Angell Elementary

Ann Arbor Public Schools

  •  

     

    Mr. Court

    Gary Court, Angell Principal

    court@aaps.k12.mi.us 

     

    February, 2017

    The value of an “international” school

     

    We are really fortunate to have a school community which is diverse. It is a privilege to work and teach in a school with lots of different kinds of people. It is somewhat of a rarity. David Brooks write in The Atlantic, “Maybe it's time to admit the obvious. We don't really care about diversity all that much in America, even though we talk about it a great deal.”   Most of us gravitate toward homogeneity. We fear that which is unfamiliar.   We like to associate with people who reaffirm our viewpoints, lifestyles, values, education, wealth, …..

    In a school environment where 40 countries of the world are represented in the student body, we can become an interdependent community of people. We can learn from one another if we are intentional and eager to listen to voices that may express ideas unfamiliar or unlike our own.

    As students get older and move to middle school, high school and beyond, I have watched “sameness” exert its powerful attraction and appeal. I hope that we can help the Angell students enjoy the rich variety they experience with the hope that sustaining that is worthwhile.

     

    December, 2016

     Why reading is so important!

    An article in the Chicago Tribune caught my attention.  It cited a story from Renaissance Learning, an educational analytics company about reading patterns among students.  Students who read 30 minutes a day will encounter 13.5 million words by the time they finish high school.  Students who read less than 15 minutes a day will encounter only 1.5 million words by the time they graduate from high school.  "High exposure to words is crucial in developing vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, writing and higher-order thinking skills," the report says.

     

    November, 2016 

    Angell School Culture

     

    In addition to earning the title, National Blue Ribbon School  in 2015, we are by all estimates, a counter-culture school.  

    By this I mean, that our principles, beliefs and practices are in stark contrast to the popular culture around us.  For at least a decade, probably more, our media, entertainment, music and popular culture has not exuded the core values that we promote at school; care, nurture, encouragement, support, forgiveness, gratitude, honesty, patience, kindness.  

     I had the opportunity to talk with a parent and shared that we pride ourselves in having discussions where opposing voices are heard, and where dissent occurs all in a spirit of forbearance.  We endeavor to teach skills such as listening for understanding and giving each other the benefit of the doubt.   We are clearly not perfect at disagreeing in love, but that is our goal. 

     At Angell, we dignify respect and civility and will work toward that end even when voices, images and musical lyrics say otherwise. 

     

    March, 2016

    Delayed Gratification – Marshmallow Experiment.

    Dr. Walter Mischel, Stanford University conducted an experiment with young children, at the Bing Nursery School at Stanford, in the nineteen-sixties.

    During his experiments, Mischel and his team tested hundreds of children — most of them around the ages of 4 and 5 years old — and revealed what is now believed to be one of the most important characteristics for success in health, work, and life.


    The experiment began by bringing each child into a private room, sitting them down in a chair, and placing a marshmallow on the table in front of him or her.  

    At this point, the researcher offered a deal to the child.

    The researcher told the child that he was going to leave the room and that if  the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, then the child would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child decided to eat the first one before the researcher came back, then he or she would not get a second marshmallow.

    So the choice was simple: one treat right now or two treats later.

    The researcher left the room for 15 minutes.

    As you can imagine, the footage of the children waiting alone in the room was rather entertaining.  (You can see these on youtube!)  Some kids jumped up and ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. Others wiggled and bounced and scooted in their chairs as they tried to restrain themselves, but eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. And finally, a few of the children did manage to wait the entire time.

    The longer a child delayed gratification, Mischel found—that is, the longer she was able to wait—the better she would fare later in life at numerous measures of what we now call executive function. She would perform better academically, earn more money, and be healthier and happier. She would also be more likely to avoid a number of negative outcomes, including jail time, and drug use.  Those who delayed gratification had lower BWI scores and obesity rates, higher SAT scores, lower divorce rates.  

    Success usually comes down to choosing the pain of discipline over the ease of distraction. And that’s exactly what delayed gratification is all about.  If one can delay gratification one usually can sustain effort and deal with frustrations more easily than those who cannot demonstrate self-discipline.

     

     

    January, 2016 

     

    What We Want for Our Students 

    Every day, I see Angell students who are making decisions for themselves that come from core values and that reflect their authentic selves. Sometimes the small decisions reveal a big heart and an awesome amount of empathy. The bulletin board outside the Angell School office represents examples of students who are eager to put others first. In addition, throughout the school year, groups of students sponsor food drives or bake sales to raise money from everything from cancer research to the local animal shelter. When temperatures drop, students are eager to help rake leaves, sweep the sidewalk and shovel snow. Students like to pitch in and see that their work results in tangible benefits. Students can contribute boldly and creatively to the common good. They often feel good when they are making a difference that is beyond focusing on themselves.

    At Angell, we want our students to have a voice, to have ideas and ambition and an assertive drive. When students come forward with a suggestion or an idea, we take them seriously. Our teachers and Enrichment program help our elementary students identify and develop their distinct qualities and passions. We are responsible along with parents, for developing nimble thinkers who will think big and live with authenticity and care.

     

     

    April, 2015

     

    Narcissim in Children 

     

    Origins of narcissism in children by Eddie Brumelman, Sander Thomaes, Srtefanie A. Nelemans, Bram Orobio de Castro and Geertjan Overbeek.  Proceedings of the National Academcy of Sciences. 

     

    There was a recent study of narcissism among 7-12 year olds when individual differences in narcissim begin to emerge. Narcissistic individuals feel superior to others, fantasize about personal successes, and believe they deserve special treatment. When they feel humiliated, they often lash out aggressively or even violently.

    Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation.  Children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them (e.g.,”I am superior to others”  and “I am entitled to privileges.” )

    Narcissism is a growing problem in Western society. Since the1980s, Western society has become increasingly concerned with raising children’s self-esteem. In their attempts to raise self-esteem, parents often intuitively rely on lavishing children with praise, telling them that they are special and unique, and giving them exceptional treatment.  The results show that, rather than raising self-esteem, such overvaluing practices might inadvertently raise narcissism in children. 

     Professor Brummelman said the goal is to reduce narcissism levels in children and increase levels of self-esteem by "teaching parents to be warm and affectionate without telling children they are better than others and without conveying to children that they are more entitled than others."

     




    From March, 2015 

    Mistakes are Wonderful

    Some educators have asserted that most of us learn in two ways; through watching others (modeling) and through our own experiences. One of the most important ways we canlearn the most is through making errors. 


    The great thing about elementary students is the price they pay for most of their mistakes is very affordable. For example – forgetting one’s homework means staying in from recess to do it, forgetting a lunch at home means eating a hot lunch instead, choosing to not wear a coat at recess may result in becoming cold or not studying for a test may result in a poor grade. All of those are valuable experiences that we hope most of our students make at an early age so they will not rack up unaffordable mistakes later in life.

     

     

    From December, 2014

    EmPOWER Training 

    Our staff attended several days of training in late August learning how to use EmPOWER, a writing strategy system that has vastly helped us become better teachers of writing. Writing is usually one of the hardest disciplines to teach and we are excited that our students are utilizing the “brain frames” and really organizing their writing.

     


    The presenter of EmPOWER, Bonnie Singer, said that good writers need to write fluently and legibly. Our staff has decided to put more time into helping students learn to print upper and lower case letters (lower grades) and master cursive writing (upper grades) in order to help them physically write with automaticity.

     

    Our occupational therapist, Deborah Kay, has helped us understand what is necessary for students to become writers who can easily and unconsciously get words on paper without thinking about how to form each letter. She said one of the most important activities kids can do is gross motor exercises. It takes core strength to write and we need students’ shoulders, arm, hand and finger muscles to be strong! The monkey bars, rope climber, ga-ga pit, and pull up bars are all great ways for students to develop their upper body strength – helping them become better writers! 

    So, when your child begs you for more indoor video game time, say no, and send him or her outside for some gross motor time.
     
     

    From October, 2014

     

    Angell is Unique 

    Two of the many things that make Angell a special place.

     

    Community. Angell is more than a place; it is a community. This is a relational school, where people take the time to know each other, to celebrate each other’s victories, and to support each other through challenges. We have students from 40 countries of the world. We love to learn about each other. If you were to walk down the hallway, you would hear teachers talking about their “team” and “family”. The adults who enter the building are invested in developing significant relationships with the students. It is affirming and life-sustaining to foster an environment of trust and respect and interest in one another.

     

    Transformation. It is remarkable to see what happens to students as they grow and learn. We recognize the huge developmental and intellectual shifts that happen between Kindergarten and 5th student- centered focus, rigorous academic engagement, emphasis on service and special enrichment program provides the structure for student growth. Students feel free to share their ideas because they will be listened to and acknowledged. As the students move into the upper grades, they assume with poise the expectations that they are leaders in the school. It is important to take a long view of life and recognize that maturity comes with time and experience. 

     

CLOSE