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Seniors Yale Fan and Kevin Ellis win top honors at international science and engineering fair

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First time in Intel ISEF's history that two of the top three winners are from the same school

Kevin Ellis and Yale Fan each received prizes of $50,000 from the Intel Foundation at the world’s largest pre-college science competition

Kevin developed a method to automatically speed up computer programs by analyzing the programs while they are running so that work could be divided across multiple microprocessors. Yale’s project demonstrated the advantages of quantum computing in performing difficult computations.

“The 1,600 youths from around the world who attended this week’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair showed me that the next generation of scientific and technological innovation is exciting and thriving,” said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. “I hope that the energy these high school students exhibit about math and science will inspire yet another generation of innovators, scientists and entrepreneurs which will improve our world.”

This year, competition consisted of 1,611 young scientists from 59 countries, regions and territories.

Photo: Yale Fan, left, and Kevin Ellis celebrate their win in San Jose. Photo by Intel.

Oregonian article, May 14, 2010

 

Deschutes Bike Trip

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What a wonderful weekend! A stellar group, sunny skies, and scenic destination made for a trip full of laughter and smiles. We drove out past the Dalles to the Deschutes State Park where we loaded up our panniers and bike trailer and took off on the trail. The first few minutes were a little steep but we eventually made it to flatter ground. We rode to our campsite where we unloaded our gear, had lunch, and relaxed before heading off down the trail. We discovered two old rail cars and an old homestead. Relaxing in the grass at the homestead, we imagining the lives of the people who lived there, played games and laughed heartily.

We rode back to our campsite, the wind in our face. Sometimes it was so strong it stopped us in our tracks! We persevered, inspired by some Goldfish waiting at camp, and finally made it back to camp, where we set up tents and made dinner. As it got dark and we waited for hot cocoa heat up, we created a giant slide down a small hill in the tall grass. Shrieks of amusement echoed across the canyon.

The next morning we woke up to sunny skies and calm breezes. After breakfast we hiked to the top of the canyon, a mango in tow to celebrate Tango With The Mango Day. It was tough to get to the top, but we were rewarded by incredible views wildflowers, yummy treats. We returned to camp where we ceremoneously had a last tango with the mango and had an unusual lunch on our upside-down table before packing up and riding back to the bus, tired but happy.

Clint Darling Fund for financial aid reaches $22,000

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More than 100 generous donors have contributed $22,000 to the Clint Darling Fund for financial aid. This is a remarkable outpouring of support for one of the school’s highest priorities and a permanent need about which Clint is most passionate. Our goal is to raise at least $25,000 to establish an endowed scholarship in Clint’s name. We are so close! To honor Clint, make your gift today: call 503-297-1894 ext. 310, or donate online. Thank you!

Paul Monheimer reflects on Israel Fulbright research

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Last year I applied for a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching.  Much to my amazement, I was awarded a grant to study for a little over three months in Israel. On the application, I wrote a proposal for connecting students using graphic arts software to help overcome language barriers. How naïve I was. The first issue my mentor, Jay Hurvitz, pointed out was that I had hardly proposed a topic which could be researched. No problem, I countered. Being a mentor teacher in the United States, I was more than willing to look at how student teachers were being trained to teach with modern technological tools. In my mentoring, I had discovered that student teachers were proficient at using technology, but had little training in how to teach with technology.  I told Jay I was also interested in how veteran teachers were acquiring the new skills necessary to teach with emerging technology. 

I was not a researcher prior to this Fulbright Award. I teach children. I have done so successfully by most measures for nearly thirty years. Teaching is about building relationships. My students learn because of the relationship I have with them.  In order to learn about the state of technology in Israeli education, I began developing a personal learning network (PLN.) I created a blog that, according to Google Analytics, has received more than 700 visits.  Each visit lasted an average of 2:36. Clearly, people are reading what I have written. 

Actually doing research was my problem.  I was going to be in Israel for 102 days.  I spent a week getting acclimated.  95 days left.  Israeli universities have a semester break in February. Down to 80 days left.  K-12 students have a spring (Passover) break. That left 70 days for me to complete my research.  I learned a great deal while in Israel. Yet I am just now beginning to understand how little I know, and I will be teaching Catlin Gabel seventh graders in 14 days. As a wise Israeli fifth grade teacher reminds her students, “When you travel, you learn a lot about other cultures.  But, you learn more about yourself.”  What did I learn about the Israeli education system?  What did I learn about myself?

I was eager to begin my research into the Israeli school system, but I don’t read, speak, or write Hebrew very well. I needed to talk to people who spoke English, read articles in English, etc. But Hebrew is an important part of Israeli culture. It is one of the ties that bind people. Speak Hebrew and one is seen as an Israeli or at least trying to be part of the culture. Speak English and people might be tolerant or even translate, but I was still an outsider. Fortunately, I met many people who talked to me in English, newspapers such as Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post have online English editions, and both Google and Microsoft have passable translators. Technology became my lifeline. It kept me afloat, yet did not quite allow me to swim. I could translate Hebrew into English, verify my understanding with Israeli colleagues, and e-mail people on my laptop. I had a cell phone for person-to-person conversations and interviews. I learned that Israeli educators deal with many of the same issues facing American educators. Finding similarities eased my language anxiety a bit and allowed me to focus more on some of the differences.

Education in Israel is a complex enterprise. I divided my study between higher education folks and K-12 schools. Beyond this basic divide, there also are secular schools, religious schools, ultra-religious schools, and Arab schools. Funding and political power are unequal. While much funding is federal, schools are administered by municipalities, which means wealthier neighborhoods have schools with more resources, parental involvement, etc. There are areas where the school is the only building in a village with electricity. I visited one Bedouin school, near Be’er Sheva, where a generator the size of a camping trailer was providing the school with electricity. Residents, by contrast, relied on solar power, if they had electricity at all.
Israeli schools are faced with a wide spectrum of issues. Often, technology isn't a high priority. I wanted to talk about technology and how teachers were being trained in its use and using it with kids. But I kept reading about violence in schools, poorly paid teachers, high teacher turnover, lack of qualified teachers, curricular differences between religious, ultra-religious, and secular schools, and schools refusing to teach certain students.  Perhaps most importantly, education in Israel has to deal with security measures unlike any I have ever experienced as a teacher in America.  Every school in Israel is not only fenced, it has an armed guard at the gate. The guard won’t actually admit anybody, but will allow visitors to contact the office. Even when I visited schools as part of a team of Israeli educators, we still had to be admitted by someone who worked at the school, not the guard. Schoolchildren on field trips are accompanied by at least two armed guards the entire time. While no one mentioned the effect of security on kids and most Israelis take security precautions in stride, it has to affect the kids and the adults.   Learning about Israeli schools is, as the ogre, Shrek, says, “Like an onion.  Peel it back one layer at a time.”

A good mentor tries to develop independence in his charge, and Jay was an excellent mentor. He accomplished four major tasks with me. Jay helped me become independent as a traveler. Israel has a terrific bus system, but it took a number of trips before I felt comfortable. I am now able to travel to any part of Israel to meet educators, visit schools and colleges, and return to Jerusalem safely. Jay introduced me to a few educators who are doing unbelievable work in the field of education technology.  Sometimes he attended these meetings, other times I met with people on my own. I joined Israeli educator forums, which required more Google/Bing translation work, and I have been a contributor to these forums since my arrival. One of my suggestions is currently being tried out on Edureshet, a Ning group of technology-using educators. Jay also introduced me to a group of college instructors who were learning how to use technology in their courses. My skills as a technology director and technology-using teacher came in handy, as I was able to participate in class even though my Hebrew was not up to the level it needed to be to participate fully. More than once, after I made a comment, someone would remark, “Oh, so you understand Hebrew.” I didn’t and still don’t, but I understand what is on a screen and have been a presenter often enough to correctly guess what was going on. Lastly, under Jay’s guidance, I attended conferences at Mofet, a unique Israeli institution. Meeting colleagues of all stripes at these conferences was a highlight of my time in Israel, and I look forward to keeping in touch with many of the fine educators I met. While I know Jay did his best to broaden the circle of people with whom I met, and even though he knows, in one way or another, many educators active in the education technology field, my exposure to these people was inevitably influenced by his circle of friends and acquaintances.

More than anything else, I treasured the time I had to read, think, and write. I have followed a few blogs for a number of years, but my blogroll has now grown substantially. Speaking with Israeli colleagues and observing teachers in their classrooms piqued my interest in areas of technology to which I had not previously paid much attention, including ways to incorporate Facebook, Diigo, and other social networking sites, Google forms, and submitting assignments via Moodle. School visits caused me to reflect on my own teaching methods and curriculum. Reading what others wrote on the subject and commenting on posts connected me to educators not just in Israel, but the entire world. I’m not sure where I will find the time to continue all of the reading, but I suspect I will find ways to keep up, or I will join the legions of tech folks who have way too much to read. Thinking about my own teaching, how I approach learning, how I incorporate programs such as All Kinds of Minds, how I utilize the rich resources available to today’s students and teachers, and which skills I want kids to have when they leave my class are all areas I have been lucky enough to explore during my Israel Fulbright.  I have shared some of these thoughts in my 33 blog posts. 

Now that I am preparing to return to the US, what have I learned about the topics I wanted to explore?  There are some Israeli schools engaged in global sharing projects. Perhaps Catlin Gabel will join the growing list of schools participating in global sharing when I return. Some of the software I wanted to share does not “accept” Hebrew input. I have an ongoing correspondence with three software companies encouraging them to tweak their programs to accept Hebrew characters. According to the Israelis, it should be no problem. 

There is an ongoing program in Israel, the Athena Fund, whose stated goal is to address the current poor state of the education system, wherein a gap of digital understanding exists between teachers and students, teachers showing fear of computers and not using them for the purpose of teaching and communicating, and their general status in the eyes of their students is at its lowest. The Fund's main project is "a laptop for every teacher."

The Athena Fund aims to complete its work by 2012. From my limited observations, most Israeli schools have a long way to go. Israeli student teachers are not part of the Athena Fund program. This is unfortunate because, if they were, they might be ready to teach with technology when they began their own teaching careers. Instead, they become part of the program only after completion of their training. If I could make one recommendation it would be to give every teaching candidate a laptop at the beginning of their training. Teacher training is stuttering. Early adopting teachers are moving ahead, but many teachers are simply hoping, “this, too, shall pass." What few in the education community are talking about is that Israeli kids already bring cell phones to school and the phones are creating the same problems as cell phones in schools do in the US – distraction of peers through inappropriate use, ringing during school time, class distinctions between students who have “cool” phones and those who do not, etc. There are so many “turf battles” being waged in the education sector that it is difficult for all the folks involved to move in the same direction. 

Cutting-edge teaching is always inspiring! I visited schools where creative teachers were involved in innovative programs. I observed students in middle schools where each family had purchased a laptop for their child to use, conduct research, create tables in a word processor and upload the document to Moodle, all in a 45-minute period. I met teachers whose students were creating audio files to go with their stories, which they then used as part of an English lesson.  I brainstormed with teachers who were setting up a program to get parents more involved in their local school by having parents and children learn together about using computers. I learned more about the importance of social networking in education than I can possibly recount. This is, of course, a two-edged sword. Students enjoy social networking because they use the tools all the time, they are familiar with them, and they don’t seem like “real work.” But teachers need to help students understand the responsibilities involved in using social networking sites in classes. This includes focusing on school projects, not just updating status, checking on friends, etc. The issues surrounding “proper use” of social networking are not limited to Israeli or American schools/students.  Increasingly, corporations are either filtering or intensively monitoring what employees are doing/viewing/ while connected to the corporate network. 

Teaching is about making connections. I have done that during the past three months in Israel. Current technology will allow me to stay in touch with the educators and students I have met here. As a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher, I have learned new ways of looking at my teaching, improved my teaching, and I have been fortunate enough to have begun working with others to collectively improve education in both the United States and Israel. As Brian Jones stated after he and his partner had just completed the first around-the-world balloon flight, “I am an ordinary person to whom something extraordinary has happened.”

 

Senior Yale Fan qualifies for 2010 U.S. Physics Olympics

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American Association of Physics Teachers announces the 2010 U.S. Physics Team Selection

Out of more than 3,000 students who undertook a rigorous exam process, Yale emerged as one of 20 students from across the U.S. who now make up the 2010 U.S. Physics Team.

The team training camp, which is a crash course in the first two years of university physics, is an integral part of the U.S Physics Team experience. Yale will attend the training camp for his senior project. Students at the camp have the opportunity to hear about cutting edge research from some of the community’s leading physicists. At the end of the training camp, five students will be selected to travel to Croatia for international competition, where more than 400 student scholars from 90 nations will test their knowledge in physics, competing with the best in the world.

The U.S. Physics Olympiad Program was started in 1986 by AAPT to promote and demonstrate academic excellence.

Read the Oregonian article from May 19.

Senior prank turns Upper School quad into petting zoo for younger students

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Bunnies, goats, lambs, chicks, a pony, and an alpaca, oh my!

Putting their own spin on the annual senior prank, the class of 2010 pulled off a stunt for the ages: a petting zoo in the middle of the quad! 

The seniors started with two simple questions: How can we turn the senior prank tradition into a community-builder?  How can we channel mischief toward a gift of generosity?

After several brainstorming sessions they had an epiphany: Petting Zoo! Quad!

During an Upper School assembly, a handful of seniors secretly zipped around putting down hay, erecting a tent, fencing off an area, and bringing in animals.

The hoax, funded entirely by the class of 2010, was a huge success. Weeks of planning paid off when hundreds of students and teachers passed by the surprise menagerie smiling and congratulating the seniors on their inspired idea. And the seniors thoroughly enjoyed bringing preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students to their magical on-campus surprise!

Click on any photo below to begin the slideshow of seniors and their first grade buddies at the petting zoo.

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Eastern Oregon

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Breakaway trip to the Malheur WIldlife Refuge

Our caravan of minivans was greeted with a beautiful rosy sunrise early Tuesday morning as we headed out of town en route to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Student’s handled the long hours in the car well, entertaining themselves and training their eyes to look at the tiny details that make desolate Eastern Oregon fascinating. We arrived at the Field Station, our home away from home for the next few days, and settled into the dorms before exploring the surrounding areas. Around us we could see the snowy Steen’s Mountains, high buttes and low plains, and Malheur Lake. The sun set to a chorus of coyote howls. After dinner we played several wild games of hide and seek  and cops and robbers under the brilliant stars before going to bed for an early start the next morning.

We woke early the next morning (some would consider this still nighttime) to meet the naturalist who would teach us about the birds of the area. Some of us had an easier time getting up than others, but luckily nobody was left behind. The naturalist took us along a dirt road way up on a butte in hopes of finding a sage grouse lek (a gathering where males strut to impress females). Each van had a radio so our naturalist could tell everyone about the places we were seeing, and the birds we would hopefully see. After several miles he stopped us and as we peered out the window in the pale dawn light, the puffy white chests and radiating tail feathers of sage grouse appeared. We had found the lek! We listened to the clucking noises they made and watched as the birds strutted around. Our naturalist was so knowledgeable about the area and the birds and we were lucky to have him with us.

As we drove back to the Field Station we kept our eyes open for other animals. We saw some smaller birds and deer, but we were really hoping to see wild horses. We knew that of all the places we would visit, this was the only one we might have a chance to see them. As we got closer & closer to the main road our hopes of seeing the horses dropped. Suddenly, a voice over the radio announced that the first van had spotted wild horses! They were beautiful. A herd of pronghorn stood next to them, providing scale to the huge horses. The pronghorn raced off, but the horses stayed, and we got to watch them for some time as the stallion gathered his herd and studied us.

Back at the Field Station our naturalist set us several mist nets to catch birds so that we could see them up close. We caught about fifteen Dark-Eyed Juncos, a Spotted Towhee, a House Sparrow, and an American Robbin that we weighed, measured, and studied before releasing. Holding the wild birds was a truly incredible experience, and once again our naturalist was able to teach us so much. This was a wonderful example of experiential learning and the students loved it.
 
After a little free time and journaling, we took off to relax in some hot springs. On the drive there we kept track of when we were “in the middle of nowhere” and when we were “somewhere,” learning how people define “nowhere.” We played in the warm water for a while before showering and filling up our waterbottles, trying to find some water that was not “boring.”
 
We drove back through the Refuge and visited the Bird Museum at the Refuge headquarters where they had on display stuffed bird that we could look at up close. In the golden light of twilight we watched hundreds of snow geese flying through the air above us.
Back at the Field Station our dinner crew cooked up some yummy dinner, and also concocted a story about how one student on the trip somehow became Nutella. That student very graciously put up with the silliness. The night ended with a game of wildly chasing each other around under the stars again.
Luckily we got to sleep in a bit the next morning before setting off on an adventure. We had a few places we wanted to see but the itinerary was very flexible. All we knew was that we had to be in Frenchglen for dinner at 6:30. Students really appreciated the unscheduled time and being able to do things for as long or as short as they wanted.
 
Our first stop was the Round Barn where we were greeted by Sandhill Cranes. The students found an ingenious way to appreciate the Round Barn: blind races through the barn. One student would be the guide and the other would be the racer. It was terrifying, but also a great way to interact with the barn and to learn to guide and trust each other. We also got to see a raven and a hawk fighting in the air.
 
Our next stop was the Diamond Craters, huge depressions in the basalt flows found everywhere. We hiked to the top of a hill and soaked in the view, enjoying the spectacular weather we were graced with.
 
After the Craters we stopped Buena Vista pond which was filled with swans, ducks, and geese. We watched the birds and wrote in our journals before we went on a short hike to the top of a butte to find an incredible panorama view of the area and some rocks to scramble on. Our last little stop was a campground where we saw a hawk on the ground eating its dinner, and a Great Blue Heron.
 
We arrived at the Frenchglen Hotel for a delicious dinner, of which we all ate too much. After returning to the Field Station we played cards and ran around outside before settling into bed.
 
 
 
The next morning we packed up our belongings and cleaned our dorm before our long drive back to Portland. Overall the trip far exceeded my expectations. This kind of trip could easily bore many students but they learned to creatively entertain themselves and interact with such a spectacular place. The learned to look closely at the small details of a large scene. Students also learned to be more responsible for themselves by cooking and cleaning for themselves, all the while making it fun. They also learned the lesson of how when one person doesn’t fulfill their group responsibility, it affects everyone else. I certainly felt that the trip passed too quickly!
 

 

Viola Vaughn Live Broadcast

Viola Vaughn from Sénégal to speak at Catlin Gabel on April 7

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Vaughn, a CNN "Hero," is founder & director of 10,000 Girls, dedicated to the education of girls

Viola Vaughn, founder and executive director of the nonprofit 10,000 Girls (http://10000girls.org) in Kaolack, Sénégal, West Africa, will speak at Catlin Gabel on Wednesday, April 7, at 12:45 p.m. in the Middle School Commons during her tour of the United States.

Dr. Viola Vaughn

Vaughn is an American with an Ed.D. from Columbia University who received a CNN “Hero” award in 2008. She is a social entrepreneur who has built 10,000 Girls from an idea to a vibrant program currently serving 2,567 girls in 10 towns and villages in rural Sénégal. She periodically tours the U.S., speaking and participating in conferences to raise awareness of her organization's success in helping West African girls succeed as students and entrepreneurs. During her time in Portland Vaughn will also speak at Portland State University.

Video of Viola Vaughn #1          

Video of Viola Vaughn #2            

Video of Viola Vaughn #3

Viola Vaughn and the 10,000 Girls Project from Memory Box Productions on Vimeo.

10,000 Girls has two primary programs: after-school education and skill-building, helping girls stay in school and complete their educations; and entrepreneurship, teaching a craft or trade and business basics to older girls who have already left school and need life skills to become self-reliant. The educational component provides tutoring and resources to help girls succeed in school. Older girls, who are no longer in school, learn sewing, baking, and other marketable skills, creating products such as dolls and table linens, which they sell locally and online. The girls also grow, harvest, and produce hibiscus, which they transform into tea and hope to export to the U.S. as Certified Organic. The girls in the entrepreneurial program have decided to donate nearly 50% of their earnings to the program, making 10,000 Girls entirely self-sustainable. In Sénégal – where 54% of the citizens live below poverty and 48% are unemployed  – 10,000 Girls transforms the lives of  participating girls and their families.

The dynamic Viola Vaughn, a long-time resident of Sénégal, dramatically describes the challenges and joys of running 10,000 Girls and speaks with passion about her organization's mission. She can relay fascinating stories, including how she convinced banks to open accounts for young girls, a first in Sénégal; why the girls chose to bake and sell cookies to raise money (like America's Girl Scouts); and the what poignant questions the girls pose at summer Democracy Camps in  Sénégal. 
 
In Portland, Violla Vaughn hopes to connect with individuals and organizations interested in the education of girls, as well as with businesses that might want to sell 10,000 Girls' products. She will also encourage individuals intending to volunteer for 10,000 Girls in Senegal.

 

Catlin Gabel Middle Schoolers featured in Martinique press

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Sainte Marie Journal, France-Antilles, March 2010

Translation of the article in France-Antilles
 
Sainte-Marie. Young Americans hosted by Saldès middle schoolers
HAND IN HAND, TO PROTECT THE COAST
 
Photo captions:
Photo 1: Young middle schoolers did not hold back their efforts in spite of the overwhelming heat.
Photo 2: At the end, the Saldès middle schoolers and their American counterparts displayed their satisfaction.
 
Young middle schoolers from the Emmanuel Saldès Middle School and young American middle schoolers took part in a beach clean-up at Anse Charpentier and at the beach of Sainte-Marie last week. Glass bottles, plastics, used tires, an old fridge … the concerted efforts of these youngsters of very different backgrounds allowed them to pick up several bags of garbage.
 
The young Americans, from Portland, Oregon, came to Martinique through a cultural and linguistic exchange program. Various families of Sainte-Marie have been hosting them since last week. 
 
Next year, the young Samaritans (inhabitants of Sainte-Marie) will in turn be hosted by their friends from Catlin Gabel School. In preparation for this big trip, the students registered in the European section of Saldès, have been making various fund-raising efforts since last September. They organized a raffle, sold cakes, and have already spent several Saturdays bagging groceries in the town’s supermarket.
 
Facilitating the turtle’s arrival on the beaches
The clean-up on the commune’s beaches was part of a series of efforts to further sustainability. The ONF (National Forest Bureau), Sainte-Marie’s city hall, and Kawan, a turtle protection association, joined forces with the middle schoolers whose objective was to make it easier for the Leatherback turtles to get on the beach during this egg-laying period. 
 
In small groups, under a scorching sun, the adolescents screened the area to take away as much as possible the garbage soiling these beaches. At the end, they displayed their satisfaction, happy to have filled several garbage-bags full, together.
 
PHOTO CAPTIONS: 
They said:
 
Picture 3
Josué and Sarah, 8th graders from the Middle School Emmanuel Saldès           
"We’re proud to host our American correspondents. Everything’s going well. We’ve been learning English since 5th grade. Today, with the arrival of our American friends, we’re trying to make an extra effort to live this exchange at its best and share as much as possible."
 
Picture 4
Students from the Catlin Gabel Middle School, 12 to 14 years old
"We’re happy to have been able to join our Martiniquan correspondents. Since we’ve been here, we’ve spent time with a lot of young people. This trip has allowed us to discover your culture, and some music through dance. It’s an unforgettable stay and we’ll remember it for a long time to come. We’ll remember when night time falls with the song of crickets and frogs, and especially the roosters crowing the wake up call in the morning! It’s very different from what we’re used to. We look forward to host our correspondents next year.
 
Picture 5
Gwenn Le Reste, project coordinator and English teacher at Emmanuel Saldès
"In the last few years, the team of teachers has organized several projects of the sort. Unfortunately, these teachers are extremely challenged by the possibility of having three classes cancelled in our building. Several of our students come from underprivileged families. Our building has the RAR rating (Ambition-Success Network), which has allowed us to have, up until now, a reasonable number of students in our classes. But if, for strictly financial reasons, the rectory persists and cancels these 3 classes, we won’t be able to pursue these sorts of projects that are very motivating for students."
 
Picture 6
Monique Bessette and Mark Pritchard, French and music teachers at Catlin Gabel School in Portland
"Since the beginning of this project, the Americans were eager to come to Martinique. In spite of the heat, they didn't feel out of place. On the contrary, they took to the exchange right away. Both groups are living pretty intense moments. Our students became familiar with the school's schedule, life in the countryside, and cultural traditions. We're sharing the life of the families who are hosting us, and it's very enriching."

 

Students, teachers, and staffers blog about their work and travels

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Classes, groups traveling near and far, and individuals are publishing on the website to share their work with the Catlin Gabel community or other specific audiences.

Any student, teacher, or staff member can maintain an individual blog or contribute to a group blog on the Catlin Gabel website. Some blogs are open to everyone visiting our website. Most blogs require login.

You can always find blogs from the Quick Links menu. Happy reading!

 » Link to all blogs

Links to specific blogs

Nepal 2010
Japan 2010
Cuba 2010
Senior Projects

Urban Studies

Honors Art Seminar
Science Projects
Spanish V Honors
French 2

External blogs
Paul Monheimer in Israel
The Catlin Coverslip

Richard Kassissieh, for the education technology community

Classroom pages
Middle and Lower School teachers use classroom pages more often than student blogs. The function is similar.
Second grade
Fourth grade

Fifth grade

Sixth grade
Lower School French

Seventh grade

 

Mock trial team wins state championship. Next stop: nationals in Philadelphia

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Competing against high schools many times the size of Catin Gabel, our Blue Team prevailed at the state competition. Congratulations to co-captains Eli Coon and Becky Coulterpark, and team members Talbot Andrews, Conor Carlton, Nina Greenebaum, Andrew Hungate, Grace McMurchie, Kate McMurchie, Megan Stater, and Leah Thompson.

Many thanks to volunteer coaches Bob Bonaparte '73, Nell Bonaparte, Cheryl Coon, Jim Coon, Barb Gazeley, Anushka Shenoy '09, and Pat Walsh.

» Link to Portland Tribune story

Interests, Passions, Magnificent Obsessions: Violinist, 7th grade

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From the Winter 2010 Caller

Passion: playing the violin
Interests: robotics, soccer

“I’ve been playing violin for six years, and for the past two I’ve been in the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. I started by playing fiddle tunes, then I got more serious and got into classical music. I like having weekly one-on-one lessons from a teacher who focuses on where I need to improve. I love playing really hard classical music. It takes a lot out of you, and I like that.
 
At MYS we perform four concerts a year, and before them we rehearse weekly for six weeks. I get more precise in my performance because I’m playing in a group, and playing for people. Concerts make it all come together for me.
 
I’m a programmer this year in robotics. It’s challenging to take different ideas about how to use pieces of information in a way that is logical, fast, and consistent. I would love to go on in robotics. I also play classic soccer, which I love. Robotics is individual, but you come together at competitions. In soccer you’re with the team the entire time, and you play as a team.

I really like challenges. I love to be challenged in every way possible. Music and robotics keep presenting challenges to me.”

Interests, Passions, Magnificent Obsessions: Synchronized swimmers, 10th grade & 7th grade

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From the Winter 2010 Caller

Passions: Synchronized swimming
Interests: rock & mountain climbing, dance, gymnastics

K: “When I was 7, I took a synchronized swimming class and they asked me to be on the team. When my sister was 6 she came to watch me practice and by the end, the coach had her in the water. Synchronized swimming became a passion for both of us. Competition is really fun. We both make friends from all over the country and sometimes the world.
 
E: “Synchronized swimming is the ultimate team sport. We have to work together, and we depend on each other. It’s a ten-month- a-year sport, but has a lot of rewards. In the end it all pays off. We travel a lot for training and competitions with our family or our coaches, and we don’t always go to the same place. It’s crazy. We spend a lot of time in airports.
 
K: I’m trying out for the junior national team and hope to make it in the next couple of years. You need a lot of strength to be a good competitor. Training includes weightlifting, dance, Pilates, gymnastics, and yoga. Core strength is everything. My sister and I do lots of cross-training on weekends.
 
E: I’ve learned how to make a group effort and cooperate with others, and that’s helping right now in our collaborations in 7th grade world cultures class.”

K: Catlin Gabel’s arts program, especially theater, has helped me realize how I can better get across emotions, which is important in our sport. I’ve learned dedication, focus, and good time management from synchronized swimming, and that really helps me here in school, too.”

Interests, Passions, Magnificent Obsessions: Fencer, 8th grade

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From the Winter 2010 Caller

Passion: fencing
Interests: music, visual arts

“Fencing is my great passion. It’s a good sport for me because I’m meticulous, I like moving around, and I’m pretty coordinated.
 
I love to compete all around the country. I hope that if I rank high enough in the next couple of years in the 16-and-under division that I’ll be able to travel around the world for competitions.
 
I’m not as nervous these days as at my first competition, but I do get more so when the stakes are high. When it’s going well I’m thinking clearly, and I’m focused, and things are not distracting me. When you wake up and everything’s too loud and is distracting, then it’s hard to fence. When you’re on top, and you’re prepared, and you have great focus, you can do whatever you’re capable of.
 
Fencing is a thinking game. Before every touch you have to know your plans, and you have to be able to change them depending on how your opponent reacts. The key to good fencing is to be one step ahead of your opponents so you can outsmart and outfence them.

Fencing is not the only thing in life I think about. I want to go to the Olympics, but right now it’s not my whole life. In a few years, maybe it will be, but not now. My life is about school, friends, music, fencing, and family. It’s a good life when you go to a really good school and love everything you do.”

Follow Your Passions!

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By Lark P. Palma, PhD, Head of School

From the Winter 2010 Caller

Five o’clock on a South Carolina summer morning. My rounds started early, for a young girl. First I took care of my horse, Cricket—feeding, mucking, a ride on the beach, then out to pasture. Then I attended to my 35 rabbits, gathered eggs from the six red hens that scratched around the house, and released the ducks to the creek. Finally I wrangled Thistle the collie and Ginger the lamb for walks on their leashes.

Animals were my first great passion—and my parents allowed me to have them if I cared for them well and showed responsibility. I was filled with the same passion when I first played school in my room, lining up all of my stuffed animals and dolls, assigning arbitrary grades from A to F and relegating some to smart status, some not so smart. At school I watched with rapt attention how my teachers would teach us. At home I would either try to do it the same way or try to modify the techniques that didn’t work for my little class.

It was not until I became a teacher myself that I understood that, as someone with a passion for teaching, I could go beyond what’s expected and work with students to realize their own personal goals and passions. I finally saw that the very best model for teaching and learning centers on the relationship between the student and the teacher. What happens collectively as a class is important, but the one-on-one time a student and teacher have together is the most critical element.

It was a breakthrough for me when I realized that and learned—thanks to Roland Barthes, John Dewey, and others—that children are not receptacles for knowledge from adults, but teeming petri dishes of their own ideas and imaginations. How little my teachers in the fifties and sixties understood that—although teachers in Ruth Catlin and Priscilla Gabel’s schools certainly did get it.

Catlin Gabel is a school where teachers are drawn to teach, and we select them to do so, because they understand how children’s minds work, and they want to be surrounded by colleagues who feel the same.

This Caller is filled with stories of alumni and students who have pursued interests, passions, and yes, even obsessions. Graduates who fall into this category are legion, and the students and alumni represented here are just a small sample. Why would a school of this size produce so many people who lead with their passions and know themselves well enough to do that?

For one, Catlin Gabel provides an unfettered, free-ranging approach to solving problems, approaching assignments, and celebrating process over product. I learned to be a good rider because I studied my horse, paying heed to her temperament and the look in her eye, and treating her in a way that reflects that knowledge. In the same way, the students profiled here, whether involved in a sport, an academic pursuit, or an art, learn the value of deep concentration and focused attention. For example, visual artists, like the ones you’ll read about, see relationships among all disciplines, in color and in shapes, and takes those elements to create an original. But mostly, we at Catlin Gabel encourage students fully and unabashedly to follow their passions. And of course, there is the child herself, who has the gift inside. Parents, teachers, and the overarching ethos of the school only undergird those passions.

Alumnus, alumna, or current student, their uniqueness binds us all together and makes for a very, very interesting place to teach. Enjoy these stories.

 

Girls Cross-Country Ski Trip

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 We set out for the mountain on a warm, sunny Saturday morning, ready for anything. We arrived at Teacup Lake, packed our day-packs, and slathered on sunscreen. Who knew summer arrived in February?! There were several beginner skiers and they all picked up the sport easily, quickly wanting to take the most difficult trails and ski down hills. The first big hill we went down was intimidating at first, but we all skied down it, and were proud of ourselves at having accomplished that. We lunched in a sunny patch with a spectacular view of the mountains.

After lunch we discussed our options. The girls had a choice between lots of short trails or one big long trail (the challenge trail), and they opted for the challenge trail. We started off, and although they claimed they were tired, the girls set a fast pace. When we got to a fork with a big hill or a flat section, they always chose the hill. We took several breaks along the long trail until we got to another fork where we had a big decision to make. We could go the short, flat way back to the bus, or we could go up a big hill (Screamer Hill), and then down a fast, steep hill. In the end, they all chose to go up the steep, long hill. Although this hill was a struggle, they all made it look easy, and were proud of themselves at the top.
 
We skied back to the bus and drove to the lodge. After storing our stuff in our room we went outside to build a lifelike snowwoman, sled, and “surf. As it got dark we came inside to warm up, and get cozy. We played foosball, pool, ping-pong, and Life before dinner was served. Lots of hot cocoa was sipped. After dinner we watched a VHS version of Mrs. Doubtfire before debriefing the day and settling into our sleeping bags.
 
 
 
 
 
We woke the next morning and ate breakfast before discussing the plan for the day. The girls wanted to ski somewhere where they could make their own trail and avoid groomed tracks, and eventually selected White River. The girls also wanted to pour maple syrup on the snow like they do in Canada, and so after a little cajoling, several of them went and asked for some syrup. After their sugary treat, they sledded for a while before we headed to White River to ski.
 
 
 
We made our way up the canyon with the girls leading the way through the trees. The snow was heavy and deeper than the day before as we were not on a groomed trail. At this point we came to a steep hill above a snow bridge over a small creek that the girls wanted to cross and continue into the trees. We explored this area for a while, not without a few tumbles, before skiing back to the open part of the canyon to find steep hills to slide down. We skied on a bit further and up a ridge before returning to our first slide. At the end of the day we piled into the bus and headed home, with a quick stop for doughnuts on the way.
 
 

 

Mock trial team advances to state

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Both the blue and white mock trial teams had a great day at the 2010 regional trial. The Blue Team advances to state to compete against the best teams in Oregon. This year’s case, State v. Lane, is a criminal case where the defendant, a rap artist, is charged with inciting a riot and arson.

Congratulations to Catlin Blue team members Talbot Andrews, Conor Carlton, Becky Coulterpark, Eli Coon, Nina Greenebaum, Andrew Hungate, Grace McMurchie, Kate McMurchie, Megan Stater, and Leah Thompson.

Catlin White team members include Rohisha Adke, Amanda Cahn, Rachel Caron, Audrey Davis, Layla Entrikin, Brian Farci, James Furnary, Mira Hayward, Thalia Kelly, Jackson Morawski, Grant Phillips, Charlie Shoemaker, Henry Shulevitz, Curtis Stahl, Lynne Stracovsky, Terrance Sun, Karuna Tirumala, and Michael Zhu.