Tuesday, June 06, 2006


On Saturday, in the midst of a frenetic weekend that included a music concert, yoga, a trip to the Bazaar, a party, a moving sale and a dinner invite, I also attended the second annual Woodstock Expo. This event is supposed to be a cumulative experiential learning project done by the tenth and twelfth graders after they finish their exams. They work in small groups with a faculty advisor and come up with an interactive project that they then present to the rest of the school on a designated day. Unfortunately, it comes at a bad time of year when the kids are already on summer break mode, their faculty advisors are stressed by end-of-year craziness, and no one is really thrilled about the idea of giving up a Saturday morning to look at projects.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by several of the projects and the day turned out to be fun after all. There were seven major themes: World Cup (soccer), Bicycles, Music, Science Olympics, Public Art, Graph Theory and Global Issues. Within those large divisions there were three subgroups doing distinct projects related to the larger theme. The rest of the school was divided up into groups that went around and saw one subgroup in each large group. Each touring group had a mixed bag of elementary, middle and high school students to encourage mingling between the schools. I co-chaperoned with another teacher and we led our children around to the various projects, sometimes participating, sometimes just watching.

Some of the groups were disappointing because they were either unfocused or hadn’t put any work into their project. But some were pretty cool. At the bicycle group we learned that balance is the most important element in bike riding and got to practice balancing on a very skinny beam while holding a large stick with weights tied to the ends. There was a lot of falling off and a small amount of balancing. And we also got a demonstration involving watermelons of why you should always wear a helmet while biking. Melons really do well as representations of the human head. They smush impressively and ooze red stuff.

Then in graph theory (which sounds snore-inducing, I know) I learned that you can color in any map of the world with only four colors and not have any of those colors directly border each other. Betcha didn’t know that!

“Public Art” was really just a display of a collection of student work from throughout the year. Not particularly interactive but I enjoyed seeing it. I had no idea we had such talented students. There were some amazing pen and ink drawings and several good paintings. As one who is artistically challenged I really like to see what other people can do.

In the music group we were asked to create a dance to a folk song. This did not thrill many members of my group (particularly the high school boys) but it was Miss Lockard to the rescue. I taught them some very basic steps—like “join arms and twirl around”—and we bounced around the room for a while. My partner was an eleventh grade boy who was traumatized by the experience of being forced to dance with a teacher.


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