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Gillispie School / Learn by Doing

Recently, our head of school found a large note on her door that read: Dear Ms. Fleming, Can we wear Valentine's Day clothes or hearts, please? We want to look fancy and cool and festive. The party is special and we want the same colors as Valentine's Day so we match. Can we do this, please, on February 13 even though Valentine's Day is February 14? Room 18 The Kindergarten students had written and left the note with the simple ask...

Kindergarten through Grade 3 students were recently treated to a special assembly featuring author and veterinarian, Dr. Ruth MacPete! Dr. MacPete spoke to the students about her children's book, Lisette the Vet, and answered the many questions they had about what it is like to be a veterinarian. Her adorable adopted dog Oski also came on campus to assist her in a veterinary examination at the end of the presentation. The experience was so informative and fun, and many...

Students in Grade 2 have been learning to play the recorder! In early January, they received lesson books to begin the process of note reading. The children are enthusiastic about playing an instrument and using music stands and books. The recorder is a wonderful, age-appropriate instrument that helps students develop their musicality and sense of musicianship. Students also learn how to coordinate their fingers, their tongue, and their breath – all 3 things at once – in order to play...

Fourth graders are in the middle of an investigation into electrical circuits. Each class time is spent with bulbs, batteries, wires, and switches as we work through such fundamental concepts as series/parallel, conductivity, resistance, voltage/wattage, and electrical schematic diagrams. This is an area of intense interest to nearly all the students, some of whom are pictured here sorting the Bungalow inventory of bulbs and batteries with the help of a voltmeter and a DC power source. By the...

During the first semester, Ms. Haas’s fourth graders enjoyed listening to Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo during their time in the library. Near the end of the novel, the characters hold a party. The students and I immediately agreed: Once we finished the book, we’d re-create the party to celebrate! Just before our winter break, we held our event, feasting on the snacks and drinks described in the novel. One student said she could, “taste the...

The most engaging, memorable, and successful activities are those which demand that we approach them from many points of view, solving challenges with various parts of our minds and bodies. An example of this at work is the Island Projects the sixth graders have been working on for several weeks. In teams, they dreamt up an island and sketched it, but that was just the beginning. Each team carefully sculpted its island from clay, and the clay islands...

The first meeting of the Design Challenge Club went well! Students started off by going over collaborative communication and cooperation skills and discussing what it means to be a good teammate and a good leader. An exercise was given to the students with a goal of building a bridge that could hold the most weight. Groups were given materials throughout the building process and were taught simple skills like how to tear blue tape or what to do...

Throughout the school year, students in Juniper Room have been working in the outdoor mud area, "saving the world from hot lava." Lava has become a large part of the students' daily outdoor classroom experience. Alexander shared with the class that he had made and erupted a volcano at home with his mom and dad, so teachers asked his parents to come in and help the class make their own volcano! Together with Alexander's parents, the class made a huge...

Recently, Grade 4 students visited the Feeding San Diego food bank. During their time at the food bank, they worked as volunteers, both sorting and packing kiwi. They also learned more about the organization as well as the people of San Diego Country that it serves. The two classes packed 1,900 pounds of kiwi, which will be distributed to families at three local schools. That is a total of 450 bags! A few remarks from our students regarding their...

Gillispie School celebrated its annual International Day Friday, October 26. Students grabbed their “passports” and traveled to Portugal, Greece, New Zealand, France, Japan, Spain, Botswana, Mexico, India, and Thailand. Parent volunteers and teachers transformed classrooms into virtual countries where children experienced smells, sights, and sounds of the different cultures represented. The students had the opportunity to learn about each unique culture as they journeyed “around the world,” completing crafts, sampling exotic food and drink, listening to live music,...