Monday, December 7, 2015

SONG FEST

 Please do not forget that this Friday, December 11 we will hold our Songfest. This year, the theme is the AWESOME 80’s, and our students have been working very hard in preparing their presentations for our school community. The show will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. Since traffic tends to be very hectic at this time of the year, and especially on Fridays, we recommend you try to be here early. We are inviting you to come at 5:00 p.m. and enjoy the delicious food that will be sold by the DPTO, the drinks sold by the seniors, and the tasty pastries sold by the Community Service, and do a little bit of Christmas shopping with selected vendors from the Xmas Bazaar.

Best,
Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)




Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015



Nuestro Pequeños Hermanos (NPH)

Nuestro Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) is an international organization that takes in abandoned and orphaned children, providing a home and education.  Here in Honduras, the NPH organization provides for over 500 children in at large ranch near La Venta and home in Tegucigalpa for severely handicapped children.   While many children at the ranch have aunts, uncles, or grandparents that come to visit them and can provide some Christmas gifts, some children at a ranch have no family to visit.  It is these children, whom we would like to provide for this Christmas.   A paper tree will be sent home that has a child’s information about his/her size for shoes or socks.  Purchase the new item and return it to Mrs. Agurcia’s Room (Rm. 7) by Tuesday, December 8th, with the tree tag taped to it.  Thank you for giving this Christmas!





Best,

Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)





Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Are Fine Motor Skills?



What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are achieved when children learn to use their smaller muscles, like muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists. Children use their fine motor skills when writing, holding small items, buttoning clothing, turning pages, eating, cutting with scissors, and using computer keyboards. Mastery of fine motor skills requires precision and coordination.
Fine motor skills develop after gross motor skills, which control actions like throwing and kicking balls, as well as walking and jumping. Gross motor skills utilize larger muscle groups and require less precision.

How Do We Help Children Develop Fine Motor Skills?

Practice,  practice, practice. In most cases of fine motor skill development, practice does, in fact, make perfect. Some ways to develop these skills are having children do the following activities:
·        
  •     Pop bubbles on bubble wrap with just the index finger and thumb.
  •      Use an eyedropper to add food coloring to batter with just the index finger and thumb.
  •     Finger painting
  •     Puzzles
  •     Video games
  •     Trace shapes or letters
  •      Legos or building blocks


These activities focus on smaller muscle groups. Using the same muscles can help children develop muscle memory, which is when repetition of one action allows that action to be performed almost automatically without much effort. For example, pressing the correct buttons on video game controllers can be difficult the first few tries. But after playing the game a few times, we tend to master the buttons on the controller. Whether or not we can master the video game itself is a different story, but it does become second nature to press certain buttons to run or jump in the game.

Notable Accomplishments in Fine Motor Skill Development
Two popular terms that come up with learning about fine motor skills in children are fist grip and pincer grip. An example of a fist grip is when children use their whole hand and wrap it around a pencil to write their names. A pincer grip refers to the pinching muscles. Eventually, most children learn to use a pencil with their thumb and one or two fingers, which indicates that they have developed the pincer grip. When it comes to terminology for this lesson, grip and grasp are interchangeable.

Enjoy,
Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)


Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015

6 Ways to Encourage Writing in Preschool



There are many different ways to encourage writing skills with preschool aged children.  Today I’m going to share with you some of the ways we encourage beginning writing in our preschool classroom…
The first thing I suggest is to make the “writing process” fun!  Put away the workbooks until the time comes when the child is interested in them, and instead incorporate writing activities into their daily play…




1. Start with their name
When introducing writing to your children or students, you want to make it relevant to them.  What is more relevant than their name?  Begin by pointing out the letters in their name when you see them in environmental print.

2. Use your fingers
You can begin the writing process with the tools you were born with–your fingers!   Writing doesn’t have to take place with pencils or crayons.  In fact, using your fingers helps to develop the strength that is needed to eventually be able to grasp a pencil or crayon later on.

3. Offer interesting tools
If you have students that do not enjoy finger painting or having messy hands, then you can certainly offer other tools to use in their paint trays or salt trays. 

4. Offer unique writing experiences
Make writing fun by offering unique writing experiences.  Writing in shaving cream is a blast and one that children won’t soon forget.

5.  Keep a journal
Journaling is a great way for children to practice writing.  It can also be a fun way for children to express themselves creatively.  Invite children to journal about an enjoyable experience that they’ve had either at school or at home.

6.  Set up a writing station
If you have room in your home or classroom, a writing station is a perfect place to invite children to write.  A writing station consists of different types of paper or cards, stickers, writing tools, scissors, and glue.  Varying the materials that you offer in your writing center will keep children interested in coming back.

Enjoy,
Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)


Thursday, November 5, 2015




Learning Vocabulary: An Essential Skill

Word knowledge is linked strongly to academic success. Students who possess large vocabularies can express their ideas better and understand new concepts more quickly than students with limited vocabularies.

Today students are being tasked much more often to tackle complex text. However, if there are gaps in their vocabulary knowledge, these students struggle to comprehend.
Many students, including ESE and ESL students, lack the fundamental vocabulary for success in learning content-area subjects and reading academic texts. Vocabulary development builds reading comprehension. Without explicit, focused instruction, a student's vocabulary gap may widen with each passing year.

The use of computers in vocabulary instruction was found to be more effective than some traditional methods. It is clearly emerging as a potentially valuable aid to classroom teachers in the area of vocabulary instruction.

Vocabulary Spelling City is an invaluable tool that provides an effective and enjoyable way to expand and retain new vocabulary. The interactive vocabulary games contain auditory and visual support that ensures information is presented in a variety of ways.

Enjoy,

Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)

Monday, October 26, 2015

5 WAYS TO SHARE YOUR PASSION FOR LEARNING


Lessons on Sharing Your Passion


Many teachers would verify that they entered the field of teaching because they love it. Not only do they love teaching others, but the subject material they teach thrills them. Stories abound of would-be teachers switching out of college majors to pursue the career they love. In other cases, teachers work with their subject material – whether it is English, Math, Science, or whatever – in arenas beyond just their classroom. They gravitate towards those venues. They feel complete when they work with and talk about what they love.

The truth is that teachers regularly love whatever it is they may be teaching. The question is, “How can passionate teachers get their students to be passionate, too?” After all, unless students have some degree of interest in the topic, they are not going to be motivated to excel.
Regularly apply your passion, and tell your students. Be an example. If you were thinking about something, working on a project, or just walking along and found something interest that relates to class, tell you students about the experience. What you and your students talk about doesn’t have to be isolated to your classroom. Let them see how what you’re teaching applies to the world beyond the classroom.


Passion is cool. Set goals and reward improvement. When students set a goal for their own academic growth, half the battle is already won. Now they have an internal motivating factor that will help propel them to that next level of success. And lavishly reward students who make any improvements. With the right enthusiastic atmosphere, students might just realize that learning can be really, really cool.

Be cool!

Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)



Friday, September 25, 2015

September 25, 2015











Views of the Experts
Ever since the works of John Dewey (1934) and Herbert Read (1943), educators have seen a central purpose for art in education. Dewey believed every child should have art, not just those ‘gifted in art,’ and Herbert Read developed an entire school curriculum around art. While there are many arguments for including art to increase children’s competency and self-esteem, other important reasons for including art across the curriculum will be discussed in this article.

Iconic Representation According to Jerome Bruner, young children learn most easily through enactive and iconic representation (1983). Enactive representation is “muscle memory”; iconic representation is one-to-one memory based on visual icons – a McDonalds ‘M’, a Nike Swoosh, an apple for the teacher, etc. Maybe one of the reasons children take so easily to computers is because icons are used to label all its functions. Because of children’s affinity for identifying and learning icons, early childhood teachers should provide them with lots of opportunities to use visual symbols, such as labels, lists, pictures of objects from fieldtrips, photographs of favorite people, and icons they create – houses, people, the sun, trees, etc. Children use these icons to think and solve problems, and it is important we do not force written symbols upon them too quickly.
Spatial Intelligence One of Gardner’s eight intelligences is spatial intelligence, which involves learning, exploring, processing and excelling through the use of the visual arts (1983). While a child who learns this way will do well in artistic endeavors at school, she should also be provided opportunities to use spatial intelligence in all other activities, but especially academic endeavors – reading, writing, math, and science.

Practice Piaget believed that learning new concepts, ideas, and skills requires two fundamentally different processes: first, children need to change their mental structures to accommodate the new concept or skill; and second, they must practice this new concept or skill (Piaget, 1962). Art is a wonderful way to practice. A child who has just seen an elephant for the first time on a fieldtrip to the zoo, for example, returns to the classroom to explore the new idea through painting elephants.

Documentation Both Reggio Emilia and The Project Approach stress documentation. The Reggio curriculum, which has become known as the One Hundred Languages of Childrenexplores the variety of ways children use to document their own learning. Some Reggio programs even have a full-time artist, whose job is to help teachers and children with this process, and an art studio (Malaguzzi, 1993). Artistic documentation provides a visual representation of the child’s development and learning while communicating what children are learning to parents and the school community (Wardle, 2003). In The Project Approach, drawings, models, photos, and writings challenge children to integrate a variety of concepts and document what they have learned, as well as providing a communication link to parents and the school community (Helm and Katz, 2001).

Meaningful Learning We know that it is easier for children to learn concepts and ideas that relate to something the child already knows, or has directly experienced (Mayer, 1996). This is because it’s much easier to remember new concepts by attaching them to an existing memory. One way to make new learning meaningful is to offer children ways to explore how the new idea fits into what they already know. Art is a great way to do this. For example, after a teacher has just read a book about a farm to a group of five-year-olds, the child whose grandfather lives on a farm can draw or paint her grandfather’s farm, while an inner-city child might make sense of the book through art activities about his visit to a petting zoo and an 1850’s outdoor museum.


Multicultural Perspective Our programs are becoming more and more diverse with children who speak a variety of languages, have different religious beliefs, and engage in a variety of cultural and traditional practices (Wardle & Cruz-Janzen, 2004). Because all cultures and most religions use art in their traditions and practices, art enables our children to integrate their cultural backgrounds into the school’s curriculum.

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21, 2015

FINE MOTOR ACTIVITIES IN THE PRESCHOOL YEARS




One of the most important ways we can help our children while playing with them at home or in a childcare/ classroom setting is through setting up simple activities that help to develop fine motor skills. Young children need to be able to hold and use scissors and pencils appropriately before using them in a classroom context. We cannot expect them to be able to write if they haven’t yet developed the strength needed in their hands and fingers.
There are plenty of easy ways to strengthen these muscles, practice co-ordination and develop hand: eye co-ordination using simple, everyday materials and a bit of creative fun!

Have fun!!

Ms. Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)

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


Thursday, September 3, 2015

INDEPENDENCE DAY IN HONDURAS



Honduras Independence Day Celebration is preceded by weeks of listening to school kids practicing their march, dance and music. Throughout Honduras you can hear drums, see children being escorted down streets by teachers in military style march practices gearing up for the show they must put on to celebrate Honduras Flag Day officially every September 6th followed by their towns parade on the 15th of September to celebrate Independence day. The old timers have their families take them to view the parades and dance shows, the tourist gawk and take pictures and get in a festive mood. Younger generations sport their National Soccer team jerseys (since the colors match the flag and just about everyone from the poor to the rich has one) and the teenagers and children put on their show.

At the end of the day, in most small towns there is a lowering of the flag ceremony since they cannot afford to keep the flags flying at all times due to the wear and tear they sustain if used daily and limited budgets to continue replacing them throughout the year. Night time is followed by celebration parties in the streets as well as night clubs and bars in major cities.

Everyone enjoys a good time and breathes a sigh of relief as the Honduran children are happy to not have to continue their daily after school to as late as 10:00PM in many communities march and band practices that began at the beginning of the month to celebrate Honduras Flag Day on the 6th of September and continued every day including weekends.

The towns people can watch the news and TV shows or listen to the radio without having to crank the volume up in order to suppress the sound of the drums they have been listening to every evening for weeks and teachers prepare to celebrate their day off as Honduran Independence Day every year is followed by Teachers Day in Honduras the 17th of September.
Enjoy,
Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)



Monday, August 31, 2015

Integrating Technology into the Overall Curriculum





Use of technology in the early childhood program must not be a goal unto itself: the purpose is not to teach children how to use computers; they can do this as they get older, just as they can learn to drive a car later in their lives (Wardle, 1999). Appropriate use of technology in the classroom is to expand, enrich, implement, individualize, differentiate, and extend the overall curriculum. And, obviously, curricula goals change with age, and differ from program to program. If a goal of the literacy curricula for a certain age child is to learn to write personal journals, then the computer can naturally support that through writing software, digital cameras, and other methods. A science goal that requires learning the habitat of different zoo animals can be augmented by using specific CD ROMS and accessing zoo web sites. Similarly, studying extinct and endangered animals becomes more real and educational through the use of specific software and websites.
If computers are not fully integrated into the overall curriculum, they can actually negatively impact children’s creativity (Haugland, 1982). To integrate computers effectively, these steps must occur:
1.       Create a support team that includes people knowledgeable of technology, and people who understand developmentally appropriate practice;
2.       Select developmentally appropriate software;
3.       Select developmentally appropriate web sites;
4.       Select computers that can run the software selected, and that can be easily upgraded
5.       Provide adequate and periodic staff training, both on the use of computers, and on ways of integrating the computers into the curriculum:
6.       Integrate computer resources in the classroom.

Enjoy,
Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)


Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015

Reading Aloud to Your Child: The Loving, Personal Gift



Without a doubt, reading aloud is a gift you can freely give your children from the day you bring them home from the hospital until the time they leave the nest. Children's reading experts agree that reading aloud is the easiest and most effective way to turn children into lifelong readers. And it's as much fun for you as it is for your children.
A child whose day includes listening to rhythmic sounds and lively stories is more likely to grow up loving books. And a child who loves books will want to learn to read them.
To spark that desire in your children, we have collected some useful tips for you to consider. Feel free to make use of those that work well for you and your children, and to add your own ideas.
Where
In addition to the usual reading places—a couch, an overstuffed armchair, a child's bed—consider less traditional ones:
·        Outside under a shady tree, in a sandbox or a hammock, or at a nearby park.
·        Toss a sheet over a clothesline or table to create a reading hideaway.
·        Keep a book in the glove compartment of your car for long road trips or traffic delays.
·        Spread a blanket on the floor for an indoor reading picnic.

·        Use your imagination. Almost every room in your house offers exciting reading possibilities.

Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)


Monday, August 17, 2015

The First Weeks Of School



The early weeks of each new school year offer teachers distinct opportunities and challenges. It is during this time—when expectations and routines are established, rules generated, and goals articulated—that the foundation is laid for a productive and cooperative year of learning.
As teachers, we work hard to convey, from the very first day of school, the important message that we will do high-quality work in our classrooms. We also work to convey the message that we will do this high-quality work in an atmosphere of support and collaboration. But this atmosphere does not just appear by our decree. It must be carefully constructed upon many small, but critical, building blocks, and the first six weeks of school is the time to do it.


The goals of the first six weeks of school
Though the details differ with different age groups, with the content of the curriculum, and with the organization of the room, there are four broad aims in the first six weeks curriculum.
Create a climate and tone of warmth and safety. Students can come to know each other and develop a sense of belonging through activities that help them define their commonality and their differences. Deliberately focusing on group-building activities during these weeks helps create the trust and safety essential for active, collaborative learning. However, this sense of trust is not built solely on warmth and friendliness. It is also built upon students’ assurance that there are reasonable limits and boundaries for behavior and that their teacher will enforce them. They must see that their teacher will exercise vigilance and good judgment to keep everyone safe.
 Teach the schedule and routines of the school day and our expectations for behavior in each of them. A sense of order and predictability in daily school life is important. It enables children to relax, to focus their energy on learning, and to feel competent. When we enter a new culture, we want to know its rules so that we don’t embarrass ourselves or, through ignorance or misunderstanding, hurt others.
In the first six weeks of school, we name the global expectations we might hold for the year. For example, “Our room will be a place where people try hard, take good care of themselves and others, and take good care of our materials and our school.” Children are then involved in applying these broad, nonnegotiable expectations to everyday situations. “How will we walk through the halls if we are taking care of each other?” “What does trying hard mean during math group?” “What will clean-up time look like if we are taking good care of our room?”
 Introduce students to the physical environment and the materials of the classroom and the school, and teach students how to use and care for them. In order for students to feel a sense of ownership for the school environment and materials, they must become familiar with them and have time to explore them. Through school tours for young students and new students, and scavenger hunts and mapping exercises for older ones, we encourage them to get acquainted or reacquainted with the school environment and to feel comfortable in it. Using the technique of guided discoveries, we extend children’s ideas about the creative use of space and materials, develop guidelines about sharing particular resources, and teach children how to care for them.

 Establish expectations about ways we will learn together in the year ahead. We want to generate excitement and enthusiasm about the curricula we will engage in this year—complicated new math concepts, engrossing novels full of dilemmas to explore, beautiful art materials and techniques for using them, microscopes to observe a previously invisible world. Our learning—whether we are wrestling with an ethical dilemma presented in a history lesson or considering a complicated question about collecting data for a science experiment—requires participation and focused effort, thoughtful questions, and the ability to cooperate and collaborate. We pay attention to the process as well as the products of our learning and hold high standards in both areas. It is our job as teachers to help students achieve these high standards as we learn with and from each other.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
nsierra@discoveryschool.edu.hn
(504) 95001720

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August 13, 2015

The Importance of Early Childhood Activity






Early childhood education focuses on children’s development during ages three to five. While this developmental period should ideally focus equally on mental and physical development, in recent decades an emphasis has been placed on mental development, creating a concurrent de-emphasis on physical development. However, the two actually go hand-in-hand and should not be considered two separate entities during early childhood development and education.
Integrating physical activity into young children’s lives is essential for creating a foundation of movement and activity that they will carry with them throughout the rest of their lives. Physically active children learn habits in early childhood that greatly increase their chances of remaining physically active through their young adult and teenage years and into adulthood.
There are a vast number of benefits for children who experience increased movement and physical activity in early childhood. In addition to creating healthy habits and fostering a lifelong commitment to physical activity, children whose early childhood education is based in movement enjoy the following benefits in both early childhood and for the rest of their lives:
·        Better social and motor skill development
·        Increased school readiness skills
·        Building developing muscles, bones, and joints faster
·        Reducing fat and lowering blood pressure
·        Reducing depression and anxiety
·        Increased learning capacity
·        Developing healthier social, cognitive, and emotional skills
·        Building strength, self-confidence, concentration, and coordination from an early age
Further, active children have fewer chronic health problems, are sick less frequently, miss less school, and have a significantly reduced risk for a number of childhood and adult diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and mental illness.



Enjoy,
Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 11, 2015

Growing Readers!






Reading aloud is one of the most important things parents can do with their children. Reading aloud builds many important foundational skills, introduces vocabulary, provides a model of fluent, expressive reading, and helps children recognize what reading for pleasure is all about.

Getting the Most Out of Nonfiction Reading Time Reading together remains one of the most important things adults can do with their young learner. Today, recommendations include reading information or nonfiction books with much more regularity. Nonfiction books present many opportunities to learn new concepts and vocabulary, as well as broaden a student’s view of the world. Nonfiction books are written differently than picture books in that there are often more pictures, graphics, charts and photographs included within the pages. Parents can ease the transition into more nonfiction reading by encouraging your child to preview a book before reading and to be an active reader who asks lots of questions. Take a “Book Walk” One great way to make predictions about an unfamiliar nonfiction text is to take a “walk” through the book before reading. By looking closely together at the front and back cover, the index, table of contents, the glossary, and the photographs or other images, readers can start to get a sense about the topic. This scanning and skimming helps set the expectation for the reading. Take the time to walk through the book before starting to read. Encourage Questions A second way to develop more understanding with nonfiction books is to encourage your child to be an active reader who asks lots of questions. Parents can model these behaviors by talking or thinking out loud as you turn the pages of the book. This is a helpful way for your child to see and hear what a successful reader does when faced with difficult or unfamiliar topics. For example, “When I looked at this photograph, I asked myself, “Where is Antarctica? Is that the same place as the South Pole?” Then talk together about how and what you would need to do to find the answer to the questions. This will reinforce that many questions can be answered by reading a text closely and by paying attention to captions and picture titles. Some children enjoy writing their questions on sticky notes and working to answer them during the reading. Previewing a text and asking questions are two terrific ways to navigate nonfiction texts. Enjoy spending more time with some fascinating informational books!


Enjoy,
Nora Sierra

Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Grade 1 Teacher
Discovery School
(504)221-7790
(504)221-7791(fax)
(504)9500-1720(school cell)
(504)9985-0732(mobile)

September 18, 2017

Why are Stories Important for Children? Stories play a vital role in the growth and development of children. The books they r...