Much of the Grade 7 year is devoted to a multidisciplinary unit on Alzheimer’s disease, a comprehensive lesson that includes science, literacy, art, math and service-learning. As a component of the culminating event in February, an evening of Alzheimer’s awareness, students select an older family member or family friend to study and create a “memory box” honoring the person’s life and achievements.
Kindergartners are working with art teachers to create clay snowman sculptures that represent their families. The lesson gives them practice using their fine motor skills as they manipulate clay into various shapes, according to Andrea Crane, art teacher.
Colorado is known for its stunning natural beauty and abundant outdoor recreation, particularly its winter sports scene. Unfortunately, it is also recognized as the country’s leader in avalanche deaths, a grim reminder that snow safety should be a top concern as we approach ski season. Science teacher, Michelle Benge, hopes to bring more attention to this topic -- and the science behind avalanche risk -- with a unit on natural disasters she teaches to third graders.
In line with Graland’s approach to teaching innovation skills through project-based learning, Dr. Tony Wagner visited campus recently to affirm the value of collaboration, interdisciplinary lessons, a culture of curiosity, and intrinsic motivators.
The annual Gooney Bird Greene unit in second grade is a Graland tradition that has students reading books, expanding their vocabulary and dressing up as wacky characters. This year, they are also visiting the Gates lab for a lesson in empathy, creativity and innovation. Second-grade teachers, innovation specialists and library teachers all collaborated to ensure the effort was integrated across disciplines.
Students in Dr. Rhonda Pickup’s math class showed their understanding of division, divisibility rules, factors, composite numbers, prime numbers, prime factorization, and exponents when they created factor pair and factor tree posters in a classroom activity.
Reformed textbook writer turned children’s author, Steve Sheinkin, visited Graland to talk about how he takes stories from history and puts a comic, fiction twist on them with his book series, Time Twisters. Speaking to students in Grades 2-4, Mr. Sheinkin talked about his historical fiction books and where he gets his ideas. The father of two, he is often inspired by his own children -- their Halloween costumes, their questions and their creativity.
Following their return from the Civil Rights trip, eighth-graders reconvened to work on creative projects that memorialize a person, place or event that was significant to the Civil Rights movement. These tangible displays of their immeasurable learning and growth help students demonstrate their knowledge and process their reactions to experiences on the trip.
In history class with Mike Willis, fifth graders learned the value of primary sources as they analyzed excerpts from the Hammurabi Code circa 1754 BC. A primary source is a first-hand account of an event or time period and is considered authoritative.
Sixth graders in Emily Siskind’s class have been working on writing personal narratives, stories about their lives that include descriptive, detailed language along with dialogue. In a lesson on how to correctly punctuate quotations and conversations in written text, they practiced incorporating new writing skills into their work.
Sara Flansburg’s class has been learning all about trees this month as they explore nature with their teachers and special guest Sarah Shutts, Graland’s horticulturist and grounds specialist. Here are some of the fun lessons they’ve enjoyed:
Graland art teachers rock! Cathy Naughton, Andrea Crane, and Andrean Andrus recently contributed original artwork to a special exhibit at Access Gallery which opened last week to a fun, energetic crowd. There were 99+ art pieces, each 10” square, which were sold to benefit Artists with Disabilities.
Using wooden clothespins, colorful yarn and markers, kindergartners in Helen Valiant’s class made Guatemalan worry dolls after learning about global cultures. Children in Guatemala whisper their concerns and place the dolls under their pillows. Overnight, as the children sleep, the worry dolls take their worries away.
Graland loves art education! Recently, 37 amazing pieces of student art were inducted into the Permanent Art Collection at an all-school assembly. Representing every grade level, the projects exemplify the outstanding work of our students in art class (2018-19) and include clay sculptures, mixed media, drawings, paintings and collages.
Third graders in Christi James’ Spanish class ventured off campus to explore Mi Pueblo Market, an international grocery store that specializes in foods from Latin America. The students are learning the Spanish vocabulary for common fruits and vegetables and it was the perfect place to practice.
The fall Civil Rights trip is not only a Graland tradition for eighth-graders; it is also a carefully crafted lesson that ties historical facts to human experiences. Beginning the first day of school in August, students became immersed in discussions and activities to prepare them for what they will see and hear and experience on this impactful visit to the American south.
Eighth-graders are volunteering side-by-side with Graland staff this year thanks to a pilot program led by Dean Erik Burrell. The goal, says Mr. Burrell, is to give students more ownership of their leadership responsibility at Graland.
Nine middle schoolers learned about inclusivity and how to make Graland a more welcoming environment at an annual conference hosted by CIRCLE (Connecting Inclusive, Responsive Communities Leading Education).
Second graders in Justine Hall’s class worked on a challenge with dominoes and marbles when they visited the Gates Lab for Tinker Time. After a discussion of Rube Goldberg-style contraptions with Elizabeth Leddy, innovation specialist, they set to work in groups of three to build a marble run that could knock down 20 dominoes and move a toy car at least 12 inches.
Two decades ago, Ron Ritchhart from Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, visited Graland to explore the question, “What is intellectual character? Why it matters, and how to get it?” ...
First graders got a visit from the Graland Eagle to launch their year-long unit on birds and bird conservation, and then they followed up that exciting event with a trip to the Bird Conservatory at Barr Lake to find out more about migration.
By Parthenia Williams, Associate Head of Lower School
As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This quote resonates with me when I think of parent-teacher conferences from my 35+ years as an educator and my role as a parent.
By Cole Hamilton and Mary Helen Sheehan, Grade 3 Teachers
As you walk into Riverside Church on the Teachers College, Columbia University campus for the Lucy Calkins Writing Institute, it’s impossible to mistake this for just any other professional development. There’s a distinct buzz in the air as over 1,200 teachers file into the pews to begin a full week of their summer vacation working.
Experience at Graland tells me that when teachers collaborate together, their motivation climbs as they put cooperative ideas into motion. Development of the Grade 8 Capstone Project and recent Summer Grant efforts ...
At 71 miles long, the High Line Canal is one of the longest continuous urban trails in the country. It twists through woodlands, prairies, rolling foothills, and neighborhoods and is preserved, protected, and enhanced by the High Line Canal Conservancy in partnership with the public.
It’s hard to beat a day in the mountains during the warm and wonderful days of late summer. When you add in exceptional lessons in nature and science, it doesn’t get any better than that. In September, sixth grade scientists ventured to the high country for three days of learning at Keystone Science School (KSS), a private campus with dorms, a dining hall and outdoor spaces that is staffed with science teachers eager to share the wonders of the natural world.
What story will middle school students tell about this year of learning? While I believe this is a question we, as educators, ask ourselves every year, this fall was the first time in my career it had been so explicitly addressed when the Middle School community read and discussed Jacqueline Woodson’s novel, Harbor Me.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to be the first Mystery Reader for Mrs. Demartini’s kindergarten class. From the beginning, I saw students developing both their social-emotional and intellectual skills. Morning meeting begins...
Middle schoolers learned tips and techniques to handle life’s everyday stressors when a visitor from the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center was the featured speaker at an assembly. “Stress is something that we all deal with at different points in our life, so it’s important to know how to manage it,” said wellness teacher, Betsy Metcalfe.
Young learners spend the day practicing classroom routines to set up for a successful year. On a recent day in Lisa Flannery’s class, they were also learning through play at the paint station, handwriting table, blocks area, sand table and imaginative play center.
Fifth grade scholars fresh from reading All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook as part of their summer assignment sat down to interview the author, Leslie Connor, via Skype. Mrs. Connor cheerfully answered questions about the story and her inspiration while doling some advice for aspiring writers.
The annual Chief Mountain hike is a Graland tradition that provides third graders with a good physical challenge and allows them to observe in nature the various life zones and ecosystems that they studied in class. As importantly, it is an opportunity for students to work together and support each other in achieving their common goal to summit the mountain. It is a three mile round-trip hike.
Have you ever tried to draw “blind?” Seventh grade artists gave it a go when they had a lesson in blind contour from art teachers Cathy Naughton and Andrean Andrus. Contour is a technique of drawing the outer edge or outline of an object; “Blind contour is when you look at something and study it really carefully and you draw it without looking at your paper,” says Ms. Naughton. The trick, she says, is don’t lift your pen!
Eighth graders in Mrs. Chen’s science class learned about density (the ratio of a substance’s mass to its volume) and how density determines whether an object will sink or float before engaging in a wet and sometimes wild lab experiment.
Kindergartners learned a poem about ants before setting to work on their September calendars in Mrs. Demartini’s class. To make their personalized set of dates, they cut out the poem, glued it into a green folder, and made fingerprint ants with support teacher, Mrs. Haug.
First graders spent their first day in Spanish class getting reacquainted with words they learned last year in Kindergarten. After roll call and greetings (hola, buenos días), Señora Viseur led the children in songs and hand motions that reviewed numbers up to 20, colors and days of the week.
Third graders’ introduction to Mr. Hazlett’s music class was a collaborative time to co-create acceptable norms, establish goals for the year, and discuss ways to be successful in class. During share time, they talked about getting better at playing instruments and learning to read music.
Every middle school student and faculty was part of a supersized book club this summer when the entire group read Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson. This fictional story explores what happens when young people share their personal stories and struggles in a safe space.
Over a decade ago, when my children were around three and five, I would ensure that every Friday over the summer months we would head out for a hike. These outings usually included an excruciatingly slow, hundred-yard excursion filled with many stops to explore the intricacies of the natural world and ended in a snack break, prompted by my daughter who had echoed, “Picnic” from the ten-yard marker on. One location that we frequented was the Lair o’ the Bear outside of Golden.
Backpack? Check. School clothes? Check. Positive attitude? Check. Yes, you are ready for an awesome year! How quickly summer concludes and our thoughts turn to preparing for the start of school. August is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the excitement of beginning each new school year and eagerly await welcoming our students and hearing their great summer stories.
First graders’ Read to Feed project netted food for the hungry as they wrapped up their service opportunity this week. After learning about the challenges facing underprivileged Denver residents, they spent hours reading to “earn” cans of fruit (donated by their parents and sponsors) that will stock the soup kitchen pantry at Capitol Hill Community Services.
Seventh graders fresh from their trip to Washington, DC, spent the week working on Sacred Spaces projects, an opportunity to express how they were impacted by the museums, memorials, and other sites they experienced last week.
The Sam Loewi Unified Neighborhood Games have been hosted by Graland’s fourth graders for almost 20 years as the culminating event in their yearlong service-learning program. This year, using the innovation skills they have been cultivating at Graland, students used the design process to identify activities for their buddies.
Seventh grade teachers are implementing new ideas to enhance the Washington DC trip this year as a result of their professional development experience at High Tech High last fall. Their goal is to make the trip a more integrated project, rather than a stand-alone experience, that will impact students more profoundly, according to Kelly Gaudet, English teacher.
Kindergartners enjoyed some special visitors this week when Graland parent Susan Beatty brought real-life cowboys to campus. Her parents, Jim and Dora Cash, shared fascinating details about the cowboy “uniform,” tools and lifestyle with students as part of the annual rodeo unit.
Spark Change is a service learning and leadership program that offers students the chance to decide how they want to give back to their community and make a difference in the world. When we give, there are three ways that we can give: time, talent and treasure.
Fifth graders finished a unit on geology this week by demonstrating their understanding of the rock cycle through presentations for their peers. Science teacher, Andy Dodge, allowed them to choose from six options or develop their own creative ideas.
First graders in Heidi Byczko’s class worked hard for the past two months creating animal reports and this week they hosted a publishing party to unveil their works. Each student read one page from their report, teaching animal facts to an audience of their peers, faculty and staff.
At the end of February, I once again joined my classmates from Columbia University’s Klingenstein Program at our yearly gathering at the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference. This year, however, the event took on a somber tone. Days before, the icon of Klingenstein, Professor Pearl Rock Kane, had passed away. Though the timing was shocking, leaving us all heartbroken, it seemed appropriate that we could all come together and honor her. Several graduates stood and acknowledged her as a connector, a catalyst, and a mentor. One reiterated the line that Professor Kane is most known for: “Leadership is a behavior, not a position.”
Watching through my office window at recess, I see and hear all kinds of interactions between students while they are playing. Kindergartners are speaking a unique language involving imaginary unicorns, fourth graders playing knockout basketball with whoops and cheers after each shot, and evolving conversations around a four-square game.
Best-selling children’s author Stuart Gibbs visited Graland this week to talk about his career and to inspire future writers. With four popular series to his credit, and new releases coming this year, Gibbs shared how he got his start and where he gets his ideas.
Rocío Zeiler is the chair of Graland’s world language department and a Master Teacher with almost 30 years of teaching experience at Graland. She is well-equipped to describe how the language program progresses from lower to middle school, preparing students for high school and beyond.
By Gail Sonnesyn, Associate Head of School, and Nanette Newman, Math Department Chair
Graland is dedicated to providing a strong academic program for students, and our mathematics program is no exception. Graland’s instructional leaders have a consistent pulse on classroom instruction and learning, adjusting and supplementing resources and classroom experiences when appropriate. Here are several reasons to celebrate what’s happening in our math classrooms:
By Mimi McMann, Associate Director of Communications
One hundred thirty-four inventors in the Gates Invention and Innovation Program took the spotlight in March at the annual expo where they shared highs and lows from their invention journeys this year. Beginning in the fall, these middle schoolers put their innovation skills to work to solve some of life’s troubling challenges.
In February, Josh Cobb was proud to announce the Inspire Campaign, a $12 million endowment campaign dedicated to funding a new faculty compensation structure that rewards teachers for their contributions in the classroom, as well as their impact in advancing Graland’s program.
Sixth graders in Betsy Metcalfe’s wellness class are taking a more critical look at everyday marketing messages to identify how gender, race and class perceptions are shaped. During a recent activity, they examined cereal boxes to analyze the target audience and strategies used to sell the products. Students were quick to note that Lucky Charms is aimed toward children, especially girls.
In conjunction with the Spring Book Fair, the Graland Parent Association held a bookmark design contest for K-8 students. This week, winners were announced and informed that their art will be printed as bookmarks and also as 8-foot banners to be displayed in the Hunt Family Learning Commons.
Graland alumna Dr. Sarah Burgamy ’93 visited a middle school assembly recently to give an UpWords speech on Honor Individuality. UpWords speeches allow members of the Graland community (students, teachers, alumni) to share how they live Graland’s Guiding Principles in their everyday lives. Sarah’s message to students was, “Be as strange as you can … and do it visibly,” a motto she adopted after struggling with her own identity development.
One hundred thirty-four inventors in the Gates Invention and Innovation Program took the spotlight at the annual expo where they shared highs and lows from their invention journeys this year. Finally, the moment arrived to give out the top prizes at this afternoon's all-school assembly.
Since January, band musicians have worked in two small groups on a chamber music unit culminating in final presentations recnetly. “Chamber music is orchestra on a smaller scale, so each musician has to perform more independently,” explainsDanHazlett, band teacher. Students worked together to select and rehearse a piece of music as well as prepare and present facts about the composer.
Dressed in poodle skirts and “leather” jackets, Lower School students spent the morning before the Sock Hop immersed in a wide variety of activities designed to highlight the connection between math, art and science. At stations throughout the Corkins Center and in the art classrooms, they explored concepts in new and intriguing ways, prompting students to ask, “Can we do this again?” With thanks to the teachers who developed the activities and to the faculty and staff who managed the stations!
Following their adventure in sorting trash on the Graland campus last December, 5/6 Service Council members challenged middle schoolers to create and code a computer game that will help educate other students about the differences between trash, recycling and composting. This week, three entries were reviewed and judged, with a cash prize on the line for best concept and execution. After ideas were presented to the service council and adults on campus this week, Freddy Kneip (5) was awarded for his game, “Garbage Master.”
“Places, everyone!” Fifth grade actors are staging a reading of the original play, School of Pop, written by our resident playwright, Gabriella Glyphis (3)! After seeing School of Rocklast summer, Gabriella was inspired to develop a similar story about a girl named Summer, played by Lauren Warot and Mia Terrazas (5), who convinces her class to enter a talent contest.
Graland students in Grades 6-8 recently went head-to-head against other middle schoolers in Arapahoe, Denver and Douglas counties in a math competition hosted by the MATHCOUNTS Foundation. Throughout the four rounds - Sprint, Target, Team and Countdown - these “mathletes” applied number knowledge, problem solving and collaboration to gain valuable experience using their math skills.
At a middle school assembly on Tuesday, student filmmakers demonstrated their skills in using camera angles, lighting, sound, the green screen, film editing, script writing, directing, acting and more when they presented six short films ranging from mysteries to a newscast to crime dramas.
Middle schoolers gathered last Friday to participate in a specially-programmed Community Day where they were encouraged to engage in dialogues of diversity, equity, and inclusivity in order to appreciate and learn from one another. With a kick-off presentation by Vishavjit Singh, cartoonist, storyteller and costume player, they learned that it’s okay to tell their own authentic stories.
During the month of January, PreK students have been studying forest animals from Colorado. To wrap up this unit, the Wold families (Court and Cullen, Matt and Katie) visited classrooms to present and share their collection of animal relics indigenous to Colorado. Students viewed white-tailed and mule deer antlers and handled beaver, coyote, raccoon, bison and sheep skins.
To complement a lesson on how amendments have helped the US Constitution adapt and grow over time, seventh graders used the Graland Library’s many resources to complete in-depth research project on an amendment of their choice. Then, collaborating with their peers to gain insightful feedback, students imagined, drafted and designed artistic tiles to represent their area of study.
A traveling artist with Cherry Arts visited Andrean Andrus’ class recently to demonstrate and lead a lesson on silk screening. Fourth graders learned all about this ancient Chinese technique that transfers ink onto paper or cloth.
Third grade artists in Cathy Naughton’s class have been studying Vincent Van Gogh, and this week they were at work in the clay room making plates inspired by the famous painter. Van Gogh was a post-impressionist artist who was influenced by Japanese art to use color and expression in his work, according to art teacher Cathy Naughton. “He painted outside quite a bit, where he studied how light affected the colors in nature,” she says.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.