Chilly “febrero”

Hola Queridas Familias:

Gateway School faculty and staff are so excited to hear Dr. Rosekind speak today during our Faculty Inservice time. We also hope you will all attend this evening’s talk at Cabrillo College. Dr. Rosekind will speak on the importance and impact of sleep and our well being. It is especially lovely that these wonderful and innovative speakers are brought to us through the collaboration of several Independent schools in our county yet serve our entire community of Santa Cruz.

A busy and fruitful month of growth has transpired in our MS Spanish classes during this “Chilly febrero”.

In sixth grade Spanish class considerable growth has been observed in students in the areas of time management, organization, study skill and mastery of higher level concepts of Spanish study. Vocabulary learning and retention, verb conjugation of the three regular types and original expression have all been goals of the program most recently and will continue to be so. Students are better equipped now to self direct, advocate and regulate. This growth is so key to success for Middle School students. However, play and light-heartedness in their learning is also key. Students recently enjoyed the viewing of the film “Toy Story” in Spanish. The drawing and re-telling in the language of key scenes of the film and character traits were important activities to check for the degree of understanding of this “native speaker level” film.

Both seventh and eighth graders are currently in the midst of a large unit of vocabulary and expression of “La Ropa de Moda”. This is “fashionable (as one might see it–even comical or absurd at times) clothing”. This large body of vocabulary integrates not only the names of every type of clothing, accessory, jewelry but also descriptions of body parts, fabrics, materials, colors and hues, designs, sizes and, of course, opinions. Students will be creating projects of their choice such as live or filmed fashion shows, seasonal clothing lines, fashion magazines, advertising posters, slide shows and even musical presentations. Often the incorporation of family (and pets!) or friends as models makes this fun project a rich social experience as well as high level Spanish language commentary, of course. Again, the theme of “play” in learning here. I love that this type of learning allows our children to continue to BE children in their play. Toys, dolls and action figures are often incorporated into these projects. My recent attendance at the Learning and the Brain Conference confirmed (backed by research, mind you!) what many of us have always known by instinct and experience that joyful experiences make the brain more “plastic” and receptive to learning by reducing stress and rigidity. That said, I also learned recently about the importance of  “overlearning” concepts to assist with deeper retention. This is implemented by giving students a variety of ways to experience the content and show their learning. We often speak of student “choice and voice” in our best practices.

This “maestra” looks forward to our upcoming Advisory Student-Led Spring conferences. Please be sure to sign up with your student’s Advisor early on to assure a time and date (March 16 and 19) that will work for both yourselves and your student who is required to attend and, indeed, will lead the conference by sharing their goals, progress, work, challenges and overall school experience.

Best regards and do keep warm and well,

Maestra Patty