The Whole Child Blog

Torva Felton

A Legacy of Caring and Learning

"The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul."

—Maria Montessori

Being with Guilford County Schools since 1998, my heart and soul has been dedicated to teaching here at Washington Elementary School, now known as Washington Montessori School. I love Washington because of the dedication that we as a school have to children. I have taught at one other school and have done many observations at other schools, but when you walk into Washington, the love draws you in and stays with every student, staff member, and parent. As our school's care of students statement says, "You can't get this everywhere, you can only get this Right Here!"

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Whole Child Symposium

Imagine Today’s Children at 25

"What do we want our children to be like? Think of that child, that teenager, that young adult and describe them. What words do we use? ... What do our children want to be like when they are 25? How would they describe themselves? Are they content with an education system which at times seems more designed to sort, test, and label students than develop, educate, or prepare them?"

—"In Support of the Whole Child," The Huffington Post, 2012

We live in a global economy that requires our students to be prepared to think both critically and creatively, evaluate massive amounts of information, solve complex problems, and communicate well. A strong foundation in reading, writing, math, and other core subjects is still as important as ever, yet by itself is insufficient for lifelong success. For too long, we have committed to time structures, coursework, instructional methods, and assessments designed more than a century ago. Our current definition of student success is too narrow. It is time to put students first, align resources to students’ multiple needs, and advocate for a more balanced approach.

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Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Glowing, Growing, and Getting Back to the Real Basics

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Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child AwardIn this era of school reform, turn around, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. These aren't the typical basics—reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. Rather, these are the "real basics" of learning: developing a sense of belonging, instilling a sense of purpose, and expanding each child's potential for what the future may hold.

How do we get back to the "real basics" of education? What are the fundamental elements and habits that bring us together and set the stage for lasting, comprehensive—sustainable—school improvement? How do we assess where we have been, where we are now, where we want to go, and what strategies are necessary to get us there?

The Whole Child Podcast is one of the many ways we share stories, insights, and discussions about what works in today's schools to achieve these goals and ensure that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. And this episode, taped in front of a live audience at the 2014 ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles, features very special guests from Washington Montessori School, the 2014 winner of our Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. You'll hear from

  • Shanta Buchanan, literacy impact facilitator and dedicated educator who values the process of learning. She has been an advocate for children with hearing loss and early intervention since the birth of her daughter Brooke who was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss.
  • Erin Deal, a teacher who has enjoyed working with a variety of grade levels during her 10 years in the classroom, including five years in a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade Montessori combination class. She values the Montessori methodology of teaching and embraces the inquiry-based learning techniques.
  • Gillian Hill, a veteran educator with more than 20 years of classroom experience as an elementary teacher and curriculum facilitator. She has supported the school and community and assisted in facilitating in the transition from the traditional style of teaching to the Montessori philosophy.
  • Sharon Jacobs, a public school educator with more than 20 years of experience and the founding principal of Washington Montessori School. She is passionate about the learning process and committed to service, change, social development, and above all, children.
  • Paulita Musgrave, K–5 math impact facilitator who provides support and guidance to the staff, students, and parent community. A talented community activist, she is the founder of The Legacy House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap, where she directed a federal program that had a 93 percent achievement rate.
  • Eileen Martin, a veteran educator of more than 20 years in various capacities; from bus driver where she earned Bus Driver of the Year, cafeteria cashier, teacher assistant, to now one of the most energetic classroom teachers you will find. She coined the frequently shared statement about Washington Montessori School's care of students, "You can't get this everywhere, you can only get this Right Here!"

What are the "real basics" of education?

Washington Montessori School is the fifth recipient of the Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. Listen to previous award-winning schools as they share their stories and how they ensure that each child in their community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged:

 

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Rethinking Classroom Pedagogy in the Standards-Driven Classroom

ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit ShowPost written by Amber Medin

The long-term benefits of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been touted by the academic community at large, yet it's often difficult to envision the light at the end of the tunnel when dealing with the demands and challenges of actual classroom implementation. Although these standards make it clear what is expected of students, many teachers are left without a road map explaining how to approach and properly convey this new material in the classroom.

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Klea Scharberg

Insights on Writing: A Core Skill

Writing: A Core Skill - ASCD Educational LeadershipWriting powerfully is a skill that teachers know every student needs to develop if he or she is to have the best chances in life. Yet, paradoxically, it's one of the skills that students most often resist practicing. The April 2014 issue of Educational Leadership examines the many ways to help students grow as writers. Articles in this issue look at some of the central skills involved in the complex act of writing—and how educators can get past students' too-common resistance to writing.

In her "Perspectives" column, Editor-in-Chief Marge Scherer notes the struggle teachers have between setting high expectations for students while also convincing them that writing can be a useful, a joy, and even an art. She asks,

"So how are teachers of all subjects going to meet the challenges of teaching students to be effective writers who don't hate to write? How are they going to prepare students to engage in all kinds of writing that they will need in the future—academic discourse, report writing, journalism, personal narrative, and even tweets? Today, social media of all kinds provide us outlets to share our personal ideas like never before. In the blogosphere, however, the highly structured five-paragraph essays rarely are those most clicked on. Come to think of it, which of your favorite books do you remember for their great sentence combinations? A new kind of literate writing is called for."

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Whole Child Symposium

What Do You Think We Need from Education?

As we continue our discussions on "Choosing Your Tomorrow Today" and "The Future of Schooling" as part of ASCD's Whole Child Symposium, let's add another question to ponder: What do you think we need from education?

In the United States, historically, the purpose of education has evolved according to the needs of society. Education's primary purpose has ranged from instructing youth in religious doctrine, to preparing them to live in a democracy, to assimilating immigrants into mainstream society, to preparing workers for the industrialized 20th century workplace.

And now, as educators prepare young people for their futures in a world that is rapidly changing, what is the goal? To create adults who can compete in a global economy? To create lifelong learners? To create emotionally healthy adults who can engage in meaningful relationships?

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Lora M. Hodges

High-Morale Schools: Readying Students to Take on the World

Post written by Lora M. Hodges for Northeast Foundation for Children/Responsive Classroom, a whole child partner organization.

Morale can be hard to define, but you know it when you see it. When you walk into a school and everything immediately feels calm, safe, respectful, rich with learning, you know you're standing in a school with high morale.

That's exactly how you'd feel if you were to walk in to one of the many schools in the nation using the research-based Responsive Classroom approach. You'd see and hear teachers showing patience, kindness, and respect toward each other and toward students. You'd observe engaging lessons in classrooms. Throughout the school you'd hear adults using positive language and drawing forth positive behaviors from students. You'd get the clear sense the adults like their jobs and the children want to be at school.

This is positive school culture. This is high morale. And this is indispensable to students' school success.

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Klea Scharberg

Throughout April: Getting Back to the Real Basics

Each day, as educators, we make decisions that make a difference in the lives of our learners, propelling them into the world as beacons of success and hope. All students deserve engaging and focused experiences that amplify their brains and hearts. Preparing learners to be creative, critically minded, and compassionate is our moral imperative. In this era of school reform, turn around, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. These aren't the typical basics—reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. Rather, these are the "real basics" of learning: developing a sense of belonging, instilling a sense of purpose, and expanding each child's potential for what the future may hold.

How do we get back to the "real basics" of education? Join us throughout April as we discuss the fundamental elements and habits that bring us together and set the stage for lasting, comprehensive—sustainable—school improvement? How do we assess where we have been, where we are now, where we want to go, and what strategies are necessary to get us there?

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Building Bridges to El Salvador: A Model Global Curriculum

Post written by Kerry Dunne and AnitaCristina Calcaterra

We are so proud of the Arlington, Massachusetts, global education unit of study on our sister city of Teosinte, El Salvador! But before you read about it from us, please let three of our 4th graders tell you what they have learned about Teosinte:


Arlington is a densely populated urban/suburban town bordering Cambridge, Mass. We house a diverse population that includes immigrants from all over the world, and our students range from children who have parents who are both professors to children who are non-literate, new arrival refugees. We would like to highlight our global education focused interdisciplinary initiative that could be replicated by any school or community with a sister city or partner school elsewhere in the world.

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Whole Child Symposium

Lines of Thinking From the 2014 ASCD Conference

Post written by Jeffrey Benson and originally published on his blog.

The ASCD Annual Conference took place in Los Angeles from March 14–17. It was consistently thrilling to be among a diverse group of 9,000 educators. Everyone had stories to tell, aspirations to share, and good work to do. You just had to sit down next to anyone and say, "Where are you from? What do you do?" and an hour later you had another colleague.

I heard competing narratives about our students and the schools they need. One narrative concerns poor kids of color who come to school from the earliest elementary years already behind in basic skills. They need schools structures and teachers who are strong enough and sensitive enough to stand with the kids, and who have a pedagogical skill set attuned to their students' particular needs—especially in reading, writing and the traumas of poverty. If we don't provide a more rigorous and high-end curriculum of health care and basic skills for these kids, they'll never catch up; the lack of resources to more predictably turn these communities around is further proof of the institutional racism we still must fight. There is much call from these communities for longer school days and longer school years to bridge all the gaps.

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