Take a visit to our kindergarten yard and you will see some student-created signs! These signs are just a few of the public products created by our kindergarteners during a recent Project Based Learning (PBL) Unit. In this unit, students worked with their peers to figure out how they can make a positive impact in our Laurel School community. Our youngest students interviewed a kindergarten aide, the custodian, the school nurse and our technology coach to identify real problems in our community. Following their investigation, students developed solutions and chose how to share them in public products ranging from books, to posters and videos. It was a joy to visit classes and see how the authenticity of this PBL Unit increased student engagement in learning. Plus, by creating videos, books and posters to share with others, the students were so motivated to “do their best” and create high quality work! The incorporation of a public product is just one of the essential project design elements in a PBL unit. We are seeing firsthand how public products elevate student learning.
-For more information about Project Based Learning at Laurel, be sure to check out the Spotlight on the Squirrels the third Sunday of the month. We are dedicating at least one post a month to highlighting our educational model of PBL and sharing the powerful learning that emerges.
I'm proud to share that our Laurel fourth grade students are engaged in a newly designed instrument exploration and selection process that lasts from September to December. Our music teacher team, composed of Rachel Knight, Piper Redman and Rachel Bergeron, redesigned our fourth grade music program to provide more time for students to learn about the instrumental music offerings we feature in our Laurel band and orchestra classes. The purpose of this "Passport to Instrumental Music" is to support students in making more thoughtful and informed decisions before they select an instrument to study with greater interest for the remainder of fourth grade.
Rachel Knight (Band teacher) and Piper Redman (Strings teacher) are devoting at least three class periods to each musical instrument. In these sessions, students learn how to hold and play a featured instrument. Students also reflect and document their experience playing the instrument, holding it and carrying it. Classes already covered the trumpet and are starting to focus on the viola. In mid-December, students will draw from their range of experiences and their "Passport to Instrumental Music" reflections to choose between the trumpet, viola, flute, cello, trombone, clarinet or violin. We are fortunate that our fourth graders are having such an enriching and exploratory musical instrument experience! Many thanks to Rachel Knight and Piper Redman!
What a joy for our students, staff and families to gather together for our annual Spring Fling, Open House and Art Show on Thursday. A personal highlight was the musical performance on the plaza with our students linking arms, singing and creating a big "Laurel hug." As I looked around the plaza, I felt proud of our work to foster a positive and healthy school climate at Laurel. I'm proud of how our students and staff show kindness, acceptance and respect. This doesn't happen magically! On a daily basis and "behind the scenes," one of the ways our staff builds community is through our work with Restorative Practices.
All throughout the year, our staff uses Restorative Practices to cultivate a culture of belonging. Teachers facilitate "community circles" and class meetings to give each student a voice - so each classmate is seen, heard, and respected. Our staff also uses Restorative Practices to help students learn from their mistakes.
With Spring in full force, our students are showing growth in many ways. It is not unusual, as our children are growing and changing, for them to "push boundaries." We find a specific set of Restorative Questions valuable. These Restorative Questions guide debrief conversations with students so they reflect on their choices, build empathy for others, learn how to repair relationships and how to "make things right."
We thought that we would pass them along to our families too!
To respond to challenging behavior
1. What happened?
2. What were you thinking of at the time?
3. What have you thought about since?
4. Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way?
5. What do you think you need to do to make things right?
To help those harmed by others' actions
1. What did you think when you realized what had happened?
2. What impact has this incident had on you and others?
3. What has been the hardest thing for you?
4. What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
On Thursday afternoon our whole school gathered for a Spirit Assembly to build excitement for the upcoming MPAEF SchoolHouse Rocks 5k Run. Staff members arrived donning their athletic gear and tennis shoes. Students were sporting new "Schoolhouse Rocks" bracelets and bright smiles too. It was a wonderful feeling to bring our entire school together and see the plaza filled with all of our students and staff. During the assembly, members of our "Girls on the Run" team led the students and staff in cheers for Laurel. Our fourth grade members of "Girls on the Run" have had about twenty practices to train specifically for the 5K event. A highlight of the assembly was when a large group of teachers and staff members flooded the stage to dance and show their Laurel spirit! The students loved seeing their teachers dancing and doing a conga line! We definitely have a lot of spirit (and fun) at Laurel!
We would like to invite all Laurel families to join us on Sunday, May 22nd for our MPAEF Schoolhouse Rocks 5K Run. This event is an important fundraiser for our Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation. And don't worry, as one of our kindergarteners said, "You can run, walk or even skip!" Registration is online at this link. http://mpaef.org/schoolhouse-rocks-5k
Hope to see you there!
Hello Laurel families,
Our Walk and Wheel to School Day, our Wax Museum presentations in third grade and our first grade Globetrotters experience brought many visitors to Laurel School this week! We love to have parents and guests participate in the teaching and learning here at Laurel. It is delightful to see our students' faces light up when parents and families attend a school performance, classroom celebration or a special event.
As a quick reminder, please remember that ALL visitors to Laurel MUST check in to our front office and pick up a visitor badge. To ensure the safety of all students and staff, it is important for us to be able to identify all visitors on school grounds.
A quick glance at our calendar reveals a variety of events to culminate the 2015-2016 school year. Believe it or not, we only have about six weeks of school left! We look forward to seeing you on campus. We appreciate your support and we thank you for taking the extra time to sign in and grab a visitor badge.
Our Laurel Student Council
One of the exciting parts of becoming a kindergarten through fifth grade school is providing new opportunities for student participation within our school community. Maria Clemo, one of our fourth grade teachers, is leading our newly formed Student Council. Each third grade and fourth grade class has class representatives who attend regular Student Council meetings. Our Student Council brainstorms ways to keep our school community unified and connected. They are hosting an Earth Day inspired classroom door decorating contest throughout the month of May.
Student Council also organizes our Spirit Days. Our Student Council would like to invite all students to participate in our upcoming Laurel Spirit Day: Wednesday, May 4th. The theme is "May the Fourth Be With You." Star Wars inspired attire is encouraged. (No weapons or light sabers allowed.) You've got to love what these students come up with! Thank you to our Student Council members and Mrs. Clemo for organizing these fun and unifying school events!
Wednesday, May 4th is also our Walk and Wheel to School Day! We hope you will join us in walking or biking to school that morning.
All the best,
During last week’s kindergarten orientation, Linda Creighton and I shared that our involved community is part of what makes Laurel so special. It is powerful when we build on our community’s collective expertise and collaborate to create meaningful learning experiences for our children. I can’t think of a better example of our involved community than our exceptional Steam Fair!
What a tremendous day on Friday! Even in the drizzling rain, the campus was bustling with excitement and energy within workshops focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. Thank you to over XX volunteers for devoting time and energy and facilitating XX dynamic workshops. A tremendous shout out to our STEAM Fair Committee Chairs Jill Baker and Christine Chan. They both spent countless hours planning and preparing for our Steam Fair. Thank you!
Here are some quotes from students with their perspective on our Steam Fair this year.
I believe events like our Steam Fair inspire our future generation of inventors, engineers, mathematicians, artists and scientists.
Thank you to our Laurel School Community!
Earlier this week, our fourth grade students enjoyed a fun and informative Bike Rodeo courtesy of the Atherton Police Department. Many thanks to Sergeant Anthony Kockler and School Resource Officer Daniel Larson for organizing and facilitating this bicycle safety event for our students. During the first part of the Bike Rodeo, Sergeant Kockler led a bicycle safety discussion and taught students the proper hand signals when making a left or right hand turn. He also spoke about the importance of wearing a helmet. To make his point, Sergeant Kockler stood from a ten foot ladder and dropped two cantaloupes onto the asphalt, one in a bike helmet and one by itself. The melon protected by the bike helmet remained intact, while the other cantaloupe was damaged and had cracks. Most of all, students enjoyed riding their bike or scooter through a variety of cone patterns. The different courses allowed students to practice slow speed turning movements, stopping and proper hand signaling. The students had a great time during this event.
We are grateful for our Atherton Police Department and their efforts to keep our students safe. And remember - always wear those helmets!
Hello Laurel families,
It was delightful to see so many students, parents, community members, board members, and staff in attendance for our Upper Campus Golden Beam Ceremony on April 1st. As people walked into our new atrium, the space was filled with brilliant smiles, bright eyes aglow and lots of "oohs and ahhs!" There is no doubt - this building is absolutely is awe - inspiring!
Our Golden Beam Ceremony marked a significant milestone in the completion of our new Upper Campus. We also formally recognized the valuable contributions of many people in making the vision for our new campus become a reality. Thank you to our Laurel families, district leadership, community members, school board members, students, staff and teachers and especially...Principal Linda Creighton!
During the Golden Beam event, attendees signed their names on gold painted beams and a part of our school's history. Soon, these golden beams will be enclosed within our school's walls, yet they will remain an important part of our new building's infrastructure for many years to come.
Thank you to our MPCSD Chief Business and Operations Officer, Ahmad Sheikholeslami, for his leadership and oversight of the construction of our new campus.
I look forward to seeing everyone back on campus for our final stretch of the 2015-2016 school year. See you soon!
Hello Laurel families,
Did you know that we offer an official TED-Ed Club for third and fourth graders? Sheila Warren (Teacher Librarian) and Theresa Fox (Tech Coach) lead the TED-Ed Club each week during lunch recesses. Students watch and discuss inspirational, informative and funny TED talks, such as Individualization, Failure, and Fun and How to Use One Paper Towel.
Students are crafting their own TED-Ed talks to fit the TED motto of ideas "worth spreading." Their plan is to share their TED talks with kids around the world! A lunchtime club for students who enjoy asking those big questions, searching for answers and TED talks - now this is idea worth spreading! Many thanks to Mrs. Warren and Mrs. Fox for bringing the spirit of TED to Laurel.
Interested in exploring TED with your children at home? Click here for a special playlist of talks to watch with kids.
I am looking forward to seeing Laurel families this Wednesday, March 30th from 5:30-7:00 for our Family Math Night. I hope everyone has a wonderful Spring Break! Our next newsletter will come out Sunday, April 10th.
Laurel School Assistant Principal
Laurel School is on Twitter @LaurelMPCSD