxiety, and Avoidance also tend to lead towards the other characteristics. It is very important to get students into positive cycle patterns. "Understanding" is a key feature that ties into the positive cycle while "rote memorization" skills can often lead towards the negative cycle. As a department, we strive to get students onto the positive cycle. Our current classes are pushing for more depth in understanding and the problem-based classrooms are designed with that in mind.

http://www.mathgoodies.com/articles/math_anxiety_model.html

A Librarian Mom never sleeps

A Librarian Mom never sleeps
By Hannah Little
Library Director
As the mom of teenagers, I work very hard to make sure that my teens are healthy. I organize healthy meals, make certain that my kids have exercise, and of course I want them to get a good night’s sleep. As a librarian, I see the research about adolescents and their need for additional sleep. Research studies from UCLA, University of British Columbia, and The National Sleep Foundation, point out that puberty and the onset of puberty shifts the timing of a teens' circadian rhythms and that makes it hard for them to fall asleep before 10 pm. Knowing all of this sent me on another research journey to find a solution, so that my teens get enough sleep. Some articles suggest that the answer is simple, "start school later." However, corporate business schedules within a community often drive school schedules, so recommending that we start school at 9 or 10 am is somewhat unrealistic. Focusing on the things that we can change is the key. Based on research and personal trial and error, the solutions for my family have been in routines and rituals.
Read more

The Thucydides Trap and history

The Thucydides Trap and history
By Jonathan Chicken
History Teacher

"In our roles as historians and teachers of history, we feel that part of our mandate is to use situations in the past to help understand the present and, perhaps, to help predict the future. This article from the Atlantic discusses the so-called "Thucydidean Trap," using examples from 16 conflicts in world history to suggest that another might be looming--but it is one that could be alleviated by our students, the future citizens of the world, by increased understanding and by having the skills to interpret the documents and history of other cultures."

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/

Here's why Middle School rocks!

Here's why Middle School rocks!
By Tabetha Sullens
Middle School Head
I am asked daily why I chose to leave my role as a principal of a K-12 school to be a “Middle School Head”. The answer is simple. I love students- any age students. My desire to return to The Webb School someday became a reality and I am thankful for the opportunity. But, this article, the job, and this occupation are not about me. This blog post is about the eighty-nine students enrolled in The Webb Middle School. The eighty-nine students I come to work for each day. The middle school years are awkward to say the least. But it is also a time when one can have a mega impact on lives. The Webb school prides itself on the Honor Code it was built on and the respect of cultural diversity on its campus. I pride myself in the integrity and grit we teach our students. I walked these halls as a student and so I can relate to their tears as they adjust to the homework load. I can understand the weight of the backpack. I can tell them, “I have been where you are and I am blessed because I attended The Webb School”. I do not equate my success to college. I equate my success to Webb. My time at Webb is what allowed me to learn organization, honesty and hard work. I know middle school years are rough, but as we strive to educate the students about what grit is as early as ten years old, we allow them one step up for success in high school. The middle school years do “rock” as this article explains for many reasons I agree with here. My days are never the same. My days are filled with laughter. My days allow me to make a difference in the lives of pre-teens… and all in Bell Buckle. It doesn’t get better than this.

http://www.middleweb.com/24949/six-reasons-why-middle-school-rocks/

Decline in reading comprehension scores discussed

Decline in reading comprehension scores discussed
By Angela Rasnick
Director of Studies
What is the reason for the decline in standardized reading comprehension scores in America? What is the reason for the decline in reading comprehension scores for students at The Webb School? These are questions that teachers at Webb have evaluated and pondered for the last couple of years. Are students not taught foundation reading comprehension skills any longer? Do students not have the attention span to read long passages? As we evaluate ways to help our students become good readers, do we really understand the way the bi-literate brain works? This article explains how "humans...seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits." Perhaps this is the answer to these questions about the decrease in reading comprehension.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/serious-reading-takes-a-hit-from-online-scanning-and-skimming-researchers-say/2014/04/06/088028d2-b5d2-11e3-b899-20667de76985_story.html

Putting Foreign Language in STEM

Putting Foreign Language in STEM
By Moira Smith, Foreign Language Department Chair
On the blog this week Moira Smith, Webb French teacher and Foreign Language Department Chair, shares why foreign languages are an integral part of the STEM subjects. At Webb, it's not just that we are putting foreign languages into STEM but using the foreign languages and their benefits to enhance STEM. The attached flyer details "5 Ways Being Bilingual makes you smarter. In a Florida study, kids who knew two languages scored 23 to 34 points higher on both math and language arts standardized tests. In addition, people who know more than one language are able to pay attention for 20% longer on average than their one-language-speaking friends.

/data/files/Gallery/CC-Handouts/Putting_the_FL_in_STEM.pdf

/data/files/Gallery/CC-Handouts/5_Reasons_Being_Bilingual_Makes_You_Smarter.pdf

More active learning with less emphasis on passive rote memorization

More active learning with less emphasis on passive rote memorization
By Jeff Bonner, Science Teacher
Jeff Bonner, shares thoughts on best practices from the Science Department. As science instruction shifts toward more active learning with less emphasis on passive rote memorization of lecture notes, teachers face the obstacle of ensuring students are reading and acquiring content knowledge that is traditionally covered didactically during lecture. The authors of this paper suggest best practices for writing and administering reading quizzes to monitor this. As a science department we discussed ways to apply these practices in our own classes and shared personal anecdotal evidence of what is effective along with obstacles we encounter when evaluating students on a regular basis through quizzing. http://search.proquest.com/openview/b876467c77fdf583d0200632e7e0f328/1?pq-origsite=gscholar

Foner's thoughts about the current environment of history education are shared

Foner's thoughts about the current environment of history education are shared
By Larry Foulk, History Teacher

The History Department is excited about a new school year and looks forward to sharing the great lessons of the past with its students while at the same time instructing them in the development of their academic skills. A 2014 interview of Pulitzer-prize winning historian, Eric Foner, helps shed light on some of the qualities and prescient issues in any discussion of the current environment of history education. For example, it has been known for some time that enthusiasm for and knowledge of history sets a strong foundation for a worthwhile learning experience. Eric Foner discusses not only the role that "...passion for your subject..." plays in teaching but also the ability "...to be able to convey that to your students." Eric Foner's answers serve as a portal to greater reflection on subjects ranging from "student interest" to globalizing "the unfinished story of America." The History Department pauses to consider the same questions as it embarks upon its mission for the 2015-16 school year.

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/01/you-have-to-know-history-to-actually-teach-it/282957/

Recognizing the valuable, intrinsic benefits that music provides

Recognizing the valuable, intrinsic benefits that music provides
By Susan Mullen
Strings teacher, String Orchestra Conductor
Many school music educators justify their programs to parents and administrators by pointing to research that links its study to increased test scores in other areas. Peter Greene makes the argument that they should stop that altogether and instead enjoy and praise the intrinsic benefits that music provides, which are many and just as valuable. It’s an interesting read.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-greene/stop-defending-music-education-_b_7564550.html

Writing is a major focus at The Webb School

Writing is a major focus at The Webb School
By Jacquelyn Boyanton
English Department Chair

Writing is a major focus at The Webb School. The English Department is not minimizing the focus on writing at Webb even though the SAT may be undermining its importance.

Writing Can Be Taught and Assessed
Beth D. Cohen is a professor of law, associate dean for academic affairs and director of the legal research and writing program at Western New England University School of Law . She is a member of the board of directors of Scribes , the American Society of Legal Writers.
MARCH 10, 2014

Writing can be assessed. Any skill that can be taught, any skill that can be improved, can be assessed. Effective writing is a fundamental skill and a vital form of communication. And it is critically important to students, individually and collectively, that we continue to value and encourage good writing.

Making the essay optional on the SAT doesn't level the playing field and undermines the importance of good writing skills.

Individually, we judge the merits of writing whenever we read. In an educational setting, technical aspects of writing such as spelling, grammar, vocabulary and punctuation can be evaluated. So too can clarity, organization and analysis. Grading rubrics, outlines, checklists and model essays are some of the available tools to help assess written work.

But writing is a process, and the most beneficial assessment is geared toward improvement rather than just assigning a score or a grade. The process of writing and rewriting takes patience, reflection and perseverance -- skills that are related to academic, professional and personal success. Ongoing assessment helps both teaching and learning, and students should be encouraged to write as frequently as possible with rigorous feedback and opportunities for revision.

The newly revised essay-optional SAT may undermine the importance of good writing skills. Because the essay is no longer mandatory, schools may spend less time and effort on teaching and assessing writing. Additionally, the opt-in essay does not help the stated goal of leveling the playing field but instead continues to perpetuate the bias and inequities inherent in standardized tests. Those who can afford coaching will be most likely to opt in to write the essay and those who cannot will remain at a disadvantage. Since most students lack proficiency in writing, it makes no sense to minimize the significance of this skill on exams. Effective writing is integrally related to critical thinking, communication, mastery of subject matter and problem solving.

It has been said that resilience may be the best predictor of happiness and success. Of all of the academic and test-taking skills, writing, and rewriting, requires resilience.

Grit, perseverance and struggle as part of true learning discussed

Grit, perseverance and struggle as part of true learning discussed
By Kay Young
Dean of Faculty/Math Teacher
Much has been written in recent years about the need for "grit", perseverance, and even struggle for true learning to occur. The math department has been having an ongoing conversation about this for many years. Additionally, many of the faculty read Carol Dweck's "Mindset" over the summer. In a recent math meeting, the department read and discussed the following article from the Washington Post from June 2015 that speaks to these things.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/06/03/how-to-get-kids-to-take-academic-risks/

Communicating with students in ever-changing social media landscape challenging

Communicating with students in ever-changing social media landscape challenging

By Hannah Little
Library Director/Teacher
One of my big goals as a Teacher-Librarian is to meet students where they are. This can be a challenge as our lives have meshed between a physical and digital world. Some of the social media like Facebook had a long shelf-life. However, now I feel that students more and more are trying to "run" from adults online rather than trying to interact with adults. I don't mean like "stranger danger" running, but more like hiding online content from parents and other authority figures. There is a constant moving from one platform to the next. When a student sees an adult from their physical world appear in their digital world, they take off running to a new social media. This year alone, I have seen the rise and fall of possibly fifteen different social media platforms among teens and young adults. Platforms like Kik, YikYak, Snapchat, AskFM, Whisper, ooVoo, etc. Most of these platforms are part of a new class of "temporary" social media. The answer on many school campuses is the banning of social media altogether. I disagree with banning the access to social media, and I am fortunate to be at a school where social media is available to students.

My biggest dilemma right now is that I just want to communicate effectively with my students.

However, I have two problems

1.) I do not know exactly where my students are because of the constantly changing social media landscape

2.) Sometimes I cannot get my message across in 140 characters or less.

It is very important for parents and teachers of teens to be aware of the ever-changing social media landscape. For instance did you know that "Snapchat is More Likely to Be Used Most Often by Wealthier Teens; Facebook Most Popular Among Lower Income Youth" See the latest data from Pew and the Internet -- Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015 - http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/

Also a marketing article with an interesting take on the new 'Snackable' Content Marketing from a business point of view

"Beyond Facebook - Marketing To A New Generation - #infographic" - http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2015/01/beyond-facebook-marketing-to-new-generation.html

What does it mean when we say "Education-Based Athletics?

What does it mean when we say "Education-Based Athletics?
By Scott Dorsett, CAA
Director of Athletics
What does it mean when we say "Education-Based Athletics"? I just read a great article by a fellow Athletic Director, Mr. Craig Perry, CMAA entitled, "Do the Students Get It?” As athletic coaches, we have an opportunity each and every day to make an impact in students’ lives. The true value of high school athletics are the lessons learned and not always the final score posted. Author Dr. David Hoch sets out the benchmarks we strive for in obtaining an education-based athletic program. At The Webb School, our Athletic Department strives to develop coaches and student athletes that are committed to being selfless, not selfish. Please take a moment to read the attached article and take a look at the survey students took in Minneapolis on the subjects of Character Education, Sportsmanship, importance of Winning, and what attributes student athletes find important in a coach. I was very surprised in the results of the survey, but also very happy to see that education-based athletics has true value.

See pages 22-23 of this pdf for complete article.

Extensive list of activities help provide healthy balance of challenge and stress relief

Extensive list of activities help provide healthy balance of challenge and stress relief
By Tabetha Sullens
Middle School Head
All students encounter stress to some extent in our world today. At Webb, we want to ensure that all students have a healthy balance of challenge and stress relief. Some of the activities Webb offers which help alleviate stress are the Wild Program, all of the sports teams (which include football, basketball, golf, volleyball, lacrosse, tennis, cross country, cheer) and a new yoga club. In middle school, the after lunch rotation program also allows the students to participate in physical education three days a week as opposed to only two days per week last year. In upper school, the Ethics course also incorporates a physical education component to the class. The advantage of the students “trekking” all over campus every day is a bonus regarding stress relief. Because Webb is such an academically challenging school environment and we aim to educate the whole child, we also want to ensure all students are knowledgeable of how to take care of themselves. We aspire for the students to have a healthy production of endorphins while developing grit.

In this article Katherine Bradley explores the importance of physical activity in school.

http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/physical-education-stress-reliever-students-high-school-8859.html

Collaboration at Webb essential to success of our educators and students

Collaboration at Webb essential to success of our educators and students
Angela Rasnick
Director of Studies
Here is a link to a blog written by Richard DuFour, one of the leading authorities on helping school practitioners implement the PLC at Work process, which we use at Webb. Eight of our faculty members sat under his teaching 3 years ago at his PLC at Work conferences. At Webb, we value the opportunity to have our teachers "sit down together and determine more effective ways to achieve the intended objective." This is the purpose of the collaborative days that are built into our school calendar.

http://www.allthingsplc.info/blog/view/3/Why+Educators+Should+Be+Given+Time+to+Collaborate

2015-10-23 11.44.17.jpg
IMG_6959.JPG