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Gillispie School / Learn by Doing

It certainly has been an exciting couple of weeks as the school year winds down! As an educator, I am always pleased to see students find their individual “sandboxes;” those places where they stretch themselves, gaining excitement and sense of purpose from the challenge. Recently, some of our fourth and fifth graders participated in the county-wide Science Field Day, collaboratively constructing catapults, paddle boats, towers, and a series of simple machines that delivered marbles into cups. This...

Grade 2 students impressed their families and teachers with amazing presentations last week. Each student chose a person of historical significance who they viewed as an inspirational hero, researched the individual, and wrote a two-page biographical report explaining a bit about their lives, accomplishments, and interesting or surprising facts. Working with their teachers and technology instructor Ms. Moore, students used the interactive iPad drawing tool Osmo Masterpiece to illustrate portraits of their subject. Additionally, they created videos with...

Parents, family, and friends joined us for the 2017-2018 Gillispie Big Project Exhibition on Friday, April 20! With event maps in hand, visitors toured the various exhibits around campus which showcased the work that students have done all year on their specific grade-level topics. Cycling through a design-thinking process, students first researched their topics, developed awareness of the issue as it exists around the world and here in our community, and developed questions, which led to specific areas...

Last weekend, I took my daughters to the LA Times Festival of Books, which is held every April on the campus of the University of Southern California. During the Q&A portion of a talk by award-winning author Kate DiCamillo, my elder daughter asked, “What did you like to read as a kid?” DiCamillo answered, “If it was a book, I liked it.” I asked DiCamillo what advice she had for kids who want to grow up...

Operating from the starting point that positive change in the world starts at home, we asked all of our classes in Grades K-6 to explore certain issues that are affecting our community (La Jolla/San Diego). Each grade level tackled one broad theme and dug deeper into a specific area of focus. Kindergarten: Human Effects on Our Coastline Grade 1: Fresh Water Grade 2: Transportation Grade 3: Pollution Grade 4: Hunger Grade 5: Homelessness Grade 6: Civil Rights Cycling through a design-thinking process, students first...

Now more than ever, it is crucial that children learn how to become creative and empathetic solution builders, and the development of the skills needed for success can begin as early as preschool. In order to give children the opportunity to hone their creative problem-solving skills, it is important for them to be allowed to construct their own knowledge and understanding of the world through both experience and reflection on those experiences. This approach is referred...

On Wednesday, January 24, the sixth graders of Gillispie School visited the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California with the intent to further our knowledge on the Holocaust and other issues of injustice. Our class has been avidly studying the Holocaust as well as civil rights, reading books such as Miracle’s Boys, The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. This field trip offered us the opportunity to see directly how...

Grade 1 students have been studying dinosaurs in Science class. Their lessons have brought about many questions, specifically centered on how we know so much about dinosaurs given that they are extinct. During a class discussion, students were introduced to the term "paleontologists," and they learned more about this researcher's important role in the discovery and classification of ancient fossils. Each student had the opportunity to be a paleontologist for a day during a hands-on project where they carefully...

This is a great example of the type of project-based learning across disciplines that helps students further deepen their understanding of the curriculum! As an Art, Science, and Technology cross-study, Grade 6 partners have been creating their own topographical maps of an imaginary island. In Art class, the students hand-shaped their island out of clay and included eight real geographical features such as a waterfall, mountain, sandbar, etc. Once their clay models were finished, the students sliced the models, decided...

Our Preschool classes held their annual Fall Feast in the gym recently. Students made hand-printed placemats and table decorations for the event. The meal was potluck style, with each family bringing in a dish specially requested by their child to share. During the event, families wrote down things they are thankful for on cut-out feathers that were attached to a shared turkey display. Shared mealtimes in Reggio are held in high regard, and our educational philosophy values children, educators, and family...