by Head of School, Ari Frede

On Wednesday, November 11, Ancona hosted a curriculum night to answer parents’ question, “What do my children do all day?” Faculty reached back with a fireworks-worthy teach-in. Teachers wanted parents to feel the Ancona education experientially, not simply by reading an email or listening to a presentation.

They wanted parents to learn the same way the children do: through experience.

CN_6More than at Ancona’s previous Math and Literacy Nights, teachers carved out spaces in classrooms and hallways to show off student artifacts, put parents in the learner’s seat, and discussed how curriculum builds on itself from preprimary to 8th grade. Parents went on a self-guided tour with each station deserving of its own documentary. Math, language arts, science, social studies, art, music, physical education, Spanish, student support, auxiliary programs, library and technology each had their own lively experience planned for passersby.

Visitors to student support took a quiz to assess their different learning styles. Spanish had a massive stepping-stone gallery of student publications. In the math room, parents learned what an internalized number sense means to becoming a mathematician. Parents said they were very appreciative of the way teachers were combined across grade levels.

It’s not the topics; it’s how we teach them. Ancona gives immersive, multidisciplinary experiences. That’s not going to fit in an email; that only comes from a visit. After a family’s first visit, it is our culture that wins people over. The education takes years to build, and we only had a night to unpack it.

Parents walked away with printouts of Ancona curricula, philosophy and individual lessons. In science, a parent-child team conducting an experiment to isolate strands of strawberry DNA, while another parent expressed her surprise (“I get it!”) at how the Next Generation Science Standards are shaping her three year-old’s growth in science. She became very excited about her son’s academic journey.

In the math room, another parent was shocked at what she thought was “new math,” but was CN_2015_2actually a rich exploration of the concepts undergirding a rigorous math curriculum. Researchers have been clamoring for this shift in education for decades, so yesterday’s math learners, who are today’s parents, are learning along with their children what multiplication means beyond a table of memorized numbers.

The adventures continued everywhere. Loads of parents stopped by the art gallery to see how children learn art technique and the processing of ideas; a child was teaching table tennis and 3D virtual human organs popped up on tablets in the library.

The night was so engaging that the people shared that an hour and a half was too short to get through all the rich conversations. Fear not, we will bring back Curriculum Night next year. You will be there, and you will be amazed. In fact, you will probably get jealous of your child. Sorry; Ancona only goes up to grade 8.