The Explorer

October 14, 2016

Upcoming Dates

  • October 19: Parent Association Meeting 8:15am
  • October 24 through 27: Halloween Carnival Ticket Pre-Sale

A Note from Brian's Desk

The Workshop Approach

How do we learn to engage in learning? How do we learn to learn?

The KCDS faculty has been learning the Workshop Approach, which is a method of instruction where teachers model how to learn during a mini-lesson. Teachers facilitate and guide students (with a gradual release of responsibility) to work independently. The students begin to self-direct learning as the teacher 'coaches' students one-on-one or in small groups.

Individualized, differentiated instruction is paramount, and it is driven by formative assessments in order to challenge students at 'just the right level' to grow academic achievement.

This method of instruction focuses on the goal of fostering passionate, lifelong learners.

It is based upon fundamental principles:

  • Students have choice and ownership of learning
  • Students know, understand, and apply standard routines and protocol
  • Students are engaged in the authentic art of reading, writing, conversation, and presentation
  • Students become self-directed learners through a gradual release of responsibility

The Workshop Approach is designed for use in all grade levels and any subject area. It is a daily standard routine that includes:

1. Mini Lesson [5 to 15 minutes]

  • Present learning point by linking preceding learning points to build a background knowledge (1 to 3 minutes)
  • Model cognitive processes (critical thinking), meta-cognition, and the authentic act of doing
  • Have students turn and talk to each other periodically to build and shape understanding

2. Independent Practice with Conferencing & Coaching [20 to 40 minutes]

  • Engaged learning and integrating past learning points
  • Independent learning, paired learning, and small group learning
  • Conference and coaching with differentiated instruction

3. Sharing [5 to 10 minutes]

  • Self-evaluate, share learning, affirm efforts, and celebrate accomplishments

Research supports that we 'learn to learn' through the Workshop Approach and engaged learning!

Our students will benefit from this and many other approaches to learning this year.

- Brian Kissman

3rd & 4th Grade Reading and Writing Workshop!

Did you Know...

Did you know one of the middle school's electives this trimester is robotics? For the third year in a row, we have purchased the First Lego League Challenge. The students had to follow precise instructions to build the mission models. They formed two teams, with four students each, to engage in a friendly competition. The winning team has to complete the most missions. The teams had to design and build a robot. They wrote programs to instruct the robot to complete specific tasks. So far we have been able to complete three specific missions, but we still have a month to go!

- Dave Mattison

Safety First

Over the past two weeks, KCDS students have practiced fire and lockdown procedures; next week we will run a tornado drill. On the advice of Public Safety Officer Tacket, these initial drills were not a surprise to the students. The teachers reviewed and prepared the students on what to expect. Both the fire and lockdown drills ran efficiently!

During lockdown drills, all doors are locked and no one is allowed to enter the building. A sign is posted on the front doors stating the drill is in progress. They last no more than 10 minutes.

For the next few drills, no notice will be given, so we can practice where to go and what to do when classes are in transition between rooms.

If you have any questions or would like to review our safety plan, please stop in the front office!

Parent Association News

Thank you to all the parents who came out to help with the hallway decorations! It was a job well done!!

Sponsorship forms for the Halloween Carnival games can be purchased by contacting Beth Meyer at This is a great way to support the Parent Association! It is volunteers and sponsors who make this event, not only possible, but a success!

Pre-sale tickets will go on sale October 24 through October 27. They will be available at drop-off and at pick-up. If you purchase your tickets in advance, you will save money at admission and avoid lines! Come and get yours early!

Thank you to everyone who volunteered to enter the chili cook-off! We cannot wait to taste your fantastic family recipes. The winner receives a chili cook-off medal, certificate, and blue ribbon!

Our next PA meeting will be held on October 19, after drop-off in the library. Hope to see you all there!

- Beth Meyer

Nature Outreach Program

Kalamazoo Nature Center is visiting our school October 27th and June 1st!

There is one $10 fee that covers both fall and spring programs for Preschool though 4th Grade. The form is online or there are copies in the front office.

Their Outreach Programs include:

Preschool/Jr. Kindergarten/Senior Kindergarten

Fall- Beetles, Bugs, and Butterflies

Spring- Green Plants Grow

1st & 2nd

Fall- A Sense of Nature

Spring- Plant Toss Up

3rd & 4th

Fall- Michigan Natural Resources

Spring- Beetles, Bugs, and Butterflies

Box Tops Announcement

Its a great time to check out the BTFE website and enter the "Hefty Fall De-Clutter Sweepstakes" to earn extra Box Tops for our school. You can submit one entry per day through November 1 to help KCDS in the draw to win $5,000!

Speaking of November 1, the fall submission deadline is almost upon us. Please have all Box Tops submitted to the main office by Wednesday, October 26 to allow sufficient time for counting and bundling. A big thank you to everyone who has already turned theirs in-- keep up the good work!

- Kristi Durbin

*Please drive slowly*

A request has been made to please remember to drive carefully and responsibly in the school's parking lot! Thank you!