Friday, November 30, 2012

Promise to Kate

One of my favorite traditions at Chets Creek is our "Seasons of Giving" project.  Each class is encouraged to support a cause that teaches the children about giving and service during the holiday season.  Classes choose deserving projects such as supporting Beth Young (a former Chets teacher that is now serving a full time mission in Africa) or collecting blankets for the homeless or  collecting coloring books for Wolfson Children's Hospital.   There is also a toy drive to help 165 families in our Chets Creek family!  There are so many opportunities.  

Our class chose to support "Promise to Kate" which is a foundation started by teacher Elizabeth Conte and her husband to find a cure for myotonic muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that their precious daughter Kate (on the left) was born with.  We are thrilled that other classes and friends have joined us in teaching our children about supporting Kate by making items for a silent auction.  Make sure to stop by our lobby and make a bid on one of the delightful items!  Below is just a sample!
The beautiful pots below were made and donated by our talented Art Teacher, Jen Snead.  

 Many of the classes made holiday items that included ornaments made by the children or that included each child's fingerprint.  Aren't they delightful?

Several of the classes collected items for baskets such as the "Chocolate Delicious" below.

Or how about this cake plate with recipe cards?

And look at this delightful basket of monogrammed hand towels made and donated by a Grandma of two of our Chets students!

The Advent calendar below was made and donated by Vickie Holtsman, who has adopted "Promise to Kate" as her platform as "Miss River City Outstanding Teen 2012."

One of my favorite items is ornaments made by a class that can be exchanged for a donation!  I have already picked out my ornaments and plan to make a donation to honor each of my grandchildren!

This is just a sampling of the beautiful items that are available - loving made and given by children who care about Kate!  Give yourself a present this holiday season and stop by our Lobby.  Just stroll through the posters and projects - it'll make you feel good to know that our children are making a difference - and make sure to bid on one of our "Promise to Kate" items!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pow Wow 2013

One of my favorite Chets Creek traditions is Pow Wow because it reminds me of how far we've come.  We've moved from the days of a generic Native American celebration to studying tribes, their part of the country, their foods, clothes and traditions.  Pow Wow is a kindergarten performance with 5th grade woven into the day by their participation and the projects that they do, so that it is a circle activity bringing our children back to the beginning, full circle.

As first graders we are invited to watch the Pow Wow, remembering our days in the spotlight the year before.  When you're in the midst of it, you don't realize the pageantry, the beautiful colors as 200 kindergartners parade into the grounds and form tribal circles in their colorful native costumes.  I love the details, and the parents with their cameras and pride clicking away.  After the ceremony the kindergartners participate in centers for the rest of the day finishing up late in the afternoon.  One of the marvels of the day is a full sized tee pee that will seat an entire kindergarten class and the dynamic "Peaceful Waters" - our own Media Specialist, Miss KK.  KK enthralls everyone that enters the tee pee with her stories.  Of course, they are overwhelmed with just the idea of sitting inside this huge outside tent.  Then as she passes the "talking stick" and asks each child and adult tell the group what they are thankful for,  I am moved to tears every single time.  As the children leave, the Leadership Team and a few other adults lay down on the floor of the tee pee and just take a few minutes to enjoy the peace and quiet before the tee pee comes down at the end of the day.
I am always moved by this ritual.  I have worked in a dozen schools in three different states and I know that it's not like this at other places.  Not only have we designed the most fantastic learning experience for our children, we spend a few minutes reflecting and just enjoying the fruits of our labor.  I feel truly blessed to work in this very special place!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kevin Henkes Characters and Charts

 We have read all of Kevin Henkes' "mouse"  books.  We used the books to study his characters.  First, with Wemberly, we worked with a partner to think of a single word that described worried Wemberly.  Then for Wendell and Sheila Rae and Louise we worked with partners and came up with a word to describe each character and then wrote our evidence - where in the text the character had demonstrated that quality.


 After several days of describing characters, we decided to see if we could come up with the word that Kevin Henkes used to describe each character.  The Kevin Henkes word is in red on the right.  The words that we came up with are in green.
Finally we decided which character was our favorite.  On one side of an index card we drew a picture of our favorite character and on the other side we wrote the reason that the character was our favorite.  As you can see Owen was our favorite, but Lilly came in a close second!

We also learned about Kevin Henkes' life so we could figure out how his life had affected his writing.  Students shared the most interesting thing they had learned about Henkes from their homework.
 All of this background helped us talk across the books - our favorite book, favorite character, which book we thought was Kevin Henkes' most important to first graders...  To have a book talk, we had to learn about Accountable Talk - how to wait for the silence to speak, how to make sure that everyone got a turn, how to disagree politely, how to listen and build on what others said.  We made the chart below of phrases to help us continue the conversation.