Friday, February 24, 2017

Principal's Update

Family Literacy Night, Bluebonnet Books...Just Read!

Children who choose to read are generally higher achieving students in all academic areas. Reading books from a variety of genres will help students develop rich vocabularies and thinking skills. We are fortunate in RRISD that all of our schools have excellent libraries along with specialists, like our own librarian Emily Kupersztoch, to spark children's interest in books. Mrs. Kupersztoch collaborates with all of our teachers to ensure that our classrooms are literacy-rich learning environments. She also encourages our students to participate in programs like the Bluebonnet Awards Program. This year we celebrated over 285 qualified Bluebonnet voters! Thank you to our teachers and parents who promote and model reading as a choice activity in school and at home!

Along with reading at school, it's very important that children read with their parents at home. Our Kindergarten & 1st Grade Family Literacy Night focused on the importance of parents reading with their children. According to several sources of research , children who are read to at home have a significant advantage over their peers who are not. Thank you to our kindergarten and first grade teachers for collaborating with Mrs. Kupersztoch on our best K/1st Literacy Night so far! We had an excellent turn-out for this event.

Together, let's continue to work as a school/parent partnership to encourage our children to become life-long readers!

Why is STEM Important?

STEM refers to integrated (science/technology/engineering/math) instruction. Add the "A" and you also include the arts. Whether STEM or STEAM, both avenues provide opportunities for students to be innovative through a design process, develop problem solving skills by working through integrated challenges, become proficient with various technologies including coding, and build on their natural creativity and curiosity.

At Elsa England we have redesigned our weekly Friday enrichment hour to include a variety of STEM and STEAM explorations using low-tech and high-tech resources. All students in all grade levels have had time this year to explore and learn with materials like Lego Robotics, LittleBits, SnapCircuits, SquishyCircuits, Ozobots, Dash&Dot Robots, Cublets, or Makey-Makey. It's also common for our students to work on a design challenge with minimal materials like straws, paper products, tape, and recyclables. Most explorations or challenges are completed in teams or with partners, but teachers also provide time for students to explore on their own.

England teachers are also bringing a focus on STEM and design thinking into their daily instruction. We have utilized Engineering is Elementary resources from the Boston Museum of Science along with model lessons from the RRISD Stem Academy to ensure that our students are receiving high quality instruction. STEM is a great fit with our project-based learning (PBL) foundation. By rethinking our instructional approaches and times, we are ensuring that all students have equal access to STEM. Many of the additional resources we have utilized this year were made possible for us through our Innovative Schools Grant provided by RRISD.

Jana Stowe, Principal

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