Our Teachers Dive Deep into Our Math Curriculum

A Summary of Math-Based Professional Development This Year By Dianne McGaunn, Math Teacher and Math Mentor “We possess mathematical truths through the fact that we ourselves behave mathematically in the world. We walk, we stand, and so forth; we describe certain lines on the earth. Through this will relationship to the external world we actually receive the inner perception of mathematics. – Rudolf Steiner This year, teachers have dedicated several pedagogical meetings to exploring our math curriculum more deeply. Some of our time has been working with Rudolf Steiner’s indications (see above) and their applications to our math teaching. As a result of our work together, we are developing a clearer understanding of the richness and power of our math curriculum and we can better communicate this to our community and beyond. In our math discussions in the fall and early spring, it became clear that mathematical thinking in Waldorf education is cultivated from the earliest stages and through many different experiences. In the early childhood programs, opportunities to experience the world and its mathematical truths in an age-appropriate way abound. For example, if four students want to use the swings but there are not enough swings for all of the students to use at once, a teacher might ask: how many students will need to wait if there are four students but two swings? In addition, balancing on objects and experiencing the physics of the world through running, jumping, balancing and playing are all mathematical experiences that are integral to the youngest students’ day. In the grades, we experience math in our classroom work, including measurement, movement and...

Inside and Outside Our Classrooms

A Curriculum Update Twice a year our teachers share a brief summary of what’s been happening inside their classrooms. As you read through these curriculum updates, you can sense how a Waldorf education actively engages the body, mind, and will, allowing the students to grow and unfold their inner capabilities. Nursery By Caroline Mercier We are now in the thick of our rain and mud season.  However, the children come well prepared, covered from head to toe in their waterproof gear. There are puddles to splash in; mud-cakes, muffins, and stews to make; holes to be dug; hills to climb; horses to care for; wagons to pull; and buckets of water and mud to be carted here, there, and everywhere! This week, we left buckets and wheelbarrows under the dripping roof to catch the rain drops in the morning, and it is was such fun to come back after lunch to see how full they got. Every morning, we share a sunflower seed and apple snack at our picnic table, and every day the chickadees gather up above, waiting for us to finish. When we are done and sometimes before we are done, these sweet little birds come and pick up the seeds that have dropped, while we quietly watch. But one day, something very special happened… After many patient days of trying, one little bird was brave enough to eat out of our hands. What a joyful surprise that was. Our nature walks are getting longer as the children grow and their stamina increases. One of our latest walks took us through the “magic forest” to the babbling...

A Case for Writing by Hand

This happens to be the most emailed story on the New York Times web site today. At Waldorf schools, handwriting is an integral part of how students learn to read and write. What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades WWW.NYTIMES.COM Even as the emphasis shifts to the keyboard, experts say that learning to write by hand improves motor skills, memory and creativity. Does handwriting matter? Not very much, according to many educators. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard. But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep. Read more...

Huffington Post Story on Waldorf Education

A great piece on one family’s journey to Waldorf education.  Originally published here. Knitting Is More Important Than Homework By MARA MENACHEM Two years ago on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Business section, an article ran entitled, “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute” about the Waldorf School in Silicon Valley. I had already made the decision to enter my oldest son in a Waldorf school before the article came out, but I pathetically admit that this piece in the New York Times validated my intuition regarding a Waldorf education. Years ago when I was looking at preschools, I checked out a Waldorf School. At the time, despite my hippie pre-disposition, the environment seemed too “out there.” However, I trusted my intuition enough to send my kids to another somewhat alternative, small, liberal pre-school focusing on socialization, not academics. The kids were happy, as were we. My kids were little Huck Finns and I was comfortable as their pied piper as they explored their world, not competed in it. But when it came time for elementary school, going “alternative” seemed a little too “alternative.” Traditional private school didn’t do it for me as a kid. I went to private school and felt stifled. I wanted something different for my kids. In my mind, I saw my kids being raised with limitless imagination and access to never-ending creativity, even after pre-school. My perspective always seemed to be different from the majority. My intellectual buddies (although many sans kids) served as the great validators of my gut feelings regarding how I handled certain situations. Over time, I...

Painting the Sistine Desk

Seventh Grade Curriculum Update by Anna Scalera The seventh grade recently finished a history block on the Renaissance – a period brimming with excellent possibilities for learning through biographies. Our block began with the life story of Joan of Arc. The seventh graders marveled at Joan’s bravery in choosing death over imprisonment. Learning about the lives of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael was fascinating for students and teacher alike. From Leonardo’s flying machine sketches and dissections, to Michelangelo’s habit of not wearing socks for long periods of time, the artist’s quirks and timeless masterpieces captured our imaginations. One assignment asked each student to copy a great master painting of their choice. They quickly realized how challenging it was to draw the figures (and in two cases, horses), as well as match the values and hues. We were able to apply our math study of ratios to scale the paintings down to the size of our paper while keeping the same proportions. One of the most memorable experiences of the block was a drawing activity intended to simulate what it might have felt like for Michelangelo to work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. For about 30 minutes, students drew a map of Italy on the underside of their desks! (photo below).  Credit for this fun idea goes out to Mr. Masi, former intern in grade one. At the end of the block, students shared which of the triad of great artists was their favorite. The top two were Michelangelo and Raphael – the former for his incredible willpower, and the latter for his gifts of being well-loved, and able to...

Reading Buddies

Seventh-graders visited the second-graders for some reading time on Thursday, March 22, 2012. The two grades paired up at the beginning of the year to do activities together from pumpkin carving to reading together. The second-graders have someone to look up to, and the seventh-graders get to be mentors. This is the second time they have met to read, with more meetings planned in the future....