Lower School News
“When you are self-aware, you become a leader of your own life. You become the director, the protagonist, the hero and the producer of your own life. For that you need to reflect, which is part of mindfulness.”
Sharing the “gift of self-awareness,” Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudy Tanzi spoke with students, faculty, staff and parents this week. Dr. Chopra, a pioneer in meditation and alternative medicine, and Dr. Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard, offered insights on happiness, fulfillment and good health that they have gathered from researching the human brain.
Dr. Chopra and Dr. Tanzi spent time with the Lower School for a question-and-answer session, where they discussed how they met and answered questions about meditation. A student led a guided meditation, followed by a session led by Dr. Chopra. Prior to their visit with the Lower School, the doctors spoke with Middle and Upper School students in King Theatre.
Citing the Latin root of the word “education,” educere, which means “to bring out,” Dr. Chopra urged students to consider self-reflection and meditation important parts of their education and growth. Great leaders in history asked deep questions about gratitude and mission, along with their place in the world; they were also great storytellers who understood the value of emotionally connecting with other people.
“Smart people don’t necessarily achieve great success if they are just smart,” Dr. Chopra said. “Smart people who also know how to connect emotionally; who know how to offer hope, or trust, or stability, or compassion—or are not ashamed of love—they are the people who reach their full potential and have great passion for life.”
After becoming disenchanted with the Western medicine he studied and practiced, Dr. Chopra turned to transcendental and alternative medicine and ultimately, to meditation. He believes that happiness, health, and fulfillment can be found internally. Dr. Tanzi, whose research career includes discovery and isolation of the genes that lead to the Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Wilson’s diseases, met Dr. Chopra by chance six years ago. The two have since written two best-selling books, Super Brain and Super Genes and are working on their third.
The idea of Super Brain was born from breakthroughs in neuroscience. Modern brain-scan technology reveals that the brain is more powerful than ever imagined, with the power to regenerate, and to be shaped. Chopra and Tanzi contend that people can create the brains they want using conscious choice.
The doctors encouraged students to be self-aware; to use their brains to be happy; to lead healthy, balanced lives; and to choose to do good things for others—this, Dr. Tanzi shared, is a “secret to happiness—human beings want to help others.”
Grade 5 students will be taking the stage in Thacher next week to share the fruits of their hard work over this spring term. We are so proud of the creativity and enthusiasm they have shared with the Emily Arsenault, Sadie Mayes, and the whole Grade 5 production team throughout the process. Thank you, also, to the parents for their time and support!
Grade 5 families have received an email outlining the schedule for next week.
Of particular importance for all to know is that, due to copyright laws, the recording of our Dear Edwina production is prohibited. We understand that this may be disappointing to families, we respectfully appreciate your understanding.
- Wednesday, June 1 at 1:30 p.m.
- Thursday, June 2 at 6:30 p.m.
- Friday, June 3 at 10 a.m.
We have now completed one week of our enhanced Lower School dining experience. Student reviews of the changes to both the menu and the dining service area have been positive. Have you been receiving feedback at home? We want to hear what you hear. Next week we will send a link for your feedback.
As a reminder, over the summer, we will assess what changes will be made on a permanent basis, including other aspects of the experience that will take more time to execute.
So that you may discuss the upcoming lunches with your child(ren) click FLIK Menu May 23-27 for next week’s offerings.
This morning, in our Lower School, we expressed our gratitude to the people and offices around campus that do so much to enhance the experiences of our students and faculty. We expressed appreciation to Campus Safety, Academic Technology, Audio-Visual, Facilities, Health Center/Nurses, Housekeeping, FLIK, the Business Office, Human Resources, Admissions, and Development. Students sang songs, gave helpful advice, made visits, baked muffins, performed skits, and so much more. We will send a video link next week, but in the meantime, enjoy some photos from the morning!
We are delighted to announce that Coleman Daley will be joining our Grade 5 team this fall! Coleman is the Grade 4, 5, and 6 lead teacher at Hill View Montessori Charter School in Haverhill, where he teaches all subject areas (Math, Reading, History, Geography, Grammar, Science, and Conflict Resolution). Prior to Hill View, Coleman co-led the upper elementary grades at Bridgeview Montessori in Bourne. He holds both a B.A. and an M.Ed. from Lesley University, the latter of which he completed through the Shady Hill Teacher Training Program. Prior to teaching, Coleman acted professionally, on both stage, and daytime television. There will be ample opportunity to meet Coleman before the end of the year, including at the Grade 5 Looking Ahead meeting.
Greetings from San Francisco, CA! I am writing from the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). I am joined by my colleagues Sandra Correia (Gr. 5), Jin Lee (Gr. 7), Nancy McCuen (Gr. 1), and Sachiyo Unger (Gr. 2) and thousands other mathematics educators from around the country and world. This week, we attended presentations from leading mathematics educators who shared current research findings on the teaching and learning of mathematics. We also gave a presentation of our own. Our talk, Productive Math Talk in K-2 Classrooms? Absolutely! focused on discourse-intensive mathematics instruction — a hot topic in mathematics education today.
Earlier in the week, Jin Lee and I attended the annual meeting of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM). We also spoke at this conference. Our talk, Coaching Teachers on the Use of Mathematical Talk, provided guidance to school leaders looking to implement the content-based instructional coaching that is a central component of Milton’s K-8 math renewal.
Our attendance at NCTM is a key example of our ongoing commitment to deliver a K-8 mathematics program that is informed by research. We are eager to share what we learned at NCTM with all of our colleagues. And we are grateful to work in a community that supports our professional growth.
Did you know that there are 17 different species of penguins?
This morning, Kindergarten students celebrated the completion of their science unit on Penguins. Following their opening song and dance, The Penguin Shuffle, students shared general characteristics of penguins using the letters of the alphabet as their prompts. Last, they shared their knowledge of five of the 17 species of penguins that can be found across the globe. To close, the Kindergarteners, together with some audience participation, reprised The Penguin Shuffle!
Click here to view some of the pictures from the morning’s celebration.
The annual Sharing and Caring Lunch is a highlight of Kindergarten. Mr. Farmer’s classroom was magically transformed into a a fancy restaurant, complete with balloons and a cozy fireplace (on the smart board, of course). Students were paired with partners for whom they prepared lunch. Prefer crust-less bread? No problem…special orders were the fare of the day as the children cared for one another and their particular five-year-old tastes!
One of the wonderful perks of being at a K–12 school is access to amazing facilities, from an observatory to an ice rink, and everything in between. The Lower School physical education skating unit is a curricular offering that few schools like ours are able to offer. This winter, the last two sessions of P.E. skating had a new twist…the opportunity for fifth-grade students to play “pond style ice hockey.”
With large foam barriers (for safety), splitting the rink, some students elected to practice their figure-skating skills, while other donned helmets, protective gloves, and shin guards. Picture the days when kids played hockey on nearby ponds in smaller areas, with minimal equipment and no contact. According to Middle School Athletic Director and Grade 5 P.E. teacher Sam Landau, “Pond hockey places more emphasis on skating and puck handling ability and less on shooting and checking.” Children didn’t need previous hockey playing experience to join in, and for many of them, it felt like the floor hockey unit they did before winter break…but on the ice with skates. The students who participated were elated, proclaiming “pond hockey” a success!
Grade 3 students have been examining the connections of electricity! Using batteries, bulbs and wires, they’ve investigated electrical circuits and the generation and conservation of power. For their final projects, students created objects with circuits that can be opened and closed. Projects included a flashlight, a Statue of Liberty, a boat, a sports scoreboard, and many other clever concepts! Camilla’s box is quite literally, a good idea — note the lightbulb that lights when the idea arises! Inside, she pasted in, many of the great minds of all time.
Congratulations third graders on a job well done!
Parents, when you come to Greenleaf for conferences, stop by our display and be inspired.
Grade 2 is exploring Me, You, Us, an affective education curriculum which helps children understand that to have good friends, you need to be a good friend. Working with Director of Multiculturalism and Community Development Robert Lightbody and Lower School Counselor Sarah Spinello, the students were given situations to perform for their peers. The topics of the skits provided a springboard for students to discuss the variety of ways they can be good friends, strengthen their community, and nurture kindness both at School and in their lives away from campus.
Grade 1 students continued to think about what they want to be when they grow up. On Friday, Eva’s parents, video game designers, stopped by to talk about how a video game was made. Grade 1 learned about all the team members that come together to make a game as well as the different steps in the game-making process. Perhaps some of our students will be inspired to become game programmers when they grow up!
At Thursday’s National Geographic Geography Bee, it was Grade 6 student, Alison, who took top honors. In the eight years that Milton Academy has hosted this school-level event, this is the first time that the victor answered every question correctly.
Congratulations to Alison and the 19 other students from grades 4-8 who participated in the bee!
Click here for more information about the National Geographic Geography Bee.
Grade 1 had a very special visitor this week – Officer Arthur from the Boston Police Department! Officer Arthur spoke to students about the work and the many skills that his job entails. Students had lots of time to ask questions about what it is like to be a police officer. What a special afternoon!
Officer Arthur’s visit is part of the “What do I want to be when I grow up?” unit. In this unit, the children learn about some of the many jobs that exist in the world. Reading and note-taking skills are put to work in their research, and interviewing skills are developed as they are given opportunities to ask parent and friend visitors questions about their vocations and avocations. The children then create tools of the trade and instruction manuals to go with the occupations they have chosen. A culminating job fair allows each child to take the role of perspective employer and “interview” candidates, a task that requires thinking about the qualities and skills needed in a given profession.
Students in Grade 3 continue along the trail of Lewis and Clark with new awareness of the rigorous landscape as the expedition nears the Rockies. Thankfully, the Shoshone Indians offered horses while realizing their long lost tribe member Sacagawea, was accompanying the Corps of Discovery on the mission to the Pacific Ocean. The class traveled together to the Harvard Museum of Natural History by bus rather than canoe, to see many different species exhibited in the halls of this fascinating museum. After a presentation on Jaws and Claws, the students sketched their favorite animal in their nature journals. The gem and mineral room was the site of many expressions of delight and wonder as was the Native American display. Individual and small group projects continue in class this week as students work to develop models of the winter forts, journal replicas, cradle boards, plant and animal books, posters, and maps. The final chapters of Lewis and Clark and Me bring a true appreciation of the hardship and experience of the faithful Newfoundland dog who accompanied the Corps. In math, the class continues to add three-digit numbers and recognize the value of one thousand. Please stop by and view our bulletin board of new recruits, the beautiful butterflies (which are now displayed in the Greenleaf Lobby) and fall still life sketches.
In Social Studies, students have been learning about Ancient Mesopotamia, the “Cradle of Civilization.” We read a historical fiction novel set in that time, as well as children’s versions of the Gilgamesh legend. We recently had the opportunity to Skype with Ludmila Zeman, author and illustrator of the Gilgamesh books. And now, we’re using technology to make stop-motion animated mini-movies based on Mesopotamian stories. We look forward to sharing those soon. In Math, we wrapped up a unit on fractions and decimals, and are starting to explore 3D Geometry. The crowning glory of our week was our presentation in this morning’s assembly of our Living Arts curriculum.
Click here to watch one of our groups share their knowledge.
In literature class, our reading of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis has provided a springboard for our study of the important history, themes, and conflicts of the Civil Rights Era. In connection, students will also begin writing their own songs of social change in Music, and create a poster in Art. In writing, we shared our personal narratives in Wednesday morning’s Writing Celebration – the narratives ranged from gripping, to humorous, and to very moving. Over the next few days, we will begin our unit on Greek mythology, which will continue into January. In Math, we started a new unit that will extend our understanding of rational numbers. Next up is our exploration of ratios as a comparison of two quantities and our learning to use rate tables to study equivalent ratios.
Kindergarten – Kindergartners are working learning about glyphs or pictographs this week by working on their own Turkey Glyphs. Using a pre-determined color key (black means they like turkey and brown means they don’t), they each color the parts of the turkey according to their preferences. Once the glyphs are completed, the students and teachers will play a fun game in which they guess the kindergartner based on the colors of the turkey!
First Grade – First graders are having a great time in woodworking! They are honing their sawing and sanding skills in the process of create mobiles. Each child drew and cut out several shapes that will be sanded, painted, and finally, assembled into a mobile to take home.
Second Grade – Students in second grade had a second Skype session with Colegio del Pilar this week. This time, they had the added treat of getting to see Mrs. Summers and Señora Castineira on the monitor along with their Spanish friends! The students were so excited to speak with their teachers and to learn more about their Spanish peers.
This fall, our Lower School is building upon Milton’s established partnership with El Pilar—a private, bilingual, K–12 school in Madrid, Spain. In partnering with El Pilar, our aim is two-fold:
- Establish a language and cultural exchange program with a peer institution in a Spanish-speaking country.
- Learn from their experiences as we launch a purposeful, service-learning program in our Lower School.
As a first step in this partnership, four Lower School teachers will visit El Pilar next week, spending time in their lower school classrooms, and experiencing El Pilar’s teaching and learning, and—during the visit—connecting with our own second and fourth grade students via Skype.
A day trip to Almeria, with one of El Pilar’s second grade teachers, will give our faculty a first-hand look at the school’s year-long service learning project. Each year, El Pilar chooses a school-wide community service project—a central tenet of the school’s program. “We want our students to see themselves as citizens of the world,” says Lucia. “Contigo + somos familia. (You make me a better person and I make you a better person.) El Pilar uses this motto as part of their service learning, showing students that helping others helps us all.”
A visit to the Alahambra in Granada—a site of the historical intermingling of three major faiths (Judaism, Islam and Christianity)—will provide Randy invaluable context for the Grade 4 Three Faiths Unit. “Granada is a great example of the three faiths interacting in significant ways,” says Randy. “There lies a fascinating intermingling of cultures and influences, and the ongoing restoration continues to reveal the artistic style of the site.”
Teachers have planned and implemented curricula with El Pilar counterparts, and excitement is building. Grade 2 students have conversed over Skype, and both grades are looking forward to a “pen pal” writing program. Our teachers have embarked on their own Spanish language learning, as well. “This real-time, cross-cultural connection will give our students an understanding and appreciation of a world broader than what they experience every day,” says Tasha.
Milton prioritizes developing in students a respect and caring for one another, cultural competency, and an ability to live courageously, creatively and authentically. This partnership with El Pilar will help equip our Lower School teachers to do this important work. When teachers deepen their own cultural knowledge and broaden their perspectives, they are in a better position to teach those skills. Sandy, Milton’s current holder of the Betty Buck Chair, is leading this project. “We are part of a global and rapidly changing world,” she says. “Our children must be flexible, resilient, and open to difference. This partnership is designed to teach some of those essential skills to our young students.” In establishing this partnership, and leveraging the long-time partnership of our Upper School with El Pilar, Sandy envisions that “some of our students will go to Spain when they are older, and they may stay with families they initially interacted with in the Lower School.”
We believe that this meaningful partnership will enrich the teaching of our faculty and will forge authentic cultural connections for our students.
This trip will be funded by Milton’s Betty Buck Chair, which supports Lower School faculty in seeking innovative ways to build a stronger, more vibrant community of learners.
Second Graders celebrated the end of their engineering unit by hosting an Invention Convention. Students worked hard learning about simple machines, drafting plans and making their own inventions. At the Invention Convention, excited students shared their inventions with the community. Each student had a poster explaining their invention process, an invention journal and, of course, their invention! They were joined by parents, faculty and other classes. Great work, Second Grade!
This week, Second Grade students began their Family Study unit in which they will explore different types of families, define what makes a family and learn about different family traditions around the world. To begin this unit, Avaneesh’s mother joined the Second Grade class to talk about Diwali. Students learned about the myths behind the holiday and got to try Diwali sweets!
Second graders took advantage of the beautiful weather this week! They joined Mrs. McGuinness in the garden to plant allium and tulip bulbs. While the students worked, they learned about the different parts of a bulb as well as the importance of when to properly plant bulbs. We can’t wait to see the bulbs emerge in the spring!
The author of over thirty books geared toward young readers, with messages about teamwork, friendship, perseverance, and winning, Mike Lupica is widely read among fifth and sixth grade children. When he visited campus earlier this week, the students were thrilled to have the chance to meet him, and mesmerized by his many stories, including how he became a writer of children’s books.
From a student’s earliest days, teachers structure their classrooms and develop activities that support social emotional growth. Engaging students in the act of developing classroom rules, guiding self-discovery, providing academic choice, practicing mindfulness, and encouraging collaborative problem-solving are important ties between the academic and social emotional realms of children’s worlds at Milton.
Recently, Grade 4 students ventured to the White Mountains for a three-day trip to the Appalachian Mountain Club. The focus of the trip was to integrate students new to the class, to build a strong and supportive community, and to begin to develop the students as leaders. Leaving campus, nervous energy filled the bus as students bid farewell to their parents. For some, this was a first trip away from home. As they crossed the border into New Hampshire, the colorful Fall leaves and the crests of the mountains captured their attention and the mood of the bus shifted. Once in the White Mountains, the students partook in a variety of outdoor activities. Art teacher Sandy Butler particularly “loved to see the kids try new things, both on and off the trail….They learned about the flora and fauna in the White Mountains, and more about each other through group games, activities and ice-breakers. I appreciated how much they cared about and took care of one another. It was a very enriching experience for all.”
Among the most challenging activities was a day-long hike, that required the students to care for one another in ways that they’d never done. “I was amazed at how students encouraged one another and never complained! Each of the students took turns being a leader…being responsible for making sure we were walking at the pace of everyone in the group, and deciding when the group needed a break or snack” shared Grade 4–8 Learning Specialist, Liz West. Trips like the one to AMC, push students to try things that they may not have ever done before. For Lower School Counselor Sarah Spinello it was “inspiring to see so many of the students step outside of their comfort zones to try something new. They encouraged each other to feel safe and supported…and when the terrain got tough, they held each other up and smiled while munching on their trail mix and challenging each other with riddles and guessing games.” On the ride home, students reflected on the fears that they conquered and giggled about newfound friendships and experiences that they had together. Asked what they thought of their adventure, students replied that the best thing about the AMC trip…”climbing to the top of Mount Avalon! The view was beautiful!” The worst thing…”that we only stayed for three days!”
Who doesn’t love an estimation jar?!
Second grade led the Lower School in an exciting (and seasonal!) math activity: two jars were displayed, one in Greenleaf and one in the Junior Building, and students guessed how many Smarties were in each jar. Using the math skills they have been practicing, the second graders tallied the results and shared them with the school. In Greenleaf, we extend congratulations to Sara K. In the Junior Building, there was a tie between Henry M. and Adair Johnson.
Each spring, Milton Academy’s Lower School Teachers, together with Lower School Librarian Joan Eisenberg, select a book that every child in each of our six grades will read over the summer. The summer reading book, a tradition since the early 1970s, provides students with a common reading experience as they enter School in the fall. For teachers, the summer reading book provides a fresh curricular unit with which to start the year. Planning the fall’s curriculum is always a “summer highlight” as we think about “how to make each book come alive by weaving in every element of learning, from math, to art, to music, to writing, to physical education, and even to Spanish!” explains Grade 1 teacher Jerrie Moffett.
This year, Grade 1 read Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier. “Through Beatrice’s Goat, we’ve been able to introduce the culture and geography of Uganda, and to extend that learning to the creation of thumb-pianos in woodworking and African paper beads in Art” shares Nancy McCuen. For children like Beatrice, goats provide food and drink as well as help families earn money to sent their children to school. Our children learned about raising goats and even got to try goat’s milk and goat cheese. To bring the idea full-circle, Grade 1 students had a special visit with some goats, one of which they were even able to milk – just like Beatrice!
“Making cultural connections has been a big part of this unit,” explains Mrs. McCuen. “We do that in a very hands on way in First Grade. We’re currently building a Ugandan village that will give students an idea of what life is like for Beatrice.” In woodworking class, along with their teacher Jenny Sorblom, the children created a “mud hut” complete with straw roof. “The hut allows children to play out everyday life in a Ugandan village.
As one of their projects, students made books explaining how they are both similar to and different from goats. Wondering what first-graders came up with?
|How are some first graders similar to goats?
|How are some first graders different from goats?
Nearly each day in the fall, Grade 3 teacher Jane McGuinness and a group of interested students spend recess tending Milton’s Lower School garden. Students water plants, harvest crops and explore a garden bursting with pumpkins, watermelons, zucchini, peppers and lettuces. Today’s visit is launched by a book they’ve been reading in class: Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner. The goal is to “catch” the living critters they find and consider why these creatures choose to live there. After Mrs. McGuinness offers instructions for the activity, students grab containers and spread out. The first sighting is a cabbage moth, and Mrs. McGuinness explains what plantings attract the moth. Students discuss bees and their role in the pollination process. The children peer under leaves looking for caterpillars and eggs. They peel ears of corn seeking evidence of worms. A large watermelon is a wonderful surprise, found covered in one overgrown section of the garden. Using a pitchfork, students upend earth, scouring for worms and other crawling insects. Mrs. McGuinness loves watching students make connections in this natural setting—exploring, discovering, asking questions, getting their hands dirty. When recess ends, students gather containers filled with grass, dirt and small creatures and discuss their findings. The children will observe and share their treasures back in the classroom, but now it is time for lunch, featuring salad made from yesterday’s harvest.