Fall is a great time for outdoor events. In addition to the all-school mountain nature day, the primary students went to my house to pick apples, bake apple tarts, and make juice and applesauce. We had many parents and grandparents join us, which was great, as many hands make light work. The gathering was an example of project-based learning at its best. The younger kids have also continued to harvest from the outdoor gardens and they have been enjoying the results… beets, carrots and carrot juice, ingredients to add to the salad bar and I can almost smell a big pot of stone soup brewing. Now we have moved on to pumpkin time and I am sure you know about all the wonderful lessons that come from a pumpkin… from finding the circumference and weight of the pumpkin to counting and roasting the seeds.
The students had a great volleyball season. It ended on October 18 with the exception of an end-of-season celebration. What I appreciated about these teams the most was how well they practiced teamwork and how congenial they were with one another. In addition, their skills improved greatly and they won more than half of their games.
Thursday, October 18th was a great turnout for conferences. All parents have confirmed or rescheduled to meet with teachers within the next week. During conferences, we are requesting that the parents to complete a survey which has been requested by counselor corps consultant. So far, 25 parents have completed the survey.
The social/emotional learning grant administered by Generation Schools is going well. We are beginning to notice a difference in the way students are listening to one another and showing kindness. The daily lessons are geared to grade levels. For example, the sixth graders are doing a sleep study, and as tweens, they have the most tired students.
The NO Bully grant through ESPN has already made an impact, but this time mostly how teachers are reacting to students. We are working to ensure that every student is accepted for who they are. All staff has been asked to interrupt student disrespect and aggression and refer to ongoing incidents. The 7th and 8th graders went through an entire process to write a social vision for the school. The vision they worked to perfection reads: The Gardner School community will be responsible, treat each other with respect, kindness, and honesty while having fun.
Teachers continue to improve their use of the iPads in class. The reading program in 6-8 is all online on the Amplify platform (although literature circles are used as a supplement). Some teachers use a program “Dictado” to improve writing skills. Others use math computation applications like “Monster Math” or “Moby Max” for a portion of class time in order for a teacher to hold small-group instruction. Kahn Academy is used to supplement in the middle school. Another teacher is using “Explain Everything.” She records lessons on the IPads for children to use since she is responsible for two math grade levels.
Another free 1-8 application that has been invaluable is “Prodigy.” It is a highly engaging math learning tool with a video game style interface, allowing students to design their wizard avatar, and it also allows students to access it from home. The app begins with a placement test and will adapt depending on how a student responds to questions. The teacher’s dashboard allows for overriding a grade placement, assigning practice based on what is being taught in class, assigning a particular skill to practice, and running reports to view how students are doing.
In closing, I would like to give everyone an advance invite to our One Room Schoolhouse which will take place on November 15th. The theme will be Forest Fires, Impact and Renewal. We hope to have community members stop by.