Celebrating Individual and Linguistic Identity

Written by Amy Truex. Posted in 1st Grade, Kindergarten

MT PhotoDid you know that nearly 6,000 languages are spoken in the world? February´s Social and Emotional Learning theme in the Elementary School is Celebrating Individual and Linguistic Identity, corresponding with UNESCO´s International Mother Language Day which is recognized each year on February 21st.  In addition to engaging in a variety of classroom activities designed around this theme, students in Elementary school will also have the opportunity to complete a special project during Semana Blanca with their families.  

To promote awareness and recognition of all of the diverse languages and cultures of our students, we are asking them to write about a celebration that is important in their family. A selection of graphic organizers for planning their writing, as well as a writing template, are attached to this blog post and will also be sent home with your child before Semana Blanca. Students will write about their special celebration in English and in their native language. All entries will be collected on Tuesday, February 25th. We will bind them into a special book which will be on display in the ES library.

If you’re looking for a little linguistic inspiration, check out this Disney adaptation of the song “Let it Go” from Frozen, in 25 different languages!

We are looking forward to learning all about your special celebrations!

Celebrating Individual and Linguistic Identity Instructions Celebrations Graphic Organizer 1 Celebrations Graphic Organizer 2  Final Writing Template

Kindergarten Studies Barcelona Local Culture

Written by Amy Truex. Posted in Kindergarten

photo 1(2) photo 2(4) photo 3(1) photo 4(1) photo 5(1) Kindergarten teachers developed a Social Studies Unit to increase children’s awareness of themselves and their community around them. Students had a rich range of experiences in learning about their local culture.  They had the opportunity to explore different literature about Barcelona, they went to some of the most famous cultural places that the city has to offer, as well as learning how to relate geographic relations to the social environment.  This is was truly an interdisciplinary unit, involving many ways of teaching and learning! Students learned that we can use maps to find certain geographical locations, including how to locate the place they live on a map. They are also able to identity the cultural symbols of Barcelona and make comparisons to the cultural symbols that exist in the other countries they know about. Children were able to demonstrate their understanding of these famous places in Barcelona by creating their own representations through collaborative drawings, and constructing famous places out of different materials. Make sure you peek into our classrooms to see these unique creations, as unique as the city we live in!


Guided Reading is initiated in Kindergarten!

Written by Amy Truex. Posted in Kindergarten

Guided Reading is an instructional strategy that helps students become great readers! It’s one of the many ways our Kindergarten teachers are adding all of the components of balanced literacy into the Kindergarten learning experience. What makes Guided Reading such an important part of literacy instruction? Teachers often describe this period as, ‘the golden-time of the day, where they get to read with students and deliver individualized instruction.’ The teacher meets with small groups of students who are grouped based on similar reading behaviors and who are able to read similar texts. These texts offer some challenges to students, but the teacher is there to provide support and instruction along the way. Teachers focus their lessons on different reading strategies that students require, such as: comprehension strategies, problem solving-strategies to figure out ‘tricky’ words they do not know, understanding sentence structure, reading with fluency, and building English vocabulary and grammar. While the Kindergarten teachers are working with small group of students, the rest of the class is building independence and responsibility for their work at one of the various literacy centers. Students are also responsible for reading their ‘Center Map’ to know where to go in the room, and when, as they rotate through the various workshops. Centers are specially designed by the Kindergarten teachers to meet the range of all learners, addressing a variety of interests and learning styles. The Kindergarten teachers are providing a rich reading environment by exposing your children to a variety of texts and genres, while students are clearly motivated and engaged in reading!

Kindergarten Publishing Party!

Written by Lila Jorge. Posted in Administration, Elementary School, ES Principal, Kindergarten

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of attending the publishing party hosted by our Kindergarten team.  The celebration was the culmination of weeks of effort and hard work in the area of writing and we were really fortunate to have an incredible turn out from our parent community.

photo (1)Often times, one of the questions I am asked is how we work on writing with children who are not yet able to write words or sentences.  The answer is that we expand have to expand our perspective on what actually constitutes a good piece of writing.  Beyond the mechanics and letter-sound relationships are the more sophisticated concepts of developing strong ideas, adding details and linking ideas in a logical or sequential fashion.  It is these core concepts of effective communication that we seek to develop at the outset because these skills create the foundation for future success when sharing ideas, whether it is through writing or orally.

When looking at the work of the Kindergarten students yesterday, it did not matter whether a child had developed the ability to write words or sentences in a conventional fashion.  Each one of them had picked up key ideas about communication and the writing process through the creation of their stories.  Each story had a specific title, which indicated the main idea.  The majority of the drawings had multiple details, similar to the way an older author might describe a scene in writing.  Many children added speech bubbles or drew specific symbols to express further information (for example, one child drew a light bulb on top of a character’s head and subsequently shared orally that this symbol represented the character getting an idea at that moment in the story).  Additionally, the children made a distinct effort for the drawings to unfold in a logical sequence with a start and finish.  By providing an opportunity for the children to explore and develop the larger concepts behind writing, the teachers did an incredible job of ensuring that each child experienced success and of equal importance are establishing a foundation for the future.  The physical act of writing comes with time developmentally but the ideas and concepts are areas that our young thinkers and communicators are already capable of showing.

TCRWPAs an elementary school, we have launched into a school wide effort to refine our instructional practices in the area of writing.  Guided by the methodology stemming from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Projectwe began in August with three consecutive days of professional development from Stephanie Parsons, a well-known leader in the area of literacy development, that was funded by the BFIS Annual Fund.  The benefits of this strategic and focused professional development have been evident throughout the elementary school with teachers sharing significant improvements in student engagement and the overall quality of writing.

Interesting Webpages for the Little Ones

Written by KarinaC. Posted in Kindergarten

preschool clipart


 The “ABCs” section
Click on Starfall to learn letter names and sounds:


Click on the letters to watch a video:


Aa  Bb  Cc  Dd  Ee Ff  Gg Hh

  Ii  Jj Kk  Ll  Mm  Nn Oo Pp  Qq

  Rr Ss  Tt  Uu  Vv Ww  Xx  Yy  Zz

ABC’s Songs:

Alphabet Read Along

ABC Song

Everybody Sing the Alphabet with Me

Letter Sounds Songs:

The Letter Sound Song

ABC Phonics Chant



Join Leap, Lily and Tad as they journey to the word factory in:  

Leapfrog Letter Factory

Games with sound that teach shapes, colors, letters, numbers and keyboarding: Literacy Center


Crawford the Cat is a fun and engaging character that stars in educational health and social skills videos for preschool, kindergarten and first grade students. 

Here come the most amazing stories:

It’s never too early to start little ones on healthful eating habits. Ask Nina and Jeff, two energetic mini-monsters who live in a garden full of wonderfully nutritious goodies.  In To The Garden, these adorable little fiends cultivate a love of fruits and vegetables through fun-filled songs, rhymes and quizzes. 


Try this cool link :


Wow – this is fun! Jackson Pollock was an American abstract impressionist artist known best for his “splatter” paintings, where layers of colors were splashed onto huge canvas panels. This delightful website allows you to experience Pollock’s style on the platform of the internet. Click the link and enjoy with your children!

Sing with your child at home:


The Elephant Song

This is a Cat!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Row Row Row Your Boat

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Five Little Monkeys!

1,2,3,4,5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive

Down On Grandpa’s Farm


smiley faceDo the Global Hand-washing Dance!!! smiley face

Feeling like a monster? Colbie Caillat and Common recommend a calming breath – Belly Breathe – Song


And you can find many more songs here!


Podcast: A Closer Look at the ES Progress Reports

Written by Lila Jorge. Posted in 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Administration, Elementary School, ES Principal, Kindergarten, Nursery, PreK

In the early spring of 2012 we began discussions as an ES Faculty about redesigning our progress report.  The version we were using at the time had been in use for several years and despite certain strengths we found ourselves constantly analyzing its shortcomings.

While content that our progress reports were aligned to standards, we felt that numeric ratings of performance provided very little specific feedback to families.  Moreover, it was difficult to show progress and development over the course of a school year.  Needless to say, we were convinced that we could do better and that is the only motivation we ever need as a faculty to make a change.

Over many months we engaged in a process that incorporated research of best practices, teacher-led committees, grade-level focus groups and consultation from Ken O’Connor, a leader in the area of assessment and reporting.  Even though we were faced with the reality a child’s development can never be fully captured in a handful of pages, we were able to incorporate key facets represent a significant improvement from previous years.  As a result, we look forward to the Progress Reports playing an essential role in communicating with parents about their child’s progress and another avenue to strengthen the invaluable partnership between school and home.

For further information about the Progress Reports, please click on the video below to launch, A Closer Look at the Elementary School Progress Reports.  I have created a podcast that provides more information about the key facets of the Progress Report and examples of how they incorporated into the overall design.