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.