Happy New Year GSES families! 2018 marks the beginning of a new era for GSES in our newly renovated school. Almost everyone who walks into our new spaces remarks at the beauty of the classrooms, learning spaces and the view. . .what a view! But, the new GSES is beyond beautiful: it’s designed in a way to enhance the teaching and learning experience for every member of our community. How so? Let’s look at learning in our new spaces through EL Education’s Approach to Teaching and Learning:
Learning is Active: Our new spaces are set up for student inquiry and movement. Highly visible learning spaces allow for students to work out in our eddies (team centers) and we now have numerous breakout spaces for students to work independently or in small groups.
Learning is Challenging: Flexible spaces give teachers many options to create learning activities for students at every skill level. Our new classrooms open up to each other allowing teachers to co-teach and share students so every child is challenged appropriately.
Learning is Meaningful: We’re noticing at GSES students pride and excitement for school has elevated since moving into our new spaces. Students have received a strong message from the community that you matter and you’re our future. Pair this with engaging and relevant learning experiences like our first grade bridge project and students become hooked on school.
Learning is Public: Everywhere you go in our new school, learning is visible. No longer are the days where learning happens behind closed doors. Students receive the message that we are a community of learners when they see other students and teachers working independently or in small groups.
Learning is Collaborative: Our new spaces are designed for students and teachers to collaborate. Small breakout spaces create cozy nooks for conversation and inspiration while doors between learning spaces allow for students to collaborate with peers from other classes and come together as a community for Crew.
This past month, teachers at GSES have been busy planning how to utilize our new spaces to enhance student learning and create community. It’s an exciting and welcome challenge as we settle into this beautiful school. Be sure to ask your child what’s their favorite way to learn in our new school and stop by anytime to look around!
It’s hard to believe that it’s already Mid-October and we’re well on our way to completing construction projects here at school and in the community. In many ways it seems like change has been a constant for our GSES community these last few years. However, quietly, we’ve been figuring out “who we are” as a school community. With the support of EL Education, we’ve been able to establish common practices and identify core beliefs about learning in a community that embraces relationship building and engaging projects as much as academic skill development.
Last spring, we began the work of identifying who we’ve become and where we’re going in a mission statement. Last week, we shared our draft with parents at the Family Potluck. Today, we share it with you below.
We look forward to bringing these words to life in our classrooms and throughout our community. Let us know what you think about the statement and more importantly, how we’re embracing the mission everyday. Your questions, input and feedback are essential to our continuous improvement. Even the smallest idea or question can have a positive impact on a child or perhaps, our entire school. Don’t be a stranger!
We are Crew,
Who We Are: We are a diverse PreK-5 school in the heart of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
Our Mission: To teach students to be stewards of their own learning and character development in a caring and supportive community everyday. This Means: At GSES, students grapple with social and academic challenges through:
Happy Spring! Spring is definitely in the air at GSES. Our hallways are buzzing with energy and excitement about the warm weather, our new school construction and learning expeditions! Teachers have been leading the charge with engaging and authentic Crew activities like serving our construction workers lunch (compassion and teamwork), climbing a flat 14-er (determination), planning All-School Crew (enthusiasm), and teaching mindful and self-regulation behaviors (responsibility). Most importantly, Crew is about be connected with one another. Everyday we want our students to be able to say, “I belong and matter here at GSES.”
That goes the same for you, our community of families. This year, we’ve launched family potlucks and conversation nights as a place to build connections with each other. Each potluck has a guiding question for our conversations. On our March 7th event we had over 60 people attend. This quarter’s question was: What makes you feel connected? Here’s what we heard: being greeted, a smile, sports, our small town, school activities, a personal note, our kids, being invited in, a level of informality, shared experiences, being a part of “something bigger,” our Parent Mentor program, nature, grief, work colleagues, eating together, PTA, seeing people outside of school, and being acknowledged.
We hope at GSES we are growing our connections to every child and family in our community. We learn so much from listening to our community and hope you’ll join us for our next Community Conversations and Potluck on May 16th. We’ve found that these potlucks aren’t “one more thing” but rather “the right thing” to rejuvenate our sense of community and connection to each other.
I look forward to seeing everyone at all of our spring events. . . it’s going to be a great spring at GSES!
Expeditionary Learning becomes EL Education
This October at the National Conference, Expeditionary Learning launched it’s new name: EL Education. Why the name change? EL Education’s approach continues to be based upon the Design Principles created when the organization was founded by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Outward Bound over 20 years ago--an approach that combines rigor and joy, resulting in deep, meaningful student outcomes. “While we have a new name, our purpose remains the same – working with schools to create classrooms where teachers can fulfill their highest aspirations, and where students achieve more than they think possible,” noted Scott Hartl, President & CEO of EL Education.
Here at GSES we’ve taken the name change opportunity to develop a new logo and statements about who we are this fall. Parents and students will get an opportunity to weigh in on "who we are" at various events this winter. Since becoming an "EL School," we've redefined what school and learning looks like for our students everyday at GSES. . .a new logo and mission will help us reflect these changes to our community.
“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.” John Dewey
Why do we go to school? Ask this question to a group of adults or kids and you’ll hear an interesting conversation (and debate) for sure. John Dewey was a philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer from the early 19th Century who challenged people to think about the purpose of education how we construct knowledge. One of his theories that is still present and relevant in educational thought today is that learning happens through authentic experiences with the world. He believed that children must be given the opportunity to discover, ask questions, and discuss and experience their learning with others. His quote credits great advances in knowledge to individuals’ willingness to take risks and imagine a new possibility. Sounds a lot like our January Habit of a Scholar: Wonder and Enthusiasm.
Everyday at GSES, teachers are developing experiences to help students develop a sense of wonder and enthusiasm for learning. We hear that “children are naturally curious,” but how often do you hear that said about adults? At Expeditionary Learning schools, we believe that that this trait must be nurtured, fostered and developed in children so that they graduate with a passion and excitement for learning. It’s stated in our first two Design Principles: The Primacy of Self-Discovery and The Having of Wonderful Ideas.
In Crew this year, we’ll be focusing on this trait with students. We’re going to practice wonder, enthusiasm, and curiosity. We’re going to ask students to think deeply about their questions, their passions, and their wonderings. We want children to know that school is the place to imagining possibilities that don’t exist. We want to instil the believe in children that they have the power to ask aquestion that might just be the next big discovery.
I challenge parents (myself included) to ask your child different questions at the end of the day. Put “How was your day?” or “What did you do at school today?” on the shelf. Ask him or her, “What questions did you ask today?” and “What did you wonder about in school today?” I wonder what conversations it might open up at your dinner table.
November 13, 2014: First Quarter Wrap-Up
Huge smiles, proud parents, and impressed teachers. That was the vibe last week as we wrapped up our first round of Student-Led Conferences. For this first round, students shared examples of their best work in their porfolios, reflected on their Habits of a Scholar, and set goals for the next quarter. This is just one example of the new practices we're implementing to put students at the center of their learning as an Expeditionary Learning School. We've articulated our goals for Year 2 as an EL school. They are:
Culture and Climate Goal: All stakeholders in the GSES community will foster growth and continual learning through a culture and climate of trust and high expectations.
Achievement Goal: GSES students will consistently use assessment for learning practices to create high quality work and develop a growth mindset.
Click the WorkPlanBrief.pdf to learn more. We're excited about our work and the changes we're seeing in our students! Come by for a visit or a conversation anytime to learn more. Have a great holiday season! ~~ Audrey
August 16, 2014: Summer Highlights with Expeditionary Learning
This summer, many GSES faculty had the opportunity to participate in Expditionary Learning professional development. Here are the highlights:
- Fifteen teachers worked with our EL School Designer on creating integrated units which is the precursor to expeditions. Teachers worked on developing essential questions and integrating writing with content (social studies/science) standards. For example, this year fifth graders will dig deeply into the question, "What is the price of freedom?" through writing and American History studies.
- Eight new GSES teachers attended EL 101 at the Odyssey School in Denver. They spent two days immersing themselves in Expeditionary Learning so they can hit the ground running at GSES!
- Two teachers and our new Assistant Principal, Lora Smith, attended EL Classrooms in Practice in Salt Lake City for a week in July. Here they looked deeply into what makes a classroom an Expeditionary Learning classroom. They engaged in discussions about research based practices, curriculum planning and how to apply practices that will help all students succeed academically and social-emotionally.
- Finally, I had the opportunity to go on the Expeditionary Learning Invitational: a week-long Outward Bound rafting trip with the CEO of Expeditionary Learning, Scott Hartl, and many other educational leaders from EL. The purpose of this trip was to experience the roots of Expeditionary Learning first hand. I came away from this trip with an appreciation for the organization that we are connected to and an excitement for how we can apply Outward Bound practices in the classroom and our community. Best of all was sleeping under the stars and connecting with other EL principals in Colorado.
As always, each group will present what they learned to our faculty this fall so these practices will filter out to our students. We are so fortuate for these learning opportunities -- thanks RFSD for bringing Expeditionary Learning to GSES!Audrey
River time with Expeditionary Learning
June 1, 2014: Reflections on our First Year as an Expeditionary Learning School
“We are Crew, not Passengers.” This is the opening phase that launched students and staff into their first year of becoming an Expeditionary Learning (EL) school at Glenwood Springs Elementary School. As the EL motto, it embodies the approach learning, children and community at GSES. If you would have asked a student or staff member in August what this phrase meant, they might have told you that they meet every morning for a Crew meeting. Ten months later, you’d get a much different answer. Since August, staff at GSES have worked intensely with EL school designers to apply practices in their classroom and in their professional community that develops a strong learning community and puts students on a path to academic success. What does “We are Crew, not Passengers” look like at GSES now? At GSES, students develop strong relationships with their teacher and peers through the Crew model which uses games, readings, and reflection to develop students sense of self and community. Students now practice the GSES Habits for Success (determination, wonder, teamwork, compassion, and responsibility) through explicit lessons and daily practice. This year, students are becoming owners of their learning at GSES through instructional practices that engage the learner and transfer the responsibility of learning to the student. Students know their Learning Targets and are self-assessing their progress on their targets through tracking and reflection. The changes you see at GSES this year lay the foundation for becoming a strong Expeditionary Learning School. Next year, GSES will dig deeper into Crew, employ more practices that put students at the center of their learning such as portfolios and student-led conferences, and begin to engage in authentic and meaningful Learning Expeditions with students. Congratulations to all of the staff and students who have launched Expeditionary Learning at GSES this year!
As I complete my first year as principal at Glenwood Springs Elementary School, I want to thank all of the students, teachers and staff that have supported me in this transition. I have learned so much from every member of this community and look forward to hitting the ground running next year! I hope everyone has a fantastic summer filled with discovery, rest and lots of time with friends and family.
March 26, 2014
Happy Spring Break! I hope that your family is able to take some time to enjoy the spring weather and watch all of the changes happening in nature. Each year, I am always amazed how one day things can be brown and the next day, bright green. Noticing these small daily changes with your children teaches them to become keen observers while instilling a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world.
We've been through many positive changes this year at GSES as we've transformed into an Expeditionary Learning school. This spring we will be sharing the progress we've made and the direction we are headed next year at two evening events for GSES parents and community members interested in learning more about Expeditionary Learning at GSES. On April 14 at 6:30 pm (after the PTA meeting) we will be sharing photos, student work and information about our work this year around Crew and Student-Engaged Assessment. On May 5 at 6:30 pm we will be sharing what 2014-15 holds for our students and teachers as we continue to develop as an EL school. We hope you can come to one or both events. Childcare will be provided.
This spring we will also say goodbye to our Assistant Principal, Dave Anson. Dave has decided to return to the classroom to work with students directly. We will miss Dave and his positive, "can do" attitude. We have begun the search for a new Assistant Principal and will be having a parent meeting in early April to discuss the hiring process and receive input from parents. More information about this coming soon.
As always, please be in touch with me, your child's teacher, or any staff member at GSES to let us know how your child is doing, how we can help you, or just to share a great kid story! We appreciate all that you do to send your child to school ready to learn everyday!
Make it a great day!
February 24, 2014
It's a big week at GSES. . . we start the week with conferences and head right into our first round of TCAP testing. As an Expeditionary Learning school, many of our grade level teams have switched over to Student-Led Conferences. Students have been working hard with their teachers to prepare and practice leading their conference. They'll share work, discuss struggles, and share succeses with their parents and teachers. By next year, our entire school will be participating in Student-Led Conferences from Kindergarten to Fifth Grade. Students are becoming owners of their learning at GSES!
Third grade students will be sharing what they know this week on the TCAP Reading test. Students will participate in two testing rounds this week. The TCAP tests are required by the Colorado Deptartment of Education and give us a wealth of information about student progress and school programming. If you have questions about the TCAP, please don't hesitate to contact your child's teacher or me anytime. You can also find information about TCAP at http://www.cde.state.co.us/assessment/generalinfo-parents.
Make it a great day! Audrey
January 31, 2014
Welcome to our new website! I hope this website becomes a reference point for your family. Our calendar is updated daily and soon grade level newsletters will be attached the same week they are sent home. We will continue to add news about exciting events at GSES, Expeditionary Learning, and other important resources for parents. Also, you’ll see a link for students on our home page that directs students to all of the educational sites they are using in their classes.
While this website launches GSES into 21st Century Learning, so will be the arrival of 108 Chromebooks (small laptops) in the fourth and fifth grades. Jeremy Heiser, our technology teacher, will be working with teachers to integrate this tool into the curriculum. We hope to add more Chromebooks next fall so that in the 2014-2015 school year we have a full set in every fourth and fifth grade classroom. This also means a redistribution of technology into our lower grades and more access for all students. As an Expeditionary Learning school, access to technology for research, writing, and presentation tools is critical for high-level student work and expeditions in the classroom.
In other news, we are in the process of our first “Mid-Year Review” from Expeditionary Learning. We are collecting information from teachers, classroom visits, and student data to show our progress. Our EL School Designer and Regional Director will be giving us feedback and next steps to help us develop as an EL school. In the future, we will be seeking input from parents as a part of our review process.
Make it a great day!