Our new Thanksgiving cards went into the mail yesterday. The cards were designed by Ms. Nina Mahboubi and her nest class. After creating a wash of vibrant fall color, students blew a river of India ink across the paper’s surface to create a barren winter tree silhouette. Who needs another picture of a turkey or a cornucopia anyway?
Some viewers see flames in the background and others recall a warm fire on a cold winter night. What ever feelings our card evokes, we say there is much to be thankful for this year– children’s art especially.
Here is a link to last year’s design, too
If you answered the question “what is going on in this picture?” you used visual thinking strategies (VTS). What is VTS? In a classroom, by using a series of guided questions, you (the viewer) would be led by a teacher to a deeper understanding of the image. You would link vocabulary and language-based thinking with visual stimulation. Some of the questions you’d be asked: What kind of people are in the picture? Where are they? What are they doing? Do they look interested? ARE THEY THINKING? Are they learning?
You have deduced: these children on a school field trip; they are in an important museum setting (yes, that is a Picasso in the background); there is serious reflecting done in notebooks; this is a well-organized and successful program for learning.
Evergreen School has initiated a new program in VTS this year. Here we are on a field trip at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. We are so happy to be working with an art historian and arts program designer from the Glenstone Museum to teach Evergreen teachers in VTS techniques. I look forward to learning more about VTS and sharing here on my blog.
Learning to learn means knowing yourself, making a plan, and taking initiative. Our Montessori approach, particularly in the Elementary class, emphasizes the individual responsibility that each student takes in his or her own active learning. Student choice, one-on-one lessons, and personal work plans all help children see themselves as primary agents in their education.
Our elementary students are full participants in their teacher/parent conferences. It is one of the most powerful tools we use to help children understand their role in their learning.
The results are clear. Children enjoy a greater sense of pride in their accomplishments, feel more control, are significantly more motivated to learn, and develop an enhanced degree of independence.
Remember that list of attributes of high achieving 21st century kids? Perseverance, curiosity, self-control, optimism and conscientiousness. Essential yes, but incomplete. Gratitude may be the most important but overlooked virtue. The benefits of a grateful attitude are well known, including greater emotional well-being and a more positive mood. While our culture shows that egotism is the path to success, gratitude is the path to happiness.
Our gratitude may be the best antidote and only hope against our culture’s consumerism. Fortunately gratitude can be cultivated, modeled and taught. Here’s just one advice column and another saying how. We ought to take more time giving thanks for our blessings– precious children most of all.
I see your future.
More than thirty-five former parents and students gathered at Seneca State Park yesterday to reconnect and re-live Evergreen memories. I was thrilled to hear their stories and learn more about our past.
What did I find out? Mainly this: Evergreen friendships last. It was friendship that inspired John and Ronda Kent to plan the superb reunion. It was friendship that inspired the Gowducheruvu family to drive over four hours from Pennsylvania to attend. These bonds endure.
So what does your future look like? For today’s current parents, your time to reminisce will come. Maybe it’ll be next year, maybe in seven. So be sure to take lots of pictures and plan lots of playdates now. For when you become an Evergreen alumnus, you, too will always be connected.
Enjoy these moments. Memories and friendships live on.
Of all the skills your child needs to be independent and responsible, being able to prepare and enjoy nourishing food is near the top. Cooking is one of Montessori’s most important practical life skills. Thanks to Camilla’s mom, Carla, I now know that research shows that children who help their parents cook make better food choices.
With our Parent Association support, Evergreen will be able to expand its cooking program this year. We will be able to add new Ikea cooking utensils and bakeware, as well as a new oven and refrigerator to the third floor gastronomy lab. In the next few weeks, afternoon students, Extended Day students, Toddlers and more will be able to make homemade apple sauce, baked pumpkin seeds, granola, and other delicious snacks.