Lower School Community

Lower School Community
Lower School Community

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Fifth Grade Experiences

Last week our fifth graders took a fieldtrip to Chatfield reservoir.  Team building was a major focus as they experienced various challenging activities with their fellow students.  I thought you might like to hear from one of the students on the trip, Adie Barto, who explains what they did and her various reactions to each one.

The Chatfield Trip by Adie Barto

Last Friday, the 5th grade ventured to the Gravel Pon at Chatfield with Avid Adventure.   We participated in exciting activities, some that I despised, and some that were confusing.

The first event my group was involved in was mountain biking or at least the leader of my group said it was.  It turned out to be a flat bike ride with very few hills.  I was having a great time  until the crash!  Dun..dun.. dunnn!  I was riding along the path when the person in front of me hit a rock and fell over.  I tried to go around her, but my front tire hits her back tire.  I fell over into the tall grass on the side of the path.  The bike seat slammed into the inside of my leg.  The leader of my group helped me up, and I walked my bike most of the way back, biking some at the end.

The second event my group participated in was team building.  My favorite activity in team building was the minefield. The minefield was a game we played in groups of three.  We spread backpacks and water bottles on the ground.  One person was facing the field and made hand motions to the person who had their back to the field which way to tell the blindfolded person to go.  The person who was blindfolded had to make it from one side of the field to the other side without touching any backpacks or water bottles.  If you do touch one of these items, you have to go back and start over.  Every time one person reaches the end, you have switch jobs.  Minefield was fun and confusing because I was blindfolded first but couldn't hear Alexa who was shouting at the top of her lungs.

The last event my group participated in was canoeing.  There was one activity we did that was fun for me.  We put our canoes in the shape of a triangle.  We also learned how to get people out of the water who had flipped over their canoe.  While we were trying to get our canoe to our destination, we kept on bumping into other canoes.  At one point, a kayak rammed into us.  In the end canoeing was my least favorite event because the people in my boat had trouble working together.  

Overall I thought Chatfield was a good experience for 5th graders because you can learn what activities you don't like to do and what activities you do like to do.

Thanks, Adie for your detailed explanation of the trip.  We have a much clearer picture of the day and its exciting challenges.  Dr. T

Another fifth grade student, James Ritsick, takes us to an imaginary world created from the books he loves.   
My Favorite Place by James Ritsick

I love to dream that I am in a place where every single book character comes alive.  All the stories come to be one.   Sometimes I am in a castle and other times a tree house.  From the first book to the most recent, they are all there.  My friends are also there.  I can do whatever I feel like dreaming about.  Biomes can differ from deserts to forests and urban environments with towering skyscrapers.  Every night I can go there.  I can go into the stories of books and change them or create my own.  After a while, I can just let myself make the stories mine.  I go through every day knowing that that night I can go back once again.

Thanks, James for a wonderful glimpse into your imagination.  Dr. T

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Valuing Our Differences

Welcome to the new school year.  The Lower School faculty has been busy planning for the implementation of new and revised curriculum in math and reading and learning new strategies to meet the needs of each individual child.

The week before school started we were treated to a Ted talk video that discussed the Air Forces’ dilemma with designing cockpits for “average” fighter pilots.  In testing their new planes, it became all too obvious that not one pilot fit within the parameters of an average size.  Some were tall and slim, some short and long waisted, some chucky and short waisted.  I think you get the picture!  When the Air Force discovered the problem, a new paradigm and cockpit design resulted.

This was a perfect metaphor for the work we started about learning new strategies for differentiating our instruction for our students.  St. Annes doesn’t have “average” students any more than the Air Force has average sized pilots.  Our kids learn in very different ways, come from a variety of cultures and experiences, and need challenges and supports in various academic and social arenas.  We are working hard to augment our design as well.

Research tells us that all kids do need teachers and adults around them that care deeply and will go the extra mile to support them.  Our staff has always worked in partnership with parents to make sure that this is modeled and communicated to our kids.

Our theme for this year is Celebrating our Stories.  All of us have a wealth of experiences to share about what is easy for us to learn; what is difficult, who makes friends easily; who struggles, whose family history and culture is fun to share; whose my be more difficult.  We have all experienced a time when it felt uncomfortable being different.  The fact is that when stories are shared, we discover that we are all different.  No one fits in that average seat.  As we learn more ways to differentiate for differences, my hope is that we will learn the best ways to celebrate them.

Please help us with this ongoing mission and thank you for entrusting to us your most precious gift, your children.

Thanks so much,
Dr. T

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Piece of Clay

I took a piece of living clay
     And gently formed it day by day
And moulded with my press and art
     A young child's soft and yeilding heart.

I came again when years were gone,
     It was a man I looked upon.
He still that early impress wore,
     And I could change it never more.


The Importance of Play

In this whirlwind world of organized sports, organized lessons and minute by minute schedules, it is often difficult to remember that play used to mean going outside with kids in the neighborhood.  When our students go to St. Anne's in the Hills, they report that their favorite activity is building make-believe forts and towns and creating elaborate roles.  They are free to use their own imaginations to develop their own rules for how to play.  When adults are constantly supervising children's activities, kids loose the opportunity to learn self-regulation.  When children play creatively with others, they learn how to negotiate relationships, learn to how to compromise and, research indicates, that they develop far better self-regulation than those whose activities are always organized.

Lower School Leadership Group Teaches Us About Global Citizenship

The lower school had an assembly to talk about the contribution of Malala Yousfzai in inspiring people around the globe to value education for all children.  We showed our pictures in the foyer for The Power of a Book and celebrated our good fortune in being able to access books and education so readily, unlike many around the world.  As a followup, our lower school leadership group recorded a video illustrating the United Nations Rights of the Child.  They did a masterful job.  Abigail Alem suggested that it would be fun to make wristbands with each of these rights inscribed on them as reminders to take home.  Please enjoy the video of our talented 4th and 5th grade leadership group.    Thank you so much for the privilege of working with your wonderful children.

Math Tips from Lower School

Bill Lane, our math department chair, was kind enough to develop this video for parents interest in the philosophy of our Math in Focus Program and its unique strategy to help students picture word problems called bar models.  Take a look at this link if you are interested.

How to Help Your Kids Memorize Math Facts without Stress

Memorizing math facts is important to overall efficiency in math all the way through lower school.  Teachers help your students understand the concepts behind the facts, but when it comes to automaticity, consistent practice is the key.  Below is a link to a powerpoint presentation that gives you an easy way to help your child be successful without much stress.  Because it is individual to each child, the process works much better at home than in school.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have.  Enjoy!

Click here to access the Math Facts PowerPoint.