Posted on April 10, 2011
When I opened the gate on Monday morning to welcome back the children from Spring break, they were cheerful and enthusiastic about returning to school. I heard from several parents during the break that their children felt disappointed about not being in school. (I thought I saw quite a few parents with big grins on their faces as well, relieved I think, that school had resumed.) Teachers were in top form, eager to see their students. After swapping what-I-did-during-Spring-break stories with each other, the children settled into routines and the rhythms of classroom learning fell into a familiar cadence.
The children have returned to learning in many forms -- inquiry projects, literature circles, math and p.e. units, art projects, May Day practices, science experiments, and more. One class of preschoolers is strategizing how to get the Mayor's attention and the wider community so that they can raise awareness about unsafe conditions at a public beach they've been working at. The other group of preschoolers explores the mysteries of light and shadow as a medium for imaginative thinking. Many first and second graders are testing their hypotheses about conditions for plant growth. Third and fourth graders hone their research on the Polynesian Triangle, and fifth graders have been planting in garden beds they constructed with parents to test their ideas for a garden sustained by a eco-system fueled by water, wind, and solar power. Check the teachers' weekly blogs, which provide detail about the children's learning processes. No wonder the children are excited when they come through the gate each morning!
The teachers and I have resumed our discussions with Ed Tech Director Mark Hines about setting up an electronic portfolio process, which will be implemented in Fall 2011. Weeks prior, teachers captured a variety of student learning with digital cameras, iPods, digital projectors, and scanners. We discussed types of artifacts and the rationale for each "capture" and the intended outcomes. Just this past week, Mark walked us through samples of grade-level portfolios composed of artifacts the teachers had submitted. We are analyzing the merits and challenges of each artifact and the quality of learning demonstrated. Parents, this will not be just a digital version of the hard-copy progress portfolios that are on your shelves at home. The intent is to provide richer documentation of student learning over time and develop more student control of their learning process. The discussion among teachers is thoughtful and critical, and I am impressed by their resolve to create an e-portfolio that is mutually beneficial for student, parent, and teacher. I'll keep you posted.
If you've submitted a re-enrollment contract and tuition deposit for your child, thank you for another wonderful year ahead of learning with your child. We value your commitment to our school program and community. We completed the final round of admission assessment sessions yesterday for grades 1, 2, and 5. (We assessed applicants at every grade level the previous weeks.) So many great kids and parents! Ella Browning will be mailing letters of acceptance to new applicants by April 22, and we will begin filling vacancies made available by non-returning students and families.
At our recent faculty meeting, the teachers and I reviewed calendar events now through the end of the school year. May Day preparations are in full gear, and we are in need of your help. You received an intranet message about workdays to sew costumes and a request for donations of foliage for the stage. Please, if you can, contact the May Day Committee about any help you're able to provide. The Third and Fourth Graders are off to Camp Erdman next week. Stanford Achievement Testing for 4th and 5th graders last week in April. Fifth graders to Koke`e, Kaua`i, mid-May. Kite Day and much more.
I really mean it when I say each year at about this time -- Hang on to your slippers! We're flyin'!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey