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A Winter Break Blizzard of Books!

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Weather-related school closures and bus service suspension

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General protocol

When school does not open in the morning or opens late due to inclement weather, we notify the media before 6:45 a.m. We update the school website as soon as possible. We also send an email with closure information to the parent and faculty-staff email listservs.

We do not notify the media when school runs on a normal schedule.

We will post a newsflash on the website alerting families that we are open when conditions are uncertain.

The school avoids mid-day weather closures whenever possible.

Catlin Gabel does not necessarily follow the decisions made by Portland Public or Beaverton schools because our students come from a wide geographic area.

Who decides?

Plant manager Eric Shawn and assistant head of school Vicki Roscoe make the decision to close school or delay opening based on conditions on campus and throughout the metro area.

Bus service

Sometimes school is in session, but we suspend one or more of the bus routes because of hazardous road conditions (typically at higher elevations). We post a message on the website as soon as decisions are made. We will send an email with bus cancellation information to all families and faculty-staff. If buses are canceled in the morning on a given date, they are also canceled in the afternoon, regardless of weather conditions.
Personal decisions

The safety of students is our primary concern. Parents should make personal weather-related safety decisions for their families. If it does not seem safe where you are, keep your children at home. If conditions deteriorate in your neighborhood during the day, you may pick up your children early (making sure to notify the division administrative assistant).

Exploring Forts and History on the Oregon Coast

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Experiential learning at its best

A large group of Catlin's eighth grade class spent a weekend among the forts, batteries, and bunkers protecting the Columbia River from enemy attack over the past 120 years.  We spent the night in yurts, warmed by electric heaters, at Fort Stevens State Park.  Over the two day the group visited Fort Clatsop, Battery Russell, Battery Mishler, Battery 245, Fort Stevens and the wreck of the Peter Iredale.  Lots of games were played among the various installations.  We spent part of an afternoon playing Ultimate Frisbee in the sun on a wide and empty beach.  A beautiful weekend.

Revels 2013

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Revels is just around the corner!
Excitement is in the air!

Revels – Wednesday, December 18, 7:00 - 8:30 pm, Cabell Center Theater

Our students have spent the last month rehearsing for Revels. They have learned songs in Spanish, Latin, Chinese, Swahili, Hindi, Arabic and Hebrew. Revels and the rehearsals that lead up to it are aligned with our broader aims that include:
1) Furthering the musical education of our students
2) Honoring the diversity within our school
3) Fostering a sense of school as a community by asking all students to work together towards a common purpose.
A winter festival, common to cultures throughout the world, offers a perfect opportunity to further the children’s education by focusing on these three aims. We deliberately include music that has cultural and historical significance. Each year Peggy selects a few new musical pieces and the children help with the choreography on all but a few numbers. Other selections stay the same, serving as anchors of familiarity and predictability for the children. We hear anticipatory exclamations such as, “You get to do the sword dance in the fifth grade!” It is also interesting to note that every child has an opportunity to sing, dance and or  play a musical instrument over the course of the program. All children learn all parts!
Thank-you, parents, for your support of the effort that goes into Revels and for your celebration of the children in the larger context of the world during this holiday season.

Helpful Tips You Need to Know for Revels

Please read the following “tips” to help this year’s event go as smoothly as possible.
*Dress Code for Revels

First - Your best pajamas without feet attached
Second, Third and Fourth grade:
    • Boys – Dress pants, collar shirt – tucked in – if the pants require a belt please wear one
    • Girls – dresses, skirts or very dressy pants
Fifth grade – Black dress pants and a white turtle neck
*Limited seating: Because seating is limited, we would appreciate you inviting immediate family only. We have 607 seats available -- this means that we only have about 3 seats per family.  You may consider leaving babies, toddlers and older siblings at home.  If you will be bringing Middle School age siblings, they must sit with you during the performance. Fire Code requires that we not overcrowd the theater. Seats will be on a “First Come, First Served” basis. Please do not “save” seats for other families.

*Recording: We are happy to announce that once again the performance will be professionally videotaped. Copies of the DVD will be for sale for $30.00 and will be charged to your account. Sit back and enjoy the show! (If you wish to video the performance, please be considerate of other fellow parents in the audience and sit in the back row of the theater.)
*First and Second Grade sections: We have reserved sections on the main floor for parents and siblings of each of our first and second graders. We are assuming the 1st graders will sit on a lap.

*Third Graders in balcony:
We ask that third graders and their parents sit upstairs in the balcony. The students will be cued as to when to come downstairs to perform.

*Fourth Graders to be seated in the aisles:
We invite the parents of the 4th graders to sit in the seats nearest their 4th graders at the beginning of the show. Fourth graders need to meet in the Beginning School at 6:30 pm.
*Fifth Graders will be sitting in the aisles along the perimeter of the theater while they are not performing (not with their parents). Parents of fifth graders may sit in any of the unreserved seating areas. Part of the center section on the ground floor will be available to fifth grade families.  Seats will, also, be available in the balcony.  Fifth graders need to meet in the Beginning School at 6:15 pm.
*Where should we sit if we have kids in two grade levels? If one of your children is in the fourth grade, we ask that your family sit in the assigned aisle seats nearest your fourth grader. Otherwise, you may simply choose which grade level you want to sit with. Make this decision now, as the first grade class literally counts how many seats will be needed and exactly the right number will be reserved. Don’t worry about your children missing their cue to go on stage — the announcements will be very clear. There will be time for students to make their way down the stairs if they are seated in the balcony.

Please carpool if at all possible, as parking is limited.

*Pre-performance wait time:
You may be bringing your student early to get ready for the show. The doors open at 6:00 pm.

*Honoring the performers:
To honor the performers, please turn off cell phones and remain seated during the performance. Bathrooms are located behind the theater for emergencies. Please encourage children to visit them before the show begins!
*Young children: We ask that you keep your children (other than the 4-5th graders) with you during the evening. You may wish to bring something quiet to do with your child while you are waiting.  We ask that very young children sit in your laps.

*What happens if it snows? No worries – an alternate performance date will be announced. Please check the web site to see if Revels is cancelled.

*The day after:
Coming to school Friday morning after Revels may be delayed a bit if you like, a tradition at the Lower School! Of course teachers will be here at the usual time.

DVD  of Revels

We will have a professional videographer to tape Revels again this year. If you would like to purchase a copy of the Revels DVD please email Julie Higgins in the LS office and let her know how many you would like. Your account will be charge $30.00 for each DVD.

Practice the Revels Spanish Song

My little plains donkey – El burrito sabanero (Adapted Version)

Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino a mi hogar.
Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino a mi hogar.
Si me ven si me ven voy camino a mi hogar.
Si me ven si me ven voy camino a mi hogar.
El lucerito mañanero, ilumina mi sendero.
El lucerito mañanero, ilumina mi sendero.
Si me ven si me ven, voy camino a mi hogar.
Si me ven si me ven, voy camino a mi hogar.
Tuqui Tuqui Tuqui tuqui.
Tuqui tuqui Tuqui Ta
Apúrate mi burrito
que ya vamos a llegar.
Tuqui Tuqui Tuqui tuqui.
Tuqui tuqui Tuqui Ta.
Apúrate mi burrito
Vamos a una fiesta .
Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino a mi hogar.
Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino a mi hogar
Si me ven si me ven voy camino a mi hogar.
Si me ven si me ven voy camino a mi hogar.
Tuqui Tuqui Tuqui tuqui.
Tuqui tuqui Tuqui Ta
Apúrate mi burrito
que ya vamos a llegar.
Tuqui Tuqui Tuqui tuqui.
Tuqui tuqui Tuqui Ta.
Apúrate mi burrito
Vamos a una fiesta.

History Bowl team advances to nationals

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Catlin Gabel's inaugural History Bowl team, at its first competition, qualified for the National History Bowl by placing 2nd in the junior varsity division at regionals. Team members Adolfo Apolloni, Daniel Chiu, Ian Hoyt, Julian Kida, and Andrew Park (all 9th graders) will travel with club advisor Peter Shulman to the national competition in Washington, D.C., in April.

The team members also participated as individuals in the closely related History Bee, and all five qualified for the national History Bee. Daniel Chiu placed 3rd and Ian Hoyt placed 5th.

Dr. Kathy Masarie presentation handout

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Cultivating Kids’ Social Lives and the Brain Revolution

For those who missed Dr. Kathy Masarie's presentation at the November parent community meeting or did not receive the handout, please download the PDF below

Catlin Gabel School team gets $10,000 grant for ScumBot project

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Oregonian article, October 2013


Sophomore Nadya Okamoto wins Beaverton Library writing contest

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Oregonian article, November 2013

BS and LS Grandparents and Special Friends Day photo gallery

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Thank you for spending some time with us!

Click on any photo to enlarge it, download it, or start the slide show.

Upper School teacher publishes curriculum guide for wide distribution

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Upper School teacher and PLACE urban studies director George Zaninovich collaborated with alumna Erin Goodling '99 to produce a curriculum guide for educators, activists, community leaders, and, above all, students. The 121-page guidebook is an outgrowth of Catlin Gabel's PLACE urban studies and leadership program. We are grateful to George and Erin for walking our talk of being a model for progressive education.

The free curriculum guide is posted on our website. We are eager to share this work with others. 
Help spread the word.

Catlin Upper Schoolers Make Art on Horseback Trip

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Sunday afternoon we arrived at a quiet campus and loaded up for the scenic drive to Ekone Ranch.  Through the Gorge waterfalls, past the Stone Henge Memorial, and past the windmills, at last we descended into the valley where we would spend the next three days riding horses, creating art, hiking, and making new friends.  We were greeted by happy ranch dogs Lola and Banjo and got the lay of the land before settling into our cabin.  We walked down tot he cook house and enjoyed dinner together in the warm kitchen.  After dinner we built a fire in the open air lodge under the watchful eyes of Monarch the buffalo head and our evening entertainment group lead a wonderful program of games, bonding, and sing along.  Sleeping was warm and cozy.  Maybe too cozy as students cooked in the wood stove heated sauna like cabin.  Monday morning came bright and early with a frosty dawn light peeked into the valley and the breakfast crew bundled up and headed to the kitchen soon to be joined by the rest of the group to fuel up for a long day of riding, drawing, and exploring.  Groups switched off getting the horses ready, riding out along the canyon, drawing still lifes of skulls and portraits of one another, sketching in the crisp sunshine, and exploring.   We took a break and warmed up at lunch before heading out into the sunny cold day for more riding and creating.  The evening was dinner, fire building, and campfire games and a more temperature regulated night in the cabin. 
 Tuesday was suddenly upon us and while some students spent our last morning at Ekone riding, others hiked down into the canyon before a tasty lunch a fond farewell and the bus ride back in to Portland. 

6th Grade Girls Take The Beach!

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Crabbing! Beach! Yurts! New Friends!

The skies were grey but the attitudes were bright as we gathered in the Theater Parking Lot for weekend Girls Beach Trip.  In our pre trip huddle we loaded our baggage and talked about the “baggage” we were leaving behind.  We figuratively dumped things like stress, homework, worry, and drama in the lot and drove away from it all towards a weekend of fun, learning, bonding, trying new things, and making new friends at the Oregon Coast.
 The bus ride was a radio sing along party full of laughter and dancing in our seats.  Two hours later we pulled in to Nehalem Bay State Park, parked the bus and the girls navigated us to the beach.  We stashed our lunches, ran to greet the sea and played sardines and camouflage in the dunes  where the sand and tall grass was ideal for hiding.  We ate our lunches in the perfect little wind protected nest before we were chased back to camp by the wind and the rains. 
 We had a blast seeing who could fake the coldest wettest face and the winners easily persuaded the kind camp hosts to let us check in an hour early.  After settling into our yurts, the clouds parted again and Ann, Pongi, and the girls set out to see the sunset over the Ocean.  Renee stayed back to set up the dinner prep and fend off raccoons and soon saw the headlamps of the team bobbing around on the dunes.  Soon the girls, Ann, and Pongi popped out and came back to the Yurt.  Promising tales of their adventure around the fire. 
 Half the group built a fire with Pongi and the other half prepared our fiesta with Renee and soon we were all enjoying warm burritos by our warm fire. 
 After we cleaned up dinner we re grouped by the fire and were regaled with the tale of the dunes in the darkness.  One by one the girls added onto the tale of their trip back from the beach where they got turned around, had to strategize, and finally found their way back.  The group was proud of their victory and bonded by the experience!
 We enjoyed s’mores and played a game before heading back to our Yurts for visiting hours.   Girls went between the Yurts playing games, painting nails, and talking before we all settled into our little nests and chatted until lights out.
 After a cozy night of rest under the sound of rain on our roofs,  we woke to no rain, breakfasted and packed up.  We bussed over to the Brighton Marina on Nehalem bay where we rented some crab traps and joined the crabbers on the dock to try our luck at crabbing.  Before too long the girls pulled up two enormous keepers.  The other crabbers were impressed that these 13 11 year olds were having such luck! We cooked our crabs and enjoyed a lunch of wraps, crab, fruit, and veggies and dip by the fire at the Marina.  Too soon it was time to load up again and we began our journey home with a quick stop at the Tillamook Cheese factory where we got ice cream, sampled cheese, and played games.  We were back at Catlin at 3:30pm, salty, sandy, and sleepy, with new friends and tales of adventure.

Will Richardson’s visit sparks controversy, conversation, and ideas

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When we invited Will Richardson to speak at Catlin Gabel, we knew his theories about the future of education would trigger a range of responses from skepticism to agreement to “we already do that.” And Will did not disappoint! At both his evening talk for parents on October 17 and his talk for teachers the next day, Will raised more questions than he answered—and that was his intent.

Changes in technology during the past 20 years have had more impact on culture and education than anything in the previous 200 years (including brain research). Will did not provide quick answers to the question of how technology affects our thinking, the acquisition and delivery of information, and the value of content. Rather, he challenged educators to think and talk together about complex questions and work toward a shared vision.

Among his provocative ideas is the notion that to best serve students for the digitally connected, globally networked, and information-saturated future, the role of teachers needs to evolve from providers of information to master learners who model inquiry and connect students with specialists who can engage in dialogue related to subject matter. Will asked us to think of classrooms as part of a world network connected to other classrooms and experts.

He raised some eyebrows with another concept: institutions aren’t needed for content anymore. They are needed for nurturing students, getting the most out of them, and preparing them for modern learning with a mindset and disposition for self-organizing.

In asking how much people need to know given our world of ample access to information, Will asserts that the job of educators is to help students build skills to assess information, to persist, to create, and to work with people from different cultures. He further recommends that students do something with their learning – produce authentic work for real audiences for real reasons – to create work that lives in the world.

Regardless of what any one of us thinks about the specifics of what Will had to say, we are delighted that his visit to Catlin Gabel sparked conversations about the future of education among parents, teachers, and staff members.

Following Will’s presentation on the in-service day, faculty and staff broke into morning and afternoon discussion groups. Each cross-divisional group focused on one essential question. The discussion titles, suggested by teachers, reveal a great deal about what educators at Catlin Gabel want to explore. Will's book and presentation prompted some of the topics, but his is just one voice among many. We consider the vast body of research related to teaching and learning in our ongoing conversations about how our program should evolve to best serve students.

Some of the many complex questions teachers and staffers considered on our in-service day

• What are we afraid of that's stopping us from creating our ultimate school?
• How does assessment and feedback to students need to change to align with progressive values?
• How can students become self-determined challenged learners and maintain the balance in life so needed for health?
• What should the graduation requirements of 2027 (current preschool class) look like?
• How can we wed individually centered learning with communitarian goals and collaborative skills?
• What does progressive learning look like and how is it demonstrated in the language classroom?
• What is our vision for tech use in the classroom at CG?
• How might we bring making and tinkering into the classroom?

We asked division heads to share some of their takeaways from Will Richardson’s visit and our in-service day.

Beginning School Head Hannah Whitehead

The question that most interested me, coming from Will’s talk and the reading I’ve done, is: what is the school’s role in preparing our children for a world of ubiquitous learning, when experts and information are available to anyone with connection to the Internet? When just-in-time learning is available, whatever our passions and curiosities might be? When we are moving as a society from institutionally organized learning to self-organized educations? This is a lot to chew on!

With a tsunami of information coming our way and the need to, in Will’s words, curate it, there is much for teachers to do. Helping students become digitally literate springs immediately to mind, as does guidance in critical assessment of information, creative use of it, and supporting persistence in problem-solving. Helping students create “authentic work for real audiences for real reasons – work that lives in the world – not just the classroom,” is exciting to think about at this expanded scale!

I found myself wondering, however, about students who struggle with organization, and with determining what is important, even in a structured text. Think about facing an avalanche of un-curated material with these challenges in mind! We need to think hard about how to support these students so they can be successful, perhaps in part by using technology to help out.

I also have been thinking a lot about Howard Gardner’s work Five Minds of the Future as I consider what our Beginning School students will need as they grow up. Gardner and the folks at Harvard’s Project Zero have delineated the “minds” we all need to cultivate in the world of globalization and digital revolution. Lifelong learning is certainly required! Here is the CliffsNotes™ version:

• The disciplined mind (digging deep and subject mastery)
• The synthesizing mind (critical for the digital flood of information so that it is possible to do something with it)
• The creating mind (poses important questions, doesn’t expect everything to work out, keeps trying, creates the new)
• The respectful mind (diversity is a fact of life, so being able to understand and respect others’ perspectives is essential when we are working with people of all cultures)
• The ethical mind (we need good global/earth citizens if humanity is to continue)

It was rewarding indeed to have the time with colleagues to mull, debate, explore, but not conclude our thinking about these important topics. I can’t think of a better use of time.

Lower School Head Vicki Swartz Roscoe

Will Richardson’s ideas provoke a great deal of spirited conversation among teachers and parents. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in our lives. How does this play out with our young children? How much screen time is healthy? How much is too much? What about the balance with playing outdoors and interacting socially?

We are working on developing digital citizenship with our students and, since Will’s talk, have shared a variety of resources with parents. We have committed to having a parent meeting to talk about this topic head-on. Additionally, we are exploring our next steps with integration of the “maker movement” also mentioned by Will. How can our students be involved in making and building things that help solve problems? We have a team of teachers looking closely at what happens in woodshop and art class, and how we might integrate more projects with the homeroom. A number of Lower School teachers are keenly interested in this idea.

However, Will’s assertion that today’s technology means that students no longer need teachers in schools is not one I embrace. Teaching is all about relationship building, and Catlin Gabel’s greatest strength is the extraordinary teachers who connect deeply with our students. Online connections are not, and will never ever be, the same. I assert that once healthy bonds are made between the teacher, the student, and their parents, there is no limit to the learning that can take place. And I’m talking about healthy in-person bonds. Bonus points for a beautiful school environment.

Middle School Head Barbara Ostos

Among the many great things about our professional development day with Will Richardson were leaning in to discomfort, pushing pedagogy, questioning the industrial model of teaching and learning, discussing who we are and what we do, and asking who we want to be and what we want to do.

But the topics themselves are secondary to the wonderful synergy created when teachers from across the school engage in the same line of inquiry. The opportunity to gather our entire faculty to ask questions and spend extended time discussing answers was by far the best aspect of that day! Days like these allow us to remember that regardless of where we teach – be it the Beehive or Dant House – we are essentially facilitating the same type of learning lab, designed developmentally to meet students where they are. I heard this concept time and time again on October 18 from teachers from all four divisions. This synergy affirms our mission and vision as a school, and perhaps more importantly, allows for relationships to build between teachers across the campus so they see one another as resources and colleagues. This is what good schools do!

Upper School Head Dan Griffiths

The best thing about Will Richardson’s visit was the way his in-service day talk with faculty inspired our discussions for the rest of the day. It’s rare that we have the time and space for the entire faculty – preschool through high school – to really think about Catlin Gabel’s mission and consider together important ideas about educational philosophy. We were able to break from the day-to-day operations of running this great school, get out of our silos, and have substantive discussions from many different viewpoints. His talk and the pre-reading stimulated a wide variety of takes on several topics. Each group took a different topic that we were allowed to pick up and run with. The unmeeting format allowed self-selecting a topic of interest, which translated to full investment, deep engagement, and energized teachers. I particularly appreciated how many of my colleagues critically examined what a CG graduate should look like, asking ourselves what skills and knowledge students need when they leave us in today’s rapidly changing world.

Exploring Oregon's remotest places

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Oregon High Desert Adventure

Christmas Lake, Alkalai Flats, Crack in the Ground, Shiprock, Green Mountain and South Ice Cave were some of the features that Catlin students backpacked to over the extended break for conferences this year.

The group drove from Portland to the hamlet of Christmas Valley on Saturday and set off on foot northbound across the salt flats, which are the remnants of an ancient lake.  Some of the students found arrowheads(!) as we made our way to a remote camping spot, far from any habitation.  The moon was as bright as a reading light, and the stars shone more brightly than any the students had ever seen.  The next morning, after a dinner of oatmeal, fresh fruit, and Spam, we all set off on a very challenging twelve mile hike across the salt flats and into the higher sage country.  We spent a few hours at Crack in the Ground exploring its hidden recesses before climbing higher and higher into the juniper and then pine forest to a camp atop Green Mountain.  The panorama from our campsite allowed us to see over 1000 square miles of the state.  Dinner consisted of Philadelphia cheese steak sandwiches.  Our third day was spent exploring South Ice Cave and trying to force new passages among the rocks.  For most of the kids this was the most challenging outdoor experience of their lives.  Strong bonds were forged among the thirteen students, who represented all four classes of the school.

Girls soccer team advances to state quarterfinals

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Go Eagles!

The girls beat Umatilla  8-0 on Tuesday.

They play Western Mennonite on Saturday, November 9, at noon at Amity High School

» Link to Google map

A weekend of sun at Smith Rock

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Rock climbing with your friends on a great weekend

Rock climbing in the desert sun is a perfect antidote for the autmun rains in Portland.   As is so often the case, the dramatic television news forecasts for approaching weather turned out to be, well, wrong, and the students on the trip were treated to unbridled sunshine all day Saturday, a clear (and cold) night, and unalloyed sunshine all day on Sunday. 

Once the group  finished climbing on Saturday, we all boarded the bus and drove into Redmond and enjoyed an authentic Mexican meal at Mazatlan Resturant.  That evening we set up camp in the Skull Hollow Campground, which was practically empty, and built a large bonfire which served as a forum for outdoor-related and moose jokes late into the evening.
The sun rose on our little campsite about 8am and we set about making our individual breakfasts.  The balance of the day was occupied with climbing the warm rocks along the Crooked River.

Harvest Festival 2013 photo gallery

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Lower School students, faculty-staff, and parents gathered by a roaring fire for music and poetry celebrating the season and the traditional rolling of the weather-predicting oatcake. The giant oatcake is marked with an X on one side, and an O on the other side. If the oatcake lands on O we'll have a mild winter, if it lands on X, we'll have a harsh winter. Despite the children's fervent wishes and chanting for their preferred outcome that the oat cake land on X, it rolled to the O side. Guess we won't have any weather-related  school closures this year.