Head of School's Blog

How do you teach a 4 year old about bird beak morphology?
arvind grover

The 6th grade science teachers challenged their students to know enough about birds to teach a junior kindergartener. As a former kindergarten teacher, I know that this is no easy task. First, you have to have the scientific knowledge, then you need to scaffold it for a 4 year old, then you need to design an interactive exhibit that they can figure out on their own - this was the challenge - create a museum exhibit on a feature of birds for a kindergartener.

I was enchanted by the work employed by the 6th graders to do this - they used our design thinking model to research, prototype, and iterate with the Jr.K. students until today's grand unveiling. The photos are too fun, so don't miss my entire slideshow here. I also included a few shots below which have SK and Jr.K students enjoying the exhibits.

 

 

 

Where is my camera?
arvind grover

Did you ever see something fantastic and think, “I wish I had my camera!” As a head of school I must have that feeling a dozen times a day walking around Meadowbrook.

Yesterday I was reading to the Senior Kindergarten and was feeling full from their endless positivity, curiosity, and energy. We had read “Elmer” and talked about how wonderful differences among friends is.

I walked out beaming and out of the corner of my eye spotted a first grader at his cubby. He opened his backpack, took out a book, and turned to return to his classroom. As he turned to go he leapt in the air, did a full 360 spin, landed and walked off happily to class. He never saw me, but I saw in an instant what a happy kid in school looks like. It’s a powerful thing. School is not easy. It is happy, though. And that is such a gift for our children, as it teaches them how hard work and happiness can go hand in hand.

As I reflected on that I saw a group of middle school students searching out kindergarten volunteers. They were shooting a film and needed additional actors. I couldn’t help but watch, and this time I actually remembered to take out my phone camera and capture a moment that was simultaneous academically rich but also demonstrates how loving, collaborative, and intergenerational our community is. 

I couldn’t help but write to share some of the photos with you. Enjoy them!

How do you prepare students for an unknowable future?
arvind grover

How do you prepare students for an unknowable future?

This is a big, question. I love big questions. I pose big questions to students, to faculty members, to parents and guardians all the time. I expect our students to raise up big, difficult questions themselves.

I was in Gettysburg this past week with the 7th graders (one our annual traditions). We study leadership and decision-making in the context of the Battle of Gettysburg and had discussed how different siblings, fathers, and sons had secured leadership roles. A 7th grader asked, "Who struggled more with nepotism, the Confederacy or the Union?" What a powerful and insightful question, I thought. There was no "right" answer here, we had to enter a historical analysis and debate over the impacts of these decisions.

I was really taken by this short video of Yuval Harari (a favorite author of mine) discussing how humans may have made a world that we ourselves can no longer understand. That alone is a lot to comprehend, but it reminded me of what we are trying to do at Meadowbrook. Yes, we want our students to be academically prepared, and they most certainly are. Yes, also, we are trying to raise good and wise people, ones who can enter an uncertain future, address problems creatively, working with people with diverse perspectives, all while working from an ethical point of view. These are lofty goals, and we are not shy about them.

I'd love to hear what you think about Harari's commentary. Big thanks to our lower school science teacher Bill Richard for sharing the article that led me here.

Learning in the natural world
arvind grover

Our sixth graders have been busy studying trees. I once took a botany class (Woody Plants I) in college where I had to memorize two dozen different leaves, seeds, and twigs, and had to match them up in an assessment. That was not joyful learning.

Our sixth graders and their teachers, Ms. Shuler and Ms. Orr, took another route. They jumped into our woods armed with measuring devices and drills. They took key measurements, and practiced drilling working in a team. They are practicing for our upcoming tree tap, where they will remove sap, and create Meadowbrook maple syrup. This is what hands-on learning can look like.

Enjoy the photos.

  • Middle School
  • science
Marshmallow Day Building Challenge
arvind grover

The first graders continued their Marshmallow Day challenges with Mr. Scafati and Mr. Molyneux in the Innovation Center. Their task was to hoist a marshmallow as high as possible off the table. Their only provisions were a few pieces of spaghetti, a little tape, and a piece of string.

Some groups were over 12", and a few broke 15" or more!

What stood out to me most was how many things the students were doing at once - they were battling gravity, making decisions in a team, brainstorming ideas, building prototypes, and finally, erecting a final structure.

You can see the pride and hard work on their faces! Physics meets fun, that's a winning combination.

 

  • design thinking
  • Lower School