Connecting fractions, geometric reasoning, and spatial relationships

On Friday January 13, and Thursday January 19, parents and teachers of Preschool – Grade 6 and Grades 7-12, respectively, gathered together to learn from our illustrious math expert,  Garland Linkenhoger. We embarked on an hour-long journey to support, strengthen, and reinforce our children’s number sense and spatial reasoning (as well as our own).

Garland focused on connecting fractions, geometric reasoning, and spatial relationships by having learners create their own tangram set, differentiating the two sessions by forms of the rational numbers discussed and the specificity of the geometric vocabulary.

Tangrams are a model reputed to have been invented in China during the Song Dynasty and then carried over to Europe by trading ships in the early 19th century. It became very popular in Europe for a time, and then again during World War I. Tangrams are one of the most popular dissection puzzles in the world. A Chinese psychologist has termed the tangram “the earliest psychological test in the world,” albeit one made for entertainment rather than for analysis. Today, tangrams are used as mathematical models to explore rational numbers, geometric relationships, composite area, the classification of triangles and quadrilaterals, and transformations.

Here is a video recording of the Preschool – Grade 6 session.

In addition, here is an article on important facts to know about learning math.


How to Raise an Adult

Over 40 parents from all walks of life at Mount Vernon (Preschool, Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School) gathered together last week for a book club-like discussion of Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book How to Raise and Adult. As a parent and former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, Lythcott-Haims shares wise insights about avoiding the over-parenting trap. Some members had read the book in full, and some members were ordering the book in the room as they participated.

After a brief spark where parents were asked to stand up if they had ever experienced a number of “failures” on their own as they were growing up, the stage was set for parents to Share the Well in division-specific small groups. Discussions centered around a variety of topics such as saving children when they forgot work or items, freedom in technology use, and dealing with the plethora of grading data available to students and parents with the click of one notification.

The session closed with the synthesis of “you are not alone” in your parenting journey. Guidelines were provided regarding skills children should be able to do at many age levels as well as a mantra of how to move from doing things for your child to his or her independence.  Links are provided below that parents found quite helpful.

From Reliance to Independence Wallpaper

Sample Set of Life Skills at Each Stage

To revise your notifications for PowerSchool (for Middle School and Upper School parents, if you are receiving a daily update of every grade posted in PowerSchool), click on the Email Notifications tab on the left-hand side of your PowerSchool screen in the Navigation Bar. Then, you can unclick any checked items that send you updates. You will no longer receive daily notices and still be able to open up PowerSchool to access grades whenever you would like.


Opportunities for Students Through Duke Talent Identification Program

The Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing students’ curiosities and talents, offers several opportunities for qualified students in grades four through twelve. On Thursday, October 20, Mount Vernon hosted a Parent University to showcase these optional opportunities, including book clubs, online courses, scholar weekends, and residential camps at local colleges and universities. Access the presentation here.

Be a Maverick

Each school year is launched by Head of School, Dr. Brett Jacobsen, at Convocation. The entire school gathers together in the gym to celebrate togetherness, worship, and be inspired by a call to action. This year,  Dr. Jacobsen challenged students to be mavericks. Mavericks are those who step up, stand out, and face their giants. He made connections to the story of David and Goliath. David, clearly a Maverick, inspires us all to make an impact for God and others in our lives.

This year as Mount Vernon’s 2012-2017 strategic plan comes to a conclusion, the School is actively engaging members of the MVPS community as a way to gather feedback about the future. We invite you to peer in to the possibilities and promise of Mount Vernon with a new set of lenses. In these pre-recorded remarks, Dr. Jacobsen shares a similar message and asks the community to “zoom out” from a strategic standpoint to explain why Mount Vernon stands out, what could keep the School from standing out, and how MVPS might stand out in the future.

Parent University: Understanding the ERB

On Tuesday, May 17, 2016, Mount Vernon partnered with an ERB representative to lead parents in a session to gain a better understanding of the ERB, the standardized achievement test administered to students in Grades 2-8 each year. ERB serves as one component of Mount Vernon’s comprehensive and balanced assessment system. Below is a video of the session and the presentation.

Understanding the ERB Parent University session

Slideshow presentation

Running on Empty: Fueling Our Bodies for Wellness

On February 11, Mount Vernon parents interacted with a panel of experts on fueling our bodies for wellness. Parents came away with a wealth of information not only for their own wellness, but also for supporting the wellness of their children.  Dr. Kelli Bynum, Mount Vernon’s Director of Counseling Services, offers this summary of the session.

Mount Vernon parents gathered recently to hear from a panel of speakers that included a nutritionist, a pediatrician, a therapist, a fitness expert, and a physical therapist. The message was consistent and clear. What we model as parents about food and body image has a direct impact on our children and how they see their own bodies. We must be conscious of our own self talk. The word diet is never helpful, and most research shows that there is weight gained with each diet we go on. One easy change to make is for us to count our protein grams instead of counting the calories that we eat or burn off in the gym. It is imperative that we help our children learn to trust their internal hunger systems. Fueling the body well includes having regular small meals. Missing meals and other small “dieting behaviors” such as removal of carbohydrates eventually backfires and leads to overeating. Fueling active children and athletes requires that we focus on what the body needs: 1. increased calories to account for the activity, 2. increased grains and fruits for energy, and 3. increased protein for growth. Carbohydrates are fuels for the body and should not be eliminated from our diet. If we help our children fuel more efficiently they can perform more effectively. This is a much healthier message than simply train more. Overtraining often results in a greater risk for injury.

Most of us can identify some of our own food fears. Many of these are based in fiction and not fact. We often transfer our own fears onto our children and they can become confused about what they should be eating. Our bodies need fats and carbohydrates in moderation. If you find that your child is overeating in a certain category, it is best to help them learn to moderate this and add other healthy alternatives. Total restriction will result in sneaking food and in overeating.

Focus on the positive with your children. Instead of telling them what NOT to eat, focus on things that you can do to be healthy such as take more walks, go for a run, or ride bikes together. Avoid food battles and keep trying to find healthy and fun alternatives for your family. Eating meals together can have a positive effect on healthy eating and improved communication among families. These are just a few of the small changes we can make that have an impressive impact on fueling our bodies well and building healthy strong bodies.

Easing the Transition from Middle to Upper School

For some, the second semester of school is viewed as the downhill roll toward the end of the year. Not for us at Mount Vernon! We excitedly begin anew with a full half-year of learning and engagement. This extends as well to ramping up for the following year. We recognize that moving to a new level in the school can elicit questions. How will moving to a new division change my child’s experience? My experience as a parent?

We recently held a Parent University session for grade 8 parents to garner a glimpse into the Upper School and the amazing journey that awaits their child. The following presentation offers some highlights.

Rising Grade 9 Parent University

In addition to this session, parents may attend a curriculum night for all Upper School parents. They may also sit down one-on-one with the Middle School or Upper School Head of Learning and Innovation to talk specifically about charting a course for their child in Upper School.