Friday, January 30, 2015

Turtle Camp at BCS

BCS recently received a $4000 NOAA Oceans Guardian Grant for our school’s ongoing commitment to protecting local waterways.  As part of that grant, Ms. Lura and her co-curricular students organized a “Turtle Camp” for our kindergarten and first grade students to teach them about protecting our oceans and helping save the leatherback sea turtles. 


Bullis Charter School students attend Turtle Camp to learn conservation

Courtesy of Bullis Charter School
Bullis Charter School fourth- and fifth-graders guide younger students through activity centers that aim to educate about leatherback turtle conservation efforts. 
Fourth- and fifth-graders at Bullis Charter School stepped into the role of teacher last week when they taught kindergarten and first-grade students how they can help save leatherback sea turtles.
The school developed the event, called Turtle Camp, after receiving a $4,000 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ocean (NOAA) Guardian Grant awarded to schools that demonstrate a commitment to protect and conserve local and global waterways.
Jessica Lura, director of strategic initiatives and partnerships at Bullis Charter School, worked with students in her co-curricular class “The Blue Crew,” an elective class focusing on reducing marine debris, to design the Turtle Camp for younger students.
“The NOAA grant allowed us to expand upon our school’s mission to teach our students about the interconnectedness of people and their environments,” Lura said. “It is important for students as young as kindergarten to understand that they have a direct impact on our local waterways, and that small actions can have a big impact on our oceans and marine life – in this case, the survival of the leatherback sea turtles.”
Leatherback sea turtle protection and conservation are part of an Environmental Science unit that all grade levels participate in at Bullis Charter School. Lura and her students wanted to build on their knowledge of leatherback sea turtles and explore the negative effects of marine debris on the health of the oceans.
Fourth- and fifth-graders led the younger students through four activity centers, all focused on different aspects of protecting the oceans. The first station included a world map and an explanation of the gyre in the Pacific Ocean and culminated with students signing a pledge to recycle and use reusable water bottles.
“It was exciting to teach the younger students because it gave them a good chance to learn about how all of their actions affect the ocean,” said Sophy Mintz, a fifth-grader at the charter school. “We wanted them to learn about how harmful even one piece of trash can be in the ocean, and we used interactive activities like a skit at the end of our presentation to help them remember the information.”
Another station included a mini-lesson on how local waterways connect to the ocean. Kindergartners used ocean props and costumes to act out a skit demonstrating how a piece of plastic could eventually harm a leatherback sea turtle.
Students also had a chance to draw and write short notes on ways to help preserve the oceans and marine life. The notes will be mailed to their sister school in Costa Rica later this spring.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Teacher Professional Development at BCS

Supporting and developing our teachers is a cornerstone of our program at Bullis, and we have made the commitment to provide opportunities for teachers to learn and to work collaboratively to improve their teaching and to meet student needs. In addition to the two weeks of professional development in August, our teachers meet regularly in grade level teams, in vertical teams, and around curricular and school initiatives.

Just last week, teachers at both the BCS and BCI campuses met in their professional learning communities (PLCs). PLCs provide an opportunity for teachers to self-select an area or topic they are passionate about and to work together to analyze their teaching.  We have PLCs that focus on content areas (such as common core instruction, visual and performing arts), tech integration, design thinking, assessment and global citizenship.

During the staff development day earlier this month, teachers worked collaboratively on various areas of professional growth, including sharing best practices aligned with the Continuum, which is an important part of our performance based pay model.   The BCS Staff is grateful to have the support of the BCS Board and parents for continued professional development.

Teachers participate in team building activities during a recent
professional development day at BCS

Of course, when you get a fabulous group of teachers together, we always find time for a little fun and team building.  The pictures below are from Tuesday where staff members were instructed to make a tableau based on various prompts - including “with at least 6 people, make a scene from the Bachelor!”

During a team building activity, teachers were instructed to make a tableau
based on various prompts - including
"with at least 6 people, make a scene from the Bachelor!"

Friday, January 16, 2015

David Belles and BCS Choir at CMEA Bay Section Winter Conference

Last weekend, BCS choir director David Belles conducted a workshop at the CMEA Bay Section Winter Conference, an event for music educators from throughout the Bay Area.  

Mr. Belles shared teaching strategies and highlighted important key elements essential for teaching elementary choral music.  

G-Clef and Sonore, the BCS 4th-5th grade choirs, had a very special opportunity to demonstrate how these techniques can be successfully implemented.  

Mr. Belles said that both his presentation and the choirs' performances were well received by all in attendance. 

We're so proud of our students as they helped show what is possible for singers at such a young age! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Digital Citizenship at BCS

By Jessica Lura
Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships at BCS

At BCS, we strive to empower students to become digital citizens; students who think critically, behave safely and ethically, and participate responsibility in the digital world. This means giving students opportunities to use technology in a variety of ways as well as teaching explicitly about certain topics. 

Like all BCS programs, digital citizenship is integrated into what we teach every day. It is a part of our character education strand, it is woven into technology use, and it is part of our core content. 

Being a digital citizen today doesn't just mean being safe online but also entails thinking critically and participating responsibly. All Bullis students, regardless of grade level, learn about online safety, how to be responsible online, and how to be creators of creators of content, not just consumers. In addition to explicit classroom lessons, there are many opportunities for students to explore what it means to be a digital citizen.
Ms. Cheng teaches best practices to her
fourth graders before they begin using
their school email accounts.

To support our digital citizenship strand, Bullis Charter School and Intel Security are hosting three online safety presentations--two for students and one for adults.  Please read the latest Bear Essentials Newsletter for dates and times.

Parent Resources & Information on Technology, Being Safe Online, and Digital Citizenship

Common Sense Media, website (We rate, educate, and advocate for kids, families, and schools)

Think Before You Link Online Tips Website, Intel Security 

Stay Safe Online, website, National Cyber Security Alliance

Articles and Books on Character & Digital Citizenship

Holly Korbey  (Mind/Shift May 24, 2013)

What if the Secret of Success Is Failure? By Paul Tough, September 14, 2011

Friday, January 9, 2015

“Crayon Box” Houses Activity

Every month at BCS, our K-5 students and staff meet together in their "Houses" - mixed grade level groups that participate in activities together and earn points as a team in various school wide competitions (reading points, chalk murals, relay races, etc.).  

This month, after reading the illustrated poem "The Crayon Box That Talked," students and their buddies made a "crayon box" out of self portraits during the school wide Houses activity in honor of Martin Luther King and his fight for equality and respect for all people.  

Mrs. Felder put the finishing touches on the project this week - stop by the Art Room to see it in person!  Click here to see how our students created their crayons.