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Last summer, the NCS teachers began training in Cooperative Learning through Kagan Cooperative Learning Workshops. Cooperative learning is a way to increase student engagement by organizing lessons so that students are involved in showing what they know by speaking because we know that we "retain a great deal more of what we say than what we hear." Cooperative learning structures also support social/emotional development and classroom management. When using cooperative learning structures the students have positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction. This picture shows a team building game with a balloon. Through team building, students come to know, like, and respect their teammates. In the process, a group of virtual strangers becomes a powerful learning team.
What Does it Look Like?
A cooperative learning structured class would include healthy noise rather than just a quiet class. Instead of students being told to “keep your eyes on your paper” the students are engaged with one another by helping their partner or group to solve the problem. Students may be up looking around at what classmates have accomplished and produced rather than sitting quietly.
When cooperative learning is properly implemented, it is a powerful approach resulting in positive outcomes. This success is based on four basic principles. When these principles are in place, cooperative learning produces positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction. As these principles are implemented in the classroom, we, as teachers, unleash the full potential of cooperative learning. This empowers NCS to create classrooms where students work together, acquire social skills, care about each other, and achieve more. This helps NCS educators be effective teachers where students learn to their full potential.
Cooperative learning has the potential to be a solution for four different crises: achievement crisis, achievement gap crisis, race relations crisis, and social skills crisis. Kagan says, “Cooperative learning provides in the school a surrogate, stable community in which prosocial values and skills are nurtured and developed.” In addition to these positive outcomes, cooperative learning also can improve communication and language acquisition skills, self-esteem, increased motivation, decreased discipline issues, and improve critical thinking.
Our teachers here at NCS are using cooperative learning strategies in their classes. Check out these strategies in action in the videos below!
With bullying, school shootings and teen suicide on the rise, NCS senior Tollie Boone was inspired to create this powerful spoken word and song in response – Only Yesterday.
"When I started writing this, it was just a short little poem that I really thought nothing about. It was just something to get off my brain to help me fall asleep. After I finished writing, I realized that this world isn’t as safe as it was when I was younger. I used to be able to go outside and not have to worry if someone was going to hurt me. Now in today’s society, we have to increase security and make rules more strict. Keeping people out only invites more problems in. The only way we can help someone is if we ask. We can’t keep ignoring one another thinking that one day we will say something to them. That 'one day' we have now might not always be there. Galatians 6:10 says, 'Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people…'"
These pictures are from our bridge-building activity in 3rd grade. We read a story called Pop’s Bridge, told from the point of view of a child whose father was a skywalker building the Golden Gate Bridge. The child has a change in mindset when he realizes ALL the workers on the bridge were important and necessary.
Before we build our bridges, we study other bridges, paying close attention to design. Each child draws an idea after learning who is on his or her team. Each team chooses a design to build, and they build it with 100 toothpicks and 50 gumdrops. Today we tested our ability to work as a team for a common purpose. We will test our bridge designs for strength and stability on Monday.
Earlier this week on the hit TV show “Shark Tank,” the creator of Qball got three sharks to invest in his innovative classroom invention, but Mrs. Greenlee’s 4th grade class has already been enjoying their Qball since August!
Qball is a soft, ball-shaped, wireless microphone that can be connected to any sound system to make communicating in the classroom simple and fun.
Students and teachers simply toss the Qball to each other and speak into it to allow everyone to hear clearly and engage in classroom discussion. Mrs. Greenlee’s class uses it for discussion, review, and overall instruction, and she loves that it allows movement to engage kinesthetic learners and amplifies sound for auditory learners.
“I love that I have yet ANOTHER reason to do something non-traditional in my classroom! Having the Qball allows me to engage those otherwise “quiet” students, but also meet the needs of those that need to move while they learn,” said Mrs. Greenlee.
Though it was originally designed for the classroom, the sharks are hoping to apply the Qball to corporate settings as well.
Teachers at Nashville Christian are always looking for new ways to teach students at all learning levels and to create an atmosphere where learning is fun! Click below to see Mrs. Greenlee’s class using Qball to practice multiplication tables.
Building gumdrop bridges was the highlight of the week for 3rd grade. The challenge presented to each group was to build a bridge using only 50 gumdrops and 100 toothpicks that would hold 300 grams (120 pennies) of mass without falling through the six-inch gap it had to span.
Designing, building, testing and rebuilding with a peer group chosen by the teacher was also part of the challenge as I, the teacher, had the intention of the students building relationships with those outside their normal peer group.
We tested our bridges first over the gap. Then we added 50 pennies on a paper plate for 20 seconds. All five bridges were able to make it through the first round. The next round of testing was 100 pennies for up to 20 seconds. All the bridges held the 100 pennies, but two of the bridges lasted less than 5 seconds with that weight. For the final round, we added the extra 20 pennies to make the mass 300 grams. Clearly this mass was too much for one of our designs. It crumbled under the pressure. Of the two remaining bridges, the obvious winning design was able to hold the mass for one minute and could have lasted longer, but that was long enough to prove its strength and win the challenge!
Making group posters to document the process is on our agenda for this week.
This fall’s Wild West Book Fair was another great success! The kids had a great time dressing up all week. From Team Day where they wore gear supporting their favorite teams, to Crazy Sock Day, and of course Western Wednesday. Coming to school as a book character was one of their favorites. The elementary teachers even got together and dressed as the crayons from The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt. Here is what NCS librarian Julie Shaver had to say about Book Week:
“Last spring I thanked you for making the book fair our most successful to date; however, that has changed. Thanks to you, we set a new record by selling over $6500 at the Wild West Book Fair!!! As a result, our library is able to get more than $3500 worth of books!! I am truly overwhelmed by your support and generosity! I would also like to send a special thank you to my volunteers for all of your hard work; I absolutely could not do this without you! Blessings and happy reading!”
Ask any one of the NCS students who spent two weeks in Europe what their favorite part of the trip was, and you’ll likely get many different answers.
Maybe it was the last night in Normandy, when we walked barefoot on Gold Beach, where the British forces landed on D-Day, the cool winds of the English Channel not enough to stop one student from diving head first into the frigid water and swimming to the remains of the artificial harbors.
Maybe it was the next night, in Paris, when we all ventured to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and made it down just in time to see the light show, some of us thinking, in hindsight, the elevator really would have been better than the stairs.
Or, for some, it was the morning in the Alps, driving past the crystal blue rivers on the way to Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s mountain retreat, where he only visited fourteen times to entertain people of significance, but many of us would have stayed forever given the chance.
And, in between, the moments no less significant: walking where bunkers once stood at Dachau Concentration Camp and feeling the emotional pull of the events that occurred there decades ago; a moment difficult to label as a favorite, but still meaningful in its own right. Or the American Cemetery, in Normandy, hearing the Star Spangled Banner play as the waves of Omaha Beach rolled in the distance. Touring through Notre Dame during mass, as the late afternoon sun streamed through a stained glass window onto a priest in red robes, or having our first (and possibly last) sauerkraut on the last night in Munich.
Maybe it was running after a train in London after spending too much time gazing at Big Ben and the Elizabethan Tower lit up at night, watching the Glockenspiel in Munich perform its nightly show, seeing the Mona Lisa, or touring the gardens at Versailles.
Or, maybe, the best part was looking around at dinner, seeing the exhausted, happy looks on everyone’s faces, and the agreement that, even after two weeks together, we could have gone two more.
For two weeks, NCS students toured five countries with the purpose of experiencing the history of World War II firsthand. They explored Churchill’s London war room, touched the Nazi bunker walls in the Alps, and stood in foxholes Allied soldiers used during the Battle of the Bulge. They wondered how a cathedral in Cologne escaped destruction from Allied bombing, and learned how a country learns from its mistakes at the Topography of Terror Museum in Berlin before laying hands on what remains of the wall that once divided a country in two.
Ask any one of the NCS students who spent two weeks in Europe what their favorite part of the trip was, and you’ll likely get many different answers. Ask them if they’d do it again, and you’ll likely only get one answer.
For a student perspective on the trip, see junior Hope McWright's story here.
Each year the 7th and 8th graders take a special trip to an exciting new city. Every other year, the trip is to Washington DC, so that each NCS middle schooler gets to have that experience, but their other year, they travel to a different destination. In the past few years, the middle school has visited St. Augustine and Philadelphia. This year, they travelled to the third most populated city in the U.S., Chicago! Brian Bishop, the Middle and High School Principal, was on this year’s trip and kept us updated each day on their adventures.
Wednesday, May 10
I wanted to take a moment to update you on our tour of Chicago (with a brief scenic stop in Lafayette, IN). We did have a bit of a hiccup today as the boys' bus had a busted belt. This gave us a moment to enjoy the scenes of a really flat (and empty) field. However, never fear, there were several "certified mechanics" among the staff and parents along on the trip who were able to put the bus back together again. This delay did cause us to get into Chicago a little late. However, we were able to enjoy a scenic boat ride through the city with great views of the architecture and Sears Tower. We were able to enjoy famous deep-dish pizza at Gino's East Side Pizza. We won't discuss who ate the most (Coach Frazier). After this, we went to everyone's favorite, famous site of Chicago...The Mall! There was much rejoicing on the girls' bus. We did have a wonderful and real experience of "The Windy City" as we walked to the mall in a bit of a rain/wind storm. After all of that, we have now crashed in the hotel and are looking forward to some great events and locations tomorrow. All is well and everyone is safe in Chicago. Hope you are enjoying the warm weather there in Nashville. It is a brisk 53 and windy here....
Thursday, May 11
Once again, we have enjoyed a long day full of fun things to do. We started early this morning at the Museum of Science and Industry. This was a really large science museum with a lot of neat things to do. One of the main attractions was a real German U-boat submarine from World War II. After this, we went to Navy Pier for shopping, lunch, and fun. Many chose to ride the giant Ferris Wheel, though some regretted it once they were at the very top. Others chose to try the Mirror Maze and have the bruises to prove that they took a few wrong turns. After this, we took a guided tour of the city with a few stops along the way. These stops included Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory and Millenium Park. Finally, we drove, 26 miles outside the city (a comfortable 80 minute ride in afternoon traffic) to enjoy Ye Olde Medieval Times Dinner Show. All the Lords and Ladies enjoyed a medieval feast while watching jousting, sword fighting, and other medieval games and tricks. We all cheered as each Knight died on the battlefield in sword battle (actually, it was a completely non-violent production, totally safe for all the kids to enjoy)! Once again, everyone is completely tired, and I am sure they will go straight to sleep when they finish packing.
Friday, May 12
We are currently on our way home, just north of Indianapolis. We had another fun and easy day in Chicago. We began by visiting the Hancock Building (one of the tallest in Chicago) for a 360 degree view over 1,000 feet up. Several of our people "tilted" over the edge to look straight down! We then travelled to the Shedd Aquarium (along with thousands of other school tours) to see some amazing sights. Baluga whales, dolphins, and pythons were among the animals we visited. Finally, we went to the Adler Planetarium for a video presentation. All is quiet on the buses (at least the girls' bus anyway), and we are headed home with about 5 hours and 30 minutes of drive time remaining. With a supper stop included, I think we should be home around 11:00 pm. Thank you for sending your children with us! We have had a great time as always and our students behaved very well. See you all tonight.
So it was another great adventure for the 7th and 8th grade. Everyone made it home safe and sound with many great memories to reflect on. Next year they will head back to the nation’s capital once again. What a great opportunity for our middle school students to share an adventure and see another part of this great country!
Congratulations are in order for the yearbook staff! The 2016-2017 yearbook has been chosen by the employees at the Walsworth printing plant to be included in Walsworth’s Gallery of Excellence! This is the 4th time the Nashville Christian School yearbook has been included in the gallery, and it means that our yearbook will be one of the example books used by Walsworth’s sales representatives to show their schools and workshops. It will also be displayed at regional, state, and national conventions and workshops, and parts of the book may also be used as examples in Walsworth’s educational materials. Congratulations Cate Maclellan, Matthew Magrum, Warren Hanson, Sara Wilson, and Karen Montesinos!
Jason Tucker has been all over campus taking school pictures, but he doesn't only enjoy taking pictures of people, he also has a passion for marine biology. Jason did a fantastic job in sharing with our 5th graders what it is like in the underwater ecosystem. On Thursday, September 29th, he showed the 5th graders several sea creatures that he has encountered on his many diving excursions. He also shared with us the design of the scuba gear and cameras that he uses. 5th graders have been learning how the design process takes place. We greatly appreciate Jason taking the time to visit with us!
Today is National Read Across America Day! In celebration, our first graders are enjoying a lineup of more than 34 readers over the next week including Nashville Christian teachers, administrators, staff, coaches, fellow students, Mrs. McWright’s middle school class, and parents. Yesterday they had Emmy Award winning meteorologist Lelan Statom from News Channel 5 read his favorite Dr. Suess book to the class. (Look for a shoutout on tomorrow morning’s news around 6:15am!)
The National Education Association is building a nation of readers through its signature program, Read Across America. Now in its 19th year, this year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.
Our first graders love reading and have really enjoyed all of their special visitors. Thanks to everyone who has shared their favorite stories with our students and promoted a love of reading!
We use technology to gather information on a daily basis. Gone are the days of phone books or doing everything you can to stay up for the 10:00pm news. We have a world of information at our fingertips.
At NCS, we are blessed to have this same wonderful technology in our classroom. So just like adults use it to gather information, we too, as students and teachers, can do the same thing. In 4th grade, we have traveled throughout the US in our first six weeks of school, without ever leaving the four walls of our classroom. With the help of a computer and Promethean board, the 4th graders have Skyped with classes all over the US! We participate in a new game called “Mystery Skype”. In this game, the object is to be the first class to guess the location of the class you are Skyping with by asking/answering only “yes” or “no” questions. Think about the old game of “20 Questions” and you’ll get the idea. As the teacher, I contact teachers throughout the US and ask them to play. We set up a time that is good for both of our schedules and then we Skype one another. The students use maps and previous knowledge of US geography to narrow down the location of the other school. The first school to correctly identify the location of its opponent wins! Once the winner has been established, time is taken to teach one another about your school. The students are not only gathering information about US geography, but also learning about kids around the US and that not all schools are like NCS. You can imagine the looks on their faces when we recently Skyped with an all boys school! Once we have finished our game and have signed off from Skype, we gather around our large classroom map and label the state with a “win” or “loss”, along with the name of the class and school, as well as the city, that we Skyped with. Our goal is to try and Skype with as many of the 50 states that we possibly can this year!
We have also used technology to take “virtual field trips”. Just recently, my parents took a trip out west. When they arrived at Mount Rushmore, we were able to Facetime with them. We saw the monument itself, as well as, the park around it. They were able to give us facts that kids would be interested in and even took the time to answer questions that the kids had.
It’s so exciting to get out of a textbook and let the kids experience learning on a different level. I’m excited about all of the adventures that await us this year!