When the Circus Came to Town

Our week began with an offering led by Troy Wunderlee of Circus Smirkus!  Troy engaged students through workshops about plate spinning, juggling, devil sticks, human pyramids, lassoes and clowning. Needless to say, there was a lot of laughter at the White Mountain School which hosted our offering! We continued our nordic ski program at Bretton Woods on Tuesday while enjoying a beautiful light snowfall and the help of several parent chaperones. Thank you, parents! Parent/teacher/student conferences began this week and we rounded out the week with several Journey discussions. Our final topics are: Civil War, The Wild West, Mining and Gems, Lost Treasures, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Cooking and Stars. We can't wait to see where the discussions will take us next week!

What's a land ski?!

Welcome back from vacation week! Our third trimester is off to a great start. We began our week by working through a team building initiative on "land skis" crafted by Paul. The goal was to walk from one end of a marked area to another in coordination with the other students on the shared set of wooden skis. This required concentration, communication, and teamwork, to say the least. Knowing ones left from right also came in handy! Students and teachers debriefed after this activity and shared discovery about what was difficult or challenging, what worked, and what didn't work. The intention is to repeat the land ski challenge and similar group challenge activities from time to time throughout the year as we continue our practice of Compassionate Communication and grow as a community of learners.

We traveled to Bretton Woods for our first of three Nordic Program days and took advantage of surprisingly wonderful snow conditions. After an hour of instruction, parent chaperones, teachers and students skied in the afternoon sunshine. Thank you chaperones, we couldn't do it without you!

The OSE Expedition for the month was designed by Leo and involved ice fishing at Streeter Pond. Paul, teacher and resident New Hampshire & Maine Guide, taught the OSE students about the sport of ice fishing. Tye, Ori, and Leo caught several perch, and Leo caught a beauty of a rainbow trout.

Journey categories generated this week included:  Castles, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Cooking, Earthquakes, Flowers and Vegetables, Harry Potter, Light Bulbs and Electricity, Lost Treasures, Mining and Gems, Movie Making, Star Wars, Stars, Survival, Visual Arts, The Wild West, Wind, Clouds and Precipitation.  Feel free to brainstorm ideas with your children, we have a rich array of options from which to make a final Journey selection next week!

We rounded out the week with Eden teaching the last in a series of health classes and OSE students making a trip to Maia Papaya to set goals for the third trimester. OSE goals this trimester centered around Language Arts skills, Geography and Math.


Thanks to our membership in the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire and to the generosity of White Mountain School sharing their space, Woodland Community School hosted Troy Wunderlee of Circus Smirkus to begin our week! Students had a blast learning how to twirl plates, clown with human pyramids, use diablo sticks and lassoes, and there was no shortage of giggles and laughter to begin our Monday morning! Music with Priscilla and John Whitney continued followed by another glorious day on the snow at Bretton Woods. We hosted visiting teachers from Mountain Village Charter School in Plymouth, NH, as well as day one of parent-teacher-student conferences. A couple of lively and informative discussions about potential next Journey topics occurred and we have whittled the choices down to:  

We concluded our Friday by doing some initial Open House prep work during Other Business including sign making and sprucing up our indoor spaces.

The Journey Process and Field Trip Fun!

After some experimenting with a format where students could choose their own Journey of Discovery topic, Ali’s check in group transitioned into a small group Journey as a practice for when the whole school comes back together for an all school Journey of Discovery in March. The Journey choosing process began with some practice putting items, like animals and types of clothing, into categories.  Some of the categories included different climates around the world, and the different seasons. After some discussion of how a broad Journey topic could encompass a whole range of specific projects or questions to be explored, students each wrote some questions that they had or specific things that they would like to do or learn about. The ideas were put into categories and the categories were discussed and voted on. Some of those initial ideas included, “building cardboard houses”, “volcanoes”, “tornadoes”, and “crystals”. A lively and wonderfully collaborative conversation about how we could combine some of the ideas led us to the idea of a Shelters in Wild Nature Journey of Discovery where we would make small cardboard houses, learn about volcanoes and tornadoes, and make crystals out of cardboard. Each day began with a chapter from The Magic School Bus “Twister Trouble” book followed by an activity. Students created a cardboard house village, a map of the village, learned how to plot coordinates and mapped the destructive paths of tornadoes. They made a few films of tornadoes going through their village, and later of our big cardboard volcano erupting in the village. We watched some educational videos about these natural wonders and explored books on the topics. The Journey was wrapped up with some reflection on what we learned and new questions that we now have were shared: “What are all the types of volcanoes?”, “How thick are volcanoes?”, and “How does the earth make lava?”.  Awesome job Linus, Brandelwyn, Nina, Penelope, and Victoria on a lively, productive, collaborative, and successful Journey of Discovery!

Other events of the week included a trip to the Catamount Theater and the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium. Students had a blast with the hands-on displays and exploring the cases of swords and other unique items, as well as viewing a planetarium show. Our mild winter day found Tye outside practicing his fly fishing technique and Leo found a warm spot to read in the sun. We wrapped up our Pottery Intensive this week as well, and finished items should be ready for students to take home after February break. 



A varied week at Woodland

This week at Woodland was a combination of play, homemade food, experiments, completion of projects, and adventures outdoors! We had another beautiful Winter Program day at Cannon, while the students at Woodland explored trails at The Rocks and rolled down the snowy hills. Olivia spent a couple of days in the kitchen cooking and then treated us to bliss balls, strawberries dipped in chocolate and coconut, and homemade heart-shaped gummies. Yum! Students wore their favorite pajamas to school for Pajama Day and our intern, Emma, conducted an offering about growing mold...results will be in next week so stay tuned! Students handmade over forty Valentine's to take to the residents at Riverglen House and also exchanged their own handmade Valentine's at school. Ali read and taught about crazy weather phenomena such as tornados and volcanoes, and then the students made their own volcano. Among all these activities were music lessons with the Whitney's and pottery at the Littleton Studio School. And yes, we are still sledding and playing in the snow on a daily basis!

A picture is worth a thousand words...


Winter Program

Nina is a trooper, working hard to get through the deep snow with her snow shoes!


Giving back...

Students make Valentine's to deliver to the Riverglen House in Littleton.



A game of "Scoot" as students practice the use of homophones!



Tyler works on finishing the plaster mask he has been working on steadily now for at least two weeks!

Woodland's Got Talent!


In a remarkable display of talent, Woodland students took to the stage and performed a variety of acts. Yarrow's Journey project was to produce and execute a Woodland talent show and this she did with self-confidence and poise. Ori provided his audience with an amazing original dance routine to lively jazz music, Linus showed us his "stuff" via dancing with light up spin balls, Olivia put together a memorable and sophisticated hip-hop dance routine, while Nina and Victoria charmed us all by singing and dancing to the song "Can't Stop the Feeling" from the movie Trolls. Olivia and Yarrow were a hysterical dynamic duo with a couple of clowning acts to keep the audience entertained during breaks between acts. Yarrow also managed to sing a solo as well as produce and plan the entire show. Everyone was a winner! Well done Woodland!

Pottery at the Littleton Studio School continued this week with students taking classes in hand building, introduction to throwing, or advanced throwing. Music lessons with the Whitney's also continued...rumor has it that a ukulele concert may be forthcoming! Another glorious day on the snow was had by students either at Cannon or on the trails surrounding Woodland. Free Choice was buzzing with Keva planks, magic tricks, Legos, slime making, dominoes, paper masks and crowns, while students continued to work on and finalize their Journey projects as we prepare for our next round of Journey topic selection. 

A close up look at our Pioneering Skills Journey of Discovery



The Pioneering Skills Journey has been all about hard work and perseverance.  Four students started by learning how to use an axe, hatchet, saw, and drawknife. Once they accomplished tasks like splitting wood, felling a tree, limbing branches, and peeling bark with a drawknife, they were ready to put those skills together towards building a model cabin. They worked diligently felling small fir trees for two days and worked as a team hauling their logs back to school. Next came cutting the logs to length and the tedious task of peeling off all the bark. Their understanding of the grueling work the pioneers performed on a day to day basis has grown with each task they have pursued. With some more time and a lot of hard finish work, their log cabin promises to be a great final project in an already successful Journey. Great work Walter, Miles, Pilot and Tyler!

Variety is the spice of life!

Woodland students continue to enjoy the snow! The second day of our Winter Program included skiing at Cannon and skiing and snowshoeing at school. Cold temperatures created the perfect opportunity to set up the microscope outside and look at the detailed beauty of snowflakes and their specific attributes. A mild winter day offered the chance to make GIANT snowballs with sticky snow, and snowmen then dotted the surrounding landscape. Offerings in support of student centered learning included a continuation of Tye working with Bill Church and completing all the soldering and circuitry required for his light saber, while Yarrow, who is interested in learning about how to apply make-up to dramatic affect as part of her Theatrical Thespians Journey, spent some time with Amanda at Fresh learning how to do just that. Free Choice was filled with string art, story writing, fuze beads, blocks, and making snowball launchers. One Read Aloud group is reading "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane," by Kate DiCamillo, another is reading "My Name is Sally Little Song," by Brenda Woods, while our oldest group is reading "King Arthur and His Noble Knights," by Thomas Malory, with a modern rendering by John Steinbeck.

Before it melts...

Students, teachers, (and parents!) have had a glorious week in the snow! Skiing, sledding, tubing, snowshoeing, igloo building, snow forts, snowmen, snowball fights...we've done it all! One group of students harvested logs in the woods and sledded them out in order to begin building their model log cabin. Tye worked on perfecting the circuitry for his light saber with a little help from Bill Church, while Olivia and Yarrow went to the Hopkins Center to view a Cuban Dance performance. Many structures were built using Keva planks as students experimented with balance and proportion. We welcomed John Whitney as a Music Instructor, worked on letter making, Lego kits and mapping coordinates, and enjoyed a string art offering. The varied Journey topics continue to be explored and skills continue to be honed in MSE and OSE. We are grateful for our parent volunteers at Cannon who made our first ski day a resounding success!

Woodland Middle School students visit White Mountain School


A big THANK YOU to Allison Letourneau and the entire White Mountain School community for such a warm welcome! We enjoyed sitting in on Jacob's sophomore English class and learning about grammatical markers as they pertain to poetry. It was also fun to listen to WMS students read their chosen poems aloud. Rebecca had great insights into how to prepare for ninth grade Algebra, while so many students helped us every step of the way. Thank you all!


Welcome 2018!

The first few school days at Woodland in 2018 were bursting at the seams with activity as students came back to school after the winter holiday. Despite the cold, students chose to play outside digging tunnels, making forts, creating snow slides, and generally having fun in the glorious snow piles. Visiting artist Doug Desjardins spend a morning at the school working with students and brainstorming about ideas for a large scale project. OSE students successfully negotiated the newest escape room at Time Quest NH, The General Store. Talk about teamwork in action! Teachers conducted an offering about Telling Time and students explored solving mazes and chain reactions using maze blocks and Keva planks. Origami critters and costumes were made, and we had the pleasure of watching an original puppet show using all hand made paper puppets, written, produced, and performed by Penelope, Victoria and Nina.

Woodlands Team.JPG

The Joys of the Season Abound


Our final weeks of the 2017 school year have been filled with festive and fun activities! Fresh snowfall has created a palette for sledding and fort building, along with rolling huge snowballs for huge snowmen. Students trekked to the Woods Trail and harvested a tree upon which they strung lights and all sorts of hand made ornaments. Emma led several jewelry making offerings for those extra special holiday gifts, while Alex taught students how to make gorgeous wreaths using greens and dried flowers. Brent, master of character voices, read Wolf Story to one of our Read Aloud groups. Swimming continued on Thursday mornings and Spanish with Cecily continued on Tuesday mornings. Jessie led a quilt offering and Melissa led a Health Class.

The varied Journey topics included the making of making a Polar Express model, string painting, drawing, and ornament making. Tye is making a light saber from scratch, soldering together lights and circuitry to make his final product. Ori continues to write his page-turning fantasy novel, Leo is writing, directing, filming and starring in his own original Fan Film, while Cole has finished carving the first side of what will be our new Woodland Community School road side sign. Yarrow is composing and writing her own songs and lyrics for an original musical, Ani is practicing her German, and Olivia made a truly amazing wreath. Miles, Pilot, Walter and Tyler are outside daily working on their Pioneering Skills with the goal of building a small log cabin.

Amidst this activity, our wonderful group of parents set aside time in their days to join us for Parent-Teacher conferences, for which we are grateful. The Farm To Table crew is cooking and planning daily and the smells emanating from the kitchen are mouth watering! Our last day of school for the 2017 year will be filled with student cooking and caroling as we feast together and then share in our traditional Secret Santa hand made gift exchange. Wishing you all the joys this holiday season has to offer, we thank you for the gift of your time, talents, and children!

Welcome Winter!


This week at Woodland has been replete with activity! A Learn to Play Lego workshop tested the skill of following directions for many students, while others worked in the kitchen making collages. Cardboard box ice cream shop building and holiday decorating were other favorite activities. We had a guest parent reader during Read Aloud, swimming at Evergreen, our first Spanish class, a trip to the Catamount for a marionette performance, music lessons, and a visiting student. During Journey students are working on carving, pioneer skills, making a train, a talent show, egg decorating, script writing, costume making, and drawing. Lots of painting is happening during both Free Choice and Journey. And through it all, we are reminded of the power of taking a moment to simply pause, observe, and experience the joy of freshly fallen snow.

Pioneers Skills, Theatrics, and Building!

Everyone came back to school rested and ready to go after Thanksgiving break! During Free Choice several offerings engaged the students such as making potions and parachutes. Our Profile intern, Emma, ran a Number Shakers workshop while our first dusting of snow created a flurry of sled building. (ha, get it? flurry?) Since music lessons with Priscilla have started on a weekly basis at the school, more kids than ever are practicing piano and trying their hand at a variety of instruments. Wanting to know what it felt like to have a cast on, Ani decided to, well, put a cast on! She layered her arm with strips of plaster cast material and constructed her own sling, though she has no intention of keeping the cast on for six weeks! Tye took to the Woods Trail to build a bridge using all the personalized boards made by families and board members at our Cider Press Potluck. Four students are currently engaged in a Pioneer Skills Journey and they also took to the Woods Trail to learn how to fell a tree after making the proper selection and to split the tree into logs. This along with learning how to properly use a saw and learning about Pioneer history kept this group busy all week. Another group of students is involved in their Theatrical Thespian Journey, making costumes, writing scripts and filming, while yet another group of students has chosen to call their Journey of Discovery Do It, as they work on the wood shop porch carving, drilling and sanding prior to writing about the history of the  medieval weaponry they are creating out of wood. Friday will take us to see Air Play at the HOP rounding out yet another magical week at Woodland!

Mirror, mirror, on the wall.....

During this season of being thankful, we reflect on how fortunate we all are to be a part of the Woodland community. We have an amazing group of parents who volunteer as chaperones, readers, quilters, musicians, cooks, board members, leaders of special offerings and classes, and donators of a variety of resources. Perhaps more importantly, this same group of parents supports the mission of Woodland and sends their children to school every day with love and support for the program...and full lunch boxes! Our board continues to push us to be better every day by bringing new ideas and a level of commitment to Woodland that keeps us progressive in education. And yes, we also love the treats that show up in our mailboxes on occasion! But, have you ever wondered how the students reflect at Woodland? Reflection is about students becoming aware of their own thinking processes, and being able to make those transparent to others. It enables assessment of the "why" and "how" of the learning, and what needs to be done as a result. Reflection readily follows from self or peer assessment. And this is what it looks like at Woodland:


Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences are integral to our portfolio and reflection processes. As students engage with activities, projects, offerings, games and intensives, they are recorded on each students multiple intelligences chart. Charts may be taken out daily, weekly, or as a Journey ends and the portfolio process is begun with items added to the intelligence that best fits the activity and/or project. The chart includes activites from all parts of the day from Morning Circle to Read Aloud, and everything in between.


Reflection Sheets

Planning and Reflection sheets may be used for any project or activity during Free Choice or Journey. They support both the planning and the reflection process and are used for each project or activity a student engages in. Students are expected to complete planning/reflection sheets for at least sustained projects, intensives, activities and offerings. 


Portfolio Process

The portfolio process begins at the end of each Journey and includes reflection on all parts of the day for the full length the Journey sustained. The portfolio process takes place generally 4-8 times per year. This process includes a whole school brainstorm on as many projects, activities, books, intensives, offerings, games and other happenings that can be remembered, and then moves to an individual process where students reflect on what their selections demonstrate:

a new skill, a struggle, a success or an improvement.


Informal Discussioin

A frequent and simple tool that teachers use for reflection is a check-in or informal discussion around the snack or lunch table, while at recess tossing a ball back and forth, or during a van ride. Discussion may be facilitated or promtped by a teacher or initiated by students following the project, activity or presentation being discussed.


Self and Peer Reflection

The aim of self and peer reflection is to increase student responsibility and autonomy. It helps students strive for a more advanced and deeper understanding of the subject matter, skills and processes and lifts the role and status of the student from passive learner to active leaner and assessor. Furthermore, it helps develop in students a better understanding of their own subjectivity and judgement. Peer assessment encourages student involvement and responsibility. Self reflection during Read Aloud allows for students to share their Rose (best part of their day,) Rosebud (what they are most looking forward to in the future,) and Thorn (ick! I didn't really like this today!)


Thank You Letters

Thank you letters to guest presenters, teachers, supporters, etc. allow the opportunity for reflection. When students write weekly thank you letters during Other Business they are asked to express gratitude, explain why or how the activity impacted them, and to share something they learned.

Short week, long on activities!

Leo is ready for Saratoga Comic Con this weekend as he has just about completed his cosplay costume. The detail work on this costume is impressive as was the amount of time dedicated to its completion during our Make It Journey of Discovery. Have fun, Leo! Some OSE students played games involving proper and improper fractions this week while others worked independently on writing or keyboarding skills. The OSE students chose to go to Evergreen for 90 minutes of Open Gym for their monthly Expedition. Our newly formed MSE group of students, Middle Student Experience, created goals and strategized different ways to achieve their goals. We have students designing and sewing high fashion for their dolls, forts being built, group games, reading...and occasionally, a student simply needs to have a little down time on the bean bags! Rock climbing at the North Country Climbing Center continued as did week number two of music lessons with Priscilla Whitney. Students are learning how to play guitar, piano, drums or ukulele so far. Intern Emma led a paper twirling offering and also a Zentangle offering. Opportunity was abound for fine motor skill development this week! Throw in several doses of the student invented kitty cat game along with chasing teachers around the house and we had a great four days at Woodland!

Halloween Happenings, Minecraft and Electric Fence!

What a wonderful and varied week we have had! The Halloween committee did an outstanding job at creating a Haunted Walk on the Woods Trail complete with spooky decorations and haunted music. The day continued with a parade of costumes, a Halloween dance party, limbo, and trying to eat donuts from a string hanging from our crabapple tree. Some of the older students challenged Ali with the Electric Fence activity, while WMSI challenged our students with a team building Minecraft activity. We had paper twirling with our favorite intern, Emma, in one room and geometry happening in tandem in another room. Paul worked with Miles and Pilot on creating their own topographic maps, and Kathy took our newly formed group, Middle Student Experience, to the Inkwell to work on their self-selected goals for the year. Meanwhile, the OSE group had an impromptu expedition to wonder at the Wild Ammonoosuc in all its glory after our torrential rainfall and windstorm earlier in the week. And our youngest student grabbed a shovel and pitched right in with Farmers Tim and Matt as they added another step and a pile of gravel to the front of our school. Thanks, Walter!

I wonder what happens when...


...it's a rainy day at Woodland? 

We play outside in the rain of course! We love splashing in puddles and playing tag in the rain! Miles and Kathy made a measuring stick to measure the depth of the brook and they kept the results recorded on a chart. We were all amazed at how deep the brook was at the beginning of the day, and how many inches it had dropped by the end of the day!


...a student asks to learn how to read?

We teach them, of course! Using a variety of approaches, we meet the child where he or she is at and teach them to read one sound at a time.


...the school day begins?

We begin each day with morning circle. Morning circle takes place outside and brings the entire group of school children together to begin each and every day through a cooperative game and/or activity. Students then go over the plans for the day before beginning Free Choice.


...a child expresses curiosity?

Whenever a child is curious about an idea, we pursue it! Whether it is air propelled race cars, making crystals with borax, creating lava lamps with alka-seltzer tablets or wondering what it would be like to be the author of a book, each student pursues his or her own curiosities in his or her own unique way.


...we have a special visitor?

Students and families alike were rapt with attention when storyteller and musician Odds Bodkin came to Woodland! With his celtic harp, and 12-string guitar, he enchanted young and old alike with his stories of empathy and kindness. Needless to say, one hour was not nearly long enough!

Music, Movie, Mountain, Metal!

Our week began with an expedition to the Hopkins Center in Hanover to see David Gonzales and his Tales from the Latino World. Evidently, several Woodland students were dancing in the aisles and once again, students and teachers took to the stage! OSE students spent a morning at Ships Coy, a forge in Lyman, where they learned and practiced a variety of techniques from blacksmith, Med Chandler. Each student had the opportunity to make his own hand forged hook and the hooks were put together to create a beautiful coat rack. Teachers worked with students in a variety of ways to increase understanding and deepen student learning in areas of their choice. Intern Emma painted The Scream by Edward Munch...on Ani's hair! Three of our students hiked to the Greenleaf Hut with Lily and had an early glimpse of winter weather. Jessie was back for more quilting and Paul was back for the final teepee building workshop out on the Woods Trail. We welcomed Priscilla Whitney to Woodland as a guest music teacher. Priscilla, or "Whit" as she has asked the students to call her, gave lessons on piano, guitar, bass and drums. We hope she will return for more lessons in the future. Rounding out our week on Friday will be a visit from Cameron Shaw-Doran who is visiting us with his drone. Cam will be showing students how the drone works and will then release the drone to fly over the school and the farm and take photos!

A closer look at the "Make It" Journey

Over the past few weeks, we have shared photos and snippets about what is happening during the portion of our day at Woodland that is devoted to the Journey of Discovery. Our movie makers and script writers have been working tirelessly on their filming, even taking a trip around Littleton in the school van in order to gather film footage. They are exploring makeup and props as well as advanced filming techniques and are gaining iMovie computer skills. An added benefit to their Journey is the interpersonal skills they are negotiating as they learn about working successfully in a group.

Several students are choosing to work with Legos. Some are making multi-roomed homes complete with swimming pools and spiral staircases. Others are making battle scenes along with pirates and cannons. Depending on individual skill level, perhaps these students are also adding a story to their Lego tableau as another layer of skill development. We have students using story boards for the first time, drawing pictures and adding descriptive sentences to caption their pictures. This is hard work for emerging writers!

Knitting is ongoing. Our group of knitters began by learning to knit with a row of ten stitches and have worked their way up to knitting a thirty stitch row. Some cosplay costumes are finished, while others will be in the works for weeks. The detail is amazing! Carving and woodworking continue along with the associated skill development with each project, be it beginner or advanced. Kids are coming to school with new ideas every day, from electronics to campaigns raising awareness about wolves, and we continue to arrange for offerings and intensives that support student centered learning. This week we hosted WMSI once again for filming, OSE students explored the corn maze in Danville, VT, Jessie spent a morning quilting with us, Jenny took students all around the Woodland/Adair trails, and we are ending our week with a visit from New Hampshire author and humorist Rebecca Rule. Becky will read a couple of her books and round out her engagement with us by talking about the writing process.