PLEASE ENJOY OUR WINTER 2019 EDITION OF CONVERSATIONS.
We are highlighting two dynamic programs used at The Craig School.
✔ The Library Program at the Lower/Middle School
✔ Self and Group Dynamics at Craig High
Happy Holidays to all of our Craig Community
TAD JACKS, Head of School
I have heard these statements or endless variations of them for years. It is true we as a society lead busier lives than decades ago. When children leave school quite often they are shuttled to a practice, games, lessons or tutoring. The days of unstructured lazy afternoons have long gone. Recreational or independent reading has suffered at the hands of this new norm.
You might be thinking, “so what?” If they read their assigned reading isn’t that enough? The answer is a resounding no for all students, but particularly Craig students. Research shows that vocabulary is developed through reading, so if a child is not reading, their vocabulary is not growing. Additionally typically students at Craig have come to our school with a reading deficit.
They have not read as many books as their peers, thus it is not only their vocabulary that is weakened, but they have not had as much exposure to varying text structures, word choice and figurative language.
Steven King has said, “books are uniquely portable magic.” Books have the ability to take you away from your life and move you into a different universe. Neuroscientists have studied people reading and see that the same regions of the brain that demonstrates you experienced an event are lit up in a Fictional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI ) which measures brain activity when you read. Reading is transformative, not only making us more informed, educated citizens, but it transforms our brains and shapes our world views.
At Craig we focus on reading instruction. Our students don’t have the time to peruse library shelves after school and just clicking on Amazon isn’t helpful when you have no idea what you are looking for.
Students are brought to the library weekly with their reading teachers where they are guided to books that they would enjoy and experience successful reading. With their teachers expert guidance there is a much greater chance that they will find a better match than if they looked for a book independently.
Over the past six years our library has grown from a handful of books to our current collection of over 4,300.
Books matter. In our busy lives they offer a quiet retreat where you can dive into another world. They allow you to see other perspectives, deepening empathy and understanding. Book by book our library grows developing and strengthening academic skills and ushering in a welcome respite to our noisy lives.
THE OVERALL GOAL OF THE SELF AND GROUP DYNAMICS CLASS is for students to begin their high school experience by gaining a better understanding of how they learn best, what makes them “tick,” how to manage their own emotions as well as under-standing those around them and how to relate, understand and interact with others appropriately and effectively. Craig High School’s Freshmen Year Self and Group Dynamics class is the first building block of Craig High School’s Self Program, a collection of progressive courses that provide opportunities and direction for our students to learn about themselves as both individuals and students. It also provides them with the tools and self-knowledge to be active participants in their transition beyond high school. During this first year of high school there are three basic elements.
FIRST, we help students acknowledge and embrace their Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligence strengths and weaknesses. Students take a series of inventories throughout the course. One of which conveys the various modalities of learning and helps to prioritize which modality that they learn best in (visual, auditory or kinesthetic). Next, we practice how each modality can be translated into classroom learning and support their independent learning.
SECOND, we focus on Mindfulness, which was begun for many of the students while they attended the Lower and Middle School, where students learn the importance of being in the moment. They also build greater awareness of their own emotions and how to best manage them. Guided meditation is practiced throughout the unit as the students are actively learning and apply deep breathing and relaxation techniques.
THIRD, and new to our program is Empathy. This is a unit in the course curriculum which focuses on our students becoming more understanding of others’ thoughts, feelings, and emotions. They learn to be active listeners to those around them and to use this information to adjust their behavior based on someone else’s state of mind. Students role-play expressing themselves in various scenarios where they might be upset/frustrated etc., all while trying to understand someone else’s point of view.
As the year ends, we hope we have helped the students focus on understanding and accepting their learning disabilities through various projects and presentations. One popular project is where students develop and choose from a list of well-known celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs, and athletes who have been identified as having a learning disability and have found their own personal success. Through research, the students find information on how these individuals did not let their learning disability define who they are and how they were able to achieve their goals through self-understanding, self-acceptance, and hard work. This project culminates in the building of our annual “LD Wall of Fame”, a display of their projects.
LS/MS - January 14th
HIGH SCHOOL - January 15th