Monday, January 31, 2011

Lasagna Sale this Friday

A reminder that the first lasagna fundraiser to help the eighth graders go to Washington will be this Friday, February 4th. Please pre-order (outside the office) by Wednesday so the students will know how many lasagnas to make. Each 4" x 8" pan, freezer- and oven-ready, costs $10, and is well worth the night off cooking, especially after a hard day of snow shoveling! Options are plain, spinach, and gluten-free.

Let it snow

We wished for a snowy winter and here it is... Maybe we need a winter carnival of some kind...

Portland got 29.1 inches of snow in January, exceeding the normal average of 20.5 inches. Since July, Portland has received 42.3 inches of snow, with the average for the season being 37.4 inches.

How will your family spend Wednesday?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

David La Graffe - Adult improv class

David La Graffe, who did the improv workshop with the kids at school, is offering an adult class beginning this week.  He's looking for more 2 more students, if anyone is feeling in need of a creative boost this winter.  It is Wednesday nights in Portland at 7pm...

David La Graffe

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Legislative Hearings on Environmental Regulation

February brings us all the opportunity to get involved in Maine's future -- whatever our positions, attending a legislative hearing is one way to be involved in the political process... could be a good experience for some older children, too... here's the list of dates and times to address Governor LePage's ideas for changing environmental policy in Maine:

Mon., Jan. 31: Machias University of Maine at Machias, Performing Arts Center, 116 O’Brien Ave
1-4 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 2: Bangor Eastern Maine Community College, Rangeley Hall, Room 501,Sylvan Road,
3-6 p.m.

Thurs., Feb. 3: Auburn Central Maine Community College, Jalbert Hall, Room 15, 1250 Turner Street,
3-6 p.m.

Mon., Feb. 7: Sanford Sanford Town Hall, 919 Main Street, 1-3 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 9: South Portland Southern Maine Community College, Howe Hall, Room 306, 2 Fort Road, 3-6 p.m.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life is Good: Nordic Version

Today's Nordic ski meet at Riverside was held on a beautiful, sunny afternoon atop a fresh snowfall (and thankfully not as cold as the beginning of the week). The results are not yet in, but both boys and girls skied hard. Nordic meets are always energizing for me because everyone truly is out there to cheer on everyone else, without regard to their team or how they're doing.

What stood out today was the deep team spirit exhibited by the Portland skiers. The girls skied first, and the boys' start waves came a few minutes after the last of the girl starters. The girls all stuck around to urge their teammates to finish strong and to cheer in all the boys as well. When one of the girls suffered an asthma attack mid-course during her first-ever race, one of her teammates stepped out of her own race and stayed with her until help arrived.

An extra special surprise for the middle school skiers was the appearance, as they came around to a big hill, of a cadre of wildly cheering Portland Nordic high school skiers. They had stayed after their practice ended, and they were led by FSP alumna Quinn Lavigne. When I thanked Quinn, she said she liked doing it because she remembers how much it meant to her when she was a middle school skier to have high school kids pumping her up as she gave it her all.

Is it like this everywhere? I don't see it on the lacrosse field. I didn't see it in the swimming pool or at the skating rink. Is it just our league, or is it Nordic itself? Is it being out in the cold yelling ourselves hoarse even as our toes freeze? Whatever it is, Go Nordic!!

NYT article on stress in College First Years

More data supporting the idea that we need to change our economy and educational systems...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

RTN - a sold out crowd

I'm too tired to sum up the evening, but it was energizing to be with so many concerned and curious parents, teachers and administrators... definitely can't accuse us (as a larger community) of not caring!

If you missed it and want to see the film, or want to send a loved one, it is being shown again at Cape Elizabeth High School on Monday February 7th

Hoping we can someday talk about pressure vs. internal motivation; overwhelming amounts of content vs. core knowledge; too much homework vs. importance of practice; the role of play in human development beyond Kindergarden; what the heck to do about High School and all the rest... at least we have Alfie coming...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Race to Nowhere - Debrief

50 tickets left -- get yours and one for a friend now!

and more importantly, we've begun to try to think about the logistics for creating a great debrief and threshing session within our own community, after the film but perhaps at least before vacation...

any brilliant ideas out there?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cornerstones for Science

Offering a writing contest (yet another) and cool activities, in celebration of it's 10th birthday

Thursday, January 20, 2011

MLK Jr day continued

As we settle in for another snowday, check out some of these interesting bits on anti-racism, reducing prejudice and changing the world!

Top 10 strategies for reducing (our own) prejudice @ greatergood

Be the Change @ Facing History and Ourselves (videos and info about activists today)

Watch some school house rock

or a Ted Talk by Zoe Weil of the Institute for Humane Education (located here in Maine)

Social Networking Info Session in Cumberland

Our children are in the midst of a social media revolution – a cultural,
political, and sexual shift that's exploding on mobile devices and social
networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Our kids are using cell
phones and computers to interact on social networking sites, teenagers have the
ability to share information quickly with their peers and networks. Without
proper parental supervision, many of our children may be susceptible to making
poor decisions regarding posting or sharing information online. Many parents
are unaware that their children are making quick decisions about personal
photographs and data that are communicated instantly across the Internet. What
is even more alarming is that few parents have guidelines or practices in place
to create limits and boundaries for their children.

Janet P. Judge, president of Sports Law Associates will discuss with parents the
types of social networking used by kids these days. We will learn how we can
help them ensure that their participation in an online community is a safe and
enriching experience.

Please join us at the Cumberland Congregational Church on Monday, January 31st
at 7:00 pm where we will have a presentation by Janet on Social Networking and
it's ramifications. There will be time afterward for a question and answer
period so, please bring any specific situations you would like to discuss
relating to this topic. Light drinks and snacks will be provided.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Raffi : Right to A Future

Dear Friend

Raffi's major new essay, The Right To A Future, is now available on the Centre website.

A shorter version has just been published as a blog on Huffington Post.

This essay reflects the the culmination of Raffi's many years of systems thinking about the perilous state of the world, and how to see its connected root causes. 

Putting commerce ahead of kids & community has created  a dire global situation that requires fundamental systems change. Elevating money above life values has imperiled the future of
humanity and its young.  Raffi presents an Earth & Child  lens as part of a new lexicon for conveying (and addressing!) the climate threat.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reading about Race

Annie Sibley O'Brien is a local children's book author and illustrator, and a provocative, brave and inspiring thinker / communicator around issues of white privilege, race, and identity.  Her blog is wonderful and worth a look.

She provided a link to another fabulous resource - a bibliography of books that include illustrations of children doing things kids do -- these are not books about race but books that include images of kids from all kinds of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

(ASO also suggests these blogs: Mitali Perkins, Amy Bowllan, The Brown Bookshelf, Neesha Meminger, Zetta Elliott

Kids also need the chance to learn directly about race and racism, and there are a lot of gorgeous books that provide opportunities for conversation.  A few: 

The Color of Us by Karen Katz /activity ideas 

Although old (from 2002, mostly) Cynthia Leitch Smith  provides some great links, and has a unique emphasis on transracial adoption and multiracial identities/families.  

-- Kids are up, gotta stop, let's grow this list through comments! 

Writing helps with text anxiety

Spending a few minutes writing about our feelings can diminish test anxiety and improve performance, according to this Science study...

And another response to Tiger Mother -- this one has some good links regarding why achievement and happiness are not linked.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nordic results

In yesterday's classic meet at Twin Brook, the Portland Nordic girls placed third in team standings, due in no small part to Sinéad's outstanding 9th place individual finish. Violet and Cecilia had solid races as well, contributing to their team's favorable results.

Portland Nordic boys placed fourth in team results. Tris did not race due to illness. He's expected back in training Monday, in time for next week's freestyle meet at Twin Brook Thursday.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

writing contests abound

I'm not a big contest person, but somehow these always tweak my interest...

First up, a writing contest sponsored by the Slow Food Portland, due February 11th -- the theme is "The Taste of Maine" -- info here.

Second, due February 18th, is the UMaine Cooperative Extension's garden show contest -- the theme this year is "Your Enchanted Garden" - rules here.    (Click here to read FSP student Sam Davies' winning 2010 entry!)

Finally, due March 1:  a writing contest sponsored by Maine magazine and the Telling Room  -- the theme is "Play" - rules here.

Any others out there?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Interesting review of this new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, on Fresh Air last night.  It pushes back on the RTN themes -- rather than arguing that we're pushing our kids to hard, Amy Chua purportedly (I haven't read the book) argues that harsh (my word) discipline and super hard work are both the gateways to opportunity and to "flow", both of which in turn lead to true freedom.  It is refreshing to hear a different point of view, yet I can't help but wish to find a way to pull the threads together.  Can't we treat children as full people, treat then with compassion and empathy AND encourage the kind of hard work and discipline that do lead us to happiness?

WSJ excerpt here 

Edit to add a link to a review by MojoMom, one of my favorite mothering blogs... she actually read the book and it sounds more literally harsh than my interpretation. 

MLK day events

At the Frontier in Brunswick :

SPECIAL EVENT | Walk Together Children |
Live Performance by Vinie Burrow
In Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr Day

Mon Jan 17 | 7:00pm | $12

In her program "Walk together Children," Vinie Burrows uses prose, poems, and songs to relive the African American experiences of struggle for survival and equality. Her material derives from slave narratives, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Amiri Baraka, and others.  Burrows will also recite and perform on themes relating to current struggle for world peace. She will end her program by engaging the audience in discussion.

Vinie Burrows' appearances in Maine are organized by the Maine Peace Council at (207) 743-2183.  For further information, call (207) 725-5222

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First ski meet this Thursday!

If it's not, ironically, snowed out (if there's no school, there's no meet), the first Nordic ski meet of the season is this Thursday at Twin Brook Recreation Area, on Tuttle Road in Cumberland -- only ten minutes up Route 1 from school (and turning right to go to the ski meet is so much easier than trying to turn left to go to Portland...). Races start at 3:30(ish) and go until they're done, generally around sunset. All of the meets involve all of the teams from the Portland area, and it's a very fun time; everyone cheers for everyone, and you will run into people you haven't seen since preschool.

So bring your noisemakers (cowbells reign), bring your kids, bring your warm boots, hot chocolate and good cheer. Come root for Sinéad, Cecilia, Tris, and Violet as they put it all on the line for Portland Nordic.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

21st C. education

Pete recently shared this video  (also watch it below) with our class -- it raises interesting, open ended questions... Sir Ken Robinson argues that we need more opportunities to practice and share divergent thinking -- coming up with many answers to a question or problem, rather than fixating on a single one.  This seems in line with my understanding of Quaker process --- create space for many ideas or truths to emerge and be shared and then move toward discerning a truth or set of truths that the community can work with/toward.  Robinson argues that kids begin with high levels of creativity and that it is largely beaten out of them through formal education and the pressures for conformity and convergent thinking in modern childhood.  He offers less around how we build skills for quality discernment - what, besides wisdom, helps us choose from the thousands of good ideas we can produce?  What skills do we need to be able to share our ideas and work with other people's ideas?

This would be a great parent & kid conversation!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Responding to the Executive Order

I'm curious about others thoughts about how to respond to Governor LePage's executive order giving permission / requiring State agencies to inquire (selectively) about our immigration status.  At this moment in economic history, it seems to me to be cruel to suggest that we should not be providing all children with food, all families with heat, all sick people with health care.  And how do we teach our children to be inclusive with each other while legitimizing a distribution of resource predicated on exclusivity?  And how do find our voice to talk about the complexity of these questions without reducing ourselves to shrill caricatures -- where is the space for digging in, sitting in silence, and taking action (inquiry, reflection, action) as citizens and adults?

Momentarily, Robert Shetterly will unveil a portrait of Gerald Talbot as part of his Americans Who Tell The Truth Project (at the Portland Public Library at noon).  I hope we can find a way to create space within our school community to discern our own truths and take action for the sake of our and all children (and ourselves).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Brilliant, insightful, compassionate letter to the editor from FSP student

Read it here

Another NYT article about the value of play

Whenever I read these articles I am reminded of my gratitude for FSP...

PPH op-ed on college admissions process

Most of us have some time before we enter this nuttiness, but this op-ed did get me thinking about how complicated it is to try to live sanely without completely going off the grid... there are powerful magnets in the system, and to op-out comes with some consequences -- yet, as Race to Nowhere purports, to opt-in has a lot of consequences too... I wonder if there is any way to participate moderately?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Beyond Highlights

OK, so the kids love the novelty that magazines bring into the house each month. They also like the portability for commuting and longer car trips. They have outgrown Highlights, but are not quite ready for The New Yorker. Where do you go from here?

National Geographic and Smithsonian aside -- can't beat those photos -- our hands-down favorite is Kids Discover. Each issue explores a different topic, from the Great Depression to the human brain to the Ice Age. It's written for kids, and tested by a kid review panel, which means it's clearly written, yet not dumbed down or pop-referential. The kids have been reading it cover to cover every month for about the last seven years, and they still love it. Best of all: NO ADS. None. Zip. Woo hoo!

You-know-who loves Fly Tyer, but it has somewhat limited appeal for the rest of us. 'Nuff said.

The techie in our house has been getting Popular Science for a couple of years now, and spends many hours holed up in his room with it. I'm pretty confident it's about the cool research and projects, and not the questionable ads in the back pages, and the rest of the family occasionally flips through and finds something worth sharing.

His latest Santa score is Make Magazine, similar to PopSci, but more do-it-yourself home tech. For example, you can learn to make, from spare parts, a tricycle upon which you can either mow your lawn or carry your toddlers and groceries in front of you. Or an electromagnetic aluminum levitator, hmmm... The latest issue carries an article and accompanying experiment/project on Alessandro Volta and Electrodeposition, yet it also contains such low-tech projects as DIY wooden buttons and soil blocks (for starting seedlings). The HowToon this month shows kids how to tell what time it is by using their hands in relation to the horizon. There is an online issue about which they alert you a couple of weeks before the print edition comes out, in case you just can't wait.

We tried Games Magazine, but most of the puzzles take too much concentration for my scattered brain cells, and the kids never took to it. It would be nice if someone were to come out with a brain games and puzzles magazine that is more sophisticated than Highlights, but not as tricky as Games.

What magazines do your kids enjoy? We'd love to know.

Race to Nowhere

Just wanted to send a reminder that the film Race to Nowhere  is being shown on January 25th at the Falmouth High School Theater.  Over 125 tickets have already been purchased -- hopefully there will be many opportunities for great conversations about the themes of the film since it is striking a chord with many parents and educators.   The screening is sponsored by Friends School of Portland and Falmouth High Baseball Boosters. 

To buy tickets :   (they are $10 in advance and $15 at the door) 

For more information contact Kim  

Also -- Friends' Parenting for Peace speaker series brings Alfie Kohn to Portland on May 3!  Please consider dining at Stonyfield Cafe (O'Naturals) on February 25th to support this program - they will donate 10% of profits and it makes a great dinner & movie outing or a way to feed the family before attending RTN.  

** NYT review  suggests that the film might be appropriate for parents and older teens to see together; otherwise, mainly for adults -- it might be a lovely gesture to offer to buy a ticket for a teacher or teachers (if you have children in a system other than FSP)  since the conversation will be most interesting if students, parents, teachers and policy makers are all represented. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

More Nordic skiing...

The Nordic meet schedule is up, and here's what's on tap. Meets are on Thursdays after school and go until around 4:45. All meets include all the teams in the league, and each is hosted by a different team.

January 13th at Twin Brook (Tuttle Road, Cumberland)

January 20th at Twin Brook

January 27th at Riverside (the golf course on Riverside Drive in Portland, park at the clubhouse)

February 3rd at Cape Elizabeth (Gull Crest fields next to the Cape dump, off Spurwink)

February 10th at Riverside

SATURDAY February 19th State meet at Starks Hill in Fryeburg. This meet goes all day and is a big ski carnival. Each team has a tent and tables with hot food, snacks, desserts and drinks, and a waxing station. Lots-o-fun.

Please come cheer on the four FSP students -- Sinéad, Cecilia, Tristram, and Violet -- as they race for Portland Nordic. Bring cowbells, voices, warm clothes, and good cheer.

Fast and Female 2011

Spent a bit of this afternoon stripping and waxing the kids' skis (oh goodness, that did not come out right, especially given the heading; maybe I meant to say unwaxing and rewaxing?), and Kim came up with news of the 2011 Fast and Female nordic ski day at Gould Academy in Bethel this weekend. It includes skiing, dance, yoga, and a healthy lunch. Any little girls (and big?) interested in carpooling? It's a fun event for girls ages 9 - 19, and a bargain ($25) for hanging out with healthy girl-Olympians for inspiration.