Archive for July, 2013

Summer Survivor

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Peninsula Heritage School’s popular summer Survivor Camp was once again relished by our own students, children from the community, as well as our enthusiastic alumni. Mrs. Kim Nygaard shares the details of her innovative camp experience:
“On our first day, we welcomed the participants and set up the tribes with one of our alums assisting each group. The tribes chose a name for their team, designed a poster symbolizing the participants, and began the challenges.”
“Throughout the week, the tribes competed in a broad array of races and competitions that challenged them physically and mentally. There were events that required both strength and finesse, endurance and artistic talent, plus memory and cooperation. In the heat of the day, the water events were huge favorites. The children were also amazing in their enthusiasm for their chalk art challenge!”
“Working with our alumni judges, we awarded points based on the difficulty of each challenge. The points were totaled at the conclusion of each day, and the tribe amassing the most points was the overall winner at the end of the week.”
Our awards ceremony concluded the camp on Friday, with ribbons and kudos for the fifth through first place winners. All the campers received a DVD of photos taken during the entire week, plus a goodie bag, and each participant voted for the Ultimate Survivor. This summer’s winner of this major honor was PHS’s own, soon-to-be Fifth Grader, Bella Martinez! Congratulations, Bella!”

Teachers as Students

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Six of our teachers participated in a differentiated learning conference in Las Vegas, July 16-19. They returned from this professional development experience with tremendous enthusiasm and are already engaged in planning for this coming school year:
“This conference was amazing!” relates Fifth Grade teacher Kimarie Lynn. “Each of us, Mrs. Banales, Miss Jessica, Mrs. Mahoney, Mrs. Standart, Mrs. Gilbert, and I would come out of a different session of the conference and meet to exchange all the new concepts we had just learned. The speakers had a wealth of experience and presented it in a vibrant, meaningful manner. This was also a national gathering, with teachers from all over the nation, and we enjoyed talking and exchanging ideas with them.
“The main idea echoed by a number of the presenters was the actual process of classroom learning: first, teacher to student, then teacher WITH the student, followed by student to student, and culminating with assessment. The children then have the proficiency to utilize this particular concept on their own.”
“It was extremely gratifying,” reported all the RHCDS participants, “to realize that this is what we already do at Peninsula Heritage School – this is the differentiated learning model that we all use.”
“It was wonderful for us to be validated at a national conference, and then gain additional knowledge on how we can further improve our teaching,” shares Miss Jessica. “The choices for us to learn at the conference were extensive. Four sessions were offered each day – two in the morning and two in the afternoon. In addition, we could also choose from some sessions that lasted all day or others that were half day. We made it a point for the six of us to divide up, so that we could cover different important presentations.”
“The main areas of focus at the conference,” recalls Mrs. Mahoney, “were differentiated teaching in math and writing, utilizing technology. We discussed ‘flipping the classroom,’ where students watch a video of the lesson (which has previously been prepared by the teacher), and then come to class the next day ready to solve problems or participate in a discussion. The benefit of the video for the student is the opportunity to watch particular segments numerous times until the concept is understood.”
“We are eager to share all that we have learned,” continues Mrs. Mahoney, “with our fellow teachers at PHS in our staff meetings. We also purchased printed material that will be very useful for ourselves and other faculty. An extra bonus of the conference was the increase in collegiality and plain fun that we enjoyed with each other, sharing four jam-packed days of learning with our fellow PHS faculty.”

Sixth Grade Techies

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

As we plan for our incoming Sixth Graders in September, it’s exciting to hear about their computer science curriculum from our Computer Teacher, Ms. Stella Demis:
“We begin the year with our school newspaper, inviting the children to apply to be editors of the various newspaper sections – international news, features, entertainment, food, sports, and technology. Working with several of our teachers, the students apply for the jobs in an interview format, telling us why they believe that they can excel in this work. We feel that this process gives the students experience in interviewing as well as placing the Sixth Graders in the areas of the paper that are of greatest interest to them. We then teach the basics of newspaper reporting, gathering information, and composing the articles. As Editor-in-Chief, I am assisted in editing by our School Librarian, Mrs. Charnofsky, and our math enrichment teacher, Ms. Lomeli, prior to the students doing the design and layout. Look for our print edition of the student newspaper this fall!”
“Simultaneously with the student newspaper project, and continuing throughout the year, the students work on polishing their keyboarding skills at the beginning of each computer class. They also utilize their previously learned PowerPoint presentation skills in designing and sharing their classroom projects in other academic subjects.”
“The Sixth Graders next have the opportunity to learn Just BASIC programming language, using resources through Discovery Education and to explore a new computer programming site called Tynker.com. Learning to program also teaches students a whole host of analytical and strategic thinking skills that can be applied to all types of complex problems. As Apple’s Steve Jobs once said, ‘I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.’”
“Our stop-motion movie unit is a popular one with the students, as they design and execute their entire video production. Once again, they must think logically and employ great patience as they take numerous photos that are linked together to give the impression of movement. They learn video skills that will be used multiple times as they progress in their education and eventual careers. It also enables students to conceive of an interesting concept and then break it down into manageable segments: initial idea, storyboarding, production, and final presentation.”
“This year’s plans call for introducing video game design. George Lucas’ Edutopia provided a link to a site called ‘Gamestar Mechanic’ which will enable students to design their own video games. Designing these elementary games allows the students to see the other side of programming, which is the user interface. This site allows students to design a game and then submit it for peer review. Utilizing peer feedback gives our Sixth Graders the opportunity to receive input from their peers as well as give purposeful feedback to others. It’s important for students to learn how to help others by giving meaningful and productive comments, especially when they work with peers on group projects.”
“Our Sixth Grade computer science curriculum is both exciting and informative, as our students learn skills that will serve them well in both the near and distant future.”

CAIS Accreditation

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Peninsula Heritage School has just received a full, six-year accreditation from the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), renewing our previous six-year accreditation. Thanks to all of our parents and students for the key role that you played in our achieving this honor. Following are the commendations from the CAIS Visiting Committee whose members were here on campus for four days in March of 2013.

The CAIS Visiting Committee Commends:

1. The [Peninsula Heritage School] Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, staff, parents and children for their passionate commitment to the school’s mission that is lived throughout the school’s curriculum and community.

2. The Head of School for her extraordinary and inspirational leadership of Peninsula Heritage School and for working effectively with all school constituencies.

3. The administration and faculty for establishing a caring, diverse community of learners.

4. The administration, faculty and staff for fostering a loving environment that supports character development and academic success for all students.

5. The students for their joyful love of learning, remarkable respect and compassion for others, their desire to serve, and their appreciation of their school and the world around them.

6. The Head of School, Director of Advancement, Director of Admissions and the Board’s Marketing Committee for the breadth and depth of their efforts to involve and inform all internal and external communities, via such initiatives as the Head of School Blog, about the programs and values of Peninsula Heritage School.

7. The administration, faculty, staff and students for creating a school that fosters a strong tradition of academic excellence along with an individual character development program that is integrated into the performance program.

As you can see, our students and our parents were specifically recognized in these commendations! Again, thanks for all that each of you do to make Peninsula Heritage School so outstanding!

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