MS Blazer Buzz 29 Sept

This week's highlight: Be in the moment

Seventh graders experienced a Japanese tea ceremony with Ms. Robinson and Ms. Lysne last week in social studies.  Students (guests) entered a dimly lit classroom set up as a tea house through a small door which forced the guest to bow upon entry.  The host, Ms. Robinson, greeted each guest with a silent bow and asked them to first admire a Japanese scroll which read to "be in the moment”.  After admiring a flower arrangement called a chabana, guests took a seat on the floor of the tea house in a semi-circle.  

The host prepares extensively for the ceremony, which can last up to 4 hours and consists of many rituals to make the event perfect, yet simple.  Our seventh grade guests each brought their hand-made clay bowls, which they crafted in art with Ms. Lysne.  This allowed them to enjoy the tea without having to share the bowl as in traditional ceremonies.  To prepare their palates for the bitter taste of the tea, guests enjoyed a traditional Japanese sweet (a peach blossom gummy) and then sipped the green tea.  The tea house was certainly an experience in simplicity and serenity; and proper etiquette was observed by all of our seventh grade guests.

MS Blazer Buzz 22 Sept

This week's highlight: Words of Wisdom

Sixth and seventh grade students in Katie Verlin’s math class have quite a few inspirational quotes to share. Students were asked to research and find inspiring words to live by as a way to get to know each other better. Kaitlyn says that while it is not always easy, she believes it is important to: “Be who you are; not who others want you to be." Believing in yourself and attempting to get a little bit better each day were the messages from Kurt and Matthew. Kurt quotes Audrey Hepburn: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible.” He believes that anything is possible if you believe you can do it. Matthew’s quote: “You can always be a little bit better.” is from his role model, Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. Matthew said that he personally tries to get better everyday and he looks to his role model for inspiration. Joey and Ariele were both inspired by Maya Angelou’s words: “Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” Joey said that when people in a room are being negative, his tendency is to want to make the room feel positive. Ariele tries to make everyone happy and if she notices that someone looks sad, she will approach them to ask them how they are doing so they don’t feel left out. Overall, these words of wisdom seem like concepts we should all take to heart. Thanks for sharing your inspiration with all of us!

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!