Saturday, October 6, 2018

There is no such thing as a math person...

ANYONE can be good at math! And MISTAKES actually help your brain grow!

Has your child told you that yet? Hopefully this has come up, as we spent the first few weeks of school learning all about how having a growth mindset in math is key to success in this subject area.

We watched (and then discussed) a series of videos created by Dr. Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematical Education at Stanford University, which translates Stanford Pyschologist Carol Dweck's theories of growth vs. fixed mindset into math practices. These practices are designed to promote a growth mindset in math, banish math anxiety and bust some age-old myths about math. Ideas like: you have to be fast at math to be good at it; and: math is a boring subject all about rote memorization which does not require any creativity. At Seabury, we know different!

We have learned how the STRUGGLE to understand difficult math concepts, which can sometimes feel overwhelming and frustrating, is just a part of exercising your brain to "build your brain muscle."  Students who look at that struggle as an exciting challenge, and persevere in trying to solve problems in different ways, demonstrate much higher levels of achievement in math than students who have memorized algorithms or processes without fully understanding what they are doing with the numbers. This idea of struggle being a GOOD thing is an important concept for gifted perfectionists, who often are not used to being challenged in their areas of strength, and often give up rather than take on a challenge they might not soar through.

Thank you, Youcubed, for setting us up for a successful year of math exploration and growth! We are already enjoying "inspirational" math challenges like the Four 4's -- part of the "week of inspirational math" curriculums available through Boaler's Youcubed website. Truly, how often do you see smiles like these when kids are working on difficult math problems?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Week 2

A few highlights from our second week of school...

...meeting the new 2nd grade class pet - a crested gecko lizard named Luna.

...making arguments for the best class name choice: after several rounds of voting and several impassioned speeches about which name we should choose, we decided on "The Olympians."

...and, of course, making things during "genius hour" on Friday afternoon!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Team Building

The Supernovas (3-4) and the Olympians (4-5) needed a brain break during those first long days of school, so we headed out to the playground for a little team building exercise. Students on opposing teams jumped a hula-hoop trail toward each other until they met, then did "Rock, Paper, Scissors" to see which team member would advance.

In the end, it didn't really matter who won -- it was so much fun, we all did! -- but we sure know how to solve any decision-making dilemmas that come up in the future!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Day 1: INQUIRY - The "Mystery Cemetery"

We started our study of Archaeology with an inquiry investigation from the Archaeological Institute of America entitled "The Mystery Cemetery."

We examined a simulated excavation site, looking at a cluster of tombs to determine patterns and details that would tell us about the people buried there. We knew the size of the skeleton indicated age, the artifacts (beads, washers, etc.) in each tomb were worn by the person in their lifetime, and we knew screws represented weapons carried by the person.

We needed to find out 1) the gender  2) the age, and 3) the social status of each skeleton.
First, we took notes on what we saw, noticing things like the fact that all of the people with "weapons" (screws) were facing south, and all of the people with pots for grave markers were facing north.
We also noticed there were different artifacts and different amounts of artifacts in different tombs, and that the coffins were different sizes.

Next, after recording all our observations, we shared our thoughts in small groups, discussing different ideas and trying to come up with inferences about the people in the cemetery, supported by the facts we were given and the observations we made. 

We noticed all the tombs with weapons had no pots and were facing south, so we thought those must all be male. We knew all the artifacts in each tomb were things that had been worn by that person in life, so the tombs with more artifacts, we decided, were the tombs of higher social status individuals.

We determined that women were buried in the tombs that had long, narrow coffins, which were all facing north, and they all had pots for gravestones and no weapons. We determined that women with more colorful pots were more wealthy, or of a higher social status, than the ones on the tombs with plain pots.

It was not easy (or comfortable) to figure out the meanings of things like which way the skeletons were facing. We made plenty of wild guesses and got some things wrong. Ultimately though, we realized how important it is for archaeologists to look at finds in connection and comparison to the other things found around them. Thinking like an archaeologist, it turns out, is no easy feat. It requires a lot of comfort with uncertainty, as there is ultimately no 100% complete, correct answer.

We learned how to recognize inferences or educated guesses supported by fact vs. wild guesses, which were often more interesting to think about. What a fantastic lesson in critical thinking and a great start to a year of "Advancement!"

Friday, June 8, 2018

End of Year Anxiety

An open letter to parents:

We are narrowing down to the last few days of school. For some of us that is exciting, for other it is terrifying. Keep in mind that you’re likely to see two reaction from kids. The first is traditional excitement with lots of energy and positive responses. Our more introverted students will revel in their chance to have time in their comfort spaces and loose schedules where they can have more say over their days. Our extroverted kids will have feelings of worry or loneliness as they think about not seeing people over the summer.

There is third reaction that some of our students will face, and that is hidden anxiety. I use the term loosely to address some of the hidden manifestations of worry and fear. If you’re noticing things like… anger, unwarranted frustration, sleeplessness, obsessions about the what the date is or when school ends, preoccupation with summer plans, or feelings of alienation…don’t panic. It is really common for students to be afraid of the unknown that comes with summer break. School, while occasionally daunting, is predicable. It offers a routine that can be very comforting. Varying degrees of anxiety like behaviors and emotions are very common in gifted kids.

One way to check if your student might be in this list is to think about how they are the few weeks before school starts. If they show any of these same signs, then just rest assured that if they exhibit some unexpected reactions over the next few weeks it’s just the same thing but in reverse.

Here are a few things you can do to help:

  1. -          Schedule play dates. Going from seeing friends every day to not seeing them at all can create really strong feelings of isolation.
  2. -          Summer camps. Not only are they fun, but they allow social kids a chance to stay in touch with people in a setting that is familiar.
  3. -          Set a schedule. Routines are important. Summer shouldn’t mean that kids suddenly get to stay up as late as they want and sleep all day. Consistent sleep and proper amounts of sleep have serious impacts on a kid’s sense of well-being, emotional resilience, and cognitive strength.
  4. -          Positive Support. Just remind them that these types of changes in the year are normal. Listen to their worries and ask questions about how you can help. What they are feeling is very real. Give it space to be real, without empowering it or dismissing it.

 -Mr. B

Genius Hour Presentation for WAETAG 2018

Here is the link to the presentation I gave at WAETAG on October 13, 2018: RSmjNQdad8uTbfdPPN9...