From the principalandamp;#8217;s office: Tahoe Lake Elementary a magical place to play | SierraSun.com
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From the principalandamp;#8217;s office: Tahoe Lake Elementary a magical place to play

Stephanie FoucekSpecial to the Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. andamp;#8212; Have you ever seen a student performance in our Little Auditorium? Have you been lucky enough to go cross-country skiing with one of our classes across our neighboring golf course, or perhaps hear Ms. Verutti, our librarian, read a book in our cozy library?Maybe youandamp;#8217;ve been in our classrooms to see the smiling faces of active learners, heard the laughter on our lakeview playground, attended a Cubby Hullabaloo honoring individual student achievement, or seen a grade level going through a science rotation? If you have, you know that Tahoe Lake is a magical place for students to learn and grow!Thanks to our students, teachers and families, weandamp;#8217;re having a great year at Tahoe Lake School. This year, we have two new school-wide initiatives that we are extremely excited about, and that we feel are having a great impact on our studentsandamp;#8217; learning.Science focusOur first school-wide initiative is in hands-on science. This year, every grade level team has joined forces to provide a dynamic, hands-on, standards-based science curriculum for all students. Our focus is on making science relevant using the context of Lake Tahoeandamp;#8217;s natural environment, and to lay a solid foundation for our students to become highly skilled problem-solvers as they grow. We believe that this foundation in the sciences will poise our students for great future accomplishments and the ability to be successful in an increasingly scientific and technological andamp;#8212; and rapidly changing andamp;#8212; world.According to the National Science Teachers Association, elementary school students learn science best when they are involved in first-hand exploration and investigation and inquiry/process skills are nurtured; instruction builds directly on the studentandamp;#8217;s conceptual framework; content is organized on the basis of broad conceptual themes common to all science disciplines; and mathematics and communication skills are an integral part of science instruction.*Through our science focus, students have had many experiential learning opportunities ranging from visiting the Tahoe Tree Company and bringing back native plants to plant in our garden, to creating moon and lightscapes, to participating in science-based plays such as Life Cycles, performed by every second grade in our school. It has been so exciting to hear our students talk about, experience, and master science standards with a new awareness! We were also able to send six teachers to the National Science Teachers Conference in San Francisco, and know that the new knowledge and strategies they bring back will help us continue to refine and grow our science focus.

Our second schoolwide initiative this year is the offering of 30 minutes of daily Spanish for students who are proficient in English. As you may be aware, all TTUSD students who are English Learners participate in 30 minutes of daily English Language Development. During this time, our English-proficient students have 30 minutes of daily conversational Spanish. Through a grant funded by Excellence in Education, we purchased a Spanish curriculum, Sube, which focuses on the development of conversational Spanish through the use of art, music and games. It has been a wonderful addition to our school, and we hope that by developing our studentsandamp;#8217; Spanish skills it will open up future opportunities for them to access high level Spanish offerings as they move to the upper grades.We also enjoy the dedicated support of an energized Site Council and PTO, who volunteer much time and energy to the success of our school. My heartfelt thanks go out to these groups and all who contribute to the support of meaningful learning experiences here at Tahoe Lake Elementary. Stephanie Foucek is principal at Tahoe Lake Elementary School. This column was provided to the Sun by Switchback PR+Marketing, on behalf of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.* Read more about our philosophy on science in daily curriculum in elementary schools at the National Science Teachers Association website: http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/elementary.aspx.


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