Marie Murphy School and Avoca West Elementary School Winter Choral Concert

The Avoca Choirs consisting of the Marie Murphy Boys Choir, Marie Murphy Girls Choir and the Avoca West Elementary School Choir will be performing the Winter Choral on Thursday, January 12, 2012.  The evening performance will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the Marie Murphy Gymnasium, 2921 Illinois Road in Wilmette. 

The performance is a culmination to the Fall/Winter choral season.  “In the Voices of our Children”, music from different Countries, Irving Berlin favorites, Leon Dubinsky, Charles Tindley and Don Besig will be amongst the program for the evening.

The Public is invited and admission is free.

Avoca West/Marie Murphy Collaborative Writing Project

During the month of April, Avoca West Elementary School third-grade teacher Jennifer Stefan and Marie Murphy School sixth-grade teacher Andrea Bialk collaborated on a special writing assignment for their students that focused on social/emotional learning and service learning projects.  Vicki Specks, the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) teacher at Avoca West, concentrated her lessons on helping the students identify similarities and differences and develop an understanding of empathy through learning about the country of Ghana.  The students also attended a presentation by Kim Zimmer, a technology teacher at Avoca West, who shared her personal teaching experiences from the summer she spent in Ghana.

All third-grade teachers, including Jennifer Stefan, Kelly Lee, Tom Erf, Stephanie Rick and Sarah Hannus partnered their students with sixth-grade buddies at Marie Murphy School to write a creative narrative story.  The third-grade students created an outline for the sixth-grade students to use as they developed their stories.  The students at both schools used google docs to write their stories, which enabled the partners to collaborate easily with each other.

When the students finished editing and revising their stories, the third-graders created the illustrations.  The final touches were made when the third-grade students took a field trip to Marie Murphy School to meet face-to-face with their writing buddies to create a title page and put their books together.

After the student-created books were finished, the students sent them along with donated supplies to students in Ghana through Kids to Kids International (KTKI); a non-profit organization that provides a program for children to send Friendship Boxes of educational supplies and student-created books to children around the world since 1991.  Ms. Stefan said, “This writing project proved to be a valuable lesson focused on collaboration among the students and also provided them with an opportunity to share with children who are less fortunate.”

Avoca West 5th Grader Wins Writing Contest

Avoca West Elementary School fifth grader Ben Kolot, of Wilmette, recently won the Storyworks  “Zodiac” Contest for a paragraph he wrote about his Chinese zodiac sign, the dragon.  Ben’s teacher, Gabriel Paynter, said, “As part of our study of China for social studies, we read a play in Storyworks about Chinese zodiacs, and I had my students research their zodiac sign and write a paragraph to enter in this contest.”  An excerpt from a letter Ben received from the publisher stated, “You wrote a well-structured paragraph on your zodiac animal and did a great job explaining how your zodiac character relates to you.”  As a winner of the contest, the publisher awarded Ben a copy of Grace Lin’s book entitled “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.”  Storyworks is published by Scholastic magazine and contains stories and exercises that supplement schools’ language arts curriculums.

Avoca West Students to Participate in Tech Demonstration in Springfield

Avoca West Elementary School in Glenview is among approximately 80 schools statewide that will have student representatives participating in the annual TECH 2011 Students for the Information Age event on Thursday, May 5, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield. 

TECH 2011 is a non-profit initiative presented by Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) and is supported by a broad range of education and business organizations.  The purpose of TECH 2011 is to show how Illinois is preparing students to succeed in the Information Age.  The importance of this event lies in making the public aware of the central role technology has come to play in our schools and generating support for its adequate funding.  Without the understanding and support of the public and the legislature, adequate public funding for education technology is hard to come by, and, without it, Illinois cannot remain competitive in the global economy. 

Students from the participating schools will be on hand to show the public and elected members of the Illinois State Senate and the House of Representatives how technology is being used in classrooms to improve achievement.  Computer workstations will be set up in the Capitol Building Rotunda, where the students will demonstrate how technology has helped them with their schoolwork. 

Taking part in the demonstrations are Avoca West Elementary School fourth graders Keara Bellino, of Glenview, and Cameron Rowe, of Wilmette.  They will be accompanied to Springfield by Avoca West Elementary School technology facilitators Kim Zimmer and Beth Haugeberg.  Keara and Cameron will be demonstrating how they use blogs in school to learn editing skills, publish their work to a larger audience, reflect on their schoolwork and use commenting to share ideas and feedback with the other students.

Avoca West Wax Museum

As a part of their study of the Industrial Revolution, each fifth-grader at Avoca West Elementary School selected a person from that era to “become” during the annual Wax Museum event on December 10.  In preparation, the students read biographies and researched famous people, like Henry Ford, W.K. Kellogg, Eli Whitney, John D. Rockefeller and Jane Addams and then wrote an essay about why their person was influential.  For the actual museum, students dressed in character, brought an artifact that represented what their person did to become successful and prepared a button box.  Visitors to the museum would push the button for the famous people to come alive.  Teacher Diane Bilcer said, “This experience allowed the students to develop and strengthen many skills, including reading non-fiction materials, writing essays, creative thinking and public speaking.”  She adds, “They also learned that many of these important people overcame adversity in their early lives and showed great perseverance.”