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Phys. Edu. K-5
Child Study Team
|Danny Davis focuses on his word processing
Expressing their opinions
We all have opinions. Points of view. Positions and perspectives. Expressing them helps define us as individuals.
The ability to use facts rather than sheer emotion to support viewpoints is a life skill. It’s used in school, it’s used in the workplace and, perhaps most importantly, it’s used when arguing with your spouse.
Recently, the fifth-graders in Peg Maute’s class at Mountain View learned the key components of effective opinion writing and applied that knowledge to essays of their own.
As a tune-up for the assignment, the class read articles and watched videos about the pros and cons of banning flavored milks in schools. Students paid careful attention to the way facts and observations were used in the arguments. The students then debated the issue in class themselves. This helped set the tone for the writing project.
|Christopher Jones enters his essay
Then the students, with the help of their parents, chose essay topics that were important to them personally. Animal abuse, volunteering, athletics, littering, and smoking were just some of the subjects.
Students researched the topics online and, where appropriate, sought out opposing viewpoints to their own that they might counter in their essays. The students took detailed notes, outlined, wrote the essays longhand, and finally typed them on computers in the computer lab.
The essays included the most important elements of powerful opinion writing: introducing a topic clearly, supporting viewpoints with factual evidence and concrete details, developing the argument logically and cohesively, and concluding strongly.
Some essays, like the ones turned in by Dan Di Bernardino and Roy Berkowitz, made multifaceted arguments. Dan, who wrote about the harmful effects of littering, discussed how littering can damage aquatic ecosystems by releasing toxins, harm wildlife, and endanger people. Roy wrote about the benefits of volunteering and included mention not only of the positive impact that volunteering can have on people, organizations, and causes but also discussed the personal rewards that volunteers reap when helping others.
“Being able to effectively express your opinion is important in every job, even in a job interview when you’re trying to convince someone to hire you,” said Ms. Maute. “It’s something the kids will use every day of their lives.
Opinion writing is a major language arts component of the national Core Content Standards for the fifth grade.
|Katie Wooster puts the finishing touches on her essay|
Preschool program receives grant
The Flanders Parent Teacher Association recently awarded Mountain View a grant for the purchase of technology supplies for the preschool classes. The $550 will be used to buy Apple TVs, HDMI cables, and lightning adapters that will allow iPads to be connected to classroom smart boards and television screens. This makes it easier for the iPads to be used in classroom instruction and in small groups. Each preschool classroom has one iPad.
"On behalf of the preschool staff and students, I'd like to thank the PTA for its generosity," said Lisa Laureano, one of the school’s three preschool teachers. "The equipment allows us to use educational software, media, and applications in a multitude of different ways in the instructional process. The kids love working on the iPads just for the sheer fact that it is an all-encompassing learning device. It can reach an auditory, visual and tactile learner in an extremely motivating and energizing manner."
The program has a variety of apps especially targeted for these very young learners. The apps address such things as language arts (alphabet, writing name, phonics), mathematics (colors, shapes, numbers, matching), social skills (taking turns, sharing), and self care skills (hygiene, bathroom training, germ awareness)
The district's entire preschool program is housed at Mountain View.
|Morgan Trotter greets a preschooler at the end of the day|
Mountain View's safety patrol program
Mountain View has put a number of measures into place this year to enhance safety and security. The most obvious - if you've visited any school in the district - is the installation of a School Gate Guardian in the outer lobby of the main entrance. The interactive kiosk requires visitors to have a valid, state-issued ID in order to generate a pass into the building.
A program in place for many years, however, quietly works on a much more personal level to keep students safe and encourage good conduct.
Mountain View’s safety patrol consists of 25 carefully selected fifth-graders who provide additional eyes and hands when needed to ensure safe and orderly arrivals and dismissals.
The students, chosen after an application and interview process, are strong leaders who possess excellent interpersonal skills and sound judgment. The safety patrol members have set roles that may include monitoring hallways during dismissal, helping preschoolers and kindergarteners on and off buses, and helping preschoolers pack up at the end of the school day.
In an elementary school, student haste and inattention are the causes of most slips and falls; safety patrol members work to prevent those causes. Their very presence at their posts in the hallways serves as a reminder to peers that good behavior should be displayed at all times.
The safety patrol provides a host of other tangential benefits, both to the members and those who they assist.
"Being on the safety patrol helps build self esteem plus teaches students to be responsible," said art teacher Laura Murdoch, who coordinates the program with physical education teacher Mike Schwartz. "Patrol members know they have a job to do at certain times and places every day, and they know it’s up to them to do it."
Having the fifth-graders assist the preschoolers and kindergarten students also builds character and establishes strong bonds.
"It's great for both age groups to have that interaction," Ms. Murdoch said. "The younger kids know that other people in the building are there to help them and look out for them. I think it makes them feel safer and a little more connected to school to interact with kids who look a lot like they do, just a bit older. For the fifth grade students, it's just a good experience to take care of someone else, to have that responsibility to be a role model for someone younger."
As a reward for all they do throughout the year, the safety patrol members will attend a Somerset Patriots baseball game in May.
|Katie Wank helps preschooler Brandon Gobee get ready for dismissal|