Bridge School Hosts “Most Likely to Succeed” Documentary Screening

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On Wednesday, May 17, Bridge School and Middlebury Underground present a screening of the award-winning education documentary Most Likely to Succeed, followed by a dialogue about what matters most for education today.

Most Likely to Succeed profiles the origins of our current educational system, developed a century ago during the rise of the industrial age. Since that time, the world economy has transformed profoundly, but the U.S. education system has not. The film focuses on the story of a school in San Diego that is rethinking what the experience of going to school looks like. As viewers follow students, parents and teachers through a truly unorthodox school experience, the audience is forced to consider what sort of educational environment is most likely to succeed in the 21st century?

The purpose of this event is to foster meaningful discussion among educators, administrators, parents, and students about our education system, and to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to pursuing new approaches.

Respect for Children–Using Fidget Spinners as a Tool for Learning

This is the first in a series of blog posts examining Bridge School’s educational philosophy tenets–Personal Excellence, Respect for Children, Engaged and Passionate Learners and Caring Community. For more details on each of these tenets, visit our Philosophy page.

Fidget spinners have become ubiquitous in classrooms around the country. First marketed as a tool for students who have difficulty focusing in class, they have created a buzz amongst parents, teachers, and school districts. The explosive popularity of the toy led many school districts to create blanket bans on spinners in the classroom–the whirring sound and mesmerizing motion can be distracting, and there isn’t substantiated evidence that they help students focus.

At Bridge School, however, we asked: What if we use fidget spinners as a powerful tool for learning? What if we respect our students’ curiosity, and explore fidget spinners in partnership as teachers and students?

At Bridge School, fidget spinners have become a meaningful opportunity to learn physics, as well as an opportunity to practice self-control in the classroom. Instead of creating a strict rule, we respected the children’s natural curiosity and structured our teaching to meet students’ interests.

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We used fidget spinners as a real-world way to understand potential and kinetic energy, friction, and to practice the skills of scientific inquiry.

We asked:

  • Why and how do fidget spinners spin?
  • Why do fidget spinner spin so well without stopping?
  • What scientific questions do I have about a fidget spinners that I can answer by experimenting on it?
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                      Students conducting an experiment looking at the length of spin time on different surfaces.

The learning goals for this unit were:

  • Students will be able to demonstrate and explain the motion of a fidget spinner as an example of energy being transferred.
  • Students will be able to explain why the ball bearing mechanism inside a fidget spinner reduces energy lost to heat through friction.
  • Students will be able to ask and answer question about a fidget spinner and collect qualitative or quantitative data.

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Finally, fidget spinners have allowed us to help students cultivate their own self-control and behavior management. Rather than banning fidget spinners in the classroom, we engaged students in a dynamic examination of what it looks like to use a spinner as a tool versus as a toy. Students are allowed to use them in classes, so long as they do not cause a distraction to themselves or others. This learning can be messy and take time–however, it provides an authentic way for students to understand how their own actions impact both their learning, and their classmates’ learning. We demonstrate respect for children by learning with them in partnership.

Our philosophical tenet of “Respect for Children” highlights our pedagogical focus on child-centered, constructivist learning. At Bridge School, we believe students learn best when they construct their own learning through hands-on exploration alongside teachers. This unit respected children’s desire to learn about the world around them, and honored their natural curiosity

-Amanda Warren, Mentor-Teacher

Joslyn Cassady, new Mentor-Administrator

Joslyn was born in California and split her childhood years between California and rural Iowa. She attended high school in the Sacramento area where her parents were employed in the public school system. Joslyn attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, the town her Norwegian ancestors immigrated to in the nineteenth century.

She attended graduate school in cultural anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For her field research she spent nearly three years conducting fieldwork in Arctic Alaska on the impact of radioactive pollution on Iñupiat (Inuit) health.

Upon graduation, Joslyn was hired by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate disease outbreaks across the country. She then spent eleven years as an anthropology professor at Drew University. She also served as Director of Behavioral Sciences for eight years, where she gained extensive experience in programmatic administration and assessment.

Joslyn currently lives in New Haven where she and her husband, fellow anthropologist Marc Boglioli, are raising their three daughters: Willa, 12, Quinn, 10, and current, happy Bridge student, Thea, 5.

Joslyn is thrilled to be part of the Bridge School team and is looking forward to working with the entire community to ensure that this special school continues to provide transformational educational experiences long into the future.

Bridge School's new Mentor-Administrator