Author: Susan Harris MacKay

Nov
26

Learning to Read the Research on Learning to Read

I have spent many hours during this holiday week in a rabbit hole. Late last week, several parents sent me notes asking for my opinion on recent flare-ups of one of mainstream media’s favorite topics: The Reading Wars. Fair enough, I thought. Why not take the opportunity to look for something I might have missed […]

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Sep
22

Why “Story Workshop” is not “Retelling-Someone-Else’s-Story Workshop”

A lot of things happen during Story Workshop at Opal School: Finding stories which may develop into writing pieces in many different genres Writing stories, poems, various kinds of non-fiction, songs, and other genres Playing with materials and languages of the arts to develop oral language, vocabulary, and poetic language and imagery for writing Playing […]

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Sep
11

Getting Started with Story Workshop

Story Workshop is an approach supporting young children’s literacy built upon on four pillars: the sharing of stories; immersion in the arts; time for play; and a focus on meaning-making.  The approach – which has since flowered in schools and districts around the world – started at Opal School with a simple question embraced by […]

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Sep
08

What Happens After the Mistake?

I made a mistake the other day. It’s probably true that I made more than one. But the one I’m thinking about, the one that kept me up that night, is the one I know I made for sure. I know because people have told me not to do the very thing I did. And […]

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Mar
23

Spreading Love While Marching for Love While Being Loved

On March 14, in solidarity with children all over the United States, Opal’s students and teachers walked out of school at 10 am, local time. Preparing for the participation of our 3-11 year old students in this event that was recognized widely as both a protest of gun violence in schools and a remembrance of […]

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Mar
16

Marching for Love

When I took the Opal Advisory Council’s advice to the Opal teaching staff the day after our meeting, I also brought the same reading material: a copy of the Superintendent’s message, and the Hand to Hand letter. Additionally, one of the Advisory Council members had a copy of a letter sent from an older child’s […]

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Mar
11

Doing Something When Nobody Knows What to Do

On Tuesday (3.6.18) this week, as we were preparing for our monthly parent advisory meeting, an email arrived from the Superintendent of Portland Public Schools. Here is the full text: Dear PPS Community, As you may know, March 14 has been highlighted as a day for students across the nation to honor the lives lost in Parkland, […]

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Jan
24

You are Worthy of Love and Belonging

I listened to This American Life’s episode, Three Miles, earlier this week – and I can’t get it out of my head. Here’s the synopsis from the episode webpage: There’s a program that brings together kids from two schools. One school is public and in the country’s poorest congressional district. The other is private and […]

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Sep
28

Looking for Invention

With generous funding from The Lemelson Foundation, Opal School is embarking on an exciting journey this fall to research Invention Education alongside our friends and colleagues at Project Zero of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ben Mardell and Mara Krechevsky. The task in front of us right now is to frame our research questions. […]

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Sep
19

Engaging Families as Partners

This past week, we welcomed families to Opal School for its 17th year. And, as is true so often, we also welcomed change. For new families, the change is transition to this new community, transition in families as their children grow, new routines, new relationships. For returning families, the change is a bump in expectations. […]

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