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!”



It’s one word that many of us use in some form in our vocabulary throughout the day. Yet, what does the word actually mean? Or better yet, where does it come from? These are the types of questions Nueva students reflected on and tried to answer under the direction of instructor Dr. Pete Bowers.petebowersvisit

Dr. Bowers has been a resource to Nueva teachers over the last two years on structured word inquiry, a new approach to literacy instruction. The premise of this approach is that, while most of us were taught that English spelling is highly irregular and full of exceptions to be memorized, it is actually a highly ordered system filled with clues about meaning.

Following his presentation at the Innovative Learning Conference, Dr. Bowers spent an entire week in the classrooms of Nueva’s Hillsborough campus working with students on structured word inquiry.

“I believe that work we've begun doing with structured word inquiry is profound and revolutionary. I believe that it is relevant to educators who work in every discipline and with all age groups. I believe that it represents most accurately what we know about teaching and learning and enacts the core values held in our community. I am inspired about the learning we've started to do together, and I'm eager to hear how this work has already impacted the teaching in our classrooms,” noted Lower School Head Emily Kolatch in a reflection to faculty.

In conjunction with Emily Mitchell's grade 1 class, Nueva student questions for Dr. Bowers even helped to move the field of word study science forward after students began to question and compare homographs, words that share spelling and may or may not share meaning, prompting Pete to define what he now calls homographic, words that share spelling and meaning.

During his time with grade 4, students worked on using etymological references to find the root to words such as “human.” Using their critical thinking skills, students investigated the root and whether there was a historical connection between "human" and "humane." Unable to confirm data to support their hypotheses in the class, Dr. Bowers called on the author of Real Spelling, a comprehensive work on how English spelling actually works. Through much investigation, he and the students concluded “humus” is actually the root word and the two words (human and humane) are in fact connected!

“Through these lessons, students raise all these questions that I’ve thought of but haven’t yet resolved,” Dr. Bowers said. This is such a great work of science, he added.

Dr. Bowers has traveled across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia teaching people, educators, and students about structured word study.

"I have never been to a school that has moved this far in one year in their understanding and application of these concepts in the classroom than at Nueva," Pete said, adding that he believes Nueva's already ingrained processes for critical thinking and investigation have helped their students and teachers embrace this new science more rapidly than most.

To explore examples of his work, please visit or the resource in which he built his understanding of structured word inquiry,




6565 Skyline Blvd.
Hillsborough, CA 94010





131 E. 28th Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94403



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