Skip to main content

The Work of the Faculty 2/12/10

The beginning of the school's 59th year saw the faculty embark on the fifth phase of our school-wide Curriculum Initiative.  Two questions have guided our work this year: How do we know our boys understand what they are learning? and, How do we know our teaching is effective? To help us critically examine these questions the school invited Harvard University's Mary McFarland to join us in our work this year.  Friday's professional development day was the third in a series of days spent with Dr. McFarland this school year.
Using a framework developed by Harvard's Project Zero, Teaching for Understanding, the faculty formed 17 multi-disciplined teams this past summer to target one unit to "reversion" in light of the framework during the fall and winter trimesters.  The aim is to implement these units throughout the school this spring.  Friday's work session focused on assessment, especially on-going assessment tools and strategies that aim not only to help determine what has been learned, but how deeply it is understood and how "assessment" can be used throughout a unit to gauge learners' progress, thereby informing instruction. 

This Assessment phase of our school-wide Curriculum Initiative, the How questions,  follow four earlier phases that focused on "mission" and "philosophy" first, then moved to What we teach at Saint David's (skills and concepts in each discipline at each grade), When we teach it (vertical alignment, curriculum mapping PK through 8th grade), Why we teach what we teach when we teach it (critical analysis, including recommendations for change).  Following the fourth phase we began implementing recommended changes over a multi-year period.  Throughout this initiative, the faculty have worked as curricular departments, in mixed discipline teams, mixed grade teams, and in random groupings.  Our overall theme has been to improve the teaching learning process by balancing the training of memories with the education of minds.

Some of the more significant changes that have come out of this initiative to date include the earlier introduction of foreign language instruction at Saint David's, a school-wide Comprehensive Writing Program, the overhaul of the science program including a new program-wide focus on the "scientific method," the increase of science instruction time and the addition of new science labs; a new phonemic focused reading program in the early grades; reorganized physical education and athletic program that focuses more on early skill development balanced with "game time", including the addition of a new, exciting "virtual fitness" component, to name just a few.

It's an exciting initiative and Friday's work with Mary was another successful step in the process.


Popular posts from this blog

An Evening With Lidia Bastianich

On Tuesday evening, Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef, restaurateur, television host and author, visited Saint David's to speak to the Saint David's Alumni Parent community and current Eighth Grade.

Interviewed by Alumni Parent Dr. Joseph Haddad for our Alumni Parent Council Lecture, Lidia recounted her youth in Istria when the once Italian peninsula shifted to communist reign after World War II, her two years spent as a refugee in Trieste, and her experiences after her family immigrated to America when she was eleven years old.

The boys were fascinated with her discussion about her family's escape from Istria and her life as a refugee and immigrant. She expressed her everlasting gratitude to the people who provided assistance to her family in Trieste and when they first arrived in New York. "I can't talk enough about the goodness of the people who helped us," she said. "I am where I am because of them."

As a highly successful person with…

Boys on the Cape

Seventh graders and their teachers are enjoying their week of interdisciplinary learning on Cape Cod. 

The week's agenda includes a marine biology harbor cruise, the Great Island hike, sketching from nature, cycling, sessions with scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and exploring the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Active learning outdoors, which involves exploration, discovery, and engagement aligns with how boys learn best. The experience augments what they learn in the classroom. It also strengthens the bonds between the boys and their classmates.

Building Connections Through MCC Partnership

The second year of our school's partnership with Manhattan Childrens Center, a school that provides treatment and education to children with autism and related disabilities, began last week. To prepare our second grade boys for their visits to MCC ,where they participate in a variety of activities with MCC students, educators from the school recently led a student orientation at Saint David's.

Our boys practiced communicating and interpreting images on a card, without using language. Afterward, they reflected on the challenges of communicating without words, as well as techniques that were useful for conveying their ideas.

The boys will make five visits to MCC this fall, and their MCC friends will visit Saint David's as well. This partnership helps our boys engage with children whose experience of the world differs from theirs, and helps to cultivate an appreciation for difference, as well as an understanding that despite differences, we are all essentially alike at our c…