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posted: Tue, Oct 14th, 2014
Gianna DeLuco and Nicole Dolan hold up their Learners of the Week awards

Recognizing Learners of the Week

A new recognition program at Sandshore rewards students for deep thinking. Learners of the Week, a program begun by principal Nicole Musarra, honors students who not only have mastered a skill or gained knowledge, but who also can put their learning into the context of real life.  

What did you learn? How would you use that learning? Why is it important? In order to be selected as a Learner of the Week, students must be able to answer those three questions regarding learning, the application of the learning, and its relevance.

Two Learners of the Week are selected from students in grades 3-5 and two Little Learners of the Week are selected from students in grades K-2. The chosen students are featured during morning announcements, receive awards, and have their photos displayed in the main lobby.

Ms. Musarra selects the honorees personally through her regular visits to classrooms and through discussions with students in the lunchroom and even the hallways.

“I started this initiative to get kids thinking,” said Ms. Musarra. “I think it’s important that students reflect on what they are learning and to be able to clearly articulate how they can apply it and how it relates to the real world. Students now are so excited to share with me what they are learning and what it means.”

Another recognition program was started at Sandshore this year too. Outstanding student work and achievements are featured on a bulletin board in the cafeteria. The work of a different grade level is displayed each month.


Max Machado prepares a speech for the campaign trail

The Power of Persuasion

Tricia Mitchell’s fifth-graders know how to persuade. The class recently learned the techniques for crafting powerful persuasive messages in a variety of mediums. They then applied the techniques in a creative way that simulated a situation they might experience themselves in real life. 

Mrs. Mitchell first had students examine a fun Bridgestone Tire commercial as an introduction to a few key elements of persuasion:  

– a topic that connects with the audience

-  words, sounds, or images that appeal to the senses

-  words, sounds, or images that create an emotional response

-  powerful words and the use of language appropriate for the audience

-  a reasonable rather than an exaggerated promise

The students then turned their attention to formulating logical arguments and speeches themselves. The class read “Off and Running,” a piece of realistic fiction about an election for fifth-grade class president, and studied the campaign speeches from the story. The kids also analyzed posters from “Vote For Me!” another campaign-themed story.

Then, using all that they had learned, the students applied their new skills to a mock election for class president. The young faux candidates created campaign posters that used all the elements of persuasion. Madison Mariano, for example, used glitter to dazzle the eye (and underscore her slogan “Glitter Not Litter.”) To connect emotionally and engender a feeling of school spirit, Max Machado used stars to allude to Sandshore Superstars and Grant Pederson incorporated the school colors into his poster.

There were catchy slogans and powerful words too, as well as specific and realistic campaign platforms. The students also wrote their own campaign speeches and delivered them to their classmates, who evaluated them and later voted in the election for the strongest candidate with the most compelling campaign. 

“The students came away with a strong understanding of how persuasive writing techniques can be used in ways that go beyond the written word,” said Mrs. Mitchell. “I think it also opened their eyes to the ways that these persuasive techniques are used in advertising and in everyday life.”

Writing strong persuasive essays to support an opinion is an important part of the fifth-grade writing curriculum.

Renee DiMonda works on a campaign poster
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Sandshore School
498 Sandshore Rd Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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