Waldorf School at Moraine Farm | Blog

Curriculum Updates from our Teachers

Get an inside peek into what our students are learning and doing from Nursery through Eighth Grade and Subject Teachers.

Read the complete January 2017 Curriculum Updates here.

Below are a few highlights:

  • Nursery is mastering the hard work of staying at the table during lunch time, and dressing themselves for outdoor play with “jump and flip tricks” to get all their snow gear on.
  • Kindergarteners are exercising fine motor skills by picking up crystals with their toes and crab walking in their imaginative play.
  • First graders are playing movement games to practice counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s, and singing number songs to explore where they find different quantities in the world around them.
  • Second graders are gaining familiarity with the times tables one through ten and seeing the kinds of patterns they make when they are drawn in a circle.
  • Third graders are developing research strategies and organizational skills as they work through their dwelling models. In German, they are learning the vocabulary of the house with all its rooms and furniture.
  • Fourth graders are identifying the words as the parts of speech and writing more complex sentences. They are also learning music for their upcoming Norse play, singing a beautiful ancient hymn in Icelandic!
  • Fifth graders are reading “Minn of the Mississippi,” a story about a turtle that traverses the course of the mighty Mississippi.  This book has also supported their class ecological project of helping to raise two endangered Blanding Turtles.
  • Sixth grade has joined the seventh grade in the Middle School chorus and will experience music of the Renaissance, songs from other cultures (yes, our middle schoolers can sing in Swahili!), and some contemporary ballads as well.
  • Seventh grade has been working on the beginnings of formal algebra during morning lesson. They are experiencing number relationships of all kinds which beautifully meets their development, as they are also quite interested in social relationships.
  • Eighth graders are working on a formal research paper in which students explore a topic in U.S. history of interest to them. In handwork, they have chosen their fabrics for their shirt making project and are learning how to use a sewing machine.

Read the full January 2017 Curriculum Updates here.

5th Grade Lesson Book. Studying ancient India.

FBI, LAPD and Deputy District Attorney Teach at the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm

Waldorf students are getting hands-on lessons in criminal investigation, forensic science, and constitutional law.

Students at the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm are becoming police detectives, forensic experts, and criminal trial attorneys during a six-week elective program for middle school students.  A retired LAPD homicide detective and his wife, a retired Los Angeles deputy district attorney and law school professor, have transformed the school’s eighth-grade classroom into a crime scene, a forensic evidence lab, and a court room.  The students have dusted for finger prints, conducted experiments (with fake blood) to learn the physics and geometry behind blood splatter analysis, and learned the logic of how a piece of circumstantial evidence leads to an argument at trial.

“I have simplified a course that I used to teach at UCLA School of Law,” says former Deputy District Attorney, Suzanne Wright, “and have taught the students how the Bill of Rights plays out in a criminal court room.  When students learn something – even something as complex as constitutional law – by acting out scenarios, they understand it at a much deeper level than just reading about it.”

Former LAPD Detective Supervisor Paul Wright shared his decades of experience as a police detective, which included working on over 200 homicides. And, in one class, a Waldorf alumni parent, who is a current Special Agent with the FBI, brought the FBI’s forensic laboratory truck to the school.  The Special Agent did not need to turn the police lights on to excite the students – but he did it anyway.

“The electives are something the students look forward to each year because they get to choose a class on a topic that they are interested in,” said eighth grade teacher Rebecca Rugo. “It’s also a great way to bring the community into our school.”

Seventh grader, Nathaniel Cosco, and sixth grader, Joshua Anderson learn police detective work during their elective course.

Rumi Thomas (8th grade), Ella Mills (7th grade) and Sadie MacKilligan (6th grade) investigate a crime scene and learn the physics and geometry behind blood splatter analysis during their CSI elective.

Scott McGaunn shows Waldorf students the inside the FBI’s forensic laboratory truck.


How Does Our Garden Grow? With Help from the Third-Grade Class

By Coleen Ryan

The Garden Group recently met, solidified a plan and set forth preparing for this spring’s garden. The third graders, who have a year-long theme of farming, have been taking up this work wholeheartedly with support from third-grade parent, Caroline Horner. They took initial measurements of the greenhouse, created a building plan and began building two deep soil benches for the greenhouse. These raised beds will help keep the soil from freezing as it would with seed trays sitting on the shelves. They will allow us to try out the greenhouse while the temperatures are still low.

Third-grade parent, Caroline Horner, and her father assist the third-grade class in their building project.

The third grade will then be starting seeds for hearty greens inside with lamps, and our new grow table, moving them out to the greenhouse when they are ready. We will also start seeds for the outdoor walled garden in March, to be moved outside when it’s warm enough.

Third grader’s grandmother keeps an eye on work being done by third graders building their deep soil benches.

Mary Mansur, member of the Garden Group, has been instrumental in procuring seeds for this year’s gardens and helping to create a plan to rotate crops and ensure our soil is rich and ready for the season. We have plans to grow hearty greens, flowers to bring beauty and bees to the garden and vegetables that we can all enjoy. This year we’ve also made plans to upgrade the watering plan. Last summer was a hot and dry one and ideally we would have soaker hoses on a timer. This will allow us to adequately water our garden while still being mindful of water consumption. We are excited to move forward with this work and look forward to warmer days spent out in the walled garden. Stay tuned for opportunities to join us!

Waldorf Education: How the New Cyber Civics Curriculum is Creating Online “Upstanders”

A Reflection on Cyber Civics 

by Dirk Tiede, Waldorf School at Moraine Farm Substitute Teacher and Comics Creator

This past weekend, our school hosted a workshop run by Diana Graber on teaching “Cyber Civics” to middle schoolers.  Curious, I decided to drop in on the free lecture on Friday night.  The topic was broad, but Graber handled it skillfully, outlining a convincing curriculum that focuses around teaching specific skills in critical thinking, identifying misinformation, dealing with online reputations, and participating effectively in the online world.  What struck me was that not only should our students be learning these essential abilities, but current events underscore the importance that we as adults need to exercise them as well.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an artist who began substitute teaching at the school last fall.  My background is in writing and drawing comics, and I’m currently teaching an elective on creating comics with the sixth and seventh graders.  The Cyber Civics workshop grabbed my attention because I specifically developed my professional career online.  I started out as a web designer during the tech boom in the late nineties, and became a digital content creator by publishing an online comic for over a decade, fostering communities of other creators and readers, and championing the internet as a “good thing” for our culture.  However, in recent years with the rise of social media and the rise of mobile technology, the landscape changed around me, and my relationship to that technology changed.  As my original enthusiasm was replaced by misgivings, I pulled back.  I’ve spent the past couple of years re-evaluating that relationship.  I went from someone who was “always on” to stepping away to regain some balance, and I’m still trying to find the right level of participation online.  That is why this workshop captured my attention so strongly.  If I, as a working professional adult who built a career online, have trouble navigating this world, what does that mean for our students who are just coming into this frontier at such an impressionable age?  Clearly, as an adult, I can see how my own skill set could use some shoring up, and I’m certain I’m not the only one.

After the lecture, I immediately arranged to attend the workshop, changing my plans around for the weekend in order to do so.  I did not regret it.  The day was extremely stimulating, covering elements of the Cyber Civics program in detail starting with a discussion on how disruptive technologies like writing and the printing press parallel the rise of the internet and constant connectivity.  Were you aware that Socrates thought the invention of the stylus would destroy our ability to remember?

We wrestled with the implications of online reputations that never go away—because Facebook never forgets—and struggled over what situations of online drama cross over into “cyber-bullying.”  Is that picture you posted of your child in a fit of pride going to cause him to be teased at school?   Will tagging someone be good for them or not? No easy answers here.

Then there was the segment on “C.R.A.P. Detection”—evaluating currency, reliability, authority, and purpose of information online. How do you discover if something is fake news or not?  Checking out the author and finding out more about the website where an article is posted is important. Finding factual information online is no easy task, even for a seasoned adult.

Even more eye-opening was our deliberation on the “sexting” phenomenon and how toxic its implications are, even for kids not caught in the center of it.  A young person who simply receives a “sext” could be potentially exposed to criminal charges.  Kids are extremely vulnerable because they sit at a dangerous intersection between inflexible child pornography laws, their own raging hormones and the lack of self control that is absolutely normal in a teenager.  This section of the workshop emphasized to me the importance that we have frank conversations between each other and our teens about serious subjects like this.

Finally, we discussed how taking a positive, proactive role in online participation is what is required.  This points back to the importance of acting as a citizen online, and not just a consumer.  Graber talked about becoming “upstanders” online who act responsibly while we engage.  The goal is to spend more time producing new content when we are online than simply consuming it.  Because creating an essay, piece of art or music, and starting a healthy discussion is better than simply clicking on a link, liking a post, or leaving an angry comment.

The first step in dealing with this technology is balance, of course.  Students are given a project to go through a typical summer day and add up how much time they spend consuming or using digital media vs. other activities.  Then they combine all their scores to see how much time they all spent in front of a screen of some sort.  It adds up fast.  We adults should consider doing the same thing for a day.  Many of us are tied to workstations as a part of our jobs.  We use email and Facebook and texting to keep in touch with colleagues and friends.  Should we be surprised if our children are doing the same?  Being mindful about how much time we spend online is the first step to regaining control over our usage habits.  And if we ourselves can set a good example, perhaps our students will take notice and do the same.


Eighth Grade Student Successfully Auditioned for the MMEA Junior District Festival

Congratulations to our Eighth Grader, Nico Moldovean, and his teacher, our own Strings Teacher, Susan Slowick.

On January 28, Nico competed against violinists selected from their schools in 58 towns. He won a spot to perform in the Jr. Festival Orchestra Concert which will be held March 18. Waldorf has not had a violinist chosen for Districts in years, so Nico has represented us very well. For this audition, musicians have to compete in each of their schools before a school can send them to Jr. Districts. Schools can only send a certain number. It is the best of the best. We are very proud of Nico. Congratulations!


A Day of Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This year, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Grades students gathered together Friday morning before the long weekend. Our intention was to bring an awareness to the children of why there is a holiday on Monday, with an offering from some of the classes (poems and speech work) and faculty, as well as discussions around how to honor Dr. King’s memory and life’s work by helping others in our communities.

MLK Day is viewed in many communities as a “A Day On, Not A Day Off,” making Monday a day of service.

Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

In his tireless work for equality and justice for all, he recognized that helping each other will help move us all forward. The school invited all families to continue these discussions at home, and encouraged families to perform an act of service in their neighborhood or community over the weekend. We asked families to share their experiences with us. Here is one family’s story:

Getting into the Rhythm of Service

“My husband and I decided that we need to incorporate service into our monthly family rhythm. It’s incredibly important to us as a family.

Inspired by the school’s MLK Day of service initiative, we found an opportunity with NSCDC Youth Build in Salem to use the MLK Jr Day holiday as a day ON not OFF. The activity was to paint and decorate mason jars and plant them with fresh herbs to deliver to senior citizens living in assisted living facilities in the north shore. We arrived at 9:45 am at the NSCDC Youth Build headquarters on Lafayette St. and were greeted by the wonderful staff there. They had breakfast treats, coffee, and t-shirts for all participants. Before beginning, we all formed a circle and went around, introducing ourselves and telling the group what service or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day meant to us. I think this was very important for our girls–it really cemented in their minds why we were here.

The NSCDC Youth Build team had the activity set up so well; different rooms for planting and painting and decorating. So, we split up and got to work. There was a great crowd of mixed ages–a lot of wonderful teenagers and many younger kids with their families. The girls took turns doing planting and doing the painting of the jars. They met so many new people they wouldn’t normally meet and had a great experience.

We heard later from the director of NSCDC Youth Build that the jars were well received and much appreciated.”

– Parent of two children in Nursery and 2nd Grade

YouthBuild North Shore MLK Day of Service helped impact over 200 seniors throughout the North Shore.

Stay tuned for more opportunities to get inspired and participate in community service work with us, as we celebrate our 30th Anniversary with 30 Acts of Service.

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm

701 Cabot Street
Beverly, MA 01915

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