Students across all Ephrata Area School District elementary schools recently embarked on a collective reading adventure, One Book, One District.
Funded by an Ephrata Area Education Foundation Venture Grant, every student in Kindergarten through grade 4 was provided a book – either Glamourpuss or Cheese – by Sarah Weeks. Students were encouraged to read their book independently and at home with family members, in addition to reading it with classmates and teachers while in school. The experience created a common bond among students, staff, and families. Additionally, it inspired schoolwide comradery and shared conversations through a common book.
The culmination of One Book, One District was Ms. Weeks’ visit to all four District elementary schools during the week of May 9. Students took pride in decorating their schools with themes connected to the author’s books and enjoyed interactive assemblies during her visit. Akron Elementary School Principal Sheri Horner noted students’ excitement to meet Ms. Weeks. “Students were very eager to learn directly from an author,” she said.
Sarah Weeks is the author of 59 published books. Visit sarahweeks.com for more information.
Approximately 300 students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 participated in the fourth annual Ephrata Area School District Coding Contest this year. Students worked after school in small groups to create projects that demonstrated the use of code, which were reviewed by a panel of District administrators, teachers, School Board members, and community leaders.
Kindergarten – Grade 2
- 1st place (TIE)
- Lucynda Berkey, Rylan Lapp, and Cole McAnany (Highland)
- Jubilee Mertz and Daisy Musser (Highland)
- 2nd place: Zachary Stonebraker and Brylee McGarvey (Highland)
- 3rd place: Kingston Fischbach and Bryce Thomas (Fulton)
- 1st place: Zion Kapp and Maliha Martin (Clay)
- 2nd place: Cooper Simes and Reece Wilson (Highland)
- 3rd place: Ian Goehrig, Christopher Kohler, and Brendan Morrell (Akron and Clay)
- 1st place: Anastasia Lehman and Sarah Taylor (Grade 6)
- 2nd place: Ethan Garman, Landry Weidner, and Todd Weist (Grade 5)
- 3rd place: Joshua Muhr and Wesley Jones (Grade 6)
- 1st place: Nathan Brubaker, Moses Kapp, and Theodore Smith (Grade 7)
- 2nd place: Clay Sholes, Micah Neff, and Collin Jones (Grade 8)
- 3rd place: Lillian Sharpe and Kyle Swenson (Grade 8)
A signature project supported by the Ephrata Area Education Foundation, the Coding Contest was introduced to District students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 in 2016. It received very positive feedback, which created the desire to grow the event in 2017. The District has provided students coding education, including participation in the global Hour of Code since 2013. Coding activities include creating computer games, programming applications, building robots, and much more.
Why encourage children to code? Predictions are that computer science jobs already significantly surpass the number of individuals qualified for these positions. “Almost every machine we interact with now is built
with code. Our children need to learn how machines work to be best prepared for the future. Plus, computer science is a top-paying college degree, and computer programming jobs are growing at twice the national average,” stated Dan Mahlandt, District Coordinator of Virtual Education.
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.