On one of the last sunny weekends of the Summer, a group of 14 Middle School students, accompanied by 6 Upper School student chaperones visited Bumblebee Organic Farms.
It was two days of fun, two days of laughing, a campfire beneath a harvest moon, a grape eating contest, amazing food, a pair of sheep (or were they goats?), tractors, barns, sleeping through an incredibly loud rainstorm, amazing farm-fresh pancakes, and learning about life on a small, organic farm.
We met at Catlin after Saturday morning's storms had passed and loaded into an activity bus. A drive toward the mouth of the Sandy river took us into Troutdale, home of Bumblebee Organic Farm. We played a couple of challenge and team-building games before we broke off into three teams (Wolf Pack, Inner Power, and Firebirds) to be farmers for the rest of the weekend.
We performed farm chores such as harvesting grapes and tomatoes, working rows of beans, and shucking corn before it was time for dinner: an amazing pasta and salad night from produce straight off the vine.
Some exciting campfire skits were a highlight of the evening before we tucked ourselves into cozy (and dry!) tents before a midnight rainstorm took us through the night. We woke up to clear skies and huge pancakes on Sunday and worked our way through a pumpkin patch before heading home in time to spend the rest of the weekend with our families. It was sad to see the trip come to an end, but we walked away as friends, having learned so much more about farming, and more connected to the food we eat.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
- If you develop flu-like symptoms of fever, aches and pains, sore throat, coughing, trouble breathing, runny nose, or nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, you should contact your health care provider. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing and treatment is needed.
Choose how you cruise
On this symbolic day, the Catlin Gabel community will join in an effort to empty the parking lot!
Choose how you cruise
- Carpool (link to carpool map)
- MAX or TriMet
- Ride the Catlin Gabel bus for free – one day only special
Beginning and Lower School parents: Ginny Malm has access to the online registration information so you don't need to call her if you sign up online by Thursday, October 7.
Welcome! I hope you are looking forward to the 2009-10 school year as much as I am. Some fabulous new students are joining us in all four divisions. I know that returning families will join me in welcoming our new community members.
We are proud to open with full enrollment. We were able to increase this year’s financial aid budget by 41 percent, which allowed us to keep our community together despite the recession. This is a real testament to our board members and their commitment to making financial aid a school priority. While we have never been frivolous spenders, faculty and staff worked hard to trim budgets without negatively affecting the academic and co-curricular programs. The school’s long-term financial health is in great shape.
To our parents: sending your child to Catlin Gabel is a big commitment, and we deeply appreciate the trust you have placed in us. Your child will have a great year in school. Your daughter or son will be enthusiastic about learning and will grow in ways you do not expect. Our extraordinary teachers, librarians, counselors, and support staff members will work side by side with students to make learning engaging and challenging.
Teachers and staff members were busy throughout the summer preparing for students to return. The much-needed new coat of paint on the Barn symbolizes our approach to education: honor our traditions while making things fresh and new. We launch the year fully invested in all our students’ success at school.
Catlin Gabel teachers are extraordinary, as exemplified this spring and summer by four faculty members who received honors of note. The United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board honored two teachers with awards: Paul Monheimer, 7th grade world cultures teacher, was awarded a Distinguished Fulbright Award in Teaching to conduct research in Israel spring semester, and Cindy Beals, Upper School math teacher, received a Fulbright Teacher Exchange grant to teach in Turkey for the 2009-10 academic year. I am pleased to welcome 6th grade math teacher Nagame (pronounced Nah may) Karamustafaoglu from Turkey, who came as part of the Fulbright Teacher Exchange. Upper School English teacher Nichole Tassoni attended a seminar on Dante in Italy this summer sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The American Immigration Council awarded Upper School Spanish teacher Lauren Reggero-Toledano a grant for her project, “The Hispanic Presence in Oregon During the Great Depression and Today.” Read more about the awards that speak to the excellence of our faculty in the “Congrats!” article.
As the 2009-10 school year begins, I invite you to join Upper School students and teachers in reading Mountains Beyond Mountains. We are fortunate and thrilled to welcome the author, Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder, to campus for this year’s Karl Jonske ’99 memorial lecture on Tuesday, October 13, at 11:30 a.m. in the Cabell Center Theater. You are all welcome to attend this special Upper School assembly.
I look forward to seeing everyone on campus again and finding out about your summer and your hopes for this new year. It’s going to be a great one!
Head of School
Send your kids to school on the Catlin Gabel bus! Riding the bus is good for the environment, reduces parking lot overcrowding, and saves you time and money.
The 2009-10 bus schedules are posted on the school web site on the Bus Service page in the Parents section.
Parents must print out, complete, and sign two 2009-10 required documents (Department of Education Regulations and Parent Guidelines) authorizing bus ridership for this year. The documents are posted as PDF files on the Bus Service page. Please return the completed documents to the administrative assistant in your child’s division.
The United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced recently that Paul Monheimer, 7th grade history teacher at Catlin Gabel, has been awarded a Distinguished Fulbright Award in Teaching to conduct research in Israel.
Monheimer will spend the spring semester researching how to create meaningful virtual exchanges that use graphic software to overcome language barriers. He will work with Israeli teachers, teacher colleges, and students.
Monheimer is currently attending orientation for the program in Washington, DC. "In the past 24 hours, I have spent time with some amazing teachers from Singapore, South Africa, Israel, and Argentina," he reports. "How can we enable teachers and students to communicate regularly with one another across the globe? There is no substitute for actually travelling in a country, but today's technology ought to allow folks to come pretty close."
The new Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching will send 13 U.S. teachers abroad and bring 13 international teachers to the U.S. for a semester to pursue capstone projects, conduct research, take courses for professional development, and lead master classes or seminars for teachers and students. The program is open to teachers from Argentina, India, Israel, Finland, Singapore, South Africa, and the United States.
The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided approximately 294,000 people – 111,000 Americans who have studied, taught or researched abroad and 183,000 students, scholars and teachers from other countries who have engaged in similar activities in the United States – with the opportunity to observe each others' political, economic, educational, and cultural institutions, to exchange ideas and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world's inhabitants. The program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.
- Textually Explicit—What is literally in the text (“Right there”)
- Textually Implicit—What is suggested or implied in the text (“Think and search answers”)
- Scriptally Implicit—In the reader’s background knowledge or the “script” in the reader’s head (“On your own”).
- Right there questions
- Think and search questions
- On your own questions
- What are you wondering about in the reading?
- What do you think might be an answer to your question?
- What connections can you make between the reading and things that are occurring in our life or locally?
Link to Oregonlive.com article
Dale Rawls's 8th grade art students "become" noted artists
From the Spring 2009 Caller
By Nadine Fiedler
Art history can be bewildering for middle school students. The works of famous artists can seem remote, lost to time and the changes of culture. But art teacher Dale Rawls has found an antidote to that.
Through study of famous artists and art periods, and research into their social and historical contexts, each of Dale’s 8th grade students chooses what intrigues him or her—and then create a work of art, a copy or a work in that style, over the class’s 18-day unit. The students immerse themselves in Andy Warhol, say, or Wayne Thibaud, or Jackson Pollock, and in the act of interpreting they come to learn right in their own eyes, hands, and brains what makes that artist unique—and the challenges and joys of art-making.
The process begins with students learning to do web-based research on artists and periods. “I have them see that artists don’t create their work in a vacuum; they train, they perfect their craft, they reflect their culture,” says Dale. Then they choose to either make a direct copy, or work in the style but with their own subject matter. That exercise leads directly to problem solving as they grapple with questions about the materials the artist used, and finally how to turn this image and idea into something real—something on paper or canvas, or created with a camera and altered in Photoshop.
Dale builds on what he’s taught before, and what the students already know, by using the same vocabulary of art that he’s used for their first two years in middle school, concepts such as composition, light source, symmetry, color, and texture. “This project is a real epiphany for many students,” says Dale. “They realize how they can use a particular color, or make the work a particular size, and they become more self-directed. They ask for help, and they struggle with it, and I have to zoom around and help everyone, but it’s a project they really run with.”
This class is also these students’ first experience in formal painting composition. “In the midst of all this work, I show them how paintbrushes differ and teach painting technique,” says Dale. “This work teaches safe risk-taking, because you can just paint over it if you take a take a chance and fail.” It also provides a high level of understanding in design and media for more advanced art studies in high school.
The result is amazing. Some works are more polished than others, but they all capture the essence the student responded to in the first place. The students take enormous pride in their finished project: one Warhol-inspired painting sports a huge, confident signature, ANNE—just like Andy Warhol would have done.
Dale Rawls got his start in art when a perceptive teacher in his Hillsboro high school recognized his artistic talents. He went on to study at Portland State University under many renowned local artists. In later pursuit of a master’s in education he examined whether making art feeds teaching or vice versa. “I concluded that each nurtures the other,” he says. He and his wife, Barbara, whom he married when both were at PSU, have maintained a studio and shown in galleries for 35 years.
“I love that Catlin Gabel values me both as a teacher and an artist. I’m not just teaching here, I’m talking about what’s essential to my being,” he says. One of the best things a student ever said to him was that Dale doesn’t teach them just so they learn technique, he teaches them how to articulate important things in their lives through art.
Nadine Fiedler is editor of the Caller.
From the Spring 2009 Caller
We asked members of our online alumni community and Catlin Gabel alumni groups on Facebook to share their reflections on teachers who served a transformative role in their lives. Many found narrowing the list down to one or two teachers quite difficult, but they managed! Running throughout the responses, excerpted below, is a common thread: teachers at Catlin Gabel and its predecessor schools were and are united by a passion for working with young people, an inventive approach to teaching, and an uncanny ability to inspire their students’ enthusiasm for the material.
MOLLY MOORES SCHLICH ’44
Producer of film and lecture series, Springfield, Illinois
I had many excellent teachers, but the memory of Rachael Griffin is outsized in her influence on me. She taught art to the young classes at Gabel Country Day School, and she was inspired. She introduced us to many different forms of visual art, and made it such fun. She was warm and outgoing—we all loved her. I am sorry I never had the opportunity to tell her how important she has been in my life.
CINDY LAWSON DeVORE ’80
Corporate manager, Broad Run, Virginia
During these many years since leaving Catlin Gabel, I have thought countless times of Kim Hartzell (known as Mrs. Hartzell to all of us in the middle school). Though I never ended up a professional artist, Mrs. Hartzell greatly influenced the success of my career and my life. The confidence she instilled in her students allowed us all the freedom to experiment with our own creativity, and to be proud of our accomplishments.
Mrs. Hartzell’s small art room in the 1970s middle school was a place of inspiration. She was an incredibly enthusiastic woman who introduced us to arts like Pysanky (Ukrainian egg dyeing), beadwork, and mask-making, all the while exclaiming words like “cool!” and “beautiful!” to describe our “unique” works of art.
My career has traveled a path from military law, to politics, to communications and marketing, and currently rests in management. I’ve had many opportunities to draw from my own creativity—producing a television program, creating advertising, and even making natural soap products for my own small company. Through it all, I must admit that I still see Mrs. Hartzell’s smiling face and hear her encouraging “you-can-do-it” words. Her guidance and adoration for her students will continue to influence my life and how I relate to others.
I’m so thankful for having known Kim Hartzell. Even more, I’m very fortunate to have been one of her students.
TED KAYE ’73
Tech company executive, Portland
Mary Whalen MacFarlane taught me longer than any other teacher. For three straight years—6th, 7th, and 8th grades—she delivered a solid foundation in mathematics. I vividly recall when she exposed us to the wonders of Pascal’s Triangle, the basics of algebra, and the Fibonacci Sequence. Mrs. MacFarlane encouraged innovation in her class—such as when Randy King and I developed a 20-word mnemonic for Pi that began “Yes, I have a green barracuda in school today.” Never theatrical, her serious commitment to mathematics and stretching the capabilities of young minds endeared her to generations of Catlin-Hillside and Catlin Gabel students. I use skills and concepts she taught me every day.
ANNE KILKENNY ’69
Small business owner, Portland
I remember three teachers fondly and with great respect and admiration from my time at Catlin Gabel: Vivien Johannes, Gene Jenkins, and Ann Wright.
“Mrs. Jo” was my English teacher for two years. At the time I did not appreciate her intellect, her joy in life, and what she was trying to teach us. But I did understand in a rudimentary way that she loved teaching, and her students. In retrospect I now realize what a remarkable person and teacher she was. I only wish I could tell her so today. I think her remarkable gifts were mostly wasted on us callow teenagers.
Gene Jenkins and Mrs. Wright taught me the basics for real study habits and how to write a decent declarative sentence.
I can still hear Mrs. Wright saying, “that’s a GROSS generalization . . . be more specific.” And I always remember Mrs. Jenkins’s smile when one of us “got it.”
SUZI EHRMAN ’75
Professional organizer, Charlotte, North Carolina
My hands-down favorite was Sarah Wells, who taught 5th grade for two years while we were still on Culpepper Terrace. Why was she so spectacular? Everything we did centered on the theme of ancient Greece. History, geography, literature, math, science—you name it, it was about Greece. We held our own Olympic Games in the spring in the ancient style (though we were all clothed!). We had to learn how to make togas, we all created our own personalized warrior shields in art, we made wax tablets in shop class and spent a day or two in class writing on them, using Greek letters, as if we were students in ancient Greece. We memorized Greek poetry and performed for our classmates. Truly, the entire year carried the theme. I remember more from this year of school than any other. Miss Wells was tough, but fair and very kind and loving. She started a love of archaeology for me that has stayed with me to this day—I went to Greece in college, was an anthropology/archaeology major, and spent a month on an archaeological dig in Tanzania in 2007.
Finally, Sarah Wells embodied so much of what I think of as great about a Catlin Gabel education: a creative and talented teacher who was given permission to teach in an unconventional manner and was so effective in the process.
UNA CHOI COALES ’83
Family physician, London, UK
My two favorite teachers, John Wiser (history) and Lowell Herr (science), used optimism and enthusiasm when teaching. John always had a big smile on his face, and his passion and joy for teaching American history shone through. It is in part John’s love for history that has spurred me to run for president of the Royal College of General Practitioners. My name will be on this spring’s postal national ballot, and if I win I will be the third woman and first ethnic minority to ever claim the title of president of this esteemed college, representing the majority of family physicians in the UK. I chose to run to fight the injustices that doctors face here because of relentless government regulation. I am working to make a college that is its members’ advocate and not a government proxy.
Lowell smiled and laughed as he taught physics. He loved teaching (and Ferris wheels) and I loved coming to school to learn from him. He included all his students and actively asked for contributions on the chalkboard. In 2003 I began teaching by chance. I went to a friend’s home and helped her with her oral module of the MRCGP (family medicine) exam. She passed. I have since taught over 2,000 doctors to pass their licensing board exam in family medicine. I reflect the teaching styles of both Lowell and John. I smile, laugh, and invite active participation from doctors. By the end of the day, they all believe they are geniuses and have the knowledge and skills to pass, and do. So thank you, Catlin Gabel, for having great inspirational teachers who are shaping students to become great leaders!
JENNIFER ANDERSON MATHESON ’88
Police detective, Olympia, Washington
Dave Corkran was instrumental in my success at Catlin Gabel, which set the direction for the rest of my life. High school was a difficult time for me emotionally and academically. I came to Catlin Gabel halfway through my freshman year. I had Dave Corkran for C&C, and that placement was the beginning of a very important connection for me. Dave believed in me academically and supported me emotionally. With the foundation that Dave was so instrumental in creating and the support of my parents, I finished high school, graduating from college in three and a half years with a major in human development and performance, and a minor in biology. I have a happy and successful life with a wonderful husband and three children, and owe much of my life’s success to Dave. Outside of my family Dave was definitely the most influential person in my life. It was great to see him at my 20-year reunion last May.
CHERI COLLINS SMITH ’68
Gloria Zeal Davis was my English teacher in my junior year at Catlin Gabel. I had many very good teachers during my four years there, but Gloria was the best and had a profound influence on my life. Prior to that year, my academic interests were primarily in the math and science areas. I liked things that were concrete and specific. But somehow, with her warmth and sense of humor, and the style of her teaching and her expectations, she managed to open up another side of my mind, which allowed me to cultivate interests and a kind of awareness that I hadn’t experienced before. That broadened my view of the world in many ways, and was transformative in my life.
I’ve valued what I learned from her ever since, and as it turns out, have stayed in touch with her through the years. I’ve lived in California for many years, but to this day, we stay in touch on a regular basis. It’s a very rewarding and satisfying friendship.
DANIELLE EASLY NYE ’87
Entrepreneur, Bend, Oregon
Reading never came easily for me, but as soon as I could read chapter books I quickly became a book junkie. Going to Catlin Gabel and having a teacher like Sid Eaton brought my love of reading to a new level. As a group we got to delve into authors, enjoy their stories, and use them as a model for our own writing. Having an elective English class with Sid my senior year was learning at its most fun. We studied both essays and short stories, and I still have a strong love of the short story format.
We all became Red Sox fans through the year (if you weren’t a fan you were wise not to speak up), reading specially selected articles that Sid would bring in, and heaven forbid you were in class on a day when the Red Sox lost.
There are the things we need to learn in school and the things that become a part of our lives that we cherish. I am grateful to Sid for the latter.
For additional information about Annual Giving, please contact:
Director of Annual Giving
8825 SW Barnes Road
Portland, OR 97225
By Hannah Whitehead
|Hannah Whitehead and 6th grader editing his novella|
It is late fall, and 6th graders are making important decisions that will affect the next several months of their experience in humanities class. The novella project is set to launch, and the first step is to create a convincing, engaging main character who will live through the Civil War years we study, 1855–75.
The students must ponder and answer many questions. Is my protagonist going to be patient or short-tempered, stubborn, empathetic, cheerful, generous, or gloomy? We look at main characters in novels we have loved and talk about what makes a good protagonist. The students will live with these characters, so they had better be folks they care about, so they can make us care about them as well.
Decisions about the character’s life circumstances require extensive research in books, movies, and the internet. Will the character be educated, or not be allowed go to school? Will he be apprenticed to a blacksmith, or perhaps be a farm child, a slave, a son of privilege, an itinerant peddler, a cooper? Will she wear the quiet garb of a Quaker girl, or the silk flounces of a plantation owner’s daughter? What will the family eat? What are the family’s political views? Do they support the abolition movement, or are they horrified by it? Do they care? Do they work for rights for women, children, the imprisoned, the mentally ill? Everything that we study has two questions behind it—how will this affect my character, and can I use this in my novella?
The setting for the first chapter, the main character’s ordinary life, affects what happens in coming chapters when war breaks out. Will you put your character far from the action? Or do you want a battle in his or her back yard? We get out the battle maps of the Civil War and look carefully for just the right place. Will she live in a village in Ohio or Massachusetts, a little crossroads in Georgia in the path of Sherman’s March, or on the bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi in the town of Vicksburg? The next issue to resolve is the character’s house and surroundings. We turn to books of architecture and historic sites for information. We study how other authors give a sense of place in their stories. We ask ourselves, if my character opens the front door, what would he see? Do I have enough information yet? Can I see it in my mind’s eye? The novella project is gathering steam.
While there is a great deal of leeway in the novella project, there are some requirements. You may not knock off your main character until at least Reconstruction. The novella consists of a minimum of five chapters. Each chapter must be long enough to tell its part of the story, develop the characters, and meet some specific historical requirements. You need to be open and ready to try several different revision techniques, and to both give and receive helpful feedback.
The novellas that I’ve had the pleasure of shepherding along through the creating, revising, and publishing process over the years have varied dramatically from student to student. In length, they have ranged from eight or so pages to over one hundred, depending on the enthusiasm, skill, and maturity of the writer. A recently graduated alumnus went back in the summer after his 6th grade year and added several chapters to flesh out his story to his own satisfaction.
Each chapter takes about a month to research, draft, revise, and polish, and then often the beginning has to be reworked to add foreshadowing, get rid of minor characters who never amounted to anything later in the story, and smooth the flow of the plot. It’s an exacting process. Along the way the 6th grade language arts teacher and I coordinate teaching writing skills and help students look at other authors’ work to learn how they manage to slip in information without indigestible lumps of historical fact. Together, we look at the way published authors use dialogue to reveal characters, how they use sensory detail to drop us right in the middle of the character’s life, and how they build suspense into the plot. Then we try to emulate their fine examples. It is a lot to juggle, but our students do an amazing job of it, often surprising themselves in the process.
I look forward to this part of the year because I learn information I might not ordinarily come across. For example, a student needs to know if it is plausible for a spunky girl to disguise herself and join the army when the Civil War breaks out. Together we discover that at least 400 women did this very thing. Where on the battlefield of Shiloh did the 123rd Indiana fight? We go to the records and look at maps to find out. How did people in the 19th century address one another? We find letters and journals to give us the flavor of the language. It is endlessly fascinating and because of the novella, we need to know. It gives purpose to the material and to the research skills we teach. Through the novella project, students navigate the social and political history of the mid-nineteenth century in America via the adventures of their fictional characters, who live through, and react to, the events we study.
The novella project came about in the 1990s when my colleague Brenda Duyan and I were looking for some-thing active to make our study of 19th-century American history more engaging to 11-year-olds. We felt inspired by the Scottish Storyline method to create a smaller, less encompassing version. It has evolved along the way as we’ve learned from our experiences and from the advice of earlier students. Language arts teachers, lately Sasha Maseelall and Carter Latendresse, bring their own skills and enthusiasm to bear, and the project has become richer and more thoroughly supported as a result.
I marvel at the wonderful writing that can come from this project. I use the backs of discarded novella drafts to print on at home. One day my 95-year-old former English professor mother came over waving a piece of paper on the back of which I had printed an email for her. “Who wrote this?” she asked. And when I told her that it was one of my students, she answered, “My college students didn’t write this well!” Then she wanted to go through the stack of loose pages in the printer to find out what happened next in the story. The reader was hooked—high praise indeed.
Hannah Whitehead has been a Catlin Gabel faculty member since 1982.
Excerpts from past 6th grade novellas
He could remember running. He could remember rain splashing on his head. Big, wet drops that hurt, that smashed, and soaked him in seconds. He was running across a dirt field when he lost the trackers. He presumed that the rain had thrown off the dogs. It was then that he saw the hut.” —Will Jackson ’10
Abigail stood looking up at the clouds floating by, and then let herself fall onto her back in the lush, thick grass. She gazed up, trying to make something out of the clouds. A rabbit, a duck . . . anything. She had always found comfort in finding familiar figures in nature, but today she couldn’t. She had a lingering feeling that something was wrong, or maybe going to be in the near future. Things just seemed a little off.” —Lucy Feldman ’10
By Paul Andrichuk
|Paul Andrichuk with Middle Schoolers|
In reviewing Send, The Essential Guide to Email for Ofﬁce and Home, co-authored by David Shipley ’81, Dave Barry describes his son’s frustration when he was forced to send a letter. His son asked, “What kind of stamp do I need and where do I get it? You mean after I write the letter I have to ﬁnd my own envelope? Where do I take it now?”
Most adolescents now use text instead of other forms of communication, and I read Barry’s review about the same time a news story broke about doctors warning young people of the dangers of texting while walking. Laws were sure to follow, banning this type of multitasking. Physical dangers aside, texted messages are short and full of errors—with all of those thumbs some messages are unreadable. Barry says that if Paul Revere had texted “the nritish are cming,” the good residents of Lexington and Concord would have slept comfortably, oblivious to the threat at hand.
This is not to bash texting. To most adults, email is fast, convenient, and efﬁcient, even if our children believe it’s the modern-day version of a pen-to-paper letter. We have some difﬁculty imagining our personal and professional lives without it. Students have moved on to something fresher, faster, and more relevant to their lives, and we have to embrace this.
Two schools of thought have emerged from teachers (and schools) who notice and examine the effects of texting (and other technology) on student writing. Some educators are willing to concede that although students are now writing more, they see the abbreviations common in texting to be part of technology’s assault on our language.
Others laud the fact that kids are writing more, which cannot be a bad thing, and they challenge adult preconceptions about what is written. Among their arguments:
* Texting is a form of prewriting. Instead of students staring at a blank page, words are getting out. Others say texting can spark thinking.
* Evidence shows that kids are planning, writing, and revising what they write, especially for sensitive topics.
* The prevalence of instant messaging language in schools provides opportunities to talk about how language changes and might continue to evolve. In addition, teachers often ask students to make the distinction between formal and more informal language or to consider their audiences when they are writing something. The bottom line is that texting and formal writing can coexist.
Other forms of technological communication, such as blogging, are becoming more common in Catlin Gabel classrooms. Blogs are essentially public journals that encourage self-expression and reflection on a variety of topics that often serve the purpose of active reading and better writing. Better still, they can be written at a self-directed pace that may or may not occur in the school setting. In short, 8th graders can comment about the symbolism in Animal Farm from the comfort of their living room.
This serves several important functions:
* The learning environment is extended well beyond the Catlin Gabel campus.
* This time and setting allows students, especially slower processors, the time for reflection. n Given the public nature of these journals, students tend to approach the writing far more formally.
* The interactive and traceable nature of blogs allows students access to the thoughts of others.
We have to acknowledge that today’s adolescents are more plugged in and connected than any previous generation. This being the case, how do we adapt writing education and expression to the ways teenagers write?
Paul Andrichuk, head of Catlin Gabel’s middle school, has been at Catlin Gabel since 1997.