Wednesday, September 21, 2011

High School Night on October 3 and High School Placement Program

Everybody knows the college selection process is very involved. In fact, it is something that has become a lightning rod of debate in recent years. Concurrently, many students across the country are transitioning from middle to high school and with the addition of IB and magnet programs, as well as the plethora of independent and boarding school options, the process is no longer as easy as crossing the street to the next  building. At Canterbury we want to help ease this transition as much as possible. Below are some of the programs we offer to that end.

High School Night

Canterbury's campus at 5400 Old Lake Jeanette Rd
All middle school families should have the opportunity to explore every option for high school and make an informed decision about what will best serve their child at the next level, whether it be a public, magnet, independent or boarding school. To that end, Canterbury has organized High School Night. Over 30 schools will be represented including those from the Greensboro area, as well as nationally recognized boarding schools. We encourage anyone from the community to join us on October 3 from 6:30 - 8:00 in Berry Hall (next to the chapel) on the Canterbury School campus for a meet and greet with admissions directors, officers, and student representatives who can answer all your questions about schools. There is no fee and this event is open to the public, so please invite your neighbors and friends.

High School Placement Program

At Canterbury, we are pleased to introduce a new High School Placement Program. This is, at its core, a one-on-one family approach to finding the right high school for each student at the school. We are uniquely positioned to offer this service because of two factors. First, as a small K-8 school, we know our students and families very well, allowing for a caring and informed perspective on all of the high school options out there. Second, as an academically challenging K-8 school, we have developed and continue to build strong relationships with prestigious public, magnet, independent, and boarding schools seeking students who reflect our Middle School Vision (see description on right hand column) and can demonstrate the ten skills of a Canterbury graduate.

The program has three main components: people, support, and events.


Each student will be assigned a high school placement coordinator. The coordinators will meet with each family at least twice over the course of their 7th and 8th grade years - once in the spring of 7th grade and once in the fall of 8th grade. Our three High School Coordinators are:


The high school placement coordinators charge is to walk families through every step of the process from beginning (in 7th grade) to end (enrollment in the spring of 8th grade year). This person will be the point of contact for all issues relating to high school placement including:

  • Investigating various types of schools
  • Focusing the family's high school options based on their particular needs
  • Providing a student-specific timeline for the admissions or registration process
  • Working with students on application completion and interview practice
  • Providing standardized testing resources (for the independent and/or boarding schools)
  • Completing all required forms, including transcripts and teacher recommendations
In addition, the coordinators have developed the High School Placement Packet which outlines the entire process for families. This document includes timelines, admissions strategies, descriptions of IB/AP/Honors Programs, magnet school explanations, and much more. Parents and students can use this as a reference book as they explore their options. 


Canterbury will put on various events pertaining to High School Placement over the course of the year. This year they include:
  • High School Night (Whole Community, 6:30 - 8:00, October 3, 2011 in Berry Hall): Over 30 high schools will send representatives to Canterbury to meet and answer questions about their schools, the admissions or registration process, and dialogue about the high school experience. Boarding, independent, public, and magnet schools from Greensboro and beyond are represented. 
  • Fall Meetings, 8th Grade Families (October 12, 2011 and continuing throughout the Fall of 2011): We have assigned each 8th grade family to a high school placement coordinator who will be available during Middle School Conferences on October 12, 2011 to discuss high school options. Stay tuned for an introductory email. 
  • Fall Meeting, 7th Grade Families (6:30 - 8:00, October 20, 2011 in Armfield Hall): We will introduce the placement process, our placement coordinators, and the resources we can offer to support you as you think about the next level. 

The BIG Question

This morning we launched the BIG Question during our morning meeting time. This program has three goals:

  1. Create a forum for the whole division to meet,
  2. Introduce BIG ideas, current events, and/or school issues that warrant a common context for discussion, and
  3. Provide an opportunity for common reflection during our Middle School Chapel one week later. 
Today our topic was values and ethics, as we are in the midst of reviewing our Honor Code in anticipation of our Honor Chapel. During this service we all place our signed agreement sheets upon the altar in Phillips Chapel and agree to uphold the Honor Code in letter and in spirit. 

We began by meeting in the lobby of Armfield Hall, where I presented data from the the Josephson Institute of Ethics’ Report Card on American Youth’s Values and Actions which surveyed 43,000 High School Students in Public and Private Schools in 2009-2010. Here are the numbers I presented:
  • 89% believe it is more important to be good than to be rich.
  • 33% boys/25% girls admitted stealing from a store
  • 21% admitted stealing from from a parent
  • 18% admitted stealing from a friend
  • 48% boys/35% girls said they lied to save money
  • 80+% said they lied to their parents about something significant
  • 59% admitted to cheating on a test in the last year
  • 34% admitted to cheating on more than two tests in the last year
  • 33% admitted to using the Internet to plagiarize
  • 92% of students were satisfied with their personal ethics
I asked that the students return to their advisories and, using these numbers as a context, to discuss why it is that we have an Honor Code at Canterbury. What can it do for us as a community? What can it do for them as students? How do they feel about these numbers? 

When they returned to their advisories, they had the opportunity to read an analysis of the data (from the survey when it was taken in 2008) from a parent perspective in the NY Times column called Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting. The title of the column....Your Lying, Cheating, Stealing Teens

Advisors then guided a discussion on their reactions to the data and the parent perspective as outlined in this article. The ultimate goal was to bring the conversation back to the students' perspective on the purpose and need for an Honor Code. 

On Wednesday, September 28 Fr. Finnin will give a sermon on this topic in order to provide some resolution to this particular conversation, but the discourse will continue. I invite you to pick up this conversation with your child at home. I think you will be very impressed with the insight they will bring. 

While our Canterbury students may not have taken the survey, they will be working with the people who did in high school, college, and in the workforce. Our students, and those who took the survey, will be our congressmen and women, our senators, our business and community leaders, our mayors, our doctors, and our lawyers, our mechanics and plumbers, our financial advisors and bankers. They will build our country. 

It is our job to empower them to espouse the values of honesty, integrity, responsibility, and service. The BIG Question is one forum which we believe will allow them to hone their arguments in favor of these values and the Honor Code is the means to act it out. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dana Foundation Blog: Action Learning

I thought this brief blog post was an interesting one because it highlights how the pendulum may be swinging back to center in the world of public education. It seems families are realizing the power of play in the development of our children. The Learning Resources Network has organized Ultimate Block Parties to try and get families out and playing.

If you read some of the articles in the NY Times recently, you may have seen that SATs are going down, the jury is still out on this testing frenzy (However, if you enrolled in an independent school you most likely have an opinion on what kind of education that provides for our children...), and some districts are deciding to take away PE and Recess in order to test prep. The Play Movement is one that attempts to bring it back to "normal."

As we prepare to bring the 5th grade into the middle school here at Canterbury, we are being very deliberate about how we can provide time in the day for the power of play to work its magic on our students. This can take many forms, but I am interested to hear your ideas.

Here is the link to the blog about the Ultimate Block Parties. Dana Foundation Blog: Action Learning

Kids Like To Win; Adults Need To Win 741.1

I ran across this blog post this morning and thought it particularly applicable during this season of NFL and College football, MLB playoffs, and Canterbury Fall Athletics. Mr. Josephson highlights a distinction I find worth noting here: kids like to win but it is our culture, seemingly, that feels the need to win - to be the best, to start, to become a legend.

In middle school sports it is about the journey. It is about the experience. It is about the camaraderie. It can be competitive and pure and that is why it is so special to be able to wear that Canterbury jersey. Soon enough the jerseys our kids wear will mean more pressure to win for winning sake's. Canterbury wins as a byproduct of our desire to teach the life lessons that come from the competition itself.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Curriculum Corner: 8th Grade Space Lesson

Yesterday I walked into an 8th grade Science class and saw students mauling clay into round balls. In middle school one's first instinct when you see a student roll clay into the shape of a ball is to figure out where that students plans to launch it and try to head it off at the pass...

This day, however, Mrs. Ringrose, had assigned the students the task of molding this block of clay into the planets. The challenge was to create a solar system on a scale that matched the relative diameters and distances between each planet. Mrs. Ringrose describes the lesson below and check out the link to a slideshow of the students at work:

8th Grade Space Unit: Planet Creation

The 8th grade is beginning a unit on space by modeling the relative diameters and distances between the planets.

"We scaled down the size of the planets with play dough to put the planets in perspective to the human eye. - Walton

"We took 3 pounds of play dough and make all nine planets of the solar system.  We had precise measurements that we had to follow to make sure all the planets were the right size."  - Will

After we finished modeling the planets, we pulled up pictures of our models on the Smart Board and labeled the diameters of the planets in kilometers.  Most of the students were surprised by the vast differences they saw.
"I learned that the Earth was over 100 times smaller than Jupiter and that seemed mind-blowing because our Earth seems so large." -Jessica
"I thought it was cool to compare Pluto to Jupiter" - Brad
"I learned that Earth is very small compared to other planets (ex. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus).  I realized that each person is like a grain of sand when compared to our whole galaxy." -Mary Grace
"Saturn and Jupiter were a lot bigger than I expected." - David
"Mars was smaller than Earth when I thought it was bigger or the same size." - James B
"I learned that Jupiter is so gigantic compared to everything else.  I didn't realize that Earth was so small." - Sally
"Something interesting was that Neptune and Uranus were about the same model size." - Thomas
"The sizes ranged very far apart from about the size of a hand to the head of a pin." - Ross

Thursday, September 8, 2011

7th Grade: New Arrivals Institute

As part of our MDG introduction, we visited the New Arrivals Institute on W. Vandalia Street. It is a learning center for refugees who have arrived in Greensboro and are looking for the skills and wherewithal to make it in their new home.

Our students worked with adult learners who were studying English. We discussed everything from birthdays and number of children, grandchildren or siblings to ethnic customs and life stories. One group of students played with the preschool-age children of the adult learners. It was a fascinating experience to be able to meet and learn from these people who had been through so much just to get to the United States.

The sentiment seemed to be that the students would have liked to stay longer, but alas, Canterbury and lunch was calling. Below you will see a link to a slide show that Erin Ringrose has created which features our students working with the small children at the center.

Canterbury at New Arrivals Institute

6th Grade Kanuga and 8th Grade Wilderness Adventure Pictures

I've received a few pictures from Karen Niegelsky, who is in Kanuga with our 6th grade and I've received a picture from Wes Vogel, who is with the 8th grade at Wilderness Adventure. Check them out:

Karen writes, "Sampling some sourwood leaves along the
trail to Eagle Rock. We're having a great time at Kanuga."

"...And we made it to the top of Eagle Rock!"

8th graders along the roaring waterfall hike. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

7th Grade MDG Experience Begins at Home

The 7th grade is all alone in Armfield Hall this week, as the 6th Grade is at Kanuga and the 8th grade is at Wilderness Adventure. But don't worry about them too much, as they are getting out in the Greensboro community to learn about some of the issues facing the world which affect our neighbors right here in The Gate City.

Each year, the 7th grade goes through the Millenial Development Goal Experience or MDGs. In it, they are assigned a character and a developing country and given the task of solving the problems they face in a real world setting. Some are wealthy citizens of that country, others are poor. Some suffer from a common disease found in that country, while others may be corrupt. It is all meant to provide a hands-on understanding of some of the issues that face the developing world and which the United Nations' MDGs aim to eliminate.

This year, we've begun the research in a new way. We have sought out ways for our students to experience those problems and contrast them with their own life experience. Today we visited Moses Cone Hospital and took a tour, soaking everything that network has to offer. After the tour we visited with Rosario Hankins and Rene Cone from Worlds Apart, One Heart to discuss their efforts to bring medicine and medical supplies to the Philippines. The students noticed the contrast right away.

After a brief presentation, our students took extra supplies which had been donated and helped to inventory, pack and seal them into boxes bound for Philippines at the end of this month. It was a great experience and there was a lot of momentum within the class to continue the work.

Stay tuned for some more updates on this project.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Leadership Defined

As you have seen if you've been following this blog, we instituted a Leadership track in our electives program. Today, the Leadership in Action class spent the afternoon working on a definition of leadership.

I found it very interesting to see how their thoughts on leadership changed - even over the course of the forty minute class.

I had asked the class to identify any leaders as homework. We began today's class by outlining who those leaders were, what area they led in and how they led. We came up with an expansive list.

From this discussion I asked the students to write a definition for leadership. I collected the definitions and had the students write the words that stuck out to them about their peers' definitions. After looking over these words that stuck out to us, I asked the students to re-write their definitions of leadership. They all changed their definitions.

I found it interesting to see the difference between the original definitions and their new ones, once they had discussed as a group and heard the various perspectives of their classmates. I think they summed it up well when they said, "Defining leadership is hard." It is, but I am proud of the work the class put into discovering a definition that works for them. Below you will see the before and after definitions. What are your definitions of leadership?

Student One

Before: Leadership is someone who inspires others to help his cause.
After: Leadership is when someone helps their followers and others.

Student Two

Before: Leadership is the power to control or help people do things the way you do them.
After: Leadership is when you help people, inspire people, and get people to follow you.

Student Three

Before: A leader is someone to stand up to and a person to follow or save the day.
After: A leader inspires, follows, helps.

Student Four

Before: A leader is somebody who can make the people they lead believe in themselves.
After: A leader is someone who can inspire others and make them believe in him.

Student Five

Before: Leadership is when you are in charge and take care of your followers.
After: Leadership is when you inspire your followers and then control, help, stand up for, and save the day for them.

Student Six

Before: A leader is a person that can stand out and lead the group.
After: A leader is someone that can help and put themselves after their followers.

Brain Development and 21st Century Skill Development

In an excellent article, Dr. Judy Willis concisely explains the relationship between brain growth and the need for teachers to stimulate the brain in new, engaging, and realistic ways.

Some highlights:

  • The brain has plasticity. It grows and connections are strengthened and made more efficient with increased and varied approaches to the same material. 
  • The Prefontal Cortex houses the brain's higher order thinking neurons (as opposed to the amygdala, which is our basic fight or flight monitor). It is growing the most during our years in school.
  • We need to stimulate the Prefrontal Cortex through differentiated information manipulation (say that 3 times fast...) in order to develop 21st Century skills in our students.  
At Canterbury, we are working to enhance an already strong program to enable these approaches to instruction. Additionally, our teachers have undergone a significant amount of professional development, most recently in Developmental Designs Instructional Approaches, so that we are delivering lessons in a way that acknowledges the brain research of adolescents. It is anm integral part of our vision - Best Practices. 

Throughout this year, you will see lessons featured on this blog which highlight the ways in which our students are developing 21st Century Skills. Stay tuned!

Here is the link to the article:

Dr. Judy Willis: Improving Executive Function in Students

UPDATE: I found this really cool 3D Interactive Brain website from HealthLink. You can scroll around the brain and find out about each part, where it is, and what it does. Check it out:

The Brain

Thursday, September 1, 2011

9-11 For Middle Schoolers

How do you engage a person in a memory of which they have no experience? How can you make a young person understand what 9-11 did to the American psyche? Our 8th graders were three when the planes hit the Twin Towers.

In a timely and poignant blog on Edutopia, Ben Johnson, begins this very conversation. For those of us in the Millenial Generation, 9-11 defines who we are, how we live, and the way the world operates. For those in generation that follows, it is something they've heard about and understand was a sad event.

How do you plan on commemorating 9-11 ten years later?

Here is the article: Ben Johnson: Why Students Have No Memory of September 11