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Capstone Presentations

Capstone Presentations
Michele LeBlanc

You are going to be amazed at your children’s sharing on April 23. The students have been immersed in their capstone project for the past couple of months, but actually we have been working on it all year. The culminating year of elementary is an exciting time for our fifth graders. They have demonstrated leadership in many ways. They have led our elementary school in the weekly ʻoli every Monday morning, have taken turns doing the weekly announcements on the P.A. system every Monday afternoon, set up and broken down the benches for chapel and assist with chapel every Wednesday. They have read to their Kinder Buddies every Tuesday afternoon, and they serve on the Peace Team helping to resolve minor conflicts at recess and to keep the peace at lunch. Your children have stepped into these roles with pride and maturity, and have all grown so much this year.

In preparation for Capstone, your children have taken surveys, written reflective pieces, and recordings to document who they are this entire year as learners, community members, friends, classmates, athletes, artists and as family members. As an elementary school, we have used a Learner Profile for years, tied to the traits that we educators value in learners. Your children have been looking at their portfolios, some going back as far as eight years if they entered as a three-year-old to see how much they’ve grown and learned, and to try to understand what kind of a learner they are.

We have been talking a lot about metacognition. As adults, we know how we learn best, what conditions we need for optimal learning. If we need auditory or visual input, do we need background music or silence? We also understand what work conditions we work best in. It doesn’t matter our line of work; we all have tasks, and we all have our own unique ways of going about them. Having fifth grade students take a deep dive into their own metacognition of how they learn, what motivates them, what conditions in which they thrive versus the conditions that frustrate them. And what do they do when frustration kicks in? How do they handle it? How do they overcome it? How did they push through and persevere? What sort of self-talk do they say to themselves?

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed working with your children in this capacity. They’re writings, reflections and poetry have all been introspective and revealing. We’ve had some really excellent small group and large group conversations and discussions. One recent conversation was about the various team sports the students participate in and coaching styles. The majority of our classroom shared that they don’t like getting yelled at by coaches, and they don’t like yelling during the games. One girl shared how her coach is strict during the week at practices, but during games, he does not say a word he just lets them play. I shared how I always thrived with that type of coach. I didn’t want to get yelled at on game day. I wanted to bring my game face and skills and be ready to take the field and give my team my best effort. Several students shared how they wished their coaches would do the same and several students shared how the spectators also yell a lot and that makes them nervous and unable to concentrate.

Your child’s extracurricular activities are also an important part of their identity. We’ve been talking about identity all year, starting with our family trees, and where our ancestors came from and what sacrifices they need to come to the United States, to who we are as Mid-Pacific learners, and who we are as the class of 2031. Bonding as a class has been an important component for the entire class of fifth graders this year. Going to Camp Erdman to participate in rope courses and other group activities helped to forge the bonds even more so. Your children are realizing that every experience they have can have a positive or negative impact on who they are as young people, as learners, family members, and as community members.

We also want to celebrate their extracurricular lives. A from our student recently traveled to Texas for a karate tournament and came first place in sparring. What a huge accomplishment! Another fifth grader who likes skateboarding built a half pipe in his backyard with his dad, that in itself is a huge accomplishment catching a large wave surfing, If any of you have video of your children that show them perfecting their batting swing, or playing a song at a piano concert that they practiced for months, or finally hitting a layup after practicing, please take some time over the weekend to peruse some of your videos with your child and ask which one they would like to share at capstone. Since they are learning that any skill acquisition comes with practice, perseverance, and a positive attitude, we would like to celebrate everyone’s extracurricular accomplishments as well. If your child brought their iPad home this weekend, you can AirDrop the video to them so they can put it in their capstone folder and Showbie, but please no peeking in their folder.

Another aspect of capstone has been preparing for six grade. All year we’ve been working on different tasks to read ourselves for the transition. I’ve been trying to train them to look for their water bottles and jackets. Every time they leave in area because they tend to go to PE, or recess and leave their belongings and forget where they are. I also want them to put their names on each and every assignment and turn things in face up and in the correct bin. I want them to label every answer in math with the variable or whatever they asked to solve for. But they have to learn to work with a variety of people, and compromise and listen to each other and cooperate. They’ve gone from this safe cocoon of an elementary school, where they know each and every student so well that they are very comfortable with each other sometimes leads to what they consider to be, friendly teasing. It’s common and sports culture to try and get in peoples heads to make them mess up, but there’s no place for that in school. Just this past week a couple of kids were calling each other names in a joking manner, but what I keep telling the class is that the way they treat each other gives the example and gives others carte blanche to treat them the same. And as former elementary students, I’d like them to enter middle school by treating each other with the upmost respect. I explained if they call each other names that gives all the new kids cart to call as well. Many of your children told me they never thought of it that way.

We have been going down to the middle school to meet with our sixth grade buddies with last week being a pivotal experience. Each of your children went to period six with their six grade buddy. Someone went to history class with Mr. Hu, someone went to science class with Mr. Jimbo, someone went to PE with Mr. O’Connell. some went to math with Miss Ayeabe, and someone to English with Mrs. Takimura. We then all went to Scutter dining hall, and got to stand in line and pay for lunch with our IDs, which was the highlight of the day!

Your children are very excited to become six graders. They have been reflecting on what kind of a six grader they want to be, what kind of a friend they’re going to be, and what extracurricular activities they want to participate in. It’s an exciting time in their lives and it’s been an incredible privilege for me this year. Seeing them all reflect and evolve this entire school year. Your babies are growing up and ready to spread their wings!

On Tuesday night, you and your family members will be sitting at a table with your child and your child only. It will be your child’s night to shine and brag a little bit about themselves. They’re going to share what they’ve learned about themselves this year who they are becoming and who they want to become, it is powerful, let me tell you. As a teacher, I can’t tell you how much I believe in this process, by analyzing who they are and thinking about who they want to become, it’s going to give them a blueprint for success. As adults, we know success doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and successful people do the things that unsuccessful people are willing to do. But in this increasingly challenging world we live in with so many problems to solve, we need your children to grow up, ready to take on the problems of the world with confidence, problem-solving, skills, listening skills And a whole slew of traits that they will be sharing with you on Tuesday night. As a heads up, bring some tissues! Some of your children’s sharing have brought tears to my eyes because I’m so proud of them and you will be too, see you all Tuesday night at 5:30 and Wilcox dining room.

Oh, and please email Betty your child’s baby photo for the leave taking. It’s due on Monday the 15th.

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