News from Alfonso - 1/18

Greetings Friends,
I hope yesterday gave you not only some peaceful time with your family but also an opportunity to reflect on Dr. King’s vision of what might be in American society. We always have far to go but that does not negate that we have come a long way.

As promised, I wanted to update you on educational daily life and progress here at school.

We have just spent the last of the 2009 Special Appeal funds on a number of items for our early childhood classrooms (PK, LK and K). We purchased many items including new play kitchens, sand and water tables, Lego building sets, cubbies for math manipulatives, light boxes, lego tables, doll houses, doll people and furniture, dramatic play costumes, puppets to support the PYP units, felt boards, block sets, counting peg boards, magnetic shapes, pattern blocks, base 10 sets, unifix cube sets, large teacher clocks, money sets, sets of geo boards, geo snaps, and geometric shapes. The goal is for every classroom to be well stocked with items to stimulate children’s minds every day. Many items will move between classrooms to keep things fresh.

We are also equipping classrooms from the 2010 Math & Science Special Appeal. For 1st grade we have purchased inflatable planets, solar system puzzles and inflatable globes for each teacher. In 2nd grade, we have purchased extra equipment for the simple machines unit, such as pulleys, scales, wedges and so on. For 3rd grade, we now have a barometer/temperature weather station for each teacher, large classroom thermometers, rain gauges, wind gauges, and cloud makers. For 4th grade, we have supplied each class with anatomical models of the brain, lungs and heart, as well as a stethoscope. On Friday I caught part of a wonderful presentation to students on the nervous system by a parent/physician. Finally, for the electricity unit in 5th grade, we have purchased electric motors, spinners, light bulbs, battery holders, cables, wire, switches, and small solar panels.

Also from Special Appeal 2010, we have just ordered math tools: base 10 sets, sets of student clocks, geometric shapes, geometric shape volume sets, pocket charts, unifix cubes, counting tiles, 9 sided dice (to study probability and practice computation), volume measuring sets, tape measures, and trundle wheels.

The above represents the work of Teresa Wirsching and Maria Abad with the teachers to put your generosity and support of TIS into action.

From this year’s special appeal we will also be sending 8 teachers to the PYP math workshop and 7 teachers to the Science workshop (both in Portland so we can avoid travel costs and pay only $675 per teacher for the 3 day workshops). We are also taking advantage of free teacher workshops on math inquiry and science inquiry provided through the Portland Public Schools. These are a series of weekly classes for teachers after school.

Through our enhanced relationship with OMSI, we will also be able to provide further professional development as well as lab experiences geared to our units of inquiry. With great reaction from students, Maria Lira has piloted an on-line math support and extension program called Mathletics, and now we will be asking the whole faculty to try it as a possibility for all K-5 students for next year.

In line with all this, Tamara Fornell and the library staff and volunteers have been hard at work to put the special appeal library dollars to good use, vastly developing our PYP and general collections and now our math and science collection.

From Run for The Arts funds, our excellent new specialists Julie, Carolina and Peter have purchased new instruments, a plethora of supplies and much needed equipment such as drying racks.

I have just concluded a number of teacher observations and seen very positive evidence of the teachers’ growing understanding and implementation of the PYP. I also observed that having resources on hand enables us to keep our teaching concrete, active and authentic. The teachers are themselves following the IB learner profile in being collaborative, inquiring risk-takers who can also honestly and thoughtfully reflect on their teaching.

In the midst of all this educational activity, we are also working on the site feasibility study and as a side endeavour looking at how we might add 4 second floor classrooms in Stearns Hall. And as you recently read we have been working on projects like changing 13 faucets to sensors to save water (and money on water bills); removing some dying trees from the front of the playground; replacing the sidewalk along the front of the playground; adding wall cabinets to the remaining LK and K classrooms; and adding bulletin boards.

As you can see, we are moving forward thanks to your support and commitment and to the hard work of the educators who give their all each day. I am grateful to you all.

I wish you a peaceful reflective day.
Alfonso
AOrsini@intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x109