In the spring of 2007, Sabot at Stony Point declared its intention to carry out a year-long study of William Shakespeare and his work, life and times. A generous grant from Partners in the Arts brought the idea to fruition, fueling a year of inquiry, exploration, teamwork, inspiration and discovery across all grade levels on the Stony Point campus. The project developed as a collaborative endeavor that drew on our own faculty and volunteer resources, as well as on the education staff at
For one week in June, a group of educators gathered at the Stony Point campus for the “Constructivist Classroom” graduate course offered through VCU’s Division of Community Engagement. Instructors Pam Oken-Wright and Marty Gravett led participants in discussing and experiencing tools for co-constructing understanding through hands-on, collaborative research. Using the constructivist educational philosophy of Reggio Emilia as a springboard, class discourse ranged from adopting new
As teachers, we actively seek ways to encourage cross-age interactions, and in fact our preschool day is structured in such a way as to promote them. Children start their day with age-mates. Halfway through the morning, classrooms are opened so that children of all ages can come and go. On a daily basis, we see the advantages of mixed-age grouping as children work and play alongside each other, sharing materials, ideas and expertise. Older children have the opportunity to nurture and model
By definition, a democratic education is what progressive educators want for children: Howard Gardner describes a progressive education as one in which “democratic values are lived, not merely studied.” And yet what does that really mean for the day-to-day workings of a school? Dewey answers this question in part by insisting on greater participation in the rule-making process, from childhood onward:
It is not enough that children should be law-abiding; they must also be lawmakers in
I was thinking about buttercups. I want to remember them
because they’re so special and magical.
–Preschool student, age 5
The better I know my place, the less it looks like other places
and the more it looks like itself. It is imagination, and only
imagination, that can give standing to these distinctions.
Teachers here have been exploring place with children for many years, beginning by going outside the boundaries of the
Children learn, and learn to apply knowledge, in a multiplicity of ways. Classrooms and curricula provide important contexts for learning, but Sabot at Stony Point students are also likely to be working outside – sketching in the garden, examining leaf types in the woods, or knee-deep in the stream as they test theories about the flow of water.
One other platform for learning is the Umbrella Project – a year-long, school-wide exploration of a single idea that takes place through a
Students and faculty are midway through a year-long, school-wide exploration of Music & Sound—our 2010-11 Umbrella Project. In the Middle School, students have approached the topic from many angles—experimenting with the music of poetry, examining the role of song in society, studying the neuroscience of sound, and creating their own music in lunchtime jam sessions. The highlight thus far was a collaborative sound and poetry composition coordinated through the Music Department at the
PE is an essential part of Sabot at Stony Point’s Middle School program: it takes place four times a week, and is held outdoors except in heavy rain or stormy weather. Substantial research demonstrates the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits to children of spending time outside, of physical activity, and of opportunities for social interaction, and our approach to PE allows us to combine all
by Anna Golden, Studio Teacher
From the Middle School’s jam sessions and Exploratory projects involving audio stories, handmade instruments, and construction of a telegraph machine, to the youngest preschoolers’ “Monster Song” composition, the inquiry into music and sound—this past year’s umbrella project looked different in every classroom. One Middle School
On September 29, on a beautiful fall evening, we honored the donors who made the construction of Founders Hall possible and celebrated the women and men who, by founding the Stony Point School, the Sabot School and Sabot at Stony Point, have changed the landscape of education in our community.
In 1966, the founders of the Stony Point School converted a beautiful estate into a vibrant campus. They used these grounds to inspire curiosity and imagination and to engage children – not only
When we were about to officially start our investigation of energy, I decided to ask the class a single big question: “What is energy?”
In preparation, I looked around the classroom to take an inventory of materials that might eventually be useful. A few years ago, I would have grabbed all of the materials and then hunted for even more books in the library; I would have filled an entire book display, hoping to tempt the class to read and uncover the facts I wanted them to know. That
Can you get your head around this?
"Start with a millimeter, which is a line this long: -. Now imagine that line divided into a thousand equal widths. Each of those widths is a micron. This is the scale of microorganisms. A typical paramecium, for instance, is about two microns wide, 0.002 millimeters, which is really very small. If you wanted to see with your naked eye a paramecium swimming in a drop of water, you would have to enlarge the drop until it was some forty feet across.
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Can you draw your feelings?
We spend a great deal of time in the Rainbow Room, our 4 year-old preschool classroom, focusing on feelings: the verbal and non-verbal expression of feelings, the perception of other people's feelings, and the various feelings generated by our own and our friend's actions. At this age children are really connecting to their peers, so
Annie is standing on a tree and Peyton is climbing up the log and they are both looking at a bird.
In Kindergarten,we often say that a child has entered the "Reading Zone" or the "Writing Zone." These are words that we adopted from Nancy Atwell. Children are in the zone if they are engaged in their reading or writing and are no longer aware of their surroundings. We have all had this experience...leaving the present moment to be an armchair traveler.
On Friday afternoons
Zack said "If I tie it to here, what will happen to the rope? It will get stuck. It will get so, so stuck. (pulling hard) Oooooh!"
What was drawing the two-year old children to play with string, wrapping objects again and again? Their teacher Sarah Anne and I wondered. It seemed that they were using the string to know things, that by wrapping and 'tying' they were somehow coming to understand objects in a new way, the way a baby does when it touches, tastes, and climbs on something.
As we consider matters of the heart, the Kindergarten has given thought to connecting our hearts to others.
How do we build community beyond the walls of our school? A powerful question to answer when you are very young.
We started the school year with the image of a string connecting all members of our community. If we say hurtful things or neglect to take care of each member in our
I had the privilege of joining to the teachers at the World Bank Children's Centers for a professional development day on August 28. I gave a talk about teacher-research and told some stories from my work, but things really got going when the topic of the teacher's role in an emergent curriculum came up.
It's a tricky question, for sure. It is easy to assume that the adult's role is a passive one in a school based on the child's interests. It is really quite the opposite, though, and
I spent one week this past summer watching a group of children completely consumed by The World Peace Game . And I got to watch the master teacher, John Hunter, at work challenging them to think creatively and flexibly, to negotiate wisely, to listen more completely to others around them. During our afternoon debriefing sessions with the other educators at the camp, John would repeat the phrase, “It is not really
Each week we reserve time to escape into The Forest – a city park that borders our campus – and each week we watch as, without a curriculum, formal lessons or assessments, children develop into natural scientists.
We provide the controlled setting: Friday mornings at The Bridge, and nature provides the variable: Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. The children question, observe, hypothesize and draw conclusions from what they experience.