Bobcat Blog

Welcome to the Bobcat Blog! A place where faculty and students share their experiences in learning and building a community.

Before COVID-19, school closures occurred & the good that came…

By Mindy J. Watson | 2020年6月5日

In the mid-2000s, a few of my colleagues and I thought it would be prudent to consider and then develop a process for extended school closure. Now, you native Pacific North-Westerners know darn well that it doesn’t “really” snow in Seattle and its surrounding cities, but occasionally two feet will indeed drop and shut the cities down. Moreover, in 2001 there was an earthquake that was at least a 6-point that did some damage. So, what if a school had to shut down for more than a day or two? Considering the swine flu or some other debilitating virus, my colleagues helped develop a strategy to maintain forward motion for classes and, most importantly, continue to engage students in their learning. In the early 2000s, video conferencing was in the development stages. Skype (2003), Zoom (2011), and Google Classroom (2014) have helped to advance how people around the globe can communicate efficiently and effectively. Spinning forward to 2018, the year in which WaPrep was established, I carried forward the hours of conversations and planning that had been done to prepare for an extended school closure with my colleagues from a former private school. In February of 2019, the Seattle area was hit with a significant snowstorm, and icy conditions prevailed. Our students took one snow day and then began school, from home, with their teachers on Zoom and email exchange. Students uploaded their work electronically, and teachers provided feedback effectively. It was a starting place for us as a school and gave us just enough data to make improvements for future events like a snowstorm. Unusually, in January 2020, we had another significant snow and ice event. WaPrep’s teaching team and students knew what to do, and more data was gathered for us to utilize for improvements… And then…on March…

Continue Reading

Continue reading...

Scholastic Arts & Writing Awardee- Sophie Tanaka

By Rachel Mackenna | 2022年1月27日

Please take a moment to congratulate Sophie this week! Her artwork “Deep Breaths” has been awarded a Silver Key in the Scholastic Arts & Writing competition and will be included in an upcoming exhibition at the Schack Art Center in Everett. Nearly 340,000 works of art and writing were submitted this year, so this is a huge honor. Many notable, internationally known artists, designers and authors have been recognized by the Scholastic Arts & Writing competition since its inception. . In celebration of this year’s recipients, the public is invited to view the Scholastic Art Exhibitions at the Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave. Everett, WA. Portfolio Exhibition will be on display January 18-March 13 in the Emerging Young Artists’ Gallery and the Individual Award-Winning Entry Exhibitions will be featured in the Mezzanine Gallery from January 25-February 13. A virtual award ceremony will take place February 3, 6:30 PM. Gallery Hours are as follows: Tuesday-Saturday, 10-5pm; and Sunday, 12-5pm. https://www.schack.org/exhibits/ . Deep Breaths by Sophie Tanaka Linocut on paper Letter from Schack Art Center

Continue reading...

Students discover connections between their learning and the world around them!

By Kristi Bubna | 2021年11月22日

Among the most rewarding moments as a teacher are those when students discover connections between their own learning and the world around them. This semester, Washington Prep’s 6th grade ELA class read the novel A Long Walk to Water, a fictionalized account of the real-life experiences of Salva Dut, a South Sudanese refugee. Salva became a Lost Boy of Sudan when he was separated from his family in Sudan’s Civil War in the 1980s. After spending a decade in refugee camps, Salva was relocated to the United States, where he developed the idea for Water for South Sudan, a non-profit organization committed to providing clean drinking water for remote villages in South Sudan. Inspired by reading Salva’s story, Washington Prep 6th graders decided to lead efforts for the school to fundraise $1,000 for Salva’s mission. After much brainstorming, students made a plan to raise funds by making and selling soap! Through this experience, students have learned valuable leadership, service, and work skills. Each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during block 9, WA Prep students give their time and energy to community service. 8th and 10th, and 11th graders head into the Bothell community to volunteer at a local food bank and thrift store; 6th, 7th, and 9th grade students have been on-campus, alternating between online citizen science projects and trying their hands at soap making.   In the course of their service project for Water for South Sudan, on-campus students have also been honing marketing and entrepreneurial skills: 10th grade students are currently coordinating an on-site event for November 23rd, to sell baked goods and soaps — and all proceeds will go to Water for South Sudan. On the marketing end, 6th grade students coordinated their community service project with a unit in English class, as they wrote persuasive speeches and…

Continue Reading

Continue reading...

Students consider the techniques of two inspirational artists for their own designs.

By Rachel Mackenna | 2021年2月8日

Kara Walker, Exxodus of Confederates from Atlanta from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) [set of 15 prints], 2005. Offset lithography and silkscreen. 39” x 53’. Edition of 35 Kehinde Wiley, Arms of Nicolaas Ruterius, Bishop of Arras, 2014, Stained Glass, 54” x 36” Two inspiration artists that have been part of our discussions in class are Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker. These contemporary, internationally acclaimed African American artists use shape and pattern symbolically to address the history of racial injustice and representation in their work. In Walker’s work, silhouettes of black figures create narratives that tell the story of slavery and racial violence in the United States prior to the Civil War. While the details in the dress and hair of Walker’s figures reflect a past point in time, the emotional and conceptual weight of her work is magnified under the lens of today’s headlines. Kehinde Wiley’s work focuses on the image of African Americans in the present day and often on specific individuals in lush, patterned backgrounds. His hyperrealist paintings make the subjects seem larger than life either figuratively or literally. Wiley also references history by taking inspiration from the titles and poses of works by classical masters. Wiley’s figures exude the same power, grace and poise that was the hallmark of many Renaissance era works but, unlike those past paintings, his figures and faces are those of living black people in clothing that is evocative of their culture and the present moment.  Through his artwork Wiley documents a new history that includes black faces and brings attention to their absence in the canon of classical art. In our first set of projects students are considering the techniques of Walker and Wiley for their own designs addressing shape and pattern. In art class we have been…

Continue Reading

Continue reading...

In language acquisition, a hypothetical filter is influenced by emotional variables

By Qian Zhang | 2020年10月12日

When I was a student, I dreamed that I could speak English fluently. Because I thought English could help me to open another door to the world. I worked very hard and learned tons of vocabulary and grammar rules. However, after almost 23 years of learning and having been through so many tests, I still felt horrible about my daily communications when I arrived in the United States. I realized that even though I worked so hard to learn English, I had never really used it. When I started to teach Mandarin, helping my students feel comfortable and confident in communicating in Mandarin are the core values of my teaching. As indicated in Krashen’s second language acquisition theory, there are two ways of developing language ability (https://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash-english.html). The acquisition involves the subconscious acceptance of knowledge where information is stored in the brain through communication; this is the process used for developing native languages. On the other hand, learning is the conscious acceptance of knowledge ‘about’ a language (i.e., the grammar or form). According to this theory, the optimal way to learn a new language is through natural communication. As a second language teacher, the idea is to create a situation wherein language is used to fulfill authentic purposes. Therefore, speaking in the new language will help students ‘acquire’ the language instead of just ‘learning’ it. In language acquisition, a hypothetical filter is influenced by emotional variables that can prevent learning. The ‘screen’ does not impact acquisition directly but rather prevents input from reaching the brain’s language acquisition part. According to Krashen, the affective filter is influenced by many different variables, including anxiety, self-confidence, motivation, and stress (https://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash-english.html). In any aspect of education, it is always essential to create a safe, welcoming environment in which students can learn. In language education,…

Continue Reading

Continue reading...

The greatest sign of success for a teacher…

By Eunice Bonaparte | 2020年9月1日

by Eunice Bonaparte August is one of my favorite months. Personally, it a month filled with family celebrations, and the last of the fun summer rituals. Professionally, it is when I begin final preparations for the new school year. As long as I gather the books, find and watch the videos, download templates, create the documents and PowerPoints with clickable links to additional support – I’m done, right? Absolutely not. Not even close. Not even close to close. So much more is involved in preparing for the new school year. More than a decade in the classroom has rewarded me with a plethora of resources on multiple levels to share with my students. The internet, not such a ubiquitous feature of life when I started teaching, has provided me links to sources I would have had to get on an airplane and plead with an archivist to acquire in the past. My students were born into and educated in a world where just about anything is virtually at your fingertips. Getting information is not the challenge; knowing how to find credible sources – and evaluate and use them – is. Helping students prepare to thrive in an information-rich society is the ultimate challenge for 21st century teachers. “The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ’The children are now working as if I did not exist.’” This idea from Maria Montessori guides me when I am choosing scaffolded learning opportunities for students. While fostering independent work, there will always be a need for some amount of direct instruction. Guiding students through the rough patches inevitable in the learning cycle is part of the process (and often the most fun). However, we can easily find that we are spoiled for choice in terms of source-availability….

Continue Reading

Continue reading...

Encryption, Decryption, and Matrices

By Laura Granger | 2020年8月5日

Over the course of my 20 years teaching mathematics, matrices have been in and out of the Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus curriculum. I happen to love working with and teaching matrices, so I was happy to see them back in our Pre-Calculus/Pre-IB curriculum last year. After mastering the processes and problem solving uses of matrices, my students completed an encryption project using matrices. This project uses matrices and cryptography to code and decipher secret messages. See if you can unlock the code and decipher their secret message!

Continue reading...

IB Biology at WaPrep

By Paul Converse | 2020年8月3日

In biology there is a joke we pass around: the more complicated a system is, the more difficult it is to study. Biological systems are the most complicated systems humanity has yet observed, and thusly studying these systems is the most difficult science. This joke is especially fun around physicists and chemists. Yet there is truth in this joke. Biological systems are immensely complicated and they exist under an unfathomable scale, from subcellular structures to entire ecosystems. How then do we approach this science, and how do we teach it to the people who will inherit our knowledge? I am trained as a population geneticist and molecular ecologist. Molecular ecology is the study of how genetics is shaped by ecology (ranges, niches, etc.) or vice-versa. This field attempts to relate the big-scale (ecology) to the small-scale (genes) to see how they influence one another. Molecular ecology is the perfect bridge between the small and the large phenomena we encounter in biology. The IB Programme is similar in its pedagogy. Seemingly disparate topics are dovetailed together and their common themes are found. The IB Programme stresses how each classroom is tied to other classes, be it through language, culture, history, or ethics. Science is no exception: science is simply a human institution, and human institutions are shaped by history, language, and philosophy. At WaPrep, IB Biology is structured as a university-level class. Exams are difficult and focus on essays, themes and content, as opposed to simple answers. Academic rigour, thoroughness, and precise wording are stressed to truly prepare students for a university education. It is my goal that zero students from my class return home to express shock at how difficult their classes are; I intend for them to first taste this at WaPrep; I want them to hit the ground…

Continue Reading

Continue reading...

Bringing IB into my Teaching Experience

By Sephy Elizai | 2020年8月3日

Last academic year (2018-2019) I was fortunate to work as a Spanish teacher in three different schools: our own school Washington Preparatory School in Bothell, Soundview School in Lynnwood, and Cedar River Montessori School in Renton. I will let go of the idea of writing about the most efficient way to drive around the entire Seattle area but rather I will write of how I was introduced to the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB, and yes, the spelling is in the British form), also introduced to the Montessori system (another European educational system and philosophy) and about some aspects of IB which I will bring into my teaching at a conscientious and committal level. These are reflection (T.O.K.), independent learning (learner profile), project-based learning and teaching, and the philosophy that all teachers are language teachers. I have been teaching language acquisition since 1999, and the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” immediately began applying to me regarding IB.  WaPrep and one of the other schools are IB schools. Suddenly and immediately, my teaching routine had to begin the process of adjustment. Yes, the process, because change doesn’t come immediately, because to be a true educator means becoming involved and loving the process of learning, because my own education and teaching experience were being augmented. I was coached and assisted with the writing of the IB curriculum for the MYP (Middle Years Programme) because one of the schools was already an IB school. Until this March, WaPrep was an IB candidate school. WaPrep sent me to my initial IB training in Portland which took place in November of 2018. Three of us, Qian Zhang the Mandarin Teacher, Teresa Coggins the Physical Education Teacher and Administrative Assistant and I traveled to Portland together by train. The IB training left me thinking like Socrates, “I know that I know nothing.” I was so confused with acronyms and new ways of assessment and a curriculum form that I had to do and re-do so much, and that, although similar, was not the same as the MYP form with which I received so much help and guidance. This was the DP (Diploma Programme for grades 11 and 12) curriculum form. I began to wonder if I’d ever be able to teach this way….

Continue Reading

Continue reading...

Innovation is actively going on in every industry

By Namrata Poladia | 2020年8月3日

We are living in the 21st century and our life is surrounded by modern technology. We are using smart phones, computers, portable laptops, smart watches, instant pots for easy cooking, IRobot Roomba and IRobot Brava for cleaning, a Kindle for reading and many more devices in our daily routine. All these devices are operated by software. The software is written in high level programming languages. Innovation is actively going on in every industry. Our mobile phone is a mini computer with a powerful CPU, a high-quality camera, and large storage capacity. The car industry is also implementing artificial intelligence and automation to make self-driving cars in which the vehicle is capable of sensing its environment and moving safely with no human effort. In the future, if self-driving cars are successfully running, then Lyft, Uber and Taxi drivers’ jobs will be at risk. Recently, Amazon launched “Amazon Go”, a new kind of grocery store with no checkout line. It works by using the same types of technologies found in self-driving cars, such as computer vision, sensor capability, and machine learning. This technology can detect when products are taken or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in your virtual cart. If this technology is used in each and every store in future, many cashier jobs may not exist. What is a drone? A drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS navigation system. Drones could function as future delivery personnel. As many current jobs are at a risk of being replaced by machines in the near future, these jobs will be replaced by those that help create or control machines. People who have knowledge of high-level programming, computer…

Continue Reading

Continue reading...

Binary Number System

By Namrata Poladia | 2020年8月3日

A binary number, also known as a base 2 number, is a number composed only of 0s and 1s. The modern binary number system was studied in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries by Thomas Harriot, Juan Caramuel, and Gottfried Leibniz. However, systems related to binary numbers have appeared earlier in multiple cultures including ancient Egypt, China, and India. Leibniz was specifically inspired by the Chinese 1 Ching. The base of a numbering system refers to the number of distinct symbols allowed in the system. In our daily life, we generally work with decimal numbers. The decimal system is the base 10 system as there are 10 distinct symbols allowed – 0 through 9. Why do computers not use the decimal system as well? Wouldn’t that be easier for the programmers as well? The answers to these questions lie in the architecture of the computers. Any computer consists of a large number of digital transistors. The way these transistors are created, it is easiest to have them in the on or off state, rather than having 10 different states. The state of a single transistor is the smallest piece of information a computer can store. This is also called as a bit (similar to a digit for the decimal system). Larger units of information can be created by combining multiple bits together. From a mathematical point of view, any data that can be represented using decimal numbers can also be represented using binary numbers, just that the binary numbers are going to have more bits than the number of digits in the corresponding decimal number. Concepts such as order and carry apply in the binary system same as how they apply in the decimal system. In the decimal system, a number consists of the ones digit, tens digit, hundreds…

Continue Reading

Continue reading...