Happy New Year

Posted on: January 2nd, 2012 by Mason

Dear Maggie Partners:

Happy New Year to all my loyal partners and here’s to another great year with Maggie’s Earth Adventures!  Because I typically don’t do anything ordinary I decided to bring in 2012 in that part of the world where they celebrate big and with more passion than you can imagine, Scotland!  I officially bid adieu to the old year and brought in a fresh new one with a traditional Hogmanay observance, enjoying as much as any Scot.  Since I started off the year with such fervor, I’m anticipating 2012 to be one of the best yet for you, me and www.missmaggie.org.    And though the Scots really know how to celebrate the New Year,   when it comes to football, I couldn’t find my Packers anywhere!  Thankfully my Facebook friends kept me posted on the excitement of the game where Greenbay narrowly beat the Lions for another win.   2012 has certainly started off right!

Perhaps the only place to rival the enthusiasm of Hogmanay in Scotland is New Years Eve in New York City.  Time Square at midnight pretty much mirrors the sizzling energy of the city all year long but our Executive Producer, Mason, recently discovered a refuge tucked away in Manhattan where you can actually relax and recharge.   A public park built on an historic freight rail suspended above the streets of the west side of the city, The High Line is a non-profit conservancy providing an incredible public space for visitors. Mason was so captivated by the oasis and impressed by the collaborative effort that went into this unique revitalization and repurposing project that she insisted it be the perfect Weekly Activity Packet program to launch the beginning of the New Year.

The nuances that went into producing this collaborative effort provide the ideal backdrop to integrate subject areas in your classroom and encourage thought beyond a simplistic answer.  When we look to our communities and the environment, we can be assured that critical thinking is a naturaloutcome.   When discussing with your students, give examples so our children understand the importance of inclusion as a key component of any community project.  After all, when the opinions of all  are heard and respected, the final result of a project is meaningful.  Ask children to look around their community.  Is there a declining area that might make a peaceful retreat or place to play?  What plans would need to be put into motion and who might be the right people to be invited to the table to facilitate such a project?  Friends, family, parents,….who knows what the discussion might yield. YOUR class could be instrumental in making another High Line in your neighborhood.  For more on  this, see one of my favorite documentaries, Paper Clips.

And speaking of collaboration and the importance of participating in meaningful discussions, I always encourage my students to learn how to diffuse potentially negative situations by always reminding them the importance of tabling all viewpoints, not just a few.  Help children consider the feelings of others by placing them on theopposing side in a discussion.  Ask them to develop arguments for that side and pair with a child who has a contradictory viewpoint.    This type of role play will help children understand the critical importance of respect in all types of discussion, on and off the playground.


Dr. Kathy