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…

Navy SEAL Bill Berrien '82 Gives Chapel on Service to Saint David's Boys

Former Navy SEAL and Saint David's Alumnus Bill Berrien '82 fascinated all during his Chapel Talk Tuesday morning to our seventh and eighth graders.

A SEAL for nine years, Bill was a member of two platoons in South America as well as part of a Joint Special Operations unit. He shared his SEAL Trident with the boys, talked about the intensity of training, and noted he remains close to many with whom he served.

Connecting his service to the values that Saint David's espouses, he encouraged the boys to always be students--curious throughout their lives, to find the best in everyone, appreciate setbacks, and to learn from failures. In the video above, he addresses the first.

He closed by planting these "seeds" for our boys to consider: that life is a journey to be embraced broadly with openness to a variety of opportunities; being a service leader is of utmost importance; the unknown should be embraced; and, finally, that the boys be their own best friend, compassi…

Saint David's Father and Son Dinner Featuring Mark Whitaker

Our annual Seventh Grade father and son dinner provides the opportunity for seventh graders and their fathers to share an evening exploring what it means to be a good man, the relationship between parent and son, and other mission-related themes.

The speaker at this year's event was author, journalist and media executive Mark Whitaker, who spoke about his memoir My Long Trip Home, in which he delves into the story of his family, in particular, his father. The son of a bi-racial couple who wed in 1956 (a time when interracial marriages were still illegal in some states), Mark spent many years estranged from his father, a brilliant African Studies scholar who struggled throughout his life with alcoholism.

Later, they would reconcile, but it was only after his father had passed away that Mark realized he wanted to write a book about this man who had had a groundbreaking career despite all his problems, and try to understand him better. Ultimately, the process deepened Mark'…