From the Desk of Mr. Zurn – April

From the Desk of Mr. Zurn – April

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Dear St. Michael’s Parents,

I hope that each of you had a chance to slow down a bit during the spring break and enjoy the first glimpses of the season ahead. The upcoming months are packed full of projects, activities, and special events as we wind our way to graduation.

Highlights of the weeks ahead include:

April 22 Parent’s Association Gala
Week of April 24 Earth Week Celebrations
Week of May 1 Teacher Appreciation Week
May 9 8th Grade Senior Reflection Speeches
May 19 Aquidneck Island Student Band Concert
May 21 ArtsFest
May 28 St. Michael’s Field Day
June 5 Early Childhood Graduation
June 7 St. Michael’s Graduation

Many people work together to make all of these activities and events run smoothly. Fittingly, April is Collaboration Month at St. Michael’s and there are many opportunities for students to learn the skills and positive attributes of working well with others.

See below for an article on the importance of Collaboration.

Here’s to April sunshine…

John H. Zurn
Head of School

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Collaboration

Russian psychologist, Lev Vigotsky, postulated that learning is a social process deeply connected to language acquisition. He argued that children learn through their interactions and communications with each other and, by extrapolation, how children learn these social interactions should always be a major focus of their schooling. Today’s workforce, in fact, demands that students learn how to work collaboratively with others. Future employers will hire people who know how to successfully engage others and how to collaborate with others to yield successful results.

At St. Michael’s, collaborative lessons might look like this:

  • In history class, five eighth grade students sign onto their Google Docs account and open a document titled “Debate Proposition: The atomic bombing of Hiroshima was justified”. Each of the five students simultaneously starts adding arguments to the single Google Doc supporting the group’s debate case. As they add individual arguments, they also review and offer edits to the arguments of their teammates. In a short time, they finalize a collaborative document supporting their group’s case. They move as a team to the next step of preparing the group debate platform.
  • In kindergarten, the teacher asks students to build a community farm using play materials. The teacher goes around the room and asks each student to contribute an idea. The teacher encourages students to analyze and develop individual ideas with group feedback.
    • “What do you think about this idea?”
    • “How can we make it work better?”
    • “In what ways can we solve this problem?”

The result is an elaborate design that is far greater than the design one child would have completed on her own.

  • In third grade, our students undergo a complex design process to create a children’s pull toy. Each step of the way, ideas are presented to peers for reflection, encouragement, and critical feedback. Children learn how to verbally respond with thoughtful feedback, “I love the way you did this, maybe you can try…..”; “I wonder if changing your design to include this would help solve the problem”.

At St. Michael’s, we teach our students that in order to be successful, you must develop strong collaboration skills. We teach our students to work cooperatively and confidently with others.  April is Collaboration month at St. Michael’s.

 

 

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