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June 3, 2016
by: Beth Carreno

ESAA World Peace Games Challenge 4th and 5th Graders

Students in the 4th and 5th grades at ESAA spent time this spring participating in the World Peace Games and were guided by the essential question, “How can people better understand each other?”

As an introduction to the project, students researched existing countries. Their work helped them make connections for what makes a successful country. Based on their research of existing countries combined with some assigned parameters, each small group developed their own country. This process required imagination, discussion, collaboration, and compromise. ESAA's process also differed from other variations of the World Peace Games because our students created their own countries instead of being provided with an existing country or one that was created by their teachers.

Every student had a role in helping their country. Students would work as a group to discuss possible solutions to each day's situation before moving on to their “jobs.” There were country leaders, bankers, country treasurers, military leaders, and representatives for the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Market.

Students were presented with a real world problem each day the game was played. After the topic was shared, students prepared by completing readings and research on the topic followed by reflection (I used to think, now I think). After this time of reflection and sharing, students would find out the crisis for the day. Sometimes the crisis was a natural disaster; sometimes it was a man-made crisis created by the group’s previous actions or inactions. One of the final scenarios was an energy shortage prompting the consideration of nuclear energy.  Because of the seriousness of this issue, additional research and reflection was incorporated into the day's processes.  

A typical day involved the world leaders meeting at the United Nations to discuss the crisis and work on solutions while others worked through day-to-day issues. Each country’s representatives would make decisions on whether or not to build schools, buy or sell resources or energy, accept refugees and other management decisions. Income based on natural resources, weather, and food harvest were determined by rolling dice or a spin with a game piece.

Their actions and inactions in representing their country and the decisions they made affected how successful they would be. Sometimes the decisions of the world leaders were more science fiction than feasible solution. In those cases, a teacher facilitated the outcome for the day. This wasn’t a situation where our teachers told the students what to do. Students would be informed that their plan of action didn’t work the way they intended and now there were new circumstances.

It was fascinating to observe as the students transformed from leadership that instantly proposed using their militaries to solve their problem to leaders that thoughtfully discussed, collaborated, and compromised to get things done. This was encouraged by the teachers that presented increasingly complex situations as students played the game.

The creative process for this project was different than with ESAA's traditional projects. Each “round” of play (or day of study) required creating, presenting, revising, and reflecting on the process. The work was not moving towards the creation of a product, but moving towards better communication and collaboration in their world. It was through their representation of their countries that the greatest student thinking took place.

As these students enter fifth and sixth grade, they do so with stronger Habits of Learning – especially collaboration and communication. They also take with them the ability to thoughtfully examine real world issues and respectfully work together for solutions as a community. This may be one of the most enduring components of their education as our students grow and become engaged members of their communities.

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May 24, 2016
by: Beth Carreno

ESAA 2nd and 3rd Graders Skype with Lightning Thief Playwright

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ESAA 2nd and 3rd graders recently had the opportunity to attend a matinee showing of Theatreworks’ The Lightning Thief at the Weill Center. Exposure to theater is important to everything from developing creativity and imagination to lengthening attention span. It’s also a powerful connector to reading. We were fortunate that our students had the chance to attend a live production of a book so many of them enjoy.

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April 21, 2016
by: Beth Carreno

The Étude Group's Maker Movement

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There is a lot of talk in education these days about “makerspaces.” It seems to be a new buzz word. The reality is that while it may be a new concept for some in the education community, it’s one of the foundations for The Étude Group. While the concepts of making and creating are not new for us, our role in sharing this concept at a greater level with the community is.

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April 2, 2016
by: Kimberly Johnson

Parent Maker Night

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Please join us for an evening of making at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center!

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March 25, 2016
by: Beth Carreno

ESAA Creative Process: It’s No Accident

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A recent blog covered ESAA’s first grade Exhibition of Learning (EOL) on human body systems. It was a reminder of what The Étude Group’s education philosophies create when they are put into practice. It was also an opportunity for us to step back and acknowledge that this is not an accident. The approach, the successes, the learning…it is purposeful, and it is a process.

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March 24, 2016
by: Beth Carreno

ESAA receives funding for forestry education

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The Wisconsin Environmental Education Board (WEEB) announced that ESAA / The Etude Group has been awarded $4,700 to develop and enhance forestry education projects at the school.

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March 9, 2016

ESAA First Grade Exhibitions of Learning

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As a supporter of our schools, I was invited to a first grade Exhibition of Learning (EOL). I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve attended EOLs for our high school students. They are amazing. But, I’ve also spent lots of time with first graders. I wasn’t sure how what I understood about EOLs would be translated by first graders.

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February 14, 2016
by: Lori Ladiges

ESAA Literacy Connections: What is family literacy?

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Dear Parents,

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February 3, 2016
by: Janelle Bane

Kindergarten Students Study Holidays and Celebrations from Around the World

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Kindergarten classes are exploring the question: How can I learn about others? To answer this, they've explored the holidays and celebrations of different cultures in our community. Guest speakers came to kindergarten to share information, food and background information about a holiday they observe. Students learned about the Hmong New Year, Las Pasadas, Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Epiphany, and Indian Harvest Festival and always had plenty of questions. The visits included stories about the origin of the holiday, why it is important to that particular culture, and customary food, toys, clothing and plants. Students then identify elements of each holiday, and compare and contrast to find themes. At the end of the unit, the classes will use this research as a model to create their own celebration about peace using the common themes and elements in world celebrations they’ve discovered.

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January 9, 2016
by: Susan Griffiths

Gaining understanding through close looking

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In our busy world, we rarely take the time to look closely to see things that often go unnoticed. Much can be learned when we slow down and really look at something. As one of our Habits of Mind, observation is essential to learning. Observation requires students to intentionally slow down and look closely to see details. From these details students start to form patterns and make connections. This leads to understanding not only the details they see, but how these parts interact systematically to form the whole. In projects at ESAA, observation can be found throughout the creative process. Observation is a form of research and discovery. Students use the details they uncover to wonder, think deeply, and analyze. These observations help students understand the complexities of the world around them.

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