"Eyes on Progressive Education" Blog

A Green Acres School journal that chronicles progressive education in action, the research that supports and informs our practice, and ways in which we live out our mission each and every day.

Freedom + Structure = Creativity

Peter Klam, Middle School Head

Young children can draw, sing, and play, blissfully unaware that their efforts may be judged by others. Many adults, on the other hand, have a keen sense of their talents and weaknesses, and they engage in or avoid activities based on these understandings. Great singers sing. Talented artists don’t hesitate to draw and share their drawings. But how often do …

Posted by sarah in Middle School on Thursday January 3
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Math and the Engaged Mind

Tracey Marks, Ed.D., Lower School Head

When I was in elementary school, math involved memorizing formulas and calculating correct answers to fact-driven questions. My teachers would present one way of solving problems, and my job was to mimic their use of that strategy to arrive at the right answer. It was never clear to me why what I was learning was important, or how I might use what …

Posted by sarah in Lower School on Monday December 17, 2018
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Why Music Is a Requirement in 5th and 6th Grades

Jeremy '05, Music Teacher

Let's be honest: very few Green Acres students will go on to become practicing musicians, and even fewer will perform music professionally. So why are the 5th and 6th graders at Green Acres required to participate in a music class? Is there a practical reason for devoting hours every week to musical study? 

Although it is true that music is not a popular career path,…

Posted by sarah in Middle School on Friday December 14, 2018
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Learning How to See with a Camera

Victor, Middle School Teacher

It's that “vision thing.” When new photography artists enter the photo room, they are ready for a new, fun challenge, and by the 7th and 8th grade, their intellect and passion can be intertwined to produce outstanding fine art. When we give them a highly structured environment like a film darkroom, they thrive because it is a new, interesting game they …

Posted by sarah in Middle School on Wednesday December 12, 2018
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Why Are We Writing in Math Class?

Marylouise, Middle School Math Teacher

Math is not just about numbers — it’s also about expressing your problem-solving process through writing. Students often ask me, “Why are we writing in math? This is not a language arts class!” I explain that writing can demonstrate your understanding of a concept because you are explaining your thought process to others — …

Posted by sarah in Middle School on Monday November 19, 2018
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But, I Can Do That in My Head! (Or, I Can’t Do That in My Head!)

David, Middle School Math Teacher

“Yeah, I got the wrong answer, but I know how to do this!” Careless calculation errors certainly lead to some big mistakes. Worse, when students struggle to recall six times eight or nine plus three, they are using precious working memory that could otherwise support more complex applications or acquisition of deeper concepts. As they move into …

Posted by sarah in Middle School on Monday November 12, 2018
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Truly Understanding How Numbers Interact

Peter Klam, Middle School Head

One of the things about my job that I most enjoy is gaining a deeper understanding of what teachers of other disciplines do. I spent 19 years teaching Language Arts, and I can have cogent discussions about semi-colons or design a rubric for shoelace tying if necessary. But I never knew much about how to structure a science class around an experiment or how to …

Posted by sarah in Middle School on Monday November 5, 2018
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Violence and Bigotry Have No Home at Green Acres

Neal M. Brown, Ed.D., Head of School

Sadly, the time lapses between senseless incidents of hatred and violence in this country are getting shorter and shorter. It is hard enough to know what to think or what to say to adults, let alone to children or to adolescents. These recent events—including this past weekend’s horrifying shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue and last week’s …

Posted by sarah in Middle School, Lower School, Early Childhood Unit on Tuesday October 30, 2018
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Curiosity, Compassion, and Civics Education

Michael, Middle School Social Studies Teacher

“No democracy can exist unless each of its citizens is as capable of outrage at injustice to another as he is of outrage at injustice to himself.”
— Aristotle

Civics education has traditionally focused on study of the various levels and branches of government. However, civics is so much more than just learning how many members of …

Posted by sarah in Middle School on Friday October 26, 2018
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Balancing Context, Content, and Curiosity…Current Events and Teaching Civics

Stephen, Middle School Teacher

For teachers, there are sometimes questions that you can see coming from a mile away…

“Can the President pardon himself?” A 7th grade student asked this question during a lesson on the executive branch, and for me, it captured the delicate balance between the vital significance of current events in social studies education, and the challenges …

Posted by sarah in Middle School on Friday October 19, 2018
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