Nursery Rocks With Music, Paper Airplanes in School, Daniel Webster Society, Health Updates, And More ...
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Garden School Newsletter
Friday, March 13, 2020
Volume 97: Number 15

* Saturday, March 21 - Brunch with Our New Headmaster Christopher Herman / 10 AM-Noon in the Garden School Gymnasium
* Friday, March 27 - End of the Third Quarter (Report Cards are distributed the following week by homeroom teachers).
* Monday, April 6 - Spring Break Begins (School Closed)
* Tuesday, April 14 - Spring Break Ends (Classes Resume)

Richard Marotta, Ph.D.
Among one of the more interesting changes that have taken place over the past two decades in our schools centers on the growing understanding of the role of empathy in the education of children. As schools began to understand more about the child (and adult behavior), dependence on intellectual intelligence needed to be balanced against the idea of emotional intelligence, which is generally defined as the ability to understand other people in deeper and more substantial ways.

In the Spring 2020 edition of Independent School (published by NAIS), there is a wonderful article by Richard Barbieri, "Hard Feelings," which explores some of the new books on empathy and how that "aspect of compassion" may be on the decline as social media takes a greater hold on our lives. Mr. Barbieri reviews a number of books that have begun to explore empathy and to address its decline in our society that seems to be returning to an abusive relational model fostered by the anonymity of the internet. One such book is Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in our All-About-Me World, by Michele Borba. Ms. Borba explores how the "modern world has made kindness harder". We encounter more people than ever before but know fewer of them. She also believes that technology has exacerbated this problem, partially because too many modern encounters begin online rather than face to face.

However, not all thinkers and educational writers accept the idea that empathy is such an important aspect of our lives. Paul Bloom, a Yale psychologist, in Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, concludes that "if we want to be good and caring people, if we want to make the world a better place, then we are better off without empathy." His argument is that we should base our behavior not on feeling but "on the application of rules and principles or a calculation of costs and benefits that we can, to at least some extent, become fair and impartial."

These two viewpoints may not be as far apart as they seem. Combining an emotional condition with a rational process may be the way most successful people function as ugly, developed human beings. The goal of education is to help children combine the intensity of feeling with the thoughtfulness of action. For a child to see a homeless person on the street and be emotionally distraught to an inconsolable point helps neither the child nor the homeless person. For a child to see a homeless person on the street and recognize how society may have contributed to this situation is rational but static. It’s the child who combines both the emotional response of how terrible and heartbreaking this is with an understanding of why this has happened and that there are steps that can be taken to resolve this problem —that child has combined the emotional and the rational into both empathy and response.

With Mr. Barbieri’s article, there are references to some other current books and studies that examine this issue: Of Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness, is a collection of essays featuring important figures from recent and current history who explore the concept of felling for others. Mary Gordon’s Roots of Empathy: Changing the World, Child by Child, talks about how to create a curriculum to support the development of empathy within each child; Borba’s other work, Unselfie, explores how the role of play can help build a more empathetic world.

All of these studies point to the same thing: as a society, we need to think about ways to be more compassionate to each other both in the very individual sense of one to one relationships and in the more global sense of social and global perspectives. As schools, we have the obligation to explore these processes for and with our children. To develop specific classroom and curriculum exercises that lead the children through the various stages of empathy in their relationships with others and with the stories they are reading or the history they are exploring, will do more to help improve our world that most other activities. Recognizing the importance of empathy as both a single and a collective value will contribute to creating the kind of positive environment we want for our s children and for the rest of our society. Think and Feel!
Our kids observe the world around them. We play. We learn. As a community.

NURSERY: Music with Our Youngest Cohort

by Tom Heineman

Lead Fine Arts Teacher
Nursery continues to expand the list of songs they know with the additions of "I’m a Little Teapot," and a Winter variant "I’m a Little Snowman," "10 Groundhogs Sleeping," "Bingo," and "Rock-A-Bye Baby," a lullaby in which students relish rocking their imaginary child to sleep. The collection of tunes they can perform numbers 25! A diagram detailing each letter that is replaced with a hand clap in "Bingo" should help students better understand the rhythm in the song and reinforce their recognition of letters. Recent movement exercises in early childhood are geared toward enhancing students’ recognition of and ability to follow simple rhythms, steady beats, and shifting tempos. Students are moving in rhythm like a wide variety of animals such as rabbits, penguins, owls, lions, ducks, and narwhals. When creating the penguin’s distinctive waddle, for instance, students lean to one side and then the other every time they hear the guitar. Additionally, students are learning about musical contrasts such as fast and slow and loud and quiet while they use egg shakers, maracas, and tambourines.
Staying Healthy In and Out of School
It's important that our kids, faculty, and staff at Garden stay healthy and safe. Our school nurse Elena Sokolova offers the following practical tips to not only prevent the spread of disease due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19; but, what to do if your child does feel well enough to come to school.

• Stay home if you’re not feeling well.

If your doctor asks you to stay home, avoid going out in public, to school, or to work until you have been fever-free for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing drugs like Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. But do a check-in on older neighbors and relatives.

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Do not shake hands. Instead, wave, or elbow bump.

Get your flu shot. Although the flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19, it will help prevent the flu which has similar symptoms to this coronavirus.

Avoid nonessential travel to affected areas.

We will do our best to keep you informed about circulating viral illnesses and we very much appreciate your help in keeping our community healthy.
PRE-K and K: Moving with the Music

by Tom Heineman

Lead Fine Arts Teacher
Pre-K and Kindergarten have a couple of motion songs they’ve begun performing recently, such as "Kaeru no Uta" (‘Frog’s Song,’ in Japanese), in which they move like frogs and imitate the animal’s call. I was looking forward to learning the song so I could introduce the plastic jumping frogs I purchased at a Nature Center last summer. Students also began reciting "Miss Mary Mack," a song accompanied by a clapping game that they really enjoy.
FIRST GRADE: Hop, Skip, and Jump. Learning Numeracy Skills Through Movement

by Kristen Ahfeld

Lead First Grade Teacher
First graders have been learning to skip count by 10s, 5s and 2s. Learning to skip count is important for learning arithmetic operations.  Skip counting helps children see patterns in numbers, and lays the foundation for later grades when students are learning multiplication facts. The children are gaining experience counting objects as they learn to skip count, count backward and work with higher numbers. This week the first graders took to the outdoors to use our gross motor skills and enjoy skip counting by 2's.
SECOND GRADE: Shapes, SHAPES, shapes!

by Paula James

Second Grade Lead Teacher
There are shapes all around us, just take a look! The second graders have just completed a math unit on geometry. This week we had a final review of our solid and plane figures, and then took some time to go outside and put our knowledge to the test. It is important for the children to be able to take the information they acquire and use it in the real world. We made that connection by participating in a scavenger hunt for shapes. The students were challenged to fill each column on their paper with the shapes they discovered. It was wonderful to see the students so enthusiastic in their searches. When they finished, we went back to the classroom to look at our results. It was surprising to find that the most common shape we found was a cylinder. The rectangular prism was a close second. Shapes are everywhere! Our next unit will cover time and money. We're getting ready to create our own shop in the classroom and practice spending our math money.
THIRD GRADE: Charts and Graphs and Diagrams – Oh My!

by Rachel Vidal

Third Grade Teacher
Third graders will start an exciting new unit in Math next week – Statistics and Probability. The children will begin the unit by collecting data and creating their own charts, including tally charts, circle graphs, pictographs, bar graphs, line plots, and line graphs. To make this a more enjoyable learning experience, the third graders will be doing several chart and survey related projects. To learn more about tally charts, the third graders will be doing a scavenger hunt throughout the school and tallying the number of objects found. They will then compare their findings with the others in the class. Next, using Fruit Loops cereal (which is a very colorful cereal for those of you whose parents never bought such cereal), the kids will separate the cereal by color and create a circle graph documenting how much of each color they got in their bowl. To help the kids understand surveys, they will interview the first and second graders on a topic of their choice. After the data has been collected, they will choose one of the graphing methods taught, and chart their results. As we move into learning about probability, the third graders will be having coin tosses and using spinners, documenting and comparing the outcomes. This hands-on unit will not only be fun, but it will help them process information through visualization.
FOURTH GRADE: Succesful Writers. Creative Stories.

by Phil D'Anna

Lead 4-5-6 Teacher (and English Language Arts Teacher)
     "Students failing every academic subject." "Passing a Math test to convince Mom to buy tickets to the big game." "Devious Shrek monsters around new worlds." "Traveling to far and away places." "Making new friends because of common interests." "Or saving friends from peril." These are just a few topics that the Fourth graders developed in their creative stories as they spent time learning the art of storytelling through a creative writing unit.
     To learn about creative writing, we read excerpts from Spilling Ink, by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer. This book is a guide for beginning writers. Potter and Mazer taught the fourth graders that stories are driven by imagination. One’s ability to dream up a story and breathe life into it comes almost naturally. Young writers are often empowered by their own fascinations and imaginary worlds where anything is possible, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Each student is a wealth of knowledge about a different subject matter. Everyone has lived through their own experiences that they’ve longed to tell others about. Stories cannot exist independent of reality. When we combine our imaginations with the knowledge we’ve gained through experience, stories are born.
In this unit, Fourth graders read the short story, Mouse Secret Club: Let It Snow, and learned to recognize the essential elements of a successful story: characters, setting, problem, solution, and a clear beginning, middle, and end. This unit has helped to not only develop an understanding of story elements and the writing process, but it also has encouraged creativity and imaginative thinking that was supported through writing. Each student explored their favorite genre of storytelling, pulled from their own interests and experiences, and developed their ideas until they created wonderfully constructed tales!

FIFTH GRADE: Confronting Differences Through Novel Study

by Phil D'Anna
Lead 4-5-6 Teacher (and English Language Arts Teacher)

    Fifth grade finished an extensive study of the novel Wonder. The students learned that each character – Auggie, Via, Justin, Summer, Miranda, Jack – was facing his/her own private battle. Via struggled to find her own identity; Justin and Miranda both wanted a loving family like the Pullmans; Jack faced isolation at school because of his friendship with Auggie; Summer had lost her father as a soldier in war. Each character’s story taught the students that sometimes people are dealing with personal matters and all they need from others is compassion and kindness.  
    As we wound down our reading, the students began to ask, "Mr. D’Anna, are we going to have a test on this whole book?!" I told them that there would not be a formal exam as they may be accustomed to. Rather, I told them that the real test was to see how each student applied the lessons of Wonder to their own lives each day. Could they offer their classmates a simple act of kindness? Could they display more empathy and compassion towards one another without prompting? These behaviors are the real test of learning – have we learned to be more accepting of others, and in doing so, learned about ourselves? RJ Palacio uses a quote from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer which encapsulates the novel perfectly, "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind."

SIXTH GRADE: What Ingredients Does One Need to Build a Perfect Society?

by Phil D'Anna

Lead 4-5-6 Teacher (and English Language Arts Teacher)
      What makes a place perfect to live? Is my idea of perfection the same as the next person’s? Does that perfection grant me the freedom to be my own person? These are some of the ideas and questions that the sixth graders have been discussing during our most recent unit – a discussion of utopian and dystopian societies. First, while reading The Giver, the classes have analyzed the aforementioned themes and truly considered what their lives would be like in a community like Sameness. They challenge the Committee of Elders’ decision to establish a world without free will, choice, weather, and many other aspects of our own daily lives. The collages they recently created are evidence of their own individuality and uniqueness. As we continue to read this novel, the students find themselves arguing that such a "perfect" place is actually more dystopian than it seems.
     The exciting part of this unit is how one novel has become the driving force for an entire study of utopian/dystopian societies. In addition to reading The Giver, the students will further investigate the ideas of perfection, individuality, and choice. They will read another novel from Lowry’s quartet, watch and analyze The Truman Show, read several short stories including "The Lottery" and "Harrison Bergeron", and, later this spring, develop their own utopian society based on the ideals they value as important in life. Throughout this unit, the sixth grade will evaluate the importance of laws and government, the necessity of a "social contract", and the value of tradition. In the end, they will hopefully embrace their own individuality to create their own version of "perfection."
SEVENTH GRADE: Breath in. Breath out. It's just respiration.

by Blair Wright

Science Teacher
Being a Science teacher is messy work. This week I came to class with full expectation to work on a very fundamental feature of the human body: the respiratory system. Our respiratory system is what keeps the most important parts of our bodies (including our brain, our blood cells, and so on) oxygenated. Learning that the body works like a system is critical for understanding how parts fit into a whole. I can't wait to see what happens next when we begin to discover the heart! Bump-a-bump-a-dee-bump.
EIGHTH GRADE: Paper Airplanes in School?

by John Hale

Science Teacher
If you see a paper airplane whizz by the main hallway it may not be what you expect! Kids in our science class are exploring the wonderful world of aerodynamics. What better way than to test the correlation between force, paper, and wind — then by throwing a properly constructed paper airplane? Tune in (or ask your kid) what paper airplane design works best!
NINTH GRADE: Triangular Relationships — Take Three

by Sarah Blakeley

Math Teacher
This week continued our exploration of the various aspects of triangle relationships. We examined the connection between two similar triangles. You can think about similarity as the zooming in or out of a shape. Essentially, similar triangles are identical, except that one of the pair has been enlarged or reduced. We can use the properties of similarity to help us measure things indirectly. By recognizing that the sun is a fixed source, we know that shadows are proportional to height. If you want to know the height of a building you can measure it's shadow, your shadow, and your height. By setting up a proportion you can use those three numbers to help you solve for the missing height of the building.
TENTH GRADE: Exploitation at its Worst: The Industrial Revolution

by Richard Kruczek
Modern U.S. History
The students have just finished their study of the Industrial Revolution. The phrase that's been bandied about of late: "Necessary Evil." Necessary, because it led to the creation of the modern world, but Evil, as it was built off of the backs of the exploited (see: Orphaned Children of England). For all of its glory, the horrors of the Industrial Revolution left us all weary and spent when it was all over.

by Richard Kruczek and Phil D'Anna

Last Saturday, we went to the Nightingale-Bamford Invitational. Our three-person team of Sophia M., Claire O., and Juliet A. turned in their second incredible performance in a row. They, again, all finished within the top 15 for individual speaker awards. Claire, again, led the charge with a 3rd Place finish. And, again, their team placed Top-5, this time in 4th Place. Regardless of whether the championship round of May is held, their season has been one of the finest in school history. They are the best team that Mr. D'Anna and I could've hoped for before the season. And they are the team I had in mind when I founded this club. They are the present. They are the future. And they WILL be heard. For that, we should all be thankful.
JUNIORS AND SENIORS: The Spanish Civil War and Franco

by August
ín Melara
Lead World Languages Teacher
The Spanish IV/AP class just completed a unit on the Spanish Civil War which began on July 17, 1936, following the uprising of Spanish military forces stationed in Morocco. The Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, were determined to overthrow the democratically-elected Frente Popular whose leftist ideology sharply contrasted with centuries of conservative measures that had characterized Spain since its unification in 1492. As a result, 500,000 civilians were killed in the conflict while displacing between 250,000 and 500,000 Spaniards throughout the world. The Franco dictatorship lasted for 36 years after his death in 1975.
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33-16 79th Street
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
United States

"Cultivating Success in Every Child"

Garden School is a Nursery-Grade 12, NYSAIS-accredited independent school in Jackson Heights, Queens.

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