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Gillispie School / Specialties

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...

Hello Gillispie Families, In the last few weeks, we have started sharing student compositions. This year we are using a new computer program called Soundtrap. Soundtrap is a digital audio workstation (DAW), similar to Garageband, which is created by the makers of Spotify. In previous years, students have created songs but there wasn't an opportunity to share their original compositions with their peers. Since the format of specialty classes is different this year, we have been sharing our songs...

As Gillispie finishes up the first month of this very different school year, I’m struck by how ‘normal’ certain things seem. Nobody’s curiosity has waned, and the world remains a place of wonder to the young minds I’m surrounded by. Second graders have just planted some seeds as part of our look into the basics of life science. The next step will be to design and conduct an experiment to answer a question about these seeds. Third graders...

Hola familias de Gillispie! Bienvenidos a un nuevo año escolar. It is my greatest pleasure to teach Spanish to Elementary students at Gillispie. There are many layers to learning a language. I like to focus on inspiring students to associate positive memories with Spanish and the language acquisition process. In Spanish class, we reinforce grammar and vocabulary through music, movement, games, food prepping (when possible), and a variety of activities the incorporate reading, writing, and the use of technology. I believe that...

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