Murphey Traditional Academy Combines Guilford County Schools (GCS) Character Traits and Common Core’s Speaking and Listening Standards through Paideia Seminars. Each month, Principal Cheryl Beeson and the Murphey teachers offer Paideia seminars for all Murphey students in order to integrate a character trait into English/Language Arts (ELA), Social Studies, and the Science curriculum. The Paideia Seminar is a collaborative, intellectual dialogue facilitated with open-ended questions about a text. This is a perfect way to address all the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – including speaking and listening, which are often overlooked.
In November 2013, the faculty of Murphey participated in a seminar facilitated by two staff members, using “One Today” by poet Richard Blanco, the poem presented at President Obama’s inauguration. In December, the following sessions were planned in order to focus on the character trait of kindness:
- Kindergarten and first grade students participated in seminars using Jerry Pinkney’s Caldecott award-winning book, The Lion and the Mouse as the text.
- Second and third grade students examined, Dear Children of the Earth, a book about small acts that make big differences to our environment.
- Fourth and fifth grade students used an Indian folktale, “The Magic Bed”, as their seminar text.
Every child considered kindness from different paths including reading, civil discourse, followed by writing in response to their reading and the dialogue.
In February, Murphey Academy students examined diversity through artwork created about or by African Americans, including Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, and Romare Bearden. Third grade students held their seminar in the International Civil Rights Museum. During the seminar cycle, all students read, spoke and wrote about African American art and concluded their study by creating artwork in the style of the artist they studied.