Since the start of the school year, there have been wonderful things taking place at Primary Plus Elementary and West Valley Middle Schools. Numerous changes have been implemented that are currently improving young minds and ensuring that our students do, in fact, start ahead and stay ahead.
We’ve received great feedback on our new Transitional Kindergarten program due to the inclusion of OWL (“Open the World of Learning”) materials, our popular soccer league is in full-swing, our dance classes are all filled to the brim, and the students have just begun another stimulating academic year.
There are, as always, significant changes that are bound to take place in your young learner. We grow as we learn: we gain an inch in height or shoe size, and mirror that inch academically as we gain knowledge. However, fall of 2012 bore witness to a new change in the way our teachers would teach and our students would learn: the introduction of Apple technology in the classroom. The use of iPads in Kindergarten and 8th grade classrooms is now a contributing factor to your children’s future academic success. The new iPad program has proven wildly popular and successful—putting Primary Plus and West Valley on the cutting edge of educational modernity.
At Primary Plus Elementary School, Kindergarteners are learning quickly just how easy it is to play word and number games with only their fingers and their minds. All four of the Kindergarten classrooms contain two iPads, and the students rotate their play time by moving through various stations. Each child is given roughly 10 minutes to “play” on an iPad, which both peaks their interest and stimulates their minds without the children becoming too distracted by or dependent upon the technology. Teachers work with their students on how to operate the device and how to navigate through different educational games.
West Valley Middle School is also making the most of their new iPad program. Students in 8th grade—who are, arguably, more tech-savvy than most of their parents—are learning how to perform research on their iPads, as well as how to type documents and to take notes. Students use the Notes app to take notes in Science, Language Arts, Spanish, and History courses. In Math, students use the Khan Academy app in order to view and respond to videos related to newly-introduced math concepts. These 8th graders even use their iPads for group presentations and projects, and, in Language Arts, the children were responsible for researching one or two apps and presenting a tutorial to the class!
By making their world both visually and mentally stimulating, students are learning about a variety of new ways to, well, learn. The tools they are gaining are essential in an ever-adapting world that has become increasingly dependent upon the use of technology. Students will, however, be able to move onto high school and college with the tools to confidently access technology while remaining comfortable with traditional tools for performing class and homework. In a sense, it’s a win-win situation.
“The kids love it,” Elementary School Principal Mary Lou Rodriguez exclaimed, “The teachers love it, and the parents are very impressed. This is truly a new chapter in our children’s education, and for our own, as we teach them to learn in new and creative ways.” Although iPads were only provided for the Kindergarten and 8th grade classrooms, many of the other classes at Primary Plus plan on using the money they earned in this September’s Walk-a-Thon to purchase some of their own. We have every hope that all of our students will learn to be confident using technology, and that they will remain on the brink of innovation throughout their learning careers.
We are proud of all parties—students, their parents, and faculty members—for embracing this wonderfully-innovative, educational tool. It is currently enhancing both students’ and teachers’ classroom experiences through the combination of modern-day technology mixed with traditional themes. The students are, quite literally, learning as they play—taking a bite out of conventional learning methods and fueling their minds for future success. At Primary Plus and West Valley, we truly start ahead and stay ahead.
On August 3rd, El Quito School put on an extravagant art show in their cafeteria—one that was filled with wonderful artwork created by the school’s very own (undiscovered!) artists. The artwork on display was made in Stephanie Nguyen’s week-long summer art camp, where aptly-titled “Petit Picassos” learned how to paint, draw, and bring their imaginations to life. Stephanie, a talented and valued member of the El Quito preschool staff, believes that all children have creativity within them. The notion for the camp thus planted its seed in Stephanie’s mind during the school year and blossomed into a beautiful, ambitious project that proved wildly successful. Due in large part to the influence and inspiration of the man the camp was named after, Stephanie made sure that her young artists realized that “art” is anything they create.
El Quito School put on an extravagant art show in their cafeteria
Artist Pablo Picasso is quoted as having once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” This quote resounded in Stephanie, who used Picasso as an example of evolving creativity and imagination throughout a person’s lifetime. During a lesson she gave her students on the artist, she explained that his style continuously changed throughout his life—creating artwork well into his 90s. As an example, she showed them a painting Picasso had created when he was fifteen years old, which was depicted as very life-like and realistic. In sharp contrast, Stephanie showed the camp a painting the artist had created when he was fifty-seven-years-old. The latter painting was extremely abstract and looked, ironically, as though a small child had created it. She said, “I explained to the students that there is no right or wrong way to paint anything, and the way you see things when you’re a child will be completely different as you grow up…but that the important thing is to keep creating.” In essence, the importance of the art camp was to teach students about the power of perception, the power of the imagination, and—most importantly—the power of creation as an outlet for creativity.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” — Picasso
The camp taught students how to envision and create the world as they see it. Stephanie quoted Picasso once more when she said that “Everything you can imagine is real.” To her, the word “can” implies a great deal. Stephanie believes “It gives you the power to go further and beyond what is safe. If you can think it, you can find a way to flourish it. And “flourish” the camp did. In fact, the camp was so successful that the students’ artwork is now hanging on display at the Saratoga City Library, where it will remain until September 30th. Please stop by to visit the fabulous art created by Stephanie’s Petit Picassos, and, maybe, read a book or two!
Starting in fall 2012, the Junior Kindergarten curriculum was enhanced to meet the scope and sequence of Transitional Kindergarten. The Open World of Learning (OWL) will be integrated into the curriculum and is designed to foster the development of the whole child. Our students will continue to enjoy the advantages of the current Junior Kindergarten curriculum.