Friday, September 29, 2017

Camp Colman

We had a great trip to Camp Colman this week. The students participated in team building challenges, learned about marine life at the beach, found out about micro forests, climbed on the climbing wall, played games, and enjoyed hanging out with others.

Here is a recap of the trip from the students' writing practice of different types of sentences.

Camp Colman, a YMCA camp for kids, was very fun and an exciting experience.

As we arrived at Camp Colman, I felt super excited about what was to come.

On the first night, I did not get much sleep, nor did anyone else.

In the beginning of the day, our whole group went out on the lagoon in canoes.

My favorite thing was Gaga ball, basically mud, middle schoolers, and a ball.

Gaga ball, the best game ever, proved to injure many people.

One of my favorite things that we did at Camp Colman was the climbing wall, I was scared at first, but then proud when I reached the top.

We did so much hiking that my legs hurt so bad!

The girls marched arrogantly to the campfire, glowing brightly in the distance, and sat down to wait for their turn.

Of all the memorable experiences I had at Camp Colman, none was as amazing as dancing for Taffy.

 But when we returned, we were all pretty exhausted!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Community is our Classroom

Downtown Tacoma is the home of Seabury Middle School. The Lower School for some of our students is their second home. We make getting out into the community part of our weekly life.

Park(ing) Day was a recent experience that promoted the idea of Community. One day a year parking spots in Tacoma get taken over by people and organizations, they turn them into Park(ing) Spots or mini-parks where members of the community are invited to join in play games or stop and hang out. We visited several including the Tacoma Historical Society and Tacoma's first textiles- based maker space. We use this opportunity not only to connect with our beautiful community and its leaders, but also to become better more confident community members ourselves. Students are expected and taught to behave in a way that reflects our school's core values. When we are out and about, students know they are ambassadors for Seabury Middle School. At parking day students showed their self-confidence when asking questions and speaking with community members. Some are working on polite sidewalk behavior.

Each first Friday we visit the Lower School and build that community connection as well or maintain it if we are Seabury "Lifers" This past Friday was in celebration of International Dot Day. Dot Day is a special day to celebrate unique ways of expressing ourselves, based in part on the book by Peter H. Reynolds. Lower School students look up to MS students as role models and as friends. Our class does a great job of building and nurturing this relationship with the younger students.

Friday, September 15, 2017

We Built This City! A Study on Urbanization

Jefferson Starship may have built their city on rock and roll, but Seabury students got a chance to build their own cities this week, with paper, creativity, and a little frustration mixed in! Seabury Middle School's theme this year is Modernity, and students dove in feet first this week with a study of the modern city. As a backdrop, we learned about life in a typical 1700s England village, with its small farms and cottage system of textile manufacturing. We learned about family and village life in the days before the Industrial Revolution.

We then began a map making exercise, where students drew villages out on large sized graph paper. Bit by bit, their cities grew. Students were told when new factories were developed, when the population of their villages grew, when citizens demanded amenities such as theaters or museums, etc. They slowly built their cities up, but they quickly realized the stress the new growth put on the landscape. Trees needed to be removed, rivers were polluted with factory waste, housing was short. Then, the railroad came to town and they struggled with where to place it amongst their already busy city.

We discussed urban planning and the challenges of building a city that is both functional and also a happy and joyful place to live. Students studied their maps in small groups, identifying the problems that were created as the cities grew without a plan. One student correctly pointed out, "You created this activity with the goal to have our cities fail, didn't you?!"

But, we couldn't leave it there! Students then got another chance- to rebuild their cities with the challenge of creating a community that would make residents happy both now and in the future. Next week, we will take this further by exploring how Tacoma has grown and developed over time.

Friday, September 8, 2017


The middle school students started the school year completing a variety of challenges and activities to develop creativity, collaboration, and community, 3 of our core values. One activity asked them to use the SCAMPER method for creativity development. This stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate, and Rearrange.  Students were given a common household item and asked to come up with another use for it (egg beater, ice tray, juicer, utensil holder were just some of the items they started with).  Students came up with a new use and then presented an infomercial on their new product. 

New products included:

A drone landing pad that also doubles as a cell phone speaker, a card holder, and more (made out of an ice cube tray)!

A new game called Robot Crashers (made with a scrub brush)!

A potato masher turned into a variety of things!

The Super Jeffrey (Jacked, Entertaining, Furiously Fun, Radioactive, Energetic Yowza, of course) that was a sling shot made from an egg beater!

A 4 legged bowl (with a face) made from a strainer!

A hot dog cooker (made from an ice cube tray and LOTS of push pins)!

Crater Plater 2000 (made from a small plastic vase)!

Tumblerz, a new game made from a juicer!

A variety of items including a bubble blower and a spring loaded car (made out of an egg beater)!

And MUCH, MUCH MORE!  Infomercials even included lines about calling in the next 30 seconds for your free gift or trial.  

They were all very creative!  

Friday, September 1, 2017

Seabury Math and Success Really Add Up!!

Seabury students started this new school year off to a great start by participating in a Math Trail this week! We love using the "community as our classroom" in all subjects that we teach, and math is no exception. Math Trails provide opportunities for students to explore the math that is around us everywhere and develop skills to problem solve independently and creatively. Students are given problems to solve, but not told how to solve them. They work together in teams to figure out the best way to reach the goal.

We spent our time in local Wright Park, rich with greenery, a beautiful conservatory, a pond, and a playground. Students were armed with measuring tools, their calculators, a clipboard with paper, writing tools, and their enormously creative brains. They were given challenges such as calculating the number of people who could link arms around the pond, estimating the height of lampposts from their shadows, and figuring the percentage of deciduous trees in a given area. Throughout the Trail, students calculated, estimated, compared various results, observed and categorized.  They were not expected to provide simple numerical answers, but also be able to explain how they got those answers.

The Math Trail got us out into the community, allowed us to explore the park's hidden secrets as we looked for clues to solve the problems, and taught us to think creatively with our solutions. Math Trails tell a story of the area; when students are done they not only know how to think a little more sharply, but they are a more immersed citizen of the community. They walk home noticing the details around them a bit more clearly. They calculate, they analyze, the apply their knowledge to the real world. Math Trails are everything that Seabury is about and more, and that really adds up!