Spanish class is always a little challenging for me to visit, since I don’t speak Spanish. Teacher Kathleen O’ Connor is such an animated presenter, however, that even without actually understanding anything she was saying, I could tell from her impromptu drawings that the class was discussing the fine points of prepositions. The Spanish 4 students had put up their homework assignments all over the whiteboards lining the classroom walls. One student asked a question about the proper use of the preposition “para,” and the discussion of when to use which prepositions — and the impromptu illustrations by Kathleen — was off and running.
In AP Environmental Science, Science Teacher Andy Milbauer was also busy drawing on the whiteboard, but, instead of drawing pictures of prepositional relationships (up, over, around, under, etc.), he was drawing ocean currents, prevailing winds, and diagrams of the sun and the Earth as he explained to students why Ireland stays warmer in winter than Wisconsin, even though it’s farther north: the Gulf Stream flows up from the Gulf of Mexico and blankets Ireland in its warm currents. Andy helped students picture the Coriolis Effect, which leads to predictable patterns of winds, storms, and currents, by showing them this video illustration, which I found fascinating. Notice how the ball on the merry-go-round appears to move in a straight line when observed from above, and, at the same time, appears to move in an arc when viewed from the side.
Finally, I visited Drawn to Nature, our painting and drawing class. Students were practicing drawing what they really saw, as opposed to drawing the stereotypical images of familiar forms that we all learn as we’re growing up. Art Teacher Nancy Schwartz encouraged students to focus on seeing and capturing the light, form, and color in front of them as they closely observed the plants and natural light in our dining room.
The small class sizes; the friendly, casual manner of the teachers; and the attentiveness of the students made this morning series of classroom visits a pleasure. Whenever I visit classes I’m reminded of what a privilege it is to work at Conserve School.
– Mary Anna