Walden School’s Class of 2016 recently spent six days at Teton Science School in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Teton Science School was founded in 1967 as a non-profit educational organization with the goal of teaching students from all over the United States about natural and cultural history, while exploring the Greater Yellowstone Geo-ecosystem.

Walden students stayed in modern, dormitory-style buildings on the Jackson Campus. Each day, they traveled throughout the Jackson area to hike, ski, and snowshoe in Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The students had hands-on experiences in field ecology, including animal tracking, wildlife observation, ecological field research, alpine ecology, field journaling and sketching, and leave-no-trace backcountry ethics.

We posed these questions to different students upon their return from the 2016 trip.

When you get to be an adult, what will you remember most vividly about your trip to Teton Science Schools?

“When I am 18 or 21 years old, I think I will remember setting the fire alarm off! We had a humidifier in our dorm room to help with the dry, mountain air. The moisture from the humidifier was supposed to help our coughs so we could sleep. Instead, the moisture set off the fire alarm!”

If you could change one thing about Teton Science School, what would you change?

“If I could change one thing about TSS, it would be better food.”

What is something that made your class trip to Teton Science School special?

“We really got to know people there. Everyone at TSS was really friendly.”

Of all the things you learned on your trip to the Tetons, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?

“I believe the skill learned on the TSS trip that will be most useful is the in-depth mindfulness. At Walden, we touch on this topic, but we don’t exhibit it in depth. In the Tetons, we learned how to be in the moment and appreciate our surroundings. This is a necessary skill for the enjoyment of the trip. Mindfulness is a way that we can actually step back and see/appreciate what we are doing.”

At Walden School, the teachers are also your friends. Were your TSS instructors also good friends? Why do you think so?

“At TSS I only got to spend time with the instructors for six days. So I really didn’t get to know them like I know the Walden teachers, because I have known them for years.”

How would the world be different if animals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem could talk?

“I think the world would change for the better if GYE animals could talk because then the animals that have something un-explainable about them could explain the anomaly to us. Also, I learned a fact that some animals can live up to 270 years. So they might have seen history.”

If you could have some of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem animal adaptions, which ones would you want and what would you do?

“I think I want eagle eyes to see really far; wolf smell to track; and wings to fly. I think this would make the ultimate predator, other than humans. I would be able to survive the summer but in winter I think I would want an extra coat of feathers or fur to keep warm.”

What was the hardest thing about being a kid at Teton Science School?

“It was really hard watching a lot of the teachers having second servings of dessert and the kids only got one.”

Where is your favorite place in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?

“Taggart Lake was my favorite place. It was really beautiful and we hiked it on snowshoes. It was a great place to get to know our TSS instructors on our second day.”

If you could travel back in time three years (to Third Grade) and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?

“Bring a lot more layers for the carriage ride at the end of the trip on the Elk Preserve. It was freezing!”

What five words do you think most describe Walden’s 6th Grade trip to the Tetons?

“If I could use five words to describe the trip TSS they would be: fun; cold; beautiful; calming; and awesome. All of us really enjoyed the trip and it was nice to be away from all the stress of applying to middle schools.”

When was a time during your Teton trip that you felt lucky?

“I felt lucky when I found a unicycle. And I felt lucky to have the GPS job while out in the woods.”

If you could make one environmental rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what rule would you make? Why?

“The rule that I would make would be to that you can not leave a trail behind. For example, if you are on a hike and have a granola bar, instead of burying that wrapper, put it in your backpack and throw it away later. Other examples include not destroying habitats.”

Antiracist essayist, author, and educator Tim Wise recently spoke at Walden School as part of the school’s Parent Guild Parent Education Series. Open to the Pasadena community, the free event quickly sold out with over 100 people in attendance.

wise-speaking-picTogether with Director of Studies Terra Toscano and Diversity Coordinator Billy Christian, Wise also helmed a teacher workshop where he gave Walden faculty some new tools and resources to skillfully navigate an anti-bias curriculum. He will return later this spring to do more work with teachers, as well as visit students in Walden classrooms.

Distinguished Professor of Urban Studies, Queens College & the Graduate Center, CUNY Stephen Steinberg says, “Tim Wise is a spellbinding herald of anti-racism. His voice resonates especially with young people of all races who represent a generational shift away from the racial toxins and taboos that have been a blot on American democracy.”

 

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Walden School Book Fair

December 11, 2015

Once Upon A Time, the nation’s oldest children’s bookstore, partnered with Walden School for their annual Book Fair. Once Upon A Time is committed to offering quality children’s literature that “spurs imagination, whimsy, and a passion for reading.”

 

Walden believes that everybody has a story, and by sharing our stories we can learn with and from each other. Presenting a diverse range of intelligently curated books, Once Upon A Time gave Walden families the opportunity to purchase books for the whole family.

 

The Book Fair’s activities included an afternoon reading by Walden’s Director Matt Allio, classroom book talks by Once Upon A Time staff, and a visit from author and illustrator James Burkes during Family Night.

 

Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten/First Grade classes purchased books to share with their reading pals at New Heights Charter School in Los Angeles.

 

A portion of the sales was generously donated back to Walden by Once Upon A Time.

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Walden students are taught that math begins with informed thinking, and that we all can develop positive mathematical identities and become powerful mathematical learners. Stressing “thinking like a mathematician,” Walden students intentionally follow a sequence of skills and concepts based on the findings of effective developmental theories. Walden teachers strive to ensure that all students are actively engaged in the “Concrete to Pictorial to Abstract” approach to instruction.

In every core, math lessons begin with building concrete understanding using manipulatives, tactile experiences, games, and student practice of skills. Utilizing students’ natural curiosity, teachers guide students to the abstract algorithms of “elementary mathematics.” It is through this structure and repetition that Walden students become confident, and develop planning skills and perseverance to explore creative ways to arrive at an answer using numbers and symbolic manipulation. Equally embedded in the delivery and design is the development of metacognition-the ability to think about one’s thinking, consider alternative ways of solving problems, and express solutions to the class.

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With that being said, Walden recognizes that all math programs have strengths and limitations. This is what prompted their recent partnership with the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education to understand, explore, and implement effective methods of differentiation for all learners. A two year study of Universal Concepts, Depth and Complexity prompts, the newly revised Standards for Mathematical Practice as developed by National Council of Mathematics, and Meta-Math, which explicitly teaches students to think about their thinking when practicing the discipline of math has helped enhance Walden’s math faculty instruction.

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At Walden School, we believe in building intentional communities in our classrooms. We experience the power of collective wisdom when teachers and parents work together to support our students. At each of Walden’s three Back-to-School Nights, teachers presented an overview of expectations for the upcoming school year, shared some curriculum highlights, and answered parents’ questions.

At each Back-to-School Night, Director Matt Allio welcomed parents in the Toby Hayward Community Room, before parents visited classrooms. Read Matt’s Director’s Note published earlier this week to learn more about his address on finding our way.

Matt often talks about creating safe and predictable environments for Walden students, in order that the children may thrive. Part of that predictability comes from parents understanding the routines and rhythms of their child’s classroom. Back-to-School Night is one way for Walden teachers to share with parents what goes on in the life of a Walden student each day.

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Each spring, members of the Walden School community gather in the North Yard for an evening picnic with Walden storytellers and poets, before heading to the classrooms to celebrate student writing with publishing parties at the annual FEAST on Writing.

FEAST (Families Eating And Storytelling Together) highlights the value of sharing stories through the lens of diversity. The event began almost two decades ago and continues to honor the story that exists in every child, using story as a bridge to understanding and awareness.

WE Co-Chairs Linda Bortell and Olivia Brown welcome people to FEAST 2015

WE Co-Chairs Linda Bortell and Olivia Brown welcome people to FEAST 2015

Walden School’s Board of Trustees Walden Equity (WE) Committee is pleased to publish an annual anthology of stories from Walden School student writers around the theme of diversity. The anthologies contain student stories from the FEAST on Writing event each year as well as stories selected by the faculty.

This year, families were treated to stories from Storyteller-in-Residence Stephanie Townes, Diversity Coordinator Billy Christian, and poems from 4/5 Teacher Tiffanie Hoang.

Storyteller-in-Residence Stephanie Townes tells a two-minute story about her friend, a worm!

Storyteller-in-Residence Stephanie Townes tells a two-minute story about her friend, a worm!

 

Poet Tiffanie Hoang (4/5 Language Arts assistant teacher) shares some of her poems.

Poet Tiffanie Hoang (4/5 Language Arts assistant teacher) shares some of her poems.

Diversity Coordinator Billy Christian tells a story about the day he got into trouble - twice!

Diversity Coordinator Billy Christian tells a story about the day he got into trouble – twice!

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More than 500 people crowded into Lanterman Auditorium for Walden School’s annual Spring Sing. This year, the show’s theme “Everybody has an LA Story” highlighted Walden students from all grades Pre-Kindergarten through 6th Grade.

Pre-K students opened the show with their rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Los Angeles Blues.” Kindergarten/First Grade classes explored the history of Los Angeles starting with the traditional song “De Colores” sung on Olvera Street followed by a contemporary tribute to the LA Dodgers. A third K/1 class highlighted their favorite animals at the LA Zoo with Leslie Bricusse’s song “If I Could Talk To The Animals.”

2/3 students performed original choreography set to student ORFF compositions. Drawing inspiration from the conundrum of water usage in LA, the contributions of local industries like JPL and NASA, and public transportation in LA, these students captivated the audience with their interpretive dance and music compositions.

The students in 4/5 classes paid tribute to LA musicians Compay Segundo, Brian Wilson, Chuck Berry, and composer Danny Elfman. The sixth graders closed the show with their salute to Hollywood.

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World Water Day

March 26, 2015

World Water Day was Sunday, March 22, 2015.

http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday

At Walden School, we teach that we all have stewardship for the world in which we live. What has your family done to address the drought conditions in Pasadena?  Take this quiz and share your ideas in the comments below.

Rainwater Harvesting Tank in North Yard

Rainwater Harvesting Tank in North Yard

Rainwater Harvesting Tank Lesson Plan

Rainwater Harvesting Tank Lesson Plan

Big Help

March 21, 2015

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Walden School Director Matt Allio defines “altruism” as a feeling or behavior that shows a desire to help other people. “Big Help is both a symbolic and practical way to demonstrate altruism,” says Allio.  Starting at 8:30 a.m. in the Toby Hayward Community Room on a recent Saturday, Walden students and their families came together to: collect books, toiletries, and food for a local homeless shelter; make Get-Well cards for children in the hospital; fashion fleece blankets for preemies; decorate and plant pots with flowers for elderly shut-ins; create cat toys and send to local cat rescue shelter; and deliver flowers to our neighbors while picking up litter in the local streets and alleys around school.

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This annual event sponsors a variety of service projects in which all Walden families can participate. It’s not an all-day event, just some time in the morning for families to come together in support of others. Thank you to Walden School Parent Guild for organizing this day of service as a reminder that we all have responsibility for the world in which we live.

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