Sunday, June 16, 2013


And with that, welcome to summertime.

Remember that play is learning and learning, at its best, is play.

Let's all keep playing. See you in September.

Writing 2013-2014

Part of our middle school expansion in 2013-2014 will engage some of the best of Jason's former bailiwick, 826 Michigan, the fabulously innovative and successful writing program located on Liberty Street behind the Robot Shop.

In the writers' workshop model, students participate in carefully structured peer review as well as ongoing collaboration with guiding faculty. Different writing projects grow from different prompts and emphases, both in content and in style.

Our hope is to produce, and possibly self-publish, literary journals over the course of the 2013-2014 academic year that will include material from all students in the SK middle school.

We are also in talks with Sweetland Writing Center at the University of Michigan about possible collaborations. More on all these development as they grow.

Some people have a way with words. Other people . . . . . uhh . . . . . mmm . . . . . ohh . . . . . I don't know . . . . . not have way, I guess.
--Steve Martin

Mascots and Games 2013-2014

Let us say a fond farewell to the Blubbers, the Blueberries, the Tree Frogs, the Puppies, and all of the other possibilities that were voted off the island.

And let us say welcome to the Summers-Knoll Dragons.

Aristea and Danny gave us poetry, music, and whimsy on behalf of the mythical monsters.

Laurea and Jianmarco presented video and rhetoric to support Snow Leopards; Alexandra and Kaeli reminded us that Squirrels are indestructible and speedy, while also pointing out that 'cute is the new scary'; Melissa wrote lyrics about international Swans and sang it for the school, along with Isobel, Noah and Margaret.

In 2013-2014, we expect some friendly competition, athletic and otherwise, with schools of similar size in the region. As the summer progresses, we will keep you posted on schedules, games, guests, designs, and the new friends we'll make as we send our Dragons out into the world.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Links to Kentucky

Jason dePasquale wrote and illustrated terrific posts about our trip to Serpent Mound, Mammoth Cave, and Louisville.

Here are the links:

part 1:
part 2:

Math 2013-2014

Joanna Hastings, Sam Hirschman, Jason dePasquale and I have been discussing the trajectory of math in the SK middle school. While our conversations aren't complete yet by any means, we have figured out a few elements of the program.

1. There will be three sections of math in the SK middle school, tentatively entitled Middle School Math (fifth graders), Pre-Algebra (mostly sixth and seventh graders), and Algebra & Beyond (mostly eighth graders).

2. Singapore will play a role, but that role will diminish as the kids get older. The Singapore system oriented toward elementary school more than middle school.

3. We will engage materials from Henri Picciotto, a national leader in math education, as a launching point for our work with older students. Here are links to Henri's web page and textbook:


4. Sam will mastermind the math courses, with support from Jason and me.

5. We will strive to integrate math more explicitly and consistently into project work.

As always, our objective is to produce students who become numerate members of society--citizens whose number sense is solid, who are curious about the power and usage of numbers, who can use math comfortably and originally, and who speak math as fluently as they speak languages.

Odyssey 2013-2014

I cycled through a number of ideas when thinking about the play for this coming December. Joanna and I had had a few conversations but hadn't hit upon the right choice until a few weeks ago. We were having a discussion at a faculty meeting about the first theme for 2013-2014, Explorers of the World, and someone used the word 'odyssey'. Light bulbs popped visibly on over both my head and Joanna's.

I don't yet know which Odyssey it will be--Homer, Derek Walcott, Simon Armitage, one of a hundred others--but it will be the story of Odysseus, or Odysseia, and it will match Gilgamesh in scale if nothing else: we discussed it at our end-of-year faculty post mortem yesterday and it will not surprise you to hear that there is no shortage of ideas from that group.

Performances will take place on December 12, 13 and 14. Volunteers welcome.