Category Archives: Blog

Encouraging Reluctant Readers

Learning to read can be such an exciting time in a child’s life. Literature can open a whole new world to a child as they explore new places, characters, and scenarios. Unfortunately, not all kids enjoy reading, whether it is because they have a lack of interest, are having difficulty reading, or have a negative association with reading. Regardless of the reason, here are some tips, activities, and advice to encourage your  reluctant readers to dive into reading.

  • Have plenty of books around for your child to choose from. Create a reading area in your child’s room or carve out a nook in a room where there is comfy seating and ample light. Go crazy and get a headlight that your child can wear to read at night just to make it more fun.
  • Encourage reading outside of books. For example, get your child a subscription to a magazine that arrives monthly. Not only do kids love getting mail but having a subscription means that it can be on any topic they are interested in like sports, science, dolls, nature, or outer-space.
  • Attend reading hours at local libraries, bookstores or coffee shops. Take it even further by attending plays, musicals, and puppet theater that can inspire your child to explore more literature.
  • Encourage ANY reading. Even if you can’t stand graphic novels, or Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, have whatever reading books your child seems to enjoy available. Any reading is good reading. Connect reading with your child’s passion. For example, if your child loves dinosaurs, find as many dinosaur books as you can, including picture books and books filled with facts and statistics. It may not be your passion but it is your child’s.
  • Read together. Many parents step out of the reading picture when their child transitions to chapter books. Stay in the picture by cuddling up and sharing a book. Take turns reading and use funny voices if the book is humorous. Doing any reading together helps your child associate something positive with books – you!
  • Think outside of the box to get your child reading more. Create a written scavenger hunt with easy-to-read clues. Write messages to your child nightly in invisible ink and ask him/her to write back by morning. Put on a play. Follow the instructions in a cookbook to make their favorite foods. Play board games that require some reading. Collect trading cards with the names of characters such as baseball players, Pokémon, or Star Wars. There are a million ways to sneak reading into some seriously fun activities.
  • Introduce characters whom your child can relate to and start them on a series. For example, if your child loves Greek or Roman characters, start them on the Percy Jackson series with characters who stay with the child through all the books. You may need to help get your child into harder series but you can kick it off by reading the first few chapters to your child.
  • Be positive. If your child is struggling remind them that hard work will pay off. Praise him/her when they sound words out well and help out when they are struggling. Work with your child’s teacher to keep things positive and moving in the right direction.

International Luncheon for “March into Missions” – NSCS Beverly Campus

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 

Based upon this quote from the Scripture Acts 1:8, students, teachers, and families at NSCS Beverly Campus dedicated the month of March to raising awareness for missions locally, nationally, and globally. We call it March into Missions and it has become a beloved tradition. This annual event marks a month of learning what it means to be a witness to Jesus both locally in our own cities and towns but then, also around the globe in other countries. We take part in outreach to local food pantries and learn how our “Shoeboxes to Haiti” helped struggling Christians. To top off the month we invite family, friends, and the entire NSCS Beverly community to share in a meal together known as the International Luncheon. Families within our school community treat us to some delicious ethnic dishes. Not only is the International Luncheon a celebration of our month-long studies, but also a fantastic way to come together as a community.

 

On the day of the luncheon this year, teachers and students from all grades and many of their parents gathered in the lower chapel and were greeted with vibrant decorations from countries all over the world. Flags adorned each table and keepsakes from many different countries were shown around the room. In addition to the cultural items, many teachers dressed in traditional outfits from countries such as the Philippines, Korea, and El Salvador. Even Ms. Heintz got into the act with her French beret! Before beginning the meal, which consisted of mouthwatering foods from around the globe, our students were able to experience prayers in multiple languages including: French, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, German, Hindi, Tagalog, Scottish, Spanish, and English. Thank you to all the parents and teachers who shared prayers in their native language and foods with our school community. We could not have done it without all of you. Blessings to you all.

Bringing Learning to Life

by Ms. Caron – 3rd Grade at NSCS Lynn Campus

There are many joys of teaching. As a new teacher, I am surprised at just how much satisfaction and happiness it brings me to be in the field of education. However, every teacher, new or old, from pre-K to high school, has faced the dreaded moment. The moment when your student’s faces begin to dull and their bodies begin to droop. You can see their brains shutting down and their ears shutting off. In a matter of minutes you’re not even sure if they’re all awake. This moment faces most teachers daily! But how do you teach the not-so-exciting part of the curriculum while making sure your students stay not only conscious but also intrigued for all of the lessons?

 

I have found this to be a challenge I could not back down from. How do I keep my students engaged, alert, and interested in the lessons they would rather sleep through? While there is no easy fix for this, I have found a strategy that works for me and has plenty of research to back it up. If we want students to care, to engage, and to truly absorb the material, we have to make our lessons meaningful enough for them to be able to make real life connections. We must bring learning to life!

 

There are countless ways to make this goal possible. Every teacher knows their students best and how to make connections that are meaningful to them. In my classroom, I have found that hands-on activities help to make learning meaningful to my students. Projects they can take pride in and take home to their families seem to make the concept much more graspable than a series of endless papers stapled together for them to complete. In October, my students were grouped into teams and assigned the task of making a Native American Longhouse. We first went outside where they were instructed to collect anything they thought could help construct their longhouse. Students collected sticks, leaves, and rocks to help make the longhouse appear more real. They then used other construction paper, Popsicle, sticks, and felt to draft and model what they wanted their longhouse to look like. When the students got around to building and completing their longhouses, they could tell me more information about the Wampanoag culture and way of living than the curriculum even taught!

 

While I did find this project to be much more meaningful to students than written work, I do not want to overlook the importance of independent work and simple paper writing. This is essential for student learning. However, there are many ways to make learning meaningful beyond a project or assignment that requires much preparation and work. Something as simple as taking the time to stop and allow students to make appropriate connections to the lesson can be extremely beneficial. It may seem at times tedious and a time killer, but this is a simple way for students to make real life and personal connections to the material, without doing anything extravagant or time consuming.

 

Finding ways to connect with your students and zone in on what interests them and brings their excitement level high is key to teaching. No teacher wants a group of sleeping 10 year olds in the middle of a math lesson. Bringing learning to life can be challenging but will be in the end the reason students remember a certain lesson or concept simply because you took the time to wake them up and engage them in a way that they will never forget.

Advantages of Learning another Language

We live in a globalized world where, through the push of a few buttons on a keyboard, we can interact, communicate, and conduct business with peoples from around the world. Learning a second language as a child can help our students here at North Shore Christian School become a vital part of these interactions and connections, whether it is in their personal lives or in the future business world. The advantages of learning another language are multifold in regards to cognitive functions, cultural understanding, and career opportunities in the future. Let’s take a closer look at these three major benefits of learning a second language:

 

  • Cognitive Improvements – Speaking two (or more) languages is a fantastic asset for the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people operate differently than monolingual speakers. For example, the brain of a person who is bilingual can function at a higher level by recognizing, negotiating meaning, and communicating in to two very different ways. The neural pathways are increased and they function better than a single language speaker. Children who are multilingual experience brain benefits surprisingly early. This “brain boost” has been studied and shown to improve multitasking in children, raise SAT scores by as much as 38%, and expose children to a rich vocabulary. Other research has shown that learning a language can actually stave off brain degeneration such as in Alzheimer’s. Studies show that the first signs of dementia in monolingual people begins at age 71.4, while the age of the first signs of dementia for bilingual or multilingual people begin at age 75.5.

 

  • Better Cultural Understanding – Students who study another language don’t just memorize vocabulary, grammar rules, and conjugations; they learn about the culture of the people or peoples who speak that language. This could include family traditions, holidays celebrated, cuisine, clothing, and the list goes on and on. Having a better understanding of cultures other than our own makes our students compassionate and able to see differing viewpoints other than their own.

 

  • Career Opportunities – Students who speak more than one language are not only more employable but have expanded career opportunities. Business leaders need employees who can communicate and interact with people from other countries. This skill can set a student apart from others applying for the same position.

 

North Shore Christian School is proud of our ability to offer foreign language classes to our students. Want to know more about our Spanish offerings at NSCS? Click here or call our office for more info.

 

 

 

The Great Mail Race!

By Ms. Rebecca Stuart and Ms. Amanda Patton

Second graders have had an interesting opportunity to learn about our own country. At the end of January, we received a letter from a second grade class at Loudonville Christian School in Loudonville, New York. The letter included a post card and some facts about the state of New York, as well as an invitation for us to participate in a Great Mail Race! After responding to the Loudonville class, we made a list of Christian schools in each of the other 49 states and have begun to write them letters. In these letters we tell facts about Massachusetts and North Shore Christian School and ask the other class to please write back with answers to our questions and facts about their state. We are excited to connect with students all across the country and about what we can learn from these responses!

We also have been learning about the world in our study of maps and globes. Integral to our study of world geography is learning that American students come from all countries and all continents in the world, and this holds true for the students in our school. At the same time, we’ve been able to make connections between our learning in geography and our Bible lessons. In Jesus’s early ministry, he called his disciples to follow him and become Fishers’ of men.  After teaching his disciples how to live for God, Jesus commanded them, “’Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’” Matthew 28:19. We are realizing that God also sends US out into the world as his disciples. God used his disciples to spread the message of his kingdom, and God can use us to bring his message to people both near and far away.

Stay tuned to what we learn about other areas of our country!

S.T.E.M. Education by the Numbers

North Shore Christian School offers innovative S.T.E.M. lessons provided by the “KnowAtom” curriculum. Our students love using interactive experiments and an inquiry-based science curriculum that gets them thinking and stretching their knowledge of the world. The hands-on labs involve our students deeply in the scientific process of asking questions, creating a hypothesis, testing, and analyzing. Not only do our students enjoy S.T.E.M. during regular classroom time, they also happily attend Saturday S.T.E.M. sessions! Let’s face it, diving into learning and solving real world problems designed by KnowAtom is interesting and fun!

 

The KnowAtom curriculum was written and designed by scientist and Gordon College graduate Francis Vigeant, who spent significant time at NSCS delivering professional development to teachers and meeting with students. KnowAtom’s innovative approach to science and engineering curricula gives teachers a roadmap for the year, empowering them to lead students in meaningful, inquiry-driven learning.

 

What does the current research from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education say about the benefits of S.T.E.M. for our students now and in their future career opportunities? Here is a peek into the advantages of such a curriculum.

 

Career Opportunities: Students who follow a S.T.E.M. curriculum may have more career opportunities

Key findings by the U.S. Department of Commerce also include these startling stats:

  • In 2015, there were 9 million STEM workers in the United States. About 6.1 percent of all workers are in STEM occupations, up from 5.5 percent just five years earlier. This number has grown and is expected to grow well into the 2020s.
  • Employment in STEM occupations grew much faster than employment in non-STEM occupations over the last decade (24.4 percent versus 4.0 percent, respectively), and STEM occupations are projected to grow by 8.9 percent from 2014 to 2024, compared to 6.4 percent growth for non- STEM occupations.
  • STEM workers command higher wages, earning 29 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts in 2015. This pay premium has increased since our previous report, which found a STEM wage advantage of 26 percent in 2010.
  • Nearly three-quarters of STEM workers have at least a college degree, compared to just over one-third of non-STEM workers.
  • STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non- STEM occupations. A STEM degree holder can expect an earnings premium of 12 percent over non-STEM degree holders, holding all other factors constant.

 

Stay tuned as we report future findings and statistics that support S.T.E.M. education. To find out more about the KnowAtom curriculum we use at NSCS, visit KnowAtom.

 

Rhetoric at NSCS

By Pam Heintz

 

Rhetoric is one of those words that is often misunderstood and underused, and proper rhetoric is even harder to come by. One of the things I adore most about NSCS is the intentionality that is taken to ensure that our students learn to express themselves well – both in speech and in written expression.

Rhetoric simply is the art of speaking and writing in such a way that one is able to engage and persuade the listener or reader. It is also the ability to convey thoughts with effectiveness.

At NSCS we have created specifically designed writing programs that teach the fundamentals of solid writing, while providing opportunity for students to express their creativity and interests. We always leave ample room for the students’ personalities to shine through their work.

Each year I have the privilege of introducing the elements of writing to students in grades 2-6 grades. Through the years these writing sessions have evolved into what has now become known as The Sandwich Buffet! Utilizing the elements of what makes for a delicious sandwich, I am able to teach students about the intricacies of solid and interesting writing. Students beginning in 2nd grade are able to tell me what a thesis statement is and how it is similar to a concluding sentence. These same students can also tell me what sub-points are and how important it is to use descriptive and embellishing words. Sometimes, when the students are struggling to recall a specific element of writing, I provide a clue like, “Think about the hot peppers we put on our sandwiches.” Or, “Don’t forget the tomatoes!” Each of the items that build a delicious sandwich help the students to not only visualize the systematic-elements that make for strong writing, but also enable the students to take risks in their writing and to write with depth and confidence in an attractive and winsome manner.

In case you are wondering…When I introduce writing to our students, I do provide an actual sandwich buffet with all the fixings!

 

Benefits of After School Enrichment –

Does your child take part in NSCS after-school enrichment? More and more students are opting to enroll in after school programs such as art, music, dance, science activities, or a sport. As with many dual working parents, after school enrichment has become a life saver for families looking to find a fun, safe, and productive program to keep children engaged in the afternoon. These programs, however, are not just a benefit for working parents, but can be beneficial for students as well. Let’s take a closer look at how our children benefit from after school enrichment programs here at NSCS.

 

  • Exposure to New Interests – Perhaps your child has shown an interest in music, drama, art, playing the violin, dance, or a sport like basketball or soccer. North Shore Christian School offers our students a place to safely try these activities with friends and encouraging coaches/mentors/teachers. The school day is chock full of activities and the after school programs allow our students to try something new or delve deeper into something that they would not normally experiment with on their own.
  • Physical Activities – Taking part in after school programs may mean an increase in physical activities, especially if the program revolves around a sport, dance, yoga, or even free-time outdoors. These programs offer a heart healthy alternative to the screen-time activities that tempt many students outside of the classroom.
  • Improved Academic PerformanceStudies have shown that participation in after-school programs can provide a measurable boost in academic performance. A study by Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) published After School Programs in the 21st Century: Their Potential and What It Takes to Achieve It (Little, Wimer, & Weiss, 2008) showed that after-school programs can have an impact on academic achievement tangible in test scores and math and reading achievement.
  • Strengthening of Social Skills – After-school activities such as working within a team, learning a new skill or participating with a peer group have been shown to strengthen social skills. Students have a chance to see new teachers/coaches or mentors and work within a different set of social guidelines than they have within the classroom walls.

 

North Shore Christian School offers many options for after school care and activities. Has your child tried violin, music, art, yoga, dance, basketball, soccer, or the Saturday STEM programs? Find out more on our website or ask your child’s teacher for more information.

Raising Social Media Savvy Kids

Technology is a wonderful tool that can keep us connected to family and friends from far away or allow us to gain useful knowledge about topics that interest us or even help solve some of the world’s largest problems. But technology also comes with dangers, from hackers, to predators, to online bullying. Teaching our children how to act responsibly online and recognize red flags of danger are just another piece of the complex puzzle of raising children in our technology-driven world today.

If your kids are not on social media yet, chances are they already know all the names of the platforms from Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, YouTube and so on, as the list grows continuously. Before your child gets on social media, there are some things that you may want to consider. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released findings from a comprehensive study on the impact that social media has on kids and families. They found that, although there are real benefits to kids using sites like Facebook and other social media platforms, including increased communication, access to information and help in developing a sense of self, there can be serious downsides to all this online sharing too. Let’s take a closer look at some steps parents can take to help raise social media savvy kids.

Family Rules – Deciding to let your child(ren) have social media is a family decision and, as such, it should come with some boundaries or rules to be closely followed. As parents, it is important to set rules about:

  • Time – how much time is too much time to be surfing the web or spending on social media accounts? Parental restrictions can be set on smartphones, laptops, and even on blocking individual sites through your computer settings or even through your home’s router.
  • Postings – Discuss with your child what is allowable to post and not to post. Frame this in the questions: “Is what you are about to post kind, useful, needed, and positive? Would you say what you posted to someone in person?” In addition to words, talk about images that are acceptable for posting.
  • Personal Information – Remind your children not to post anything personal such as a phone number, social security number, email address, home address, or age. All of this information can be used in malicious ways online.

Privacy Settings – If your child is on social media, consider keeping privacy settings at the strictest settings. This means that for most platforms from Twitter to Instagram to Facebook that only those who have been allowed will see what your child posts. Review these settings often as they change with each upgrade.

Location Settings and Geotagging – Many social media apps have something that is called geotagging, meaning it can track your child’s location. While it may seem neat to tag where you are while out-and-about, it is also a danger to show the world where your child is at any given point throughout the day. Turn off this function through the security settings.

Be Open about Social Media and Online Browsing – As parents, you like to know your child’s friends at school, so be sure you know the friends online as well. Keep the discussion going with your child about who they are connecting with and what is being posted. Remind them that once something goes into the wide world of the internet it is always out there even after it has been deleted. For example, SnapChat messages disappear after a few minutes or even seconds, but all it takes is one person to take a screenshot of the message and it can be shared forever. This goes for posting mean words and inappropriate pictures or memes. An online reputation can follow your child throughout their lives.

Be Vigilant – As parents it is important that we know what technology our children are hooked on. Get to know the apps that s/he is using. In fact, if your child is on a social media platform, consider getting on it yourself and monitoring by becoming a follower or friend of your child’s page. Help your child set up good habits by limiting the time and amount of online activity. Block all ads through settings, and disable in-app purchases. Set a good example for your children as you connect online as they are watching us for guidance.

Technology such as social media surrounds our children and has become such a part of the culture of their generation. Follow some simple family rules, security setting guidelines, and be vigilant of what your child is doing online. For more resources and help navigating social media here are a few helpful sites:

Parenting – 13 Tips for Monitoring Kids’ Social Media

 

The Wall Street Journal – How Tech Experts Monitor their Teens on Social Media

Collaborative Critical Thinking at NSCS

By Pam Heintz

Last year NSCS fully integrated the CCT (Collaborative Critical Thinking) Frameworks across all our content areas and throughout all of our grades. We also created opportunities in each classroom for the teacher to explicitly teach critical thinking skills, as well as naturally embedding opportunities throughout the day.

Through the utilization of grade-bands, which take into consideration the mental and developmental capacity of children in each grade, our students are gaining the foundational mechanics and vocabulary of many of the CCT systems.  By the middle of our students’ third grade year at NSCS we begin to overtly layer their learning by introducing many classical elements of speaking, presenting, arguing, and persuading. We do so by practicing civil discourse through formal Oxford Debates and Paideia seminars.

Dr. Donna Robinson and Mrs. Julie Lenocker, developed the Collaborative Critical Thinking Frameworks or CCT, as NSCS has come to refer to them as, and the results have been nothing short of extraordinary.

CCT holds particular interest to NSCS as we were personally asked by Dr. Robinson, professor at Gordon College, to act as the host school for much of her research. For two years, prior to our full implementation of these frameworks, Dr. Robinson, along with her colleague and Mrs. Lenocker, used our two campuses as pilot schools to test and refine their research. Working very closely with these two educators, our students and teachers worked hand-in-hand as we learned how to implicitly and explicitly teach critical thinking skill-sets to our students.

Students are reaping the benefits of having received training in the art of deep thinking, decision-making, and civil discourse. Through the use of graphic organizer templates, debate, and Socratic-type seminars and discussions, our students have been able to gain confidence in both their oral and written expressions and we believe that the students that NSCS produces will be the impactful leaders of tomorrow!