AWE Newsletter

January 21-29, 2021

Our Focus on Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice that helps to bring intense awareness to what you're sensing and feeling in the present moment. Mindfulness is hard, it takes time to get comfortable with. To support building this practice, we have started incorporating a 1-minute of mindfulness at the start of our daily community meeting. It has been magical to take a few deep breaths, embrace the silence, and get grounded for the day.

Try This Mini Meditation

Headspace | Mini meditation | Find your focus

Improving Communication to Better Support Students

Home Conferences

AWE is exploring the addition of monthly meetings with students and their parent(s) and/or guardian(s). The hope is to build stronger collaborative partnerships with student's natural supports, resulting in improved school outcomes.

If you're interested, click on the button below.


Distance, Speed, and Time OH MY!

It's been a great start to quarter three. We're implementing new routines and structures, dedicating days to be more math or science-focused tasks, and have totally embraced weekly performance assessments that get kids moving and working in small teams. Last week, we completed a Barbie Test Crash lab and this week an Escape Room!

Our focus has shifted to displacement for quarter three. We're starting by exploring what forces are, how forces affect objects and we are using hands-on experiences to demonstrate these ideas.

Barbie Test Crash Lab

Barbie Video 2

What's Coming Up in STEM?

I'm glad you asked! Since our theme is displacement, our next two weeks will focus on mini-labs about displacement! Catapults, blood splatter (I know, sort of gross, but wickedly cool!), volcanoes that spew, and designing chemical reaction cars to demonstrate our distance, speed, and time math skills.

Don't worry; we will post pictures and videos of all of the awesome things. Stay tuned!


Introducing Grammar-Rama and Language Lab

Starting in Quarter 3, we are focusing our Tuesday/Thursday Humanities blocks on Literacy Practice that connects with, extends, or deepens our social studies unit study on Mondays and Fridays.

Tuesdays are Grammar-Rama days, and students joined our online grammar practice program, Quill and they completed a diagnostic to determine their current level of comfort with skills like capitalization, punctuation, and simple to complex sentence-combining. From here, we will do a combination of whole and small group instruction and individual practice that is tailored to each students strengths and areas of growth. Some of our students really enjoy grammar practice... and so do I!

Thursdays are Language Lab days. These are days to introduce our new Tier 2 Vocabulary words, learn more about word roots and meaning, and generally expand our ability to use and recognize words that we encounter every day. Here are the words students are learning, tied to our integrated Displacement unit and texts we will be reading next week:

  • Arbitrary, n.
  • Anti-semitic, adj.
  • to Annex (as in a country), v
  • to Appropriate, v.
  • to Emigrate, v.
  • Hospitality, n.
  • to Incorporate, v.
  • to Lament, v.
  • Principle, n.
  • Quota, n.
  • Reluctant, adj.

Each student has been assigned one of these words to unpack and explain to other students in a Google Slide. Students' slides will be displayed on our classroom wall as we start studying, using, and playing with the new vocabulary before our summative quiz on February 11th!

Read more about our Charms Class (which is one of Language Lab's core components) in our next article!

Charms Class Comes to AWE Humanities

This week, students got an introduction to our Charms Class model, which makes learning word roots, prefixes, and suffixes fun! We learned how the charms, curses, and other spells used in the Harry Potter books and films are not arbitrary (alert! vocabulary word!), but rather based on root words from Latin, Greek, Old English, Germanic, and more.

Once students learn some of these basic root words, they can find them in other words all around them and, by applying this knowledge, they can estimate what a word means without a dictionary (or a cell phone!).

One student combined:

PAC (root meaning peace)


POP (root meaning people)


ATE (suffix meaning to make)=


a spell you cast to make two or more people stop fighting and instantly make up.

(I know as a parent, I could really use this spell at my house on some days...)

We will regularly use Language Lab to study these word roots and become more familiar with what prefixes and suffixes do to change the meaning of those roots. By the end of the year, we hope all students will be Word Wizards!

What We Understand About Change

Change at AWE

Change is hard, so hard, and at AWE, we've gone through many changes in the past month. The graphic below explains the normal phases of how change impacts a team or community. It starts with Forming ----> Storming ----> Norming -----> Performing. What's true, regardless of the phase we're in, is that our job is to keep students and staff safe.

If your student comes home extra tired or edgy, it could be because we're experiencing the "storming" phase on the model below. We're all readjusting to new routines and it's challenging.

If the AWE staff has significant concerns about behaviors, we will reach out directly and if you want to talk or process about what's happening at home, we're here to support that as well. We are a team.

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