Dear Blake Families:
I hope that the long weekend has treated everyone well, and for those of you that were celebrating Easter or Passover, I hope that your celebrations were enjoyable. The weekend thus far has been a great one - going to the Big Apple Circus on Friday with the kids, soccer games on Saturday, and getting together with family on Saturday evening for a great meal. I have to admit that nutrition was not at the centerpiece of our weekends, as the kids started the weekend with cotton candy at the circus and finished on a strong note with their fair share of candy on Sunday!
This past Wednesday Katie and I, along with my parents, were treated by going to Maggie's second grade open house. Each classroom had a different theme/focus, and Maggie's class was presenting their biographies. The classroom was set up as a museum, with each student standing by their 'exhibit', presenting his/her 'subject' as an expert. As much as Katie and I enjoyed seeing Maggie present Vincent Van Gogh, we also got a real boost by meeting each of her classmates, as they presented their reports. The night reminded me of the individuality that can still shine through from a common learning experience. It also once again solidified the importance of the connections that can be made when we actively engage parents with their students, as we share the work that their children have accomplished, sharing both the challenges and successes of the process.
This week I have highlighted and attached two articles for your interest. The first is a brief summary from The Atlantic of an interview with Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, in which he outlines his thoughts about the future of education and his plans for America's schools. I think it is important to be aware of policy and the current debate/dialogue that is taking place at the federal level about our profession. In an effort to present a 'balanced' approach, the second article is from the the New York Times 'Opinion Pages', entitled 'Your Brain on Fiction'. In this article, Annie Murphy Paul presents research that our brains benefit in a scientific manner from the reading of fiction, as this exercise engages our minds in a unique fashion: 'Fiction - with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions - offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people's thoughts and feelings.' As we approach April vacation, I know it is one of my goals to catch up on some pleasure reading, and I thought you may find this of interest, for your own benefits, as well as the known, inherent benefits for our students. As Paul ends her article, this research enhances our belief system: 'Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined.' That said, vacations are often a time for 'guilty pleasure reading' as well, and I hope you can find some time to fulfill your interests over the vacation time period. It is certainly well-deserved
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Best wishes for a great week and relaxing and healthy vacation.