February 21, 2019

Dear Harbor Families,

If you frequent the KID Museum right down the road, you will often hear the motto of “every kid a maker”. As you surely know by now, it’s also what we believe wholeheartedly and practice regularly  at the Harbor School!

Last Friday, teachers at Harbor spent the day immersed in an enriching professional experience. It was the last of our four-part series of professional development supported by our colleagues at the KID Museum, focused on aligning our practices in maker-centered learning and design thinking. Teachers spent an incredibly fast four hours together solidifying our understanding and purpose around this innovative way of teaching, and learning the benefits of coding for early childhood learners. For a breakdown of our day on Friday, read on...

We began our day with Amanda, our KID Museum colleague, by reviewing the underlying concepts and frameworks for maker-centered learning, which are designed to facilitate  creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving. Teachers reflected on how their teaching has evolved through the using our Harbor School design cycle of Explore. Create. Iterate. - both  inside and outside of our makerspace. We heard descriptions of learning at Harbor, such as these, that I quickly jotted down as teachers were talking:

  • “We stepped back, and I thought, ‘this isn’t going to work’, but the kids tackled that design challenge and they were amazing, collaborative, and full of ideas.”
  • “They showed perseverance; they didn’t give up.”
  • “The makerspace experience gives some children an opportunity to really shine when they may not always in other settings.”
  • “I have found that it is a new mindset for me, to step back and let the students take ownership of their learning.”

We  then spent some time learning about the benefits of teaching coding in early childhood. In small groups, teachers explored three coding tools and robots specific to our age group - Scratch Jr., the Dash robot, and Ozobots. (Stay tuned to learn more about coding from your students as we begin to use these tools with our early learners!)

At the end of our session at the KID Museum, teachers worked in grade level teams to reflect on and design student learning experiences specifically connected to the outcomes of exploration, perseverance, collaboration, reflection, technical skills, and agency. We concluded the morning with a reflection on the year thus far.

And afterwards, we all went bowling together! This was sponsored by a generous parent; I think you would agree that our teachers have earned it!

I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a thank you to all of you for this incredible experience for the faculty and staff. As you know if you attended the  Auction last year, the Harbor community “raised the paddle” for our new makerspace. With the money raised that evening, we have been able to outfit our makerspace with a variety of tools, technology, and materials (and storage for it all), and have also been able to  support our professional partnership with the KID Museum throughout this year. You have no doubt seen - in the growth, enthusiasm, and interest of your children, and first-hand at Spiral Night - the fruits of this labor, which could only have been possible with the support of the community at the Auction.

And while I have you, please join us on Tuesday morning, February 26, in the makerspace for an interactive parent session on making and design thinking. With much of the school year ahead of us,  there is still much more to come - and, not to mention, several of those really cool Ozobots in our Amazon cart!

Warm regards,

Leah Musico

Head of School

The Harbor School

Harbor School