Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mixing it Up

This past Tuesday we asked our scholars to move out of their comfort zone at lunch and meet someone new. It may seem like a small act, but in surveys conducted by Teaching Tolerance, students identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions between social circles are most clearly drawn. At BVP, diversity is an organizational priority and we take pride in having built an educational environment where peers can come together across lines of difference. So, when we learned about Teaching Tolerance's national campaign for Mix it Up at Lunch Day we were excited to participate. 

After having scholars participate, we asked them to share what they thought of the experience and why they thought it was important. Here's what they had to share: 

"It's good because we are making new friends." -Janiya, 2nd grader

"I really liked how you get to make new friends! You don't get a chance to play with different scholars and it's good to meet new people." -Jolina, 4th grader

"It was great because I got to meet someone from UConn who was shy, like me, and we got to talk about what kind of DoJo party she was going to have." -Maria, 1st grader

"I really liked it! I was excited to sit with scholars I went to kindergarten and first grade with and haven't gotten to talk to in a while. It was important because if you only know scholars in your classroom you don't get to know scholars in other rooms or get to spend time together." -Kayden, 2nd grader

"I really like Mix It Up Day because you get to sit next to a friend. Well, not actually a friend. You get to sit next to scholars you don't know and get to make new friends and stuff.  You get to know who they are and what they like to do." -Daniel, 3rd grader

Our scholars truly had a great time expanding upon their circle of friends. To learn more about Teaching Tolerance and their Mix it Up at Lunch Day national campaign, click here

Friday, October 23, 2015

Community Leaders Celebrate Literacy with BVP Scholars!

In honor of Read for the Record Day October 22nd, we decided to make the whole week about celebrating literacy and invited community leaders to be part of the first ever Community Leaders & Literacy Week!
Our celebration was kicked off with Central Falls Mayor and BVP Board Chair James Diossa in Elementary School 2’s Providence College classroom.  The Mayor left scholars with a really important fun fact to remember: Reading is exercise for our brains.  Our scholars agreed!
At the very same time, but a little ways down the street at Elementary School 1, The Northern RI Chamber of Commerce joined Providence College, Texas A&M, and Salve Regina University scholars for a fun literacy experience.  After reading his book, John Gregory, decided to pose criss-cross apple sauce with scholars for a photo!
Tuesday’s guests hail from two of our sending districts, Central Falls and Pawtucket. Police Chief James Mendonca and Senator Elizabeth Crowley started their work day with Stonehill College and University of Florida scholars. After he read, “Where the Wild Things Are”, it was hard to stop Chief Mendonca from smiling as scholars posed for a silly faces picture!
Second grade scholars from Bryant University were excited to host our Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea! Secretary Gorbea was a natural in the classroom engaging scholars in a short, but lively civics discussion. The highlight of the visit was when she read a bilingual book in English and in Spanish and had every single scholar hooked.  Some scholars demonstrated excitement in hearing their home language spoken by a community leader, others hung on to every word even if it wasn’t their first language. What an experience! Que experiencia!
The next morning, State Representative Shelby Maldonado was pleasantly surprised to walk into University of Tennessee to learn that scholars had her general assembly page pulled up as they got acquainted with her work! Representative Maldonado had some help from scholar Gabriella as she read the book, “Not Norman” in honor of Read for the Record Day!
Our literacy week celebration ended with a group of visitors from Collette, our generous partner who has committed to helping instill a love of reading throughout the year.  This is one of many initiatives that they will support and we are very grateful for that.
What a great week it was for scholars, teachers, and guests in our schools as we celebrated our love for books, literacy, and community leaders!

Friday, October 16, 2015

BVP High School Spirit Week

This fall BVP High School doubled in size. Now with 9th and 10th graders roaming the halls, they are continuing to build and grow into the school that our K-8 scholars will one day grow into. If you talk to any of our scholars about their school, one of the first things many will share is just how proud they are to be part of the BVP community.

As many of us experienced when we were in high school, this week our high school scholars had the opportunity to show off that pride and celebrate the community they've become by having a Spirit Week. The Scholar Council at BVP High got together and developed a plan for a week full of BVP Pride! Each day of the week had a different theme (minus Monday because of a school holiday):

  • Tuesday - Culture Day - An opportunity for scholars to wear clothing inspired by their culture. 
  • Wednesday - Jersey Day - Scholars were invited to represent their favorite teams and celebrated by hosting a Scholar vs. Staff soccer game!
  • Thursday - Blue & Yellow Day - Scholars and Staff showed their pride by wearing blue and yellow, homecoming t-shirts. The day ended with the homecoming soccer game where our team was victorious! 
  • Friday - Pajama Day

Tonight, our scholars will bring their week to a close with yet another High School tradition - their Homecoming Dance. Congratulations on a great week scholars! We can't wait to see what the future has in store for future Spirit Weeks and our High School community!

For more photos of Spirit Week click here. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Science at Elementary School 1

By Sophia Lambertsen, Science Chair and Teacher at Elementary School 1 (ES1)

Miss Lambertsen grew up in Philadelphia and is psyched to b​e part of the team teaching the scholar-scientists at ​Elementary School ​1. She loves telling jokes with her friends, coming up with wacky outfits to excite elementary fashionistas, using her imagination to think about her favorite animal the brown bear, and trying science experiments at home. Each year she learns as much from her scholars as they learn for her​.

Earlier this week I had an amazing day. It was especially memorable because I got to spend time in all five of our science classrooms at Elementary School 1 (mine included) and see some awesome stuff. Having spent that time, I wanted to share everyone’s hard work with our BVP community. Here’s what’s going on in science:
  • Kindergarten: Scholars are learning about types of weather and engaging in argument using evidence to explain what the weather is like outside. Scholars had a seriously evidence-based debate about whether the day was windy or sunny. Their teacher supported instruction by having a scholar use his breath to move a tissue, getting into the degrees of windiness possible here on earth.
  • First Grade: Scholars are using observational evidence to compare “Gastropod Structures” (the body parts of slimy slugs and snails) in order to ascertain the differences and similarities between snails and slugs. Their teacher had them synthesizing information gathered from multiple sources to make claims about organism bodies.
  • Second Grade: Scholars are collecting data related to weather so they went on an adventure outside where they got some time to check in with themselves and nature. As we all know, scholar-collected data is wildly engaging for our kids, and is going to allow them to go to great lengths as they move into making evidence-based arguments and analyzing weather trends.
  • Third Grade: Scholars are mastering density as it relates to water temperature and different materials. Kids in this class took part in a density demonstration as they watched items of the same size behave very differently when dropped in a tub of water. Their teacher took it to the next level in terms of critical thinking by tying this sinking and floating in water to a helium balloon’s sinking and floating in air.
  • Fourth grade: In this grade scholars are wrapping up their plant unit and getting into animals. They welcomed crayfish into the classroom that day, but to give their new friends a moment to adjust to the magic of their lives as elementary school pets, scholars spent the day working on Fossweb and Google Docs.
The teachers leading science instruction at Elementary School 1 work really hard everyday, as they do in our other schools. I am so proud to share that science K-4th grade is going amazingly in our building and feel that our scholars are getting access to teaching and learning that they would not get elsewhere. We are grateful to have such wonderful staff and couldn't possibly thank them enough for their amazing work!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Parents Come Together in the Name of Advocacy

By Stephanie Gonzalez, External Affairs Associate - Advocacy and Outreach for Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy.

For almost a year, I’ve been engaging with families to talk about the importance of their voice and story being present when advocating for the schools that serve their children. The reasons families choose BVP are multifaceted. Whatever those reasons are, all of the parents I’ve worked with agree on one thing - high-quality public school choice is worth protecting.

Last Saturday, September 26th, a group of parents from all four of our sending districts came together for three hours to indulge in each other’s stories, aspirations, and begin an important journey of advocacy juntos - together.

The Parent Advocacy Fellowship will consist of a 5-part series of workshops where parents will come together to learn how to effectively tell their stories, become informed about the legislative session, and advocate proactively for their and other people’s children. In addition to workshops, fellows will support family engagement throughout the academic year to build awareness and community among the group and share in this journey together.

The importance of why we do this work was  summarized quite perfectly by someone who didn’t attend the workshop, but became part of our morning through a story. When parent fellows were asked to share one of their proudest moments as a parent, one fellow chose to share an interaction with her children from that morning. Her youngest son was complaining to his older brother about her having to go off to yet another meeting. Her older son was quick to interject. He told his little brother that mom was heading to a meeting with other parents “because someone has to fight for us.”

Everyone in the room paused after that story. We smiled, put our hands over our heart, and were reminded why we decided to come to school on a beautiful Saturday morning.