Category Archives: Blog

Nurturing a Giving a Giving Spirit All Year

Now that the holidays are behind us and a new year has begun, it is easy to look back at the Christmas season and see how our wonderful students, teachers, and families participated wholeheartedly in the giving spirit through individual donations to school sponsored events or through giving of your time and energy in your own special ways. While we love to see the “giving spirit” at Christmas time when so much love and joy is bestowed upon all of us, we also hope to instill in our students here at North Shore Christian School the idea that giving should not end when the decorations are taken down and the Christmas songs have ended. Soup kitchens still need volunteers, nursing homes still have seniors in need of love and compassion, and charities across our region and country need support all year long. This is why we strive to nurture a giving spirit in our students not just during the holiday season but during all seasons.

 

In order to achieve this students at North Shore Christian School take part in so many activities of giving and selflessness throughout the school year and during vacations. Here are just a few of the ways that we savor giving back and volunteering in our community and beyond.

 

  • Our annual Haiti Shoebox Project is led by our 3rd and 4th grade students at the NSCS Beverly Campus. This is geared to provide children of Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, with items such as hygiene products, small toys, and school supplies.
  • NSCS students often visit and volunteer at My Brother’s Table, a soup kitchen in Lynn, Massachusetts, that serves over 300 people a day, seven days a week. Many times we visit we bring homemade cookies.
  • Our students host a pajama drive for those in need and donate to local organizations.
  • We regularly donate to Puritans Purse. This is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.
  • One of of greatest joys is visiting the local nursing homes to be companions, recite poems, sing songs, and make small gifts with and for the residents.
  • We write to and pray for our student pen pals in India.
  • In the days and months after the devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico we collected food and raised funds for the people of the island.
  • Beverly Boots Strap – Students hope to host a food drive this spring.  All canned goods will be delivered by students to our Beverly local food bank.
  • A Baby Wipe Drive will be happening the month of February, as our students show a little LOVE to local mothers in need of baby supplies.
  • This spring NSCS will partner with the Second Congregational Church of Beverly and raise funds to purchase grocery store gift cards for homeless people in the area.
  • Our 5th & 6th Grade students get a shout out for faithfully serving our school community each day as they set-up and clean-up after our lunch periods.
  • Our 3rd Grade students get a shout out for faithfully acting as Reading Buddies to our preschool students each week!

 

It is always a joy to watch the students, even the very young ones, grow in their ability to serve.  We find that as they are provided with opportunities to do so, they begin to desire to do more.  And as they continue serving and giving they experience the blessing received from such altruistic behavior and attitudes.  Of course, we believe that serving and giving is also an opportunity to demonstrate our love for God.  Our students recognize that they have privileges that are not afforded to other children, be it in America, or elsewhere around the globe, and so cultivating a heart that gives and serves make the world a better place.  While we can’t change everything that is wrong with the world, our students are learning that they can make impact, small and large, and they do so with one small act of kindness at a time.

 

Get to Know the “KnowAtom” Curriculum

In response to research by the National Science Foundation and governmental studies showing the increased job growth and innovation in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), many schools across our national have chosen to use STEM curriculum guidelines to help their students become critical thinkers, understand science literacy, and keep up with the global growth and innovation in these four critical areas. North Shore Christian School has chosen the KnowAtom Program as our STEM curriculum for grades K through 8.

 

The KnowAtom curriculum is a yearlong, hands-on discovery of science, engineering, technology, and math, all with real-life scenarios and storylines students naturally connect with. Each experiment allows them to investigate and eventually design their own solutions to each problem/issue based upon their research and experimentation. The curriculum is based upon research and recommendations of the National Research Council, and is designed to inspire the creativity and scientific skills of each student. Students love that they are tasked with solving problems such as finding out how a space satellite can survive the temperature changes in outer space, or how meteorologists can predict weather phenomena specific to our region.

 

Our teachers love that the curriculum comes with online and in-person support, training, and coaching so they can get the most out of every unit. In each KnowAtom kit come the tools, materials, and consumables that correspond with each unit. The hands-on lessons are grade-specific and include: formative and summative assessments, digital resources, grade-specific readings, and are specific to our state requirements. Nothing is better for teachers than having the tools they need to inspire our students to learn more about the world around them.

 

Here are just a few of the ways that STEM is being used in our classrooms. Ask your children about their latest experiments and how they solved the problem discussed.

 

  • Our first grade recently dissected owl pellets to find out what their habitat provides for them. The experiments showed even the youngest learners how habitats provide everything needed and how scientists can discover this from examining the pellets.
  • In second grade the students explored and studied landforms. They asked the question, how are rivers and streams formed?  To answer this they constructed a hill and put frozen ice dyed with blue food coloring to observe how water moves downhill and then collects to form rivers and streams. They also made bouncy balls while investigating properties of matter when they explored solids and liquids.  
  • Third grade students explored and researched structures. As one of their activities they designed and constructed their own traditional Native American longhouse.
  • Our fourth grade students also explored structures. They created structures using toothpicks and analyzed the load each structure was able to carry.  Additionally, the students needed to decide if structures should be certain heights or widths to carry various weight loads.
  • The fifth grade tracked earthquakes and volcanoes, then analyzed how those earthquakes and volcanic episodes relate to the placement of the tectonic plates.  
  • Our middle school students researched weather data for a certain city and created a forecast based upon their findings including: temperature, barometric pressure, potential precipitation, and extreme weather phenomena specific to the area they chose.
  • Our middle school students also examined space satellites and how they handle the extreme changes in temperature.
  • During our STEM Saturday (Grades 2-8), students explored sound waves.  For instance, what is the length of the fishing line produces a high/low sound or louder/softer sound?  The students also made their own speakers out of recycled materials, connecting the speakers to an iPhone as they listened to music.

Mastering Math with Manipulatives

Civilizations across the globe including ancient Chinese villages, marketplaces in early Greece, and theaters in Roman cities all used manipulatives to solve everyday math problems. Whether they were clay beads, wooden trays, or the original abacus counters, these items served as the first manipulatives to help people understand the sometimes complex concepts of math. Today manipulatives have come to be considered essential in teaching mathematics at all grade levels. The manipulatives may have changed and evolved to include fraction strips, geoboards, spinners, coins, place value mats, and pattern blocks to name a few, but the goal is the same: to help students use a hands-on concrete object to introduce, understand, practice, or remediate math concepts.

The educational foundation for using math manipulatives is supported by the learning theory research completed by Jean Piaget. According to Piaget, children are active learners who master concepts by progressing through three levels of knowledge–concrete, pictorial or representative, and abstract. By using manipulatives, students can explore a math concept in a concrete way that will help them not only internalize the concept but also allow them to understand “why” a math procedure makes sense. For example, students using fraction strips can visibly see that 4/8 is equal to 3/6 by looking at each strip and seeing that the same amount is there, just broken up into different fraction amounts. We have seen it first hand in our classrooms here at North Shore Christian School, that children are allowed to explore and deeply understand complex math ideas by first using the concrete manipulatives. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using math manipulatives in our classrooms.

Concrete Representations – Students who work with a physical object will better understand what they are learning. By actively engaging with the manipulatives, the students can see how a math concept can be broken down into smaller parts representing actual items.
Engagement – Educators have known for decades that “paper and pencil” work reaches only a certain percentage of their students. By engaging senses of sight and touch, manipulatives reach a wider range of learners, such as those who don’t perform well on paper-and-pencil tasks.
Problem Solving Skills – Students who solve math problems only on paper must wait for a teacher to tell them whether their answer is correct, while students who use manipulatives can see a real life representation of the problem right in front of them and s/he has the tools to figure out the answer with the manipulatives.
Enjoyment and Confidence – Studies have shown that students have a higher confidence level in their math skills and their ability to solve a problem on their own than students only using paper and pencil tasks. And let’s face it, there is no contest when it comes to enjoyment level of working with colorful blocks, spinners, or dice rather than a math worksheet.

North Shore Christian School uses many math manipulatives at different grade levels to help students advance from concrete learners to those who understand more complex abstract math ideas. If you are looking for more resources on math manipulatives or the research behind it, we have provided several links below.

Teacher Vision – Using Math Manipulatives

Hand2Mind Resources Understanding the Research Behind Manipulatives

 

4 Reasons Why Class Size Matters

In our highly competitive world we often hear the phrase, “the bigger, the better”.  While this may be true for certain material items in our lives, in the world of classroom size and teacher-student ratios, sometimes smaller is more beneficial for the students, teachers, and school community as a whole. If your child feels more like a number rather than a vital member of the class family, then maybe you should reconsider why class size really matters. Here are four reasons why we believe smaller truly is better.

 

  • Academic Performance – Numerous studies have been done to assess the impact of class size on student achievement. According to the National Council of Teachers of English and the Department of Education, research shows that students in smaller classes perform better in all subjects and on all assessments when compared to their peers in larger classes. In smaller classes students tend to be as much as one to two months ahead in content knowledge, and they score higher on standardized assessments.
  • Student Engagement – Academic performance is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to measuring student success. In smaller class settings, students have the opportunity to speak up and be heard among their peers. Interactions at school can help build self-confidence and public speaking skills, not to mention the ability to adapt to intellectual and educational challenges.
  • Tailored Instruction – Teachers who have fewer children in the classroom have the advantage of tailoring instruction, activities, and assignments to the students in their classrooms no matter the differences in skill and ability.
  • Classes Become a CommunityWith fewer students per class, individuals can connect more closely with their peers and become more confident and comfortable when it comes to sharing their ideas and perspectives. These connections lead to lasting friendships. A unique aspect of North Shore Christian School is that not only do the children gain the benefits of a tightly-knit classroom community, but they also have the ability to get to know children in other classes beyond their own, thus broadening their friendship community.

 

Why STEM Education is so Important

The acronym STEM, short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, isn’t just one of the new education buzzwords that will be heard during your child’s school career, but it is one that will impact the U.S. and global economy for years to come. In a world that is becoming increasingly science- and tech-centric, the lens through which our students look at the world has become more focused on these four main areas. Therefore, learning the importance of these curriculum areas for your children is critically important for many reasons. Let’s take a closer look at STEM and the relevance and value it holds in our community today.

 

  • Cultivation of STEM Skills – When schools like NSCS follow a STEM curriculum students learn essential skills such as problem solving, analytical thinking, and the ability to work independently. Students who are encouraged to take part in hands-on experimentation find that they can support a claim with evidence, have increased intellectual curiosity, use data-driven decision making skills, creativity, and flexibility. These skills are not only higher level thinking skills, but also skills that will serve our students well in furthering their education beyond our walls as well as into the workforce.

 

  • Job Opportunities and Strengthening the Economy – According to the U. S. Department of Commerce (DOC), STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while others are growing at 9.8%. The studies within the DOC all acknowledge that STEM is where the job market is heading. Without a workforce that can take on these jobs, our economy could falter. With a STEM education, students are encouraged to think deeply so that they have the chance to become the innovators, tech experts, scientists, educators, researchers, and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation and our world.

 

  • Making a Difference in the World – As children of God, our focus is not just for our well being or statistics regarding the economy or jobs, but also about making a difference for those in need. STEM careers are truly “helping” professions that build communities and transform nations. These professionals are in charge of solving the complex problems of today’s world and its future. They are working to find solutions for global warming, cancer, third world hunger, disappearing habitats, and an interdependent world economy.

 

  • Bridging the Ethnic and Gender Gap – According to the website Engineering for Kids, “STEM education helps to bridge the ethnic and gender gaps sometimes found in math and science fields. Initiatives have been established to increase the roles of women and minorities in STEM-related fields. STEM education breaks the traditional gender roles.”

(Source: Department of Education)

Please visit our Facebook page and return to our blog as we cover some classroom STEM in Action examples and how they are impacting our NSCS students.

 

Thinking Outside the Box – Haiti Shoebox Drive at NSCS

The Advent Season and the coming of the celebration of the birth of Christ is upon us once again! While it may be easy to get caught up in the holiday rush, our generous children and families here at North Shore Christian School are are once again partnering up with the Christian organization, New Missions to help spread a little love this season to the children of Haiti, one of the most physically, spiritually, and emotionally impoverished countries in the Western Hemisphere. This year marks our school community’s 8th year of participation in the Shoebox Drive.

Starting after Thanksgiving weekend, our 3rd and 4th grade students from the NSCS Beverly Campus began the joyous process of leading the charge to give to those in need and sharing God’s love at this special time of year. During Chapel, our students presented the Shoebox Drive to the NSCS community through a short skit that told students and teachers more about what the Haiti Shoe Box Drive is, why it matters to children in Haiti, and ways they can be involved this Christmas. Families interested in participating were asked to fill a shoebox with small items such as: toys, toiletries, school supplies, clothing, and cards. In the past few years our generous families have compiled hundreds of boxes to send to these children.

The Shoebox Drive is one that is near to our hearts, not only because it teaches God’s love, but also because we have seen several of our graduates bring this program to the high schools that they choose after moving on from NSCS. We have heard from teachers and administrators in surrounding communities that they, too, have adopted the Shoebox Drive program because our alumni have introduced it into their school communities. It is a joy to witness the enthusiasm our students have for this project. Many NSCS families have kindly filled multiple boxes and made it truly a family event of giving. Perhaps the most valued items that go into these shoeboxes are not the toys, books, or supplies, but rather the intangible items – the love, hope, and faith of the children from the North Shore Christian School family.

Ms. MacDavitt, our 3rd & 4th grade teacher remarks that “One of the things I look forward to most every year at Christmas is our annual Haiti Shoe Box Drive at North Shore Christian School! It is a wonderful opportunity to share God’s love in a tangible way with children in Haiti, who might not otherwise receive Christmas presents. I often find myself waiting in anxious anticipation during the month of December to see what God is going to do with our Shoe Box Drive. In years past, we’ve seen God move in HUGE ways and do some really amazing things as we’ve sent hundreds of shoeboxes to Haiti. I’m excited to see what God will do this year, how He’ll use us and the contents of the boxes we fill, to bring joy, love, and His Good News to others. Would you join us in our efforts to share a little Christmas with Haiti this year? Packed shoeboxes can be brought to the Beverly Campus office anytime between now and Christmas, and more information on how to pack/what to pack can be found there, too. Will you help us share God’s love this Christmas?”

 

For more information about the New Mission Shoebox Drive visit their website, which offers a list of items that can be included as well as more about ways to spread the love of Christ with others. Don’t forget to deliver your Shoeboxes by December 19th!

Benefits of a Faith-Based Education

Are you searching for the right educational setting for your child(ren)? As parents, we research, pray, seek counsel, and agonize over the very best educational options for our family. If a Christian education is a contender on your list, here are a few benefits that you may want to consider when choosing not only an excellent academic setting, but also a place where your child can mature with the Lord.

  • Excellence in Education – Research has shown time and again that smaller, private Christian schools have an extremely high caliber of educational excellence. In fact, a 2013 Peabody Journal of Education study shows that students in religious schools enjoy a significant academic advantage over their counterparts in traditional public schools and charter schools. The findings from a meta-analysis of 90 studies conducted by William Jeynes found that students at faith-based schools scored 11 percentile points higher on standardized tests on average than their peers at traditional public and charter schools.
  • Fostering Spirituality – One of the main reasons families consider a Christian education is to help their children cultivate a closer relationship to God. At North Shore Christian School you will find yourself surrounded by people who are also on a journey to understand their own personal relationship with God. This religious community can help your child with their blossoming religious identity.
  • Worldview – At NSCS we integrate a Christian worldview in our teaching and learning with the hope that our students will adopt a Christian worldview. We hope to teach our children to interact with people of all faiths, holding true to what they believe and why they believe – all through the lens of a Christian worldview. It is through the teaching of a Biblical worldview that our students understand the world is much larger and they begin to think globally. We take very seriously the cultivation of a deep understanding and appreciation of the importance of living out one’s convictions, and sharing them with others in an inviting and winsome way. Our curriculum support these efforts.
  • Positive Role Models – Children spend a major portion of their day in school. Therefore, a teacher is a critical role model in your child’s world. In a Christian school classroom, teachers openly teach and model the truths of the Bible as they are compelled by an open, unashamed love and service to Jesus Christ.
  • Class Size – Christian schools can almost always offer more individual attention than public schools. The teacher-pupil ratio we offer at North Shore Christian School is lower than that of most public schools, which permits a teacher to spend more time with each child, thus greatly benefiting them academically and personally.

Call North Shore Christian School at (781) 599-2040 in Lynn or (978) 921-2888 in Beverly, or visit our website to find out more about our academic programs, educational enrichment, athletics, and the admissions process.

 

I Hear and I Forget. I See and I Remember. I Do and I Understand.

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. I thought of this ancient quote about experiential learning as students in grades 7 and 8 recently participated in a Classroom Constitutional Convention. Hearing, seeing, and doing were all part of the learning experience over the course of about a week and a half. For our Constitutional Convention, each student was given an identity of a historical delegate to the 1787 Convention in Philadelphia. Students researched the life of the delegate and studied the viewpoints of the delegate and how the delegate would have probably voted on the major issues regarding the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. After a few days of preparation, the classroom became the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. We even closed the door and shut the blinds. Students assembled to express the late 18th-century political views in the new United States of America. Would representation in the legislative branch be based upon population, or wealth, or by some other means? For the executive branch would we have a king or a council of executives? Would the word “President” even come up at this meeting? Would a Judicial Branch be necessary? Over the course of the week, students spoke on these and other vital historical issues. Students began to realize that these issues are still relevant today. Arguments and counter-arguments were heard, motions were passed or denied, and votes were counted. Finally, a Constitution was scribed by our Secretary and President of the Convention, and delegates, if agreeing with the Constitution in its present form, signed his or her student name and delegate name. Students heard, listened, saw, and participated in a political process. The hope is that experiential learning “sticks” and breeds more interest among students in civics and the social studies.

Mr. Todd McMillan is the  Middle School Social Studies and Bible teacher.

 

Why a Christian Education at NSCS Matters

Christian education, particularly foundational, Christian education, is important because research suggests that most children form their worldview by the end of Middle School, approximately by the age of 13. Christian educators have an incredible opportunity to partner with families to shape, support, and nurture the worldview of our young people. Everyone forms a worldview, a collection of beliefs, the question is what type of worldview will one develop?

At NSCS we strive to provide an education grounded in biblical principles so when our students graduate, with the Lord’s leading, they will develop a Biblical worldview. We seek to integrate and infuse Biblical principles, in our teaching of content and interpersonal interactions. This means we encourage our students to ask deep and meaningful questions about what they are learning, and to evaluate their thinking. For instance, in Science we integrate discussions about the complexity of God’s creation, the wisdom of the Lord, and how He has left nothing to chance. When teaching about the water cycle, we consider how God’s purpose and design of the water cycle even included the details of how water would be collected on the Earth’s surface. We sit in awe that He created engineers with the minds and ability to create and build structures such as skyscrapers and bridges. We encourage our students to consider the importance of order in Math as well as the beauty of math. For instance, when considering the Fibonacci pattern, the order of the pattern is displayed in such a way that one notices the pattern in the form of a spiral such as the shell of a snail or in the center of a sunflower. It is our hope that our students recognize that language is beautiful, and the Lord is the creator of linguistics. I could go on and on.

Ultimately, it is my hope that as a school community we strive to challenge our students to love deeply, think critically, to defend their faith and to understand WHY they believe behind WHAT they believe.

I wish you the Lord’s Peace and Joy,
In His care,
Mrs. Robin Lowe

 

Robin Lowe has been the principal on our Lynn Campus since 2015.

 

Math Can Be Understandable And Relatable

In my math classes one of my main goals is to make math understandable and relatable. So often the subject is approached with fear and anxiety because it seems abstract and incomprehensible. I think one of the main contributors to this mindset is the way math is taught. While it is a subject that requires rote memorization at times, I am a firm believer in the importance of understanding the concepts the students learn in addition to the ability to complete the process correctly.

Some of my favorite topics to teach are fractions and pi. I find that students, and adults, learn, and remember, when the events surrounding the lesson are memorable. Learning also becomes more meaningful when it is directly related to life or can be seen in concrete examples. When I teach adding and subtracting fractions I have the kids act out a story as I narrate. They are characters in the skit and act out a series of word problems. The more exciting the story the more they get into their characters whether it be 1/5 or 1/10. When they are later struggling with a problem I can remind them of the time that they were a spy named 1/10 who had to meet up with their friend 1/10 and together there were 2/10.

One of my favorite days this year was definitely Pi day (March 14 – 3/14). Many of my older students in grades 4-6 had worked with pi before when talking about circumference and area of a circle. My third graders had not yet studied pi, but all my students could benefit from a deeper understanding of pi. I placed a series of circular objects around the room. Each student was given a string and a ruler to measure the circumference and then diameter of the objects. As the students divided each circumference by their respective diameter it was awesome to watch realization and interest dawn on their face as each answer seemed eerily similar. In each class we had a great discussion about why all the answers to the each problem were almost identical.

I am consistently impressed with my students’ interest in math, determination, and eagerness to learn more. It is a joy to help build the foundation for each of my students in such a fundamental subject.

Lydia Staats has been teaching 5th and 6th graders on the Beverly campus since September 2015.