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News & Director's Notes

November 17, 2015

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle In teaching, we develop habits that allow children to be lifelong learners and successful, contributing members of society. Anyone with kids would be wise to read, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, by Sean Covey. Here is a poem that opens the book:

Who am I?

I am your constant companion. I am

your greatest helper or heaviest burden.

I will push you onward or drag you down

to failure. I am completely at your command.

Half of the things you do you might just as

well turn over to me and I will be able to do

them quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed – you must merely

be firm with me. Show me exactly how you

want something done and after a few

lessons I will do it automatically. I am the

servant of all great individuals, and alas, of

all failures, as well. Those who are great, I

have made great. Those who are failures,

I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though I work

with all the precision of a machine plus

the intelligence of a human. You may run

me for a profit or run me for ruin – it

makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me,

And I will place the world at your feet. Be

Easy with me and I will destroy you.


I am habit.

To guide students in developing healthy habits, we must constantly check for understanding. There is much confusion about what it means to “test” students. I suggest we rid ourselves of that language. The word “test,” or the phrase “assessing learning” is best replaced by the word “evidence,” or the phrase “checking for understanding.” In education, when we come upon the time to distribute “report cards,” letter grades have absolutely no value in determining what students do or do not know. Fortunately, at Bridges, we place our emphasis on determining where children fall on the continuum of learning, thus determining if our educational practices are effective. Traditional schools lag far behind in linking assessments and learning - another reason we are all fortunate to be part of the Bridges Family! To effectively employ Whole Child education, it is important to constantly gather the evidence that suggests what we do is what we should be doing. We do this in a formative, and in a summative fashion. The following is a distinction, taken from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), between formative and summative assessments: Measuring success in educating the whole child goes beyond a single test score or a single semester grade; assessing the whole child is an everyday task—both inside and outside of the classroom. By taking advantage of the different types of assessments at their fingertips, teachers and other educators can measure levels of understanding and knowledge transfer as easily as they can evaluate whether or not each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Formative Assessments in Project-Based Learning Formative assessment involves evaluating student performance in the midst of ongoing instruction, and then, using the results to make instructional improvements (Popham, 2008). Formative assessments can be quick, often unplanned techniques that inform teachers of student progress without disrupting the flow and productivity of class time centered on the project-based learning unit. Getting students to buy into ongoing assessments provides significant benefits in terms of ensuring that each student possesses a growth mind-set, knowing they are not limited in any way to current levels of achievement. Through these assessments, students become engaged through monitoring their own progress and adjusting learning goals accordingly and not necessarily for a grade. Carol S. Dweck is a leading researcher in the field of motivation and why and how people succeed. Her research suggests that fostering a growth mind-set helps people believe that their skills and abilities can be improved on through dedication and hard work. Teaching a growth mind-set increases student motivation and productivity (Dweck, 2006). Using assessments such as peer assessment, quizzes, and everyday classroom observation can have a drastic effect on students, provided they receive constructive feedback along the way. Peer assessments allow students to see one another as resources and not competition. This helps develop a productive atmosphere as students look to one another to solidify understanding and share ideas. Take a look at this example of peer and instructor feedback, noting the specificity. (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012). Summative Assessments in Project-Based Learning Formative assessments are done to ensure that students receive proper feedback in an effort to improve their learning. Summative assessments, however, are done to measure achievement or mastery of standards. In project-based learning, educators should assess for knowledge acquisition for each and every student. Teachers may also find opportunities for summative assessment during the project-based learning process as a way of tracking students’ progress toward learning goals as well as a way to ensure the project hasn’t become social time instead of productive learning time. Whether summative assessments are in the form of a traditional test or not, students should have the opportunity to show that they have acquired content knowledge, improved skills and processes, and grown emotionally and socially as a result of working in groups. In general, summative assessments can be used to measure important parts of the project-based learning experience, such as the use of technology and research skills, in conjunction with the Common Core standards. While educators may resist the idea of assessing the whole child on the grounds of time and resources, the truth is, they are already each time they take an interest in the success and life of each student. What matters most is how these results are integrated into transforming the lives of students into 21st century learners who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Bridges is a wonderful educational community - from the entire staff, to the parent community. As we approach the season of gratitude, let’s give thanks to each other for continuously working toward that common goal of teaching our students those lessons that ensure they develop lifelong healthy habits.         Rounding out the Director’s Notes:   From Cat Hackney: Look behind your sofa cushions and in the seats of your cars! It is Penny Bomb time! As we raise money for our adopted school, Tumaini School for Orphans in Mwanza, Tanzania ask your child what it is all about! Each classroom is collecting pennies and "bombing" silver coins through Nov.20th!A long with our coins we would like to send the kids at the Tumaini school Rainbow looms and rubber bands. If you have any extras that you could donate please bring by the library! Information:   From Stacie Dourthe: Hi Parents. HARVEST FESTIVAL is now LESS than a week away!  We have had a tremendous response from parents and many, many of you have signed up to volunteer.  We still need parent volunteers (or grandparents, aunts /uncles welcome too) especially in the Cardboard Challenge area.   It is imperative that there are lots of parents available to supervise the kids during this center! The cardboard challenge is a double center, we need double the amount of volunteers here.  Additionally, we are also really in need of people to help clean-up at the end of the day.  So far only two people have signed up in this spot!! Please help!! Remember, Extensions is available for sibling care for Harvest Festival. Please sign up for your shift and/ or to bring items using VolunteerSpot.  We are looking forward to having a great day. Please contact Stacie if you have any questions. From Ms. Elsje: Bridges Charter School proudly announces auditions for PETER PAN , Jr. ALL who audition WILL be cast! Grades 3 - 8 Audition rehearsal & parent meeting: Dec. 4, 2015 from 1:30 – 2:10 pm Auditions are December 11th beginning at 1:30 PM ~ by grade level.  Can you fly?   From Ms. Tina: This week, Ms. Tina’s and Ms. Tori’s Kindergarten classes stepped back in time to partake in “A Day in the Life of a Chumash Indian.”  On this extended day fieldtrip in Malibu State Creek Park, Naturalist Guide Robert Remedi, “Tracker Rob,” provided an exceptionally educational interactive experience for our Bridges students.     The morning commenced with an introduction to Chumash history and culture, participation in authentic Chumash call and response chants, and a live demonstration of how to start a fire without the use of matches or a lighter to light in order to light the sage to use for a sage brushing of each of us to purify our heart and minds.   Tracker Rob then took the students on a nature hike, where the children practiced a variety of hunting strategies, discovered which animals and plants the Chumash used for food and medicinal purposes, and learned how the Chumash utilized natural resources to create tools, clothing, and shelter.    In the afternoon, students rotated through five centers, representative of the daily activities of Chumash life.   The themes of the centers were:  native foods, hunting strategies, Chumash games, face painting, and jewelry making. Children used a mortar and pestle to grind acorns and sampled common Chumash foods including cactus, yucca, pine nuts, chia seeds, Horehound, and elderberries. They practiced how to position their bodies and throw sticks of various sizes and shapes to effectively hit a target (stuffed bunny or  runny deer).  They learned how to cheer to the Great Spirit to increase their odds of winning games of luck.  They combined water with natural materials to create paint, which they then applied to their faces in patterns reflecting genuine Chumash nature symbols.  They used Chumash tools to drill holes in shells, which they strung together to create necklaces.   The day culminated with the children participating in two craft projects, the making of a musical clapper stick and a ring and stick, and the participation in circle of Thanksgiving where each was asked to share their favorite part of the day and then take sacred herbs and go off to give thanks in their own way as they sprinkled the mixed over the Earth.   As Thanksgiving approaches, “A Day in the Life of a Chumash Indian” fieldtrip served as an excellent opportunity to increase awareness, appreciation, and respect for native cultures.  This was a day that both children and adults will remember for years to come.   From Nikki LaCrosse: Spread the news! Bridges has begun registering prospective 2015-2016 families for our Parent Information Nights. We only hold four PINs a year and space is limited. Parents of fifth graders who are interested in attending the CORE meeting are especially urged to register soon. To sign up please go to: If you have any questions, please contact Nikki LaCrosse, Outreach Coordinator, at 805-492-3569, x106.     Important Upcoming Dates: 11/20 - Harvest Festival 11/23-27 - Thanksgiving Break (No School) As we get ready for a well-deserved rest, enjoy the week! Captain” Jay

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