Top Grandview Moments of 2014

What a wonderful year at Grandview!

Carpe Diem

As 2014 comes to a close and our teachers, students, and staff are basking in one more week of winter break, we would like to reflect on some of our best Grandview moments this year. Here are our Top Grandview Moments of 2014– in no particular order:

PRIDEVILLE

Lower school students participated in their first-ever Prideville day following a fun grand opening ceremony with honorary Prideville mayor Bill Martin. Students have continued the Prideville curriculum, learning real-world commerce, economics, and business skills while role-playing during the experience.

A second grade student serves as a banker during a Prideville day in November 2014. A second grade student serves as a banker during a Prideville day in November 2014.

CAREER DAY(S)

Middle and upper school students participated in Career Day in February and November.  Career Day at Grandview is a personalized experience for each student, meant to tap into known interests and perhaps inspire a passion for a particular path.  Prior to the event, Personalized Learning…

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Grandview Joins the Maker Movement

Carpe Diem

Makerspace Lower school students use the Makerspace during a Prideville day– when they practice business in action!

The Maker Movement is a growing trend across the nation and the world that takes the philosophy of “learning by doing” to another level. The idea is that students learn more from tinkering, creating, designing, and building– and this learning is active, engaging, and innovative. The learning taking place from “making” is precisely the type of learning necessary to prepare students for a future of careers that don’t even exist yet.

This movement is making its way to the classroom in many forms: as part of STEM, robotics, and coding classes, as extensions of science labs, as creative spaces for visual arts, or as a throwback to the wood shop class that many of us took in high school (remember that awesome shelf you made?). Here at Grandview, the Maker Movement has a home in our…

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Physics Students Compete in Grandview Regatta

Carpe Diem

Students had to use at least 70% recycled materials for their vessels. Students had to use at least 70% recycled materials for their vessels.

Broadly speaking, the goal of physics is to understand how the universe behaves. It is fitting, then, that physics students should not be contained inside the walls of a classroom. Physics students at Grandview Preparatory School spend time building catapults, slingshots, and kites (and soon, gliders!). Their newest project: building a boat to compete in a Grandview Regatta.

Students’ vessels had to consist of at least 70% recycled materials. Some used boogie boards washed up on the beach, others: discarded plywood and PVC piping from construction sites. Still others used milk jugs and silt fencing.  No matter the materials, all had to be at most 6 feet wide by 7 feet long.

Students applied Newton’s laws of motion, along with lessons in mechanics (including friction, and of course, buoyancy) to design and build the boats. For those of…

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School and The Aha Moment: Making Way for Good Ideas

Newton Second LawThe purpose of attending school is to learn.  Learning is about skills and ideas.  Each school, according to its mission, cultivates different types of learning.  Some concentrate on college-level content, others: skills, and more recently, some are now making more room in the curriculum for creativity. Recognizing that students cannot flourish on consumption of preexisting knowledge alone, more attention is now being directed at the science of learning.

As we understand more about our complex brains, we are able to identify patterns. Our brain waves have five primary frequencies: alpha, beta, theta, delta and gamma. Each frequency has different characteristics, and all are apparently essential for high level functioning.

Alpha waves signal deep relaxation, during states of daydreaming or light meditation.

Beta waves are present during normal waking consciousness and indicate a heightened state of alertness, logic and critical reasoning.

Gamma waves are the most newly discovered, are the fastest,  and relate to moments of insight

Delta waves are the slowest, present during deep sleep 

Theta waves indicate a state of light sleep or deep meditation, the realm of your unconscious mind.

brainwaves1

The key to our highest levels of functioning depend on the balancing and interplay of these frequencies.  It is possible, according to the data, to train our brains to achieve desired results. Legendary moments of insight such as Newton’s apple, Einstein’s streetcar, and Archimedes bath,  share the common thread of ‘down time’.  Researchers now know that great moments of insight are more likely to occur when certain patterns are present.  The formula looks something like this:

intense study of a concept leading to an impasse + relaxing and clearing the mind = moment of insight

 The take away from this research for educators is simple, students must be allowed time in school to both think deeply and relax the brain.  New world skill sets hinge on mastery and creative thought.  Independent schools in particular, without the bondage of mass standardized testing and data consumption, are in a great position to foster the highest level of academic balance.  According to Tina Barseghian,  in the article, “Why Schools need to Change”, the best way to maximize the brain work accomplished in schools is in five specific areas:

  1. PROJECT BASED LEARNING. Project-based learning has shown to be a much more effective way to think about learning, “particularly when you live in a world that’s incredibly unclear on what content is going to be relevant in not just 10 or 20 years, but in three years,” she said. “Over and over business leaders say kids need to be collaborative, work across time zones and cultures because problems are so complex.”
  2. ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT. “You don’t have the opportunity to show what you know in a regular school because standardized tests that are mandated only show what some kids know, but leave out a whole bunch of kids who aren’t able to show what they know in different ways,” she said. We should have alternative criteria for gauging students’ knowledge and ability to show what they know.
  3.  SCHEDULING. Neuroscience research on sleep is becoming more compelling by the day, particularly around depression, Levine said. “We’d always thought fatigue is symptom of depression, but now it’s looking more like lack of sleep causes depression, and that’s something looked at seriously.” Kids needs nine hours of sleep, and if schools were in synch developmentally with teenagers, should would start at 10 a.m., especially when kids enter adolescence. Teachers should also coordinate their exams with each other to ensure that students are not taking multiple tests on the same day.
  4. CLIMATE OF CARE. Research shows that kids do better in classes where teachers know their names and say hello to them, and when they have their own advocates or advisers at school. “Almost every private school has advisory, a person for each kid to go to,” Levine said. “But in public schools, there are just a few counselors for a thousand kids or more. By the time you’re hitting high school, you need someone apart from parents to test ideas with, to kick around problems, a go-to person who a kid feels knows them.”
  5. PARENT EDUCATION. Well-meaning parents are confounded with how to approach managing their kids’ times. Kids needs playtime, downtime, and family time, Levine said. “We’ve robbed kids at each stage of childhood and adolescence of tasks that belong in that particular stage,” she said. “You can’t push kids outside their developmental zone and expect them to learn. You want to push them towards the edge of it, but not over.”

Accelerating the glacial pace of educational change is challenging for institutions, but it can be done.  We have the data and we have the opportunity to improve the connection between schoolwork and true brain work.  There is no better time than here and now.  Except perhaps near an apple tree somewhere….