Maggie Kiley

Blog

Harvest Parade

Students and staff are looking forward to the annual Harvest Parade Celebration, hosted by local businesses in Nerstrand on Friday, October 31 at 1pm.

Curriculum Night

A parent-only evening on Monday, October 6th, 6 - 7pm (PTO meeting to follow at 7pm). We encourage parents to participate in this crucial introduction to your child's year, held in the gym, classrooms, and music room. Learn more about school wide curriculum and programs, and meet with teachers. 

Annual Open House - August 28

We are looking forward with excitement to kicking off the start of a new school year! We invite you to attend the Nerstrand School Annual Open House—before the start of the school year! Please mark your calendars for a wonderful Open House evening on Thursday, August 28, from 6 – 7 p.m.

We extend a special welcome to families who are new to Nerstrand Elementary School. New parents are invited to stay after the Open House for a meeting in the Media Center from 7 – 7:30 p.m. for an opportunity to be provided with information about school and answer questions. Please do not hesitate to call us with any questions or concerns.

Kinder Go Round will be taking place during the morning of August 28th to welcome the new Prairie students. Kindergarten parents are encouraged to also attend Open House in the evening, where children will have an opportunity to meet their K-5 homeroom teachers.

Kindergarten and First Grade Multiage Moves Forward

In building on our successes at Nerstrand Elementary, we have been transitioning the multiage grade configurations for the past two years to offer a consistent experience for all students that is aligned to our school mission. Our mission to provide a nurturing, multiage environment which fosters collaboration and character development, has led us to look comprehensively at grade configuration. 

Last school year, Savannah (which was previously grades 1 - 3) transitioned to a grades two and three multiage. We call the kindergarten and first grade experience ‘Prairie’, using the team name for two grade levels represented -- the same way that we do for each of our other teams: Savannah’ for grades two and three, and ‘Woodlands’ for grades four and five. 

Since the beginning of this school year the kindergarten and first grade students have been learning together in multiage groups during specialist time for physical education and music. Beginning second semester, their learning in science and social studies themes began as multiage groups. Math will remain at grade level, as is also the case in Savannah and Woodlands.

Educational research indicates that students benefit both academically and emotionally from being placed in multiage classrooms. Multiage classrooms and homeroom experiences are among the things that make Nerstrand Elementary student learning experience unique. 

The Nerstrand School Board is committed to transitioning the kindergarten and first grades to multiage to strengthen the overall learning experience by offering it consistently at each level. Next Fall, the K-1 students will begin the school year, in a multiage classroom, like the other teams. 

The Nerstrand School Board believes that the transition to kindergarten and first grade multiage learning will allow students to build on their successes effectively throughout their learning continuum at Nerstrand Elementary. We are excited about the multiage transition work and the opportunity to offer continuity to the experience in ways that strengthen the learning outcomes for all students.

 

Japan Educators visit our school

 

Our friends from Japan have visited us several times at Nerstrand Elementary School to continue their research on student-centered education. This week, on the morning of October 31, 26 visitors toured school with Nerstrand Elementary student ambassadors, gathered school data and ask questions about programming and curriculum.

The leaders of the group, Kenshi Uesugi, Principal at Green Hills Elementary and Middle Schools, Mr. Mizutani and Ms. Yoko Ide, have been visiting and hosting EdVisions Schools staff and teachers for the past ten years.  This was their third visit to Nerstrand Elementary. Most of the visitors in the group were Japanese university students. This group has formed The Project Based Learning Institute of Japan (http://pbl-japan.com). Both Professor Uesugi and Yoko work at from Chiba University (http://www.chiba-u.ac.jp/e/). Along with the leaders, the visitors included: teachers, nonprofits employees (that are working to prevent drop outs), College of Education faculty and the company Community and Education Project (http://www.candep.com).  

The focus of the trip was to look at the need for student-centered education in Japan and to help the group build a framework for this “student as the worker” model (rather than the “teacher as the worker “ model in traditional education). During the afternoon, the group visited Avalon Charter School in St. Paul.

 

Discovery Day at the Big Woods

It takes 7 generations of monarchs to travel from Minnesota to Mexico and back to Minnesota next spring. Most of them left 2 weeks ago, and are now as far south as northern Texas. Some of them will lay eggs their and die. The new butterflies will then go on to Mexico. 

We made butterfly mobiles at the craft station to remind us of the beautiful Monarchs that have begun their migration away from the windy, autumn Minnesota prairie!

Discovery Day at the Big Woods

The Annual Discovery Day is a special day spent at the Nerstrand Big Woods State Park http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/nerstrand_big_woods/index.html concentrating on an environmental theme. This year's theme is Migration. 

"Many of the birds have already left.  Our barn swallows, tree swallows and bank swallows left a few weeks ago. They feed on flying insects which are no longer moving about. Most swallows spend their winter in Central  America.
 
On the prairie most of the meadowlarks & bobolinks have left. They are probably as far south as Nebraska & Iowa.When the really cold weather comes they will move south another 400 miles. When the Indians were the only people living on the prairie the buffalo migrated in great numbers.  It was necesasary for them to harvest and dry enough meat for the winter.
 
Other animals do not migrate as far.  The big snapping turtles will be gathering at the Cannon River  in large groups where they will bury themselves deep in soft mud to live out the winter. Snapping turtles travel up small creeks and across land  to find quiet ponds where they spend the summer.
 
Soon  the autum skies will be filled with long Vs of migrating ducks, geese, loons and swans who will be traveling south to warmer waters. Many will spend the winter along the Gulf of Mexico. "Kettles" of hawks and sometimes eagles are seen each fall drifting overhead circling on rising air currents which lift them higher and higher til they drift off farther south and catch the next one. 
 
My favorite story of migration is in the life of the Monarch Butterflies. It takes 7 generations of monarchs to travel from Minnesota to Mexico and back to Minnesota next spring. Most of them left 2 weeks ago, and are now as far south as northern Texas. Some of them will lay eggs their and die. The new butterflies will then go on to Mexico.
 
Migration is a facinating story filled with many mysteries. How do they know when and where to go?  Will they find food along the way? Will it be the stars, the magnetic poles, or, is it going to be one smart butterfly that will show them the way?"
 
Good Luck Travelers, 
 
~Larry Richie, Volunteer Naturalist     

About the park--When the first settlers arrived in 1854, they discovered an island of woods in the vast oak savanna prairie which now makes up Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Sugar maple, basswood, oak, hickory, aspen, elm, ash, and ironwood trees shade the land. Over 200 varieties of wildflowers, along with countless varieties of ferns and mushrooms grew in the Big Woods.

 

Prairie Appreciation Day, Sept. 13

Caron Park

Environmental volunteer Larry Richie, a regional naturalist, worked with students and staff.

Before our journey, Larry told us, "We will see tall waving grasses and beautiful flowers! The monarch butterflies have begun their migration south to Mexico. Butterflies from Canada are starting to drift in now and within the next week, large numbers will be gathering in clover fields and prairies where they can feast on nectar from all the flowers. By the time it cools off and the first frost arrives the monarchs will have left. There will still be some late hatching monarchs around but they will have difficulty finding food. The cooler weather will make flying much harder as they will have to wait until later in the morning to get their wings warmed up before taking flight! You can follow the monarch migration at http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/

http://entomology.unl.edu/images/spiders/spiders2.shtmlThe big garden spiders, the Orb Weavers, will have thier webs set up through out the prairie. photo: http://entomology.unl.edu/images/spiders/spiders2.shtml

With the lack of rain to destroy their webs, the garden spiders can be found in great numbers. Each night they repair an existing web or they spin a new web among the tall grasses and flowers. Many times you will see a female spider stationed on the watch on the web. . .if an insect flies into the web, the spider will run on its hairy feet across the web and quickly wrap the insect up and it will become a meal for the spider. Hopefully, on Prairie Day, we will see it all -- spiders, butterflies and all kinds of plants!" ~Larry Richie 

The section of the prairie we will be visiting is located at Caron Park, this 60 acre park is located north of County Road #88 (170th Street) and three miles from Nerstrand Woods State Park in the eastern part of the County.

Thank you to parents who are able attend and help. We will enjoy the prairie, the tall grasses and beautiful wildflowers, then return to school in time for regular dismissal. The students will be paired in groups of two from their homeroom - one older student with one younger student for the experience.  We are asking parents to pay close attention to the weather that day and dress students appropriately. 

A few points to consider:

  • All students are asked to wear long pants that day.  We’re hoping the mosquitoes won't be bad, but in case they are, the kids will be protected by their clothing.  Also, the grasses at the prairie are quite long and sharp, so we don't want anyone to cut their legs on the tall grasses!
  • Parent and adult volunteers can meet us on the prairie.  We plan to arrive there by 1:00 p.m. 

Thank you so much for your help and cooperation. 

We look forward to a wonderful day on the Prairie!

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call the school office at 333-6850.

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