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IB turns 50!

As I was returning this week from a visit to an IB school in another state, I was reflecting on my experiences with the International Baccalaureate Organization that I was introduced to more than 13 years ago.  In my early days as a school administrator, my colleagues and I were looking for something that would give our students something more, something longer lasting, than a traditional education.

Of course, we wanted our students to read, write, and calculate well, but we also wanted to instill in them a love of learning and help them find purpose in their school life.  We had all experienced what it was like to be in a classroom where we didn't feel that what we were doing had any relevance to our future lives.   I was one of those students that worked hard to memorize my spelling words or my times tables or a set of facts, so that I could get 100% on the test, but those things did not make school interesting or compelling for me. Nor were they particularly useful beyond the c…
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One of the best kept secrets at Bel Aire is our working clay studio under the direction of our very own Pam Imbach.  Pam taught at Bel Aire many years ago and after a very interesting journey into several career paths she came back to Bel Aire as our IB Coordinator to help us bring IB to our school.  She retired a few years ago but now she is back teaching our kids to develop their artistic talents and communicate through the use of clay.  Pam, herself a potter and artist, wanted to give our kids the experience of working with clay as a medium for expression.  She combines her knowledge of the elements of our IB program with her skills in pottery.  So when kids visit her studio in Room 32, they get a real hands-on experience with concepts like change, perspective, and causation that connect their learning to the unit they are working on in their classroom.  Parents are welcome to come and visit the studio and see what the kids are creating.

We are truly grateful to Pam for all the tim…
So, I have a new favorite thing to do every Sunday evening.  Since school started, at about 5:00pm on Sunday nights, I get an email from Seesaw giving me a report about the latest news and posts that have happened during the week at school.  I always thought I had a pretty good sense of what was happening each day, but I am having so much fun catching up with student's work, their activities, the recordings of their thinking, etc.  I get to see everything that's been posted during the week.  We have such amazing students!!  Some highlights from this last week - 5th graders at the MOMA in San Francisco, pictures from all the action field trips of our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, 1st grade published writing (with student voices recorded!) and 2nd graders sharing their thinking about global learners.

But what makes me smile the most is reading the comments back from parents giving encouragement, comments, or just love notes back to their student.   Can't wait for next week..... …

International Day of Peace

It was a special day at Bel Aire today.  We celebrated the opening of our new labyrinth as a place of peace surrounded by our beautiful redwood trees at the back of our campus.  The labyrinth will be a way for students to practice mindfulness and reflection.  A labyrinth may be new to some of you, but they have actually been around for thousands of years.  It is not a puzzle or a maze with dead ends and choices but a pathway that is laid out in a circular pattern to take the walker on a journey to the center.  As you walk along the path, it is a time to reflect, find calm when you're in conflict, and appreciate the joys of life.

The labyrinth was a perfect setting for our celebration of peace.  We talked about the 50th anniversary of our International Baccalaureate Organization.  The IB began 50 years ago in the aftermath of a war torn Europe from the International School of Geneva.  That insightful group of educators had a vision that children from all over the world could learn …
We had such a fun time today at our annual Great Zucchini Race!  We had about 40 students enter a zucchini car that they built and decorated in some really unique ways.  In addition to being a great community builder, this race gives students the opportunity to use their creativity and critical thinking skills to design a racer using simple physics and engineering.

But my favorite part is seeing evidence that families worked together on a hands-on project.  Some of the most memorable and happy times for our kids is when we create and play together.  Thanks to all those that participated and those that came out to cheer on the kids!

I am happy to introduce this blog that hopefully will help you to get a better picture of day to day happenings at Bel Aire Park.  With our new theme of communication and media, I wanted to stretch my own learning using a communication tool that is new to me.  My hope is to capture meaningful moments during our days at school that will give parents and community members a taste of the wonderful things our students are doing and saying as they learn and discover their world.

Our theme this year is Find your voice; Tell your story so I will attempt to give voice to our students' stories.  One of my favorite poets is Langston Hughes and I will share his poem again that I shared at Back to School Night: 

Final Curve

When you turn the corner
And run into yourself
Then you know that you have turned
All the corners that are left.

I think that to really become who we are meant to be, we have to keep turning new corners and finding new things to discover.  This is my goal for our learning this …