Haley Auen and Jannika Rydje collaborating on a project

Life in the WDMCS 10/15/13

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
The Tiger Cubs Preschool at Clive Elementary recently took a field trip to the Iowa Orchard in Urbandale. Many grandparents and parents volunteered to come help. The field trip included a hay rack ride through the apple orchard. The preschoolers saw many trees with apples hanging in them and the ladder they use to pick the apples from the trees. They enjoyed a taste of apple cider while learning about apples. Afterwards, they walked through the pumpkin patch and explored many different sizes and types of pumpkins. The trip ended with a visit to the Farm Fun Zone which had hay bale slides, a giant corn box, and a tire obstacle course.

Fifth graders have been busy in AbbyTierney’s class at Clive Elementary. In literacy, they have been discussing the importance of being able to determine the main idea and supporting details in a text they are reading. They have also begun practicing and building the ability to read fluently by reading a readers theatre script in small groups. On Friday, they will be performing the readers theatre, “One Giant Leap,” about the first landing on the moon.

Crestview Elementary
Crestview fourth graders had the opportunity the tour the Des Moines Art Center and Pappajohn Sculpture Park on October 9. They enjoyed learning the stories behind the art from museum docents. They had the chance to reflect and ask questions about the amazing pieces they saw. Following the tour, students enjoyed a picnic lunch on the lawn at the sculpture park.

Crossroads Park Elementary
Crossroads Park kindergartners were participated in a fun and engaging apple unit this month. KC associate Linda Hendel graciously donated 150 apples to use for the unit. They were given Greenie apples, Jonathan apples, McIntosh apples and Gala apples. They started off the unit by observing the outside of an apple. Then, they cut the apple in half two different ways. When they cut it a certain way, they found an exciting surprise… a star made out of seeds! They tasted each type of apple and graphed which kind of apple was the favorite. They spent the week learning about the different parts of an apple and how apples grow, before ending the unit by cooking applesauce in the crockpot.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Second graders at Fairmeadows have just completed their first science unit, Balance and Motion. In this unit they explored concepts of balance, counterweight and stability, and discovered different ways to produce rotational movement. They also explored and described some of the variables that influence the spinning and rolling of objects.

During the week of Oct. 21-25 Fairmeadows Elementary is celebrating Red Ribbon and Character Counts Week. Each day of the week students celebrated the day by wearing a special character color. Students were reminded to show their character by doing something special each day. In each classroom, students discussed drug prevention and/or ways to keep their bodies healthy. The Fairmeadows Parent Faculty Club purchased pencils, bookmarks and drug prevention booklets for students.

Hillside Elementary
Susan Stauter, artistic director at the San Francisco Unified School District, visited Hillside Elementary and transformed the school’s media center into a reader’s theater for a recent teacher training. Teachers and visiting district administrators became Stauter’s students, reading aloud excerpts from works by Truman Capote, Seamus Heaney and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Stauter’s purpose was not to make Hillside teachers change careers to become actors. Instead, she showed them how to use reader’s theater to teach students the concepts and skills outlined in the Common Core for literacy. She also explained how stage presence can help teach skills such as sitting still, pointing out that one teacher was nervously shaking her foot as she read. Her visit was part of Hillside’s use of a school improvement model based on American composer Leonard Bernstein’s philosophy that the arts can strengthen learning and be incorporated in all academic subjects. All Hillside teachers are trained in the Artful Learning methodology, and Stauter’s Master Class was part of their on-going professional development. Hillside has been an Artful Learning school for 10 years, and has been distinguished by the Leonard Bernstein Foundation as a legacy school.

Hillside students have been working hard on their fitness. This fall they took the Presidential Physical Fitness tests. These tests include sit ups to measure abdominal strenth/endurance by maximum number of sit ups performed in one minute; sit and reach to measure flexibility of lower back and hamstrings; shuttle run to measure speed and agility; pull ups to measure upper body strength/endurance by maximum number of pull ups completed; flexed arm hang to measure upper body strength by maintaining flexed-arm hang position as long as possible; and the mile run to measure heart/lung endurance by fastest time to cover a mile. The goal is to work throughout the year on improving scores in these tests. They will retest all of the fitness tests in the Spring to see how students have improved. With the addition of yoga and a new flexibility stretch last year, ALL of the fourth and sixth grade students were able to improve their sit and reach scores! This was an amazing accomplishment!

Jordan Creek Elementary
October is Bullying Prevention Month. Oct. 7 was Blue Shirt Day – World Day of Bullying Prevention. Staff and students at Jordan Creek Elementary showed their support by wearing blue to school and pledging to take a stand against bullying.

Jordan Creek third graders have been studying the rainforest as their first science unit this year. As a culminating activity, the students explored the Lied Jungle at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. The students were well chaperoned as parent volunteers and their teachers accompanied them on the trip. Upon arriving at the zoo, students and adults were divided into homeroom groups to tour stations throughout the rainforest. The tour included learning stations led by presenters with great rainforest knowledge to share. The student’s learning about the animals and their habitat came to life when they saw them thriving in the jungle.

Phenix Elementary
Third graders at Phenix will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in a variety of ways this October during their Spanish classes. They will start with an in-depth study of the Día de los Muertos holiday. They will cut out papeles picados, create calavera masks, play the coin-and-nut game, and read about the many different celebrations that take place during this season of the year.  They will end the month by creating calacas, which are funny skeleton figurines decorated to be doing daily life activities. These will be on display at the Des Moines Art Center on Sunday, October 27th, during their annual Día de los Muertos celebration.

Valley High School
Student Scholarship Fund is very excited to be working with the Valley Economics teachers to present “Winning the Money Game” in the Economics classes this fall. Student Scholarship Fund donated classroom sets of books to each Economics Classroom and they will be read and discussed by the students in October.  At the culmination of the unit on financial literacy, author Adam Carroll will visit with each of the classes about his book.  Adam and his co-author Chad Carden created the concept of a financial literacy presentation that not only educated, but also entertained and energized students to take a positive step in their financial lives.  The scholarship application process will also be discussed.  Adam has delivered his message on how to “Win the Money Game” to over 150,00 students from coast to coast.  SSF is pleased to not only present scholarships to Valley students but to also teach them the importance of financial literacy throughout their lives.  Contact Cindy Todd at MamaTodd@aol.com if you have questions.

The Valley Winter Warmth Drive begins Oct. 28! Please donate gently-used or new winter clothing and give the gift of a warm winter to a child or adult in need. Items needed include coats, hats, mittens and scarfs. You can drop off items in the boxes located at all entrances to Valley as well as the front office. Donations will benefit 13 schools in the Des Moines metro area as well as Freedom for Youth, Hawthorn Hill and Ruth Harbor. Donations will be accepted through Nov. 7.

Walnut Creek
Students and staff at Walnut Creek Campus participated in the Healthiest State Walk as part of Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative, which aims to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016. Staff made the walk memorable for students by leading them to the first Walnut Creek Campus location on 5th Street in WDM. Lisa Demuth talked about the beginnings of WCC and then pointed out the former church where WCC was recently located. She finished by leading the students back to the school’s current building.