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Monday, October 6th, 2014
Reposted from Mrs. Sterling’s Preschool Class Blog:
“This week, as we’ve continued our discussions on friendship, ‘working together, otherwise known as cooperating, has been our focus. Over the past couple weeks I’ve concluded that active participation seems to make the greatest impression on these young minds so we stuck with this learning model and I capitalized on every opportunity to point out when members of our preschool team were in cooperation mode. Fortunately, I’ve had lots of great examples: when the kids go through their morning routine; when they participate in circle each morning; when they discover ways to work together in free play time; as we clean up our room; when the kids responsibly complete their daily duties and/or respect each other in the process; when they respond to a call for help and provide assistance throughout the day; and how they generally interact with each other in positive and helpful ways. Many of these cooperative efforts have allowed us to revisit past lessons on being a responsible member of a community, using helping hands, and sharing.
To really emphasize the concept of cooperation and give the kids additional examples we could explore, we read and discussed a variety of relevant stories: Swimmy, Rainbow Fish and Rainbow Fish to the Rescue, David’s Drawings, Stone Soup, Burgoo Stew, and Fandango Stew. Next came the creative explorations. We made paper-bag rainbow fish complete with flashing scales. We painted other fish shapes and added glitter to represent the community of fishy friends that developed after Rainbow Fish shared his scales. We worked together to create a colorful and super-sized Rainbow Fish who, in the second story, encouraged the other fish to join forces to rescue a fellow fish in danger. We replicated the giant fish created by Swimmy and friends when they all swam in formation. When working together, they found courage to face predators and swim in the open sea. Inspired by David and his classmates, we created a cooperative drawing, each member of our preschool team offering their individual contributions to one paper. Most of these creative efforts are incorporated in the hallway bulletin board display just outside our classroom. The projects were intended to reinforce the power of cooperation present in the stories but also to allow the kids to directly experience the value and success of combined effort.
The reinforcement didn’t end there. After reading the variations of Stone Soup, we branched out from art into food. On Tuesday the kids helped to prepare our own chicken noodle Stone Soup. Our proverbial ‘watched pot’ did take a long time to cook but excitement remained high. Before the day was out, we’d not only enjoyed it ourselves, but we’d shared the bounty of our cooperative efforts with various members of our Riverstone community. Then Wednesday, each child contributed to our Friendship Fruit Salad. By combining our efforts, we enjoyed a delicious and varied snack. (PS Thanks Parents for making it possible!) We’re also discovering that sharing and working together is so much more fun than not.
Also during the week, unrelated to any literature, we found fun ways to be cooperative. We formed an impromptu band, making music together, focusing on playing together with coordinated stop and go rhythms. Self control is a pretty hard thing to master at such a young age but they all tried. We also banded together to build a tall block tower. The tower did topple several times but we were laughing together, rebuilding it together, and having fun … together! We focused on working as a group, invested in a common goal. Every afternoon before going home, we’ve been playing a round or two of Memory. In some other games the kids have been vying to be the “winner” but in this game, they’ve been celebrating each match that is made, regardless of who makes it. The kids worked on patience, taking turns, and finishing the game together. We’ve continued to play our balloon games – keeping the balloon aloft for as long as possible. Maybe I imagine it but the mayhem in this game seems to have diminished a bit as the kids become accustomed to playing it together, trusting they will get a turn.
Encouraging each other and letting go of individual preferences to embrace a group effort is a long process. Not every activity noted above went off without a hitch. Reminders were needed, encouragement was given, hurt feelings were soothed. As with all skill development, the more we practice it, the easier it will become. Here’s to a year of productive practice by Team Preschool!”
Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Grade Seven’s final piece of literature for the semester was Michael William’s “Now Is the Time for Running.” It is the story of two brothers who flee the massacre of their small village in Zimbabwe for the “safety” of South Africa. Soccer is a way the boys are connected to their vanished home, each other and the people they meet during their journey to safety. There are many scenes and vignettes in the book that describe how they use their homemade soccer ball to play the game they love with the people they meet.
Kids love soccer. They play it on manicured fields, debris strewn lots in cities, open dirt patches and, as in Ben Stiller’s “Mitty” at the top of the world in the Hindu Kush. Unfortunately, not every kid owns a soccer ball. Like kids everywhere, our Grade Seven students discovered what it is like to work together to make a ball for the game they love.
Their ball was made from 100+ Winco shopping bags and duct tape (thanks Ben!). They played happily with the ball for an hour – just like kids across the developing world. Sport, particularly soccer, does unite us.
Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Fifteen Elementary School science enthusiasts shared their passion for science at the first Riverstone Elementary School Science Fair, sponsored by the Academic Excellence Student Council members.
Students completed projects and experiments at home, as well as created displays explaining their experiments or inventions. On Friday morning, other Elementary School students and parents toured the exhibit to meet the scientists. Our scientists taught everyone about acids and bases, centrifugal force, and many other concepts. There was even a homemade Galilean telescope!
Thanks to the Student Council and our scientists for a great event!
Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
You probably can remember learning about the cell: its functions and various components with words like vacuoles, endoplasmic reticullum, mitochondria. But imaging having not only to learn the cell and its functions in the language of biology, but teaching someone else who has a completely different background from you. Finding common ground that you can both can connect to becomes incredibly important — and challenging.
Middle School Science teacher, John Pedersen, gave his Gr 7 students this exact challenge: apply their knowledge of the cell and its functions and their creativity to develop cell models and displays that will allow them to connect with someone who meets the following descriptions:
Coral grew up in a tiny beach town in Hawaii. She spent most of hers days surfing, collecting seashells and spending time on the beach.
Harvey grew up just about everywhere. His parents were archaelogists who studied shipwrecks and were constantly on the go traveling. Harvey grew a strong interest in all things pirate.
Brittany grew up in the Hollywood Hills. Brittany is a rich girl who is quite detached from anything not dealing with fame. Brittany’s mother is a famous movie producer, and her mother’s love for movies can be found with Brittany.
Charlie grew up on a farm in Indiana. Charlie spends almost all his free time tending to his parents farm. Charlie’s main interests are riding his tractor and tending to his animals on the farm.
Cindy R. Ella
Cindy grew up in Anaheim California where she had a season pass for Disneyland every year of her life. She visited the park on most every weekend basking in the wonder of the magic castle waiting to meet her Price Charming. She attends Walt Disney University where her favorite class is “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Shaniqa grew up watching reality shows like American Idol, The X-Factor and the Voice where she dreams of the day when she will be a contestant on the Voice where she hopes to be picked by Lusher.
The following are photos of our students and their cell displays. Well done Grade 6!
Thursday, May 15th, 2014
Gr 4′s current unit of inquiry is based on migration and how throughout time, people have migrated causing change to themselves and indigenous populations. They learn about the factors that cause people to migrate, the many migration routes that have developed throughout history, and affects of migration on the emigrants and the indigenous population.
In order to learn about personal experience with migration, the classes met with and interviewed students at the Learning Lab on the 4th floor of the Boise Public Library. Children and adults new to the United States come to the Learning Lab (LL) for a variety of reasons. Some want to hone their English skills. Other want to learn how to read or complete their GEDs.
Lila Cabrera, a former Riverstone Spanish teacher, who now works at the LL, introduced us to her students when we first arrived. The groups were split into teams, and then the 4th graders traveled to “stations” to interview the Learning Lab students from a variety of countries: Mexico, Afghanistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Russian, Somalia, and Nigeria. The questions covered a gamut of topics. “Why did you leave your country?” Do you miss your friends and family? “Do you have any special wedding traditions, and if so, what are they?” “What are some of the things that you first thought were strange about life in Boise?” Some of our 4th graders learned how to write their numbers and alphabet in Farsi, or how to say hello in Yuruba, a Nigerian language.
The time flew. Students on both sides benefited, having had the chance to share over two hours together. A woman from Mexico remarked, “I haven’t spoken this much English since coming to the Lab!” Another person commented, “I can’t believe how bright these kids are! Are they really only in 4th grade? They are so perceptive and adept at asking good questions!” What a great time we had!
In the afternoon, after a lunch at Julia Davis Park, Gr 4 went on a walking tour of the downtown area. The students began their journey at the Rediscovered Bookstore (where they picked up another copy of their guide book, Ethnic Landmarks: Ten Historic Places that Define the City of Trees). They visited the old Chinese quarter, the Basque Block and the Star Hotel, the German Turnverein building, the Assay Building, the Spanish Village, and the O’Farrell Building on Fort Street. Students took notes and learned a great deal more about their city.
Thanks to Ms. Fitz and Mrs. Clayton for organizing this great field trip!
Thursday, April 24th, 2014
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
The following post appeared on Ms. Fitzharris’ Grade 4 blog this morning:
Over the past month, our class has been delving into the mystery genre. Each child has chosen and read at least one mystery since we began the mini-unit after Spring Break. We’ve talked about alibis, red herrings, suspects, and how a mystery’s plot tends to evolve. After mapping out an elaborate plan for them to write an essay explaining all of this, I realized (by the look on their faces) that what each and every one of them wanted to do was to write their own mystery and have their classmates solve their crimes or problems. So that’s what they’ve been working on over the last week or so. Last Friday, I brought in old fedoras, trench coats and a few other props and had each student pose for a picture. When they complete their mystery, they’ll type it up and we’ll post them outside the classroom along with the photo of them wearing their detective garb. We’ll keep you posted!
Thursday, March 6th, 2014
The following blog entry is a letter that Ben Brock, our Director of Outdoor Education, wrote to Grade 8 parents last week.
“I didn’t want to wait too much longer to let you all know what a great time I had working with the Grade 8 class last week. From pre-trip responsibilities, to on-the-fly decision making, to trip wrap-up and gear return, this group of students proved that, even with a wide range of outdoor backgrounds, they are up for whatever challenges I throw at them. We enjoyed a wonderfully mild and sunny Wednesday, made the most of soggy conditions on Thursday, and tromped out victoriously on Friday. I’m always happy when, even though it’s not expected, a few hardy souls sleep in a snowcave. I’m even happier when we clean the yurt after all is said and done and have (GASP!!) not one unclaimed sock, glove, hat, etc! Very impressive!
Next stop: 5 days in Hell’s Canyon!!
Some lessons learned along the way (from student activity booklets, which will serve as preparation aids for this group of students when they go winter camping in Grade 10 as well as for next year’s Grade 8 class.)
- “My base layers are my favorite piece of outdoor gear.”
- “People will help you when you need it but you need to be willing to help as well.”
- “I’d bring another water bottle next time.”
- “Don’t overpack and don’t underpack!”
- “Snowcaves can keep you warm.”
- “Drink water!”
As always, thank you for entrusting us with your children’s safety.”
A special thank you to our two Grade 10 Outdoor Leadership students, Mikayla and Quinn, for their help and guidance during the trip!
Thursday, February 27th, 2014
In Grade 4, yesterday’s math lesson on perimeter challenged the students to calculate the perimeter of their classroom. Armed with tape measures and meter sticks, the students found the task to be more difficult than they thought it would be, having to account for window and door measurements. In the end, the class came up with a “rough estimate” and learned a lot in the process–not only about determining perimeter, but how to work successfully in a group.
Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
The following was an email sent from Ben Brock, our Director of Outdoor Education, to parents of our Grade 10 students last week.
Just wanted to say that despite some of the most challenging conditions I’ve ever led a trip in, I had a wonderful time with the Grade 10 class these last few days.
As we climbed up Bogus and it continued to rain even as we pulled into the Nordic Center, we knew we were in for a “treat.” After making the decision to send one group directly to the yurt to get it heated up, the other group proceeded to our campsite as planned to give it our best shot.By about 2:00pm, however, it was clear that, despite our best efforts, a night in snow caves and tents was just not in the cards. You’ve all seen pictures of the resulting evening that we (all 32 of us!!) spent “drying out” in the yurt.
Luckily Thursday brought us clearer skies and we were able to travel back to our campsite, about a 35-minute snowshoe from the yurt, and spend the day completing our unfinished snow caves, analyzing a pretty uniquely saturated snowpack and generally enjoying the temporary lack of rain. We headed back to the yurt for dinner, built another snow cave for good measure, and even had four hearty souls decide to sleep out under the “stars” even with snow in the forecast.
This morning, as the rain returned, we spent about an hour talking through some of the challenges we faced and how we overcame them, and about how some backcountry concepts such as “summit fever,” and the “halo effect” can be avoided (ask your kids…). We also talked about how, when things get tough, and decisions are made quickly, mistakes become more likely (in our urgency to get moving and have as much time as possible to get camps constructed food went to the yurt). A saying I introduced to them is “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” A few extra minutes double-checking our sleds would have saved significant amount of time and energy.
In all, many good lessons were learned on this trip, as is often the case when you find yourself in trying circumstances. It wasn’t the trip we envisioned when we put it on the calendar in July, but it was well worth it.
Thank you all for trusting me with the safety of your children.
And finally, none of it would have been possible without Lisa Armstrong and Tami Dougherty; they are incredibly caring and competent…and fun! I’d go on a trip with them anytime!