Canoe Trip Conversations

Dear Parents,

“So, how was the canoe trip??”


If you’re one of the many parents who had an unsatisfying exchange like this with your adolescent child last night, you may be craving more stories about the goings-on of our class Canoe Trip. If you’re struggling to get details, try these phrases that we use in class council. After canoeing each day, all the students and teachers sat around the campfire, where we held a “mini-council” – a shortened version of our weekly class meeting. I got the kids to talk about the successes and tribulations of their day using these three phrases, which they’re already familiar with:

  • What went well?
  • Issues
  • Thank yous & compliments

If that’s still giving vague answers, try these more specific keywords – maybe you can at least get a chuckle or an eyeroll from your kid!

  • Smorgasbord
  • Rockadile
  • Danny DeVito & Zac Efron
  • Geodes
  • Grave rubbing
  • The check’s in the mail
  • Ouija board

All in all, it was truly one of the better Canoe Trips I’ve been on – the weather was beautiful, which makes all the difference! We enjoyed stargazing and quesadilla grilling, paddling hard and lounging in the grass, stories both scary and hilarious. The students really worked together to get their tasks accomplished, and it was great to seem them getting to know each other. It seems like the year is starting out right!

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year!

Dear parents of the 7th and 8th grade,

The school year has begun, and preparations for next week’s Canoe Trip are in full swing! Today all the 12-14 students are going through a series of workshops we call “Canoe Trip 101,” learning everything from chopping garlic to paddling to scary-storytelling to the physics of tents. I teach the propane stove workshop, and I love this opportunity to have a moment to say hello to all the new students in the level (and to ask the students “Is propane gas flammable or inflammable? Trick question – they mean the same thing!”).

Meg Broz & Gregg Sparks – Year 6!

Today we’ll also be venturing out on our first “City Trip” to explore the neighborhood. City Trips are one of my favorite parts of the junior high curriculum – I even did a workshop on the topic at the International Montessori Congress in Prague this summer! This is a link to the Intro to City Trips that I presented to the students yesterday, feel free to check it out to get an idea of what these weekly trips are all about.

Finally, I wanted to mention that it was so nice to meet and speak to so many of you at Back to School Night. For those of you that weren’t able to make it last night, here is a link to the information I gave to the parents of our class about our classroom culture, and the expectations we all can have for each other this year – teachers, parents, and students.

Now they’re 8th graders!

We wrapped up the night thinking about ourselves when we were in junior high – what were we like? What were our experiences during those rocky years of adolescence? This self-reflection can be so interesting for an adult, as it seems that the middle school are quite memorable for most of us. Finally, we left last night thinking about the experiences our own kids will have in junior high – our hopes for the people they are growing into. Whether or not you were there last night, take some time to think about how the teachers, parents, and student can work together to have a successful and memorable (in a good way!) couple of years in junior high.

Best wishes,