PTA awards scholarship
Two-thirds of all adults in the U.S. dream of starting a business, according to a Spring 2018 study by United Parcel Service. If Mountain View students are any indication, that dream starts early in life.
About two dozen fifth-graders recently took part in TREP$, a national, two month-long program that teaches business basics and allows students to experience the rigors and successes of entrepreneurship. Led after school by a parent of a fifth-grader, the students went through the complete product development process, from concept to completion, and created their own unique hand-made crafts, toys, and novelty items.
TREP$ provided students with authentic skills and insight. The fifth-graders met weekly to learn a different business skill. For example, one week students were writing business plans, another week they were learning about marketing and effective advertising, and another it was salesmanship and customer service.
“It was really cool to work with a partner and learn how to run a business,” said Chloe Winters, who made and sold painted wooden signs. “You just learn so much.”
The program’s finale is the marketplace where the young entrepreneurs sell their products. The marketplace isn’t just where students reap the rewards of their hard work; it’s a vital component of the program. Here, students gain the experience of interacting with real customers and making change with real money.
The marketplace was open during the day for students to shop; an evening session was held for parents. Among the items on sale were homemade soaps, dog treats, cookies, slime, candles, hot and cold packs, keychains, and jewelry.
Show choir and singer win awards
The Mountain View Show Choir, under the direction of music teacher Laura Rutan, recently earned an “excellent” rating at the Music in the Parks Festival in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Judging was based on vocal quality, intonation, choreography, rhythm, and professionalism.
Soloist Marin Missaggia was awarded the Elementary Soloist Award.
The choir is made up of fourth-graders and fifth-graders.
Under the sea science!
Gloria Silva, fourth grade teacher, likes to eat them stuffed. But this batch was meant for dissection, not digestion.
Fourth-graders recently donned goggles and gloves to dissect squid. Working in small groups, the students methodically probed the anatomies of the squid, working through their labbooks to examine the eyes, egg sacks, tentacles, and beaks (yes, they have beaks). They even used the squid ink as actually ink to write with.
“This was a totally new experience for them and they loved it,” said teacher Mary Fisher. “They were able to explore hands-on what they were learning in the classroom.”
Exploring the internal and external structures of plants and animals is a major unit of the fourth grade science curriculum.
Teachers heighten engagement using student choice
Inspired by recent professional development and the work of a Sandshore colleague, two Mountain View third grade teachers created an entire week of science lessons that put students in the driver’s seat of their own learning. Emily Cali and Courtney Koppinger gave their students the power of choice by allowing them to select how they were to learn the subject matter and also the activities they would complete to show their learning.
The teachers provided their classes with a chart of five lessons that had to be completed by the end of week. Students were given the choice of deciding which of the two activities listed for each lesson they were going to complete. And, to empower students even further, the kids could do the lessons and projects in any order they wanted.
Student choice and self-directed learning form one of the key components of personalized learning, a focus of the entire district. Studies show that choice provides students with greater autonomy in their own learning, thus increasing engagement and motivation.
“Student choice encourages independent, self-directed learning that allows students to explore on their own,” said Mrs. Cali. “They become invested in their own education and that means they’re going to come away with more knowledge and greater satisfaction. Over the course of the school year I’ve been gradually including more opportunities for choice. The professional development we had [with Dr. Rob Zywicki, superintendent] really inspired me.”
Every day teachers provided some direct science instruction before students were set off on their own to learn and do. Peek into the classrooms during science time and you’d see a flurry of activity with students engaged in completely different projects. Some were researching fossils and making their own with modeling clay, others were creating presentations on snowy owls and the ways the birds have evolved to survive in their environment, and still others were watching video clips about cicadas and creating booklets that compared and contrasted their life cycles with others the class had learned about.
To the outside observer accustomed to the old model in which teachers stand in front of the class dispensing information, it might have looked like anarchy. It was far from it. The teachers were there to guide students every step of the way (and occasionally throttle back over-enthusiasm).
“Student choice means that teachers have to be comfortable giving up total control of the delivery of instruction and letting kids take the reins for themselves,” said Ms. Kloppinger. “It completely changes the classroom dynamic. The students feel in control, successful, and in charge of their own learning.”
The teachers had previously used a student choice board for social studies. That went so well, they expanded and tailored the concept further for the week of science lessons.
Sandshore Elementary School
498 Sandshore Rd
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Mountain View Elementary School
118 Cloverhill Drive
Flanders, NJ 07836
Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Mt. Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road
Budd Lake, NJ 07828