Parent/Teacher Conferences

parent-teacher-conference.jpg

A sign-up sheet for the parent/teacher conferences on Thursday, March 31 and Friday, April 1 is posted on the bulletin board at your child’s class. Please be sure to sign up for a 30-minute individual time with your child’s teacher. This is a wonderful opportunity to have the complete attention of your child’s teacher for 30 minutes to hear all about your child’s day as well as to ask questions and share your goals for your child.

On Thursday, March 31st school closes at 12 noon and on Friday, April 1st school is closed for the day. The Thursday conferences start at 1:10 and the Friday conferences start at 8:00. If your child has a different afternoon teacher from the morning program, you are welcome to sign up for a conference with that teacher too. If the available days/times do not work for you, please speak with the School Director who will arrange a time that is more suitable for the teacher and yourself. Thank you.

If you are in need of child care, please speak in advance with the School Director as there may be someone at the school who can watch your child during your parent/teacher conference. We are currently unable to offer childcare at our Stowe campus. We are unable to hold a conference with a child present other than the little babies who are not mobile yet. Thank you.

We look forward to meeting with you, to answer your questions, and to share all of the wonderful work your child has been engaged in since the last conferences in November.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

St. Patrick’s Day is another very special and fun tradition for the children. A few school days prior to St. Patrick’s Day the teachers will briefly share with the children about this special day in Ireland. A legend of a potential pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow along with Leprechauns looking for the pot of gold will be discussed – could it happen?

The children will design and build “traps” to see if they can catch any Leprechauns that might be looking for pots of gold. The traps are not to cause any harm, only to capture safely to see what a Leprechaun may look like. The children enjoy building various structures in celebration of this day. The Pre-kindergarten children enjoy thinking of ways to make their “traps” work – they become very scientific and imaginative in their work.

In past years the majority of the mischief typically occurs the night before and in the early hours on March 17; we never know what we will find upon arriving to school. Often there are notes left from “the visitors” for the children to read of various activities or mischief that took place. On Thursday, the 17th, the children will be amazed as the school is transformed into a wonderland of mischief and fun. If your child does not attend school on Thursdays, we encourage you to take the time to arrive at 8:45 and walk through the entire school. Some parents have described St. Patrick’s Day as one of their favorite traditions at Heartworks.

 

January's Theme at Heartworks Shelburne

During the month of January the school wide theme is “Animal Homes and People Homes”. Each classroom enjoyed learning about life in a different region. They discussed the animals that live there, the people, special stories from an area, and enjoyed creative art projects related to the region.

Jenny’s class spent their month exploring Forest Life. The children enjoyed going on bear hunts around the classroom and even created their own bear cave to hibernate in! Their classroom transformed into a campsite with a real tent. The children were thrilled to get to “sleep” in the tent and roast marshmallows around the campfire. 

Hilary and Sherri’s friends adventured through the Hot and Cold Deserts this month. The children learned about where deserts are located in the world and the different animals that live there. They went on many hunts for polar bears around the classroom and used their handprints to make prickly pear cactuses and created sandstorms with paint and sand.

Mariah’s class learned about Mountain Life. The children learned about animals that live in the mountains. The children pretended to be bears hibernating in caves and squirrels gathering food for the winter. The children even created their own beautiful mountain collages to display in the classroom. They even used their carpet squares to demonstrate how plate tectonics move to create mountains!

Amber, Theanna and Erica’s classes explored animal and people homes in the Rainforest. Each classroom grew their own rainforest by creating murals adding plants, animals and insects to the layers of the rainforest. The children baked muffins and breads using ingredients that grow in the rainforest. They were thrilled to use their math skills to measure the distance tree frogs jump as well as the length of a quetzal's tail feathers!

See What We're Up to at Heartworks Shelburne!

Halle and Meg

The children grew so much and reached so many milestones over break and through the month of January. From sitting on their own to taking their first steps, we have all celebrated these accomplishments and have continued to explore new ways to help foster and encourage this growth. Some of the children were able to explore full body painting using blue and white paint to create a backdrop for a fun winter project. Halle and Meg were also excited to have a few warm days where a few of the children were able to get bundled up and go outside for a bright and sunny refreshing walk. 


Jackie and Marina

During the month of January Jackie and Marina’s class was learning about winter and winter animals. They enjoyed exploring and painting snow, used evergreen branches and white paint to create a snowy scene and used bird seed and toilet paper rolls to create bird feeders for the birds that perch on the trees outside the window. All of the children excitedly gathered around the windows with Marina to watch Jackie hand the feeders while Marina talked to them about what she was doing. This was such a wonderful enrichment for the children who have shown a great love of all the Earth’s creatures


Anne and Amanda

Winter, snow, and ice were a huge draw for the children with Anne and Amanda during the month of January. One of the class’ favorite activities was using eye droppers and water to explore a block of ice in the sensory table. The eye droppers were a wonderful way for the children to practice using their fine motor muscles and explore the concepts of warm and cold. They explored small cubes of ice and enjoyed watching the ice slowly melt in a baggie taped to the window. The children have also been learning about animals and exploring animal tracks. They have enjoyed looking at animal cards and opening them to see what each animal's tracks would look like. 


Danielle and Nikki

During the month of January the children with Danielle and Nikki were transported each morning to the prairies of North America. The children heard stories about life on the plains learning about both animals and people and the different ways that things were when the plains were just being settled. The children created dome shaped huts using recycled containers and clay, fabric collage buffalo and even enjoyed wheat bread spread with butter that they made themselves using heavy cream, a little salt and a lot of shaking. What a special treat!


Rachel and Lizzy

As the children entered the classroom with Rachel and Lizzy during the month of January, they were transported deep into the forest with woodland creatures, fires for roasting and cooking food, and a cozy campsite where they could lay back and count the stars. Many of the days involved talking about animal tracking, creating footprint art, and exploring the artistic style of Brian Wildsmith to create colorful dreys, which the children can tell you are squirrel homes. As the children learned about winter animals and hibernation they thought of different ways to help animals during this time. Inspired by the story The Night Tree, Rachel, Lizzy and the children hiked into the forest to find their own “night tree” and created edible ornaments to hang for the forest animals to enjoy. The children show such compassion and care for the animals that are wonderful to experience. 

January World's Fair

During the month of January the school-wide theme was “Cultures,” during which each age level studied a different country. The Cultures theme was so exciting - the school was alive with the commitment of each class to the country that they were studying.

We celebrated this unit by sharing the information they had attained during our third annual World’s Fair. On January 27th the children boarded the Heartworks Airways to fly around the world (around the school) visiting other countries. Represented at the Fair were Australia (Sarah’s class), China (Cassie’s class), Japan (Amy and Megan’s classes), Mexico (Katherine’s class) and Kenya (Maria, Heather and Caila’s classes). 

At each stop the children had their passports stamped, marking their visit. The flights rotated so each class had an opportunity to return to their home country (their own classroom) to teach the other classes some fun facts about their country. It was quite impressive to hear the presentations from the children; they retained so much information about their countries - everything from local cuisine, indigenous animals, musical instruments, traditional dances, the flags, the language - so much was represented!

 

French Class with Caroline Juneau

Bonjour, 
Comment t’appelles-tu? Quel âge as-tu? Qu’est-ce que c’est? These are some of the questions the Renaissance students are able to ask and answer in French class. Since the beginning of the school year we have learned or reviewed vocabulary related to our classroom, Halloween, clothing and food – including singing the blessing in French before snacks and lunches. Children can name all the colors and count to 20 in the younger grades, to millions for the oldest. Songs, physical activities, and board games with scripted dialogues are all part of the French curriculum to encourage speaking and fluency.
     Fifth grade has been exchanging letters with their former classmate, Charlotte Lamer, who moved to Paris this summer with her family. The on-going correspondence has motivated them to write in French as they keep her up-to-date with what is going on at the Renaissance School.
    We are currently learning about the body and there is nothing like a game of twister to make students want to speak French. There is no being shy about speaking a foreign language when you have the chance to twist your classmates into knots. 
    I enjoy watching all the children gain confidence in addressing me in French. They never fail to say “bonjour” whenever our paths cross, at school or around town. And I love to hear their stories of how they got to use French in Montreal.
Bonne Année 2016 to all,
Caroline

 

Spanish Class by Marcela Bronk

Estimadas Familias,
        
Feliz año! I am amazed to see how much the students have learned in the first half of the year. We started Spanish across all classes with an “All about me” unit that helped everyone get to know each other and learn basic dialogue questions and responses. The K and 1st graders love to participate, play games and even practice in the hall. It is very rewarding to see them getting comfortable speaking Spanish. The 2nd graders are avid learners for new vocabulary and have completed several projects like “Todo Sobre Mí” notebook, “Scarecrow Prepositions” and recently decoded a “Receta para un banner” (Recipe for a banner). I am very pleased to see their progress and passion for learning the language.

The upper classes (3/4/5) continue to eagerly review and learn the theme vocabulary for the week. Their level of engagement during class shows how much they are able to remember from session to session. We also started the year with a “Todo sobre mí” unit and finished with a “Todo sobre hoy” unit. They really enjoyed being “El Meteorologo del dia” (the meteorologist of the day).  I was very proud of their fall project: “El Abecedario de Halloween” (The ABCs of Halloween).  Each student across third through fifth grade was assigned a letter with a Halloween noun in Spanish. Their task was to find the meaning of the noun, research three adjectives that would describe that noun and write a small paragraph to go along with their picture.  We had some fascinating adjectives like “espeluznante” (creepy) and “misterioso” (mysterious), which described the essence of their Halloween noun. They did a fantastic job with this project! 

All grades had a culture corner at the end of our units. We’ve talked about a very important Mexican holiday tradition called “El Día de los Muertos” (Day of the dead) and “Las Posadas” (the story of the nativity), which is celebrated in many hispanic countries. The upper grades also designed a movie clip to our holiday performance song, “Mi burrito sabanero” (Mi little donkey).  Looking ahead in the new year, the K/1/2 classes will be starting the “Todo sobre hoy” (All about today) unit, where they will learn about the days of the week, the months of the year and the seasons along with activities that they enjoy. The 3/4/5 classes will be starting off the new year with a unit learning about famous hispanic people in sports, arts and literature.

Thank you for encouraging your child to learn Spanish. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to leave a note in my mailbox. 

Music and Theatre Arts

by Nikki Juvan and Andrea Beam (K-2nd Music Teacher)

Happy New Year! First we want to congratulate all of the students for a wonderful winter performance. Andrea and Nikki were so pleased with how hard they worked learning all of the music, and we were so proud of their performance. It was truly a wonderful evening of music which celebrated all of our students’ talents!

In grades K-2, in Music class, we began the year by learning to sing some popular campfire songs, and dance to “action” songs like the Hokey Pokey. The children have been learning to read rhythms and are reinforcing their knowledge through rhythmic games. Second grade has even begun to take the next step, becoming familiar with the staff and notes in the C scale. They have been using chimes in class to help with this, and will continue to utilize the chimes throughout the year, eventually composing and playing their own tunes. At the end of every music class, all classes listen to a piece of music which has included classical, blues, jazz, and marches, and the children discuss the imagery and emotions the music elicits. In the coming months, all grades will continue to read, write, and play rhythms, strengthen their ear through singing and pitch work, and grow in their appreciation of different music genres and styles. In Drama class, we have been learning about or reviewing the basics of being onstage and how we use our bodies, voices, and imaginations to create different characters. We practiced these skills through many theater games that also focus on working together to tell stories. In the months ahead, we will use short stories and fairy tales to create our own scenes as well. 

In grade 3, in Music class, the students spent the fall learning to play the recorder. This combined their knowledge of notes on the staff and rhythms as they read music and also created their own recorder compositions. In grades 4-5, students continued to learn more complex rhythms and were challenged with more difficult vocal repertoire. They also completed a study of opera where they listened to the Magic Flute. In Drama class, the children continued to practice their performance and stage skills. The 3rd grade wrote short scenes based on certain criteria, and the 4th grade focused on improvisation and creating scenes spontaneously. Each 5th grade student was assigned a monologue and worked with a partner as both actor and director before performing for the class. As we move forward in grades 3-5, the focus of both of our classes will be preparation and rehearsal for the spring musical, which will be The Music Man, JR to be performed on May 13th at Williston Central School. 

 

PE and Character Development

by Andrea Beam

The children have had lots of fun this year learning new games, getting stronger, and working as a team. In Character Development, we began the year with lessons in sportsmanship and teamwork, and have since covered compassion, mindfulness, and determination. We’ve incorporated these themes into our P.E. games to help reinforce the lessons. First through Fifth Grade students have been working on the specific skills and rules of soccer and basketball, and have played some exciting scrimmages as a result! With respect to these sports, the K/1 Class has worked mainly on the building blocks to excel in the sports down the road (i.e. ball handling with hands and feet, body and spatial awareness, etc.). In all grades, we have also focused on many “non-traditional sport” skills, such as hiking, yoga, hula-hoop, jump-rope, and juggling. We’ve also played lots of fun games like Capture the Flag, Steal the Bacon, and Sharks and Minnows. First through fifth grade students are currently undergoing their Fitness Challenges, which consist of running, stretching, and up to two minutes each of push-ups, planks, and wall-sits. Our next units for all grades in Character Development will involve courage, forgiveness, and honesty, while in P.E. we’ll cover volleyball and floor hockey, and once the snow is a little more plentiful, we’ll head outside to build snowmen, snowshoe, and cross-country ski.

The Art of Education in the Art Room: More Than Just a Pretty Picture

by Laura Poirier

Almost every time a project is displayed at the Farm, at Endeavour, or as stage scenery for our performances, I hear comments from parents about how much they like their child’s artwork. I am delighted that the end product is something pleasing to a family, and know that these masterpieces made of paint, crayon, glue and paper represent a joyful time of development in a child’s life. It is wonderful to share in these fun, creative, and sometimes messy moments with the students here at Renaissance School. What you don’t see, what happens behind the scenes in the Art room, to help a child arrive at the end product, is a fully connected, inter-disciplinary and immersive experience that just so happens to result in a piece of artwork. The students are learning so much more than how to make a pretty picture.

I am happy to share with you a few examples of embedded learning within a few of our recent projects. The Holiday Performance, Winter Windows, beautifully showcased the performing arts talents of our children as well as their impressive visual arts skills. All of the stage window artwork was created by the children during their Art classes. Although the scenes for each group were lightly sketched in advance, it was the job of the children to work collaboratively on each of their four panels to compose a cohesive four part image, matching in application, neatness, and color, with variations in value and tone. The students moved in sync around the tables to ensure complete coverage and to assist each other to finish during their one hour time frame. The Fifth Graders were enlisted to further assist in the window pane black tape edging to prepare all of the panels for hanging on the stage.  I think we can all agree that the results were truly breathtaking. 

From Kindergarten through Fifth Grade the children are presented with project work designed to introduce them to the seven principles of design. These seven art-making tenants have been the building blocks for all artists and artwork since the beginning of time. The students learn about color, line, shape, texture, form, value and space. Although they do not always know it, each of their projects has been designed to encompass at least two of the elements each and every time. This project approach and philosophy of guided practice allows the student artists to grow in their artistic skills over the course of their early elementary schooling with expanding working knowledge and confidence. The theme for this year is color connections; how colors work together and the fun of experimenting with them in all of our project work.   

geometry.jpg

While it is easy to see how many of our projects relate directly to classroom themes in Science and Social Studies, you may not realize that many also involve higher-level mathematical thinking to translate linear, geometric, and 3-Dimensional concepts into balanced and visually stimulating artwork. For instance, the First Grade class completed a painting project in late November where they had to create a picture using four lines and four circles. The rules of application were that at least one line and one circle had to intersect with at least one other line and circle. The use of color within the resulting shapes had to be carefully planned to keep same or similar colors from touching. Wow! That is a huge amount of complex mathematical thinking, and they all got it.

Meanwhile the Kindergarten classes were putting finishing touches on accordion folded 3-D paper fan color wheels. “Fold, press, flip” echoed through the Art room as the children perfected the technique. The fine motor skills required to successfully accomplish the task were clearly challenging at first, but slowly and surely everyone finished the job. The wheels are accurate to the chromatic scale for primary and secondary colors. The creation of 3-D sculptures requires thinking in spatial shape and form relationships as well as strong fine and even gross motor skills at times. The emphasis on process versus product ensures that everyone is successful as far as they are able to take a project because they have had the opportunity to experience a new technique or material. 


Annual School Talent Show

Please join us for the Annual Renaissance School Talent Show on Friday, January 29 from 5:30-7:30 at the Endeavour Middle School. Please also encourage your child to participate in the show. There is a sign-up sheet near the front desk.

Last year over 30 students participated; talent can include anything they would like to share – from reading a poem, reading a short piece they wrote in school, telling jokes, dancing, singing, gymnastics, performing magic tricks or playing an instrument. Students can join with other students to perform together or perform separately. We would like each act to be shorter than five minutes. If a student wants music to be played to accompany their talent, please submit a CD with just their song that we can use at the show as this will be the only way to have music being played. We would need the CD on Friday morning at school so we can make sure it works well before the show. Thank you.

The Fifth Grade students will be the M.C.s for the evening and also be available to help any students with their act. Everyone in the school is invited and encouraged to attend the show, whether or not you have a child participating or not.

There will also be a sign-up by the front desk asking for dessert items to share after the show – brownies, cookies, fruit, etc. The evening is a wonderful social event for parents and students! We hope you will attend; it is a lot of fun and the students have a great time!

 

January Theme: Cultures

During the month of January the school-wide theme is “Cultures.” In each of the classrooms various aspects of each culture will be examined including the language, the location, climate, food, famous landmarks, popular practices and the inhabitants- both people and animals. The classes will engage in many enrichment activities exploring these aspects of the following cultures:
    

  • Sarah- Australia
  • Megan, Cassie and Amy- China or Japan
  • Katherine- Mexico
  • Maria, Heather, and Caila- Kenya

There will be a school-wide World’s Fair toward the end of the month in which the children will board Heartworks Airways to “fly” from country to country to learn about each of the other cultures that the classes have been studying. All of the children will have passports to be stamped as they arrive at each country. It is sure to be a wonderful excursion- the students will have news to share from their adventures.

In addition to the “Cultures” theme the children will be exploring the outdoors which has (finally) transformed our playgrounds into a winter wonderland. We have sleds and shovels to play with, build with and exercise our bodies. There will be scientific discussions and experiments about the change in our environment, the formation of snow, icicles, and the dormant state of trees and some animals.  There is much to learn and observe during a Vermont winter.

Winter Performance

On Tuesday, December 15th, the Pre-Kindergarten classes presented a wonderful array of musical selections under the direction of our music teacher, Joanna May.  The performance was held at the Williston Federated Church.  We felt so fortunate to be able to use this beautiful venue in our community.  This large space made it possible for all of the Pre-kindergarten classes to perform at the same time this year.  Each class sang two songs on their own and then all three classes took the stage to sing three songs as a whole group.  It was so sweet to have all of the children and families together, as some of them have been together at Heartworks for many years.  What a fantastic evening of music and community spirit!

See what the classrooms are up to this month!

The ‘Teacher Choice’ themes for January are in full swing. The classrooms are bursting with exciting and engaging lessons and activities.

Jen’s class is having a month of Experimental Sensory Discovery. The children will become scientist and conduct many various experiments and use their five senses as they explore different materials.

Clara’s class is going to the Zoo! The children will have fun learning all about different zoo animals, what a zoo keeper’s job is, and why zoos are important to help keep animals safe and healthy. 

Susan’s class is learning about Winter Animals and will discuss which animals migrate, stay active, or hibernate in the winter. They will also do some tracking and compare different animal tracks. 

Teresa’s class will become Geologists and learn all about rocks and the layers of our earth. They will explore the different types of rocks, what the layers of our earth are and find out what causes an earthquake and a volcano. 

Ashley’s class is learning all about Dinosaurs. The children are enjoying the Paleontologist center, using the various excavation tools, and looking at the many photos of the different kinds of dinosaurs.
 
Leah’s class is learning about our state of Vermont. They will learn about our state’s location on a map, important geographical points, state symbols, weather, and industries. 

Julianna’s class is learning about the Polar Regions. They will discover where the polar regions are located in the world, what animals live there, what the weather is like, and how it compares to Vermont. 

Please feel free to visit all the classrooms in our school. It has been an excellent start to the New Year ~ We are looking forward to joyful months ahead!

Washing Hands

Thank you so very much for helping your child in washing his/her hands upon arriving to school in the morning. This greatly reduces the amount of germs coming into our school and especially helps in preventing the spread of colds.

We are working on teaching the children the proper way to wash their hands as written by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. We would appreciate your help in practicing these techniques at home as well as when washing their hands upon arriving to school.  The goal is to teach older children to carry out the procedure themselves; for younger children the goal is to supervise them in carrying out the hand washing procedure, which is: 

Washing Children’s Hands

  • Moisten hands
  • Squirt a drop of liquid soap on children’s hands
  • Rub hands together for at least 20 seconds
  • Rinse their hands well in running water, directing flow from wrist to fingertips
  • Dry hands with paper towel
  • Turn off faucet with paper towel and discard

In this way, by turning off the faucet last and with a paper towel, the children’s hands remain germ free after washing.
 
Thank you for keeping these techniques in mind and teaching them to your child. Many, many people are more mindful to these techniques and are following them when in public restrooms.

The Renaissance School Holiday Performance

The annual Holiday Performance on Wednesday, December 2 in the Williston Central School auditorium, Winter Windows, showcased the amazing musical talents of our Kindergarten through Fifth Grade students. The Fifth Grade class opened the show reciting a poem about this happy time of the year and then introduced each group’s storefront winter window as the classes performed music of the season corresponding with their particular window scene. These beautiful winter scenes were created by the students during their weekly Art classes with Laura. The well-attended evening was under the musical direction of Nikki Juvan, and Andrea Beam on ukulele, with accompaniment by Josh Glass on piano. The First, Second and Third Grade classes played bells, xylophones, and recorders during their portions of the show in addition to well-rehearsed holiday singing. The oldest classes wowed the crowd with tight harmonies and beautiful solo performances during their segments. Several Endeavour Middle School students, who are Renaissance School alumni, ran the lights and sound for the show. The evening concluded with the all-school sing with past Renaissance students joining on stage to round out this wonderful family show. 

Harbor Place Holiday Donations

The Renaissance School is once again collecting items for the Champlain Housing Trust’s Harbor Place temporary housing community in Shelburne. This will be the third year that the students, families, and staff members have donated to the organization, and we are so pleased to be able to partner with the CHT to support the individuals and families who call Harbor Place home during challenging, and transitional times; especially at this time of the year.

The school will be accepting donations of the following items from December 1st through the 17th: Cold weather attire (gloves, mittens, hats, and scarves), microwavable food, toiletries, bus passes, and gift cards to specific locations. Donations can be dropped off in the collection boxes located at the front desk.

The Fifth Grade students will be counting and organizing the items, as well as keeping a tally of the donations, and will share this information with the rest of the school and Anna Herman of Harbor Place at our December 18th morning assembly. Thank you in advance for helping us in this annual holiday season outreach.

 

Hunger Free Vermont Check Presentation

The Renaissance School was pleased to present a check for $2,265.00 to Monica Taylor, Donor Relations Manager, of Hunger Free Vermont during the Friday morning assembly on November 6. The funds were raised by the students for our annual fall Hike for Hunger Free VT which took place earlier in the school year.

Monica spoke to the children about the role that Hunger Free Vermont plays in supporting local efforts to combat hunger across the state, through a wide variety of activities. She talked about how HFV provides a “safety net” for members in our communities who would otherwise go hungry, and spoke about the following outreach efforts which are found on their website: 

  • establishing and expanding school breakfast and lunch programs
  • helps community groups provide nutritious meals to low-income children during out-of-school time during the summer months and in afterschool programming.
  • Learning Kitchen classes empower low-income Vermonters to make healthy choices through nutrition education, emphasizing the importance of regular physical activity, and improving cooking skills. 
  • improves access to and participation in 3SquaresVT (formerly the Food Stamp Program) which is one of the most reliable, consistent, and dignified means to prevent hunger. 
  • helping child care providers access the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This program provides child care centers, home-based child care, and after school programs with nutrition education and reimbursements.

Members of our Fifth Grade class presented the ceremonial check at the end of the informational discussion and are shown here with Lisa Zengilowski, Renaissance School Director and Monica Taylor of Hunger Free Vermont. For more information on the organization please visit them at www.hungerfreevt.org