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Lower School Mavericks Days Provide Teachers Time to Prepare for our Return to Campus
Jim Morrison, director of student outreach and special projects


As the lower school plans to return to campus came into greater focus, Lower School Head Megan Terra felt strongly that she needed time for her teachers to plan, discuss, and put in action all that is involved with welcoming students back to their in-person classrooms.

During five special days of lower school programming, students in prekindergarten through fourth grades participated in more than 20 unique classes hosted by the after-school enrichment partners. 

“We wanted to keep each lower school classroom together so that they could continue to bond and experience a fun and engaging opportunity together,” Megan said. 

These Mavericks Days classes included storytelling and improv classes, cooking lessons, AI and electronics class, and art classes including “Introduction to Cartooning” and “Self-Portraits Inspired by Frida Kahlo.” The goal was to create a line-up of offerings that would inspire the students. 

 

Time to Prepare

Lower school teachers were incredibly grateful for the time Megan and our Mavericks Days programs afforded them. They used the time to prepare, create, and discuss every aspect of the upcoming return to campus.

“We are thinking through all aspects of the day for our students—looking at the schedule and thinking about utilizing our outdoor spaces even more! We’re working on our classroom spaces to create stations for our students, so that they will have their own spaces with their own supplies. We’re ordering new supplies for students to ensure they have their materials at school, as well as their remote learning items at home!”
Diana Friedman, Kindergarten Teacher

“It has been so wonderful to have the space and time to meet as a team to imagine our spaces for our return to campus. Not only have we made the physical space work, but we have been able to create a schedule that works well for those in person and any who might stay remote. Our Nueva campus never ceases to amaze me with its beauty and ability to adapt to the changes this year is bringing.”
Emily Mitchell, First Grade Teacher

“The second-grade team has been working hard to make sure that our classrooms are packed up and moved to our new teaching location. We have also been thinking of new creative ways to blend our online learners with our in-person students. While we miss seeing our students on Mavericks Days, we are grateful for the time, and we are using it to ensure a smoother transition back to campus.”
­– Sasha K., Second Grade Teacher

 

An Expanded Teaching Toolbox

So many aspects of our lives have been transformed over the past seven months. This is also true of how our educators plan, teach, and connect with students and each other.

When asked to describe a new tool in their teaching toolbox from our remote learning experience, members of our lower school team shared: 

“Being remote has allowed (and sometimes demanded) us to have greater communication with our different specialists and teaching teams. Before remote learning, we would sometimes get so immersed in what was happening in our classrooms that we would forget that we have such a wide and wonderful range of resources in our greater community. I hope to continue to utilize the expertise of our faculty and families when we return to in-person learning.”
Paul Knight, Kindergarten Teacher

“Our theme in first grade is redefining community, and being remote has taught me that we are 'redefining our community’ in this moment. We have learned new ways to connect. We just gave the first graders pen pals in the other class, and they are thrilled to write and receive letters from their peers. Now that connection is more important than ever, we are realizing just how strong our community can be!”
Emily Mitchell, First Grade Teacher

“As teachers we have developed more fun, engaging ways of introducing projects and activities that are memorable and successful, such as using videos to launch projects. Videos allow us to take on characters and create skits that aren't quite as dramatic during live, Zoom classes. Then, we are able to post them to Seesaw so students can rewatch and review the information whenever they need, at whatever speed works for them. I definitely plan to pre-record videos to kick off upcoming units! Costumes and sound effects included!” 
Izzy Mayer, Second Grade Teacher

  

Looking Ahead

Given time to connect with each other, prepare the physical space, and make adaptations to their teaching practice, our lower school team is looking toward the future and is excited about the projects on the horizon.

“I'm excited to be on campus when we start to unroll our unit on Leonardo da Vinci and other great minds throughout history. There are so many physical aspects to this (flight, simple machines, etc.), which will really come to life when we have the ability to be in person!”
Paul Knight, Kindergarten Teacher

“We are looking forward to doing more outdoor education! Carrie [Stouffer, kindergarten associate teacher] and I have been talking about a silver lining—that we’ll all get to be outdoors even more when we return to campus. We’re so excited to explore the new hiking trails Zubin has worked on!

We are ‘investigators’ in kindergarten, and this will be a perfect opportunity to hone our observational skills as we learn more about the incredible plants and trees all around us on campus!”
Diana Friedman, Kindergarten Teacher

“We are looking forward to the Letter Writing to Alison Lake project. She is a historian who researched the Ohlone people. Students will collect evidence, form an opinion, and then draft, edit, and send an argumentative letter to her! “
Izzy Mayer, Second Grade Teacher

“We are looking forward to bringing back our Ancient Newspaper and Graphic Novel project. I don't want to give away too many details . . ..so everyone will have to stay tuned! We also are excited to continue our philosophy discussions around the influence of Greek democracy on American democracy and do some data studies around election data in STEM.”
Sarah Merkt, Fourth Grade Teacher

There are amazing projects, new and old traditions, and so much learning on the horizon, and third-grade lead teacher Erin Longo encapsulated what so many Nuevans are feeling as they eye this return to campus: “Just being together will be amazing and bring enhanced joy and love into every aspect of our day, even hand washing!”

There are currently plans being made to host similar Mavericks Days programming in support of the middle school teaching team. Stay tuned!



Read More

Learning to Care for Living Creatures

We have all learned over the past year that while virtual learning can be done well, it can never replace the experience of being on campus. Lower school students have been back on campus since late October, and this spring they have been learning to care for silkworms and chickens, an experience that could not be replicated during virtual learning. 

Catching Up with . . . Izzy Mayer
Izzy Mayer is one of Nueva’s second grade lead teachers. While she is new to this role, she is not new to Nueva, having previously been an associate for two years. Drawing on the insights and experiences she gained through the Nueva ITP program and inspired by her students’ powerful sense of curiosity and humor, Izzy is proving to be an invaluable member of the second-grade teaching team.
Leonardo and Lisa Visit a Class of Renaissance Kids

“Good afternoon, Lisa. I’m so glad we could take a break from painting to join this kindergarten class.”

“Hello, Leonardo.” 

So began Paul’s and Rashida’s kindergarten class just before Thanksgiving break, one that took students all the way back to 15th century Florence to meet Leonardo da Vinci (Paul) and Mona Lisa (Rashida). 

Environmental Citizenship Program Launches Ambassadorship Role

Kindergarten associate teacher Carrie Stouffer has been named Nueva’s first lower school environmental citizenship ambassador. The role of the environmental citizenship ambassador evolved from the school’s desire to build strong, responsive, and effective relationships with faculty and division heads in all three divisions.

A PreK student playing in a puddle in a sandbox

PreK students have been our pioneers of hybrid learning! Watch scenes from their life on campus and hear more from students about their experiences this year.

Lower School Mavericks Days Provide Teachers Time to Prepare for our Return to Campus

As the lower school plans to return to campus came into greater focus late last month, Lower School Head Megan Terra felt strongly that she needed to find an extended amount of time for her teachers to plan, discuss, and put in action all that is involved with welcoming students back to their in-person classrooms.

Lower school teachers were incredibly grateful for the time Megan and our Mavericks Days programs afforded them. They used the time to prepare, create, and discuss every aspect of the upcoming return to campus.

Investigation Provides Foundational Theme of Kindergarten

Questions abound in our lower school classrooms, and student inquiry is the driving force behind the yearlong theme in kindergarten. This theme of investigation provides a through line for a number of explorations that kindergarteners will engage in over the course of the year, the first of which is a focus on identity. 

Literably Literally Helps Build Student Literacy

With the move to remote learning, and the challenges teachers face of being able to meet one-on-one with their young students, reading specialist Liza Zassenhaus introduced the lower school faculty to Literably, a reading assessment tool that provides teachers with information on student accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.