Learning beyond the walls of the classroom…

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back! I hope that your spring break was rewarding and relaxing. For the students in Mary’s and Fran’s classes it was a time to pack and prep for their upcoming Gold Country Trip.

On Wednesday I drove up to Sacramento and spent time with them. It was an amazing and full day in our state capitol! I caught up with them just as they were preparing to enter Sutter’s Fort. This was the first time our 4/5 classes have returned to the capitol in close to a decade.

It was an interesting blast from the past to find a 19th century building standing in the middle of downtown, 21st century Sacramento. Sutter’s Fort was built as a Mexican settlement by John Sutter. But did you know that he was originally from Germany, travelled around the world ending up in California, and became a Mexican citizen in 1840 to receive the land grant and build the fort?

After our engaging tour, the two classes travelled to the state capitol where we had lunch, and they were given a personal tour of the building by Fran’s brother who used to work there and the students met with Assemblymember Evan Low. Last but not least, they headed on to the Railroad Museum. Talk about a packed schedule!!

These overnight and daytime field trips are a vital part of our instructional program and research supports the tremendous value of these experiences for students.

According to a study from the University of Arkansas field trips, “contribute to the development of students into civilized young men and women… [who] have stronger critical-thinking skills, exhibit increased historical empathy, display higher levels of tolerance, and have a greater taste for consuming art and culture.” Another study from RAFT, found that “Teachers who conduct hands-on learning activities on a weekly basis out-perform their peers by more than 70% of a grade level in math and 40% of a grade level in science.”

It’s exciting that we continue to look for ways to deepen and explore our student experiences from year to year. This also presents a real challenge because there are so many powerful and engaging places right here in California for students to visit that connect to science, math, history, language arts, fine arts, and the lives of our students. We can’t see them all so our teachers take a thoughtful approach to seeing what best connects with their class at that time.

Welcome back!

Rick

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