Mr. DeRienzo, our school’s aftercare lead teacher, is a storyteller extraordinaire. This summer, he’s sharing a series of original audio stories featuring an imaginative cast of recurring characters, appropriate for preschool-and-kindergarten-age children (appropriate and enjoyable for older children too)!
In our first tale, Gold Monkey and Jeremy the Giant accompany Mr. DeRienzo’s sidekick Ozzi to help the fairies in the forest. It’s fun work … but silly antics always ensue when our friend Gold Monkey is involved!
If you’ve spent any amount of time on the Marin Waldorf School campus, you’ve likely seen middle school students circling around on their unicycles. Unicycling is perhaps the most memorable aspect of our movement curriculum in the upper grades. As movement and games teacher Ms. O’Ryan says, “Unicycling and juggling help empower the students to make a new relationship with their sense of balance and make sense out of chaos—two hands, three bean bags.”
In this short, clip one of our 6th graders shows off her incredible balance and coordination while juggling on a unicycle.
When the 2019-2020 school year began on a cool yet sunny September morning, we had no idea what lay ahead. It was a year we’ll never forget, with challenges we could never have anticipated, but there was so much beauty too!
In this slideshow, created by our admissions director Chantal, we remember the moments we were together and the moments we were apart.
What is the memory you’ll never forget from the 2019-2020 school year?
At the end of the 7th Grade year, students are immersed in the stories, personalities, and legacy during the Age of Exploration. Below, teacher Ms. Deason explains the significance of this block and its themes to the 7th Grader. (Please scroll down to read her important addendum to this lesson.)
The seventh grader can be described as a person filled with interest and eager to take initiative. At this age, young adolescents look into the world and feel strongly pulled by the glimmer of new horizons and compelled to venture out and expand in new directions. The thirteen-year-old possesses a curiosity and a hunger for encountering and discovering the “new” which imbues their work with vigor and powerful enthusiasm. It is with good reason that exploration is a foundational theme of the year.
We recently ended our year with a culminating curriculum project focused on an individual explorer. The project required in-depth research, strong writing skills and artistry. Students worked for many weeks on multiple drafts and drawings to create their finished product. Despite the challenges of distance learning and being separated from peers and teachers, students reached new levels of excellence in their projects, directing their efforts with increasing independence and initiative. Last Thursday, we celebrated their work with a wonderful evening of oral presentations by the students, each one dressed as their explorer! Some of their work is posted below.
The creativity and diligence of the students in Ms. Deason’s 7th Grade class is evident in their finished reports. Look at the vibrant colors and fluid writing in 7th Grader Sydney’s report on Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Here’s an excerpt from a wonderful report by Aurelius on arctic explorer Matthew Henson.
Here’s a gallery of more illustrations and maps from the 7th Grade.
Addendum: Recent Events and the Relevance of the Waldorf Curriculum in the Upper Grades
The topic of exploration is a difficult one to teach in our time – it is filled with stories of courage, ingenuity and tremendous human endeavors, which the 7th grader deeply needs. However, many of those stories are also fraught with injustice, racism and unfathomable inhumanity. All of this must be brought truthfully to the students, both as history and also as the roots of systemic inequity in contemporary society. Last Tuesday, as we were preparing for our final presentations, I was keenly aware that I had to acknowledge what is happening right now, today. I talked about the current protests and the longstanding systems of injustice and inhumanity people are challenging. I connected the theme of exploration with colonialism, slavery, and the need for change. Then I pointed to the curriculum we would be taking up next year in 8th grade and its overarching theme of revolution and of how human beings can and must effect change.
I talked about Alexander von Humboldt, whose short book the students recently began to read, and of his work as an extraordinary explorer, scientist and humanist. I read them a passage from his biography, describing how he addressed Thomas Jefferson and his cabinet in his time and spoke passionately about the environment and the need to respect the earth, and also equally passionately against colonialism and slavery and the evil they represent, urging the third President of a new United States to dismantle these structures. It was an opportunity to connect 7th grade themes to 8th grade themes.
It was also a moment in which the upper grade curriculum became incredibly relevant and potent. After all, the ultimate goal of Waldorf education is to guide the child, in loving, beautiful and truthful ways, toward becoming a truly free human being, unafraid to move into unknown territories and willing to apply themselves to making substantive change in the world. — Kristine Deason
This week, our First Grade teacher, Ms. Weger, shared this lesson from the last block of the year.
The First Grade students have been reviewing the four math processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in their last three-week block of the year. Typically, a nature story of some kind is told, and the children follow along, inwardly calculating as they go.
During this block, the main lesson concluded with the students writing their math sentences from the nature story in their books with a drawing of their choosing. Here is the math story:
The birds have become a symphony of sound from the trees since their babies hatched earlier this Spring! While walking, I noticed a family of quail cross the road. First the mama quail, and then 4 juvenile quail, and then 5 more juvenile quail. Including the mama, how many quail are there? _____. As the quail finished crossing the street, the crows started shouting at each other from the Bishop Pine trees above. There are 2 crows in one tree, and 3 crows in the other. How many crows are there? _____. How many more quail are there on the ground than crows in the trees? _____.
And here are some of the images the students created in response:
Last week, we shared some of the beautiful drawings of plants, trees, and flowers that our 5th Graders created for their botany block. Now, they are exploring the beauty of plants by creating natural, inherently ephemeral mandalas in the garden. (Pictured above, our school garden in the springtime.)
Says gardening teacher Ms. Betsyann:
This activity is my favorite garden class of the “usual” year. The students always enjoy it. This year I filmed a version with directions for the class so they can work at home, alone. It is not quite the same as having bubbling activity of many groups making masterpieces in the garden.
In the 4th Grade block on the Gold Rush, Ms. Malon asked students to imagine themselves as children traveling on a wagon train following overland routes to California, arriving in the city of San Francisco, and heading for the hills of the Gold Country.
In a series of recordings and assignments, Ms. Malon describes the challenges of life as a pioneer, from sandstorms to prairie fires, as well as the daily lives of miners and merchants in the towns where gold had been discovered. Though Ms. Malon’s storytelling, students imagined sandstorms and prairie fires on the Great Plains or the breakfast a miner might eat before digging spending the day digging gold, while also learning about the way the Gold Rush changed the West.
In response, students filled their main lesson book pages with a first-person diary of their experiences as they traveled to California and drawings of scenes their journey.
They also drew maps, created newspaper stories, and wrote letters about their travels with thoughtful embellishments, describing the sights, sounds, smells, and experiences of the pioneers.
Congratulations to our soon-to-be 5th Graders on their beautiful work!
Our Hollyhock kindergarten teacher, Nicole, weaves a new story into her morning circle each week, drawing in the children’s attention as they say good morning to each other and learn new songs and full-body movements to accompany the tale.
Since our campus close in March, Nicole has shared a morning circle with Hollyhock families every week. In this charming circle, she leads the children on a visit to the farm with her assistant teacher Jennifer. This circle includes two songs in French, which a kindergartner can pick up and repeat easily, even if they don’t understand the language!
In addition to building a warm classroom community each morning, the morning circle is a time for kindergartners to learn by listening and repeating, to develop balance and motor skills by following the teacher’s movements, and to use their imaginations in stories and songs. In some circles, Nicole introduces tongue twisters, bean bag tossing, and partner games.
Families can listen to this circle at home and make up their own movements as the children greet the little chickens and farmers.
This week, 2nd Graders demonstrated their creativity, as well as their understanding of parts of the English language, by composing and illustrating haiku poems that describe the world around them. Below, our 2nd Grade teacher Ms. Martin shares her lesson, as well as some samples of student work.
Dear second grade children,
In these past few weeks, you have learned about naming words (nouns), doing words (verbs) and describing words (adjectives) and have seen how they work together to make a sentence. Now, in writing a haiku, you are using these parts of a sentence , and also your senses! What do you see, taste, feel, hear? Remember, a haiku is a short poem that captures a moment in time. It is a small window into a moment or an experience. We have heard many stories of saints and sages in these past few weeks!
Do you think Francis of Assisi observed nature? Remember how he communicated with the birds and the wolf of Gubbio? Odelia did not have her eyesight from the time she was born until she was a young woman, and yet she knew of the ways of nature. She felt the wind on her cheeks and could feel the flowers growing in a way most of us are not familiar with. Do you remember that Kee-ten (the Native American author, Mourning Dove) had to learn as a child to listen to the river, the wind and all of nature which was trying to speak to her?
When we sit still to listen and see the tiny creatures of the earth, or the twinkling stars on an early morning, or the intricate, colorful wings of a butterfly, we too are listening to nature! What is it trying to teach us? What moment in time would you like to share?
In order to write your haiku you must:
Choose a topic
Sit, listen, observe
What would you like to share? Count the syllables. A haiku is 3 lines, with the first and last line being 5 syllables and the middle line being 7 syllables.
Write your haiku!
Here is the haiku I wrote, inspired by the fawns I saw in front of our classroom.
Two fawns in tall grass. Spotted, brown and white they lay, Curious and calm
The most famous haiku poem of the most famous haiku poet in Japan. 古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音 The old pond A frog leaps in. Sound of the water.
The syllables are different in Japan than they are in English!
Thank you, children, for doing your best work in writing your Haikus. I look forward to seeing what you have created.