Students and Social Media

The technological age has in some ways transformed the social lives of youth and young adults.  Many of us who grew up prior to the rise of social media have a difficult time understanding the technology itself and an even harder time showing our children how to use technology in a safe and responsible way.  Technology should be thought of as a tool.  Like knives or hammers, such tools can be utilized to prepare shelter and meals, or the same tools can be used to create mayhem.

As I have read and reflected on current and recent past trends in social media, I believe that parents have primary responsibility for supervision and education of children and young adults as they engage with others on the various social media platforms.  The school should and will intervene if we believe that the learning environment is being eroded through something like online bullying.

Over the past few days, I have been in contact with four local area Heads of School regarding an unfortunate and rather disturbing situation (recently addressed in a letter to parents).  This situation was the catalyst for the conversations which then went on to discuss what can be some very rocky terrain.  Our discussions primarily centered upon student use of social media, current trends in social media, including the role of parents and the role of schools regarding safe use of such media.

The school should intervene if school officials have reasonable grounds for believing that the safety of a student is being threatened or compromised.  Also, schools should make reasonable efforts to educate students about safe use of the internet.  I believe that schools should try to strengthen our partnership with parents through providing resources and occasionally hosting information and educational programs for parents.  This idea was one that our leadership team began working on this summer.  One such event which we have planned as an informational meeting for parents will be held in the Recital Hall on Tuesday, September 13 at 5:45 p.m. I encourage parents to join us for this meeting to become more social media savvy.  I also want to share one of my favorite resources for helping parents navigate the world of technology found by visiting the link below at Focus on the Family.  I hope to see you on September 13th.

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/kids-and-technology

William Carroll

Head of School

 

Welcome to 2016-2017

Welcome to the 2016-2017 Academic Year.  The Westfield Faculty and Staff have been diligently preparing for the return of our students.  We all have work ahead of us as we begin a new school year.  I expect amazing growth for our students peppered with a few healthy challenges.

I can say with confidence that the faculty this year is dedicated, prepared, and talented.  Our teachers have been discussing how they might work towards helping the students achieve their potential.  We believe that each child has incredible potential, and we believe that teachers play a role in helping the child see and move towards such potential.

God has blessed our United States of America. The election season always provides a great opportunity for a wide range of discussions; although, the current cycle has at times stretched the boundaries of politics as we know it.  Nevertheless, the election season is an incredible time to communicate to the students how grateful we are for the blessings of our nation.  I challenge our community to use the discussions that arise during the campaign season to instill in our students a sense of patriotism and gratitude.  What a blessing that our nation can have a reasonable democratic process for choosing a leader!  What a witness it would be if our students can appreciate the sacrifices made to build the nation and can walk in the spirit of a grateful heart!

On behalf of the faculty and staff, we love our students, and are excited to get the new year underway.

W. Carroll

Roller Coaster Fun

In 5th grade science, we just finished a unit on motion.  We focused on vocabulary terms such as friction, force, acceleration, velocity, speed, and different types of energy.  As a culminating activity, we created roller coasters using the Paper Roller Coaster Kits.  This was my first time using these kits so I literally gave each group their kit and said, “Go for it.”  I didn’t spend a lot of time giving directions, guidance, or help.  I was AMAZED at how well the students worked together, encouraged each other, discussed science topics to help them, and used creativity to construct their paper roller coasters.  I loved hearing conversations about having to use a greater slope in order to create more acceleration so the marble could make it through a loop, or having to use more tape to decrease the friction caused by the folding of the paper tracks.  I even heard students discussing terms we didn’t discuss in class like g-force.

It took us an entire week to build the coasters, but in the end, all groups were excited about their final product.  This was definitely a STEAM related activity as it incorporated Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math skills.  We displayed our coasters in the hall, and we invited the 4th grade to come test out each creation using marbles.  Then the 4th graders voted on their favorite one.  Enjoy some of the pictures of our creations, and look at the end to find the winning group!

~Mrs. Shelley Greer

IMG_0237IMG_0240IMG_0260IMG_0263IMG_0264IMG_0265IMG_0270IMG_0273IMG_0279

And…our winning group…

IMG_0268

Precious Cargo

I don’t know about you, but I love a good story; particularly one that is simple and yet has a deeeeeeeeeep meaning and lesson that I can easily remember, take to heart, and do my best to live each day.

One of my favorite stories was told by a minister from Mississippi over 100 years ago, and it involved two paddle boats. These two paddle boats left Memphis about the same time, heading down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail’s pace of the other.

Words were exchanged, challenges were made, AND the race began! Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.

One boat began falling behind – not enough fuel. There had been plenty for the trip, but not enough for a race! As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship’s cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the other sailors saw the cargo burned as well as the coal did, they helped fuel the boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, BUT burned their cargo.

Like the story, God has entrusted cargo to Westfield – children! Our job is to do our part in seeing that the precious “cargo” reaches its destination.

Thankfully, at Westfield, faith and values are shared, demonstrated, and taught daily in some way to all of our children who are surrounded here by a supportive, nurturing Christian environment. It is this “heart education” and environment that will ensure our children have the opportunity to reach the destination God intended.

The Westfield School is a special place with special people! Let’s not take it for granted, and let’s strive each day to make the lives of our children even better.

Kim Cassell

Dean of Students

PARIS

Paris… sigh. Last week was my first experience traveling with a group of students overseas. It was wonderful. Not perfect, mind you: It rained some and it was cold, but it was PARIS for crying out loud. I was thrilled to watch my students experience French culture for the first time. We started off feeling very jet-lagged, but we had the city of love to soothe our discomfort. We saw Notre Dame and walked on the edge of the Seine River. On our first full day there, we learned about the history of the beloved city and visited the Louvre, where we were underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa. But we were still happy to have seen her mysterious, small face.

On Monday began what was to be for me the most memorable portion of the trip: we traveled to Normandy. We passed through Rouen and Honfleur, adorable French villages which are impossible to give you an appreciation for without “beaming” you there: the unique Norman architecture, which has both gothic and Celtic components, complete with cobblestones streets, takes you to a place that you thought only existed in story books. But the best is yet to come…

Words cannot describe the emotion we felt as we first set foot in the Normandy American cemetery. After having watched a movie in a 360 degree theater, reminding us of what actually took place on that horrible, wonderful day on June 6th, 1944, we couldn’t help but feel moved by the stories told about the men who paid for the freedom of others. Remembering that some pushed through their fears; knowing they were going to their deaths; learning that others died as soon as they disembarked from the ships because of the weight of their packs; pondering that some might have been trampled, many just gunned down, and yet through a miracle of God, the allies were victorious. As I looked at the German bunkers and artillery remains still left on the beaches, it was clear to me that God’s hand must have been in the battle that day. He helped us win a great victory, albeit at great cost. My heart is forever indebted to those brave men.

Returning from Normandy, we visited Monet’s house and gardens. Back in Paris, we finally braved the metro alone, without our Tour guide. And the stories we have to tell! One student fell into a baby stroller, one student had tourists become fascinated with her hair color and begin taking her pictures. One group visited the Père-la-chaise cemetery, where Jim Morrison is buried, and encountered a friendly stranger who told them all about several of the graves. Some of us were able to visit the Opera House, others the Musee d’Orsay (impressionist museum). We saw the gorgeous stain glass of La Sainte Chapelle. All of these made for wonderful stories. Last, but not least was the visit of two beautiful Châteaux: Chambord and Chenonceau, full of art and history.

My favorite part of the trip was experiencing the French people and culture, and seeing our kids experience it as well. I was able to meet a childhood friend for coffee. It was so wonderful to entrench myself back into the language, even if just for a little while. I was proud of the times when the students ordered food in French or tried their hand at communicating about other things too (i.e. “où sont les toilettes?”)

THE FOOD!!! Well… let’s see: fresh FRENCH bread every morning for breakfast, croissants, pain-au-chocolats, goat cheese from an actual goat cheese farm, crêpes, galettes, boeuf Bourgignon, confiture, crème brulée, mousse au chocolat, macarons, éclairs. Need I say more? Norman salads and quiche Lorraine…. Even McDonald’s had better quality food than ours! One of my students was able to buy macarons at the McDonald’s in Rouen.

I am so thankful for ACIS, the group that we traveled with. I felt very well taken care of. The Tour guide and manager did an excellent job of taking us to places where we most wanted to go and telling us every tidbit of history that he could think of. It is my deep hope and desire that many, many more Westfield students will take advantage of the trips that we hope to offer in the future. I would like to travel again in a few years, and other teachers are talking about leading a trip as well. Traveling away from your state, country, and comfort zone is so important to the shaping of your paradigm. It broadens your horizons. It helps you see outside of yourself. It reminds us all that we are not the center of the universe, that there are other ways to live. One of the most important things that we can offer our students is to help them open their hearts and mind to others. This is also the mind of Christ: thinking of others more highly than yourself. Foreign travel doesn’t solve all world problems, but it certainly is a great place to start teaching the value of our fellowman, no matter the race.

Every time I leave France, I feel like I leave a small part of myself behind. This time was no exception. Probably because I grew up in Nantes, the French will always have a special place in my heart. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity. I hope to share the next one with many more of you!IMG_0039IMG_0086IMG_0041IMG_0042IMG_0048IMG_0089IMG_0169IMG_0173IMG_1635

Book Review by W. Carroll

Book Review

The Collapse of Parenting by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

By William Carroll, Head of School, The Westfield School

 

The Collapse of Parenting is a compelling and fascinating study of the current state of American parenting.  Dr. Sax presents a series of persuasive observations and arguments based on high quality academic research peppered with personal anecdotes.  In many ways the book is a harsh indictment of current parenting and cultural trends.  However, the author also includes many specific and practical strategies that should be used by parents who are pushing against the mainstream trends.

A culture of disrespect and the nonstop presence of electronic devices put a serious strain on children and can stifle their ability to become responsible and independent adults.  Far too often, our youth culture celebrates and encourages disrespect toward others.  The author shows that the youth culture of disrespect is ubiquitous and grounded in a lack of connection between youth and adults.  Far too many children and adolescents look to their peers for connection and a sense of belonging, rather than their parents and other adults in their lives.  In addition, the constant presence electronic devices and the unhealthy scheduling of extra activities create enormous challenges for the modern parents.  The children need to develop self-control perhaps more than any other quality, and today’s parenting trends often fail to do so.

Parents need to appropriately exercise their parental authority in a variety of ways that often has to do with meals.  Making time for family meals has enormous benefits for children as does making family time a priority.  Training children to have self-control is perhaps the highest calling of parents, more important than high test scores, athletic skills, or artistic proficiency.

Overall, the book has a great combination of pointing out serious challenges in the world of modern parenting while also offering helpful alternatives to prevailing practices.  The overall layout of the assertions with the rationale creates a truly captivating read.  I often find non-fiction a bit dry and usually read it in 15-25 pages at a time.  I found myself reading this one in 40-75 page chunks because it is both fascinating and well written.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their parenting.  I also recommend the book for educators wanting a better understanding of the current deterioration of parenting in America.

Augmented Reality – 5th Grade Science

What is augmented reality?  According to the web, the definition of augmented reality is technology software that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.  So what does that mean?  Basically, augmented reality uses an image, known as a trigger image, to generate a real life example and interactive view of the original picture.

Our last unit in my 5th grade Science class was on elements.  We read about the Periodic Table in class, watched a few clips on BrainPop, and we even visited Gynzy.com to explore various features of the Periodic Table.  However, I could tell that the topic of elements was still a foreign concept to my students.  Most 10 and 11 year olds do not spend a lot of time thinking about what elements look like.  I decided to use an augmented reality app called Elements 4-D by Daqri to enhance our learning environment.  Students were asked to download the free app on any Apple device and bring the device to class.  I created our element cubes from the handouts found on the Elements 4-D website.  Students worked together in small groups to learn more about the physical properties of each element.

Elements 4-D works like a camera.  Students take a side of the element cube and hold it under the app.  The app then transforms the trigger image into a real life picture of what the element looks like.  The students were amazed that the paper cubes they held in their hands could turn in to real life elements on the screen.  Elements that students had never heard of such as Bismuth, Beryllium, Plutonium, Rubidium, and many more were able to come alive to students!  You could hear the students say, “Wow!” or “That’s so neat!” while they were learning.

We used Elements 4-D in class a second day when we learned about compounds.  It was really neat to see elements like hydrogen and oxygen, two colorless gases, combine in front of our eyes to create water.  We also enjoyed watching Sodium, a shiny metal, and Chlorine, a green gas, combine to create a substance we are so familiar with, salt.  Having the interactive and real life images really helped the students grasp the unfamiliar concepts.

If you are interested in exploring the Elements 4-D App, simply download the app on your Apple device.  Visit the following website to print and create the cubes needed for the camera.

Element 4-D Blocks

Enjoy viewing a few pictures and a video from our lesson!

~Mrs. Shelley Greer

DSC_2149DSC_2158DSC_2143DSC_2142DSC_2146DSC_2144DSC_2157