Friday, November 30, 2018

Research is a journey, not a destination- Seabury Visits UW Tacoma's Research Library

Seabury Middle School students are knee deep in their next inquiry based research project, delving deeper into Washington State history, science, culture and more. Study after study has shown that gifted kids learn best not by being lectured at, but by getting their hands dirty, so to speak, and Seabury's Middle School curriculum is doing just that. We combine some traditional classroom time with inquiry-based projects where students can research a topic of interest, to ultimately create an authentic and meaningful project.
Seabury visited the University of Washington, Tacoma, main research library on Monday, allowing students to get a deeper level of research than they could from the main library or even online. Students were greeted by a Library Science grad student, who spend the morning helping each of them research the University's database, find books on the stacks, and locate the "needle in the haystack" once they found their books.

Students learned some valuable lessons in researching, such as how to navigate a book's index (versus reading every page in search for something useful). Students also discovered that research is a journey, not a destination. Some found the perfect source, just what they needed, on their first try, while others would bring down stacks of books only to find that none were helpful at all.

But, nevertheless, they persisted. And they learned a valuable lesson in patience for the research journey in the process.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Community Service

Community Service is an integral part of using the city of Tacoma as our classroom. The city, its amenities, and the people who live here provide us with so much, we feel it is an important part of our curriculum to teach students the value of volunteerism and encourage them to act on empathy.

Over the past few days students have engaged in service efforts that they have chosen and helped to plan. These included trail clean-up, liter patrol, and plantings at Swan Creek Park, weeding and winter bed clearing at Wright Park, volunteering at the United Methodist Church Food Bank, and the making of 20 toys and 16 blankets for the Humane Society. Past alumnae and alumni from Seabury have mentioned the emphasis on service as a strength of the program, and it having a life-changing affect on them. 

Seabury Team Arrives at Food Bank

Stocking Items for the Food Bank

Wright Park Gazebo

The Fastest Bed Clearing Ever

Celebrating Hard Work

Picking Up Liter Near Swan Creek
Removing Invasives
Learning about Food Forest

Reminding Themselves why they by Looking at Creek

Proud Papas and their Baby Dogwood

Plant Expert

Junk Rescuers

Trash Pulled from the Blackberries (treasure)

Inquiry Project Showcase Presentations

Tuesday morning, there was a lot of energy at Seabury Middle School as the students prepared to deliver their inquire project showcase presentations.

They shared their learning with one another, parents, experts, teachers, and the NWAIS accreditation team.

For the showcase, each group needed to synthesize weeks of learning into a 10(ish) minute presentation. They also needed to speak about their learning journey.

The audience asked questions after each presentation, allowing students to showcase even more of their learning.

One highlight, in particular, was when the arts group was asked why all of the art and music they learned about emerged from Washington. Someone had asked them this same question at their mini showcase during grandparents and special friends day, and they weren’t able to answer it then, but this time around, every member of the group had a distinct answer, and the answers all made sense together.

That same group had a chance to build their gallery and asked visitors to ask their own questions about the art and music they presented.

The cooking and culture group shared culinary delights from a wide variety of cultures. The treats were well-regarded by adults and students alike.

The weather and climate group made it rain on Washington, showing in real-time how the rain shadow works on their terrarium model.

The Beringia and canoeing group shared the various iterations their project took on and several types of canoes that they constructed.

The prehistoric animal group delighted the audience with specific information about prehistoric animals and which modern-day animals evolved from those earlier species. Their “day in the life” stories about each animal bring the prehistoric world to life.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Get Out There and Research!!

When it comes to their education, Seabury students don't just sit back and take it! They get out there and do it!

Seabury Middle School's Project-Based Learning means that students learn by getting their hands dirty, so to speak. Students have all chosen a topic of interest relating to Washington State History, our larger concept this year,  and have been working in groups the last few weeks designing a project that will showcase their learning. Rather than having teachers tell them facts to memorize, students area gathering the facts they need to make their projects successful. They have been visiting with experts in the field, taking customized field study trips, and today, as a group, visited the Burke Museum in Seattle.

There is not a single student project that could not benefit from the Burke Museum's amazing collection of Washington's geological, paleontological, and cultural history. Students were given research tasks to complete while they were there, and also used the opportunity to further their projects via real artifacts and experts. The group studying ancient Native American canoe travel found a great display on how Pacific Islanders traveled across the Pacific in canoes. The group studying prehistoric animals in Washington state found a skeleton of the giant sloth they had only seen a picture of. The group studying food and culture in Washington discussed an exhibit on traditional food at Chinese wedding celebrations. They researched, they took notes, and even when their teachers were ready to go, many students begged for a little more time.

Seabury Middle School doesn't like the term "field trip." Field trips are done after we've studied something, to see first hand what they already know. Instead, Seabury prefers the term "field studies" where we use the field to further our knowledge, develop our research base, and learn things we did not yet know. Today's trip to the Burke Museum was a great example of an amazing field study trip!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ada Lovelace Day at the Middle School: A Celebration of Women in STEM Careers

This past Tuesday, Seabury Middle School students celebrated Ada Lovelace Day.
The middle school science teacher, Mr. Mackenzie, invited women in STEM fields to lead activities
and talk to the students about how they use science, technology, engineering, and math in their jobs
and about what it is like to be a woman in their fields.
We welcomed Dr. Monica Abbi, Dr. Kathy Wang, Dr. Sprenger, Ms. Sonja Anderson,
Ms. Janice Spika, Dr. Penny Rowe, and Dr. Sharon Amani. Their areas of expertise include
obstetrics and gynecology, pain management, climate change research in Antarctica, cancer
research, architecture, business management, and sustainability research in sub-Saharan Africa.
Students introduced each of the experts, practicing their presentation skills.

Students asked questions about changes in weather patterns, sea-level rise in Tacoma, how the
Seabury Middle School space was designed, and how cells multiply and divide. Some students
had questions about how to pursue a career in medicine, and others wanted to know how realistic
medical shows are on television. Ms. Anderson told the students there is a pattern on the floor in the
barn door room. Some know what it is. Will others solve the mystery?

As is always true of any good learning experience, the students ended the day with more questions
than they started with.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Looking for Facts in All the Right Places!

Real world, authentic, project-based learning is Seabury Middle School's modus operandi, and students had a chance this week to get their hands dirty with research on their projects. The City is our Classroom here at Seabury, and what better way to put this into action than by taking the very short walk to Tacoma Public Library's main branch, just up the hill from our campus. With our focus on Washington State and Tacoma history this year, the Library's Northwest room was a perfect place to do some research.

Students were given a tour of the room and all it had to offer, with historical maps of the state and of Tacoma and books on the local flora, fauna, economy, weather, and more.

In this world of instant information available online, taking the time to slow down and research "the old fashioned way" is something that modern students often need to learn how to do. We learned that sometimes, looking for information in a book or on a piece of microfiche is the only way to find that information. Students came armed with their research questions, some paper and pencils, and a good dose of patience, but left with a solid basis on how to do traditional library research.

Some were visibly excited when they found a newspaper article or book that gave them exactly the information they were hoping to find. Others calmly scrolled through information without success. But all students left understanding that solid research takes time and patience and that with perseverance, they would find that one source that they needed!