Snowballs, PJs, and the three branches: the art and science of an emergent curriculum

The phrase “I’m Just a Bill” will likely bring back memories for many Generation-Xers and late Boomers. Now with children of their own, today’s parents might be surprised to discover that the classic “Schoolhouse Rock!” feature hasn’t gone out of style. The lo-fi graphics—coupled with just the right amount of pratfall—still resonate with today’s Minecraft generation.

“I’m Just a Bill” helped kick off a recent exploration of participatory democracy in Waynflete’s 4-5 program. With the November midterm elections in the news, students examined the inner workings of the three branches of government and how senators, representatives, and the president pass laws. Typical of Waynflete’s hands-on approach to learning, each of the program’s home stations transformed into a committee to debate how to make 4-5 a better place for its “citizens.” Students brainstormed possibilities, selected one cause to work up as a bill, then wrote proposals to share at a community meeting of the entire 4-5 program.

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The special sauce

At the most recent meeting of the Upper School team, I asked each advisor to tell a brief story that illustrates their happiest moment at work over the past two weeks since the start of the new year. When it came to my turn, I could honestly say that my favorite moment had just happened—listening to their stories. Those stories clearly illustrated the truth of what one advisor had said, which is that “the special sauce of Waynflete is alive and well.”

Based on those stories, the sauce ingredients include:

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“Authenticity” in the Waynflete Gallery

The Authenticity show in the Waynflete Gallery has enabled visitors of all ages to participate in various reinterpretations of famous “masterpieces.” The show invites viewers and participants to consider the very definitions of art and who is an artist, while posing questions about originality and ownership. The artists whose work is examined are Andy Warhol, Georges Seurat, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Sol Lewitt.

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Waynflete students recognized in New York Times “Review Contest”

“Clever use of language, insightful perspective, and engaging commentary.” These are some of the qualities that New York Times Learning Network staff considered when judging almost 2,000 submissions to the newspaper’s fourth annual Student Review Contest.

Students in Laura Lennig’s Essay Writing class have submitted entries to the contest for the past three years. This year, Sydney Sullivan was recognized as one of only ten national winners while Julia Fiori’s and Anna Wildes’s submissions were both recognized with Honorable Mentions.

Read the New York Times story

Read Sydney Sullivan’s winning entry