Touchdown

This class made a touchdown!!! The ball unit is finished , and we have a group of happy, bouncing children !! At the ending of our unit we welcomed two new children to our class. We are thrilled to have new friends at St. James!  These little girls know how to use their imagination and they are right at home in this class! It looks like we have a future athlete and a mother to be, pretending to care for her sick baby.                                                                                                        

I ended the ball unit with a discussion of people that use balls on a daily basis.  We talked about constructions workers, basketball players and people that use balls for fun.  The children loved watching a construction worker use a wrecking ball to demolish a old building.  We also explored the types of materials used to make balls. Balls can be made from rubber, plastic or glass. Cotton balls and balls of yarn were a hot topic.                                                                   

 I love to bring in a activity that will include children bringing items from home.  Each child was asked to bring a ball of their choice to class. Our language skills are improving and this lesson was a wonderful way to help each child expand on their vocabulary. We used descriptive language to talk about our balls.   

 

Balls and math go together!! I  used ping pong balls to teach a math lesson. The class took turns opening sack one and sack two. Inside each sack were ping pong balls. The children had to take out the balls and count them , then determine which child had the greater amount. We are learning that numbers have meaning. Your child may not bring home a large amount of worksheets but we are learning with hands on activities!

Science for young children is a must!! The children watched a chemical reaction as we made our own snow!! I had a blast as we measured, poured and mixed. We learned that we needed to mix two ounces of water with every teaspoon of snow. If we don't have snow this year , we can make our own! The snow is also a great sensory activity, it stimulates our critical thinking skills along with our sense of touch.  I put our snow in the sensory table for each child to enjoy. 

Rolling on to P.E., class we spent the last couple of weeks working on our gross motor skills and improving on our hand and eye coordination skills. It is very important for your child to listen to instruction and participate in this class. The children had fun, but also leaned as they played. Balloons and paddles were used , as each child had to try to hit their balloon with their paddle. Balloons were also used for hitting up, down, throwing and catching during this class.  Scooters were used for gross motor skills . Your child had to move forward , backward and learn to spin!

Stay tuned for a wonderful new unit , this class will be leaning about Recycling!  I love using these units to teach your child. Our units are full of hands on math activities.  Please read the following information below ,it will give you important details about our math curriculum at St. James. 

MATHEMATICS AT ST. JAMES DAY SCHOOL

There is an old saying that if you get two educators in a room, you will have three opinions about which curriculum is best!  And likely a dozen textbook companies willing to sell the latest and shiniest course.

Mathematics has been a particular flash point in these different outlooks on curriculum.  In the 1990s, most public schools shifted to Reform Mathematics, which was itself a reform of the New Math of the 1960s and onwards.  

The predominant reform approach to math has not been a great success.  In the period of 2012-2015, the United States has slipped 12 points in the PISA assessment administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an assessment that includes students from nearly 70 countries throughout the world.

Many private schools, St. James included, stayed the course by teaching Classical Mathematics, with one significant change being that traditional concepts are taught at earlier ages than they were in past generations.    

At St. James, we continue to use a classical curriculum because it has been our experience, honed over many years, that the traditional structure is best for laying a developmentally-appropriate and solid foundation leading to long-term mastery of content skills for success in higher math in middle school and beyond.  

St. James uses the Saxon Math curriculum across grades 1 through 6.  Its pedagogical underpinnings include the following:

  • An incremental development of concepts with understanding its parts before trying to work with the whole concept
  • Continual review with required homework that has 85% of problems from previous lessons (no skipping of lessons unless student shows 80% mastery of problems from that lesson; no working “every other” problem)
  • De-emphasis of transitory test-taking tricks in favor of permanent mastery of concepts
  • Frequent cumulative assessments
  • No “hunk swallowing” of topics
  • Practice with new problems of repetition for learning, not for drilling
  • No use of calculators.

With minor adjustments which we make, our curriculum correlates to Common Core and TEKS (the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) for math.   

Each year, we use the Stanford Achievement Test Series (SAT10), to measure our educational achievement.  The Stanford, used by many private schools, rates our students’ achievement not against a district norm, nor even a state norm, but against a national cadre.  We analyze these results closely at the end of each academic year.  

Instead of an approach to education based on “the average student”, we tailor our educational experience for each particular student.  As you would expect, different students have different skills and move at different paces.  For those students who need a “bump up” in a particular core subject, we provide it.  We do the same for those students who need extra support.   

Because St. James provides this individualized education, our yearly analysis of the SAT10 is for each student.  This way we can differentiate the educational experience so that each child learns at his own pace and in her own way.  We understand that this personal attention is one of the reasons that you send your child to St. James.

Needless to say, there will be students who excel in subjects when they leave us, math included, and those who will need extra support, but a firm foundation of skills and comprehension will have been laid at St. James in either case.

As a whole, St. James graduates regularly and consistently 

  • finish high school in the top ten percent of their class
  • receive significant college scholarship awards
  • are admitted to many of the most selective colleges to which they apply.   To give but one example, this year one of our 2011 graduates was admitted to Harvard.

Since 2000, thirteen St. James graduates have been either the valedictorian or salutatorian of local public high schools.  In eight of those years, St. James grads have seen both valedictorians and salutatorians amongst the several local schools.  This is hardly a statistical anomaly, but a remarkable accomplishment given that our graduates comprise only the tiniest percentage of the thousands of students who attend these educational institutions.

St. James Day School consults regularly with wider educational leaders to ensure that we are preparing our students for their next educational placement.  To keep current, we confer with local educators at public middle school, high school and university levels.  We also have the benefit of the collective wisdom of a community of Episcopal Schools through our accrediting body.  This consultation means that we provide the best and most up-to-date educational experience possible.  

As always, the Administration of the School welcomes and encourage ongoing feedback from parents, knowing as we do that we are partners in your child’s education.  For seventy years now, St. James has been the educational leader in Texarkana.  We are thankful that your family is part of this tradition of educational excellence.

diane johnston
Rolling Right Along

Our ball unit continues to thrill the children! The past couple of weeks we found out what type of balls would roll and bounce.  Cotton balls do not roll or bounce very well. Our bowling ball rolled , but it did not bounce well.  I used the bowling game to sharpen our math skills. Your child had to count how many pins were knocked down and then determine how many pins were left standing. Our games are fun, but full teaching opportunities. 

One of our favorite games is titled Busy Bee. The children love this educational game! Your child pretends to be a bee and they fly around the room, then they look for a letter or number that I have hidden in our room. This game helps with letter and number recognition and stresses the importance of waiting your turn. I love to bring in activities that encourage your child to wait a turn. We had to take turns with our marbles.  The children loved getting their hands in the marbles!! This was a favorite activity of our ball unit. We sorted by color , and counted how many marbles were a solid color. This marble activity is a great way to enjoy a little math fun!!

December was a great month!!  One of the highlights of the month was a visit from the Texas Dept. of Parks and Wildlife. A special thank you to Mrs. Sarah for setting up this event. One of the joys of teaching at St. James is the bond between our teachers. We share ideas and teaching methods. Mrs. Sarah invited my class to learn about the different types of animals that live in our area. We discussed the needs of these animals and the different characteristics of these creatures.

We ended the month with a special visitor.  Santa was thrilled to be in our room and the Christmas party was wonderful!! A special thank you to our parents for helping with this special event. One of my favorite things about St. James is this beautiful campus. I took the children on a little nature walk and we found a ball on our campus. The children took turns hitting the ball and we loved being outside!! I love teaching letters and numbers, but my favorite things to teach are sharing , getting along with friends and being kind to each other. These qualities  will follow your child through their years at St. James. Get ready for a great new year!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

diane johnston
Bouncing with joy!

The ball study has your child bouncing with joy! Our first topic is what do we know about balls and what do we want to find out ? This study will help the children explore social studies, and science concepts related to the nature of balls. During this study we will encounter several different types of balls. 

Math and science is taking off in this classroom! We counted each time a ball bounced and we discussed the size of balls.  I brought several large balls into the classroom. The children loved having a ball that they could sit and bounce on.  We discussed the color of our large and small balls. Science is a favorite topic in this classroom. One of our lessons had your child guessing if a ball would float in water. The ping -pong ball floated , but our heavier solid ball did not float. We will be using several types of balls as we continue to find our what type of balls will float.  

Painting is one of my favorite activities! We used small, medium and large balls for painting. We placed our balls into paint, and let them roll! . As your child moved the tray the ball rolled and left beautiful colors behind. We are learning how natural forces affect the movement of balls. Each work of art is different and unique, just like your child.   

The physical education class is rolling right along , as Mrs. Nichole uses balls in several of her lessons. Mrs. Nicole teaches a structured class everyday . Your child is learning to follow directions, and take turns . Each class is filled with the joy of learning. The children can't wait to find out what activity Mrs. Nicole has planned for them. Your child is given a set of verbal instructions and a task to preform. It might be a tag game, or learning to kick a soccer ball from a line to a wall. We love p.e. !! The next few weeks we will be discussing balls that roll and bounce . We will also continue to explore forces that make a ball move.   

Important dates:   Christmas party - in our classroom -December 20th 9:15 early dismissal at 11:00. A special visitor will be attending our party.  

Christmas break    Dec. 21 - Jan. 2 

diane johnston
We are branching out!

 The tree  unit has us branching out in all directions. We discussed that trees grow and change and people grow and change. One of the joys of teaching is watching the children grow. During a science lesson we learned that trees come from seeds. We learned about seedlings and we discussed the growth of trees. We compared ourselves to the many trees that are growing on our campus. I told the children that we all started life as a baby, just as a mighty oak starts life as a seed.  I had the children bring a baby picture to show the class.  We took turns showing the class our pictures and discussing how each of us had grown and changed. We were blessed to find a baby pine tree on one of our many nature walks. 

During a math lesson we used parts of a tree to sort and classify.  Sorting and classifying objects is a fundamental skill and the basis for understanding many concepts in math and science. I also used apples for sorting by color.  We sorted leaves by color and by the type of tree they came from.   Red and yellow leaves were used to create a- b patterns. When your child is creating a pattern, they are learning to observe, think and problem solve. 

This fall has been great and the children had a blast with all of our seasonal activities. Halloween was spectacular and the highlight of our Halloween party was the fashion show! The children loved wrapping each other up as mummies and having a great snack. The fall program was a  hit and the feast that followed was wonderful. Thank you parents for helping with this tasty meal. I  hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving break and when we return to class we will start a new study on balls. 

Thanksgiving break -- Nov. 20 - 24 

 

diane johnston
We are blooming!

We started off the month of October with flashing lights and a roaring siren! Our fire safety program was a big hit! We watched the firemen as he put on his fire gear. We learned not to be scared of a fireman! The highlight of the program was exploring the fire truck. I think we might have a few future firefighters in this class!

We have moved into our unit on trees. We are blooming with knowledge. Your child is learning about animals that live in trees and foods that come from trees. This unit has allowed us to take several nature walks around our beautiful campus. I used the trees on our campus to discuss the characteristics of trees in our community.

We discovered that bats and squirrels can live in trees, and people.  Your child does not need a passport to travel the world during computer time. During our computer lesson , we watched the construction of tree houses. People can live in wonderful tree houses  We were able to see the thirteen most beautiful trees in the world during a computer session. I love to bring in a little geography to our day.  

We discussed the parts of a tree and we used pine needles for a paintbrush. The children were able to walk on tree roots and feel tree bark. We learned that the bark protects the tree.

We learned that some fruit comes from trees.  Apples can be red, yellow or green. The next few weeks we will be learning about taking care of trees. I will also discuss how trees change. We love the tree unit.....stay tuned for more wonderful information.

Important dates --  November 4    St. James Gala    -- Class Fall Program -- November 16 at 10:00 in our classroom

diane johnston