Saturday, September 25, 2010

michaelmas dragoneering

the task of the waldorf sixth grader

Fear not good people your prayer is heard.
Michael am I, guardian of the highest word.
Oh dread dragon with this sword of light
I can conquer you in a single fight.
Your scaly hide it can easily pierce
And drain the life from your fangs so fierce.
But also to you a last chance I may give
To change your ways and so to live.
That the highest is served through your power
And a part of us you become from this hour.

Ah, Michael, conqueror from on high
If I may but live then I shall try
To serve the princess as best I can
And with her every woman and man.
I’ll plow the fields and plant the wheat
So that she and all her folk may eat.

We’ll teach him to plough
And we’ll teach him to sow,
We’ll teach him to harrow
To reap and to mow.
He’ll garner the harvest
And grind all the flour,
Humankind will grow strong
In the strength of his power.

The Michaelmas play at Davis Waldorf was held in a stand of trees on our field. The second graders, directed by their teacher Patrice Rapp, presented their play with strong, fearless voices! The sixth grade students provided the dragon.

From the fire-breathing volcano of Mount Lassen to the fire-breathing dragon of Davis Waldorf, the sixth graders gave life to the dragon. I used chickenwire to form the head, and tarp for the skin. We draped the tarp over the children and with flour thrown to simulate smoke, they made a convincing dragon!

Enjoy the following pictures (I used publishing software to make them look like pencil drawings to maintain the children's privacy).

preparing to enter the dragon

the second grade townsfolk

with a loop and a puff of smoke, the dragon appears

the archangel Michael saves the day

pausing proudly with our dragon

Saturday, September 18, 2010

mount lassen

our sixth grade camping trip

This second week of September, the sixth graders of Davis Waldorf School spent three days in magnificent Lassen Volcanic Park. The feel of cinders crunching at our feet as we climbed Cinder Cone or inhaling the sulfur from fumaroles at Bumpass Hell allows their study of geology to live in their hearts. Our itinerary included a picnic at serene Lake Helen, a hike into steamy Bumpass Hell, and an epic climb up Cinder Cone.

The following images, taken by me, were inspired by B.F. Loomis' photographs of the 1915 eruption of Mount Lassen, on display as giant black and white photos in the Loomis Museum at the northern entrance of the park.

Lassen is rich in geological treasures.

The dynamic landscape is in a cycle of decay and growth.

We camped on the edge of secluded and picturesque Summit Lake.

Our campsite may have had forest nymphs watching over us!

As we hiked on trails, there were amazing views in all directions...

And lots of rocks.

This is on the way to Bumpass Hell.

The intrepid chaperones paused on the Bumpass Hell boardwalk -
where are the children?

Oh, there they are!

Cinder Cone is a 750 foot tall cone volcano, whose steep climb is like
scaling a tall sand dune.

The wind was wild and the views were spectacular from the crater rim.

We conquered Cinder Cone, and brilliantly documented the shoes that got us there!

Friday, September 10, 2010

opening day

reverence and the rose

Davis Waldorf School celebrated its first day of school with the Rose Ceremony. It symbolizes the beliefs of the Waldorf way: honoring the beauty of the spiritual nature of the child. With reverence and grace, each grades teacher proudly expressed the voyage of their students through the curriculum and through the developmental stage of that particular grade.

As the sixth grade teacher for Davis Waldorf, I spoke of the new sense of reasoning awakening in the 12 year old child, which opens their hearts to the transformation of people and places in their curriculum. More importantly, the course of the year will see a transformation in the children themselves.

offering a hand-made gift for my colleague, Coleen Borrego

The opening day celebration centers around the Rose Ceremony. Ms. Ute Luebeck, our dear first grade teacher, shared heart-felt words with the parents. Truly, the first grade child will begin on a path of wonder and adventure, but they need not fear. With gentleness, our eighth grade children, young adults, offer the rose to the little ones as a token of friendship, peace, calm, and beauty. Then the parents had formed an arc of sunflowers that lead the way for Ms. Luebeck and the children to enter into the first grade classroom.

It is a magical way for the little ones to begin the school year.

my son Wilson gets a hug, a crown, a key, and an 8th grade buddy

Angela Kost, our strings teacher, provides music for the ceremony

a beautiful and welcoming display

a new gate for the lower grades garden

warm, calm, nurturing kindergarten spaces

It was also a magical way to begin my first year with the sixth grade! With consciousness of the incredible task about to unfold, I prepared as best as I could for this day, for my year. I moved my family to Davis over the summer, a huge task in itself. I spent 5 intense weeks at Steiner College. I wrote a variety of material to organize my thoughts and plans for the year, created a Google Group for my parents, cleaned and organized my classroom, planned our sixth grade Mount Lassen filed trip, gathered resources, painted and sanded my gift for the fifth grade teacher the night before opening day, and it continues.

This first day was key, it sets the tone for the year. Jennifer knitted me a tie to wear for Opening Day, which I was glad for. In so many ways, it was an important day. It was the first day of school for my three kids at Davis Waldorf, it was my first day to greet the community, it was my first day to be in the classroom with the sixth graders.

And as I write this blog at the end of this first week, I will say that I am truly grateful for them. They have shown me this week that they have the courage, honor, faith, and heart to take this journey with me. And as I reflect on the first day of school with the children, I feel that a connection was made, and the natural bond formed felt as if I had been standing in front of the classroom with them much longer.