Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011-2012 Preview: A 21st Century World Electives

As you may have seen in my most recent posts, I am previewing the new Electives Program in the middle school. We've created three academic tracks: The Arts, A 21st Century World, and Leadership. In each we offer a number of classes and today I'm previewing the classes in A 21st Century World track. This is meant to expose our students to the variety of themes they will encounter in their 21st Centruy world from sustainability practices (both environmental - Organic Gardening and financial - Personal Finance and Micro-Lending) to STEM skills to world languages.
Organic Gardening: Students in this elective learn the fundamentals of gardening the organic way, including basic concepts about soil, ground cover, weed and pest control, harmful and beneficial organisms, and composting. Students prepare and plant and enjoy the harvest of a seasonal garden in fall and spring.
Personal Finance: Financial freedom takes students one step closer to independence. In this class students learn tips and tricks for managing and growing wealth. In one semester, students will buy a car, write checks, balance their budget, and play in the stock market. They will have the opportunity to interact with featured business leaders and will participate in an online simulation to reinforce course objectives.
Robotics: The Robotics elective asks students to become designers, computer programmers, problem solvers and engineers. Students are taught the basics of robot construction and programming and by the end of the course must solve complex problems with their Lego Mindstorm Robots. This challenging and fun elective introduces skills that will be needed in the 21st century.
NCAIS On-Line Courses: This elective is presented in partnership with NCAIS Virtual schools and offers students an opportunity to enrich their curriculum through an extensive choice of on-line courses. From Mandarin to Forensic Science to Digital Photography, this elective can provide a student the opportunity to supplement their education. There is a fee for the course. Please see attached informational packet.
Micro-Lending: The new micro-finance elective is a specific economics class that seeks to answer the following questions: What is micro lending? Who receives micro loans? Why do they need it? Where are micro loans happening? The first few weeks consist of learning about loans and investing practices such as researching the area where they will find their businesses. The class will then be broken into "Venture Capitalist Teams," each of which have a Kiva loan portfolio. Every two weeks teams report out to the "board" to defend and refine their portfolio, review and analyze their returns, and discuss strategy.
Science Olympiad: Science Olympiad is a track meet style science competition in which students compete in a range of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) events. In class, students will refine science investigation skills while building towers, mousetrap cars, and bottle rockets, tracking the spread of infectious diseases, or investigating forensic evidence to solve mysteries. Students will learn to measure accurately using the metric system, express themselves in written and oral scientific language, and follow the steps of the scientific method.

The Brain: A Beautiful Thing

Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain From Antiquity to the 21st Centruy

I'm on a brain kick this morning, but this link goes to an incredible slideshow of brain images captured in the book, "Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain From Antiquity to the 21st Century," by Carl Schoonover. One of the things I love to collect are old maps and sketches from the18th and 19th century. Seeing some of the early renderings of the brain is fascinating, especially compared to the intricate and colorful images that MRI and electron highlighting can afford us today.

Brain Books: Summer Reading

The Dana Alliance published a post on summer reading for those of us interested in brain research. It has a nice mix of science and anecdote, mostly written for us laypeople. There is one book which focuses on ALS, which is particularly important to our community.

Check it out here.

Dan Pink: Emotionally Intelligent Sign for Parents

Check out this sign for parents at a Little League game. Makes sense, I'd say:

Dan Pink Blog: Little League

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Generation iY: Another Look at the Millenials
I ran across an article this afternoon reviewing the book Generation iY by Tim Elmore. In it he coins the phrase Generation iY to cover those later Millenials (born post 1990) defined by i-everything (pods, pads, tunes, mac....) The reviewer summarizes his main points, which, I think, resonate with what educators are seeing today and why we are taking a look at what 21st century education looks like at Canterbury.

Please check out both the article at LeadershipNow and Elmore's book.

2011-2012 Preview: the Arts Electives

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we will be implementing a three-track program for our electives next year. The first of those tracks is the Arts. Below you will find brief descriptions of the classes.
Studio Art: Building on previous experiences in a variety of media, art elective students further develop their skills while exploring personal interests and directions and have opportunities to work with professional artists. The semester culminates in an art show in the Stafford Center art gallery in which each student presents his or her artwork.
Creative Writing: The Creative Writing Elective allows students the opportunity to explore and to unleash their creative spirit.  Students learn about and produce a variety of styles of creative writing, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  The class focuses on writing as an expression of the self with conventions and characteristics different from academic writing.  All students read their work aloud during either the Winter or Spring Arts Festival.
Drama:  The Drama Elective is designed to stimulate the student’s natural “dramatic” imagination and provide experience and confidence in personal communication.  Through free-form, creative role-playing, scene construction, awareness of voice and body, and disciplined dramatic performance, students are given the opportunity to respond emotionally, reflectively, and imaginatively to their world and themselves.
Digital Photography: Through the NCAIS Virtual on-line suite of classes, Canterbury students have the opportunity to learn the basics of the digital camera, shaping a picture, identifying key elements in a scene, and manipulating the picture. Students are self-paced and work with a teacher that uses an online "classroom" to meet and discuss assignments, deliver quizzes and tests, and provide feedback.
Yearbook: Middle School students will choose the theme, lay out the pages, edit the text and pictures, and work with photoshop and other professional programs to create the final copy of the yearbook. Students learn many of the components of graphic design through a real world experience with a tangible and worthwhile project.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MS Supply Lists and On-line Ordering
This year, thanks to the help of the CPA we are able to offer an on-line ordering format for next year's supplies. This is NOT mandatory, but simply another resource for purchasing the necessary supplies. You can find the lists and the directions for on-line ordering at the link below. It will also be attached to my blog on the right hand side.

Please note: the on-line ordering must come in before June 30 to allow time for the packages to be delivered prior to the beginning of school.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Volunteer at the Greensboro Children's Museum

There are some great volunteer opportunities this summer at the Greensboro Children's Museum. Check out the options on the flyer at the link below.

Summer 2011 GCM Volunteer Opportunities

2011-2012 Preview: The Elective Track
For the 2011-2012 school year, we've redesigned our electives program in order to offer more classes with more focus. Briefly, our 7th and 8th grade students will still have the opportunity to choose from a variety of classes, only this year they will be organized into three tracks: The Arts, 21st Century Learning, and Leadership. Students are required to take one class within each track, but after that can choose to pursue classes in any of the tracks. Over the next few posts, I will preview some of the classes we will be offering within the elective program. We are excited about the opportunities these classes provide to our students.

Stay Tuned!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rap Star Eminem Teaches Literature
OK, so I used the title to hook you in, but Eminem does really play an active role in this post....

As educators, we hear the phrases technology integration and student engagement all the time. What we find is that creating lessons which are able to do both in more than an artificial manner is hard to do. However, while checking the copier I came across Tony Carrick's (7/8 Literature) unit outline for the topic of assonance and internal rhyme. I found an incredible piece of teaching: student engagement and technology integration combined in a way that immediately hooked the students: through rap music. I'll let Tony take it from here:

This lesson plan involves students learning the difficult concept of assonance by using Garage Band to help them assemble rap. Internal rhyme and assonance are heavily used by rappers to create repeating sounds in their lyrics that makes their music, for lack of a better term, catchy. Few rappers are better at this then Eminem. We begin by discussing the basic definition of assonance (assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in a poem in words that do not rhyme) and looking at a few examples. We then move into an analysis of some select lyrics (select meaning only the clean ones) from Eminem that feature assonance. After analyzing these examples, students then begin to list words that are assonant to each other. They then use this list to create a short rap that mixes internal rhyme with assonance. The challenge of this is to create raps that use an abundance of assonance but still make sense. After students have written a rap, we then incorporate GarageBand. Students use the “loops” section of GarageBand to mix together stock Hip Beats and baselines to create music for their rap. The final step is for students to add a vocal track of them rapping their rap.

So students have internalized assonance and internal rhyme through a topic that this is interesting to them, while creating digital content that is all their own. This is 21st century learning. Check out some of the tunes below.


Graduation Speech: A Canterbury Tradition

Mrs. Wall & Handbell Choir, December 2010
One of the many wonderful traditions here at Canterbury is for the 8th grade class to select their commencement speaker. This year they selected Amanda Wall, our Latin and 8th grade composition teacher. She delivered a wonderful and poignant speech about the true meaning of "carpe diem."

You can check out the full transcript of the speech on the Canterbury Website or by clicking the link below:

Amanda Wall's Commencement Address