Written by Sini Fernandez and Natalie Higashiyama of The Bear Creek School
The Upper School Choir at Bear Creek spent Thursday morning, October 6 working with a master. Choral director Rodney Eichenberger is a legend in choral circles, having taught for over 50 years throughout the United States at three Universities and as a frequent guest artist at seminars and workshops on choral conducting. Mr. Eichenberger brought his passion and energy to Bear Creek as he worked closely with Judy Loudenback, Upper School choir director and the choir on the music from Handel’s Messiah, Susan Brumfeld’s No Time, and Henry Davies’ God Be in my Head.
Eichenberger demonstrated how movement can improve pitch, tone and rhythm. He instructed the singers to hold their hands open, as if holding a ball, and lift them up on Brumfeld’s line, “Rise, O Fathers, Rise.” Throughout the morning, students learned to hear and change pitch more accurately through a simple finger gesture, pointing upward while singing a note instead of pointing downward.
In unrehearsed, spontaneous demonstrations, singers internalized musical concepts aurally, visually, and kinesthetically. During a line from Handel’s For Unto Us a Child Is Born, he remarked, “Don’t be vague when you sing that part.” By listening to each section of the choir individually and then changing the individual order, spacing and number of rows, conductor Eichenberger improved the entire production and vocal tone of the choir. Among his memorable pieces of advice, “Never sing the same word the same way.”
Eichenberger’s philosophy that musicality is enhanced through movement extended to Judy Loudenback, Bear Creek Upper School choir director. He encouraged her to move with “purpose or intention” while conducting. Loudenback especially appreciated that “Rod was able to take music to a deeper level. He is a master at understanding the small nuances of choral music and helping students understand how to bring their music to the next level.” Choral students remarked throughout the day how Eichenberger made them sound so incredible in such a short time.
Approximately 144 excited kids arrived early Friday morning at Saint Edward Park in Bothell to experience what life has to offer in an outdoor classroom. Kids who usually spend their days in a traditional indoor classroom were able to experience learning in the beautiful natural setting.
The Woodmoor Elementary PACE Program (Parents Active in Cooperative Education) offers many unique learning opportunities. For Outdoor Education Day, kids were given the chance to learn how to create their own box oven and enjoy the tasty pizzas they cooked with adult supervision.
The Sarvey Wildlife Center brought owls, falcons, hawks and other birds. There was a woodworking station, a live bat station and a geology table.
The Seattle Science Center allowed the kids to learn about rocks created by volcanoes and observe a model volcano in action.
Tours were guided on the trail to allow children to learn about the watershed.The Eastside Audubon Society was also there to give the kids an introduction to birds.
When there was down time during lunch, PACE parent Eric Stray was on hand with a sound system, allowing any child who was interested to dance in the grass.
Kids of all ages came to celebrate a day they will not soon forget — one filled with learning and surrounded by their peers.
Outdoor Education Day Coordinators Heather Stanley and Shannon Cortinas, along with many other parent volunteers, worked countless hours to bring this fantastic event to fruition. Was it worth it?
Just ask the kids who are still proudly wearing their PACE wristbands and talking about the adventures of that day and probably will do so for years to come.
The Woodmoor PACE Program is a choice program offered through the Northshore School District. Placement is by blind lottery, open to children ingrades 1-6 (space permitting).
PACE is committed to an enriched learning environment, emphasizing active participation of parents, innovative teaching techniques, and creating a partnership of teachers, parents and students. PACE at Woodmoor Feeder schools include: Canyon Creek, Fernwood, Maywood, Moorlands and Woodmoor Elementary schools.
PACE at Woodmoor is hosting an information evening on Tuesday, October 18, at 7 p.m.
For additional information, call (206) 861-5692 and visit the website at www.nsd.org/WoodmoorPACE.
Nine million prescriptions were written last year in the United States for school- aged children for attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). In 1975 roughly 150,000 children were taking Ritalin. In 2003, the latest figures available, about 6 million American children took Ritalin.
Drugging children to get them to behave seems to be the trend. What we have learned in the past 10 years with information from FMRI’s (functional magnetic resonance imaging) of children’s brains is how rapidly the brain is changing and developing. Neurologists call this brain development “brain plasticity.”
Children are learning how to concentrate and neural pathways are being created in the brain structure for concentration. We need to ask: Are we using drugs to change behavior or our children’s brains? Surely there is a better way.
A study using FMRI’S on monks’ brains showed that during meditation the monks’ brains changed dramatically, suggesting that mental training changes the structure of the brain.
Dr. David Stein, author of Ritalin is Not the Answer and father of two sons diagnosed with ADHD, says that our children have learned to be inattentive instead of learning to pay attention. Children with ADHD haven’t been shown how or when to pay attention. Stein lists these behaviors that parents and teachers associated with ADHD:
Active Manipulations: Not doing as told (non-compliance), defying commands (oppositionalism) and temper tantrums.
Verbal Manipulations: Poor-me statements, negative statements, nagging, interrupting, physical complaints (saying they are ill or hurt when in fact they are not).
Inattention Behaviors: Not paying attention, helplessness and dependency, dawdling, poor reading skills, poor school performance.
Other Common Misbehaviors: Tattling, fighting with siblings, aggression, lying.
With his caregivers skills program, Stein recommends visiting with the child and going over this list, saying something like: “My job is to help you learn how to pay attention. Here are some behaviors that show me you are not paying attention. When I see you doing one of these things, I’m going to ask you to go to a chair and sit for 10 minutes. Then I will come and ask you why I sent you to the chair. If you can’t tell me, I’ll ask you sit for another 10 minutes or until you can tell me.”
“The chair” is a place where the child is safe and comfortable (Stein recommends an upholstered chair), but cannot see, hear or do anything distracting — no TV, radio, music. No window to gaze out of. No books or toys. And no talking. Just the chair, the child and his or her thoughts for 10 minutes.
An example: We’ve asked Tommy to get his pajamas on. He makes no effort to do so. We give no second reminders. We simply say, “Tommy, please go to the chair.”
Tommy starts to cry. “But Mommy, what did I do? I don’t want to go to the chair.”
Kindly and silently, we walk Tommy to the chair, then say, ‘Ten minutes.”
If Tommy talks or gets out of the chair, we add another 10 minutes to his chair time for each infraction.
After 10 minutes, we return to the chair and ask, “Why did I send you to the chair?”
Tommy should say something like this: “Because you asked me to get my pajamas on and I didn’t turn off the TV and I started watching another show.”
If Tommy says, “I don’t know,” we kindly say, “Ten more minutes.”
I have used Dr. Stein’s program successfully with five to nine year olds. My experience is that a child will do a 20- or 30-minute session in the chair only once. For children under age five, five minutes instead of 10 may be appropriate.
Dr. Stein’s technique trains a child to think and pay attention. Those 10 minutes in the chair are spent creating mental pathways for concentration. With Dr. Stein’s program, as the adults in charge, we can unemotionally direct the child to appropriate behavior. No raising our voice. No saying, “How many times do I have to tell you?” We make requests once.
Dr. Stein makes recommendations for situations requiring stronger measures. If a child continues to be disruptive, consult a pediatrician or family counselor for guidance in establishing effective training techniques.
Let’s teach our children to pay attention, instead of paying for drugs. Let’s use brain plasticity to help our children learn to attend and to “be here now.”
The concept of respect is so fundamental to Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy as to comprise the only proper stance of one human being toward another. In his Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals (1785), Kant writes, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or the person of any other, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end.” Treating people respectfully, then, for Kant, is to treat them as ends in themselves and therefore humanely, acknowledging their free and rational natures. At a basic level, student respect demonstrates an awareness of the fundamental differences making us all unique. Respect at Dartmoor builds on this awareness beginning with the enrollment meeting, wherein students have a chance to articulate their educational experience, their triumphs, and their frustrations. This stance of respect continues throughout a student’s attendance at Dartmoor. All of our students have individualized programs that, while referencing general standards, remain relevant to specific learners, all of whom we consider to be sui generis.
These programs originate from a battery of internal assessments as well as professional evaluations, and the anecdotal information shared by students and parents. Another key to showing student respect resides in the fact that we place all students at instructional level rather than grade level: sometimes these are the same, but when a discrepancy exists, we modify programs to fit our students and not vice versa. This means a 10th grader who reads at a 7th grade reading level begins with 7th grade reading skills and builds from there, and a 7th grader who reads at a 10th grade level starts with 10th grade materials.
As a student progresses, Dartmoor staff ensure the program evolves organically to accommodate the student’s growth and changing needs.This simultaneously guarantees student engagement and demonstrates respect for the learner. For most students, Dartmoor’s approach represents a volte face from their former academic experiences in which the inertia toward conformity dominates with its apparatus of authority and attending rewards and punishments. The Dartmoorian educational experience rather is one of liberation, reengagement, and rediscovery in which students revive their innate passion for learning. Respect is the seed of transformation here, and, for all of us at Dartmoor, helping students realize their potential more fully is both compelling and rewarding work.
Ever seen a perfect pumpkin? Is it the color, or the spherical shape, or the weight that we use to determine worthiness in our holiday décor? Well, according to local farmers this may be the year to go out and seek this wonderful member of the squash family. We managed to catch Diane Hart (formerly Diane Remlinger and a third generation farmer in the Snoqualmie Valley) for a quick pumpkin update.
“The Remlinger family is thrilled with this year’s crop. Perfect complexion, vivid orange coloring, fantastic shapes and durable skin. What more can you ask for in a pumpkin?” This is a great outcome for the Remlinger Farm family as they, along with nearly every other Western Washington farm, have experienced a late harvest of nearly every berry and veggie crop this year. Remlingers actually plants every year in two of three patches (leaving the third to rest) to up the chances of “pumpkin” success and boy did it pay off this year. So put on those boots, load the kids up and visit the popular Remlinger Farms for pumpkins and a host of Fall Harvest activities (every weekend in October).