Archive for the ‘Early Childhood’ Category

The Learning Support Team 

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The role of the Learning Support Team at Henderson International School is to support students at all ability levels and with different learning styles by providing intervention, remediation and enrichment opportunities. We collaborate with teachers in their efforts to advance students with different learning needs within the classroom, and we work with parents, students, and outside professionals in order to better advocate for the needs of all students, in Early Childhood through 8th grades. (more…)

One of our Guiding Principles is Collaborative Efforts. This principle is strongly evident this year in our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), in which every teacher on our staff is a member of one team, or PLC, organized this year around the subject areas. Last June, each group brainstormed possible goals for the year. In August, after feedback from the Leadership Team, the PLCs zeroed in on two goals each for the year, along with an action plan to achieve those goals. PLCs meet once a month to work toward their goals. (more…)

Box Exchange

At Henderson International School we have a deep respect for the abilities of our youngest students. We believe that if we provide them with opportunities to connect with others and develop a greater awareness of the world they live in, they will show us insights into how we can all communicate and grow together. We have constantly been impressed with the work young students do when collaborating with students in another country or from another culture, particularly when we ask them to reflect on the experience and share their discoveries.

This year we’ve been very busy exposing our young children to different parts of our planet. We have done so through collaborations with schools around the world via a box. Our international box exchange project has been very successful. Sharing cultures through a box full of typical items from each country has allowed our students to engage, form global relationships, and discover the value of working with students who have different perspectives and ways of being. We think it is our job as educators to foster these experiences so that, as our students grow older, they can start seeking out similar opportunities and sharing their knowledge and experiences with others. To date we have exchanged boxes with India, Slovakia and Colombia. We hope to continue to find more schools around the world to join us in this experience.

Technology is a powerful tool for global collaboration as well. Our box project works well and was easy to get started, but we have also shared videos and pictures of our friends overseas via our iPads and computers. There are also many websites such as National Geographic Kids that allow us to explore other places and cultures without traveling. It has made the experience so much more real and valuable.

Ms. Lizette Fiumara, Early Childhood Team Leader

Visual Arts In Early Childhood

February 1st, 2016

Visual Arts in Early Childhood

Art is an important part of Early Childhood programs. Here at Henderson International School, art is part of our weekly curriculum for many different reasons. Artistic endeavors and explorations are not only fun, but educational as well. Art allows our young students to practice a wide range of skills that are useful not only for life, but also for learning.

Skills students practice when participating in art activities include:

  • Fine motor skills: Grasping pencils, crayons, chalk and paintbrushes helps children develop their fine motor muscles. This development will help your child with writing, buttoning a coat, tying shoelaces, and other tasks that require controlled movements.
  • Cognitive development: Art can help children learn and practice skills like patterning and cause and effect (i.e., “If I push very hard with a crayon the color is darker.”). They can also practice critical thinking skills by making a mental plan or picture of what they intend to create and following through on their plan.
  • Math skills: Children can learn, create and begin to understand concepts like size, shape, geometry, measurement, making comparisons, counting and spatial reasoning.
  • Language skills: As children describe and share their artwork, as well as their process for making it, they develop language skills. You can encourage this development by actively listening and asking open-ended questions in return. It is also a great opportunity to learn new vocabulary words regarding their project (i.e., texture).

Froebel, the father of kindergarten, believed that young children should be involved in both making their own art and enjoying the art of others. To Froebel, art activities were important, not because they allowed teachers to recognize children with unusual abilities, but because they encouraged each child’s “full and all-sided development”.

Our curriculum includes activities that will help children develop their fine, cognitive, math and language skills. It gives them opportunities to express what they are thinking and feeling. When children participate in art activities with classmates, the feedback they give to each other builds self-esteem by helping them learn to accept criticism and praise from others.

This month Early Childhood students are involved in a collaborative project with Ms. Laurie Mallon, our Lower School Visual Arts teacher. Each classroom is painting a beautiful canvas sketched by Ms. Mallon.  The art works are inspired by master artists such as Picasso, Warhool, Van Gogh and Dahli. They will be donated to our PTA to be auctioned at the Silent Auction on March 6.

The students are enjoying their visits to the Lower School Art Studio. These visits serve a few purposes. Students are introduced to the Lower School Art Studio as a bridging exercise into Kindergarten. Our students enjoy a sense of satisfaction while involved in making art with their classmates. And we generate some student-created artwork that parents hopefully enjoying purchasing for the benefit of our wonderful PTA.

Ms. Lizette Fiumara, Early Childhood Team Leader

Our first trimester has been wonderful! We started with the strongest results from last year’s Educational Record Bureau (ERB) tests, and have already built upon that success across the grades. Strong teaching leads to solid learning, and I thank our teachers for all of their work to design and implement personalized learning plans while achieving excellent results. Success of the last trimester are below:

First trimester measures of success

We started the year with some impressive results from the spring ERB tests on which 73% of students in grades 3-8 scored 90% or better on at least one subtest of this assessment, qualifying them for consideration by The Center for Bright Kids’ Western Academic Talent Search (WATS). Henderson International School is in process of becoming a testing site for the region. More on this soon, but we are targeting the test dates in January and February. Taking the Explore, SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), or ACT (American College Testing) at a young age prepares exceptional students to be challenged above the confines of grade level assessments, letting them know about challenges above and beyond.

Grades 5 and 6 attended Astrocamp in Idyllwild, CA and grades 7 and 8 went to Pali Adventures in Running Springs, CA.  These annual outdoor education experiences, which rotate among several venues, provide exceptional opportunities for class bonding, off campus study with different instructors than our faculty, and a trip away from the comforts of home. It provides the opportunity to develop independence and personal responsibility, which are necessary to expand executive functioning during late childhood and early adolescence. Within our Mission of developing Global Citizens finding personal confidence and appreciation for our opportunities and obligations seems an obvious rationale.

We have experienced several on-campus “field trips” and science explorations in Early Childhood classes, including parents sharing their international connections with our young Wolverines.  This term the 4th graders traveled to Carson City and Virginia City for their on site study of the Capital Region of Nevada – an experience many adults have not had.

Our Learning Commons is now complete. The transition from a secondary school library to a primary school learning commons is noticeable in the appropriately sized shelving units, color scheme, updated technology, and comfortable seating. During this process many older volumes were donated to local Title I schools and organizations, along with the former furnishings. Our goal has been to help others at each step of the transformation!

Pumpkin plants are growing in the Elementary School garden and we are planning for our Henderson Arbor Day and second annual Earth Day celebrations in April.

We are delighted that 3D printers are in use, as is our Maker Space for learning how things work. Students are designing and printing on the two PTA sponsored 3D printers.

Arts

Grade 7 and 8 created a magnificent recycled art project that will be on display at The Palazzo, and we are entered into the statewide art competition.

Grade 4 has completed their first arts rotation among Musical Theatre, Band, and Visual Art.  This rotation exposes each child to all three programs over the final year of lower school, and in 5th grade they will choose one area of art study for the year. Performance season is upon us, and the children have been vigorous in their rehearsals to make wonderful music and perform in public.

Our kindergarten has been working on their Thanksgiving show that will debut on Friday, November 20.

Student artwork has been on display at the Henderson Pavilion on several occasions this first trimester.

In our first trimester bridge building elective, the lightest design carried over 200 times it’s weight before breaking. These engineering design projects had to be no more than 500 grams, and were created entirely from popsicle sticks and glue.  The held weight of 113 pounds more than doubled last year’s most sturdy design.

Athletics

Preparations are complete for the Meritas Games competition in Orlando, Florida, which will take place the week after Thanksgiving. The largest contingent of student-athletes will compete this year, 62 strong! A new individual sport has been added – Archery. Several of our middle school overnight trips have included archery, scouts have studied archery for their merit badge, and a few students regularly shoot at archery ranges. We are very excited about this addition!

And so to basketball! The Findlay Prep team defeated the 2015 Jr. College National Champions in Arizona. This was a preseason game. The athletes have started the regular season off well winning the first two games by double the opponent’s score. NCAA College team commitments: Carlos Johnson – UNLV Rebels, Skylar Mays – Lousiana State Univ. Tigers and Tristan Clark – Baylor Univ. Bears.

Our 7th grade flag football team earned their stripes in the 11-12 year old league played on Saturdays at Frias Field in Las Vegas. Thank you to their dedication in making the season happen!

Grade 5/6 volleyball played well all season, and grade 7/8 volleyball earned a spot in the post-season tournament. Our grade 5/6 flag football also earned 2nd place in the league. Congratulations to everyone! During trimester one, we also hosted our first cross-country race on campus, receiving rave reviews about our campus and the organization!

We hosted our Henderson International School Triathlon, thanks to organization by the PTA and Mr. Mike Chinn. We also hosted our annual Autumn Fun Run with varying distances based on grade level.

Testing

While standardized testing is only one metric of many we use to personalize academic progress, it is a reality that taking tests is something that our generation of students will be doing for most, if not all, of their academic and professional careers. In addition to starting the year with strong ERB results from the spring we have additional strong indicators about our curricula and programs:

 Initial writing assessment (WrAP test) results in grades 3-8 were very strong relative to Independent School norms (the strongest comparison/competition across the country). While we have a range of abilities demonstrated, the strong majority are in the middle to top Stanines, with over half of each MS grade in the top half of the top 2% of the country! Students will take these again in late winter at which time we look for improvements and also have time for further growth prior to the end of the year.

Elementary grades on the CPAA:

  • In the area of Phonemic Awareness, 42% of Kinder students met or exceeded expectations back in late August. Now, by the end of Trimester 1, 81% of students meet or exceedThe number who exceeded expectations has risen from 28% in August to 67% now.
  • In the area of Phonics/Writing, 42% of Kinder students met or exceeded expectations back in August. Now, that number is at 78%. Those who exceed has risen from 22% to 47%.
  • In the area of Reading, 64% met or exceeded back in September. Now that number is at 81%. Those exceeding has risen from 8% to 39%.
  • In the area of Phonemic Awareness, 80% of 1st grade students met or exceeded expectations back in late August. Now, by the end of Trimester 1, 91% of students meet or exceedThe number who exceeded expectations has risen from 23% in August to 43% now.
  • In the area of Phonics/Writing, 77% of 1st grade students met or exceeded expectations back in late August. Now that number is at 95%. Those who exceed has risen from 34% to 50%.
  • In the area of Reading, 77% met or exceeded back in September. Now that number is at 95%. Those exceeding has risen from 18% to 43%.
  • In the area of Phonics/Writing, 70% of 2nd grade students met or exceeded expectations back in late August. Now, by the end of Trimester 1, 84% of students meet or exceedThe number who exceeded expectations has risen from 24% in August to 43% now.
  • In the area of Reading Mechanics, 60% of 2nd grade students met or exceeded expectations back in August. Now that number is at 67%. Those who exceed has risen from 30% to 51%.
  • In the area of Reading, 67% met or exceeded back in August. Now that number is at 84%. Those exceeding has risen from 16% to 38%.

This has been a remarkable first trimester, and we look ahead to the following months, where more great progress and activities is expected.

 

Mindfulness in Early Childhood

September 15th, 2015

MindfulnessMindfulness is a big word for young kids to understand. Put simply, mindfulness is awareness. It is noticing our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and anything that is around us and happening right now.

Our Early Childhood Teachers attended a “Mindfulness for Children” training this month. The purpose of teaching mindfulness to our children is to give them skills to develop their awareness of their inner and outer experiences, to recognize their thoughts as “just thoughts,” to understand how emotions manifest in their bodies, to recognize when their attention has wandered, and to provide tools for impulse control. (more…)