To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, 4th and 5th grade artists at Fronteras Spanish Immersion Charter School in Wasilla, AK created a 160 foot long alfombra de aserrin (sawdust carpet) on our school’s front sidewalk.
Sawdust Carpets (Alfombras de Aserrin) are one or more layers of colored sawdust laid on the ground as decoration. Sawdust carpets are traditionally created in Mexico and Guatemala and are used as part of Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebration, welcoming Good Friday and Easter processions of religious icons carried through the streets. Although sawdust carpets take days to design and create, it takes only minutes for them to be happily and reverently destroyed by the shuffling feet of participants in religious processions. Continue reading ‘Culture, Collaboration and Creativity!’ by Shelli Franckowiak, 2022 Alaska Elementary Art Teacher of the Year
In the Spring of 2020 my students stopped coming to school. The Kenai Peninsula extended Spring Break while my colleagues and I scrambled to figure out how we were going to reproduce the learning that had been going on in our classrooms for children that were now at home, often unsupervised.
This spring I worked with the Global Nomads Group (GNG) to bring my KPBSD Distance Education science students an opportunity: The option to participate in a short video-based online course with other teenagers from around the world. As GNG describes it, “youth dig into issues they are passionate about, share their stories, and explore the stories of their global peers at their own pace.” Our students focused on the topics of Ocean Health and Sports, and ultimately created action plans to benefit their local and global communities. They lit up when many of their stories were added to the global repository for their international peers to learn from too! Continue reading ‘KPBSD Students Swap Valuable Stories with International Peers’ by Kim Leslie + Students
Annually U.S News and World Report releases rankings for the best high schools in the country. This past October, the publication released its first rankings of public middle schools in each state, with 62 Alaska middle schools receiving recognition.
It’s hard to believe it, but the Our Alaskan Schools Blog turns three this month! In 2021, we featured 25 stories of schools and classrooms around the state. Here are some of the highlights of the stories we featured this past year.
In September and October of each school year, Fronteras Spanish Immersion Charter School students and staff research, study, and present the history, culture, and contributions of our ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced this observation in 1968. It was expanded to a 30-day period by President Ronald Reagan starting September 15th and concluding October 15th.
For the most part, life in King Cove is very peaceful. It’s a calm, good hearted community ground in deep family ties and traditions, an outdoor lifestyle, and culturally rich values. Being the principal of our small school of 70 students is largely the same. Our students are pleasant and hard working, the staff is professional, caring, and dedicated to student success, and the building and surrounding land it sits on is national park status beautiful. The City of King Cove is home to Peter Pan Seafoods, one of the largest by volume fish processing facilities in the state.
This spring in Denali Borough School District, we collectively engaged in supporting our students to share their learning through a specific student-engaged assessment strategy called Celebrations of Learning. Celebrations of Learning invite students to publicly engage and assess their learning experiences through reflection. We saw enhanced student engagement when our students were able to reflect on and take the lead of their work. Taking ownership of these experiences encouraged insight, self-assessment, and complex learning, and was especially nurtured when our students wondered about their learning publicly with others. Making learning public became an authentic purpose that empowered and motivated our students to care about the quality of their work.
Celebrations of Learning is a community event that nurtures classroom-based learning experiences that ensure that students are fully empowered in the process of understanding themselves as learners. Students presented high-quality products and performances that were often modeled after real-world formats and intended for audiences beyond the classroom. The ultimate intent of Celebrations of Learning was to invite students to reflect on and articulate what they have learned, questions they answered, research they conducted, and areas of strength and struggle in order to understand and take ownership of their own growth as learners.
Each year, students in Mrs. Walker’s junior English class research and write a persuasive essay. This is one of the best known assignments at Valdez High School and is often approached by students with more trepidation than anticipation.
This year, thankfully, we are starting to see a shift in the mindset. Ok, not the mindset BEFORE they start the assignment, but as the students progress, they come to understand the value of what they are learning.
Tanana Middle School in Fairbanks, Alaska has a 40+ year history of excellence. Tanana serves about 350 students in grades 7 & 8. About one third of our students are part of families with a member serving at Fort Wainwright, a US Army post adjacent to the school.
When COVID hit in March of 2020, school immediately shifted to remote learning. Our captain, Principal Carla Marquand, called on Tanana staff to rise to the challenge. She knew her crew was capable. We had to stretch a bit farther outside our comfort zones. We took a deep breath, adjusted, & built upon our strengths. We didn’t reinvent the helm…we simply changed direction of the ship. Collaboration, Chromebooks, & communication were assets our Tanana crew already possessed. When everything about “doing school” changed on a dime, Tanana was prepared to succeed.Continue reading ‘What Works: Tanana Middle Built Upon Its Strengths When The Learning Landscape Changed!’ by Tana Martin