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The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is a dynamic space that brings together the Windward community to exchange ideas, learn together, and grow. Through the collective talents of faculty and administrators who are teachers, librarians, curriculum specialists, and instructional technology professionals, the CTL enriches teaching, learning, and thinking at Windward.

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This Week at Windward...


The Real World of 7th Grade Robotics


This is the true story of seventeen strangers picked to work together and have their experiences documented to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start being real… and building robots.


Becky’s seventh grade Robotics class has two months to solve a real-world problem and build a robot that navigates through an obstacle course all while exhibiting positive attitudes, cooperation and professionalism.  The class is participating in the 2014 First Lego League Challenge and, on November 2nd, they will compete against local schools in order to move on to the next round of competitions.  The judges at the Challenge will look for robots that are agile, strong, and adept at maneuvering. Each team will also formally present their research project and process to the judges, showing how the team has improved how people learn motivation, personal grit, or hand-eye coordination in athletics.  Finally, the judges will grill each team on how well they worked together as a group, asking them for specific examples of how they communicated with one another, how they addressed challenges in their dynamics, and how they came together as a team.


In addition to the Solve a Problem component, Lego provided the students with a course they built as a starting point in the robotics portion of the challenge. Then, they had to design a robot that could maneuver through the course while adhering to the design parameters outlined by Lego. Students have been working on their robots and their research project simultaneously since the beginning of school and are gearing up for the competition. So next time you see one of the 7th grade Robotics students, ask them how their projects and robots are coming along and stop by Becky’s Robotics class to check out the amazing work these students are doing.   



When is it okay to kill your friend?

Is it okay to kill someone if you have been lost in the wilderness and every presumes you are both dead?

This was the question posed to Charlie Holmes’ seniors enrolled in The Brothers Karamazov class. The class, referred to by students affectionately as “Brothers K.” is always a class that spurs discussion. Debates started in class are often heard continuing beyond class because they engage students so deeply and are so challenging to resolve.

For this class, Charlie told a story (fictional, don’t worry) about getting lost in the wilderness with his friend Bob. After hearing news on the radio that the search was over and both were presumed dead, and with no hope of ever returning home, Charlie asked, “Would it be wrong of me to kill Bob?”

Each student voted, and then the Charlie led the class in a long discussion with students arguing for each side. Some students said, “Of course it’s wrong! It’s always wrong to kill someone.”

“But why?” Charlie kept asking.

“Free choice is fundamental. By killing him you take away his choice.”

“But why is that wrong?” Charlie asked.

The few students on the other side of the argument held their own: Bob would have to live life thinking about the loss of his past life. “You could be doing him a favor. It could be a mercy killing.”

The debate was heated and lasted the whole class.

Chatting with Charlie after class, he let me in on the secret. “This really isn’t a literature class, but a moral philosophy class,” he said.

So if you are looking to grapple with the big, deep questions of life, be sure to enroll in Brothers K your senior year. You will not be disappointed.



Faculty Spotlight: Chinda Wongngamnit


"If Smiles in Photographs Were Real"

What are all the facets of a smile? How do we think or talk about happiness? Chase Williams ('14) explores these questions in his new book of poems, titled If Smiles in Photographs Were Real. Chase compiled the book, comprised of personal photos and over 35 poems, for his Senior Initiative project. The poems are split into three chapters: Real Smiles, Half Grins, and False Smiles. He worked with Windward Creative Writing teacher and CTL dynamo Brendan Constantine to put the book together, and plans to publish a bound version soon.

We're excited to share some of his poems here!


Pretty youthful creature

Dark alley hair and lineage

Dressed nicely by the people

Getting paid on guilt looks


Her sign ruptures eardrums

With humble black lined silence

I have one baby I lost my job

Devils spit glints from her eyes


Free calls: get God's blessing

And daily prayer press *10

The phone was thrashed off

Flawed metal didn't take dimes


I guess she's without hope

No dial tone to the divine

But there was something odd

About those gleaming eyes


From her aura one could infer

Her digits were no strangers

To the tearing sensations of

A smooth plastic handle


Her ears were not familiar

   With the abrupt hush of a dial tone




Umbrellas! They shout

Sad voices waft from a pub

Crowds part for a man




French Moroccan girls

The beauties of two cultures

While I eat this bread