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A Message from Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School

A Message from Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School
  • Academics
Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School

Hello Lower School families!

With nineteen days of school under our belts, we are officially off and running! It has been an exciting beginning of the school year with our new indoor and outdoor learning spaces. According to some wise lower school students, highlights include the new outdoor climbing wall at recess, the writable walls for learning, and the flexible seating in the beautiful science room!

Our curricula across subjects are already in full swing. In addition to our core content areas, we are continuing to fuel students in creative, student-led projects. Following a pilot trimester of Genius Hour in the Spring of 2019, students are now beginning to explore what this interest-based, creative outlet might look like in their new classrooms this year. As you might know, Genius Hour is an inquiry-driven movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. “This strategy is designed to excite and engage students through the unrestrained joy of learning.” -Genius Hour Guide

These interest-driven passion projects begin with some self-discovery and exploration of personal passions, followed by the development of a driving question. Students research and share out a response to their question, in an effort to enhance the world in some way.

As kids explore, teachers transform into mentors, enriching projects with gentle guidance and encouragement, and offering meaningful learning opportunities. One significant learning objective for our Genius Hour time is engaging in effective teamwork. Just like any other learning strategy, working in groups requires scaffolding and practice. As part of our most recent faculty meeting, teachers took part in some professional development about how to create enhanced Collaborative Learning Experiences. Check out these teachers practicing collaborative skills as they tackle a design challenge.

Genius Hour/Passion projects take on many shapes, and we are just beginning the exploration phase for this school year. This week, in Ms. Deradoorian’s class, second graders engaged in electives! Students were introduced to three stations and were able to explore based on their interests. Some students chose a design engineering station using kiva planks, magna tiles, and straws and connectors. Others chose a visual arts station or a performing arts/reader’s theater elective. Look at Ms. Deradoorian’s class exploring personal passions!

If you’re interested in learning more (Parent Professional Development!), please check out the following links:

This Kid President video on inventions is a must watch!

Read here to learn more about Genius Hour, INNOpod-style. What is an INNOpod? Discover here!

Wonderopolis is an engaging, kid-friendly site to encourage creativity and discovery.

In addition to keeping you apprised of our latest curricular happenings across grade levels, I also look forward to sharing more about Genius Hour in future communications...let’s see where this year takes us!

Have a relaxing weekend.

Shabbat Shalom,

Karen Leavitt
Head of Lower School 



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