The Collage: Our Specialist Teachers
Please enjoy articles below by our specialist teachers. The specialist teachers add such an amazingly rich depth to our students' lives and learning experiences. Sometimes the specialists work on their own discipline-specific curricula, and sometimes their work is very directly connected to a classroom project or experience. There are great examples (and pictures) of each in this month's edition... we hope you enjoy!
Early Childhood Atelier
Life is in full swing this winter in the Atelier. We work with each preschool and kindergarten student on various projects: project that are sometimes scripted or led by me and sometimes projects that are purely born from inspirations of the children. Below are a composite of photos from children working in the past few weeks in the Atelier and small caption that sheds some light on the activity taking place. Enjoy!
||Big Bend students explore the properties of
watercolor paints. The children investigated the
differences of painting on paper and fired clay pieces.
||While working with watercolor on paper, the Big Bend
children practice controlling and manipulating paintbrushes
in different ways.
|| Big Benders team up and collaborate in the creation of
a large weaving on the atelier loom.
|Using small balls of clay, Newport children
explored different methods for sculpting pinch pots.
|Students help each other learn different techniques
and ways of creating with clay. Using wooden tools, the
children decorated their small vessels with intricate designs.
|Newport students worked diligently to construct their
ceramic pieces. The children are very excited to glaze
their pots and showcase them for friends and family.
This is the first of my 13 years at TCS that we’ve come back from winter break and jumped immediately into a theme day. On Thursday, 1/3/13, the annual TCS 4/5 Play officially went into full swing! Our theme time started out by listening to character descriptions and then students (finally) found out which roles they’d be playing.
If you’ve been around TCS for a while, you’ve probably heard; reflection is as important as the experience. Since we’re in the middle of creating the 4/5 Play, this is a perfect time to reflect on and share a little about some of what’s involved in this TCS tradition.
Performing a play is one of the most authentic ways to learn! The 4/5 Play is a hands-on, collaborative theme that our community enjoys and enthusiastically supports. Fourth and fifth grade is an excellent time to take on these exciting challenges. The 4/5 Play is a rite of passage at TCS. Preschoolers through third graders are always inspired with the play and look forward to their turn creating and performing it. Younger students are sometimes so taken with characters and stories that much of their free time is spent acting out their own version of the play. Middle school students often have a twinkle in their eye this time of year as they fondly remember the all-encompassing experience of their 4/5 Play.
Thorough preparation for such an undertaking is crucial. Finding good material for the 4/5 Play is a yearlong process. I have discovered three important ingredients for a meaningful play theme and experience. First, I need to be deeply inspired with the book or stories that I will adapt into a play because I spend lots of time with it. Second, there have to be at least forty-six speaking roles. And third, I need buy-in from the fourth and fifth grade teachers. This means, the subject matter needs to be rich enough for further learning in all subjects.
The 4/5 Play theme actually begins after Thanksgiving break. The first three weeks are an immersion into the play theme for students and teachers. Each theme day is dedicated to workshops, activities and field trips, which provide background knowledge through hands on experiences. This year students were introduced to many aspects of St. Louis history. We went on a field trip to the Repertory Theater and saw a magnificent example of a working regional theater, where sets, props, costumes, lighting and sound are created and brought to life for nine months each year. We went to the Missouri History Museum, which featured the 1904 World’s Fair and Civil War exhibits. And we had a wonderful historical walking tour of downtown St. Louis. Two theme days also included auditioning for our play and students put in their first and second play committee choices.
After winter break, roles and play committees are announced. For the next five weeks students work in their play committees of; “Sets and Props,” “Lighting and Program,” and “Costumes and Make-up,” and they rehearse their scenes in the play.
Set building, painting, props creation and costumes are built or altered along the way and one Saturday in January students and families come in for a big push of building sets, props and costumes. The Friday before our performances is a full day dress rehearsal. The first part of performance week is dedicated to final details.
This year we decided it was time to learn more about and further appreciate St. Louis. As a transplant I’ve always been impressed with the architecture, culture and history of our region. The roots in the St. Louis area are deep and rich. While there is plenty of material about St. Louis, when it comes to writing a play for 46 fourth and fifth grade students, finding the right fit can be a challenge. Fortunately I stumbled across an amazing compilation put together by the Missouri History Museum called, Seeking St. Louis, Voices from a River City, 1670- 2000. This book contains just over a thousand pages of incredible first person narratives. These stories were written as diaries, letters and for publication in books and newspapers. There is so much material that I’ve decided to start at 1670 and end with the 1904 Worlds Fair. Perhaps next year we’ll take on the 20th century in St. Louis! (Which could be a perfect excuse to include some TCS history!)
The 4/5 Play is a wonderful way to learn. The fourth and fifth grade students are part of every aspect of this production. As our creation unfolds our students will start thinking about a title for their play. No doubt they’ll come up with something fabulous!
Our preview is on Wednesday, February 13, at 1:15 PM.
Opening night is Thursday, February 14, at 6:30 PM.
Friday, February 15, at 1:15 PM is the all school performance and 6:30 PM that night is our final performance!
Please come to enjoy and support the 4/5 Play, a favorite theme and a rich and important tradition.
¡Feliz Año Nuevo – dos mil trece! Happy New Year – 2013!
En la clase de Español, we are starting off “el Año Nuevo” (the New Year) learning about “el tiempo” (the weather) and “las estaciones del año” (the seasons of the year). Pre-K through 5th grade students are busy learning Spanish by singing songs, playing games and participating in verbal and written activities to learn some important words for describing the weather and the seasons. Later this month we will also be learning clothing-related vocabulary for describing how we dress according to the weather.
Practice some weather words and phrases with your child – just remember that the “H” is silent, so the word “Hace” is pronounced “Ah-say” and a double L “ll” sounds like a “y.”
“¡Hace frío!” (It is cold!), “¡Hace calor!” (It is hot!) and “Hace fresco.” (It is cool.) Other terms that you might want to use: “Hace sol” (It is sunny), “Está nublado” (It is cloudy.) “Hay” (pronounced “eye”) means “there is” or “there are” and can be used with the following nouns: el sol (the sun), las nubes (the clouds), la lluvia (the rain), and la nieve (the snow). “Hay sol.” (There is sun.) “Hay nubes.” (There are clouds.) “Hay nieve.” (There is snow.)
Remember to visit Spanish @ TCS, the Spanish classroom resource page! This page is designed to provide opportunities for building Spanish skills outside of class, with links to websites where students can practice their Spanish with family members at home. And look for the latest “Más Práctica” worksheet - see if you can answer all of the questions on the first page – the second page is a resource page that contains the answers.
Would you like to make delicious Chocolate Caliente (Choh-coh-lah-tay Cah-lee-en-tay) with a twist? Try this easy recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate. Be safe – kitchen safety and adult supervision are required. Enjoy!
Chocolate Caliente (Hot Chocolate):
1 packet hot chocolate mix
Add hot milk (la leche) or water (el agua) as directed
Stir in a pinch of ground cinnamon (la canela)
Add some marshmallows (los malvaviscos)
If you want to make a larger batch, and you are heating the milk in a saucepan, try adding a few whole Cloves and a few beads of whole Allspice to the warming milk. For a more adventurous taste, add a pinch of Chile Powder! A wide variety of recipes and techniques for preparing delicious Chocolate Caliente can be found online.
Two Authentic Mexican Chocolate Drink Mixes sold in St. Louis are Nestle brand Abuelita, and Ibarra Chocolate. Just follow the directions and enjoy!
Over the last few years, our teachers have taken advantage of professional development provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Missouri Department of Conservation. Seven teachers took park in training for the Nature Unleashed training and 6 teachers took the Introductory Stream Team training. These training programs are provided for free and enable us to receive free equipment and apply for grants.
Stream Team is a program that encourages people to take an active role in the protection of their local streams. With two streams coming together on our LaBarque campus, we have reason to take an interest in their protection. We do that by monitoring the steams in two ways. First we survey the invertebrate species living in the stream. Many of these creatures live between the rocks in the riffles of the stream. We also conduct chemical analysis of our streams at LaBarque.
Surveying these invertebrates tells us a great deal about the streams where they live. Some invertebrates require absolutely clean water and others tolerate more polluted streams. The presence of indicator species, tells us about the quality of the water. This is called “Biomonitoring” and provides us with a longer-term view of the health of the stream.
Chemical monitoring gives us a snap shot of the quality of the water. Together, the data we collect through each type of monitoring, allows us to provide the state with information that both the Conservation Department and the Department of Natural Resources use to protect our streams statewide. There are hundreds of Stream Teams in our state and the program is spreading nationally. You can form a Stream Team for your local stream and receive free training. Contact me if you are interested.
Nature Unleashed is another program which provides curriculum materials and grant monies for our school. I have been using the Nature Unleashed curriculum with our 1st -4th grade students. They seem to enjoy the materials, which focus on ecosystems many of which are represented at our LaBarque campus. This program also offers a $1,000 grant for equipment. We plan to use the grant to purchase binoculars that we can use to observe wildlife at LaBarque.
Fourth grade students, inspired by the Nature Unleashed materials, have been researching wetlands and will help us to design a wetland out at LaBarque. They will also help to construct a small woodland pond this spring on the north side of our LaBarque Campus.
If you missed it, our LaBarque Campus was highlighted in the December issue of Conservationist Magazine put out by the Missouri Department of Conservation. This is a great magazine and is free to Missouri residents. If you want to receive the magazine, simply call 573-751-4115 ext. 3856.
Finally, anyone interested in learning about Beekeeping, should attend the Eastern Missouri BeeKeepers Association Conference on February 9. To register, visit this website. http://easternmobeekeepers.com/
What should I do with all these printer ink cartridges? Just throw them away? No. Stop! We just may be able to recycle that for you. The College School is committed to recycling practices that meet the highest environmental standards. How can I help? Upon entering the Big Bend entrance, you will see a special recycling bin next to the elevator. Simply place your items inside. What can I put in there? We accept all laser and ink jet cartridges, old cell phones, MP3 players, GPS devices, digital cameras, laptops and small electronics, as well as all rechargeable batteries. Currently we send most of these items to the Funding Factory where we are awarded points that can be used to purchase various scholastic and technological products. Please allow us to recycle these items for you to help us work for a greener tomorrow.
What an amazing video! If you have not seen the recently launched TCS YouTube channel, I suggest you do so with no further delay. Just click here. Launched on November 27, 2012, The College School YouTube channel consists of videos either created by our students or about our amazing program. Please spend some time taking a look at these videos. They tell an incredible story.
At the outset of this new year, music class activities are off to a great start. It continues to impress me how quickly the students grow in their musical maturity.
Newport children continue to learn to listen musically, play rhythmically, and sing heartily. Recently, they have also had the opportunity to: walk to the steady beat, conduct the class, play in the bell orchestra, play hand drums, and sing songs together.
Kindergarten students have focused on creating melodic (pitch) contours at the SmartBoard, as well as playing “The Farmer in the Dell.”
First and second graders have spent time creating accompaniment patterns for jam sessions, as well as discussing the parallels between the creation of music (using sounds) and cooking or baking (using ingredients). Our emphasis has been one of creating balance.
Third graders are on the cusp of learning their fifth note on the recorder (low D), enabling the use of a full pentatonic scale. We have been reading music, playing “Question and Answer” and composing fragments that will lead to improvisation in the coming weeks.
Fourth and fifth grade groups are in the midst of brainstorming 4/5 Play music materials, as we plan to move into rehearsal mode. Each one of the three groups (A, B, and C) will be responsible as the “orchestra” for accompanying one of the other groups when onstage. In class, we watched and listened to a number of music videos for inspiration and discussion. One section may need a song, another may need some background music that repeats, continuing until a certain point in the action. Other places in Scott’s script may call for dance or movement. There are students who excel in each of these areas, and it is great fun for me to watch the students using their creativity, while the team helps to guide them and keep things moving forward.
Middle school Songwriting students are hard at work individually creating a complete draft of an original song. The hardest thing is to keep from being perfectionistic: as I like to tell myself, “Pick something, and GO!” I have more fun and enjoy digging deeper with every class meeting.
It is great to enjoy musical learning along with these young humans.
The visual art studio is home this month and in the coming weeks to several large projects. Middle school students are beginning the process of creating a stop action animation video, which will cover the history of architecture in a timeline of drawings that transition to one another. They have selected the images, created drawings and will now try to make their image turn into the next one through a series of drawings. There is now a link to our earlier videos on the TCS Facebook/ YouTube page.
The fourth and fifth graders are in the middle of the play process, which includes time spent in committees – the Sets and Props committee being connected to the art studio. We began by looking at the script and identifying possible props to make. We are also looking at the same time period (1670-1904) in the art room during classes. I have chosen the artist, George Caleb Bingham, to study and see an artist’s perspective on the time and the people of Missouri. We are using a collection of drawings donated to school, which include prints and photographs of his drawings and paintings.
Third graders have been investigating 3-D art or sculpture using LEGOS. They experimented with building abstract sculpture – then separated out colors for the final projects.
Second graders have continued to work on their mosaic and now have it mounted to the back board, cleaned and ready to grout. They are excited about the process and seeing the image come together – many hands help in making the clean-up process move along. They are also working on ceramic elbow pots to sell at a later art sale to raise funds for a project in Haiti.
First grade students are making original books with colorful illustrations. Some of the books are individual and others are collaborative. Some have words and others are picture books. Each one is unique and creative. These young students are a group of storytellers.
The second half of the school year holds much to look forward to as we begin looking for creative projects for the annual auction. Each class creates a special original artwork for their classroom to support our ongoing scholarship funding at TCS. Over the years I have helped to create many different projects. If you are working on a project or looking for ideas, please stop by the art room and let me help.
We've been having a great month in PE. Especially during the cold months, I think it is important to allow the children time to be physical and active. Our overall goals for all the grades continue to be on being a good sport, personal responsibility, and collaborative teamwork. These goals underlay everything we do in PE, whether in preschool or eighth grade.
In each grade, I view each student as an individual. I do not believe in comparing them to each other but comparing them to themselves. I am looking for improvement on an individual level. And it is always a goal for PE to be fun.
I continue to enjoy the challenge and variety of working with such a wide range of ages. It's fun to work with a middle school class one hour and see how well they can play a complex game and then to work with the preschoolers the next hour and help teach them how to skip (and to laugh at the same time!). Here's a peek at some of the activities we've been working on in PE:
- Preschool: Things that we do in Preschool utilize dynamic movements, jumping, skipping and hopping. These activities help with their gross motor skills. The students have been using the spacious gym area for free play with many different sizes of balls. They are learning to throw, roll and catch. This is also a great time to reinforce social sharing expectations.
- Kindergarten: The first semester in Kindergarten focused on learning the expectations for the individual students. The students did a lot of dynamic movements and gross motor skill activities. The second semester will start to focus on collaborative activities in pairs and in groups. The students have enjoyed all kinds of tag games, hula hoop play, and kickball.
- First, Second, and Third Grade: The normal P.E. day for the students starts out with five minutes of movement by either playing a relay game, tag game, or running laps indoors or outside. This is followed by coming together in a circle and performing stretching and cross over exercises for roughly seven minutes. Then we start the main activity. They have a long list to pick from. Some of the team sports we have played so far this year are soccer, pinball, hockey, kickball, Dougball, and scoops and balls. These activities promote listening skills, social development, fitness, agility, being a good sport, teamwork, and fun.
- Fourth and Fifth Grades: The normal P.E. day for these students starts with either a five-minute run or a relay sprint. Then we do five minutes of stretching and strength building. Some days we also include rope climbing in our strength building routine. With both of these grades, I feel student choice is important so the students normally get to pick their main activity for the day. We might go around the class and ask for ideas then have a class vote. There always seems to be a good mix of activities to pick from so we don’t repeat them very often. Both of these classes are very engaged with their chosen team sports. These activities promote listening skills, social development, fitness, agility, being a good sport, teamwork, and fun.
- Middle School: This trimester we are working on our Volleyball skills. We have reviewed the basic rules and scoring. After going over the basics and feeling very comfortable with the students development, this class has become student led. They get to choose what method of conditioning they want to do, volleyball drills and when to play the games. It is very exciting to have a class so engaged with their subject matter. It is a joy.
Thank you again for welcoming me to The College School. With the start of a new calendar year, I am reminded how much I love The College School and working with your children to help them develop physically healthy habits and lifestyles that will last them their lives. I appreciate your partnership in that goal.