Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Invention Convention

Here is a message our fantastic art teacher, Mrs. Chany Fleishhacker,about the Invention Convention she ran earlier this week for our 6th grade.  Much of the talk today about 21st century skills focuses on the importance of nurturing creativity and out-of-the-box thinking within our core curriculum.  It doesn't get more creative or more out-of-the-box than this...

Dear Parents,

Today the 6th grade art students gathered together for our annual Leonardo Da Vinci Invention Convention. This convention was the culmination of a long term art project that our artists have been working on for most of the spring semester.
The project began with a brief introduction to history of Leonardo’s invention ideas. We all of course know about his Mona Lisa, but many of our students were surprised to find out that he was the father of many of the modern conveniences that we use today. Leonardo was a dreamer. Though the technology and materials were not available during his time to bring many of his dreams to fruition; the meticulous notes and diagrams that he made in his journals have helped the scientists and inventors of later generations make those dreams come true. (For example, the Write Brothers’ first flying machine was based on his design).
The students were divided up into teams and each team had to come up with a proposal for an invention that would make life easier and/or more fun. Upon approval of their proposal each team received some class cash to spend on the supplies that they needed to build their scale model and create some promotional material to advertise their product.
I am so impressed with the ideas that hatched out of our students’ minds. Today each team presented their idea in front of a panel of judges along with their promotional material. The judges had a hard time making their decisions. The results were very close. (The winners won by 1 ½ points!). Congratulations to Noga Finkelstein and Rena Osdoba on their SMILE machine. Special thanks to Cindy Massey and Charna Schubert for their help with the judging.
Please follow the link below and watch the video of our young inventors hard at work. I know you’ll be impressed with what you see:
Have a great summer,
Morah Chany

Girls Capture 2nd Place in City-Wide Writing Contest

The anxiety was building as Girls High School Principal Mrs. Anat Kampf, High School English teacher Mrs. Abby Johnson, 12th graders Shoshana Somer and Molly Brakha, their families, and I listened to the announcements of the winners of Bnai Brith's Diverse Minds Writing Challenge downtown at the National Civil Rights Museum.

Before making the announcement, the director of the program informed the crowd that they had received at least one submission for the contest, a challenge that asked high school student to write and illustrate a children's book about tolerance and diversity, from every high school in Shelby County. Only the authors of the five submissions which a team of expert judges deemed best, were invited to the program at the Civil Rights Museum.

After her introduction she began by announcing the two Honorable Mentions: a pair of girls from St. Mary's Episcopal School and a girl from White Station High School.  Then she announced the third place winner, who would take home a $1000 college scholarship: it was two boys from Germantown High School.  Smiles then flashed across the faces of our entire contingency.  No matter what happened next, the girls from our tiny little high school had just beat out students from the biggest and most well-regarded private and public high schools in our city.

Molly and Shoshana were called next and went up to receive their $2000 college scholarship.  Though 1st place came with the additional bonus of having the book published by Bnai Brith, our girls realized rather quickly that the accolades their book received meant it might be worth exploring other publishing options.   So don't be surprised if in a few months, while walking through the children's section of your favorite book store or browsing on Amazon, you notice a book called the World of Color, written by Molly Brakha and illustrated by Shoshana Somer.  If you do, buy it.  It's well worth a read.

Pictures from Kindergarten Graduation

I apologize for the delay, but here is a link to the all the pictures from Kindergarten graduation. As all those who were there will attest, the kids were simply spectacular.  From an educational standpoint, though, what it made it all the more impressive is that the overwhelming majority of the performance was simply a reflection of material the children had learned over the course of the year, rather than new material learned just for the purposes of putting on a show.  Borrowing from the terminology of the Tal Am program, we would call this a chagigat ha-nilmad - a celebration of what they have learned, rather than learning for a celebration - par excellence.

Thank you Morah Michelle, Miss Katie, Miss Cathleen, Moreh Shimshon, and Miss Charna for all your hard work!