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...

Our Holiday Fair

A post by Pam Fenner of Michaelmas Press, who was kind enough to work at our fair and write this lovely piece for her “Pam’s Perspectives” blog. Go to a Holiday Fair By PJF | Published: DECEMBER 7, 2012 Holiday fairs are often held in communities between Thanksgiving and Christmas or Chanuka. I recently worked at the fair sponsored by the Cape Ann Waldorf School. What a treat to buy items made of wood, beeswax, and other natural materials along with books and hand-made dolls. I am especially intrigued with the small wood animals from Germany—a veritable Noah’s ark. As people entered the school, they were greeted with a string quartet of 8th graders playing in the front hall. When I visited the room where children were making hand-dipped candles, we were entertained by a trio of 3 violinists from the middle grades. A group of parents and faculty periodically came through the halls singing madrigals—a lovely festive day. If you readers live anywhere near a Waldorf/Steiner school, check their website calendar for their fair.  You’re in for a treat. Here are some of the photos from the Cape Ann fair. The Enchanted Caravan store at the fair This constructed treehouse can be played from all sides. Swingset and seesaw for small dolls Advent calendars and winter scenes for sale Magical castle scenery, knights, and animals made in Germany Read the...

What is Education For?

An interesting article asking, “What is education for?” It’s from a lecture to future Waldorf high school teachers and poses some interesting questions. Enjoy! Education in the Presence of the Unknown from “In Context”, Fall 2012 by Craig Holdredge Most parents are deeply concerned about the education of their children. They want their children to become capable individuals who live satisfied lives and who are productive in their chosen professions. They feel that school education should facilitate this development: it should give students the knowledge and skills to master life and to find and thrive in a good job. Nevertheless, parental thinking about “what is education for?” tends to shrink toward the short term. Are you preparing my teenager for college? This direction of thought often manifests itself when the students are in 7th or 8th grades and leads the parents to wonder whether they should send their students to a different high school, which they sometimes do. In such a frame of mind, thinking about education becomes narrow. Each stage of the educational process becomes the preparation for the next: kindergarten prepares for elementary school, which prepares for middle school, which prepares for high school, which prepares for college, which prepares for a profession. When curricula are developed out of this perspective, the tendency is to bring what is perceived as needed at a later stage into an earlier one. A public school teacher in the U.S. may now receive training to teach her students how to use PowerPoint in the 2nd grade! Why? Well, they will need to do their middle school reports using PowerPoint so they need to be...

Why Does Arts Integration Work?

Arts integration has been shown in brain-based research to improve comprehension and  long-term retention; something Waldorf students and alums can attest to! — Kelly Hiselman A Research-Based Approach to Arts Integration At Bates Middle School in Annapolis, Maryland, arts integration has helped raise student achievement. Job-embedded professional development, differentiated arts instruction, and critical-thinking skills integrated into the curricula have been key to their success....

Spring Concert

The Cape Ann Waldorf School Middle School Orchestra gave their annual spring concert in the school’s Great Hall Tuesday, May 29, 2012. Students performed pieces ranging from the theme from “Pirates of the Caribbean” to “Allegro” from the Spring of the Four Seasons.  ...