CE Question: What did you do this summer?

People in swimming poolSummer is a great time for a family vacation or an exciting “staycation.” We want to know what you and your family have been up to this summer! Share your favorite summer spots on our Facebook page, and get inspiration for the last weeks of summer by reading through other people’s ideas. We would also love to see some great photos of you and your family having fun this summer.

Submit great summer photos of your family having fun to wadea@wdmcs.org with a short caption. Your photos may be featured in a future blog post about all the great things WDMCS families did this summer!

CE Highlight: S.A.I.L. 2015

For this month’s CE Highlight, we decided to focus on Summer Adventures in Learning (S.A.I.L.). S.A.I.L. offers refresher classes in reading, writing, and math, as well as enrichment opportunities such as chess, computers, art, science, sign language, and much more! To find out more about WDMCS Community Education programs, call 515-633-5001 or check out our other pages on the WDMCS website.

Jump Start Press Release

Tin containing stationaryWDMCS Community Education is offering the Summer of Learning program, Jump Start, a week-long program for students who are entering grades 1–5. This program prepares students for the upcoming school year with themed learning opportunities. Students have the option to attend mornings, afternoons, or both sessions. Morning sessions are spent refreshing student’s math, reading, and writing skills while the afternoon sessions include various
activities such as art, computers, science, and physical education.

Jump Start is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., August 3–7 at Crossroads Park Elementary, 1050 50th St., West Des Moines. The registration fee is $150 per student for the full day. Needs-based scholarships are available through WDMCS Community Education.

Registrations are due Monday, July 27. Registrations after this time will be charged a $25 late fee.


Instructor Tips: Amy Drake — Encouraging Student Reading

These tips for encouraging students to read come from West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) second-grade teacher Amy Drake. This summer, she taught the WDMCS Community Education Summer Adventures in Learning Sports Spectacular class. Drake has always been a sports fan and knows how interested her students are in sports and athletics outside of school, so she decided to combine learning and sports for her fifth year teaching summer programming.

Six Tips for Encouraging Student Reading from Amy Drake

  1. Struggling readers are often discouraged by the lack of interesting text at their levels.  Get to know students and their interests and hobbies outside of school.  In my experience, reluctant readers are motivated by texts related to sports or other hobbies they participate in.
  2. Use the local or school libraries for texts on these topics. During SAIL, I checked out nearly 40 books about different sports and physical activities for my students to read throughout the week. Some higher level books contained the history of the sport, rules, professional leagues, skills, and more. Introductory texts for my younger students contained the basics, but great photos and diagrams to keep readers engaged.
  3. Remember to work on writing skills too. We tied in writing each day of Sports Spectacular by making connections to our knowledge of the sport discussed each day. Students who are reluctant to write due to a lack of ideas are much more willing to write about a topic they know. Encourage personal narratives about experiences playing a sport or participating in an activity.
  4. Ask media center staff for digital resources provided by our district. Epic is an iPad app that provides categories of books at all levels, lengths, and genres and has a search option. Reluctant readers enjoy searching for books about their favorite sports and hobbies. The iPad app Write About is a great tool for giving students a photo and a posed question as a writing prompt. The full version (purchased) has several sports-related prompts that could be used, and there is also a free version.
  5. Use Readers Theater related to sports and hobbies. Some buildings have subscriptions to Reading A-Z, where you can search for texts by topic. Readers Theater scripts can also be found on the site, as well as fluency practice passages.
  6. Encourage team work. Whether studying sports or any other topic, more can be achieved by working together.  The students in Sports Spectacular worked together throughout the week to learn to play the sports, stay safe while playing, partner read, and encourage each other in every activity.


Mythbusting Monday: Facility Use

facility-use-header_for-ce-blogThe Facility Use team helps hundreds of community groups use the district facilities every year. There are a number of spaces available for community usage outside the regular school day including auditoriums, cafeterias, classrooms, conference rooms, and gyms.

    • Myth: The building supervisor assigned to each group is responsible for cleaning and picking up after those groups.
      • This myth is FALSE.
      • Building supervisors are on site to make sure groups can access the building and enjoy the space safely. They may guide the groups in cleaning up after themselves, but the full cleanup is not their responsibility. The Facility Use team can assign a custodian to a group at an additional cost, if that is what the group prefers.
    • Myth: The WDMCS facilities are just like a convention center or theater. They can fulfill any event and technical request, with endless possibilities.
      • This myth is FALSE.
      • The Facility Use team takes pride in serving any event and groups that wants to use district facilities. They can fulfill many requests, but they are not a full-service rental facility. Our options to serve certain events and requests may be limited. Contact a member of the Facility Use team to find out more about your specific event and requests.


Show Choir Camp Press Release

ShowChoirCamp-fromcatalogWDMCS Community Education’s Summer of Learning is offering Show Choir Camp for students entering grades 5–7 from 1–4 p.m. on July 27–31, at Stilwell Junior High, 1601 Vine St., West Des Moines.

Show Choir Camp is for any students with an interest in singing and dancing. Students will learn song sets, large- and small-group choreography, vocal techniques, and singing in harmony. This camp is a show choir opportunity for students who want to improve their singing and dancing skills. Show Choir Camp promotes self-confidence on and off the stage. Family and friends can attend a concert on the last day of camp, and students will receive a free camp T-shirt.

Registration information can be found at http://bit.ly/1eCtwHr or by calling (515) 633-5001.

Preschool Creations Press Release

PreschoolCreations_registration_for-blogPreschool students can cultivate their creativity and stay busy this summer with Preschool Creations, a WDMCS Community Education Summer of Learning class.

Two exciting options are available to inspire their imaginations from 9–11 a.m., July 27–31, at Westridge Elementary, 5500 E.P. True Parkway, West Des Moines.

The “Creative Little Hands” class offers preschoolers a chance to explore and express themselves through a variety of hands-on art activities. They will experiment with drawing, painting, clay, 3-D art, and more while working inside and outside. This class is taught by Amanda Farrell, a certified preschool teacher.

Sara Schneider, a certified preschool teacher and experienced cake decorator, will be teaching preschoolers to combine art and science with “Cake Creating.” The class will use science skills to mix ingredients, make frosting, and bake the cakes. Students will develop their creative skills by decorating the cakes, then taste their creations.

These programs are for children 3–5 years old who are successfully potty-trained and able to separate from their parents. Students will get messy during the creative process, so it is best for them to wear clothes that can get dirty.

Registration is open until July 20. Registrations after this time will be charged a $25 late fee. Online registration can be found at http://bit.ly/1eGRlhj, or call (515) 633-5001 for more information.


CE Today: July 8 — The U.S.A. First Celebrates Its Independence

Modern U.S. citizens know July 4 as Independence Day. The recent holiday is celebrated as the day the 13 original colonies officially declared themselves a new nation.


Image source: http://www.archives.gov/

What current citizens may not know is that independence was actually declared on July 2, at a meeting of the Continental Congress. July 4 is celebrated because it is the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted. The nature of communication in 1776 caused some delay getting the word out, which resulted in confusion about the order of events.

So, how is July 8 significant? After its adoption, the declaration had to be printed, then sent out for public readings. The signing likely did not end until October or November, but it seems relatively certain that the first independence celebration took place on this day, July 8, in 1776.

The Liberty Bell, widely believed to have been rung in celebration until it cracked on July 4, was actually rung on July 8 to announce public readings of the declaration.


Time.com: The Top 5 Myths About the Fourth of July
National Geographic: 9 Fourth of July Myths Debunked
History.com: The Liberty Bell Rings

Science Exploration 2015 Press Release

chemistry_setWDMCS Community Education’s Summer of Learning is offering Science Exploration for students entering grades 1–7 at Jordan Creek Elementary School. The students will explore many different areas of science in a fun and exciting environment. The program will be held July 20–24 and is offered in the mornings, afternoons, or full days.

Students entering grades 1–3 have the opportunity to have “Deep Sea Adventures” or explore “Electricity, Energy, and Power” during the morning sessions. Students will be able to explore the ocean and its incredible creatures or become an energy explorer, using scientific and creative skills. The afternoon offers opportunities to go on “Dinosaur Digs” or study “Weather Wonders.” Students will learn to think like paleontologists or find out about different weather patterns and forecasting.

Students in grades four through seven can spend the morning “Exploring Rocketry” or learning about “Crime Scene Investigations.” They can learn real-life forensic skills like fingerprinting and chromatography or soar into the sky with water-propelled rockets. The afternoon holds more fun and excitement with “Ecosystem Interactions” and “Exciting Experiments,” where students will carry out several exciting experiments that will teach them about the scientific process.

Registration is still open and can be found here. Call 515-633-5001 or click here  for more information.

CE Value: Relevance — STEM and Science Exploration

In the new CE Value blog posts, WDMCS Community Education will share news about our six values: people focus, respect, relevance, enrichment, fun, and team unity. For our first CE Value post, we are highlighting relevance.

Elevating students’ STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills is currently a top priority in education. To keep WDMCS Community Education programs and courses relevant, we are continuing to offer strong STEM-based courses like Bricks 4 Kidz® and Computer Programming. One of the Summer of Learning classes designed specifically to boost students’ STEM knowledge and skills is Science Exploration.

Happy little scientist playing at the lab - isolated over a white backgroundScience Exploration is for students entering grades 1–7 who want to explore many different areas of science. Students entering grades 1–3 can have “Deep Sea Adventures” or explore “Electricity, Energy, and Power” in the morning, then go on “Dinosaur Digs” or study “Weather Wonders” in the afternoon. Students entering grades 4–7 can spend their mornings “Exploring Rocketry” or learning about “Crime Scene Investigations.” In the afternoon, they can learn about “Ecosystem Interactions” or conduct “Exciting Experiments.”

The Science Exploration class will be held July 20–24 and is offered in the mornings, afternoons, or full days. WDMCS Community Education is excited to offer students this opportunity to develop their STEM skills in a fun and exciting environment that encourages them to think like scientists.