Friday, June 24, 2011

Wellspring Closing Its Doors

In a mix of celebration and sadness, the administrators and parents closed Wellspring Communtiy School's doors on June 16, 2011. After five years of offering holistic education for children in Nursery through 4th grade, the economic realities of a sane education at an affordable price have become insurmountable. 

The founders, families and staff of Wellspring rejoice in the school's true community and positive impact on the past, present, and future of all involved. Each of us takes with us the experience of becoming conscious about our educational choices and linking ourselves to like-minded others to create something new. Wellspring lives in each of us, and will continue to be a beacon for what is possible in the world of education and beyond.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Natural Art at Wellspring Community School


This week the E 2's (second through fourth grade) went to the meadow to make art using only materials and tools that they find in nature.  Their art  was inspired by the work of Andy Goldsworthy who is a british artist.  The children had access to a book of images of Goldsworthy's work to review before setting out on their own.

It was a beautiful warm day and everyone quickly became engaged in individual or team projects.  Rocks, petals, leaves, sticks and a stream were all components of their artwork.  The children chose this location since it was a "secret spot" they had visited over the years.

Due to the fragility and impermanence of these creations, the children took the above photos of their work.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Busy at Wellspring

Hello readers!

We have been busy busy busy at Wellspring, with so many exciting events coming up!

Our conference, Cultivating Children's Creativity, is coming up in just a few weeks - if you haven't registered yet, you should!

The deadline has passed for submitting advertisements for the winter edition our popular Community Resource Guide, but if are interested in making a donation we can list your business on our Community Supporters page and include your ad in the spring edition of the CRG.

We are also gearing up for our Goods and Services Auction, which is being hosted online with Bidding for Good and will go live on Friday, March 25.  We welcome donations of all sorts and sizes, so please contact us if you would like to help us out!  Along with your donation, you get a business card sized ad in our CRG and your business and website is listed on our Community Supporters page.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Standards-Based vs. Performance-Based Curriculum

A very cool article from a student newspaper at an upstate New York high school:
A lot of the administration, teachers, and students don’t like the standard based curriculum, but have no power to change it. The standard based curriculum imposes content specifications without taking into account the different needs, opportunities to learn, and skills that may be appropriate for specific districts, regions, or students. But then, why have it at all? It’s difficult, unnecessary and somewhat medieval. School curriculum shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. Wouldn’t we all like to do what we’re good at to the best of our abilities and therefore shine? Why should different people with different talents, interests, and abilities be forced into homogenization?
Read the entire article here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fairy Houses

If you're local to Wellspring Community School, please visit Chester Public Library before the end of February to see our Fairy House display in the Children's Room.  Our students worked very hard on these beautiful masterpieces!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bohm on Creativity

An exploration of the philosopher David Bohm's thoughts on creativity can be found here.


Deep.


What do you think?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Does Creativity = Happiness?

Maybe, according to this article on Physorg.com:
Imagine someone sitting on the floor with his or her head buried in their arms and leaning on the couch. Is this person crying, sleeping, sick, dizzy or playing hide and seek? The ability to interpret this image in as many ways as possible reveals one's psychological creativity and consequently their ability to deal with negativity according to a new study by Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, a PhD student at the University of Montreal Faculty of Psychology.
Read the entire article here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Raising Happy, Imperfect Children

Yet another response to the firestorm that has been generated from Amy Chua's Tiger Mother, this one from Motherlode at The New York Times:
Chua is prescribing life motivated by perfectionism—fear of failure, fear of disappointment.  Not only is this a vicious form of unhappiness, but research by Carol Dweck and many others shows that kids who are not allowed to make mistakes don’t develop the resilience or grit they need later in life to overcome challenges or pick themselves up when they do fail. Perfectionists are far more likely to be depressed, anxious, and in college, they are more likely to commit suicide.
Read the whole article here, and take heed.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't Bring Your Son or Daughter to Work

on Bring Your Son or Daughter to Work day?  Egad!  Read the article from Bakersfield.com that starts:

School districts are urging parents to leave kids in school today during "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," according to the Associated Press.
They say the annual event disrupts learning at an increasingly critical time of year when standardized tests are taking place.
Kids in the community?  Seeing what this "real world" for which school is supposed to be preparing them?  NOOOOOOOOO......!  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

For the "I Hate Math" Crowd

On NPR - after this, you won't!


Read more, check the links, watch the video, all here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why We Need Humane Education in Our Schools

An interview with Zoe Weil, co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education, on Treehugger.com:
All our courses [in humane education] invite people to use what we call the 3 Is: inquiry, introspection, and integrity. First we must inquire in order to learn about the important issues of our time; then we must self reflect and determine where the confluence of our knowledge and values lies; finally, we put our knowledge and values into practice which is living with integrity. This process is important for everyone - teachers, students, and anyone who wants to live their life intentionally and meaningfully.
Read the rest of the interview here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Success Requires More than the ABCs

An article in The Huffington Post describes research about skills beyond basic academic competencies that are required for success:
This emerging research has shown several fascinating, yet entirely commonsensical, factors that predict academic and work success. The top predictor was conscientiousness, which included dependability, perseverance, and hard work. Other contributors that were found included the ability to work with others and emotional maturity. Finally, extroversion (typically associated with social awareness and communication skills) and receptivity to new experiences were also predictors of success (one thing I love about psychology research is that it often tells us what we already know to be true).
Read the entire article here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Critical Thinking: POSSIBLE in Schools!

I just came across an old-ish article in The Huffington Post about teaching critical thinking in schools:
Dr.Christianna Alger states that asking the right questions may build a critical thinking classroom. (Many of the times you see baffled looks from students is due to the question not being clearly stated or it is not the correct question for the answer that you believe is right.)
CLARITY. Can you state that in a different way? Can you elaborate on what you said? Can you give an example? Is there another word or phrase that communicates the problem?
ACCURACY. How do we check to see if that statement is valid? How do we know it is correct? Where did you get the information? How can we verify or test it? (This is less of a problem when the sources are known and controlled by the teacher or district, but does it allow for challenges?)
DEPTH. What factors make this a difficult problem? What are some of the complexities inherent in this problem? (We tend to go towards simple answers.)
RELEVANCE. How does that relate to the problem? How does that help us with the issue?
FAIRNESS. Do you have a vested interest in this issue? Are you sympathetically representing the relevant viewpoint of others? (This gets to the heart of my objection in calling it critical thinking. Is the student able to present a radically different viewpoint without it conflicting with what the teacher wants, believes is correct, or will accept?)
Read the entire article here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sharing the Power

Camp Creek Blog posted an article about child-centered learning:

My biggest concern with child-led learning is if it does foster a certain self-absorption in children. I have homeschooling friends who are critcial of this kind of learning because they think it teaches the child that the world revolves around them and caters to them. They think rote learning and 6 hours of desk learning teaches children virtues.
And part of [the author's] response:
I believe children embrace learning and become enthusiastic, passion-driven learners only when they see how it connects to themselves .. how it helps them connect with their interests and their purpose. What is education for, if not this? And the rote learning, six hours at a desk a day .. what is that kind of education for? Not, I think, connecting you with your deepest passions and your purpose.
Read the whole post here.  Really, read it.  It's great.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Schools Built for Learning

Another great post at Cooperative Catalyst:
One of the things I came away with was that we don’t still, after all these years, have good models for talking about what a highly effective school looks like and feels like, from a learner’s point of view. (And I mean all learners–not just kids.)  So while I propose, as a given, a short list: the child/student is at the center of the enterprise, and the student is most important person in the school’s dynamic–here are additions to the list–a few other attributes of a highly effective “learning” school.  These have been developed after years of culture-watching in breakthrough districts, in writing about innovative school models, and in working with leadership teams now engaged in real innovation.
Read seven characteristics of highly effective schools here.  And really, you should just make it a point to read this blog every day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Future of Big Box Schooling

On Cooperative Catalyst, there is a repost of an article about a movie that they had previously reviewed called Schooling the World about expanding "Western" education into developing countries....pop on over using this link and check it out.
The structure of schools as we know them today developed during the rise of the industrial period, and as the quote above from Ellwood P. Cubberly indicates, the resemblance between big-box schools and factories is quite intentional. People in the 19th and early 20th centuries did not have our sense of political correctness, and they built into the public school system their very conscious intention of testing, labeling and sorting the population into a modern class system – with a small intellectual elite, a somewhat larger managerial class, and a large laboring class, whose main “education” would be in obedience, punctuality, willingness to respond when a bell rings, and conditioning to the dutiful performance of repetitive and uninspiring tasks. As John D. Rockefeller’s General Education Board articulated in 1906, “In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands.”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Children Making a Difference

I always love stories like this one, of children who take on the big problems and help to solve them:
Hi, my name is Dylan and I am 12 years old. I first fell in love with Coral Reefs when I was given the opportunity to dive on the Kehikili Reef in Maui, Hawaii. I got to witness first-hand the incredible biodiversity that Coral Reefs contain. Occupying less than 1% of the world’s oceans, Coral Reefs host 25% of all marine life. Over the years, returning to that reef I noticed negative changes on the reef due to environmental stresses. I was dismayed to learn that coral reefs are dying all over the world. If that were to happen it would be an ecological catastrophe as reefs’ ecosystems are deeply linked to the rest of the ocean.
I decided to do something about it! I founded ReefQuest to tell the story of Kahekili Reef, and model for kids everywhere actions they can each take to help marine habitats near them.
Check out the ReefQuest website here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

If you care about children, education, and the future of our planet

you need to watch this, and share it with all your friends, family members, co-workers, and community members!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What Motivates Us?

I love the line at the end: If we stop treating people as if they are smaller, slower, slightly-better smelling horses we might make the world a little bit better!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Importance of Play

An article in The New York Times talks about the need for play in the lives of children:
For several years, studies and statistics have been mounting that suggest the culture of play in the United States is vanishing. Children spend far too much time in front of a screen, educators and parents lament — 7 hours 38 minutes a day on average, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year. And only one in five children live within walking distance (a half-mile) of a park or playground, according to a 2010 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control, making them even less inclined to frolic outdoors.
Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day!

A fun snow day activity for those second generation Little House on the Prairie fans among us - making molasses snow candy!
After we read the Christmas chapter of Little House on the Prairie my eldest said to me, “Gee Mom, I hope our Christmas is as good as Laura and Mary’s!!” I think Laura and Mary got a candy cane, a cake, and maybe a pair of mittens in their stockings…and that’s it. They marveled at a heart-shaped cake they found in their stockings and squealed with delight because it was dusted with white sugar! While I enjoy the comforts of modern living, I certainly relate to my child’s desire to be fully enraptured by the magic of Christmas-time.
Get the recipe here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

What Does the Research Show?

A recent article in the Washington Post compares recent education research with the heavily funded and wide-sweeping reforms being put into practice - and finds that they are not always headed in the same direction:
"Race to the Top" and Waiting for Superman made 2010 a banner year for the market-based education reforms that dominate our national discourse. By contrast, a look at the “year in research” presents a rather different picture for the three pillars of this paradigm: merit pay, charter schools, and using value-added estimates in high-stakes decisions.
Read the entire article here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Passion. It's What Makes All the Difference.

The Ecology of Education blog discusses the elements of a transformative learning experience:

Herein lies the piece of the teaching puzzle than cannot be standardized, scripted, or tested. It’s the magic voodoo that the best teachers possess and the worst lack. It’s the catalyst that turns a humdrum subject into something powerful and life changing. And it’s the red thread that ties together all those gushy “The Teacher That Changed My Life” stories.
Passion.
Ironically, it’s also an ingredient that is altogether missing from our national edu-speak about quality education, and for the most wonkish of reasons at that: It’s utterly unquantifiable. Passion can’t be graphed, charted, or objectively assessed. It defies convention and refuses to be contained.
Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What Does it Mean to be "Well Educated"?

A fabulous post at the Cooperative Catalyst:

To me, a good education is about developing: 
  • Habits of mind like curiosity, analysis, criticism, problem-solving and creativity
  • The ability to make things, to satisfy a need or just for fun
  • The capacity to love yourself, other people, and the environment; and to find an appropriate balance between your own needs and the needs of the group and/or the natural world.
That’s way more than can be accomplished in the school day, which is one reason why I reject the idea that teachers and schools are the only ones responsible for educating children. Everyone– parents, teachers, community members and institutions– has a role to play, and one of our main goals should be to work together to ensure that this happens.
You simply must swing over and read the entire thing here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Making learning relevant really matters!

Duh!
Good news for good teachers: It turns out, the old drill-and-kill method is not only boring, but -- neurologically speaking -- pretty useless. Relevant, meaningful activities that both engage students emotionally and connect with what they already know are what help build neural connections and long-term memory storage (not to mention compelling classrooms).
Read the entire article here.