TVC Lower School September Newsletter 2023

September 29, 2023

Mossy Rocks – Kindergarten and 1st Grade

Academic Engagement – What We’ve Covered So Far

Character Development – Explorations

In K/1, each morning begins with explorations, or free play in the classroom with stations set up based on children’s interests. As educators and as a school, we prioritize free play because we know it is invaluable for child development. In fact, play is so important that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognizes it as a human right. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play is integral to the academic environment. It ensures that the school setting attends to the social and emotional development of children as well as their cognitive development. It has been shown to help children adjust to the school setting and even to enhance children’s learning readiness, learning behaviors, and problem-solving skills.”

We also have two 30-minutes recesses a day to allow children the mental and physical breaks they need. Our play yard is intentionally designed to support flexible, child-led opportunities for free play.

Student Corner – What is something you wish you knew how to do?

“Climb really high on a tree.” – Jhett

“Playing with a ladybug and giving it food.” – Hayden

“To build massive lego cities because I like legos.” – Buzz

“Make friends without even asking. Like everyone was my friend before we even met.” – George

“Science. I wish I could just put random stuff together and see what it does because once I actually made a real experiment and it made bubbles.” – Billy

“Flying off of high places and so I can fly wherever I want and I could fly to school but I didn’t have wings I was just flying.” – May

“I wish I could drive because my parents just won’t let me and I really want to.” – Zeke

“I wish I knew how to ride a horse perfectly with zero help or no one looking at me and I want to go wherever I want without having to leave Ooni my dog.” – Vera

“Tell time because last year I saw that the first graders with little clocks.” – Izzy

“I wish I knew how to cook on the stove and I wish I could be Elsa.” – Grayson

“Take care of red pandas because I really like them and my mom’s going to teach me.” – Wren

“Read and mostly how to wake up cause I don’t wake up in time.” – Dani

“I wish I knew how to count to 100.” – Sloane

“Make more things more creative like making flowers and it’s kind of hard to do that but I still try.” – Naomi

“Tie shoes because I’ve been trying to practice but I just can’t do it yet.” – Crosby

Mountain Lions – 2nd and 3rd Grade

Academic Engagement – Spacing Out

The 2/3 Mountain Lions have hit the ground running this school year! In literacy they have been reading about Galileo Galilei and how he used a telescope to uncover many wonders of the universe! The Mountain Lions’ first Project Lab exploration is all about space and they have been exploring space both in Project Lab and in literacy. So far Mountain Lions have made moon phase annual calendars, oreo moon phases, and a fortune teller about planets. In the coming weeks they will be diving into an exploration of the 8 planets and designing their very own telescope!

Character Development – How can we be generous to each other?

At the outset of the year the Mountain Lions convened as a pack to discuss what they needed to make this year a great one! The theme of these first couple of weeks has been centered around the question, “How can I be generous to my friends and classmates?” The Mountain Lions participated in an interview activity where they used their good listening skills to learn about their fellow classmates. This very week the Mountain Lions took time to write down what they needed from this classroom and then shared their responses with another student as a means to encourage everyone to look out for and support one another.

Community Focus – Guest Visitors

The Mountain Lions welcomed their very first Guest Speaker to the classroom two weeks ago! Kent Wood, a retired professor of astronomy from Utah Valley University, paid a visit to the Mountain Lions to share all about our universe and some of the work he has done with his students. The Mountain Lions’ curiosity was abundant as some of the questions asked included, “How big is the universe?” “What happens if you get sucked into a black hole?” “If our sun is so big, why does it look so small?” and “If there is life on another planet, would they be friendly?” While the Mountain Lions were unable to stargaze during this visit, they are excited to go stargazing on their journey to Jackson on October 10th!

Student Corner – Reading Buddies

The Spuds – 4th and 5th Grade

Academic Engagement – Learning about Place Based Education

To begin the year the Spuds’ first project has been all about Place Based Education. What is Place Based Education you may ask? The Spuds dove into this question on our first journey of their year where we released the swans and then went on a hike on the Aspen Trail. Towards the end of the day and at the top of the trail overlooking Teton Valley the class was asked to reflect on the landscape equation (L = A + B+ C or Landscape = abiotic + biotic + culture). The group discussed what was living (biotic) and what was not living (abiotic) around them. They came up with trees, bugs, grasses, animals, humans and air, clouds, rocks, mountains, and soil respectively. When asked to point out the culture in the landscape before them, the group was stumped for a bit but then with some prompting began to notice that the homes, farms, roads, cars, trails, and telephone wires are all part of our Teton Valley culture. Back in the classroom when students were asked “What is PLACE?” they then took their landscape equation and molded it into the Place Triangle; understanding that the Ecology, Economy, and Culture of a Landscape makes up a place. With this new base of knowledge the class then discussed and debated some tougher questions – “How does your place affect you education?”, “How does someone new to an area become part of a place?”, and “Does anyone have the right to own or take a place for themselves?” It was interesting to see the variety of answers and amount of perspective changes just through this one conversation! Now that students have a working understanding of PBE, I am excited to see how the class as a whole can work together to root “place” more deeply in our learning – throughout literacy, math, project lab, capstones, independent projects, and more!

Character Development – What do Spuds value?

One month into school and it is pretty easy to see what the Spuds value. The class continuously shows and speaks about what matters most to them. When discussing what a value is during a Morning Meeting one day, the class was able to very quickly describe it as something that means a lot to them and something that is worth caring for. When asked to make a list of what our 4/5 class values they came up with Kindness, Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Try Hard, Participation, Friendship, Teamwork, Creativity, and Gumption. To share the love and celebrate those in our class who really embody the values of the Spuds, we have crafted a value box to sit in our classroom and collect little notes and memories of acts of kindness, respect, responsibility, etc… At the end of each month we will read all the notes, celebrate each other, and recognize students who have gone above and beyond for their community! Celebrating others also ties closely with our class’ practice of daily gratitude. Throughout this year we are learning by trying it out ourselves, that recognizing others and sharing gratitude can make ourselves feel good and help our whole class to shine.

Community Focus – Local to Global in Teton Valley

More about PBE here, but this time through the lens of one of the core pillars – local to global. Place Based Education actually has six pillars that help students connect and thrive. They are Community as Classroom, Inquiry Based, Design Thinking, Learner Centered, Interdisciplinary Approach, and Local to Global. Look forward to more Newsletters to highlight each one of these pillars! Focusing on Local to Global here; what’s the point? Why is it so crucial to PBE? Well if you have any memories of being in school and learning about some far away place that was really cool and interesting to you but you had no idea how it connected to your life, that’s what Local to Global strives to remedy. With this point of view we can start conversations about how cranes migrating through Teton Valley can teach us about South America, Asia, Africa and Europe. We may research volcanoes around the world and then compare and contrast them to the volcanic presence that helped create features like Mesa Falls. We can debate the creation and use of dams by going to see one close by (Island Park Dam), learning about its pros and cons, and then looking into case studies about dams all over the US. We can even take a trip back in time to see were the Union Pacific Railroad system moved across the country and through Teton Valley while developing communities and changing many landscapes along the way. Possibilities are endless and interest and engagement is high when students can relate their learning to the place they call home. It will be interesting to see where the rest of our year will take us!

Student Corner – What was your favorite part of your Warm River Journey? What was one thing you learned?

My favorite part was Mesa Falls because I started to remember that I went there once and it was really beautiful.” – Sage

“My favorite part was playing Extreme Staple.” – Charlotte

“I liked it all and one great part was probably hot cocoa!” – Harriet

“My favorite part of the journey was just being at camp.” – Westy

“My favorite part was probably the railroad tunnel.” – Colby

“My favorite part of the journey was Extreme Staple.” – Thea

“I got the s’mores just right so that was the best!” – Waverly

“I enjoyed chill time with my tent.” – Beezie

“I learned that stink bugs aren’t as dangerous as I expected.” – Johnny

“I learned that the Ashton to Tetonia Railroad is 29.6 miles long.” – Rowan

“I learned that the St. Anthony Sand Dunes are really fun to play on.” – Peter

“One thing I learned was that you can make pizza on a frying pan. I never knew that!” – Zoe

“I loved the food!” – Josephine