Blog

Meditation and the Brain

Interesting article about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation to help reduce errors. The brain’s ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes improved after only one session of a twenty-minute meditation.

The research, published in Brain Sciences, tested how open monitoring meditation – or, meditation that focuses awareness on feelings, thoughts or sensations as they unfold in one’s mind and body – altered brain activity in a way that suggests increased error recognition.

“People’s interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits,” said Jeff Lin, MSU psychology doctoral candidate and study co-author. “But it’s amazing to me that we were able to see how one session of a guided meditation can produce changes to brain activity in non-meditators.”

The findings suggest that different forms of meditation can have different neurocognitive effects and Lin explained that there is little research about how open monitoring meditation impacts error recognition.

“Some forms of meditation have you focus on a single object, commonly your breath, but open monitoring meditation is a bit different,” Lin said. “It has you tune inward and pay attention to everything going on in your mind and body. The goal is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind travels without getting too caught up in the scenery.”

Lin and his MSU co-authors – William Eckerle, Ling Peng and Jason Moser – recruited more than 200 participants to test how open monitoring meditation affected how people detect and respond to errors.

The participants, who had never meditated before, were taken through a 20-minute open monitoring meditation exercise while the researchers measured brain activity through electroencephalography, or EEG. Then, they completed a computerized distraction test.

“The EEG can measure brain activity at the millisecond level, so we got precise measures of neural activity right after mistakes compared to correct responses,” Lin said. “A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called the error positivity, which is linked to conscious error recognition. We found that the strength of this signal is increased in the meditators relative to controls.”

While the meditators didn’t have immediate improvements to actual task performance, the researchers’ findings offer a promising window into the potential of sustained meditation.

“These findings are a strong demonstration of what just 20 minutes of meditation can do to enhance the brain’s ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes,” Moser said. “It makes us feel more confident in what mindfulness meditation might really be capable of for performance and daily functioning right there in the moment.”

The participants, who had never meditated before, were taken through a 20-minute open monitoring meditation exercise while the researchers measured brain activity through electroencephalography, or EEG. Then, they completed a computerized distraction test. The image is in the public domain.

While meditation and mindfulness have gained mainstream interest in recent years, Lin is among a relatively small group of researchers that take a neuroscientific approach to assessing their psychological and performance effects.

Looking ahead, Lin said that the next phase of research will be to include a broader group of participants, test different forms of meditation and determine whether changes in brain activity can translate to behavioral changes with more long-term practice.

“It’s great to see the public’s enthusiasm for mindfulness, but there’s still plenty of work from a scientific perspective to be done to understand the benefits it can have, and equally importantly, how it actually works,” Lin said. “It’s time we start looking at it through a more rigorous lens.”


Important Information & Events

Family Event: Global Culinary Night this Thursday, November 14th – 6:00-7:00pm. Join us for a cultural potluck cuisine. Grab your “passport” and travel along with us as we visit countries near and far, sampling foods at each stop!

This community event is for FWM families to gather together and share a unique dish from their cultural, ethnic, or regional background while also sampling dishes from other FWM families’ cultures. It is expected that each family attending will bring a dish with enough food to serve between 6-10 people. The dish can be homemade or purchased from a local restaurant. Kindly RSVP by today, November 11th.  RSVP here today! 

All children (and adults if interested) will be given a “passport” as they travel around the globe. When a child samples a food, the child will get a stamp on their passport from that particular country.

We hope you join us as we celebrate the wonderful cultural diversity at our school! This is an entire family event not be missed. Let’s celebrate our school’s cultural diversity together!

Parent/Child Night this Thursday, November 14th – 6:30-7:30pm. For students and their parents in Primary through Middle School. You and your child are invited to attend an hour of educational engagement.  Parents/ caregivers will have an opportunity to learn about the different Montessori works from their children in the classroom.  This event is open to all parents in Primary through Elementary.  Please park at Sand Hill Plaza to take the shuttle bus.

8th Grade Thanksgiving Drive to Support Women Involved in Newtown (WIN) from Monday, November 11th to Friday, November 22nd.  The school will be accepting donations of the following beginning tomorrow, Monday, 11/11:
  • non-perishable foods
  • toiletries
  • paper products
The school will also be accepting donations of frozen turkeys
only on Friday morning, 11/22 until 10am.  Donations can be dropped off in the school’s main entrance lobby and placed in the collection bin.

Come to the Upper Elementary Happé Café on November 15th from 8:00-8:45am.   Students will be serving new items such as hot chocolate, decaf coffee, teas, and hot apple cider. The baked good of the day will be homemade pumpkin doughnut muffins. The coffee of the day will be Newman’s Own Organics: Special Blend. This is a medium roast blend made with 100% organic Arabica coffee. Please come and support the Upper Elementary students efforts.  All proceeds from the October and November sales will go to the American Red Cross to help provide relief to those affected by the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, California.

Information about School Closings and Delays due to Inclement Weather

This community event is for FWM families to gather together and share a unique dish from their cultural, ethnic, or regional background while also sampling dishes from other FWM families’ cultures. It is expected that each family attending will bring a dish with enough food to serve between 6-10 people. The dish can be homemade or purchased from a local restaurant. Kindly RSVP by today, November 11th.  RSVP here today! 

All children (and adults if interested) will be given a “passport” as they travel around the globe. When a child samples a food, the child will get a stamp on their passport from that particular country.

We hope you join us as we celebrate the wonderful cultural diversity at our school! This is an entire family event not be missed. Let’s celebrate our school’s cultural diversity together!

Parent/Child Night this Thursday, November 14th – 6:30-7:30pm. For students and their parents in Primary through Middle School. You and your child are invited to attend an hour of educational engagement.  Parents/ caregivers will have an opportunity to learn about the different Montessori works from their children in the classroom.  This event is open to all parents in Primary through Elementary.  Please park at Sand Hill Plaza to take the shuttle bus.

As winter weather slowly approaches, the chance of school closings and delays increases.  FWM follows Newtown Public Schools closings and delays when weather conditions have created unsafe travel conditions to or from school (see more details below).

Fortunately, FWM has a notification system for informing the families when there is a closing or a delay.  Parents have the opportunity to receive a phone call, text, and/or email through the notification system.  In order receive the notifications, parents must log on to their MyFWM.org account, go into their FAMILY FACT SHEET, and choose which school alert preferences they would like.  These school alert options can be found directly under the emails and phone numbers under the Parent section of your FAMILY FACT SHEET.

The process for a School Closing or Delayed Opening is as follows:

  • Parents or caregivers will typically receive a notification of a closing or delay between 5:30am -6:00am.  Depending on which school alerts are checked on the FAMILY FACT SHEET, parents may receive a phone call, text, and email.
  • Channel 30 NBC Connecticut, Channel 3 WFSB, Channel 8 WTNH, and Channel 61 Fox television stations as well as radio stations STAR 99.9 FM and WLAD AM will display FWM closings and delays.

Please note: when there is a Delayed Opening, the building will not be opened to students prior to the stated opening time (e.g. if there is a 9am Delayed Opening, the building will open at 9am which means there is NO Before School Program).  Also, there will be no staggered start which means classes will start shortly after the announced arrival time (Toddler parents should park and walk their children into the building.   Primary, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School parents are encouraged to drop off students on the morning carpool line at the back of the school)

Below is some important information:

  • FWM may remain open when Newtown Public Schools closes due to transportation challenges such as buses unable to leave the yard; temperatures are too cold for children to wait at the bus stop; or any other weather closing that impacts the logistics of the public schools, but does not impact travel to or from school.
  • Though every effort should be made for children and teachers to be present at school when school is in session, FWM understands that many teachers and families reside outside of Newtown. Hence, each teacher, staff member, and parent must assess their own safety when commuting to and from school and decide for themselves on whether it is safe to commute to school.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Michele Stramaglia at mstramaglia@fraserwoods.com.


Lessons We Can Learn from Veterans

Today, Todd Keeping, retired corporal in the Unites States Army, spoke to FWM students in kindergarten through 8th grade at our Veteran’s Day Assembly. It was an honor and privilege to have a veteran speak to our students.  In his talk, he discussed the brotherhood of his unit as well as the challenges he had to overcome to complete his training as a paratrooper.  Mr. Keeping also shared about the sacrifice families make when a loved one is deployed or relocated away from their home.  After the presentation, the children asked excellent questions with one of the best ones being, “What lesson did you learn while serving and how did it impact your everyday life?”  Mr. Keeping answered by telling the students he joined the police department because he was searching for a job that was similar to the one he experienced in the military.

In his book, Make Your Bed: Little Things that Can Change your Life and Maybe the World, Admiral William H.  McRaven, Retired, shares life lessons he learned as a Navy SEAL and Commander of the United States Special Operations Command.  In his book he writes, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed… If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed, will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made, that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

The above passage from Admiral McRaven’s book and the message from Corporal Keeping, Retired, remind me of the importance of small achievements.  Individual tasks done well will positively impact larger tasks and operations.  Whether packing a parachute properly or making a bed with care, each detail is important and, when strung together, create conditions favorable for Mission Success.  I think parents may consider this approach when thinking about strategies for raising their children.  Here are some ways parents can keep the focus on “small tasks done well”:

  • Have your child make his/her bed every morning before going to school
  • Have your child clear his/her plate after every meal
  • Have your child carry all their gear into school (if too much, have them make two trips)
  • Have your child fill his/her water bottle and pack his/her lunch
  • Have your child hang up their coat in the closet
  • Have your child bring his/her dirty clothes to the washing machine

 

 


MakerSpace Donations Needed

A huge facet of our MakerSpace curriculum is prototyping. Prototyping enables my students to use their hands to construct, design, and imagine the possibilities of their creative thinking. We have been using our own resources and are extra thankful to community members who drop off recycled goodies. At this time we would like to make a formal announcement of what we are looking for. Please know that you are welcome to drop things off in the front entryway, or if easier you can donate in the back during pick up and drop off.

Lastly, please make sure all recyclable items have been cleaned and dried out before donating. Unsure about an item? Donate it anyway, we will gladly recycle it if we can’t use it!

Do you have resources, expertise, connections, or anything else that you’d like to share with our MakerSpace? Please email dulacco@fraserwoods.com

 


Mrs. Wilson: Pikler Triangle

Toddlers need movement, lots of movement. Movement is a huge part of toddlers’ development. Besides the obvious development such as coordination, balance, muscle and bone strengthening, movement is also essential for a toddler because as they move they are awakening parts of their brain. It promotes chemical changes in the body which stimulate neural pathways.

This week we introduced the Pikler Triangle. The Pikler Triangle was developed over 100 years ago by a Hungarian pediatrician named Dr. Emmi Pikler. This equipment can be used with children as young as 6 months.
It was amazing to watch the children walk over to this new piece of equipment in their environment and try to figure out what it was; we sat back quietly to watch what they would do with it. Of course, right away they knew they wanted to climb it. Some children carefully stepped up on to each rung and only climbed until they were comfortable and climbed back down the same side they were standing on. Some quickly climbed to the top and then carefully over and down the other side. Then we had a few who only wanted to experience the ramp and slide down. A couple of children even created a little hideout where we could hear them being silly together and giggling.
They are learning what their own boundaries and limits are and will grow to use the Pikler Triangle at their own pace.

Global Culinary Night is Thursday, November 14th, from 6:00-7:00 pm.

This community event is for FWM families to gather together and share a unique dish from their cultural, ethnic, or regional background while also sampling dishes from other FWM families’ cultures. The dish can be homemade or purchased from a local restaurant. We hope you join us as we celebrate the wonderful cultural diversity at our school! This is an entire family event not be missed. Kindly RSVP by November 11th.  RSVP here today.

Mrs. Hood’s Class: The Power of Trust!

Children have a natural attraction to animals of all kinds. Research shows that humans’ innate interest in animals is biological: we are drawn to species that are “other” than human and in many cases have an instinct to want to care for or nurture creatures that are small and vulnerable. This week we introduced forest animals in our Language area. Through a concrete lesson and short, meaningful videos, children observed these animals in the forest and learned some specific facts about black bears, foxes, owls, moose, and beavers. We learned that black bears have sharp claws. They climb trees. Foxes have bushy tails. Foxes are members of the dog family. Owls have large eyes. They are active at night. Moose have a big body. Some of them have big antlers. Beavers have big front teeth. They have a broad tail. Beavers build dams using mud and wood. Using models to represent these animals, children repeated these facts to teachers and peers, practicing the use of two to three word sentences with the new descriptive vocabulary acquired.

Another highlight of this week was in the area of self-care in practical life. Children learned how to respectfully use a glass pitcher and serve themselves water in real glasses throughout the morning. In our environment we use porcelain and glass purposely. Their use empowers and allows children to use ‘real’ things, shows the children we trust and respect them, lets the children know that they are capable and that we respond to their abilities, and helps them develop their skills. We give them the opportunity to learn natural consequences: drop a glass and it will break. Children learn and adjust their movements to protect the fragility of their environment.

Needless to say, children were pretty hydrated this week since they found the activity quite attractive, and there were no broken glasses at all. Don’t be surprised if the water bottles start going back home quite full. This means your child is busy practicing this new skill.

For food tasting we introduced pomenagrates. As always, children were curious and excited! It was certainly a juicy experience and 98% of the class enjoyed every bit.

We All Go Traveling by Barefoot books, We All Sing With the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller, and The Thankful Book by Todd Parr were the books most requested this week!

Global Culinary Night is Thursday, November 14th, from 6:00-7:00 pm.

This community event is for FWM families to gather together and share a unique dish from their cultural, ethnic, or regional background while also sampling dishes from other FWM families’ cultures. The dish can be homemade or purchased from a local restaurant. We hope you join us as we celebrate the wonderful cultural diversity at our school! This is an entire family event not be missed. Kindly RSVP by November 11th.  RSVP here today.

Middle School: Week in Review

It’s been a few weeks since we had a full week, so it felt great to be back in a rhythm and having forward momentum with our classes!

Science classes were busy this week. In Earth Science, the 6th years continued exploring how tectonic plates help shape and form our landscape. Within this unit, students are researching how tectonic plates play a role in the rock cycle (igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary). In Physical Science, 7th year students finished their unit, Characteristic Properties of Matter. The next unit will consist of states of matter. We will explore how substances are able to change their state while explaining the structure, properties, and interactions of matter. The 8th year Life Science class has also finished their unit, Structure of Life. The next unit is Cellular Respiration. By the end of the unit, students will be able to describe the importance of the reactants and products of cellular respiration, while differentiating respiration (breathing) from cellular respiration.

In Humanities class, 6th years finished their class novel, Out of My Mind. After an excellent wrap-up in discussion, they watched a mini-documentary about a New Zealand teen who lives with cerebral palsy, like the protagonist of the class novel. Also, students began their work on a nature-inspired, creative piece in which they write using imagery and descriptive language. The 7th year students finished their class novel, A Gift From Childhood, and have compiled all of the proverbs and metaphors in the book. After analyzing, they have selected one that will serve as the moral to a story they will compose in the style of a Mali tale. Finally, 8th years have continued their work rewriting history with their essay drafts. Because these essays have substantial research, they are just now carefully drafting and citing their information to support their original theses. All three classes had current events presentations on Monday as well as a vocabulary unit this week.

Math class was fun this week as they learned new concepts, practiced what they already know, and worked together with their peers to solve challenging equations. Pre-Transition students finished up Chapter 3 and reviewed important concepts for this week’s assessment. The class has talked about adding simple fractions, finding sums of angles measured in polygons, and measuring acute, obtuse and right angles in triangles. Get ready, Chapter 4 will start soon! Transition students started a new unit this week called Representing Sets of Numbers. They are learning about always, sometimes, and maybe statements, properties of real numbers, and manipulating Venn diagrams to understand the union and intersection of sets. Algebra students are excited to be learning about solving linear equations (ax+b=cx+d). They are also working through mathematical situations that always or never happen and identifying equivalent formulas. Algebra will finish this unit before Internship Week starts and there will not be any assignments due for the grade 8 class during the November 18-22 school week. Math joke: Why did the 2 fours skip lunch?……Because they already ate!

****Announcements for next week: 

Global Culinary Night is Thursday, November 14th, from 6:00-7:00 pm. This community event is for FWM families to gather together and share a unique dish from their cultural, ethnic, or regional background while also sampling dishes from other FWM families’ cultures. The dish can be homemade or purchased from a local restaurant. We hope you join us as we celebrate the wonderful cultural diversity at our school! This is an entire family event not be missed. Kindly RSVP by November 11th.  RSVP here today.

Middle School Family Game night will follow Global Culinary Night. 

In addition to ping pong and Foosball, there will be games/activities in the middle school classrooms for students to enjoy with their parents.


Upper Elementary: Skill Set

As we get closer to our next cafe opening on November 15, the students are learning about the different roles within a small business. They each had an opportunity to write down their skills and speak with me 1:1 during weekly conference time to share their interests and what they are best suited in doing to help the cafe run smoothly. Some of the areas of interest are marketing, finance, and supply. Community helpers were busy this week cleaning up around the school and returning lost items to students. We concluded our week by making and packaging sandwiches to be delivered to the St. Vincent DePaul Mission in Waterbury, CT. Thank you for the donations and to Liz Bashawaty and Eric Juel for the assistance in the classroom!

Global Culinary Night is Thursday, November 14th, from 6:00-7:00 pm.

This community event is for FWM families to gather together and share a unique dish from their cultural, ethnic, or regional background while also sampling dishes from other FWM families’ cultures. The dish can be homemade or purchased from a local restaurant. We hope you join us as we celebrate the wonderful cultural diversity at our school! This is an entire family event not be missed. Kindly RSVP by November 11th.  RSVP here today.