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Gillispie School / Specialties

Sometimes, the best, deepest, longest-lasting learning comes from doing (as opposed to, say, hearing about) something. In Science, students very often manipulate materials to create physical expressions of the concepts being addressed in class-- “making,” for short. There is a well-defined thought process called Design Thinking that guides us through our maker projects--it’s a topic that merits its own discussion. Every maker project takes time, which results in a meaningful relationship to the underlying concepts, and...

In music this year students have had the opportunity to share their work, compositions, and even solos with the class. In these experiences, our students develop confidence, empathy, and presentation skills. Many students have requested to perform with instruments that they are learning outside of school. A few weeks ago, one student asked if she could play her violin with her Kindergarten class. For many of our students, this was the first time they had seen or heard a...

The San Diego Museum of Art’s biennial exhibition “Young Art: My World, Our Planet” features four Gillispie School artists. The theme of Young Art 2021 is the environment and sustainability. Landon (K), Maddy (Gr 2), Abigail (Gr 5), and Sydney (Gr 5) are the Gillispie students whose artwork was selected by the jurors. Young Art is a ninety-year-old children’s art celebration and tradition at the museum. The exhibit is on view through May 9 and admission to Young Art is free (the entrance is by Panama...

Sometimes, in the course of teaching my different subjects to different grade levels, I’ll suddenly realize that two totally different areas of study are simultaneously touching upon the same underlying science concept. I guess it’s possible that I’m unconsciously guiding these convergences, but I nevertheless marvel a little bit at the crossing of content strands. Currently, not two, but three such strands are crossing, as 2nd, 5th, and 6th graders all arrive at the idea of...

In the upper elementary, we have been tying in many art projects with grade-level social studies. In Grade 3, students created mini-murals and ceramic dwellings for their Kumeyaay dioramas. The Grade 4 class has been studying California history, so its art focus has been on creating scenes of California's central valley, mountain, coastal, and desert landscapes. In Grade 5, students drew North American explorer galleons. Sixth graders created ceramic vessels and temple pop-ups while studying the ancient Greek civilization and are currently working on Egyptian...

We have been very lucky to have had such great weather on the field for P.E.! Elementary students have been doing regular workouts, playing various tag games, and just finished up the very popular hockey unit. Grades K-2 played noodle hockey (which is simpler and safer than traditional field hockey) while Grades 3-6 students played a version of 4-on-4 street hockey on the grass. Fun was had by all! We are now transitioning into our modified volleyball unit for the...

To borrow from and add to the inertia of their classroom study of ancient Egypt, Grade 6 students took a break from their genetics studies in Science to focus on mummification. Using apples from the garden, students carved and weighed miniature heads and packed them in salt. Over several cycles of weighing and repacking (and even using a food desiccator), we saw the original mass of the heads decrease substantially as water was lost, mirroring the mummification process. The final...

This past week during our Hour of Code activities we saw a flurry of young coders diligently working to solve coding challenges. The students were engaged and focussed. They showed persistence, drive, and importantly, joy in what they were doing!  The value of learning how to code extends well beyond just using a computer. Coding, more formally referred to as programming, teaches students logical reasoning, problem-solving and creative thinking. Some suggest that coding helps students to build...

“This is gonna be great!”  “Minecraft coding is awesome!" “CodeCombat is the best!” These are just some of the enthusiastic comments students have made this week while participating in the Hour of Code. Throughout the week, students have been using a variety of apps and programming languages during their coding activities. Our PreK students engaged in “unplugged” activities to learn about how to give computers instructions. They played a variation of “Simon Says” where one student plays the role of the...

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