Great start to fall term classes!

Despite some delays due to remodeling, the DCS staff agreed that this may have been the most smooth first week of a school year yet at DCS! The building has been very busy, with lots of families coming in for meetings, to preview and borrow curriculum materials, and to start onsite classes. Our (optional) classes this term are phenomenal – we were able to get Rock Clibming on the schedule at the last minute, add two more sessions of swimming lessons, and have some super cool onsite options like Chess, Cryptology, Seuss-ucation, Debate, Songwriting, Rock Music & Politics, several Physics classes, a Food Pod money, math and management series, and lots of great art offerings, among many others. We are also loving the friendships and interactions among all the students in classes and during our lunch and recess periods. Families are also hearing good things from their kids – When one grandmother asked “so, are all your classes good this term?” Her granddaughter said “No, they’re not all good. They’re all GREAT!” 

We are looking forward to our upcoming field trips like our forest walk, pumpkin patch visit, Evergreen Aviation Museum, Oregon Historical Society, and the Gilbert House, plus class trips to the fire station, arboretum, food truck, and others. We are so lucky to be able to provide all of these learning opportunities to our home learners! Every class and field trip is an opportunity to spark their curiosity and get them interested in learning more later on. 

Learn on!

No morning classes at DCS April 8-11 – State Testing

Just a reminder – we will be conducting SBAC / State Testing every morning this week at DCS for grades 3-8 so there will be no morning classes in the building this week. Luckily, rock climbing will still take place in Salem on Friday morning as usual! Afternoon classes take place as normal starting at 12:30 every afternoon. If you’d like to sign up for testing time slots, or try out the practice tests with your child(ren), check out our OAKS / SBAC webpage.

Two hour delay due to snow – Tues. Feb. 5, 2019

Following the lead of the Dallas School District’s weather delay decisions, classes onsite at DCS will be delayed by two hours today (Tuesday, February 5). We will begin our onsite classes today at 10:45. 
It is possible that a decision will be made later to cancel all onsite classes at DCS for the day, so before you leave for any classes at DCS, please double check our website, our Facebook pages or your email again! 

This is still an attendance day for all DCS students (marking your attendance to show that students have participated in learning activities today). Your DCS Guide is available today if you have any questions.

 

Now accepting applications for 2019-2020 school year

If you would like your child(ren) to have access to a flexible, nontraditional, community-based education at DCS, with our excellent instructors, resources, and services to help personalize their home learning, we will be accepting applications for new students until May 6, 2019. Prospective families are strongly encouraged to attend one of the information sessions to learn more about DCS before submitting their application. The first information session for prospective families will be on Thursday, February 21 from 4:00 to 5:00 pm at Dallas Community School, 124 SW Walnut Ave., Dallas, OR. 

http://dallascommunityschool.org/application-form/

OMSI Field Trip

Thursday, January 10, 2019 – 10:15 to 2:45 – OMSI – King Tut Exhibit, Planetarium Show, and Hands-On Science Experiments – Portland, Or (K-8)

Location: OMSI – 1945 SE Water Ave., Portland, OR
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2019
Time: 10:15 am to 2:45 pm (drive and meet us there at 10:15 or meet at DCS at 8:15 to ride the bus and return to DCS by 4:30 pm)

All DCS students (K-8) may attend – one adult chaperone entry fee is paid by DCS – extra adult chaperones and non-DCS siblings will cost $15 (to be paid in advance directly to DCS). $10 will be deducted from each student’s $300 Classes and Field Trips allotment fund for this field trip.

Sign up on this online form (below) – deadline for registration is Friday, December 28, 2018.

This may be one of our best field trips yet! We have a full day of activities scheduled at OMSI, including a planetarium show, a hands-on science experiments led by OMSI staff, and a visit to the very special King Tut Exhibit in its last week! We have a bus booked, so families can meet us at DCS and board the bus at 8:15 (departing by 8:30) and returning to DCS around 4:30 pm, or drive to OMSI and meet there at 10:15 am. Children under age 5 may not ride the bus (school district policy).

Check out the schedule of activities here: 

Parents with kids in different age groups will go with their youngest child(ren) and their older child(ren) will be supervised by DCS staff during the group activities. The King Tut Exhibit takes about one hour. The group entering at 1:15 will be able to explore OMSI after they pass through the exhibit (no need to be out of that exhibit at 1:45).

Sign up on this online form – deadline for registration is Friday, December 28, 2018.

 

Registration for this field trip is now closed. Keep an eye on our website for more upcoming field trips!

Getting the most out of field trips for home learners

Holding a tree frog in your hand, walking and talking with a hydrology expert about filtering dirty water through a series of ponds, picking pumpkins, watching Scrooge learn about the spirit of Christmas on the stage in front of you, binding your own book with a needle and thread, touching and playing with masks and instruments made of wood to learn how forests are used and protected around the world, or getting the Speaker of the House to welcome you in front of the whole state House of Representatives at the Capitol building? This is “school”? Well, yes, of course – it’s all par for the course for our home learners!

One of the amazing things about home learning is that families are much more able to arrange their schedules to involve educational visits and field trips to different locations. This is so empowering for families, and these excursions make a big difference in children’s educations. At DCS, we try to organize field trips or family workshops about twice a month on different days of the week, covering a wide range of subjects and concepts, and including different age groups. So far this year, we have had trips covering topics like agriculture, local history, performing arts, forestry (industry, biology, economy, sustainability), science, and civics. Before the end of the year, we’ll have trips and workshops covering genealogy, geology, gardening, engineering and world history. This is very satisfying information for those of us helping to guide our students’ learning, but for the kids, it’s all about higher levels of engagement. These trips and workshops are all about exposing them to interesting ideas, situations, and experiences, and what they are able to pick up to stimulate their curiosity for future learning and reinforce previous learning.

Research shows that exposure to enrichment experiences makes a huge difference in children’s engagement in learning, achievements, social success, self-esteem and future careers. This article shows that more exposure to innovation makes it more likely for people to become inventors. One study found that students who attended field trips to cultural institutions “demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of tolerance, had more historical empathy and developed a taste for being a cultural consumer in the future.” Another study “found that, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, youth who take educational trips have better grades (59 percent), higher graduation rates from high school (95 percent) and college (63 percent), and greater income (12 percent higher annually). In fact, 89 percent said educational trips had a positive, lasting impact on their education and career because the trips made them more engaged, intellectually curious and interested in and out of school.”

These are all good reasons to make sure that you take advantage of the many field trip opportunities offered through DCS (and arrange your own experiential learning visits with your family)! But how do you get the most learning out of the experiences? How do you make sure that your child(ren) are making connections, gaining insight, reinforcing knowledge, and then taking advantage of the curiosity the trip inspires to continue the learning afterwards?

Try some (or all) of these ideas to make the most of your field trips, and let us know if you have any ideas to add!

  1. Research the trip ahead of time. Get books about the topic from the library. Go online and look up the website of the place you will be visiting. Make a list of questions that you might find the answers to on the trip. Think about experiences you have had or projects you have done in the past that connect with this trip. Make a list of possible vocabulary words that might be used during the trip. Discuss concepts that will be covered during the trip. Prime the learning pump.
  2. Get help from your students in planning for the trip. Talk about departure, travel, and arrival times (estimating, measuring distances, time management). Discuss a budget and make a list of items that you will need to pack and bring. When appropriate, give students a sketchbook and pencil(s) to draw, sketch, or take notes and write questions during the visit.
  3. During the trip, it’s all about the engagement, the inspiration, the exposure to ideas and information, and the curiosity. Make sure kids are engaging with the tour, experience, or exhibit – when appropriate, ask them questions, give them tasks (like sketching in a notebook or doing a scavenger hunt), help them make connections with bigger questions and concepts. (Learn about concept-based teaching and learning here.) Take plenty of photos and maybe a few video clips so that kids can make a digital slideshow, video or presentation about the trip later. Every trip is as interesting and educational as you make it!
  4. After the trip, have your child review or evaluate the trip. Have them make some notes about what was great, how they could have been more engaged or behaved differently, and what they would like to see improved.

Here are more ideas to continue to extend learning after a field trip from campsilos.org. Have fun! 

  • Have students share observations and reactions to field trip experiences.
  • Share notes or assignments students completed while on the field trip.
  • Create a display of materials developed or collected while on the field trip.
  • Develop a home museum that replicates and extends displays students observed on the field trip. For example, if the field trip involved an art museum, develop a classroom art museum containing student artwork.
  • Link field trip activities to multiple curricular areas. For example, students can develop vocabulary lists based on field trip observations; record field trip observations in a classroom journal; complete math problems related to actual field trip budget planning; etc.
  • Have students compose and send thank-you letters to the field trip site host, chaperones, school administrators and other persons that supported the field trip. Include favorite objects or special information learned during the field trip.
  • Create a short news report about what happened on the field trip. Publicize the trip via an article in your local newspaper, video or article on the school website, or trip presentation for parent’s night.

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Winter Enrichment Course Enrollments Open!

Enrollments will open in the Active.com online enrollment system at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, Dec. 12 and the deadline for enrollments will be 12:00 pm (noon) on Monday, Dec. 18.

Please note that all class lists will be finalized with input from the Guides, so if you end up on a waiting list for a class that your child really wants or needs for some reason, please let your guide know and we will take this information into account when finalizing the class rosters by Tuesday, Dec. 19.

Use THIS LINK to enroll in enrichment courses starting at 5:00 pm on Dec. 12. In the system, you can sort classes by location (click OREGON in the Location filter to get a list of our class locations) or by day of the week using the Calendar view instead of the Session List view.

Click on a class name to see the course description and information about instructors and locations. Don’t worry about being the first to enroll, we really don’t anticipate having any problems getting students into all or most of their enrichment class choices, and we can be flexible with some numbers. All class lists will be finalized on Monday, December 18 and Tuesday, December 19, with input and confirmation from the DCS Guides.

Below is the finalized schedule grid / list of winter enrichment classes. We have made several schedule changes in the past week, so please note that the dates and times in this grid and in the Active.com system are the true days and times of all the classes. (The other lists with course descriptions, etc. may have outdated information.)

Dallas Schools Lockdown

We learned from the assistant superintendent of Dallas Public Schools at about noon today (Wednesday, Oct. 18) that all of the Dallas schools were on lockdown because of a specific threat from one student to another student. The assistant superintendent said that we should lock our doors but reassured us that it was a very specific threat, and that we could continue to release kids to parents and go in and out of the school. The DCS Middle School Guides brought their students to our building, and we arranged car rides for those going back to the North Campus building, where the doors were locked after students and teachers entered for the 12:30 class.

Some parents called or posted on Facebook to ask about why they didn’t hear from us during the lockdown. Although we very much understand parents’ concern, our first priority during any “emergency” situation is the safety of the students and staff, and all the organization and processes that entails. While we are focused on doing what needs to be done to that end, it is hard for any staff to break away to send out emails or update our school community Facebook page. If our school is in a lockdown, then normally, it would usually not be advisable for parents to come pick up their children, or for families to be going in and out of the school. As many of you know, we follow the Dallas School District policies, but the Board and the staff are currently working on updating our own school policies, and we will be communicating our revised lockdown and emergency policy after next week’s staff meeting.

In any case, all is now well – the lockdown was called off at around 1:00 or so, and we don’t have any further details to share, though it will probably be in the morning papers! Thank you for your concern and communications, and rest assured, student safety and well-being is our top priority at all times, but especially during a lockdown or emergency situation!