And suddenly, it is not just 2015 but the second month of this new year! Happy February! The school year continues to fly past at a frenetic pace, and so too do the accomplishments and activities at Chaparral Elementary School. Author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau suggested, “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” At Chaparral, we are busy about quality teaching and learning, connected to a myriad of real life (and simulated) experiences, aimed at deepening and broadening our students’ understanding of topics learned and the character traits needed to be happy, successful people.
As we continue our implementation of National Common Core Standards, including 21st-century learning skills, you will begin to notice more and more performance-based teaching and learning at Chaparral, whereby students are engaged in challenging activities that build perseverance (never giving up!) and problem solving and involve integrated activities across the curriculum.
We are proud to announce that students in Mrs. Fitzgerald’s 4th-grade class presented to the school board an example of the 21st-century learning skills they used to demonstrate concepts learned in Social Studies. Congratulations to Annsley Eggers, Suhana Jain and Erin Marshall, along with Mrs. Fitzgerald and our media specialist, Mrs. Minicozzi, for presenting such an engaging, collaborative, thoughtful and interesting project. They are Chaparral rock stars!
Some additional examples of 21st-century learning can be found in fifth grade’s upcoming “Colonial Days,” first grade’s “Trip Around the World” visiting all the continents, second grade’s study of our diverse cultures, and in the National Geographic Traveling Map of Europe that all grades studied last month. This map came to us as part of National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps program, organized by National Geographic Live
, the public programming division of the National Geographic Society.
Chaparral students explored Europe in a big way: with one of the world’s largest maps of the continent. The map, measuring 35 feet by 26 feet, gave student explorers a fun, interactive learning experience through rich content and exciting activities that enlivened the study of geography.
The brightly colored, smooth vinyl surface of the map accurately illustrated Europe’s oceans, seas, rivers, mountains, countries and capitals. The map, designed for grades K-8, came with a trunk full of accessories, including interactive games, geography adventures, atlases and books that taught students about the physical characteristics of the continent as well as its rich history and varied cultures. Our teachers at each grade level chose activities that were appropriate for their students and curriculum. An example of an activity for older students was “A Tale of Twenty Cities,” in which students could explore the physical and economic reasons behind the locations of cities in Europe. In addition, Superintendent Dr. Dan Stepenosky came to Chaparral, took his shoes off, and traveled across Europe with Mr. Larkin’s second-grade class. Together with Dr. Stepenosky, they had a fun “sock hop” across Europe.
We want to especially thank Mrs. Yollis and Mr. Larkin for organizing this wonderful 21st-century learning opportunity for everyone at Chaparral.
Finally, during February, Chaparral’s students will be focusing on the character traits of Honesty and Trustworthiness. An honest, trustworthy person is the kind of person in whom other people can have confidence. Trustworthy people do not lie, cheat or steal. They keep promises and make good choices. When mistakes are made, they admit their mistakes and then do what can be done to make up for them. As we all know, developing these character traits is definitely “easier said than done.” Honest, trustworthy people are not perfect. They know and understand that as lifelong learners, we improve a little each day to become the best we can be.
Please do not be afraid to model making mistakes for your children. It is probably one of the most important lessons you can teach. They will not only understand that it is normal to make mistakes, but also learn what to do as an honest, trustworthy person to make amends, if necessary. As a community unified to build the success of our students, we must make it a priority to model these important traits. I am certain that together as CUBS, we can reinforce the importance of being truthful so that our children understand good character and the benefits of being trusted and respected.