Posts by gtucker

  1. Day 148: Jacob, Music Department accompanist for the Middle and Upper Schools

    [ By on May 27, 2013 ]

    In the midst of thunderstorms, yesterday saw the last of the choral performances at Riverdale for this school year.  The sixth and seventh grade choirs performed with such excitement, that their feeling of accomplishment (of presenting their great work to a sizable and receptive audience) was palpable.  After all, this is their only opportunity to perform for the entire school year, unlike the upper school choirs, which perform each semester.  After practicing this music for the entire school year, they were more than ready to enter the stage and collectively say to the audience: “We are going to sing this great music that we want you to hear!” This experience of learning and performing music will stay with these students throughout ...

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  2. Day 144: Emily, teacher and Chair of the History Department

    [ By on May 18, 2013 ]

    How do you best maintain the engagement of second-semester seniors on a seventy-five-degree May afternoon immediately following lunch?  Well, if you’re me, you break into an elaborate tap routine, spinning and falap-heel-toe-heel-step-brush–heeling your way around the room while rhythmically reciting key points from relevant Supreme Court decisions.  That always gets their attention. As I employed this desperate tactic this afternoon, it occurred to me that studying tap has made me a better teacher, and not just because there’s a significant element of egotism and performance involved in standing in front of a roomful of hypercritical adolescents every day.  I think of myself as a pretty scrappy dancer.  It takes me a long time to master the mechanics of a new step ...

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  3. Day 139: Rachel, Director of Middle School Service Learning

    [ By on May 10, 2013 ]

    I attended the Lower School Service Learning Assembly this morning to hear about all of the important service learning work that has been happening at the Lower School this year. Not only did the Lower School students wow me with their presentation and the sheer amount of money that they were able to raise for many different charities, but they also impressed me with their incredible passion for doing nice things for others. I believe in giving back to our community. I believe that any act, no matter how big or how small, can make a difference in the lives of others. I believe that each of us has in us the ability to create change. And, I believe that this ...

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  4. Day 134: Ella, Lower School Environmental Education Facilitator

    [ By on May 06, 2013 ]

    Project-Based Learning Week at the Lower School

    This past week, the Lower School took a break from programming as usual and embarked on its first Project-Based Learning Week.  Each grade picked a theme (and in some cases, more than one) and explored it with projects, as the name infers.  It was a beautiful spring week and the campus was buzzing with children working – many outdoors – on projects of their design. The Hudson River was the focus of several grades, with projects ranging from trips to sites along the river, such as The Science Barge and The Little Red Lighthouse, to a re-creation, by kindergarten, of the Hudson River using paint, sculpture, and shovels to dig out a replica ...

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  5. Day 129: Ellen, Upper School history teacher

    [ By on April 29, 2013 ]

    “Like the poor, Lyman’s grading will always be with us.” Thus did my grandmother (paraphrasing Jesus) account for the beginning of each holiday, as my dad, a college instructor graced with more than his share of Freshman Comp papers, invariably dragged a pile of student essays along. “Gotta get the grades in” set the rhythm of my family life. And here I am, carrying on the family tradition. My daughter has learned that “Mommy’s grading (groan)” shapes almost every weekend. Now that we're in Term Paper Season, I read dozens of thesis statements, outlines, and essays on the same topic. The. Same. Topic. Why not just get a computer to respond to them? The parts are the same, the topic is ...

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  6. Day 112: Samantha, Learning Specialist, Middle and Upper School

    [ By on March 15, 2013 ]

    Over the past year, I have attempted to incorporate more technology into my classroom. Google Drive has replaced the over-stuffed binders that once held each of my lesson plans and lesson materials; “flipped lessons,” educational apps, and “blended learning” trends have transformed the traditional lesson models I used when I first started teaching. My students and I have become quite accustomed to the wonderfully simple “Create” and “Share” buttons on Google, which allow us to collaborate via the “cloud,”as the tech world so aptly calls it.

    When all RCS systems were down this morning and it became clear to me that I would not be able to access my online lesson materials, I had to do the unthinkable--teach without

    ...

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  7. Day 107: Will, Middle School History Teacher

    [ By on March 08, 2013 ]

    Great questions make great classes. That’s the lesson I learned yet again today in my eighth month teaching at Riverdale. My seventh grade American history class and I were working our way through excerpts from Lincoln’s House Divided Speech, talking through the idea that America was bound to come to blows over the issue of slavery. A student in the back row raised her hand. “Why did the North and South go to war when they did, instead of earlier or later?” It was a great question. Challenging, relevant, and requiring all of their nascent analytical skills. The kind of question that we teachers labor over for hours, emerging from the depths of the curriculum mines to label essential. But when a great question ...

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  8. Day 102: Monika, Middle and Upper School Math Teacher

    [ By on March 01, 2013 ]

    This is my tenth year teaching math and today I learned the value of taking the time to simply think.  Over the years, my teaching goals have shifted, changed, and grown. My goal as a first year teacher was to make it to June. My goal as a fourth year teacher was to add more interactive activities to the curriculum. As an eighth year teacher, my goal was to teach math in a way that was challenging, yet affirming, to my students. This year, my goal is to get all my students to think deeply about what we are learning in class. This is not as simple as it might seem because we – teachers, students, school administrators – are ...

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  9. Day 97: Stacey, Third grade co-teacher

    [ By on February 22, 2013 ]

    Fairness is a something we have to look at through different lenses in our lifetime. As children, we are always saying, "that's not fair" when someone else gets something and we don't. As we get older, we start to look at situations in life and think about how our lives turn out in comparison to others. As a teacher, I look at my students and have to figure out how to meet their individual needs but yet still be "fair". Fairness came to mind as I observed my students in reading groups today and realized how they each have different needs. How can I be fair and give them what they need to be successful?  As my mind went into overdrive, I ...

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  10. Day 93: Jessica, Fifth grade co-teacher

    [ By on February 15, 2013 ]

    So, there I was sitting in our cool new node chairs, swaying from side to side.  In science, we had been learning about the human body, more specifically the circulatory system.  The previous day, one of our students, Carly, felt so compelled to share what she knew from her experience with having a brother who was born with a Cyanotic Congenital Heart Defect.  So, what is a Cyanotic Congenital Heart Defect you ask? I wouldn’t be able to tell you had I not listened to this ten year old speak confidently, articulately, and passionately.  Carly explained the difference between how a normal heart functions versus that where the great arteries are transposed and the non-oxygenated blood is pumped straight from ...

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