Creativity in Curriculum

Teaching at Parker is rewarding for many reasons: Small class sizes mean relationships between students and teachers are strong. Teachers have the freedom to delve deeply into topics of high interest and respond to each class, each year. The ability to exercise creativity and to be in control of their curriculum is very appealing. We are proud of our teachers and the responsibility they shoulder each year as designers of their students’ learning environment.
Here is a look at some of the studies Parker teachers are delving into this year… 
Preschoolers are working with Leiana to investigate a question that arose from the PreK 3’s observation: “Why is the grass wet in the morning?” The PreK 4 class visited the science lab to observe the results of several experiments, including evaporating water and then catching it in a bag. They are still piecing together the clues to answer the question. When they do, they will take their theory to the PreK 3 class to share their findings.

The 2-3 class is starting work on their “Where I’m From” poems. The middle school kicked off their own language arts curriculum by writing these same poems in the beginning weeks of school. The 2-3 class will soon join the 4-5s and middle school in celebrating these projects. Look for more to come!

Students in Derek’s 6th grade social studies class are learning about hunters and gatherers by partaking in a survival activity that has them envisioning how they would survive in the wild for 1-2 months. Students will be writing about and sketching the following: Shelter plans, plans to get food, important daily and long-term tasks, key things they will need to make, materials and plans to make these items, and plans for weather and predators.

K-5 art students have embarked on an ambitious playground study that involves researching play structures from around the world. The students are drawing dream playgrounds and will meet with an architect to talk planning and construction. Student drawings and collages will be transformed into notecards and sold to raise money for Troy Bid for the development of a much-needed playground.

The 8th grade music class will take on a full-immersion, interdisciplinary project combining music, social studies and STEAM. They will dive into a variety of musical theatre, eventually focusing on the
musicals 1776 and Hamilton. Students will learn the history behind both musicals, and collaborate to choose songs and vignettes from both musicals that highlight important historical events and weave a fuller and more well-rounded story of the Revolution. Students will eventually bring their interpretation to life on the Parker stage!

The K-1 class has been working together to write class books which they take turns bringing home to share with their families. Their most recent book is about butterflies, an investigation sparked by the discovery of several monarch caterpillars on the playground. They prepared an indoor habitat for the caterpillars and watched their metamorphosis while researching and writing their book.

4-5 students decided they wanted to start their study of Native Americans by starting local and branching out. They will begin by studying indigenous people of the Albany and New York regions, with plans to then broaden their perspective by studying Native Americans in the U.S. The class plans to deepen their studies with a field trip to the Iroquois Indian Museum. Other projects may include a Native American nature study using the Parker premises and connecting with local Native Americans in the area. 

Middle school Earth Science students are learning about the solar system and how to draw ellipses and calculate their eccentricities. Life Science students are discussing the eating habits of animals and how that contributes to their behavior.

One goal for Spanish students in our lower school is to have fluidity for language. In practice, this means that after students have their initial practice and instruction, Jen incorporates stations into their schedule. These enable the students to participate in different Spanish-speaking activities based on interest.

Middle school math students are working on design challenges with Rose. Some classes will use the 3D printer to apply math concepts to create an item that will solve a problem. Other projects involve geometric design challenges using different constraints.