23 Apr

All About the Opera: Sparks of Imagination Opera Company News

Contributed by the Opera Public Relations Team

Opera isn’t just about overweight ladies in viking hats! It’s about an important story translated through music and acting. And that’s just what the 5th graders of Sparks of Imagination Opera Company aimed to do.

The theme of the opera is “awareness”. According to 5th grade Public Relations Officer, Radha, “This opera is going to be the next Wonder. It’s definitely going to raise our awareness to a great level.” Melissa adds, “ This opera teaches an important lesson that eventually everyone needs to learn. This opera is a fun way to teach awareness and a way for people to learn the lesson.”

The fifth graders have been working restlessly since the first few weeks of school to create an original opera, entitled Crystal Clear. Students applied and auditioned for opera jobs at the end of September and started working immediately to create and perfect original opera. The writers wrote a full-length 3 act script, while the composers wrote music to accompany the lyrics.  The costume and make-up artists designed costumes based on the personalities of each character. The set designer, Jane, created the settings for the opera, while the carpenters built and painted the backdrops. Electricians built a light board that will run lights for the production. The stage managers, Georgia and Lilly, rehearsed with the performers and will cue them during the show.  Historians gathered information during the opera classes so they could start making their display. The production manager, Gabby made sure everything ran smoothly. All performances will be run completely by 5th graders, with no adults!

Unfortunately this winter has been brutal, resulting in lots of our opera days becoming snow days. This has shortened our work time. Another struggle is the fact that we started working on the opera in mid- October. That hasn’t given us much time to work on the opera, especially with only two classes per week. But we have been able to work through it.

Do you still think that opera is just about ladies in viking hats? We hope not and we hope to see you at the opera! The performance is scheduled for this Thursday, April 26, at 7:30 pm in Hajjar Auditorium on the 2nd floor of the Klein Campus Center.

To listen to a Podcast series from the Sparks of Imagination Opera Company, featuring interviews with various students in different jobs,  click here or go to http://lsnotes.d-e.org/feed/podcast/opera

To visit the Sparks of Imagination website click here or go to www.d-e.org/sparksofimagination *Note: D-E LogIn required.

23 Apr

Spring Carnival & STEM Festival 2018

All in the D-E community are invited to the Spring Carnival & STEM Festival 2018 this Sunday, April 29, from 1 3:00 PM on Leggett Field and the Hajjar STEM Center.Featuring 20+ booths and activities, and a complimentary BBQ lunch included. FREE Admission, rain or shine! The Spring Carnival and STEM Festival is sponsored by D-E Upper School student clubs and the D-E Parents’ Association, and is open to D-E families of all ages. For details visit www.d-e.org/news or www.d-e.org/activities (D-E LogIn required).

23 Apr

Bookmaking in Early Childhood

Submitted by the Early Childhood Faculty

In our kindergarten, it is routine for teachers to pull up a chair alongside children to confer about a piece of their writing. Two years earlier, those same children may have pulled up a chair alongside a teacher who is writing and tried to imitate them. With clipboard, paper, and crayon in hand, preschool children mimic the posture, arm and hand movements of their teachers, especially when teachers are taking notes on their peers,  perfectly capturing purposeful writing. When the dramatic play area becomes a doctor’s office, the children scribble “prescriptions” on pads, another imitation of purposeful writing.

One of the ultimate accomplishments of our emergent writers and readers is to create books. Bookmaking happens throughout our early childhood program. “Oral rehearsal” — repeatedly speaking words that may then become part of a book’s text — is an integral part in the process.

Preschool 3: Marisa Tepley, Rachel DiGiovanni, and Mary Cushman

A precursor to writing is telling a sequential story. In Preschool 3, the most popular subject in storytelling is self. Many three- and four-year-olds enjoy speaking about their experiences. In Preschool 3, we create books about each student by photographing jobs and routines that have a true beginning, middle, and end. The students take “picture walks” through the photographs to develop their titles. Once the books are laminated and bound, the preschoolers -with support from their teachers – read their books to the class. They use transitional words such as first, next, and then. Their books become part of the classroom library until their next publication is ready. Our budding authors are now on their third books, which contain printed text that they have dictated.

Preschool 3 children enjoy drawing. By spring, some are drawing several pictures at a time, and often they reveal to the teachers what they are thinking about or representing on the pages. We jot down their words and ask if they’d like to staple the pages together and make a book. These books may be read aloud to the class by a teacher before being sent home. As you will read below, by Preschool 4 this kind of bookmaking becomes more structured, focused, and independent.

Preschool 4: Teresa Cali and Ericka Butler

In Preschool 4, it is an exciting experience for the children to take their bookmaking to the next level. They understand what an author and illustrator are and appreciate what goes into the making of a book. They learn about different styles of writing and drawing through our many author studies. Children gravitate to the writing center where they create their own original books, incorporating their own pictures and/or words. Before a child begins making a book, a topic may be discussed at a meeting with the whole class or in a one-on-one meeting with a teacher. The Writing Center in the classroom is open for the children to go to at any point in the day should they get a book idea on their own.

The Writing Center has all the materials children need for bookmaking, including pre-stapled blank books, a variety of colored pencils and crayons, letter stamps and pads, whiteboards, chalkboards, sandpaper letters and an alphabet chart. At this age, some children choose to dictate their words, while others begin labeling their pictures using sound spelling. Some writers verbally narrate their picture stories without putting words on a page. When their books are complete, the children have an opportunity to share their books with the class while they sit in a designated author and illustrator chair. It is a delightful and gratifying experience for children to share their books with their friends.

Kindergarten: Tricia Fiore, Lorraine Yamin, Sandy De Cos, and Kristina Gomez

On the first day of kindergarten, teachers gather students in a huddle near the easel to share the great news that bookmaking is celebrated every day and that every student in the room is an author. Students are introduced to Writer’s Workshop, the time in their schedule when they first receive a ten-minute “mini-lesson” where teachers share information about what writers do. This mini lesson is followed by 20 to 30 minutes of practice bookmaking and being an author.

The Writer’s Workshop approach capitalizes on kindergartners’ desire to show the world everything they know. The mechanics of the workshop eventually include planning a book with illustrations, adding labels and word approximations, stretching out words orally to hear the sounds and get them on the page, and using a letter board to help remember sound/letter correspondences. Children learn to share their drafts with a partner and revise. There are three big units of study: narrative writing, “how-to” pieces, and opinion pieces, each culminating in a celebration of everyone’s best work with a publishing party.

23 Apr


Submitted by Cecily Gottling and Michael Rodenbush

What do MINECRAFT coding, flying paper airplanes, folding Halloween origami, controlling robots, and shooting off rockets all have in common?  They are among the myriad engaging activities designed for our fourth-grade girls by the amazing Upper School girls of the WISE club on three eventful days this past year. WISE stands for Women in STEM Education and encourages young women to pursue an interest in STEM courses and topics. Upper Schoolers Ashley, Linda, Marwah, Polina, Roxane, Ashley and Mena got rave reviews from the younger girls for their mentorship as well as hugs and high fives. The fourth-grade girls also got the WISE message about resisting gender stereotypes and taking on leadership roles themselves.

“I think WISE Girls is important because everyone thinks that men are the math and science rulers in the world, but when you think about it, it is pretty equal.” -Amanda

“I loved WISE girls. It taught me lots of things like—never give up and don’t give up because there are barely any girls, only boys!” -Anna

“I also think they should continue WISE GIRLS because girls who are interested in coding, technology and science might want to be the girls in charge of WISE Girls when they get older.”  -Nisha

06 Apr

Dr. “G” visits the Lower School

Submitted by Jessica Pomeroy and Michael Rodenbush

On Thursday, April 5th, fourth and fifth grade students had the opportunity to attend a presentation with Dr. Deborah Gilboa.  Dr. “G.” is a well-known parenting and youth development expert, family physician, media personality, author, speaker and social influencer.  Her primary focus is character development in children ages 2-22 and helping children develop crucial life skills. Her work with 4th and 5th graders emphasized responsibility, respect and resilience.  Dr. G was received extremely well by our fourth and fifth grade students. Noelle said, “I like how she was funny, but she was also very informative at the same time.  She helped keep us engaged.” Jake, another fifth-grade student, shared that he learned skills to interact with parents and earn privileges by being responsible. Fourth grade Adina’s take away applies not only to parents but anyone you are trying to negotiate with: “When you get in an argument, make eye contact, use a quiet voice and don’t tell someone to calm down. Don’t tell them how to feel.”

Communicating styles with peers and with adults have similarities but also differences, and Dr. G helped students see the differences so they understand some of the skills involved in communicating needs and wants.  A fun, informative and very relevant presentation for our students, we are most grateful the Parents Association for sponsoring this event.

06 Apr

First Grade Houses and Homes

Submitted by Madison Farrar, Rachel Brainin, and Dorothy-Ann Muus

The first grade recently celebrated their Houses and Homes projects with an exciting and informative assembly that showcased the models they constructed. It was the culmination of their Social Studies unit which introduced the study of human shelter in the six habitable continents.

To begin the unit, their teachers led them on a walk to view the unique features in the neighborhood homes close to our school. Next, the first graders studied the important jobs and trades in the construction business. They visited a local lumberyard and hardware store for a scavenger hunt to learn about the materials used to build real-life homes. While in class, the children excitedly teamed up to build one of the model homes that represented the six inhabitable continents, and then began to plan their communal creations.

Thirty-four six and seven-year old children were transformed into six distinctive construction companies with the goal of working together to create a specific type of home using available materials. To learn how to work together, the first graders focused on the words Collaboration, Cooperation, and Communication. During discussions about the 3C’s, their teachers improvised little skits to model the language and behaviors people use to work effectively as a team. They were encouraged to pay close attention to their teachers’ mannerisms, tone, and words and to articulate what they noticed about the interactions. Walking around later as the groups decided and designed, we overheard remarks like, “Let’s use both your idea and my idea!” or “Let’s try your plan and see, and then we’ll try mine.” The Three C’s were a recurring theme throughout the first-grade Social Studies unit.

In addition to practicing the three C’s during the design and building phases of their model shelter, the first graders explored the concept of shelter in various other ways. In math, they graphed necessary materials used for shelters. In Word Study, they became familiar with words related to the building trades. In science, they studied the natural materials used world-wide to erect shelters for families. Individually and as a group, our first-graders enjoyed reading and writing factual books about different types of shelters.

Once the groups decided on names for their construction companies, they collected recycled materials and began the process of designing and constructing their models. For several days, the classroom was filled with hustle and bustle and lively activity – a happy flurry of discussion and movement and industry with parents providing needed help with hot glue guns and cutting tools. The final projects were colorful and distinctive structures that included inventive, practical features such as solar panels, water collection systems and even an entrance ramp for a wheelchair!

The first graders took their jobs very seriously, and truly lived by the three C’s. The project brought out the best in everybody and really fostered a sense of accomplishment and community pride amongst the entire grade.

06 Apr

2nd Graders meet Canine Companions

Submitted by Marina Byrne and Jennifer Koteles

Seven years ago, D-E second graders began their community service journey with CCI (Canine Companions for Independence). Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence® is a non-profit organization that “enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.”

We were first introduced to this wonderful organization through a partnership with D-E’s neighbor, Caryl Swain, who is a puppy raiser for CCI. As part of our study of communities, we invited Caryl to come and speak to us about what she does.

Fast forward seven years later as our current second graders continue the tradition of learning about CCI. Caryl paid us a visit several weeks ago to explain what she does as a volunteer and introduced us to her dogs, Forest and Andy. Caryl has a new puppy that is 8 weeks old named, Swain. It was named in her honor by CCI as the 10th puppy she has raised. Before the break, we had a Read-a-Thon and raised $919.15! With this money, we purchased items from the CCI wish list on Amazon.

On April 5th, the second graders took a trip to Medford, Long Island to visit the facilities where the puppies continue their training before being matched with families. We had the opportunity to see dogs at work, visit the doggy playground, speak to a veterinarian and ask lots of questions. The children were so proud to give CCI their donations and to see where Caryl’s puppies continue their training. Thank you to all the families who helped us with this wonderful service project, and we look forward to continuing this second grade tradition for many more years!

06 Apr

Lower School Students Lend A Hand To Project Cicero

Submitted by Kristin Geller

Saturday, March 17 was the first day of D-E’s Spring Break, yet the campus was full of teachers! Over 350 teachers from under-resourced school districts in New Jersey came to campus to participate in Project Cicero. Under the leadership of D-E alumni Teddi Hunter ‘87 and Jen Backer ‘87, Project Cicero Northern New Jersey organized book drives that collected and offered FREE new/gently used books to build and supplement classroom libraries in schools across northern New Jersey.

This year a group of Lower School 4th and 5th graders volunteered with Project Cicero by helping to sort and organize the thousands of books that were collected. Additionally, students from D-E’s Middle and Upper school volunteered to make this project a huge success.

Project Cicero is fueled by the prolific words of Cicero himself, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

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