November 13, 2020
Chesapeake Academy's mission: to inspire each student to approach learning with 
curiosity and creativity, 
pursue excellence in all endeavors, 
and act with integrity--
so each can make our community and world a better place. 

The Head's Heads UP

Practice + practice + practice = prepared!

Although we are smoothly and successfully conducting in-person school right now, we cannot take for granted that we won't hit a stumbling block as we head into colder months with higher community transmission rates of COVID-19. 

On Friday, November 6, we scheduled a distance learning day for our faculty and families to practice in a planned way how we will do effective instruction should we need to temporarily move to a distance learning model at some point in the future. There were only a very few hiccups, and the day was an overwhelming success, providing everyone the opportunity to prepare. 

What did we learn? Distance Learning can be very effective. And practice is always worthwhile. Our practice day unearthed some expected and unexpected lessons!

  • Internet is fickle in the NN, and having a backup plan is essential. Students learned from a variety of locations, including home, parents' work offices, cars with hotspots, and parking lots with wifi access.
  • Tools such as headphones and planned learning spaces help students focus in busy locations or near siblings. 
  • Students can be independent! The best learning happens when students are slightly uncomfortable with material. They need to struggle, tinker, and ask questions to develop as learners, even if the product isn't perfect at first. The most successful students during distance learning had parents who provided support in getting logged into the accounts, then stepped aside to let the learning happen!
  • Teachers found snafus and new tricks in screen sharing and have implemented these solutions in their skill sets.
  • Parents are finding a wide variey of resources on classroom Canvas sites that offer glimpses into their child's academic day!
  • Even though students can access digital assignments from Canvas, they don't benefit from class discussions and collaboration if they are absent. It is essential for students to be remain present in digital classes until they are done.

Hats off to Kimberly Dynia, our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, who led the plan for the practice day, helping our teachers and families plan and organize the day.

The plan Dynia crafted included many components and began with working with students at school for several weeks on the Canvas learning system. She worked with colleagues to craft an appropriate schedule; hosted Zoom sessions for parents to answer questions and teach needed skills; determined technology device needs for families; established Zoom etiquette for our students; and encouraged families to establish a distance learning space within the household. 

Our academic teachers prepared lessons and pacing for each class's instruction. Our co-curricular teachers recorded dynamic lessons to integrate into the instructional morning. 

If we are in the position of moving to a period of distance learning because of a COVID outbreak at school, I will need to make the decision very quickly to move a class, a cohort, or the whole school to distance learning to respond. Through the practice day, we learned some areas to tweak, which was the goal. But, we also know that our faculty and families are well prepared with a plan for devices and internet service if we need to make that move for a period of time. 

Like in many areas of life, a well-planned practice can alleviate the anxiety (and fear) of the unknown. While we are all working hard to remain in person, we feel comfortable that we can be effective in our teaching and learning if that remains impossible for a few weeks.

Barb Lawson Presents "Wild and Wonderful Storytelling"

On Wednesday, November 11, Barb Lawson presented a fun-filled storytelling adventure filled with hilarious tales and songs from places near and far as part of the Performing Arts and Lecture Series (PALS). Students clapped and moved to stories and songs about a giant lollipop, a golden bird, and a grand revue of character voices in the childhood classic, The Cat in the Hat.

PALS Programming is funded by the Wiley Foundation with support from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Barb Lawson is an award-winning storyteller and actress who can be found sharing her “Stories with a Twist” up and down the East Coast. She’s been telling tales with her own laugh-out-loud, comical twist for over 25 years and is honored to be a Virginia Commission for the Arts Touring Artist. Students aged three through grade four were invited to the performance in the Chesapeake Academy gymnasium.
Class Acts...
Chesapeake Academy 3.0: Blended Learning
Learning to Love our Democracy Begins Early!

On November 3, election day was held all over the USA, including in kindergarten at Chesapeake Academy. After a lesson in the voting process and the importance of exercising that right, CA kindergarteners voted whether to have 10 minutes of inside recess or 10 minutes of outside recess. 

After voting with secret ballots, folding and placing ballots into a ballot box, the votes were tallied, and the winner with 9 votes (out of 14) was outside recess. (Did you really think it would be otherwise?)
Layers in Lessons in Kindergarten

In working with the color pink, the shape of the heart, and a lesson in symmetry, kindergarteners put their scissor skills to the test and learned to fold paper in half, write a large letter C and cut out hearts! Everything for a reason and layers in lessons.
Have you Scheduled your PPD Conference?

Your child's teachers are excited and ready to broach your favorite topic and theirs: Your student! These Parent Partnership Conferences bring together the insights and wisdom of a student's best advocates--their parents--and the perspective and experience of their teachers to discuss each child's growth. This powerful partnership is one of the most important contributions you can make to your child's success, so take a minute to make this time count!

  • Collect your thoughts. What seems to be working? What opportunities exist for growth?
  • Find out what is coming next in your child's curriculum. Knowing what is coming up will provide a context for what your child is working on now.
  • How can you best support the process? Use this conference to determine how to focus your efforts to best support your child's growth.
  • Follow through on recommendations and stay in touch to share results. Feedback helps fine-tune better strategies!
  • Support your partners! 
Finding Important Details

Reading through an informational text to pull out information is an important skill to learn. Second graders practiced this skill while reading their science newspaper this week. In the newspaper, the students learned about ecosystems and the delicate balance of their constituent species. The class discussed why adding new organisms or taking something away can upset the balance. They compared producers, consumers, and decomposers and categorized herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.
Picasso Turkeys?

At first glance, it's sometimes difficult to identify the tech skills in a project. What does watercoloring a turkey have to do with Arts & Innovation design skills? Plenty! First, students are breaking down, or decomposing, a turkey into its component shapes (body, tail feathers, wattle, etc.), a key skill in CAD (computer aided design) modeling. Then the students are developing fine motor control and tool skills by using rulers to divide the turkey parts into smaller areas. Students use planning skills to fill in those spaces without allowing the same colors to touch. Finally, the students will reassemble their turkeys a la Picasso, in the process reimagining something familiar in a new, innovative way. 
Amusement Wheels by Fourth Grade!

During library class, fourth grade students have been delving into biographies about interesting and influential people. After flying with Amelia Earhart, students traveled to Chicago's 1893 World Fair to construct an enormous "amusement wheel" with George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.

Now, engineers themselves, fourth graders are building a ferris wheel that will transport a Lego figure around a complete circuit. Students paired up to label the parts of a ferris wheel with an eye to differentiating between moving and stationary parts. Working with a limited number of supplies, students are getting innovative to create a functioning model.
Wonders of the Watershed!

Fourth grade students participated in a hands-on watershed lesson with Tara Brent from the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Working outside and thinking about the landscape surrounding us, Ms. Brent showed students the variety of ways their daily lives affect the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Using the Enviroscape Watershed Display and household items, such as sprinkles, dish soap, and cinnamon, students replicated the precipitation and human interaction that impacts our local watershed. It was a fun, safe learning experience for all! 
Egyptian Symbols Inspire!

While learning about ancient Egypt in Ancient World History and reading The Egypt Game by Kilpha Keatley Snyder in Language Arts, fourth graders couldn't wait to dive deeper into the many different symbols of the ancient civilization. The projects were completely self-driven as fourth graders decided which symbol they wanted to learn more about and tackled a variety of source materials. 

Kate Johnson and Henry Clair both found the scarab beetle interesting and started researching right away in preparation for making a model. They discovered that there are many different scarabs including namoscarabs, heart scarabs, and pectoral scarabs.

According to Wikipedia, "The scarab in ancient Egyptian religion is an important symbol shaped like a dung beetle. This beetle was associated with the divine manifestation of the early morning sun, Khepri, who was believed to roll the disk of the morning sun over the eastern horizon at daybreak."

Kate and Henry talked about what they had learned in their report to the class. Lucas was inspired to research the winged sun because he saw the symbol multiple places when studying ancient civilizations, such as Asia and Africa. Lucas learned the symbol had rich history in lower and upper Egypt as well. 
Novel Ignites Imagination!

Have you ever read a book that sent your imagination on a madcap race? Fourth graders are finding The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder just such a book! The plot is engaging, the characters, relatable...but it is the curiosity and creativity it inspires that make this book and this class in this year so magical.

Amazon's plot synopsis explains, "The first time Melanie Ross meets April Hall, she’s not sure they have anything in common. But she soon discovers that they both love anything to do with ancient Egypt. When they stumble upon a deserted storage yard, Melanie and April decide it’s the perfect spot for the Egypt Game. Before long there are six Egyptians, and they all meet to wear costumes, hold ceremonies, and work on their secret code. Everyone thinks it’s just a game until strange things start happening. Has the Egypt Game gone too far?"

Under the school's glorious ginko trees, Kate Johnson got an inkling that these ancient leaves (like yellow sunshine) would be a great start for her own Egyptian costume because they reminded her of the lotus flowers she learned about. She added pinecones for some architectural interest to her crown and the result does evoke the excitement of the novel. Magic!
Digging Deep with Decimals

Sixth grade mathematicians are working on decimals and the base ten system using base ten blocks to represent wholes, tenths, and hundredths and convert between them (14 tenths equals how many wholes? How many hundredths?).

The goal of this strategy is to prepare students to multiply and divide by tens, hundreds, and thousands with a visual foundation to support their understanding of what they are doing when they just "move the decimal point" to the right or the left on paper. 

The Real Story of Thanksgiving

Sixth grade students are continuing to identify perspective (character theme for the year) in readings during Geography. The class began by activating prior knowledge about the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving. Discussing the traditional story most often learned in classrooms, the class discovered that it is a story most often told from the Pilgrim's perspective. In the season of friendship, family, kindness and cooperation--the values of Thanksgiving--the story is often simplified to appeal to younger children.

Geography students read an article in Junior Scholastic magazine about the first Thanksgiving from an indiginous person's perspective. The article touched on the relationships among regional tribes, the European impact on groups before the arrival of the Pilgrims, and the longer term impacts on the area once the initial leaders had passed away and thousands more Europeans settled in the area. Students learned that it is important to take a balanced approach when studying history that takes into account different perspectives of the same events, even if the result isn't always a happy ending. 
Writing is an Essential Tool!

Crafting an essay hits so many important skills. eighth grade writers have been targeting specificity and concision, learning to fight the temptation to use two or three weak words where one strong word would suffice. Students wrapped up their work with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar by crafting their own thesis around power and leadership and carrying it through the writing process. With an eye on the prize, students were able to improve their personal foibles from rough to final draft and come away with a stronger understanding of a classic literary text!
Fine Art and Geometry!

Eighth grade Geometry students found the creative and artistic application for their knowledge of triangles as they interpreted a famous painting of their choice using only triangles. Challenged to find the relationship between different kinds of triangles, and how smaller and smaller triangles can form curved lines, the 8th grade projects showed the variety in approach. After students mapped out their painting in triangles and added color, they had to create a mathematician's statement on their art work. They identified congruent triangles and the geometric proof for how they knew the triangles were congruent. This project stretched their application of their geometric knowledge base and their artistic vision!
After School Athletics

We are very fortunate to have a tennis pro in our parent community. Frederic Cabocel, Yvelisse's (fifth grade) dad, is a USTA tennis coach with over 40 years of experience. He is holding an after school indoor tennis clinic in the gym for middle schoolers as an athletic option. Frederic is assisted by faculty members and follows all COVID protocols from the school and the USTA.

Tennis is being held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:45 to 5:30 p.m. through Thursday, December 17. There will be no tennis clinic the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break. 

In January, we will evaluate the COVID situation and make a determination about basketball clinics for January, February, and early March. We would love to have clinics and round robin play for any and all middle schoolers who would like to participate. COVID protocols and safety will dictate what that looks like.

Save the Date

11/13 Report Cards Emailed
11/16 through 11/20 Virtual Parent Partnership Conferences
11/18, Tag Day
11/21 Shuck-it Buckets, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
11/23 Festival of the Trees Contributions Due
11/25, 26, 27, Thanksgiving Break, offices closed
11/30 Clash of the Cans Begins
12/2 Dress Uniform
12/9, PALS presents Bright Star Theatre "Holidays Around the World," 9:30 a.m. Live stream
12/11 Interims Home
12/16 Tag Day
12/18 Half Day, Holiday Break Begins
1/4 Faculty Professional Development
1/5 Classes Resume
1/6 Dress Uniform and Shoes

An Attitude of Gratitude

  • Thanks to the faculty children who have been shelving books in the library when they arrive early in the morning with their parent.
  • Thanks to the kind souls who hold doors, help younger students, and pic up trash to keep our community strong and healthy. This school is filled with them!
  • Thanks to Beth Faber Orthodontics for the candy stash for faculty!
  • Thanks to Mr. Cabocel for hosting a tennis option for after school sports for middle school students.
  • As our curricular plans depend more on digital resources and platforms, having a tech guru like Kim Dynia to help is a constant benefit!
  • Thanks to Robin Blake for spearheading the middle school's Festival of the Trees entry.
  • Thanks to Olivia Clark for donating a wreath for the Pre-Kindergarten entry.

The Gift of Time and Talent is a Treasure!