Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Graduation Speeches 2016

Beginning Room students await the graduates.
Our Last Day of School tradition has grown over the years and is a special day for the whole community.  This year every student performed in some fashion to send us off for the summer. Mary Fisher gave the commencement address. Fisher is currently a M.S. student at UW in the School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences. We are very fortunate to have been paired with her last fall as part of the National Center for Science Education teach program which brings scientist in the schools. The program asks scientists to volunteer to work with a school for a semester. The program commitment is for one classroom visit. However, she has met with Lake and Park students six times over this year, including an opportunity to visit her lab at the UW, and she also guided students using the microscope out at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.  Fisher also created lessons to enrich our thematic studies when we were learning about the evolution of whales at school. Most recently she joined us at the beach where she helped us all gain a better understanding of the diversity of species found on our northwest beaches. We are very pleased that Mary Fisher will continue to work with us as next year. 

Lake and Park School Commencement Address by Mary Fisher

Mary Fisher speaks at the 2016 Graduation.
“For the past 8 months or so, I’ve been helping the Lake and Park School teachers introduce and expand on different topics in science. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to see students have “aha” moments of discovery, and I’ve been on some pretty awesome field trips. But it’s really my first visit that sticks out in my mind.
A lot of the motivation behind my research is better fisheries management. So to help explain some of the major issues facing fisheries, I had the students play a game that is designed to help people understand why fishermen overexploit their common resources. Many of you are probably familiar with the concept - the tragedy of the commons. At first in the game, everyone is “incentivized” to work together and to save “fish” for future rounds. But as the game goes on, the incentives change. Now in order to win, the students have to act more selfishly; they have to “overfish” their resource without regard for their teammates or future rounds.
Every group of students falls into the same trap: by the end of the game, they have all “overfished” their resource, and many of them have double crossed their teammates.  The game is very effective. It works.
Until the Lake and Park School.
You all beat my game. You self-organized and started planning and acted responsibly. So I frantically started making up new rules as we played, coming up with new incentives. But you kept working together, you thought two moves ahead. You wanted to win, but more than that, you wanted to get it right.
I’m sure that your parents already know how smart you all are. But plenty of smart kids have played along with this game. My classmates at Cornell played along with this game. It takes smarts to win this game, but it takes something else to beat it.
It’s that “something else” that the Lake and Park School is fostering. Some sense of awareness or selflessness or stewardship. It’s hard to learn, and even more difficult to teach. But you have it here, especially those of you who are graduating.
I’ve also seen one other unique aspect of your learning here that will help you as you move forward in your education.
You ask a lot of good questions. I know that people say there are no bad questions, and there really aren’t; but there are questions, and then there are good questions. You know how to explore, how to further your learning by exercising your curiosity. This was something that I really saw on my last visit with you all, when we went to the beach to see all of the life on the shoreline at low tide. Between identifying and coming up with names for all of the different color patterns of crabs, to helping me collect one organism of every species on the beach, I really got to see you all drawing on your curiosity; and by doing this, learning more than I think you realize.
When students of marine biology write admissions essays or cover letters, we are told that we should never write about how we developed our passion for marine science because as a child we loved to play in tide pools, or watch dolphins, or go fishing. We are told it’s too “cliché”. Which is ridiculous! Because that is really how it starts. That is what actually happens. As a child, or as a teenager, we are given the chance to explore, and that exploration is how we develop a passion for something that we might end up studying for the rest of our life.
When I was around your age, I used to visit my great-grandmother in Monterey, California. I would spend hours at the beach, exploring the rocky tide pools; pestering my parents with questions about shells and seaweed and anything else I could find. I don’t remember much about the homework I did for school, but I do remember staring up through the kelp forest exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, just taking everything in and questioning what I saw.
That’s what I think good education is really about. Learning how to explore. How to ask questions. How to defy the norms, how to think differently to come up with a better solution.
Each of you is graduating with this type of knowledge. And you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put it to use in the future, as you start really discovering who you are and what you are passionate about. You have plenty of time to do that, plenty of time to continue to grow and explore and ask questions. But because of what you’ve learned here, the special kind of knowledge you possess, you’ll be able to grow a little bit faster, explore a little more, and ask good questions. And I think you’ll find that this makes a world of difference.
So thank you for letting me be a part of your time as a student here; and congratulations!”

This is the second year graduating students have addressed the community. Here are their remarks.
Edith Wolff , President of the Board of Directors and Quynh Cao, teacher award diplomas.

My Time at Lake and Park
by Harriet

My time at Lake and Park changed me a lot and made me a better and more unique person. I’ve been here six years. It’s hard to stretch my memory back. I remember in first grade studying Korea and reading A Single Shard. I remember walking into Kim’s classroom in second grade and thinking it was so magical. The curtains everywhere and Christmas lights on the ceiling. In third grade I remember learning to throw a football, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl that year. Last year I was the stage manager for our class play and got to tell everyone else what to do.  Finishing the ocean project and presenting it this year was very satisfying. I didn’t know if I could finish it in time. I learned that I could finish things very well even under a lot of pressure.
I remember going to the garden the day before everyone else went with my mom and seeing the whole thing. It was a mess. There were brown blackberry vines everywhere, it was just dirt and everything was dead. I remember thinking “How are we going to fix this?” When I look at the garden now, I’m proud of what we did. I really hope that everyone in the school respects what we did and work as hard as we did. If you work hard, you can keep it up and keep it from going back to the way it was before.
In total, I’ve dropped salmon eggs into the tank four times. I don’t think I really understood what was going to happen that first year. Now I know exactly how they mature and how to release them. Earlier this week, I taught the other kids how to release the salmon into Issaquah Creek, and now they can teach the younger kids because they will be the older kids next year.
The songs that we sing at Lake and Park are usually very inspiring and I will take a lot of the songs with me because they are burned into my brain and I am proud to know all the words to many of them I will keep singing these songs after Lake and Park. I still listen to the songs we listened to during our units this year. The songs were very upbeat, and uplifting and helped me focus on the work we were doing at the time we were listening to the songs.

Writing this speech helped me to stretch my memories and actually reflect and look back. It helped me see, “Wow, I’ve done a lot and I’ve been here for this long.” It also made me realize that I’m leaving. It’s a reality now. I’m leaving Lake and Park but I’m really excited to go to my new school. I’ll always be thinking about how much I learned at Lake and Park and I’ll take that with me. 

Dear Lake and Park
by Ruby
I was nine years old when I began going to Lake and Park School, I was shy and I didn’t really know anyone. That's how I was my whole life, but really Lake and Park changed that about me. In about 2 weeks’ time I was so social. I was friends with every girl in the class. ( and many thanks of course to my favorite teachers ever!! Quynh and Grant)
Soon I went to a great part of this school….
The garden, the beautiful, calming garden. The place to read under the trees and in the grass. The place to watercolor the flowers and the sky. The place to relax and just think about life. The place to talk and just have fun. My perfect day at lake and park is to be at the garden, writing, drawing, and reading, it's just truly amazing. My favorite part of this school.
Before I came to Lake and Park I could never imagine being in a play talking in front of so many people, but now it's actually pretty easy.
Typo is my favorite play at Lake and Park., Typo is a play of pretty much what really happened in the fairy tales you hear today. I was little red riding hood and I loved that part. The play was hilarious and I wish you could have seen it. Later that year we did a second play called the phantom toll book, This year I presented a PowerPoint on the blood belly comb jelly in the fall. This spring I wrote a speech on saving water and now I’m presenting this.  All of these things helped me to slowly climb up the ladder of bravery and ability to talk to a crowd with meaning and feeling.
I am glad I came to Lake and Park and excited to bring my new qualities to Asa Mercer Middle School!!
So, thank you Lake and Park for welcoming me.
Sincerely, Ruby

Seven Years
by Wilder

The seven years I've been here I learned and studied so many things. The first time I came here I was scared and shy.
I made great friends who have helped me along the way. I learned how to read and write how to add and subtract. I've studied physics, Spanish, math, science, Ancient Egypt, ocean life, salmon, Greek mythology, time, China, movie making, and much much more.
One of the things I loved studying was movie making because I love making videos for the world.
I’ve gone on many field trips like Issaquah, whale watching, Wing Luke Museum, Cedar River Watershed, Museum of Flight, Keefe and Teague's beach house and many more. One of my most favorite field trips was Keefe and Teague’s beach house. Because I loved exploring around on the beach with my friends and looking at sea creatures like crabs, sand dollars, sea stars, and clams.

Moving on to a new school can be hard but I'm excited to learn new things and study new things. But without Lake and Park I would not be here on this stage. I wouldn't have learned all the great things and I wouldn’t have all of these wonderful memories that I have now.   Thank you.      

by Delphine Way

I remember my first day at Lake and Park. I remember my mom leading me into the North Room while I tried to hide behind her and seem as invisible as possible. As I met everyone I decided that this wasn't going to be so bad and made my mom leave. By the time the day had ended I had made eighteen new friends.
Lake and Park has been the home of some of my favorite memories. There are the happy memories, there are the sad memories, but my favorite memories are the funny ones. Some of the best are the times like when my nose bled so much that Tom thought he had to call 911. Of course this was the day I wore my new white shirt. And the time Wilder brought his stuffed dog to school. The one that was life sized and could stand up on its own. That day we all went to the beach and a family came up to Kim (our teacher at the time) and said “We have been watching your dog for the last five minutes and it hasn't moved a muscle.”
My favorite study we did was probably the Nutcracker. I think I liked the Nutcracker so much because I had always loved dance and had especially loved ballet and now I could study it. Even though we studied the story more than the dance, we did go see P.N.B.’s Nutcracker and I absolutely loved it. Seeing dancers on stage doing what they loved so well empowered me to become an actress, singer and a dancer myself.
Even though I am moving to a new school next year I won't forget Lake and Park and yes, I promise I will visit.

As a school we celebrate the growth and confidence expressed in the students’ words.   As we go off into this season, we wish everyone a time of both relaxation and adventure.
The whole school joined together to sing "Family Tree".

Monday, June 6, 2016

How Teacher Professional Development Influences Student Learning: Force and Motion by Eileen Hynes

Research in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) learning has a lot to say about what makes for effective, engaging STEM education. Among the key factors: it capitalizes on students’ early interests and experiences, identifies and builds on what they know, and provides opportunities to engage in the practices of science and mathematics to sustain their interest. In other words, throughout their schooling, students should learn to investigate questions about the world that they come across in daily life, in much the same way that scientists and mathematicians do. (successfulSTEMeducatgion.org)

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Framework goes on to emphasize that: “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K–12 science education.”

A Teacher's Perspective

What was your favorite study this year at school?  For me it has to be the classic answer, “The one we are in right now”.  Isn’t that the truth?  As teachers there is so much to enjoy in our thematic approach at Lake and Park. It allows for creativity, collaboration, thoughtful study and personal expression.  It is important for us to embrace flexibility and be responsive to children’s needs and interests.  In many ways we never feel finished, though it is exciting to begin again and watch the momentum build as each child engages in a new topic in their own way.  I admire the courage I witness every day as children take the risk and delve into answering an open-ended exploration. “Is water alive?” or “What might happen when we roll two different size balls down the same track?”

Teachers at Lake and Park are asked to take risks also.  We delve into subjects that may not be an area of expertise and we learn alongside the children.  We are asked to try new things; we challenge ourselves and support each other.  Our study of physics and the evolution of scientific thought is an example of learning by doing for all of us.

Meaningful Professional Enrichment

In the summer of 2015 Quynh Cao and I were by the National Science Teachers Association  to participate in a weeklong training program, The National Teachers Academy.   We flew to Nw Jersey in late July and spent a week at the Liberty Science Center with teachers from forty-eight states, working through ideas about best practices in teaching science as they relate to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  The focus of our week was Newton’s Laws of Force and Motion.  It was an engaging week of hands-on exploration and we knew the children at Lake and Park would learn so much during a study centered around this topic.

Laying the Groundwork

When Quynh and I sat down to begin planning the study for Lake and Park we thought about Newton in a historical context:  Newton was born in 1642. Who were the scientists that influenced him and how has scientific thought continued to develop since then?  We knew literature groups could engage in learning about the lives and contributions of scientists.  Are there any universal character traits of scientists?
    As we posed these questions in our various classrooms:  What do scientists do?  How are they alike?.   Initial responses were long.   Details were added as knowledge grew.  Students began to identify when they were taking on some of these traits themselves.

Data collection 

Structure for Exploration
 Quynh took the lead running the Physics Lab.   Each day she set up different experiences and materials for students to explore.  Teacher led group discussions guided inquiry. Quynh was careful to ask questions, rather than telling the "why",  thereby not revealing too much, making sure that the vital discovery piece, so pivotal to deeper understanding was reserved for each child. Students observed, collected data, made hypotheses, and experimented while working collaboratively in small groups. This approach was student driven, based on an individual’s curiosity and experience.  Room--time and space-- was provided for student-led discoveries.

Scientific Sharing

While Quynh worked with classes throughout the school,  her homeroom students worked with me to create demonstrations that illustrated a principle or explored a law or conducted an experiment.   Projects were developed and tested in class.   As the oldest students were asked to present their work to others, the opportunities for peer teaching and  for guiding younger students brought social skills into play.  

Developing Historical Context

Quynh’s class also read and discussed the evolution of scientific thinking with Camille Hayward, reading several books on Galileo, Newton and Einstein as a means of learning about the history of scientific thought. This was a wonderful opportunity for Camille to work directly with the Intermediate students.  Across the grades, students read biographies of the scientists mentioned above and  many others  The study contained many highlights as well as collective and individual “Aha” moments.

Physics on Wheels Comes to Lake and Park
As a part of this unit, The Pacific Science Center Physics on Wheels program came to school for a day.  The visit included individual classroom workshops and a lab space filled with demonstrations and experiments.    

Newton's Rainbow Made More Evident

The Hawking Family worked at home to master Newton’s rainbow, and then demonstrated the experiment they had created to small groups of children. This inspired further investigation into light and color and optics.

"Tinker Lab"

Maudie James and I developed a space for the whole student population to "tinker in".  Equipped with tape and tubes and pulleys and hooks, marbles and velcro, The Tinker Lab remains busy most days with children creating inventions, and working on challenges involving force, motion, and velocity. Thank you to everyone for making it possible by cleaning out closets and garages and sharing your treasures and purchasing tape.  After making an invention or machine, children draw a model of it and tell a teacher about it so that ideas are written down.  Often the project is named. Those who can write, describe it in their own terms.

Gaining Background on Dr. Hawking

When we came together to share and celebrate our common learning, George told us about Hawking's current work to which George had been introduced to this spring.  He graciously answered questions.

 Asking a Scientist
As the study was coming to a close we had one more amazing opportunity.  As each class learned about working scientist Dr.  Stephen Hawking we were invited to submit some questions to him directly for his consideration.  He will respond back to our specific queries.

We will gather as a school in the fall to hear his replies to such thoughts as:  What would happen if the earth stopped spinning?  Do black holes benefit earth in anyway?  If you could explore anywhere, where would you go?
                                                     Timeline of Scientific Thinking

The Upper Primary students each researched a specific scientist, from Archimedes to Hawking, creating a timeline of scientific thinking which they presented at an All School Meeting. By this point, everyone was working as a scientist. It was exciting to take a moment to look around the room and wonder who might possibly make the next major scientific breakthrough at some point in the future. 

Science Fair
On the same day as the Timeline Presentation students visited the Science Fair as presented by Quynh’s class. 

Big Ball Play
The day ended with children rolling very big balls out in the grassy meadow of Mt. Baker Park and riding bikes, perhaps with a greater understanding of how that bicycle stays upright when in motion and why that ball might come to a stop.

As for this summer?  I know teachers are planning on more professional development experiences, exploration and reflection.   

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.

T.S. Eliot from Four Quartets