It started off with a simple question during their Monday morning meeting in Emily Mitchell's and Sam Modest's grade 1 class sammodest1stgraderootwordsas students began creating their calendar pattern.

“Wait, why is it FebRuary?  Why is there an R in the middle?” a student inquired.

Sparking the class’s curiosity, students launched an investigation into the root meaning of the days of the week. They began theorizing with why “Sunday” is called “Sunday” and why “Monday is called Monday.”    

“It’s Sunday because it’s the sunniest day,” one student said.

“Maybe it was the first day the sun rose?" “The word Monday is like moon, maybe it was the first day with a full moon?” two others questioned.

“Monday is like 'money,' and maybe it’s because Monday is the first day the bank is open each week!” another exclaimed.

As students continued to hypothesize, they found the connection that the days of the week include parts of the names of gods and goddesses. Sam elaborated on this idea through a story about the history of the days of the week.   

The story began with ancient Rome, and with the help of some maps, took the students on a linguistic-geographic journey of the days of the week, through to the collapse of the Roman Empire.  The students learned that the Anglo-Saxons substituted their gods for the names of the Roman gods when the Romans left modern-day England. For example, the day to worship Mars, the Roman god of war, was renamed after Tiw, the Norse god of war, thus giving us Tuesday. When the Anglo-Saxons got to Saturday, though, they did not have any gods left, so they kept the Roman name for the day named after Saturn.

This story then opened up a larger discussion about whether the English language is “pure,” as prompted by one student’s excited exclamation, “English is corrupt!”  (The student went on to clarify that English seems to be influenced by so many different languages and to have been controlled by so many different people).  What arose from this discussion was the beautifully nuanced understanding of the fluidity of English words and their meanings.

With this understanding, the students were challenged to move history forward and rewrite the days of the week.  Just as the Anglo-Saxons replaced the Roman gods with their own, students replaced the current days of the week with their own values.  Each student brainstormed the seven things that are the most important to him or her, and then creatively adapted each into a day of the week.

Cultural keystones such as the days of the week are communally determined, however, so it was essential that the students compare and compile their individualized personal interests.  Some of the most universally recognized values included “Mommy (Momday)”, “Daddy (Daday),” and “Candy (Canday).”

Interestingly, many students chose “Friends” as one of their core values.  Their collective appreciation for friends allowed them to keep "Friday” on the updated calendar. Friday is, after all, named after Friga, the goddess of love and friendship. Just as the Anglo-Saxons preserved the Roman “Saturday” when they rewrote the days of the week, so did our students.  It looks like history DOES repeat itself!

Throughout the school year, grade 3 students have been hard at work utilizing their design thinking and SEL skills to study an selfairorganization, cause, or group. These efforts were shared with the community on January 22, as students presented powerful information and solutions about these world wide dilemmas.

Held in the Nueva Library, the Service Learning Fair covered a broad range of topics chosen from student interest. They included the demise of the bald eagle population, the need for girls' education in Afghanistan, pediatric cancer, environmental concerns such as the ozone layer and composting, animal rights (PETA), the endangerment of snow leopards, disaster relief, invasive plant species and their effects on insects, helping the elderly, and homelessness. 

Guests could visit each student's booth and learn what they discovered in their research and real world solutions that could positively impact these important causes.

Grade 1 students were hard at work over break as many engaged in “word study” during their time away from Nueva. rootwordstudy

Recently, the class investigated several words, and the students made a word web for the base of the word “cream.”  Gail Venable, Nueva’s new word coach, assisted students in investigating this word more closely. 

"The beauty of the work we are doing is unveiling key conventions of the English language as they occur organically," said Emily Mitchell in her blog.

Grade 1 students have also continued their investigation into money.  Inspired by Dictionopolis from the film "The Phantom Tollbooth," students were given the challenge of working in groups to give every letter of the alphabet a price. The strategies that emerged were amazing.  One group priced the letters according to how many strokes it took to make that letter, while others followed the Scrabble model that rare letters would be worth the most. 

"As a way of grounding the students, we then created a letter frequency graph and found out which letters were the most popular. This exercise will culminate in a student market we will be having where the children build words, gain money, use a budget, and build something creative!" Emily said


The Courtyard outside the Library was a flurry of activity on December 4 as students set up booths and marketed their homemade or homegrown treats as part of the Third Grade Farmers' Market.

NuevaFarmersMarketStudents spent several weeks preparing for this special event with lessons that crossed all aspects of the curriculum. In math, students calculated the cost of materials they needed to make their baked goods and then determined the selling cost of each item in order to pay back loans they were provided to cover needed supplies.  The third grade class also studied the geography and overall economics of farming and visited a local farmers' market to prepare for putting on their own.

Again tapping into their math skills, once the Farmers' Market opened, the third graders were responsible for keeping track of all proceeds, which will be eventually donated, and providing any necessary change to their paying customers. The market featured many tastes, cultures, and the unique personalities of the students with items such as smoothies, cookies, gluten free muffins, and edible dreidels all for sale. Free samples of fruits and vegetables students helped grow in Nueva's own garden also were available!

Students ran their booths throughout most lunch periods, and many sold out of their treasured goods within the first hour of the market. We look forward to what next year's market will bring!


Members of all ages in our community came together last week to feed their inner bookworm, thanks to our annual Nueva Book Fair, held in the Library December 2-6.  The Book Fair is truly a celebration of literacy, allowing students to connectbookfair1 around their love of books and reading and writing in a multitude of ways.

In addition to highlighting the latest and greatest titles for a range of ages, the Book Fair brought notable authors and illustrators to campus. Students were able to learn first-hand about an author’s craft, such as how writers get their ideas, and how they go about turning ideas into a finished product. These are activities our students practice as they engage in Writer’s Workshop.

Picture book authors Christy Hale and Amy Novesky’s presentations gave children the opportunity to practice “decoding” visual images and illustrated the power of colors, textures, and pictorial elements to build meaning.  Gene Luen Yang, noted Bay Area graphic novelist, described to seventh and eighth graders that we are currently in the middle of a “comic book” renaissance. His recently acclaimed companion titles Boxers and Saints, short-listed for the National Book Award this year, documents opposing experiences in a spellbinding narrative of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1901.

Reading from their own work, authors and guest storytellers (some of whom were our own Upper School students) demonstrated the power and intimacy of storytelling and the beauty of spoken language.

“Having these popular authors and illustrators come speak in our classrooms enable students to experience reading and writing in a very up-close and personal way,” said Head Librarian Marilyn Kimura.

The week also included some new events.  Pajama Night gave our younger bookworms a chance to hear dynamic storyteller John Weaver while sipping hot chocolate, followed by Open Mic Night for Middle and Upper School students to showcase their own work.

The Book Fair is one of the largest events at Nueva that is planned, organized, and run completely by volunteers, with many parents dedicating much time and effort to the week-long event.  It brings the Nueva community together as students, and parents and teachers alike socialized, shopped, and discovered new titles to enjoy.

“Our students are eager and excited about reading, and the Book Fair provides them the opportunity to connect around this passion,“ Kimura said.  “Their enthusiasm is palpable!”




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