Friday, August 22, 2014

The Importance of Hands-on Manipulative in Math

Math manipulative range from simple counting blocks to geoboards and tangram puzzles. Manipulative work well to solve problems, as a way to introduce new math skills and during free play to explore math concepts. The use of manipulative varies based on the teacher's philosophy of math instruction, but these math materials offer several benefits to students.
Manipulative give the math students a concrete object to represent the concept they are learning. Instead of reading about a math concept or working out a problem on paper, students work with a physical object to better understand what they are learning. Diagrams in math textbooks often fall short because the student can't physically interact with them. The concrete representation is useful at all levels of math, from a preschooler using blocks to strengthen counting skills to an older student using fraction models to understand equivalent fractions.
A worksheet or textbook assignment is limited in the senses it engages. The student only moves slightly to use his pencil. Manipulative give student more freedom to move and get physically involved in solving the math problems. Manipulative reach a wider range of learners, such as those who don't perform well on paper-and-pencil tasks. Manipulative engage the sense of sight and touch. Discussions about manipulative -- either with the class or with a partner -- builds communication skills. You can also use these math tools to write about the concepts. Students can draw pictures and describe what they did with manipulative in a math journal.
Manipulative make math more enjoyable for most students. Completing paper-and-pencil assignments is often boring and tedious. Students lose interest quickly or struggle to get through the assignment. Manipulative feel more like playing than learning, particularly when the students are allowed to experiment and explore with the tools outside of assignments. Even when a worksheet or written assignment are required, manipulative can make the problems easier and more interesting to solve.

Enjoy and have a super week!
Ms. Nora Sierra
Assistant Principal

Grade 1-A teacher

Friday, August 15, 2014

Every Child a Reader

"Every child a reader" has been the goal of instruction, education research, for at least three decades. We now know more than ever about how to accomplish this goal.

Six Elements for Every Child
Here are  six elements of instruction that every child should experience every day
1. Every child reads something he or she chooses.
The research base on student-selected reading is robust and conclusive: Students read more, understand more, and are more likely to continue reading when they have the opportunity to choose what they read.
The experience of choosing in itself boosts motivation. In addition, offering choice makes it more likely that every reader will be matched to a text that he or she can read well.
2. Every child reads accurately.
Good readers read with accuracy almost all the time. Although the idea that students read better when they read more has been supported by studies for the last 70 years, policies that simply increase the amount of time allocated for students to read often find mixed results (National Reading Panel, 2000). The reason is simple: It's not just the time spent with a book in hand, but rather the intensity and volume of high-success reading, that determines a student's progress in learning to read (Allington, 2009; Kuhn et al., 2006).
3. Every child reads something he or she understands.
Understanding what you've read is the goal of reading. But too often, struggling readers get interventions that focus on basic skills in isolation, rather than on reading connected text for meaning. This common misuse of intervention time often arises from a grave misinterpretation of what we know about reading difficulties.
4. Every child writes about something personally meaningful.
The opportunity to compose continuous text about something meaningful is not just something nice to have when there's free time after a test or at the end of the school year. Writing provides a different modality within which to practice the skills and strategies of reading for an authentic purpose.
When students write about something they care about, they use conventions of spelling and grammar because it matters to them that their ideas are communicated the correct way.
5. Every child talks with peers about reading and writing.
Research has demonstrated that conversation with peers improves comprehension and engagement with texts in a variety of settings (Cazden, 1988). Such literary conversation does not focus on recalling or retelling what students read. Rather, it asks students to analyze, comment, and compare—in short, to think about what they've read.
6. Every child listens to a fluent adult read aloud.
Listening to an adult model fluent reading increases students' own fluency and comprehension skills (Trelease, 2001), as well as expanding their vocabulary, background knowledge, sense of story, awareness of genre and text structure, and comprehension of the texts read (Wu & Samuels, 2004).

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Grade 1A Teacher

Monday, August 11, 2014

What is looping?

                                                                                Nowadays in many schools, looping has been integrated as a regular procedure. It has become normal for students to spend more than one year with the same teachers. This year to enhance learning in first grade, we decided to implement looping, or teaching our kids from last year.
Benefits of Looping
1) Relationships with students
Teachers and students can look back and laugh at shared experiences from previous years, and also look ahead to what things can be done this year. There is a level of trust that can only be built up over time. Students feel comfortable talking to the teacher as a trusted mentor, and will often even share stories that most students would not typically share with their new teacher.   A high level of caring and respect is developed in the classroom.
2) Relationships with parents and families
 Knowing the parents of my students very well makes it easier to work as a team. Parents know the way the teacher works, as well as what to generally expect during the year. They feel comfortable talking with the teacher or send him/her questions about assignments or grades, which can make things much less complicated than when parents need to adjust to completely different ways of working each year.
3) Understanding student needs
Knowing the students’ strengths and general weaknesses right from the first day of school changes expectations for the year. It is very easy for teachers to remember where students started from, the progressions they have made, and what goals he/she still need to work on. I can remember the skills that each student struggled with the year before, as well as what tasks they usually excel at. There are no wasted days at the beginning of the year – coming back from summer vacation is like coming back after a long holiday. We catch up on what everyone did, and then pick up where we left off, with new skills and projects to work on.
4) Promotes teacher innovation
You just can’t teach the same thing every year when you have the same students! Teachers need to use new skills and competencies to develop according to the education programs the school has and follows. Every year teachers need to think of new projects, new texts to read, new activities to do, and new units to cover. It really prevents them from reusing the same materials over and over for years on end. One of the biggest challenges as a teacher is being up to date with new technologies and ideas in education and be able to incorporate into the classroom.
5) Benefits classroom management
When you start teaching the students in your class, you establish routines and procedures for almost everything. There are rules to follow, and consequences for not following them.  Every year, teachers have a new class with new procedures to learn. In my class, the students come in September already aware of what I will tolerate, as well as what I expect from them. New students pick things up quickly as they integrate into our well-established group.
Ms. Nora Sierra
1 A Teacher
Early Childhood Assistant Principal

Monday, August 4, 2014


 Dear Parents,

It's hard to believe but it's that time of the year again - the beginning of a new school year. Welcome back!  My name is Mrs. Nora Sierra and I will be your Early Childhood Assistant Principal.  There is so much excitement approaching us as we think about new teachers and students to meet, new books to read, new activities and concepts to master.  I look forward to sharing in all of these exciting times. 
 We need to work together as a team!  “It's a parents enthusiasm, support and involvement that inspire children to do their best; and a teacher's ability to teach what they need to learn. Together, as a community at Discovery School, we can achieve wonderful things.”  

Please contact me at any time if you have questions, comments, or concerns by e-mailing me at .  You can take the time to visit my webpage throughout the year that can be found on our school’s website.  I will be posting important information, useful sites, and interesting things happening throughout the year.

Thank you for your commitment to your child's education and success at Discovery School.  I look forward to getting to know you and your child this year!

Mrs. Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
(504) 99850732/ (504) 95001720
Grade 1A Teacher

Discovery School Mission: 
Our mission is to prepare students for the challenges of life and future academic work by instilling in them Self-esteem, Academic Excellence, Critical Thinking, Celebration of Cultural Diversity, and Social and Environmental Responsibility.
This is accomplished through an internationally enriched U.S.-style curriculum with high academic standards, an internationally diverse student body, state-of-the-art facilities, and an inquiry-based approach to learning.

April 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the School Year The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadne...