Second Semester Blogs

The skill of careful and attentive listening

The skill of careful and attentive listening

By Ruth Cordell
Speech and Theatre Teacher
Life is filled with serendipitous experience. Synchronicity can be part of the experience. It has been on my mind and often that listening and the skill of careful and attentive listening are more and more lacking as the years go by. Repetition, careful restatement of concepts or ideas or rubric particulars in many ways and words no longer seems that helpful a reinforcement on a broad scale of learning. Reminders consistently to “write this down” are the norm these days. Questioning “did you write that down” are also the norm. Beginning a new semester with all new students, I look for ways to begin anew and hope always to find an inspirational jumping point. The weekend before January 2018 school session began, the Netflix program I was watching played out, and I hadn’t noticed the “are you still watching?” prompt. I guess I wasn’t listening that carefully. My Apple TV switched to Ted Talks and Julian Treasure spoke: 5 Ways To Listen Better and How to Speak So People Want to Listen.

These two talks are exactly what the doctor ordered. Inspired and thankful, I watched and watched, again and again. He makes the statement: “But I believe that every human being needs to listen consciously in order to live fully—connected in space and time to the physical world around us.”

He presents beautifully simple rubrics for designing space for sound, for speaking, and for listening. He poses several questions, questions that inspired me to ask myself: “What if we all came to that space in which he describes so beautifully as totally prepared, determined to do our best, to make a profound and positive difference, however subtle, however great. I shared these videos with my classes in Fine Arts. I hope you will watch and be inspired as I have been.

Enjoy.

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

https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better

Travel -- a thousand “ah-ha” moments packed into every day

Travel -- a thousand “ah-ha” moments packed into every day
By Dr. Molly Barger
English Teacher

If you were to visit my classroom, you’d see on my door, just as my students see every day as they enter and leave my room, a picture I took of one of my favorite Tolkien quotes: “Not all who wander are lost.” Just like Tolkien’s Bilbo, I have been enamored of travel since I was young. My parents took me on a tour of Scotland around the age of 11, and during that trip, the castles and fairytale forests that I read about with my mom came to life. In college, I spent a month in Greece. More recently, I’ve traveled to Scotland frequently, the first time by myself as a graduation present to me. I saved up and spent a week in Edinburgh with no set plans except exploration. This past summer, I went back and walked the Great Glen Way, 80 miles along the natural fault line that divides the Scottish Highlands from Fort William to Inverness. Each time I leave on a new adventure, I discover more than just new places, I unearth something new about myself that no amount of classroom study could tell me.

This past week, I went to Rome for a training tour for my upcoming trip to Australia and New Zealand with students. I spent four amazing days with teachers just like me. Every single one of us want to open the eyes of our students to this amazing rock hurtling through space that we call home, and we know we cannot simply do it within the four walls of our classrooms. Together, we shared our fears about traveling with students, the challenges, and, most importantly, the all-important hope that we get to witness them discover the world and discover themselves.

If you ask me why I became a teacher, I would tell you that it’s the “ah-ha” moments. There’s a moment when a student suddenly gets it and their entire face lights up. One moment they’re in the dark, and the next, I can see the light wash over their face. That moment can make an entire bad day, week, even semester, completely worthwhile. I live for that moment. And yet, I know, from study and my own research as well as my own experience, that those moments come far more often when a student is allowed to explore a subject and not just read it. In my classroom, that often takes the shape of having them reenact scenes from Shakespeare and discover meanings and pitfalls as they stumble through the words. Those moments mean far more to them if they find it on their own than if I tell them.

To me, travel is a thousand “ah-ha” moments packed into every single day. Students discover new ideas, new people, new cultures—they learn to live outside themselves. In our world today which is constantly pulling inward, this is increasingly important. Travel teaches us to reach out and reach for our fellow humans rather than pull away in fear. Moreover, students learn who they are and who they are becoming. They also get to see those changes in their teachers as well, and that’s incredibly important. Students need to know that their own teachers never stop being students. I went to Rome with a group of wonderful teachers; I came back an extraordinary teacher simply because I learned that there is still so much more for me to learn. I hope my students come back having made a similar discovery because

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say. –J.R.R. Tolkien

Dr. Barger is taking a group of students to Australia/New Zealand this summer as part of Webb’s expanding travel program. If you’re interested in the trip, please contact Dr. Barger at mbarger@webbschool.com

Higher calling associated with any classroom lesson

Higher calling associated with any classroom lesson

By Larry Foulk
History and Government Teacher

(At a recent History Department PLC Day, Larry Foulk shared the following NY Times Op-Ed piece and offered his commentary:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/opinion/sunday/constitution-economy.html)

“There can be no real political democracy unless there is something approaching an economic democracy.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

We are witnesses to the greatest "wealth gap" our country has ever known. In a land of rags-to-riches stories where the underdog (i.e. Little Brown Jug) has stood a chance at making a better life for himself, Professor Sitaraman of Vanderbilt University seems to boldly suggest that moneyed-interests in America may not only be contributing to social and economic changes of an unhealthy nature, but such interests may also be too much for our plan of government, our U.S. Constitution to bear. In other words, as Theodore Roosevelt suggested, if the American Dream no longer exist for the people, then the people forfeit notions of political equality and freedom.

I share this Op-Ed for the purpose of highlighting the higher calling associated with any classroom lesson. As I reflected on a recent lesson from one of my classes, I soon found myself confronting an ethical and moral dilemma. Complete the lesson and move on knowing that I did not expose my students to the great complexity that is the interplay of moneyed-interests and government OR take the time to investigate this complexity so that they might be better informed to make decisions in line with our values of freedom and equality. I decided to address the dilemma by recalling the words of our school's Mission Statement, especially those that state, "To turn our young people...who know the finer points of morals and practice them in their daily living...."

Here at The Webb School there is the "Webb Difference." The greatest and most important difference of all may just be the one exercised any and every day when teachers and students work tirelessly to answer a higher calling to live through the "finer points" of our school's Mission to unravel the complex nature of things. In doing so, our students will be more prepared to be wise servant-leaders to our school, our community, our state, our country, and our world as Webb Ladies and Webb Gentlemen.

Clubs, other opportunities help develop “whole” student

Clubs, other opportunities help develop “whole” student

By Aimee Hoover
Day Admissions Liaison

A Webb education focuses on the whole student. Besides our rigorous college preparatory programs, we offer the opportunity to discover and pursue your passion. Our middle school programming is full of these significant learning and bonding opportunities.

Webb’s Middle School “After Lunch Program” is designed to enrich the personal development of middle school students and encourage the discovery of new interests. The program allows the students to choose from the following activities: Art, Choir/Music, Feet-to-Feet, Chinese Culture Survey, TEAM collaborative strategies, Finance, Quiz Bowl, PE and WILD (Outer limits) and more! Our MATHCOUNTS team recently placed in the top 3 at competition.

https://www.mathcounts.org/programs/competition-series

Webb's middle school students also have the opportunity to participate on our middle school athletic teams or pursue the performing arts with our string ensemble and theatre program. In fact, a seventh grade violinist recently qualified to participate in the mid-state orchestra!

https://www.thewebbschool.com/student-life/student-news/student-news-clone/~post/two-orchestra-students-selected-for-mid-state-orchestra-20180129

Finally, each student participates in two clubs chosen from the following list. These clubs meet bi-monthly during school hours. Click for list.

Allowing students to explore such a wide range of opportunities allows them to define their interests and develop the confidence to pursue them!

Social media and teens

Social media and teens

By Hanna Byrd Little
Library Director

http://knowledgequest.aasl.org/social-media-challenge-opportunity/

Along with this article, Hannah is doing the "100 days of happy" challenge with Seniors for the 100 days before graduation on the Library Twitter.

https://twitter.com/webblibrary

Value mistakes because they lead to further discovery

Value mistakes because they lead to further discovery -
Recent scientific discoveries on Mars discussed

By Adam Feldbruegge
Science Department Chair

In 2015, it was believed that there was solid evidence for water on Mars. The recurring darker streaks on the surface appeared to show liquid water seeping through the surface and lead to what we thought was a massive discovery. Now, however, new research shows that this is in fact not water seeping through but rather granular flows (sand streaks). It is so important to realize first that it is okay to make mistakes because they lead to further discovery and second, to not make assumptions.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/recurring-martian-streaks-flowing-sand-not-water

Importance of music education touted

Importance of music education touted

By Janet Linton
Fine Arts Department Chair

The articles I've referenced here all support how important education in music is for children and adolescents. They suggest that students will have more success in a broad range of academic subjects if instruction in music is part of their curriculum.

This is all well and good but there's much more. Music also brings joy. Not only music, but I believe all the arts can help us come to a greater understanding what it is to be human. The arts can lead us to explore all aspects of emotion, intellect, and communication. The arts can powerfully move us in ways that we might not expect and open us to ranges of emotion we might not yet have plumbed. Through the arts, students have opportunities to develop skills and explore possibilities that enrich not only their own lives but the lives of others.

https://www.nammfoundation.org/articles/2014-06-09/how-children-benefit-music-education-schools

https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2010-music-and-children-rhythm-meets-child-development

What student appreciates about taking AP U.S. History

What student appreciates about taking AP U.S. History

By Jonathan Chicken
History Teacher

For one of our fall history department meetings we discussed the following article from an Ohio student taking the AP US History course, and what she appreciated in her class--a rigorous engagement with the material using a mixture of methods, and in particular, being held to high standards. I think we all as a department strive to do the same, and it's inspiring to see students who flourish under those conditions.

https://edexcellence.net/articles/my-experience-with-ap-us-history-the-importance-of-rigor-in-bringing-history-to-life

Guidance for social media posting

Guidance for social media posting

Head of School Ray Broadhead often shares suggested reads with parents. On the blog this week are two of his recent recommendations, along with this guidance for social media posting.

Remember to tell your student to THINK before they click send:

T - is it true?

H - is it helpful?

I - is it inspiring?

N - is it necessary?

K - is it kind?

Two links of interest on sexting...the first is a recent article from the New York Times, and the second is a "sexting handbook" from Common Sense Media.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/well/family/teens-are-sexting-now-what.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fwell&action=click&contentCollection=well&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront&_cldee=cmJyb2FkaGVhZEB3ZWJic2Nob29sLmNvbQ%3d%3d&recipientid=contact-65a8b2823af9e111892400505683000d-fbb9c17c482a4f0797e56de09c0c1bdb&esid=e2641f19-e826-e811-bd1f-000d3a106f88

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/uploads/landing_pages/sexting_handbook_ce_1020_1_.pdf

Research makes for exciting time in math education

Research makes for exciting time in math education

By Lea Anne Windham
Math Department Chair
This is an exciting time in math education as so much research is being done with the brain and how we learn. We are learning new things each year about how pathways are formed when we learn and what helps the pathways become connected. One of the most exciting things has been the discovery of the plasticity of our brain and how it grows and changes, particularly when we make mistakes. Partnered with a growth mindset and a belief that you can learn anything, students hopefully are understanding that mistakes and struggles are just stepping stones along the way to a deeper and better understanding of any subject – not just mathematics. Recently the Math Department discussed the visual nature of learning math. One of the big takeaways from this particular paper is the idea that fingers are essential for building a visual network in our brains related to number sense. Even though the article is bit lengthy it is full of fascinating information and links to learn more about this idea.

https://bhi61nm2cr3mkdgk1dtaov18-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Visual-Math-Paper-vF.pdf

The following are some of the highlights relating to the use of fingers.

SEEING AS UNDERSTANDING: The Importance of Visual Mathematics for our Brain and Learning

Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education with Lang Chen, Stanford Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Lab Cathy Williams & Montserrat Cordero, youcubed. Stanford University

“Telling students not to use their fingers to count or represent quantities is akin to halting their mathematical development. Fingers are probably our most useful visual aid, critical to mathematical understanding, and brain development, that endures well into adulthood. The need for and importance of finger perception could even be a part of the reason that pianists, and other musicians, often display higher mathematical understanding

(see http://www.livescience.com/51370-does-music-give-you-math-skills.html).

The neuroscientists recommend that fingers be regarded as the link between numbers and their symbolic representation, and an external support for learning arithmetic problems. No US curriculum materials that we know of include activities for helping students develop finger discrimination, so we have developed a range of activities for use in classroom and homes, that can be accessed in the appendix below and at

https://www.youcubed.org/category/visual-math/

to help this development in children and prompt further ideas and work in this area. Importantly teachers should celebrate and encourage finger use among younger learners and enable learners of any age to strengthen this brain capacity through finger counting and use. This does not mean that learners should keep counting on fingers as they move through school, it means that anyone who needs to advance their perception and knowledge of their fingers and count on their fingers should do so, at any age, as it is critical for their brain development. It is important to remove the stigma from counting on fingers and to see this activity as inherently important and valuable.”

Life hacks

Life Hacks

By Ruth Cordell
Speech/Theatre Teacher

The speech classes are in mid semester oratory. We look at emotions, feelings, belief systems, for what is it we are truly thankful, longing, and so on. We look at famous declarations, proclamations, and historical political discourse that has shaped our personal worlds.

All the rubric rules are abandoned on the first two exercises. Always, I am amazed at what I hear at the classroom lectern. Three speech classes, each and every student time after time delivers with strength and conviction. I retrieve speeches from past years and past students and share. I love this. I love remembering what wonderful minds are shared with me here at Webb.

This writing exercise proves challenging to the students, but seems to get easier with each exercise. Remembering my own experience with writing timed essays in high school English class, it was such a valuable thing to realize my thoughts on things, anything, were worthy of being heard. We were allowed pencil, eraser, two sheets of clean paper and no grammatical or spelling errors. I could spell correctly, punctuate properly, and work on my phrasing; and now I realize my high school senior English instructor was a gift- challenging, inspiring, dedicated beyond what I have known since. He might be shocked at my lack of skill in proof reading my own material these days.

I found a blog on line that I find useful for my classes and thought you might enjoy as well.

The top three out of ten hacks by Leo Babauta:

Keep it short; abandon the formalities; have a purpose; and, finally, after a few more hacks, end strong. Even in his title he has abandoned formality, but don't let that dissuade you from checking it out.

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-tips-from-lincoln-on-writing-a-kick-ass-speech.html

Save the date for Agatha Christie's murder mystery melodrama THE MOUSETRAP on the chapel stage April 26, 27, 28 at 7 p.m.

http://collegedirectory.schooltheatre.org/

Taking a group of students to France!

Taking a group of students to France!

By Jason Simpson
French Teacher

https://wmjsimpson.com/2018/04/04/france-2018/

Algebra II Landscape Projects

Algebra II Landscape Projects

By Effie O’Neil
Math Teacher
Click for link.

What makes a music teacher great?

What makes a music teacher great?

By Susan Mullen
String Orchestra Director

Enjoy this article on what makes a music teacher great. Music classes are often the least understood discipline in any school. sometimes believed to be the 'fluff' courses. However, there is true rigor involved in learning to play an instrument and to read music. This article will help parents understand the goals of excellence we strive for in both our teaching and in our classes. Read more

First Semester Blogs

Importance of cultivating curiosity in the classroom

Importance of cultivating curiosity in the classroom

By James Garcia
Director of Studies

It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since I attended high school in upstate New York. Each day I would enter the classroom with at least 30 students joining me for each class. It was a struggle to get the teacher to know your name, let alone give you the individual attention you needed if you were struggling. It was the same routine each day: lecture, take notes, and then the bell would ring. When I came to Webb in 2000, I was shocked by the size of the classes and the fact that there was a scheduled time for students to come see the teacher if they had questions or thoughts on the lesson that day. I saw then, and continue to see today, students interacting with teachers or fellow students about what is going on in class. Their curiosity brings them to new places of learning and forms new ideas that they never would have thought of before. This article from The Atlantic highlights a recent study focusing on the importance of curiosity and motivation in the classroom, and how curiosity is something that can be cultivated. Webb's environment is conducive to develop curious learners. Our small class sizes, extra help time, and teachers going above and beyond help shape students into lifelong learners.

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/07/the-underrated-gift-of-curiosity/534573/?utm_source=twb

Skills necessary for Middle School

Skills necessary for Middle School

By Tabetha Sullens
Middle School Head
Growing up in middle school today is very different than when we (parents and teachers) were in middle school. Students today are bombarded with a “me” engrossed society. As the students face peer pressure to multi-task every aspect of their lives and then publicize it for the world to see, they often become overwhelmed and do not focus on the tasks that really matter. This article suggests some of the soft skills necessary in middle school today. At Webb, we try to take a blended approach. We know we cannot shift the culture in society today, but we can educate the students with skills to be the best they can in the world they are growing up in. Mindfulness, focus, priorities, hard work and balance are extremely important skills not only in middle school, but also in upper school.

https://www.weareteachers.com/study-skills-for-middle-school-students/?utm_content=1494012615&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

Five helpful tips for boarding life

Five helpful tips for boarding life

By Son Will Society Members

On the blog today, tips from our Son Will Society! These dedicated students serve as student ambassadors for the admissions office-giving tours, writing notes and making calls to our prospective students.
Five Helpful Tips for Boarding Life

Seven benefits of reading literary non-fiction you may not know

Seven benefits of reading literary non-fiction you may not know

By Jacquelyn Boyanton
English Department chair

Literature is an important component of The Webb School curriculum. The following article discusses some benefits of reading literary fiction. One key point the article stresses is how empathy is gleaned through reading the struggles and triumphs of literary characters and how that empathy is internalized by the reader. Over the summer faculty members at Webb read UnSelfie and discussed the book upon their return in early August. Michele Borba, the author of UnSelfie will be visiting Webb’s campus next month to discuss her book.
Read more

Musings from the Black Box Theatre

Musings from the Black Box Theatre

By Ruth Cordell
Speech and Theatre Teacher, Theatre Director

“Honor and shame from no condition rise; Act well your part: there all the honor lies.”

This was written by 18th century poet Alexander Pope: An Essay on Man.
It is said that Alexander Pope is the third most often quoted writer in the Oxford Dictionary after William Shakespeare. He is known for his translations of Homer and his use of the heroic couplet.

Our school year began in the Introduction to Theatre 1 course with the acting and directing module. Not unusual, classes were delving into the choosing monologues without benefit of larger context. Theatre artists and designers take great amounts of time identifying thoughts (beats or units), sub thoughts, sponsoring thoughts, answering questions as they relate to character analysis, story analysis, arcs: the minute to overreaching, motivation, framework of action, intentions, objectives, and so forth. The more that can be identified, the richer the product will be.
Read more

Yoga example of benefits Webb clubs offer

Yoga example of benefits Webb clubs offer

By Tabetha Sullens
Middle School Head

Last week was yoga club's first class. The girls had amazing energy and focus. 42 girls (grades 6-12) joined me for the year to breathe, focus, and de-stress. I am so excited to see their positive energy and to see how many came back for a second year in the club. The club grew almost 15 percent from last year. Teaching the girls to have a focal point for balance poses also teaches them to have a focal point when facing challenges in life. We will practice mindfulness, beginner yoga, relaxation breathing, aromatherapy, and will discuss self-respect, respect for others, and finally respect for our community through self-awareness this year. There are so many benefits to yoga. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/blog/urban-survival/201505/7-ways-yoga-helps-children-and-teens%3famp

Films to teach empathy

Films to teach empathy

By Aimee Hoover
Day Admissions Liaison

Recently, Unselfie author Michelle Borba addressed our parents and our faculty as part of the Follin Speaker Series. Dr. Borba is an internationally-recognized educational psychologist and parenting, bullying and character expert whose aim is to strengthen children's empathy and resilience, and create safe, compassionate school cultures. She has repeatedly appeared on The Today Show, Dr. Oz and various other programs. Dr. Borba teachers nine essential empathy capacities and has identified 104 wonderful movies that help teach those crucial habits. The right movie can stir a child’s empathy better than any lesson or lecture ever could, so use this list to plan some family movie nights!

http://micheleborba.com/100-movies-for-kids-5-to-17-that-teach-9-crucial-empathy-habits/

Smartphones/social media impact on young teens

Smartphones/social media impact on young teens

By Larry Nichols
History Department Chair

We can say that in today’s world we have a new addiction. That addiction is the smartphone. It has so many features one can hardly put them down. Smartphone addiction has become a serious issue our children face as they use these phones more than anyone. The majority of people in the work carry them around wherever they go. This has both positive and negative impacts on our children and society in general. The usage our children have on the smart phone comes down to being responsible. They can use it for the right reasons or can abuses it by texting while driving.

This year at Webb, we are trying to make our students more accountable and responsible in the usage of smartphones. In the middle school, they are not allowed during the academic day. For upper school, smart phones are not allowed during chapel or lunch. Other usage will be at the teacher’s discretion. Parents will play a large part in the implementation of this process in making their child more responsible in using the smartphone.
Read more

Every gift makes a difference!

Every gift makes a difference!

By Carmen Greenberg
Director of Parents Relations and Annual Giving

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. Webb’s longevity and its tradition of excellence in turning out people of character and integrity is due to the trust, hard work and support of many. For the past four weeks, we have been highlighting of the importance of philanthropy, and have been asking our constituents to show their support by making a Webb Fund gift as part of the 2017-2018 Five-Week Campaign. With a tagline of “Every gift makes a difference….” we have been emphasizing participation at any level, and the impact every gift has on our students, faculty and school. From our unique signature programs, to our clubs and weekend trips, from our academic curricula to our home-like environment, your philanthropic support is crucial in creating new opportunities for our students. Please consider making a gift to The Webb Fund!
Click to make a gift online.

Cell's chaperones

Dr. Leone Broadhead
Science Teacher

To get down to business in a cell, proteins need to fold into correct 3-D conformation. In the packed busy confines of a cell, hundreds of chaperone proteins are needed to micromanage the process and keep it on track. From the moment proteins are formed in the ribosome to the moment they are targeted as trash, they're monitored by a cell's chaperones. These findings about chaperone are providing insights about the basic working of cells and they role that these chaperones may play in fighting disease.
July 31, 2017 C & EN Cen.ACS.org
Read more

Fundamental things we aren't teaching our kids

"The fundamental things we aren’t teaching our kids"

By Mike Quinn
Art Instructor
Webb has been focusing on civility and courteous behavior ever since Old Sawney first said "My son...", but I have a hard time approaching the topic of empathy and tolerance these days, mainly because I keep getting mixed messages from folks in leadership positions. And no, I'm not talking about Webb leaders here.

I'm not the only one feeling this way. A recent blog in the Washington Post states: "These days basic decency, civility and compassion are imperiled in American life. Whether it’s divisive, finger-pointing politicians, the daily “shout” shows, everyday social-media hostility, spikes in hate crimes or emboldened white supremacists, our public and communal life is embarrassingly, indeed dangerously debased."

I can't imagine how hard it must be for our students to listen to us harp about polite behavior while being subjected to actions by public figures that are contradictory to that message. You can imagine your own examples of such actions, and your own public figures, and they may or may not be similar to the ones I have in mind. But even though the specific branches may differ, the trunk of "Golden Rule" behavior is hopefully similar enough for us all to share the common roots of nourishing our young into being good humans.

We are actively addressing this effort at Webb, most recently by our emphasis on empathy (see Dr. Michele Borba - "Unselfie"), and we are in good company. The effort is also being energized at the college level by Richard Weissbourd and Howard Gardner. They "have been engaged in an effort to reform the college admissions process so that it sends a powerfully different message: that what’s important in college admissions is not long lists of accomplishments but meaningful intellectual and ethical engagement — especially concern for others and the common good."

Gardner and Weissbourd state that we "... are obsessed with our children doing well, not doing good. And unless we come to our senses, we will dangerously fray or break the threads that tenuously hold us together." But I think we at Webb are trying very hard to teach our students the "fundamentals" that will continue to bind our common threads into a sustainable fabric of compassion, not only through curriculum, but through our own actions.

The Fundamental Things We Aren't teaching Our Kids

Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern For Others And The Common Good Through College Admissions

Making Caring Common

Changing literacy of today's world

Changing literacy of today’s world

By Dr. Molly Barger
English Teacher

Albers and Harste are primarily concerned with the changing literacy of today's world. In their view, it isn't that we're becoming less literate but that literacy itself is changing. Today's learners interact and create daily with text and visual literacy using technologies. Albers and Harste take their charge from Maxine Greene: education is a process of enabling a person to become different and look through the lens of various ways of knowing, seeing, and feeling. In this way, new literacies, as enabled by technology, should be embraced by classrooms. Doing so allows us, as educators, to meet our students where they are and allowing them to grow.
Read more

"From pencils to pixels..."

“From Pencils to Pixels…”
By Neil Barrett
English Teacher

Article: “From Pencils to Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technology” by Dennis Baron (2000)

Link: http://www.english.illinois.edu/-people-/faculty/debaron/essays/pencils.htm

Baron does an excellent job in this article if illustrating the progression of literacy technologies from early clay tablets to the pencil and finally to the word processor. Certainly, stages in this progression have been glossed over (more so by myself just now than by Baron) and, given that this was written in 2000, a more recent article would elaborate on the use of text-speak and emoticons by today’s writers. Nonetheless, Baron make some observations that are surprising.

-The earliest form of writing that we know of (cuneiform and clay tablets from Sumerians

in 3500 BC) were used, not to record any form of human speech but “land sales, business transactions, and tax accounts.”

-Even in 11th century England, written text was often used to record (or forge) property

transfers and often had to be authenticated with some form of unwritten symbol (seals, knives, illuminations, etc.)

-Most forms of writing technologies were not invented for the purpose of recording

personal statements, ideas, poetic musings, or the like. These purposes were applied to literacy technologies after the fact and usually after access to such technologies became more widespread.

Overall, this is a well-researched and thought-provoking piece that raises many questions, specifically in a time where authenticating text has become paramount. As an English teacher, I’m often on the hunt for plagiarism. Cell phones are stolen and social media accounts can be hacked. The importance of the word, it’s legitimacy, and how we authenticate human interaction is still just as important as it was in Sumeria 5,500 years ago. No matter the technology, the human using it should be more important than the pencil at hand. Still, if “Man’s reputation is what men think him to be, his character what God knows him to be,” than bridging the gap very well may depend on learning how to write.

Nurturing a spirit of gratitude

Nurturing a spirit of gratitude

By Aimee Hoover
Day Admissions Liaison

On the blog today, Aimee Hoover shares Michelle Borba’s tips on nurturing a spirit of gratitude.

As we head into the holiday season, let’s focus on putting more gratitude in our attitude. Last week, our Parents’ Association modeled this by presenting our faculty and staff with “thankfulness” bags during a special chapel ceremony. In these bags were “Grateful Grams” written by students to show their appreciation to those who support them at Webb. Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to hear author Michelle Borba speak to us about raising unselfish children. She also offers tips on cutting through distraction to foster the spirit of gratefulness 365 days a year. We live in a culture of plenty, which makes it all the more important to make gratitude a part of our daily routine. Research consistently shows that people who are grateful are happiest. Bring this truth to your daily life by creating a gratitude ritual with your family.

http://micheleborba.com/michele-borba-ways-to-nurture-an-attitude-of-thanksgiving-in-our-children/

Developing Leaders

By Scott Dorsett, CMAA
Director of Athletics

As we continue to improve everything we do in the athletics department at The Webb School, one item continues to come to the top of my list as being very important to our student-athletes. I have recently been reading several articles on leadership by Jon Gordon and the legendary John Wooden. Leaders are not always captains that are picked on your team, but leaders emerge as people that others follow and listen to. We must get our coaches, and student-athletes to buy in to a culture and philosophy that will move all of our athletics programs forward. Tom Izzo, Michigan State boys’ basketball coach, is quoted as saying, "A player-coached team is always better than a coach-coached team." We are in the process of developing a Leadership Council at The Webb School, which will include members from all aspects of athletics, i.e. student-athletes, coaches, and myself. I think this will be a great opportunity to build and teach leadership skills to our athletes and coaches. I truly hope to have this council in place for the second semester of school. If you get a chance, please take a look at the following article by Bob Starkey entitled, "The Advantages of a Leadership Council." You can find the article at www.coachingtoolbox.net/the-advantages-of-a-leadership-council. I would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, "Life's most urgent question is what are you doing for others?" Learning to lead is not easy and carries a responsibility. I think it is extremely important that we teach our coaches and student-athletes what it means and how to become servant leaders.

Key to exam success

Proper planning can be key to exam success

By Tabetha Sullens
Middle School Head

The key to success on exams is often due to proper planning and prioritizing tasks and deadlines. In Focus class, we employ a variety of study techniques and strategies the students can use all though their years at Webb, not just in the sixth grade. The first steps are to look at the material daily for just a few minutes to help move the information from short term to long term memory. (Think about studying for exams like studying for your declamation.) The second step is to plan. Look at your test calendar and then back up the preparations on your daily planner so you do not get overwhelmed. Make sure to get up and move when you are studying to recharge and reboot your brain. Also, consider what type of learner you are. If you need to be active or outdoors, go there to study! If you are a visual learner, make flash cards and paper window study tools to help you. Study with a partner. Remember you can even use your phone as a study tool. Record yourself asking review questions… just be sure to leave time for you to answer when you play it back. Look on Quizlet. Make review a game and have fun. When you take the time to plan and devote daily practice to studying, the success will come with what feels like, less effort! Good luck!

http://study.com/articles/10_Ways_to_Make_Sure_You_Survive_End-of-Semester_Stress.html