The 5th graders have been hard at work learning the names and locations of the 50 states. Students are learning what tools and tricks are helpful for them as learners, and graphing their personal daily progress. For the first time ever, with the addition of our new Design Lab laser cutter, students were able to design and create a customized puzzle as a study tool. Each small group of students had many decisions to make…What material should we use? What do we want the base of our puzzle to look like? Where do we want to write the state names or abbreviations? If we want words on the backs of the puzzle pieces, how do we design a template for that? Once students created templates for their puzzle base and pieces, the amazing Kent Chapple went to work with the laser cutter, turning their templates into actual puzzles! Kids were so excited to see their designs come to life. We’re all looking forward to implementing more design thinking into our learning with the addition of our new Design Lab opening Fall of 2017!

The 4th grade class closed down the year with a few big celebrations last week. First, we had our final get together with our Touchmark buddies. Each student sat with his or her buddy and shared the biography they wrote based on their buddy’s life. The pieces were so touching; sad, funny and reflective. I witnessed laughter and tears as the groups were sharing. Afterwards the children and their buddies shared a popsicle and discussed summer plans. Many of our partnerships are planning on staying in touch over the summer and into the future. I am so proud of this community partnership.

Secondly, the fourth grade class ended our American Revolution unit with a full on party. This celebration included the reading of various colonial journal entries describing our journey to America in 1760, our life in the Pennsylvania colony in 1765 and life in the heat of the American Revolution 1775-1776. Afterwards, the class shared the main sections of the Declaration of Independence. Then, it was time to finally celebrate our freedom with a traditional colonial dance and colonial desserts. We so enjoyed our time together with fellow classmates and parents. What a great way to end a most spectacular year in 4th grade!

As the year comes to a close, the third graders have been practicing gratitude to all those who have supported them on their educational journey. We have been engaged in activities that allow us to express gratitude toward our classmates for their important contributions. Students also have had time to self reflect and think about their very own important role in the success of the class community. So much to be grateful for.

Gratitude also grants perspective — even in kids. When you take into account the sheer amount of opportunities, privileges and material possessions most kids enjoy through no effort of their own, it’s easy to see why many of them feel entitled. Practicing gratitude, on the other hand, underscores the fact that all those toys and lessons and creature comforts don’t just pop out of thin air. When kids recognize that the things they own and the opportunities they have come from someone other than themselves, it helps them develop a healthy understanding of how interdependent we all are — and they may be more inclined to treat others with genuine respect.

Third grade would like to share their deepest gratitude to all the parents for their never-ending love and support, to the teachers for helping us grow, the volunteers for their tireless support, and  our classmates for helping us thrive. With that said, we all are so grateful to be a part of this amazing learning community. My deepest gratitude to you all, and grateful for SUMMER!

It’s hard to believe that the school year is coming to a close! In these final weeks, second graders have wrapped up their learning about money and are now exploring measurement and time. As summer nears, they are reminded that the world is full of learning and to see their environment as an opportunity to think deeper: to add/subtract toy prices at the store, use sidewalk chalk to count change, compare angles/vertices on different pieces of playground equipment, measure the length of a popsicle (before eating it!). This summer, students are encouraged to take learning outside and get creative!

Please be on the lookout for a summer homework packet coming home with your child. It is imperative that your child continue to work on math/reading/writing skills over the summer in order to not regress. It has been a fantastic year full of smiles, tears, challenges, ah-ha’s, Growth Mindset moments, and most of all, FUN!

I can’t believe that the year is coming to a close! I am going to miss seeing all the kids faces in the halls next year! In the last few weeks of school the first graders have been, and will continue to be, learning and growing. Looking back I can’t believe how far we have come this year. The kids have been having a blast this week with our team STEAM challenges. So far we have built marshmallow/raw spaghetti towers, made miniature weight bearing rafts and created solutions for a variety of hypothetical tasks on various planets in our solar system! It is so much fun to stand back and watch them work in teams respectfully and use all the skills they have learned this year to work together to solve complex and challenging problems. They should be very proud of themselves! I feel lucky to have spent this year learning with them and I can’t wait to see where second grade takes them! Thanks for all your support this year, we couldn’t have done it without you!

We end our Opinion Writing with our “What We Want to Be When We Grow Up Parade”! I couldn’t be prouder of our kindergarten authors. They each came to school dressed in support of their dream. They wrote convincing letters to their parents about their dreams of being someone in the community! Our class was filled with pilots, doctors, a veterinarian, a chef, two astronauts, a teacher, a gymnastics coach, a professional baseball player, a farmer, a fireman, and an organic farmer. Their writings are displayed proudly on our bulletin boards because they wrote fantastic, kindergarten readable writing! This was an epic experience in Kindergarten.

As we reach the end of the year in PreK, we culminate our love of literacy by celebrating one of our beloved authors, Mo Willems! For the last couple of weeks the PreK students  are learning how Willems uses movement lines, direction, talking bubbles, thinking bubbles and LOUD WORDS to make us, as his readers, connect and engage with his stories. We have had shared a lot of laughs and giggles while enjoy Mo’s Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie stories.  

With summer fever in the air, we have needed to take some of our learning outside as well. One of the kids’ favorite team-building activities has been using our bodies to make letters out on the playground. We also had a blast using sidewalk chalk to review math and literacy concepts we have learned throughout our year together.

As I reflect on our year together in PreK, I am so proud of each and every one of our little ones and how much they have grown this year. Each of our kiddos came with a story and we have so enjoyed getting to know their stories and writing the next chapter alongside them.