Our Reflection on the TRCS Annual Survey
Thank you to all of you who completed our annual survey. This is one important way we solicit your input each year. It looks like 132 people responded to one or more questions. Summarized results are below minus questions about homework. Staff will decipher homework feedback when they return to work. We will provide a reflection/response to your input in the September newsletter. Thank you to Chris Tripp, one of our parents, who provided valuable assistance with this task. As we read through the comments, we thought we should take a minute to update/clarify with our families some of what we read.
You can find the TRCS Survey Results by clicking on this link:
Added Subjects ( Most people listed art and music)
As you can see from the graph, most respondents listed art and music. This year we are adding Maker Space as a special. This is a special that covers art but also can include multiple other topics like technology, building, etc. Students in Grades 1-6 will regularly participate in Maker Space and be taught by Terry Muldoon who is a long time art teacher from the Center from the Arts. Read her bio on the TRCS webpage. The goal is to integrate Maker Space projects with projects connected to PBL. For example, Grades 5 and 6 will be studying the Aztecs one trimester this year and will be asked to create an original piece of art through Maker Space based on their study of Diego Rivera and his paintings of this culture. Grades 7 and 8 will also have regular Maker Space time and will work with their PBL teacher (s) during this time on projects directly linked to PBL. Teachers are excited to have this opportunity to delve more deeply into content through Maker Space. Note: our new building has a FABULOUS Maker Space room designed intentionally for this purpose with a kiln, outdoor deck, a large garage door with windows, and large window, another large window and a door- and amazing views of our mountains!
Note: When we started the school, we consciously chose Movement and Spanish as our two special areas. We addressed art and music through our own enrichment cycle and after school programs. Your kids will still get formal Movement classes at least twice a week and Spanish every day. Now that we have the new building, we have the space to add art/Maker Space.
PBL and Science ( Some respondents noted that they wish there was more science)
This survey demonstrated to us that one of the core ways we reach our mission is through PBL, and it looks like most people approve of our work in that department. If you are new to us or are still uncertain of what PBL is, let us clarify. PBL is Place/Project Based Learning. It is part of a deeper learning model which allows students to apply what they have learned in some capacity while giving teachers permission to go deep with science and social studies standards rather than broad. This is absolutely how we address both science and social studies academic standards. We spend much of our professional collaboration time working on the various PBL curriculums that teachers create or adapt to fit. When they are completed, we call them platforms. Platforms incorporate opportunities for interdisciplinary work, collaboration, field studies, individual and group projects, formal oral presentations with feedback from live audiences and, sometimes , service to the community as a result of what they have learned. Wherever possible, we use our local community as the learning place. That may include resident experts on the topic and/or field trips to nearby locations for field study. We aim to use our community as a learning resource and give back if and when we can. PBL topics have cycles. Since students are in multiage classrooms, we cycle the PBL platforms every two years so that students learn new content every year and do not repeat the previous year’s curriculum. As a result and as one example, students may learn 5th grade topics in science or social studies in 4th grade. So they may learn about American history in 4th grade and Colorado history in 5th grade. It depends on the cycle of the years. Teachers refine and more deeply develop their platforms every year ; they are a vibrant work in progress. Core teachers will explain what their PBL platforms are all about each year. If you don’t know, please ask. This is some of the more exciting work we do.
Spanish ( What is the plan)
Kindergarten and first grade students have had much of their math instruction delivered in Spanish. This year they will return to taking math classes in Spanish every day as well as an additional Spanish as a Second Language block. Having math in Spanish is an immersion strategy whereby students have the opportunity to learn math through a second language. It is cognitively challenging for students whose first language is not Spanish and still challenging for students whose first language is Spanish. By second grade, students learn math in English and continue with Spanish as a Second Language instruction daily through Grade 8. Research clearly demonstrates that aptitude for second language acquisition is much greater the younger you are. Suzanne Robin, author of “ Why is it Easier for a Child to Learn a New Language Than an Adult?” writes:
Not only do children grow and develop at extraordinary paces, but they learn information quickly as well. A child who is exposed to multiple languages at a young age has a much easier time processing and remembering the information they received.
Ultimately, our goal is for students to enter high school eligible for Advanced Placement Spanish classes. These classes are taught in Spanish and, should students pass the final exam with a high mark, it is possible that these classes will also give them college credit for foreign languages. TRCS has now graduated two 8th grade classes. In last year’s class, many were placed in Spanish 2 at the high school. The incoming 9th graders, will be placed in Spanish 1, 2, and 3 depending on a placement test TRCS gave them last Spring, student drive or interest in higher levels of Spanish, and student self assessment after visiting the high school and auditing a class at higher levels. Once they enter these classes, they will have to do the hard work to pass; we have confidence they will. In Grades 2-8, we have had only one Spanish instructor, Señora Loya. Last year, she was able to work with volunteers to offer Spanish to our native speakers as well. This year, we have a Spanish faculty that includes five teachers of Spanish in addition to three bilingual staff who will teach math in Spanish in kindergarten and first grades. We will offer three classes of Spanish: 1, 2 and 3 designed around the World Languages Standards (https://www.cde.state.co.us/coworldlanguages/statestandards). There will be a Spanish block for Grades 5-8 in the morning and a Spanish block for Grades 2-4 in the afternoon. Students will be placed in the class for which they demonstrate readiness. Dr. Hire, who takes 8th grade students to Mexico every year as their passage onto high school, will teach most of the 8th Grade Spanish students this year to prepare them for this journey. We are very optimistic about this year as we employ more talented teachers of Spanish.
Career Pathways For Grades 7 and 8 ( What is happening?)
For the past few years, TRCS has been working with YouthEntity to implement two programs: My Career, My Life and a Financial Literacy course for grades 5 and 8. My Career My Life helps students begin to understand what types of careers they may choose to pursue in the future . It also provides a six week enrichment experience related to careers whereby instructors come to the school each week and students take one class. Last year we also transported some students to Glenwood Gardens to intern there. In addition, Dr. Hire, who previously ran the Pre Collegiate program for RFSD, has offered various seminars in college readiness and pathways. We plan to deepen our work in this area each and every year.
Family participation is critical to TRCS. When families are involved in their child’s education in meaningful ways, students thrive. Participation at the school also helps families connect to each other and to the staff. TRCS is a school of choice based on tremendous parent commitment to the model and to their children. In the past, we have not monitored the amount of participation each family has contributed to the school. As a result, a few soldiers have done the lion’s share of work. We would like to spread out the efforts and ask/require each family to do a little bit for their child’s school. More information and a menu of options will be presented at the Grand Opening/Back to School night on August 28th. Our hope is that there will be an option that works for each family. The time commitment spread out over 9 months will range from one to one and a half hours a month. We think most of us can find that time if we plan in advance. Help maintain and increase our efficacy and uniqueness as a school of choice by becoming part of it in some capacity.