Driven by student inquiry, the treehouse project incorporates engineering, design, math, art - and lessons for life
By Jennifer Marcus '73, Beginning School Woodshop Teacher
Henry, a five-year-old kindergartener, walked up to me and, with his hands in his pockets, declared, “I know what we should build next.”
I waited and thought: Space ship? Sail boat? Ping pong table?
“A tree house,” he said. Then he asked, “Where do you think we should build it?”
Surrounded by kindergarteners at our lunch table, I floated the idea to see if a tree house project would garner enough support. I asked, “Does anyone know about tree houses?” This produced many excited responses. The next question for the group was, “How do we build a tree house?”
I teach by asking questions. I try to understand all of the information that is informing students’ comments or inquiry, and how I can help them to build on that. So, when a student makes a comment or asks a question, I very rarely respond with a statement. I ask another question, and the cycle of inquiry continues. Whenever a child says, “I want to build something,” my response is always, “Well, I wonder how you do that?”
Later that afternoon in the woodshop, another student said, “We should start with a plan sheet.” Several children drew their ideas. “It needs a ladder!” “...a slide” “...a bathroom.” Everything was discussed. Other students did research using the book House Building for Children. They were thrilled to find...read more in The Caller and see images of the finished treehouse
Follow him on Twitter @TimBazemore.
Creating An Inclusive Learning Environment
"I come from a diverse background, being half-Mexican and half-Cuban, not being born here, and of parents with immigrant stories. That made my experience very different as a kid in an independent school...An important aspect of our work as an independent school is the ability to think through how we can provide these types of incredibly powerful learning experiences to a wider array of students from different backgrounds. It’s important to me because, of course, I was one of those kids who got to experience something incredible that my family certainly couldn’t afford, and that has clearly propelled me to being here today."
From Your Admission TeamThe School Search - Plan to visit!
Navigating the school search process can feel very overwhelming! Starting early allows time to explore many avenues to find the right fit for your child and family.
At Catlin Gabel, we believe that visiting campus during a regular school day is by far the best way to learn about any school. Catlin Gabel’s website and printed materials capture the school’s essence to a certain degree, but spending time on campus allows visitors to see firsthand how our community engages in lively discussions, how teachers and students collaborate with each other, how students “learn by doing,” and how our 67-acre campus enhances their experiences. Visitors will also have opportunities to witness some “aha” learning moments and feel the positive energy that permeates the campus.
Catlin Gabel provides a number of ways for prospective families to spend time on campus:
In addition, the Catlin Gabel admission team will be out in the community at the Portland-Area Independent & Private School Fair at OMSI. Your school search process should help you imagine your child in a particular environment and address your core questions, such as: Would my child be nurtured and challenged here? Will my child fit in well with the other students? And ultimately, will they be happy here? We hope you will take the next step to investigate whether Catlin Gabel is right for your family. Visit the Ravenna website to create an admission profile.