The Arts Are Essential To Education

The Arts are an essential element of a Soundview education. Arts education has a number of benefits to the social, emotional, and intellectual development of children. To name just a few:

1. More time to practice being curious, creative, and inventive develops these skills for lifelong use.  

2. More time spent in the arts correlates to Improved academic performance. Large scale studies show score increases of 38-50 points on SAT in verbal and math. Studying and practicing dance improves reading readiness, and music gives context for teaching language skills. 

3. Using a variety of art tools develops fine motor skills at all age levels. Music and art instruction develops capacity for spatial-temporal reasoning. 

4. Visual learning and thinking skills are developed. Time in the arts increases reasoning, intuition, imagination, problem-solving, and expression. Students' abilities to make abstractions and inferences are increased. 

5. Working on a variety of phases of projects develops perseverance, confidence, and decision-making. 

6. Language development and cultural awareness are reinforced as students talk about art and music through observations, personal connections, and historical and cultural contexts. 

Art is always on display in Soundview’s hallways. Check out these 8th grade final projects. After lessons and practice with gesture, angles, proportion, shaping, and shading to indicate form, 8th grade artists created these figure drawings using various charcoal media.   



What Is Equity In Independent Schools?

While giving a tour of our school last week, I walked into our 8th class during an activity exploring the concept of the cultural iceberg model. Student took turns completing the the statement: “people think I’m _____, but really I’m _____. There were so many powerful elements of the exercise: trust, honesty, self-awareness, other-awareness…Our students have been engaged in the conversation about diversity and inclusivity alongside the faculty this year.

Inclusivity in the Library

You may have heard some discussions about culture and inclusivity at Soundview in the past year. Similar discussions are happening in parts of the kidlit community (including librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, and others involved in children’s literature). I realized the work of these communities should also be reflected in the Soundview library. The library nurtures students’ reading lives, which are part of the journey to become knowledgeable, compassionate, and ethical citizens and leaders. Data supports this idea; reading literary fiction improves an individual’s ability to empathize. 

An Update From The Soundview Boardroom

(written by Board President Vianne Reay)

One of the things I appreciate most about Chris Watson, our Head of School, is the way he listens.  Whether it is a student who is having a hard time, a staff member who has an idea to share or a parent with a concern, Chris and his staff will take the time to listen, really understand and take action.  As your Board of Trustees, we are listening to our community and taking to heart the values and concerns that you have.  

One of the things we are making a commitment to as a board is being more transparent about what we are doing.  To that end, I will be communicating with you each month after our board meeting to keep you up to date on what is happening at the board level.  

We’ve listened to your values through individual meetings with Chris, surveys, and interviews.  I want to thank you for your ongoing participation in all of these to give us a clear view of what is important to you: facilities, enrollment and the growth of the board.  

To address the facilities issue, we engaged the Harper Haines Group in the fall to conduct a feasibility study.  This Monday at our Board of Trustees meeting we heard a summary of the findings and a set of initial recommendations.  

While our program, curricula and current leadership are wonderful, our facilities don’t match that high level of quality. Despite our administration's steady progress on the facility, we are excited to plan for more significant improvements.  Although no decision has been made in regard to facilities, we are working on options for different scenarios on campus.  

There are still questions about the best course of action in regard to enrollment. To that end, we have begun an enrollment feasibility study in order to have a clearer picture about enrollment, based on trends and demographic information.  This work is being done by Ian Symmonds and Associates, whose team will be on campus April 1.  They will be working with the Harper Haines Group and the results will be shared at the retreat on May 15.  

Finally, I’d like to welcome two new trustees who were elected Monday night. Ben VandenBerghe is a partner in the law firm of Montgomery Purdue Blankinship Austin.  He is interested in diversity, facilities, and finance.   He believes that creative and challenging early education programs like IB and Soundview serve a critical role in our community.  Paul Carduner is a software engineer who built that was acquired by Facebook.  Recently he founded Carduner Consulting, a company that works with technology companies of all sizes to build software for the modern web.   He is interested in education and how he can make an impact in the community.  Both Ben and Paul have already brought positive energy to the boardroom.  They represent a move forward toward our goal of having the Board of Trustees made up of one third parents, one third alumni parents and one third community members.

We want to keep listening to our community, not just in formal surveys and meetings.  Feel free to stop and talk with any of our trustees.    I look forward to talking with you soon!

 Ben VandenBerghe

Ben VandenBerghe

 Paul Carduner

Paul Carduner







A Framework For Developing Essential Skills: Analysis & Synthesis

In our last post, we described the transdisciplinary framework in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. Teaching and learning within this framework cultivates curiosity into inquiry, develops soft leadership skills (IB Learner Traits), and engages students at both conceptual and practical levels. The rationale for this framework is both developmental appropriateness and preparation to solve complex, unknown problems for the betterment of all people.

The IB Middle Years Program builds on the PYP framework by shifting to an interdisciplinary approach. The same rationale for the framework applies in the middle years. Students are ready to engage with the dominant structures (concepts, skills, essential questions) of the disciplines. They have a broadening sense of social justice and independence. And middle school students have a penchant to get deeply engaged in relevant content for short bursts at a time. 

MYP students take eight core classes: 

  1. Design Thinking: In this course, students apply practical and creative thinking skills to solve design problems. They explore the role of design in both historical and contemporary contexts. And they consider their responsibilities when making design decisions and taking action.
  2. Sciences: As they investigate real examples of science application, students discover the tensions and dependencies between science and morality, ethics, culture, economics, politics, and the environment.
  3. Mathematics: The MYP Mathematics framework encompasses number, algebra, geometry and trigonometry, statistics and probability. Students learn how to represent information, to explore and model situations, and to find solutions to familiar and unfamiliar problems. 
  4. Individuals and Societies: This course integrates multiple subject areas: history, geography, economics, global politics and international relations, civics, philosophy, sociology, business management, anthropology. The subjects build understanding and skills to inquire into all factors that affect individuals and societies in local and global contexts.
  5. Language and Literature: Language is central to the development of critical thinking. This course aims to provide individual and collaborative exploration and practice in six key areas: listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, presenting. 
  6. Language Acquisition: The study of additional languages provides students with the opportunity to develop insights into the features, processes and crafts of language and the concept of culture, and to realize that there are diverse ways of living, viewing and behaving in the world. 
  7. The Arts: The arts stimulate young imaginations, challenge perceptions and develop creative and analytical skills. Involvement in the arts encourages students to understand the arts in context and the cultural histories of artworks, supporting the development of an inquiring and empathetic world view. Arts challenge and enrich personal identity and build awareness of the aesthetic in a real-world context. 
  8. Physical and Health Education: PHE focuses on both learning about and learning through physical activity. Both dimensions help students to develop Approaches To Learning (for another post) skills across the curriculum. 

Each of these eight courses are connected through the practice of the IB Learner Profile Traits, Global Contexts, Key Concepts, and Essential Debatable Questions. 

The Global Contexts ground units of study in real issues and applications. These are lens through which students see the content: 

  • Identities and Relationships
  • Personal and Cultural Identity
  • Orientations in Space and Time
  • Scientific and Technical Innovation
  • Fairness and Development
  • Globalization and Sustainability

Through the subject area, topic, and global context, we determine the "key concepts" for a unit. They can be one to three of the following: aesthetics, change, communication, communities, connections, creativity, culture, development, form, global interactions, identity, logic, perspective, relationships, time, place, and space, and systems.

A unit culminates as students consider the subject area (and connections to others), global context, key concepts, subject specific concepts and skills and grapple with an essential and debatable question or attempt to solve a complex problem. 

Here are examples of MYP units happening at Soundview today: 

 Current units in science and design.

Current units in science and design.

 Current units in mathematics.

Current units in mathematics.

When students complete the MYP grade 8 at Soundview, they engage in The Community Project, a student-directed, service-learning experience. Students participate in a sustained inquiry within a global context. One goal is to generate new insights and deepen understanding through in-depth investigation. Students are responsible for community-oriented action as a demonstration of their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. This is leadership.

The Soundview MYP experience is a deep-dive into the core disciplines, explored through relevant global contexts, with opportunities to apply skills and knowledge to real issues and problems in our communities. As a result of the PYP and MYP, students are intellectually curious, able to ask critical questions, apply lenses of the academic disciplines, and connect and apply their learning to finding innovative solutions - great preparation for high school and life!