Putting it on Paper

Not all weeks at Arbor have whole-school galvanizing themes, but undeniably the second week of October coalesced around “putting it on paper.” The choices of how and why we “put it on paper” varied from class to class. From Kindergarten to eighth grade, students were practicing mapping, leaving evidence of thinking on the page, and writing to show appreciation of others.

Our youngest students considered a variety of maps -- road maps, atlases, subway guides, and garden plans -- and then made personal maps plotting the way each Primary kiddo traveled to Arbor School. Intermediates were mapping too; many of the Arbor trees were mapped with the purpose of adding their location and measurement to an Arbor Guide to Trees.  

Every class took on the responsibility of making sure that thank you’s were abundant and heartfelt for the plethora of parent volunteers at this year’s Arborfest, our annual fall festival and fundraiser.  The habit of expressing gratitude is well-practiced throughout the year, and the thank you notes varied in size and shape, from large chart paper in the Primaries to smaller cards and letters in the Intermediates.   And note-taking served as a vehicle to practice descriptive writing in the Juniors. 

Also evident was the habit of communicating math thinking through writing and diagramming. Students left evidence on the page to prove success or to find errors in calculation or thinking.  The Primaries and Juniors practiced showing multiple ways to solve Arborfest-related math problems, as did the Primaries, although using simpler computation sets. 


 

How Do We Start?

The beginning of the school year brings the same freshness and potential as a clean sheet of paper and a never-been-used pencil bring to an eager writer.  Supplies have been gathered, names practiced, routines introduced, and the meaningful work of being and learning together has been launched.  

First classroom newsletters provide new and returning families a window into our teachers’ hopes for the coming year.  Their styles shine through.

Primaries: “We have been so proud of the Old Hands (first graders) for carefully tending the incoming Kindergartners.”
Juniors: “I believe strongly that all children can learn high levels of maths, that maths are creative and beautiful, and that appropriate struggle, making mistakes, and persistence are key to learning.”
Intermediates: “We will become collectors as we listen to all 44 poems, culling gem-like lines for the craft."
Seniors: “But it is important too, to realize that those final products can only emerge from daily, dedicated labor.”  

Intentions have been set, basic information about classroom and personal needs around celebrations and lunches shared, and clear communications have commenced. Our aims are high and the year begins. Onward with a fleet of felt mice at the prow and a sturdy collection of eighth graders at the rudder. 

In the summer our Primary (Kindergarten and 1st grade) students are sent a homemade felt mouse. They detail the mouse's summer adventures on a postcard which they send back to Arbor -- as well as building a mouse boat to bring in for the first day of school.

In the summer our Primary (Kindergarten and 1st grade) students are sent a homemade felt mouse. They detail the mouse's summer adventures on a postcard which they send back to Arbor -- as well as building a mouse boat to bring in for the first day of school.