Practice Makes Perfect in Williston Classrooms

6872577908 a6d001bf67 oI have been thinking a lot in recent years about innovative teaching ideas and am always on the lookout for them. 

Williston teachers, in particular, reflect current educational thinking about how to maintain a vibrant and relevant learning environment.  Williston emphasizes five Cs across our program: character, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. 

In the English department at the end of the term, all members of the class of 2015 participated in “a paper of many parts” as they studied Romeo and Juliet.  The portfolio included assignments that emphasized the five Cs; students wrote a monologue in the voice of a minor character, a sonnet in iambic pentameter, a critical analysis of a passage, and interviewed someone who had read the play but was not a ninth grade student. 

While portfolio assessment is certainly nothing new, the approach to this particular assignment is part of a holistic and thoughtful methodology.

Our students learned skills they will need to be successful for Century 21.5 (as I like to call that future time when the class of 2015 will have become mature professionals).

We hear a lot about preparing students for the 21st century, but it’s also worth remembering that we are into our second decade already.

So the real point is that Williston’s curriculum—as with our ninth grade program, which encourages the collaboration and empathy (intrinsic to working with those who do not necessarily share the same background or perspectives)—is constantly evolving as we look toward the future. 

Do you agree? Have your own experience to share? Let me know in the comments section below!

Fun and Games at Muji Tournament

IMG 0217I have to admit that my antenna was up as March began. In the week before spring break, the trimester assessment period ended and third trimester’s classes began. I was curious to see how this transition would work.

Fortunately, the 10th annual Muji basketball tournament—sandwiched between intramural dodgeball and volleyball—answered my concerns. 

Watching Williston students and teachers in action, you could see that there was a lot of good-natured, all-school participation. We have a lot of fun with one another! 

At the tournament, there was the typical assortment of motley dress—one group of students donned orange astronaut jump suits purchased online—and what I took away was the spirit and just plain fun that teachers and students had together. 

Watch clips from the Muji tournament here.

We work hard at Williston, there’s no doubt about that, but we are also a community that knows how to have fun—that’s particularly evident in the games. Tournaments like Muji are now solidly part of our modern tradition.

The Phantom Tollbooth: A Perfect Synergy

6774726154 7640c6e4de oThe Phantom Tollbooth celebrated its 50th anniversary this year—a celebration that has brought high praise for Amherst author Norton Juster.
Last week’s Williston children’s theater production also honored the classic work in an authentic way.  In what has become an annual tradition, Williston’s highly regarded theater program opened its doors to Easthampton children during their school break.
What a perfect synergy when Williston students can both express their passion for drama and serve as role models to wide-eyed children. Theactors spent time with them after the show to answer their questions and even autograph their programs.
The program opened the eyes of young people to the imaginative possibilities of stage, set, and character—all the things that go into the transformative powers of drama.
With a week’s worth of performances, Williston students united passion with civic purpose. They gave something of themselves to the community and, in the process, made us all the better for it.