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Articles from April 2016

Northwood students learn with musician Justin Roberts

AMES–For more than 20 years, two-time GRAMMY nominee Justin Roberts has been creating music helping families and children navigate the joys and sorrows of growing up. Roberts’ visit to Northwood Preschool Center Friday, Jan. 29 kept his young audience engaged and entertained while they practiced the essential elements of music learning.

Principal Brandon Schrauth said music learning is an important part of the preschool experience, and he invited Roberts because he is a master at integrating learning standards into his concerts.

A former preschool teacher, Roberts said the interactive aspects of his concerts naturally meet the learning goals for young children.

“It’s so important for children to experience music as part of their learning,” he said. “It helps with brain development and function, and supports and enriches foundational for concepts for math, science and language.”

Regardless of such empirical benefits, Roberts said, music is something people can enjoy and appreciate throughout their lives.

Hendrix Baumgartner, age 5, is on track for a lifetime of music enjoyment. He said he liked the concert from beginning to end.

“I learned my voice is an instrument I always have with me, and my hands are a drum,” he said. “I liked the last song best because we got to dance.”

The Iowa Learning Standards for music, rhythm and movement include:

  • Participation in a variety of musical and rhythmic experiences, including singing,dancing, listening, playing simple rhythmic and tonal instruments, and creating and singing chants, rhymes, and fingerplays from diverse cultures.
  • Demonstrating meaningful creative responses when listening to music to reflect the expressive elements of music.notices differences in pitch, rhythm, patterns, dynamics, tempo, and timbre.
  • Demonstrating an awareness of music as part of daily life indoors and outdoors.

 

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New teacher leaders build on last year’s success

More than a dozen teachers have accepted positions in the Ames Community School District’s Teacher Leadership program as it enters its second year in 2016-17.  The addition of these new hires brings the total to 67 teachers in leadership positions for the upcoming school year. The state requires that districts have 25% of their eligible teachers in leadership positions. This year’s hiring leaves three teacher leader positions vacant in Ames, with the goal to fill those next year.

Designed to tap into the expertise of top teachers to improve classroom instruction, raise student achievement, attract and retain effective teachers, and reward teachers for extra responsibilities, the Teacher Leadership program is made possible through Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation System. Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross said the enthusiasm for the Teacher Leadership program and caliber of second-year applicants is a testament to the successes the program achieved in its first year.

Cappie Dobyns, a seventh grade art and Extended Learning Program teacher selected as a Mentor/Model teacher, said the Mentor Teachers, Model Teachers, Teachers on Special Assignment and Instructional Coaches comprising the Ames Teacher Leadership Program have offered her and her teaching partners the ability to collaborate and grow together.

“That’s the kind of support needed to improve and refine our classroom instruction,” she said. “While I benefit from the connectivity that results, I value the chance to contribute and serve in this capacity.”

Teacher Leader Coordinator Lisa Clayberg said the first year of the Teacher Leadership Program solidified processes that directly benefit teachers and students in using research-based quality instructional practices focused around essential standards, making timely adjustments in teaching strategies based on assessment data and reflection, and improving the communication and support networks within buildings and across the entire District.MarchPLCs

Ames High School chemistry teacher Aileen Sullivan said the success of the  first-year processes made applying in the second year an easy decision.

“I wanted to take a year to see how the program developed with my peers,” she said. “What I have observed is more contact and intermingling by teachers of different subjects and a stronger professional connection within the building. I wanted to be a part of that. Plus, I was already being asked to do certain types of modeling so I thought it would be good to have the training and support provided by the program to fulfill this role.”

Sullivan said the selection process involved creating a teaching video.

“Preparing for the selection and interview was fun,” she said. “I really enjoyed reflecting on my lesson and things that I enjoy about the classroom, such as ways to engage students and find out what they know and watching how students attack application problems. The selection process gave me cause to truly consider what I do and why I do it in the classroom. It was a good experience — teachers don’t often take time to reflect like this during the normal grind of a school year.”

Ross said the District received a grant for about $1.3 million for 2015-16 to cover salaries, stipends and professional development for Instructional Coaches, Teachers on Special Assignment, Mentor Teachers and Model Teachers. She said 2016-17 funding would be included in Supplemental State Aid, which provides state education funds to school districts.

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Camp Sawyer fifth grade student wins Best in Iowa art award

Hunter Zenger, in fifth grade at Camp Sawyer Elementary School, has been selected by Sargent Art for his self portrait as the winner of the Best of Iowa. In January, Hunter received an award as the top elementary piece in the Iowa Youth Art Month show. The Iowa Youth Art Month Show selected one piece by an elementary student, one piece by a middle school student, and two pieces by high school students. Sargent Art then announces one of the four student works as the Best of Iowa piece. Hunter’s piece has been selected as that piece. This honor entitles Hunter to an an all expense-paid trip to New York in July with a parent and his art teacher, Laurie Olk.

While in New York City, Hunter will be recognized at an awards banquet along with 28 other young artists from across the United States. Their trip includes tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the World Trade Center Memorial, Rockefeller Center along with attending a Broadway Show and having a Harbor Ferry Tour around the Statue of Liberty. .

Bhakti Oza, who announced Hunter’s award on behalf of Sargent Art, said each time she sees the artwork that the students of America produce she is more humbled than before.

“To be able to give one’s imagination a tangible appearance is a unique gift as well as exceptional skill—and the guidance of an involved educator takes (Hunter and Ms. Olk)  to a distinctive level,” she said.

In an interview with the Ames Tribune, Hunter said his winning artwork was a self portrait inspired by the art style of Amedeo Modigliani, made in layers of cardboard pieces, all painted with oil pastels. His favorite part, he said was “how one eye was bigger than the other.”Hunter Zenger

Olk said Modigliani’s work often featured slanted or crooked faces, and Zenger said he liked using the style on his own face.

Olk said many of her students have received state and national awards and she credits them for their inner vision and work ethic.

“It is the highest honor and privilege to work with our students, families and especially the Sawyer Team,” she said. “This village knows how to raise kids!”

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Camp Sawyer fifth grade student wins Best in Iowa art award

Hunter Zenger, in fifth grade at Camp Sawyer Elementary School, has been selected by Sargent Art for his self portrait as the winner of the Best of Iowa. In January, Hunter received an award as the top elementary piece in the Iowa Youth Art Month show. The Iowa Youth Art Month Show selected one piece by an elementary student, one piece by a middle school student, and two pieces by high school students. Sargent Art then announces one of the four student works as the Best of Iowa piece. Hunter’s piece has been selected as that piece. This honor entitles Hunter to an an all expense-paid trip to New York in July with a parent and his art teacher, Laurie Olk.

While in New York City, Hunter will be recognized at an awards banquet along with 28 other young artists from across the United States. Their trip includes tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the World Trade Center Memorial, Rockefeller Center along with attending a Broadway Show and having a Harbor Ferry Tour around the Statue of Liberty. .

Bhakti Oza, who announced Hunter’s award on behalf of Sargent Art, said each time she sees the artwork that the students of America produce she is more humbled than before.

“To be able to give one’s imagination a tangible appearance is a unique gift as well as exceptional skill—and the guidance of an involved educator takes (Hunter and Ms. Olk)  to a distinctive level,” she said.

In an interview with the Ames Tribune, Hunter said his winning artwork was a self portrait inspired by the art style of Amedeo Modigliani, made in layers of cardboard pieces, all painted with oil pastels. His favorite part, he said was “how one eye was bigger than the other.”Hunter Zenger

Olk said Modigliani’s work often featured slanted or crooked faces, and Zenger said he liked using the style on his own face.

Olk said many of her students have received state and national awards and she credits them for their inner vision and work ethic.

“It is the highest honor and privilege to work with our students, families and especially the Sawyer Team,” she said. “This village knows how to raise kids!”

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Farewell to Fellows Open House set for May 1

An open house will be held 1 – 3 p.m. at 1400 McKinley Dr.

AMES– The Fellows Elementary School community is saying farewell by paying homage to its building and the learning opportunities and memories it housed for almost 50 years. Staff and parents have planned an open house farewell event from 1 – 3 p.m., Sunday, May 1.

Principal Carol Page said students are preparing displays of time capsules, which were buried  24 years ago and unearthed when sitework began for the new building students will occupy in August.fellowsfeature

“Our fifth graders are interviewing past students and staff, and staff and students are creating bulletin boards depicting the school’s history and their favorite memories,” she said.

Page said honoring Dale Brentnall, the principal who opened the building, is a major focus of the event.

“Mr. Brentnall had a timeless vision for this building and its students and we all have benefited from his legacy,” she said. “We’ll be looping a video interview that we hope conveys what a remarkable man he is.”

Page said the public is invited to walk through the building and enjoy refreshments. Students will provide musical performances in the gymnasium at 1:30 and 2:30 pm.

“We’re excited to move into our new building, but it’s hard to think about this building being demolished,” Page said.

“There are a few things that deserve to be preserved. One of our families has offered to dig up the perennial bulbs in front of the building and give them away as mementos.”

In August, the school community will move into a new building built on the current site. The old building is scheduled for demolition in late June.

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Farewell to old Fellows Building Open House set for May 1

AMES– The Fellows Elementary School community is saying farewell by paying homage to its building and the learning opportunities and memories it housed for almost 50 years. Staff and parents have planned an open house farewell event from 1 – 3 p.m., Sunday, May 1.

Principal Carol Page said students are preparing displays of time capsules, which were buried  24 years ago and unearthed when sitework began for the new building students will occupy in August.

“Our fifth graders are interviewing past students and staff, and staff and students are creating bulletin boards depicting the school’s history and their favorite memories,” she said.fellowsfeature

Page said honoring Dale Brentnall, the principal who opened the building, is a major focus of the event.

“Mr. Brentnall had a timeless vision for this building and its students and we all have benefited from his legacy,” she said. “We’ll be looping a video interview that we hope conveys what a remarkable man he is.”

Page said the public is invited to walk through the building and enjoy refreshments. Students will provide musical performances in the gymnasium at 1:30 and 2:30 pm.

“We’re excited to move into our new building, but it’s hard to think about this building being demolished,” Page said.

“There are a few things that deserve to be preserved. One of our families has offered to dig up the perennial bulbs in front of the building and give them away as mementos.”

In August, the school community will move into a new building built on the current site. The old building is scheduled for demolition in late June.

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Author’s life lessons resonate with Ames Middle School students

AMES–Children’s author Ben Mikaelsen has a passion for helping young people break free of labels and discover their own special genius. He brought  his message to Ames Middle School students, Monday, April 11.

Born in La Paz, Bolivia, South America, Mikaelsen is one of six children born to strict fundamental missionaries he says always had time for their religious meetings, devotions, services and work, but seldom spent time with their children. He began writing as a way to escape the not-so-good things happening in his life—like reverse racism and revolutions in Bolivia  and bullying when he moved with his family to Minnesota.

Sixth grade students said Mikaelsen gave voice to issues that are on their minds.

“I learned that by being different shouldn’t stop anyone from doing what they love to do,” Ben McHenry said.

Anatasia Olson said she appreciated Mikaelson’s encouragement to “fight against bullying.”

“People don’t realize it’s still a school problem,”  she said.

Mikaelsen says his goal is to help students discover their own potential. Samantha Chriswisser said the author inspired her confidence in her own potential.

“I thought if I worked hard I could achieve my dreams,” she said. “I learned from Ben that I also need to believe in myself.”

Jason Vernon said, “He taught me dreams aren’t just fantasy.”

“Students can discover the same lessons that I learned,” Mikaelsen says on his website. “They are authors also, not just of words on some written page, but of reality. We are all the authors of our lives.”

Mikaelsen

Literacy teacher Drew DeJong said the goal for the author visit was simple.

“Get students engaged and in love with reading again,” he said. “Once the students heard the author of our book was coming, they couldn’t finish it fast enough.”

DeJong recited the question that guides his teaching.

“What do I want my students to remember about my classroom 10 years from now? I hope this experience was one of those things!”

If Kaylie Davis’s response to Mikaelsen’s presentation is any indication, DeJong’s goal was met. Kylie said she was most impressed with the storytelling that inspires Mikaelsen’s novels. “He talked about when he came to America, children would tease him because he didn’t know American football was different from football in his country. He asked the Americans “What do you do? Eat spaghetti with your ears?”

Mikaelsen’s novels have won many state Reader’s Choice awards, have been carried by Scholastic and Troll book fairs, and are recorded as unabridged audio books. His novels include “Rescue Josh McGuire”, “Sparrow Hawk Red”, “Stranded”, “Countdown”, “Petey”, “Touching Spirit Bear”, “Red Midnight”, “Tree Girl” and “Ghost of Spirit Bear”.

Mikaelson’s visit was sponsored by the Ames Education Foundation.

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Edwards Maker Faire sparks students’ creative solutions

Edwards Elementary students have embraced the Making process to create solutions to challenges and craft new games and 3D objects using a wide array of materials. Technology Teacher / Librarian Teresa Green led students in each grade to provide challenges for their projects and help them research ideas for their solution before designing and building. On Tuesday, March 29, students shared their creations with parents, friends, and their peers at the school’s second annual Maker Faire.

Green said first grade students were challenged to create a marble run from recycled materials. Second graders opted to design and build a cardboard arcade based upon the video “Cain’s Arcade”.

“Third grade students learned about Simple Machines and were challenged to create a chain reaction or a marble run in which a marble drops into a cup after using at least two simple machines in the process,” Green said.

Third grader Charles Hargrove said about his chain reaction machine, “It was hard to figure out how to make it work, but when we did, it was really fun.”

2016makerfaire

Edwards fourth grader Adrian Cardenas demonstrates a Makey Makey Game Controller he made with classmate Spencer Hostetter.

Fourth graders learned to create circuits using LittleBits, Makey Makeys, or Snap Circuits.

“Given an open range of choices, most fifth grade students worked with Tinkercad to create or tinker with 3D objects that would be used in their projects,” Green said. Others worked with engineering and design challenges with cardboard construction.

“And others worked with animation and movie production as they created game ideas, human interest stories, and public service announcements,” she said.

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District working with city to correct water quality issue at Meeker School

AMES–Water sources in Meeker Elementary School that are isolated from the classroom wings have tested positive for the presence of total coliform bacteria. Two sinks in the administration area tested positive for total coliform last week during a routine water quality sampling, prompting the school to distribute bottled water to students and staff as a precaution. Additional testing throughout Meeker School revealed that two staff restrooms were positive for total coliform bacteria.

Total coliform bacteria are common in the environment and are generally harmless. If only total coliform bacteria are present, the source is likely environmental and not due to fecal contamination.

John Dunn, the City of Ames’ Water and Pollution Control Director,  said additional water samples were collected from homes on either side of the school and from the city’s water plant’s wells, which all tested negative for the bacteria.

“We are confident in the safety of our water source, our water mains, the water being provided to the neighborhood, and the water provided to the community,” he said.

Gerry Peters, Director of Facilities Planning and Management for the Ames Community School District, said further testing revealed that all other water sources in the school are negative for total coliform. The water in the fountains and coolers in classroom wings is safe to drink and access has been restored, and the water sources in the affected areas will remain taped off until tests reveal the issue is resolved, he said.

Peters said with the city’s help on Saturday, his staff added a high concentration of chlorine to the contaminated piping. On Sunday, they flushed the lines and took more samples.

“With the city’s help, we will continue our efforts until testing shows the pipe is clean,” Peters said.

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