Ephrata Area School District Leaders Shadow Students
How does it feel to be a student for a day? After participating in the nationwide School Retool Shadow A Student Challenge for the fourth year in a row, Ephrata Area School District administrators are able to speak from their own experiences to answer this question. District and building leaders will shadow students in secondary schools on Tuesday, February 19 and elementary schools on Wednesday, February 20 to experience a school day as a student first-hand and gain a new perspective on learning.
District administrators are encouraged to participate with empathy and an open mind to feel what it is like to truly adopt a student’s point of view. “As part of the District theme to embody a growth mindset and a desire for continued improvement, administrators are trying to fully immerse themselves in student life for a day with the goal to better understand the students we serve,” said District Superintendent Dr. Brian Troop.
Administrators have been asked to keep a variety of questions in mind while shadowing students, including:
- How does it feel to be a student for a day?
- What is your student’s favorite moment of the day, and what makes it special?
- What do you notice makes your student feel uncomfortable, anxious, or bored? Why?
- When is your student engaged in learning?
- As you go through your day, what opportunities do you notice for use of critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and effective communication skills?
Following the events, administrators will reflect on their insights to compare students’ experiences with the learning and skills necessary for success through their academic careers.
Fulton Elementary School Students Use “Design Thinking” for Community Improvements
Fourth-grade students at Fulton Elementary School recently completed research and created proposals to suggest improvements in their community.
The project began with students asking their families and friends about the types of things they would like to see changed or improved in the Ephrata area. Students chose their top three areas of interest to research and worked in teams with students who had a similar interest. A variety of topics were selected, including laternflies, pet shelters, school gardens, and playground upgrades.
Students followed a thorough “Design Thinking” protocol to support their area of interest:
- Define and Research Problem
- Generate Ideas and Rationale
- Select Potential Solutions and Take Action
- Create Prototypes
- Test the Prototypes
- Evaluate and Redesign
- Present Projects (An Expo)
Additionally, students worked with an expert specific to their area of interest via conference calls, school meetings, Facetime, and Skype.
The culmination of students’ work was presented during a community expo on Friday, February 8. Family members and local officials were invited to see the displays of each team and talk with students about what they learned. There were nearly a hundred attendees, including Pennsylvania Senator Ryan Aument, Ephrata Mayor Ralph Mowen, and Ephrata Borough Manager Bob Thompson.
Eight teams of students in grades three and four participated in the annual District Elementary STEAM Bowl, on Thursday, January 17. Prior to the event, over 650 third and fourth grade students answered preliminary STEAM-related questions to determine who would represent their elementary schools on each STEAM Bowl team.
The teams each participated in a half-day competition, where Clay Elementary School finished as the top fourth grade team and Highland Elementary School was named the top third grade team. Both teams will represent the District in the annual IU13 STEM Bowl.
Over 225 Ephrata Area School District families attended the third annual Elementary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Night on Wednesday,December 12. Students and their families from all four District elementary schools participated in a variety of STEAM activities.
The evening began with an opening presentation by representatives of the Whitaker Center entitled “It’s Shocking” for families to learn more about static electricity. Families then rotated through STEAM stations to participate in a variety of collaborative activities:
- Case New Holland provided an interactive activity illustrating the workings of an assembly line. Students built LEGO tractors to simulate the process.
- The Whitaker Center encouraged exploration with coding spheres and caterpillars.
- The Ephrata Borough Water Treatment Authority helped families discover where water comes from, what water is used for, how to keep water clean, and how pollution affects water.
- WellSpan engaged families in a Wellness Health Fair.
- Families were introduced to the 2019 District Coding Contest while participating in the “Build a Zoo STEM Challenge” and using District LEGO kits.
“We are thrilled the annual Elementary STEAM Night engages so manyDistrict families every year. It is a greatopportunity for family members to work together and learn together throughmeaningful 21st century STEAM activities,” said Dr. Jacy ClugstonHess, District Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education.
Second Graders in Mrs. Shenk and Mr. Trout’s classes visited the Rail Trail and placed flags along Winters Memorial in honor of Veterans Day.
Paige Reddig, a seventh-grader at Ephrata Middle School, is having an exciting start to her school year. She wrote and recently published a book before also being named the 2018 Distinguished Middle School Student of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE).
“Three Sisters of Doom”
It all began last spring when Paige attended an Ephrata Intermediate School assembly with author and publisher Stephen Kozan. Mr. Kozan challenged students to write a one-page book pitch. The student with the most creative entry would have the opportunity to complete his or her story and have the book published. Paige submitted a start to a story she entitled, “Three Sisters of Doom” and was notified in May that she was the winner.
Over the summer, Paige worked with a publisher, editor, and illustrator to complete her book. The 165-page story has 13 chapters and is geared for readers ages 8 to 15. She used inspiration from her own family members when writing the book, specifically noting her grandparents and cousins. She also found a way to incorporate some of her hobbies, including sewing.
“Three Sisters of Doom” depicts a magical place between the Known and Unknown, where each character represents something specific. Hope, the youngest royal daughter, discovers that her sisters, Greed, Envy, and Sickness, plan to seize control of the kingdom. Hope searches for a way to stop her sisters and finds an ancient spell that she believes will save her family. With a heavy heart, she casts the spell altering the princesses’ lives unexpectedly sending them somewhere in the Known but as objects, not themselves. Elsewhere in the Known, a young girl named Phoebe is visiting with her grandmother. Everything in Grandma’s house has a story, from the furniture to her jewelry. On this visit, they come across things that Grandma does not remember, and when Phoebe touches them, the objects seem to be telling her their own story, pulling her into their lives.
Paige said her ideal writing surroundings are at a computer, silent and uninterrupted. “I wrote the whole thing in about six weeks,” she said. “I really had nothing but an outline guiding the story. It all just came to me as I wrote. I would sit down at my computer and write whenever I had time, whether it was for a couple of minutes or hours. My longest stretch writing at one time was four hours,” she continued.
It is not hard to believe that Paige is an avid reader in her spare time. “I read five or six different books at the same time. The book I pick up to read just depends on the mood I’m in that day,” she said. While she considers her love of reading and writing a hobby, her favorite school subjects are math and science.
2018 Distinguished Middle School Student of the Year
Just days before “Three Sisters of Doom” was finished being printed, Paige was notified by the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE) that she was named the 2018 Distinguished Middle School Student of the Year. She will be presented with an award and a $100 cash prize at the 66th Annual PAGE Conference in Pittsburgh at the end of November.
Paige completed an application process with four letters of recommendation, including one from her book publisher, Mr. Kozan and one from an Ephrata Intermediate School teacher, Mrs. Marcie Lloyd. “Paige is very eager to learn and gives her all in everything she does. She is a very talented writer and a positive school leader,” said Mrs. Lloyd.
“I feel super proud but am also a little nervous about it all,” Paige concluded.
JavaTeas at Doneckers will be hosting a book signing on Saturday, November 17 from 10:00 AM to noon. Books will be available for purchase at the event or can be ordered on Amazon or iVisitYourSchool.com.