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News & Director's Notes

September 28, 2015

Director's Notes - 9/28/15

“Coming together is a beginning, working together is progress, keeping together is success” – Henry Ford

    There is much to celebrate by way of progress and success, accomplished by a Bridges Village coming together.  As I sat in the audience of the PAC sponsored Bridges Magic Show on Saturday evening, not only was I in awe of the spectacular experience that unfolded on stage, but by the incredible collective effort it took to present such an event.  Yes, the acts were magic, but the community spirit that it took to ensure the event was a success was indeed magical.  Congratulations, to all.  Tony Clark and John Gabriel were magnificent.  Thank you to PAC and to so many Bridges families who came together to make this night special! On another note of appreciation, thank you to all who came together to participate in our recent Back to School Night.  Ms. Juliet and I attended parts of every presentation and found the entire evening to be informative and pleasurable.     As we approach our first benchmark – parent/teacher conferences, I am so encouraged by the joint venture between school personnel and parents.  This partnership is that which distinguishes Bridges from other schools.  Collaboration permeates the culture, and this partnership has a significant impact on the educational process.  Our goal is to have 100% participation at parent/teacher conferences.  Bridges students are far too precious for us not to achieve this goal.     Speaking of partnership and the sharing of information, one of our (many) wonderful parents (thank you Brandi!) sent me some useful information that she obtained at a workshop held at Horizon Hills.  The workshop was based on the book, Brain Rules: 12 Principals for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina - a developmental molecular biologist, research consultant, and an affiliate Professor of Bio engineering at the University of Washington.   He says, “Though we know precious little about how the brain works, our evolutionary history tells us this: The brain appears to be designed to (1) solve problems (2) related to surviving (3) in an unstable outdoor environment, and (4) to do so in nearly constant motion.  Though much is unknown about the human brain, neuro-scientists have discovered trends that increase brain function and improve human productivity.” Trends, defined as 12 Brain Rules, enable us to better understand ourselves and provide a roadmap to create school and workplace environments that maximize learning and efficiency.  I have listed the first six Brain Rules below.  The rest will be posted in next week’s Director’s Notes.  If you cannot wait for rules 7-12, visit: ! Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.
  • The human brain evolved under conditions of almost constant motion. The optimal environment for processing information includes motion.
  • Exercise improves cognition for two reasons: (1) Exercise increases oxygen flow into the brain, which reduces brain-bound free radicals, which increases mental alertness. (2) Exercise increases neurons’ creation, survival, and resistance to damage and stress.
Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
  • The brain is a survival organ. It is designed to solve problems related to surviving in an unstable outdoor environment and to do so in nearly constant motion.
  • The strongest brains survive, not the strongest bodies. Our ability to solve problems, learn from mistakes, and create alliances with other people helps us survive.
  • Our ability to understand each other is our chief survival tool. Relationships helped us survive in the jungle and are critical to surviving at work and school today.
  • If someone does not feel safe with a teacher or boss, he or she may not perform as well. If a student feels misunderstood because the teacher cannot connect with the way the student learns, the student may become isolated.
Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.
  • What YOU do and learn in life physically rewires your brain.
  • No two people have the same brain, not even twins.
  • Regions of the brain develop at different rates in different people. The brains of school children are just as unevenly developed as their bodies. Our school system often ignores the fact that every brain is wired differently. We wrongly assume every brain is the same.
Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things.
  • What we pay attention to is profoundly influenced by memory. Our previous experience predicts where we should pay attention. Culture matters too. Whether in school or in business, these differences can greatly affect how an audience perceives a given presentation.
  • When it comes to higher level tasks, the brain is not capable of multi-tasking.
  • The brain is a sequential processor and large fractions of a second are consumed every time the brain switches tasks. This is why cell-phone talkers are a half-second slower to hit the brakes and get in more car accidents.
  • Workplaces and schools often encourage multi-tasking. Research shows that when people multitask, error rate goes up 50% and it takes twice as long to complete a task.
Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
  • The human brain can only hold about seven pieces of information for less than 30 seconds! If you want to extend the 30 seconds to a few minutes or even an hour or two, you will need to consistently re-expose yourself to the information. Memories are so volatile that you have to repeat to remember.
  • Improve your memory by elaborately encoding it during its initial moments. If at a party you need help remembering Mary’s name, internally repeat more information about her. “Mary is wearing a blue dress and my favorite color is blue.” It may seem counterintuitive at first but study after study shows this improves your memory.
  • In partnership with the University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University, Medina tested this Brain Rule in real classrooms of 3rd graders. The third graders were asked to repeat their multiplication tables in the afternoons. The classrooms in the study did significantly better than the classrooms that did not have the repetition. If more repetition could take place at school, the need for homework would significantly decrease.
Rule #6: Remember to repeat.
  • It takes years to consolidate a memory.  What you learn in first grade is not completely formed until your sophomore year in high school.
  • Medina’s dream school is one that repeats what was learned, not at home, but during the school day, 90-120 minutes after the initial learning occurred.
  • Repeated exposure to information in specifically timed intervals provides the most powerful way to fix memory into the brain.
  • Forgetting allows us to prioritize events. However, if you want to remember, remember to repeat.
Stay tuned for more “brain Rules” next week.   Lastly, in the spirit of sharing and togetherness – educating the youth is a responsibility of the whole village.  Sometimes, however, other villages experience hardships.  I received this plea from a fellow charter school Director who is looking for assistance to recover from extensive damage by the recent Northern California wildfires: “Dear Friends, I am writing on behalf of the students, families and staff of the Lake County International Charter School (LCICS) – a small, free public K – 8th charter school offering an inquiry/project based, enriched education in a nurturing environment in rural Lake County, California.  As you may know, our community has been devastated by the recent Valley Fire, now ranked among the top three most destructive wildfires in California history, with over 1238 single-family homes and 23 multi-family homes destroyed. We are so fortunate that our school campus was spared, but four members of our small staff and at least nine families whose children attend our school have lost their homes and most or all of their belongings. Many in our community already struggled to make ends meet, with 75% of our students qualifying for Free and Reduced meals, and this fire has been a devastating blow. We have already begun to help those affected, but there will be so much more help needed in the months to come. We would be so grateful for any donations that will help us support our students, their families and our staff members as they rebuild their lives. Because LCICS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, all donations are tax deductible. (The LCICS tax identification number is 01-0780934). DONATION INFORMATION - Please make all checks payable to: Lake County International Charter School Please mail your check to:  Gwendolyn Maupin-Ahern Director, Lake County International,  PO Box 984, Middletown, CA 95461 Thank you so much for your consideration, and please feel free to call me or visit our website here for more information about our school.” Sincerely, Gwendolyn Maupin-Ahern  - LCICS Director  707-350-2484   Rounding out the Director’s Notes:
  • Ms. Marsi's enthusiastically reports that their first grade class recently had their first Reader's Theatre. “The kids worked in small groups to read through a short play, then they created a backdrop and performed their play for the class. Everyone had a lot of fun being both performer, artist and audience member, and look forward to the next episode of Reader's Theatre.
  • From Ms. Heather“Third grade took our first field trip to the Thousand Oaks Library last week. Our focus was learning how to use the library to check out research and informational text as we become experts on individually selected cities that we will present to our student peers and buddies.”
Also, Ms. Heather's third grade class put the use of democracy into action, as the class voted to have job day in the room. Students presented on a career they would like to do when they grew up and gave details on what the job entailed, how much schooling would be involved and what the salary expectations would be for that field. We were educated on how to be a pet sitter, horse trainer, veterinarian, doctor, neurosurgeon, ultra-sound technician, nurse, professional athlete, singer, lifeguard, salesperson, teacher, video game artist, toy maker and wildlife survival guide.  
  • From Extensions – “Extensions has been busy this year.  We had our first trash to treasure day where the kids could make anything they could dream of out of recycled materials.  They created utility belts, littlest pet shop houses, marble maze games, and castles. The room was buzzing with creativity and all 30 kids were busy working. Everyday extensions offers the kids a different activity both inside and outside.
  • During the week of parent conferences, extensions will be open and has special activities planned like a Harry Potter afternoon complete with a Quidditch match, a Bridges Ninja Warrior training course, Star Wars afternoon and much more. Next week the schedule will be posted in office and in extensions. Be sure to check it out.  Thanks, Rebekah Schletewitz”
  • Let’s kick off parent/teacher conference week with a special Monday edition of Coffee with the Captain on October 5th at 8:30 am.  I will supply the coffee - if anyone wants to bring a snack, I would be much obliged!
    Finally, here are some important upcoming dates:
  • Monday October 5 – Coffee with the Captain (special Monday edition this month!)
  • Week of October 5 - Parent/Teacher Conferences  12:20 dismissal
  • Wednesday 10/14 - Picture Day (info will be sent home)
  • Monday 10/19  Staff Development Day - No School
  • October 26-30 – Book Fair
Happy autumn to all.  October is on the doorstep.  What a wonderful, mystical, MAGICAL month September has been!   Mr. Jay  

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