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Life in the WDMCS 11/12/13

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

Clive Elementary
Fifth graders at Clive Elementary just finished a woodlands unit in science.  In this unit, students learned about the parts of the seed – seed coat, stored food and embryo.  The class got to make their own model of a seed using a raw egg as the embryo, dropping the seed model to see if the seed coat protected the embryo well enough. Students also planted seeds inside a clear CD case and watched the seed grow inside the dirt and into a real plant.  The unit also focused on parts of a flower, reading tree rings, food chains, and layers of a forest.

Every year the community gathers to celebrate the Day of the Dead at the Des Moines Art Center. This year, a representation of third, fourth and fifth grade students from Clive Elementary contributed to this community celebration. Art from several third and fifth graders provided a colorful backdrop of calaveras and monarchs. A group of fourth grade students performed a Day of the Dead song in Spanish. Singers included Madison Snyder, Libby White, Geni Williams, Suné Van Bosch, Julia Young, Elayna Klinkefus, Megan Wainwright, and Payten Neswold. It was a fun and memorable day for all!

Crestview Elementary
One way Crestview Elementary celebrated Hispanic Heritage month was to have different displays in the glass case next to the library.  The first week featured clothing worn in Spanish speaking countries.  The second week was music instruments from Spanish speaking countries.  The third week was art and Spanish speaking artists.  The last week was Hispanics and sports.

Crestview fourth graders culminated their study of the prairie with a trip to the Red Feather Prairie, which is a tall grass prairie located at Jester Park.  This field trip was sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources and specially designed for 4th grade students.  While on this field trip students were able to construct a Native American teepee that would have been found on the prairie, learn about plants and animals found on the prairie, experience Native American and prairie games, and take a nature walk. What a fun way to learn about the prairie firsthand.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Kindergarten students at Fairmeadows Elementary are busy learning how to read and apply skills that will strengthen their comprehension.  They are currently learning the importance of recalling the correct sequence of a story.  The teachers use language of what came first, next and last.  New readers often work so hard at learning new words they forget the ultimate goal of reading is to comprehend.  Stories are often retold through pictures and puppet play to encourage this comprehension skill.

RJ Hernandez recently visited Deb Augspurger’s fourth grade general music classes at Fairmeadows.  He spoke with the students about music of Mexico and demonstrated many instruments including the guitarron, vihuela, guiro and claves.  The students were excited to listen to and perform together with Mr. Hernandez.

Hillside Elementary
Sixth graders at Hillside are studying how independence and interdependence create a successful community by preparing for an exciting experience at J.A. Biztown.  The students learn to write a resume, apply for a job and interview for the position.  A mayor and judge are elected to run the town.  The businesses and everyday workings of the town are the run by the students.  The students create a name for their businesses, develop a financial budget, and write commercials to prepare for their simulation.    It is an amazing experience!

First graders at Hillside Elementary performed “Bugz: The Musical” for families and other students in early November. The students sang, danced, buzzed, stung, flapped, crawled and flew as they took the audience on a journey to a picnic where all the insects are sure they’ve been invited. Although the poor stink bugs cause a bit of a disruption, the bugs learn to work together so all the insects can dive into the feast with their mandibles. The performance was the culmination of the connections unit in which they use the Artful Learning model to gain a deeper understanding about the world around them. Artful Learning is unique approach designed to engage students through inquiry and provide a deeper understanding than can be achieved with standard educational approaches.  It links the arts and the artistic process to the daily classroom experience. Hillside Elementary is in it’s10th year of being selected as a legacy school for Artful Learning by the Leonard Bernstein Foundation.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Sixth graders from Jordan Creek Elementary traveled to Iowa State University to attend the Taking the Road Less Traveled career exploration conference.  This conference is organized by The Program for Women in Science & Engineering and is open to female students grades 6-12.  The presentations increase student awareness and understanding of career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  The sixth grade boys spent the day participating in a variety of science related workshops as well.  On campus, they learned about DNA, concrete, and meat science.  Team PrISUm also spoke with the boys about their most recent solar car, Hyperion.  The boys learned about athletic training and turf management on their tour at Jack Trice Stadium.

Lynn Hunt’s first grade students at Jordan Creek compiled their first published written work – a joke book.  The steps in publishing a book were the real focus of this project. Each student wrote a draft; edited each joke focusing on capitalization, spelling, finger-spaces and punctuation; and finally rewrote (published) the joke into his/her own book. Next they will be working on a new social studies unit, Red, White and Blue for Me and You. In this unit they will focus on the diversity of our country in the land and the people and learn about some of the symbols that represent this great land. They will also learn about freedom of choice…like parents voting in November.

Phenix Elementary
Phenix students were excited to bring their costumes to school last week for the annual Fall Parade and parties.  Students and staff alike dressed up as their favorite characters, with many of the staff dressing as matching Minions from the popular animated movie Despicable Me.  Students enjoyed seeing their teachers play along!  Many parents and siblings watched the parade, with some even participating.  After the parade, students and teachers retired to their classrooms for a healthy treat.  Phenix staff loves to incorporate wellness into everyday life at the school, so everything from the parade down to the snacks in the classroom tried to support a healthy lifestyle example for the students.

Westridge Elementary
Second graders at Westridge Elementary will begin studying Native Americans, exploring four Native American cultures from different parts of the United States. As an introductory activity they had Mike Havlik from the Des Moines YMCA come to Westridge to build a teepee and learn about Native American culture and traditions.

Indian Hills Junior High Congressman Tom Latham recently presented a tribute to Colby Cook that he read on the floor of the United States Congress about Colby and his actions to save another student from choking.  The Congressman visited Colby’s science classto present the award.

Valley Southwoods
The Valley debate team won the sweepstakes championship at the Minneapple debate tournament in Apple Valley, Minn. The Minneapple tournament is one of eight major national tournaments held  each year, drawing students from across the nation. In Novice Lincoln-Douglas debate, freshman Brian Gu was the tournament champion, while freshman Xandra French finished as a quarterfinalist. In JV LD debate, seventh grader Conal Thomas-McGinnis finished in quarterfinals while freshmen TJ Foley, Trent Gilbert and Evan McKinney all placed in the top 16. In varsity Lincoln-Douglas debate, senior Jason Smith finished as a quarterfinalist, receiving his second bid to the national debate Tournament of Champions, which is held each spring at the University of Kentucky. He is now fully qualified to attend that event.

Valley High School
Valley sophomore Danielle Reyes was chosen to be one of the speakers at the Governor’s Bullying Prevention Summit at Hy-Vee Hall.  She was the youngest member of the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council and has represented the youth in Polk County for the past two years.

Congratulations to Colin Timmerman who placed third in the local VFW Voice of Democracy speech contest. He entered this year with the theme “Why I’m Optimistic About our Nation’s Future.” Colin presented a fine speech describing how we all can contribute to serving our country.

Valley High School contributes 345 items to the recent Winter Warmth Drive – five pairs of boots, five blankets, 12 pairs of snow pants, 45 scarves, 50 hats, 68 gloves and 160 coats. All items donated will be delivered to Des Moines area non-profit agencies and schools and distributed to the homeless or near homeless and students in need.  Thank you for everyone’s support in making the Winter Warmth Drive a success!

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Life in the WDMCS 11/4/13

Clive Elementary
Allie Kirk’s second graders at Clive Elementary have been talking about author’s purpose. As they continue to study different genres of text, they have recognized that authors always have a purpose when writing a story. Students have been studying text as a class, as a small guided reading group and independently and are always able to share out their findings on authors purpose. To celebrate success, they voted on a classroom favorite fiction book “Spiderman” and determined that the author wrote this text to entertain his audience. Spiderman himself came in to read this book to our class last week.

Crestview Elementary
Third graders at Crestview have been learning about correct pausing while reading. They learned that paying attention to the punctuation the author uses helps them read a text fluently. This past week, students were assigned a role in a Reader’s Theater script, and then they presented part of it to their classmates.

Crestview fourth graders sang a song about the Day of the Dead at the Des Moines Art Center’s Day of the Dead celebration. The Crestview Dance Club also performed during the celebration. Art from third graders was displayed in the room during the performance. The performers practiced with Señora Tammy Dann. The dancers practiced with Gumaro DeAvila and Maria Lopez DeAvila. The art was created during art class with Sarah Petersen.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Each year fourth and fifth grade students who already know Spanish are invited to participate in the Native Speaker Spanish Quiz Bowl. This year 12 students attended from Fairmeadows. They played games against other elementary schools and spoke only in Spanish. They also ate churros, a delicious authentic dessert. The students who attended this year were fourth graders Adolfo Jurado, Alex Bacilio, Oscar Lara, Louis Lara, Diana Aguirre, Kenneth Yanqui and Anjel Tapia; and fifth graders Benjamin Díaz, Juan Jurado, Jonathan Rojas, James Beaty and Luis Cruz-Vallejo.

Hillside Elementary
How do the parts impact the whole? This is the question fifth grade students at Hillside Elementary are inquiring about while in the middle of their first Artful Learning unit of the school year. Students are studying the woodlands. In order to inquire about and answer this question students have studied the sculpture Tanktotem II by David Smith and how events in his life impacted him as an artist, dissected both a seed and a flower to learn about how the parts impact the whole, and studied the parts of the trunk and their impact on the tree’s life. Most recently, students visited Thomas Mitchell Park and worked with naturalists while learning more about how the parts of the forest impact the entire forest.

Hillside first graders just completed an Artful Learning unit on connections and insects. Students explored how they are connected to the world around them and how they are connected to other living things. Students also learned through different inquiry centers how insects live and connect to their own world. They visited Raccoon River Park and used their senses to explore and learn more about the insect world. Students took what they experienced back to Hillside and created an environmental soundscape that showed what they learned through art and music.

Hillside kindergarten classes celebrated Character Counts week with many fun activities. They read books about good character, drew pictures and role played about how to be the best good Character Counts students they could be at school. They had fun each day celebrating by wearing colored shirts, slippers and hats to go with the Character Counts pillars. Their favorite thing to do each day was dancing the Character Counts Shuffle!

WDMCS students performed various songs and skits about the Day of the Dead at the Des Moines Art Center. Nine fifth grade students from Hillside Elementary did a retelling of the traditional story “Chumba.” They dressed up as skeletons, the main characters of the story, and acted out the plot of the story as the story was recited by each student. Please help me in congratulating the following students for their job well done: Aurora Salcido, José Valdivia, Kassie Freeman, Alondra Berber, Mariah Beaty-Martens, Maya Williams, Mason Liddle, Hannah Yule and Maisy O’Hern.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Jordan Creek fourth graders have been practicing multiplication facts and are exploring the relationship between multiplication and division in math class. They also practiced using a map scale to calculate distance. They worked on story problems and on using parentheses in number sentences. Everyday Math Online has lots of fun games to help with fact practice and there’s always good old fashioned flashcards!

The guided reading groups enjoyed reading “My Trip to the Galapagos Islands” and “Making Great Greeting Cards and Gifts.” As they read, students worked on the strategies of Identifying sequence of events and determining text importance. They will continue to work on fluency by reading the Reader’s Theater production “Across a Stream.” During Word Study, they worked with words that have the following patterns: long a and short a, long e and short e, and long i and short i.

In language arts during writer’s workshop, fourth graders are in the process of revising the first draft of their writing piece. They have been adding sensory details and interesting words to their stories. Next, they will edit the piece and then publish it. They will be sharing our newly published books during an author’s party. The next unit will be on personal narrative. Studetns have also been writing different types of poetry, including acrostics and diamantes. The cinquain poem is next. By the end of the year, there will be a collection of poems which will be published in a poetry book or Powerpoint presentation.

In science and social studies fourth graders have finished learning about the Northeast region of the U.S. Each student researched one of the states and presented his/her information in a flip book. The next science unit will be on bones. Students will learn that there are 24 main bones of the body.

Phenix Elementary
At Phenix, students and staff have been practicing keeping their bodies active and healthy. Phenix kids know that a big part of staying healthy is eating good food! Starting this week , Phenix will begin monthly Wellness Wednesday Tastings. Students will spend one Wednesday morning each month learning about a new, healthy food. Before they taste the new food, students discuss the food and how it helps their body stay healthy. This week, the kids will talk about butternut squash and will get to taste spaghetti squash.

Westridge Elementary
During the Giving Season, we hope to enrich the lives of others. Westridge is participating in a Giving Tree campaign once again this year. We will be adopting Westridge families in an effort to make their holiday season a happy one. Our Giving Tree, located in the Westridge lobby, will be decorated with cards describing items needed by our adopted families during the Giving Season. If you would like to purchase something for one of our adopted family members, please take a card, and return the item, unwrapped, with the card attached. The campaign will run from November 18 through December 6.

Fifth graders at Westridge enjoyed a beautiful autumn day on their field trip to the Raccoon River Nature Lodge. The trip was part of the students’ study of forests and woodlands in science. The fifth graders were able to increase their understanding of animals’ adaptations by making plaster prints of animal tracks. Students had the chance to explore in the woods, searching for rotten logs and the decomposers that caused the breakdown of the wood. Melanie Perry, the naturalist at the Nature Lodge, taught the fifth graders how to use compasses to find their way if they were ever lost. Many students’ favorite activity was fishing, which was a new experience for some! The many fish that were caught were photographed with a proud fisher and released back into the lake. Over thirty parents volunteered their time to drive fifth graders to the Nature Lodge and to help with the activities.

Valley Southwoods
The WDMCS and the City of West Des Moines co-hosted 23 teams from around the state in the first Iowa FTC Regional Qualifier this weekend at Valley Southwoods. All robots successfully passed hardware and software inspections. Five teams from the WDMCS competed, with four advancing to the semifinals. Valley’s Beta 3550 team advanced to the finals and was awarded PTC Design Award. This judged award recognizes design elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic. All successful robots have innovative design aspects, however, the PTC Design Award is presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their solution. These design elements could simplify the robot’s appearance by giving it a clean look, be decorative in nature, or otherwise express the creativity of the team. Teams 6691 Borderline Obsessed Technicians and 7617 Elemental Fusion from Valley and team ^^\/\/<><>BA 6775 (up up down down left right left right BA) from Valley Southwoods all advanced to the semi-finals. Thank you to the more than 70 volunteers who helped make this event possible.

Valley High School
Adam Carroll, co-author of “Winning the Money Game,” visited the Valley economics classes to discuss his book and talk to the students about how they can “win the money game!” His entertaining presentation was packed with good tips that the students can use to help them avoid debt and grow their money. With college debt skyrocketing, teaching students how to make good decisions with their money is critical. WDMCS Student Scholarship Fund is not only proud to present scholarships to Valley students but to also help them learn how to handle their money.

Walnut Creek
Staff and students at Walnut Creek Campus spooked the hallways during the recent holiday. Witch-Principal Kim Davis, Day of the Dead-Student Kaley Baldwin, Batman-Student Justin Christensen, Mask-case worker Sean Hubner

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