Greeting New Philly Immigrants

Today a few Family Circles created cards to be delivered to refugee families who will be arriving in Philly in January from Congo, Burma, and Eritrea. The families will receive the cards as part of a welcoming basket of toiletries and other essentials.

It was moving to see elements of the TPS curriculum being shared with our mixed-aged groups. Students who studied immigration in 3rd grade shared their understanding of immigration and explained how various "push factors" could force families or individuals to seek safety in a new country. Similarly, middle schoolers applied their knowledge of these African countries to show others where to find them on a map.  

Preschoolers Design Treehouse

The Lavenders and Milkweeds groups divided and conquered a structural elements challenge for our treehouse project this week in preparation for Jonathan (Eila’s dad) and Eric’s (an architect colleague of Jonathan’s) visit to TPS.

Divided into three groups, the preschoolers excitedly convened, ready to use glue, craft sticks, cardboard, yarn, and markers to brainstorm and create models and drawings for windows, ladders, and an ideal structural shape of the treehouse for Eila’s backyard. Each group had an opportunity to practice presenting their ideas to their peers before we invited Jonathan, Ilana (Eila’s mom), and Eric into the classroom for a mock charette—a meeting to review the design elements by way of scale models and drawings.

Post-charette, we gathered as a large group to briefly summarize and discuss ideas for the project. Each child used a sticker to vote for their preference in window, ladder, and structural shape choices. With his awe-inspiring drawing talent, Eric created a technical drawing of a treehouse envisioned by our preschoolers. As the architect/engineer team was getting ready to leave, they noted that ours was the easiest charette they’d ever orchestrated! 

Museum of 6th Grade Countries Opens!

The Museum of 6th Grade Countries opened this past Wednesday. Parents and students from other classrooms visited the museum on Wednesday and Thursday to see an exhibit of dioramas created by the 6th graders.  

The dioramas represented countries created by the students. Each diorama showed one scene in one biome in the student's country. The biomes, geologic features, and water resources all followed the laws of nature. Students created imaginary plants and animals with adaptations for survival and reproduction in their specific biomes. Each student also wrote a folktale that explained something about the history of their land.

Experiencing History Through Art

Each year our eighth graders, who are immersed in a deep, year-long study of the U.S. Constitution, make a series of visits to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is impressive how well students are able to pull from their experiences in language arts, in cultural studies, and in art to appreciate the museum experience.

Through the study of paintings, furniture, and other decorative arts we were able to see the influence of ancient Greece and Egypt on design in the post-Revolutionary period and to understand how art helps tell the story of life at the time of the Constitution’s creation.

An exploration of 19th- and 20th-century American art included discussions and activities centered on Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer as exemplars of a new psychological and narrative style. 

Our most recent trip was an exploration of modern and contemporary American art as expressions of American values and concerns.



Guests Speak on Leadership

Middle School classrooms had two compelling visitors on Friday.

Rebecca Yuska '06 stopped by to speak with an 8th grade cultural studies class about her stint as an organizer in North Philadelphia for the Clinton campaign. She talked about the intensity of her work (16-hour days); about meeting and organizing volunteers from all over the state, country, and world; and about how it felt to lose the election. Rebecca feels that her work has prepared her for leadership roles in the future.

Next door, in Jake Hunter's 7th grade classroom, Ben Hunter (Jake's bother) led a conversation about Lord of the Flies, the class's fall language arts book.  The topic of leadership – good and bad – was the focus. Ben, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, is an officer in the Marine Corps. 



Rock Band Off the Rocks

The 7th grade tradition continues – even though the science curriculum this fall focused on the biological and not the geological.  

There is not just one "Plant Band" this year; there are two! With the herculean support of music teachers Aaron Picht and Donna Bostock,  our 7th graders will be presenting their own versions of "Thriller" and "Life Is a Highway," with witty revised lyrics and stirring musical performances.

There will be two performances of each band on Tuesday morning, November 22 - one at 9am (for families) and the other at 10am (for students and staff) in the Garage.