MS Blazer Buzz 15 Sept

This week's highlight: Intertwined—Weaving Together Community Through Collaboration and Creativity

Art teachers, Kim Lysne and Jackie Royce, have designed a collaborative art installation for kindergarten through eighth grade students that literally weaves together community through collaboration and creativity.  Recycled art at its finest, students (and teachers) are weaving on a repurposed soccer net, using all recycled and donated materials.  This project allows students in different grade levels to work side by side, which is the learner centered model that both Ms. Lysne and Ms. Royce are implementing this year in all of their art classes.  

Having done extensive research in choice-based art and transforming their classrooms to accommodate art stations, Ms. Lysne and Ms. Royce are already seeing the positive effects of choice-based art in just three weeks.  Students need opportunities to behave, think, and perform as artists so the goal is to facilitate independent learning in studio centers designed to support student choices in subject matter and media.  Teachers offer a demonstration, studio time at stations, and a wrap up which includes reflections and sharing.  Various projects throughout the year lend themselves to authentic interaction between the grade levels.  While Ms. Royce is teaching first grade, seventh grade students are learning next door in Ms. Lysne’s classroom and they can interact during studio time. 

This provides an authentic connection between lower and middle school students and the teachers are already seeing a lot of positive interaction.  Ms. Royce has noticed a lot more dialogue between her students during art class, asking each other “How did you make that?”  Ms. Lysne reported that this approach has encouraged more mixed grouping in middle school based on their interests.  Middle school students are especially interested in working on the weaving project in their down time at recess.  While you will see many middle school students on the soccer field during recess, you will also see several students weaving.

Check out this K-8 masterpiece in progress outside Van Buren Hall, and if you are feeling inspired, weave your own creation!

MS Blazer Buzz 8 Sept

This week's highlight: Greek Festival

Yiasou (Hello)! The sixth graders experienced a taste of Greece last week during the Yiasou Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, led by Mrs. Denham. The Yiasou Greek Festival began in 1978 and has become one of Charlotte’s largest cultural events. In addition to touring the Greek Orthodox church and experiencing the culture of modern and ancient Greece, students enjoyed delicious Greek cuisine and a splendid array of pastries. Everyone agreed that the highlight of the trip was certainly the food: dolmades, baklava, spanikopita, lamb and pastachio. Although it was difficult for the students to choose just one favorite, spanikopita and baklava ranked among the favorites. Mrs. Denham answered with confidence that her favorite dish is spanikopota.

One of our Woodlawn parents was born in Athens and was happy to serve as a guest speaker prior the festival. She taught students various words with Greek origins. Yiasou is the Greek word for hello, goodbye and cheers. The study of ancient Greece ties directly into the 6th grade essential question, “What does it mean to be part of a society?” In social studies, students experience the “Greatest Hits of European History” to gain a sense of what life was like in societies of Europe’s past and how history has influenced European societies and world societies today.

MS Blazer Buzz 2 Sept

This week's highlight: Building Relationships Week 1

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt

The first week of school at Woodlawn is designed to focus on important aspects of the year ahead: student success, academics, service learning, building relationships, and building community. We kicked off the week by setting middle school students up for success by getting organized, reading the schedule, and understanding expectations. Students made a commitment to themselves and their peers as they pledged personal and academic integrity by signing the honor code. Books in hand, they experienced life as a middle schooler; navigating the schedule and traversing across campus is all part of the fun! On day one, students were already immersed in academics, problem solving and collaborating with their classmates. Woodlawn students truly have a heart for service and are eager to get out into the community this year. Each grade level takes a year-long approach to service learning to gain a thorough understanding of the organizations and individuals they work with and serve. Whether they are animal advocates, understanding issues of poverty, or bridging generations with the elderly, our middle schools students quickly become devoted to their respective organizations.

Building relationships is certainly a priority for middle school students, and they have many opportunities to do so in the classroom, at lunch, at their lockers, on the athletic field, and during social events. As we build relationships, we build community. The events of our first Friday provided a day of community building to culminate our first week on campus. Dr. Bob Shirley, Interim Head of School, welcomed students to a new year. All K-12 students were welcomed into Family Trees (Oak, Maple, Poplar) where students in various grade levels have multiple opportunities to connect and form relationships through activities across grade levels. Sixth graders, kindergarteners and seniors enjoyed decorating (and eating) cookies! Upper and middle school students were literally connected to their lower school buddies as a huge game of capture the flag commenced on the front lawn of Stinson. Students, parents, faculty, and staff enjoyed a campus cookout to round out the first week of school.

Our mission at Woodlawn is to produce independent, lifelong learners who are responsible, contributing members of a diverse, global society. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote resonates quite well with our mission, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” I believe we are off to a great start!

MS Blazer Buzz 2 June

This week's highlight:Body, Mind, Spirit!

Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students enjoyed a morning of exercising their bodies, strengthening their minds, and filling their spirits during this year's Middle School Community Building Day. The morning began with chalk art. Groups worked together to transform an ordinary block of the campus sidewalk into a colorful and inspirational message for all. “Be - YOU - tiful,” “Imagine,” and “Dream” were just some of the ideas shared by students. With those uplifting words resonating in their minds, Katie Dixon of Kadi-Fit led the students in an incredible cardio-dance workout. Hearts pumped while students sang and shouted, jumped and danced to song after song. Stinson Hall’s yard rocked as everyone discovered just how much fun getting fit can be. A much-deserved snack of yogurt, fruit, and granola came next, providing just the right kind of nourishment for the final activity of the morning, yoga. Under the instruction of Kiesha Battles, the middle schoolers learned a variety of basic moves and also challenged their bodies and minds with several more advanced positions. The message of the day summed up the focus of the year:  a truly healthy person understands and nurtures their mental, physical, and emotional being. This year’s Community Building Day showed the students how art, dance, nutrition, and exercise can nourish their minds, their bodies, and their spirits.

Contributed by Kim Lysne and Kristen Wiesenmayer

MS Blazer Buzz 26 May

This week's highlight: We all live downstream!

In keeping with the theme for the eighth grade year, “How Did We Get Here,” students have been studying how everyone is interconnected by water. In history class, students explored the importance of water to the early development of towns, and learned that communities are currently encouraging conservation and sustainability efforts through programs such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification of new construction and development. During science class, students learned about community as part of a watershed. In the recent weeks, the eighth graders have been spotted trekking through wooded areas on campus following the flow of water to see the affects on the environment. They have also measured the quality of water at Blythe Landing on Lake Norman. The class experience water testing on a grand scale at the Lee S. Duke Water Treatment Plant in Huntersville where students learned how water is purified and supplied throughout Mecklenburg County. Closer to home, the eighth graders have been working on a project in math class measuring water runoff at their homes and determining how this connects to the watershed. The culmination of this coursework will be shared at the end-of-year Water Works presentation and tour following a luncheon in the Lodge on June 3.

Contributed by Doug Guy