Posted by Ellen Kraska on 5/9/2021
    Dear Laurel families,
    Last week was filled with joy, sunshine and so many smiles! Thank you parents and PTO for showering our staff with appreciation in so many ways! Our Laurel staff was beaming! Everyone loved all the gifts, flowers, yummy treats, notes and kind gestures during our Staff Appreciation Week! Thank you one and all!
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    STEAM Fair - 2021 Style!
    Laurel students really enjoy all these STEAM learning experiences! Last week we had several STEAM assemblies with guest scientists via Zoom! During the "World of Reptiles" Zoom Assembly, John Hale showed students his pet tortoises, chameleons and snakes that ALL live with him at his house! The students' jaws dropped as Mr. Hale picked up his 55 pound Salceda Tortoise to share with all of us! It filled the entire screen! 
    During a fourth grade assembly, a biomedical Engineer fascinated students as she explained to students how she works with doctors to develop robotic arms, screws for broken hips and specialized bike helmets. Third graders learned about archaeological excavations from a biological archaeologist and fifth graders learned about genetic research from a bioinformatic scientist.  It was an amazing week at Laurel! Thanks to our STEAM Team and teachers for making it such a success!
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  • STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Learning and Fun at Laurel

    Posted by Ellen Kraska on 5/2/2021

    STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Learning and Fun at Laurel
    In order for students to experience the JOYFUL learning of STEAM Fair during these times of the Pandemic, our parent volunteer STEAM Team identified one STEAM activity per grade level. Then they developed lesson resources and prepared all the supplies for each class.
    Last week, I saw our kindergartners engaged in the STEAM  "Lemonade Science" lesson. Students learned about acids and bases and how to measure them using the pH scale. Each student used pH indicator paper strips to test lemonade, baking soda, water, and sugar water. In first grade, our students had fun in the "Desktop Gardening" lesson. Each student made individual terrariums to learn more about ecosystems and the water cycle. 
    Many thanks to Theresa Fox, Gail Mohr, Anne Newman, Archna Patel and Sarah Reilly for all their work on the 2021 STEAM Committee! 
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    Posted by Ellen Kraska on 4/18/2021
    Ashley Guilliot Earns School Counselor Recognition
    Our very own, Mrs. Ashley Guilliot, has earned the esteemed Emily Garfield School Counselor Award from the San Mateo County School Board Association! As so many of you are aware, Laurel wouldn’t be Laurel without Mrs. Guilliot. She is a champion for kids… for ALL kids. Ashley is an exemplary school counselor who knows all Laurel students' strengths, interests, friendships and areas of need -- truly! Keeping an extra eye out for our most vulnerable students, Mrs. Guilliot quietly ensures they are connected and cared for. Counseling through the pandemic has highlighted for me how steady and strong of an advocate she is for children. Beyond all of this, she has helped our staff grow in our approach to equity minded and anti-racist practices. There is no one more deserving of the Emily Garfield Award than Mrs. Guilliot; as you know she is the heart of the Laurel School Community and an exemplar for all school counselors.
    Kind regards,
    Linda Creighton


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    Posted by Ellen Kraska on 4/11/2021
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    Dear Laurel families,
    A team of Laurel parents is working on a brand-new event called, "The Curiosity Showcase!" The Curiosity Showcase is for Upper Campus students to create and showcase their own STEAM related projects! Students need to sign up to participate and may work on their own or with up to two other students. Students will be working on these projects at home and during their "At Home Learning" time. All students/groups will be assigned to a Mentor Volunteer. In the weeks leading up to the Showcase event, mentors will meet with small groups of students over Zoom to guide the students on their "Curiosity Showcase" projects. Then, on May 19th, students will have the opportunity to display and describe their projects through a virtual presentation on Zoom. 
    Part of Laurel's vision is that we are an involved community. Many thanks to our current volunteers, plus future volunteers too! We are seeking parents to be Mentors and the Mentor sign up is here! I will be signing up as a Mentor - and I invite you to join along with me! I can assure you that it will be rewarding to work with students in this mentoring capacity! A Mentor Training Informational Meeting is on Monday, April 12th at 7:00 PM. 
    Here are the links to sign up and participate:
    - Parent Volunteer Opportunity Sign Up (Parents from ALL grades!)
    (Please note, since this is our first year, we are starting with a focus on Upper Campus students creating projects, but we hope parents from Lower AND Upper Campus participate as mentors and/or panelists.) 
    If you have questions, a tremendous amount of information is included on a brand-new Curiosity Showcase webpage here!  You can also email the Curiosity Showcase team at curiosityshowcase@laurelpto.org.
    I'm so impressed and excited! Thank you to our Curiosity Showcase team!
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    Posted by Ellen Kraska on 4/4/2021
    Dear Laurel Families,
    Spring is my favorite season since I absolutely love seeing the flowers and trees in full bloom! I hope you and your family enjoyed the Spring Break and had a chance to get outdoors to enjoy the beautiful, spring weather! With nature and our great outdoors top of mind, I would like to share information with you about a current Fifth Grade Project Based Learning Unit which is environmentally focused.

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    Currently, fifth grade students are engaged in a PBL Unit called "Garbage Patch Kids." In this unit, students learn about the plastic in the world's oceans and consider what actions we can take to reduce the problem. Students research and learn about efforts to remove plastic and solve the plastics problem. Students work in small groups to channel their energy and to reach out to organizations to advocate for change. One of the fifth grade groups is organizing a contest for our students - and encouraging Laurel students to pick up trash and plastics. The students asked me to share the following information with our community:
    Plastic Collection Contest
    Want to save the oceans and all the creatures in it?
    Join our contest from April 5th to April 16th.
    Pick up trash so your class can win 30 minutes of extra recess.


    Do your part, our planet needs you!
    -From Fifth Grade Students in Mrs. Horwitz's Class


    I look forward to seeing and hearing about other fifth grade students projects and potential solutions. Also, if you and/or your family are interested in learning more about the plastic problem, don't miss the final MPCSD Speaker Series of the year on this Tuesday, April 6th which features "The Story of Plastic:" Movie and Panel Discussion. Tuesday, April 6, 6:30 pm, Zoom register here



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    Posted by Ellen Kraska on 3/7/2021
    California Indians: Caretakers of the Land PBL Unit
    Photo credit: Courtesy of oneword.earth
    Last week, I joined some fourth grade students for a viewing of the film One Word Sawalmem and a Question/Answer session with the film's Director, Michael "Pom" Preston. Sawalmem means "sacred water" and Pom is a Winnemem Wintu tribe member from Mt. Shasta. He co-directed, produced and appeared in the film to spread awareness about the human impact on the natural water systems in Northern California and the salmon population. It was powerful for our students to watch the film with him, to learn from his experience and to hear about his work with Run4Salmon.org.
    Mrs. Whiteley (Fourth Grade teacher) had the following to say about the PBL Unit:
    "Fourth graders have been hard at work identifying California's environmental imbalances, and have been learning from and working with members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe to restore balance as part of the California Indians: Caretakers of the Land PBL Unit. Students shared their action plans with Pom to get his feedback, and asked him questions about what the Winnemem Wintu are doing to bring back the Chinook Salmon. Students were beaming with pride after receiving feedback and kudos from Pom!"
    Kudos and shout out to the fourth grade teacher team for this meaningful, authentic and real-world Project Based Learning experience! Wow! 
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    Posted by Ellen Kraska on 2/28/2021

    Dear Laurel Families,


    Thank you everyone for your flexibility and support last week on our MPCSD Staff Vaccination Day! Our staff is filled with gratitude for our families making last minute adjustments and keeping children home so that our staff could attend their vaccination appointments. A HUGE shout out to Newton - for providing childcare that day as well. Here are two vaccination selfies from Laurel teachers. What a memorable day!

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    Be sure to check out the information below for an upcoming Drawing Night event! 



    Drawn Together: A Drawing Night with Emmy-Award Winning Artist Mark Kistler


    SAVE THE DATE! Thanks to a MPAEF Jeannie Ritchie Grant and our districts Art Teachers, including Laurel’s own Christie Giacomozzi and Shelley Winters, MPCSD is fortunate to be joined by Emmy Award winning artist, Mark Kistler, for two exclusive evening events:


     Workshop #1 - Kinder - 3rd Grade

    Friday, March 12 – 5:30pm – 6:20pm


    Meeting ID: 965 9320 3690

    Passcode: draw3d


    Workshop #2 - 4th - 8th Grade

    Friday March 12 – 6:30pm– 7:20pm


    Meeting ID: 946 8498 0296

    Passcode: draw3d


    All are welcome to attend one, or both workshops, regardless of age.  Students are invited to attend with their family members, siblings, friends, or on their own.


    We look forward to sharing this evening full of creativity and family fun with you!

    Please enjoy this 'Drawn Together' trailer with your families!



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    Posted by Ellen Kraska on 2/14/2021
    Spotlight on Project Based Learning: Third Grade "California Dreamers" 
    At the Upper Campus, we have "California Dreamer" posters on display featuring ancestors and family members of our Laurel third grade students. As part of the Third Grade PBL Unit called "California Dreamers," students interviewed a family member about the first person in their family that immigrated to the area. Our third graders learned about the variety of reasons why people moved here - from seeking a better life, to "love," to starting a new job, to attend college/university, to escaping famine and more! While some families immigrated generations ago, other families relocated to the Bay Area more recently. The third grade creates a HUGE third grade California Dreamer timeline - which includes a family immigrant from each Laurel third grader - and further reveals more about trends in immigration over time.
    Here is what a few students had to say about the California Dreamer PBL!
    "I really liked making the poster and learning about my family." - Carlos
    "The "California Dreamer" PBL is my favorite because it was learning all about ourselves and I got to learn about my family. Then, we learned about other families and figured out what we have in common." - Amelia
    Here is a photo of Amelia and Carlos with their California Dreamer projects. Great job to all our third grade students!
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    Posted by Ellen Kraska on 2/7/2021
    February is a busy time for us at Laurel! Just in the past week alone, we are wrapping up our Pop! Pop! Read-A-Thon, Kindergarten had 100th Day of School Parades and Celebrations, we honored Mrs. Guilliot for "School Counselor Week," First Grade teachers hosted PBL "Symbolically Me" learning centers, and we had several "A Week" Valentines Day celebrations too! Since parents can't see all the amazingness on campus - I'm sharing some photos of fun activities on campus below! Mrs. Hirsch (2nd Grade) dyed her hair blue as a reward for her class reading over 20,000 minutes for Pop! Pop! Read-A-Thon! Kindergarten students all decked out for 100th Day Parades! Maestra Toca (1st Grade) presents Mesa Verde as one of the monuments and US symbols for the "Symbolically Me" Project Based Learning Unit.
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    Black History Month
    Also notable is the variety of ways that our teachers are honoring, recognizing and elevating February as Black History Month. For example, Mrs. Stone's Virtual Academy Third Grade Class (made up of almost all Laurel students) is reading a book a day that features people and events from Black History. Mrs. Stone's class is enjoying following along with a February calendar of books that was developed by an elementary school librarian who goes by @TheBookWrangler on Instagram. Mrs. Stone commented,"Kids are really interested because we are learning about people who made a difference in all walks of life...a ballerina, a poet, an athlete and Jimi Hendrix...a fan favorite so far! It is introducing students to more than the civil rights activists that we all learned about every single year."To take a look at the monthly list of books, check out the Instagram Post from School Librarian Mike @TheBookWrangler
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    Photo credit: Instagram @TheBookWrangler
    After Mrs. Stone shared this resource with me, I was inspired by reading Book Wrangler's entire Instagram post. I couldn't agree with him more when he writes, "Black history happens every day. Celebrate it always." Yes! At Laurel, our goal is to incorporate anti-bias, multicultural and social justice concepts of study - not just during this one month of February - but to weave these concepts and themes, as well as the contributions from ALL people, throughout the entire school year. Looking for ideas to honor Black History with your family? Here is an article with five ideas and suggestions.
    Have a good weekend!
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    Posted by Ellen Kraska on 1/31/2021

    Dear Laurel families,


    As I was Zooming with a class of Laurel students this week and we discussed our "highlights" of the week, several students shared how much they LOVE Art class. Our two Art teachers, Mrs. Shelley Winters (Lower Campus) and Mrs. Christie Giacomozzi (Upper Campus), are the epitome of warm, caring, energetic and creative teachers! In Laurel's Art classes students learn meaningful content and knowledge, plus they love to explore and create Art using a variety of mediums and tools. Many thanks to Mrs. Winters and Mrs. Giacomozzi for their nonstop energy and enthusiasm for teaching Art - their passion certainly comes through even on Zoom! See the message below from Mrs. Shelley Winters to get a glimpse into our students artistic endeavors at Lower Campus. Currently, Mrs. Winters is integrating important themes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and spotlighting contributions from famous Black artists within her classes.


    Have a great weekend!

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    Spotlight on Art at the Lower Campus


    At the Lower Campus, the Laurel artists have been busy creating portraits of Martin Luther King Jr. in Art Class. They learned powerful words that describe MLK and how drawing a portrait and adding words to the background can help celebrate the memory of this amazing man. In addition to honoring the memory, students learned about proportion when drawing a realistic portrait.  Proportion is one of the ways we teach students about three dimensional and realistic drawings. We have been practicing this the last few weeks with a dino hatching out of an egg and a ninja rat. Ask to see your students' masterpieces! Here are some photos of first graders MLK portraits. This is a great way for us to transition into Black History Month where we will be learning about some famous Black artists like Clementine Hunter and Faith Ringgold.


    Shelley Winters

    Lower Campus Art Teacher


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