Life cycle of butterfly

Third grade students at St. Helen School, along with their teacher Ms. Nicole Reichard, studied the life cycle of a Monarch Butterfly. The students watched this butterfly change and grow from an egg all the way to an adult. The process took three weeks, according to Ms. Reichard, as she stated the butterfly started on a piece of milkweed and the students observed the butterfly’s growing process.

Notre Dame academic electives

One of the changes Notre Dame Elementary School made this year was the addition of academic and special electives for their junior high students. The school’s goal is to expose junior high students to many different academic and related art experiences so they can make better choices for high school electives and career plans.

One of the academic electives for this quarter is The Art of Math, taught by Wendi O’Brien. One of the first skills students studied was scale factoring. Students learned how to use a scale factor to make objects bigger. Students were then asked to use a scale factor to make a wrapper-of-choice into a poster. Students had to use math to measure and calculate dimensions using a scale factor to create a larger size of their wrapper.

The students are enjoying the Art of Math. Seventh grade student Zoey Myers said that she “loves this elective.”

“I like drawing and math, so this elective is fun,” she said “We learn how famous artists used math in their paintings and we also get to draw using math.”

Eighth grade student Marija Vukovic also stated her fondness regarding the elective.

“I like how we get to have art in math,” Marija said. “The ‘behind-the-scenes’ of famous paintings and architecture is cool to see.”

Notre Dame adds pen pal project

This year, Notre Dame Elementary added Campus Ministry to its junior high school class electives. Campus Ministry gives junior high students another opportunity to demonstrate God’s light in the world through service. This quarter, 14 junior high students enthusiastically come to class each day with the intention of doing something good for someone else. In Campus Ministry, students are encouraged to brainstorm projects that will potentially be helpful or help make connections between people as the school celebrates its community. This quarter, the class has started a Pen Pal Project with the fourth graders, assembled bead boards for the first graders as they learn to count and add, and are putting the final touches on a scavenger hunt for the third graders. The Campus Ministry elective is well on its way to being a beautiful place to spend some time serving one another and showing God’s love through good work.

Measuring growth through testing

During the past 3 weeks, as part of Notre Dame Elementary’s new reading program, students in grades K-5 have been assessed using the mCLASS DIBELS. DIBELS is a reading assessment, administered in a one-on-one setting and each screening measure is a one-minute snapshot of a student’s skill level compared to national grade-level norms in literacy benchmarks. Every student completes grade level subtests that identify specific basic building blocks in literacy development. Embedded within DIBELS is the ability to identify specific areas for intervention and screen for elements of dyslexia. The mCLASS DIBELS also connects students to the Amplify reading program, which is individualized to meet students with intervention, on-level or extension activities.

The traditional MAP Growth assessments provide the administration different information about a student’s learning. The computer adaptive nature of these tests means that every student gets a unique set of questions based on responses to previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions get harder. By the end of the test, most students will have answered about half of the questions correctly, which is usual for an adaptive test such as this. The purpose of MAP Growth is to determine what the student knows and is ready to learn next. It also tracks student growth over time, regardless of where the student’s starting point is.

Both of these forms of assessment are important for a teacher in order to plan instruction effectively for all students.

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