Turning Point School Blog
Recently in the Mentor Program, Level 4 students had fun teaching their Level 7 mentors about an area of interest or expertise. Students selected a wide range of topics, including how to make cookies, how to do soccer tricks, how to stretch before a sport, and how to take care of a hamster.
The Turning Point Mentor Program effectively bridges our Primary, Elementary, and Middle School divisions, allowing older students to engage in authentic, inspiring interactions with younger classmates. Mentors and mentees form close bonds by engaging in an integrated curriculum that includes academic problem-solving and character development.
Pictured above, Max teaches Jordan how to make chocolate chip cookies!
After reading and studying To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Level 8 students hosted a “Mockingbird” Tea on March 19. Each student took on the role of a character from the novel and developed a sense of self through character study. They analyzed the point of view their character, and identified their hopes and fears.
Students presented their work to parents and teachers at the tea party; guests were transported to rural Alabama by Level 8 students who greeted them in costume, complete with southern accents and 1930’s vocabulary. In their role as one of Harper Lee’s characters, students gave self-written speeches where secrets were shared, fears reveled, traumatic moments discussed, personal letters read, and graduation speeches rehearsed. In the video below, Vanessa P. gives her speech as Miss Stephanie Crawford, the town’s busybody.
Students ended their speeches with a question for the audience, and thoughtful discussion ensued over tea and treats throughout the morning. Level 8 students a hosted a remarkable event that demonstrated their strong critical thinking skills, as well as their creativity and compassion.
Last weekend, the Turning Point Tornadoes Robotics Team competed at the annual Spring Showdown competition at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, CA. This year’s theme was The Chronicles of Mindstorms: The Lion, the Witch, and the Robot and featured new challenges inspired by the First LEGO League’s World Class Challenge that was held earlier in the year. The team put their problem solving and critical thinking skills to the test as they worked collaboratively to program and engineer their robot to complete a variety of assigned missions.
The team worked hard throughout the year to hone their technical skills and deserve a great deal of credit for their ability to communicate, cooperate, and keep their poise under pressure. The Tornadoes’ Robotics season runs from September to March and meets on Fridays from 3:15 to 5:15 pm. If you are interested in learning more about Turning Point’s After School Robotics program, please contact the team’s coach, Mr. Travis Reynolds, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week, Level 6 Humanities students completed creative writing pieces about the mysterious ancient Indian civilization of Mohenjodaro. Students were allowed to choose any written format they preferred, as long as they included elements of the ancient civilization, and a theory about how and why the city may have been abandoned. Some wrote newspaper articles, archeology journals, poems, or imaginative journal entries. After just finishing formal structured persuasive essays, students were thrilled to have some choice in how to construct their creative pieces.
One student, Annika B., took the assignment and ran with it, writing a long script for a play she then casted and directed. She had students from all three sections of Level 6 audition and practice; she choreographed a beautiful Bollywood dance, and did an excellent job organizing and directing the well-researched and heartfelt play.
Through studying archeological artifacts, students made educated hypotheses about what might have happened to the civilization and what it might have been like to live then. Students loved seeing themselves as archeologists and theorizing about how history may have occurred based on the evidence available.
Turning Point School's unique Intergenerational Writers Workshop made the front page of this week's Culver City Observer. The Intergenerational Writer's Workshop is an opportunity for students in Level 6 to work collaboratively over a six-week period with senior volunteers from the Culver City Senior Center. Each year, small teams of students and seniors tackle a specific writing project that involves collaboration, sharing, listening, and even homework assignments for students and seniors alike.
This year, five individual groups were formed out of the 44 Level 6 students, five teachers, and ten senior volunteers. Each group engaged in activities that revolved around the theme of community. Some of these activities included discussions on "active caring" (versus waiting for someone else to act), sharing thoughts on what it means to "be the change you want to see," and participating in reading and writing projects designed to inspire action and elicit a desire to positively influence the world.
As a culminating activity in the workshop, each group selected a service project they wanted to complete, and then created videos, billboards, flyers, and social media posts to support their projects. Some groups have even planned to continue their work into the rest of the school year, reaching out to the larger school community (and beyond) in order to continue to inspire change.
Many thanks are extended to all of the senior volunteers who participated this year - particularly to Sandra Coopersmith who wrote such a wonderful article on this valuable collaboration. All of our Level 6 students and teachers are incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to benefit from the wisdom and experience of their new friends!
Level 4 students visited the Watts Towers last week. They learned about Simon Rodia - an Italian immigrant who lived in the United States for 50 years - and the impressive structures he built over the course of 33 years. Students took a tour of the property, perused the art exhibit, and created original prints inspired by the towers. Thank you, Mr. Rodia!
To celebrate Pi Day, Ms. Pritchet’s Level 7 Pre-Algebra and Level 8 Algebra I classes began the dubious task of creating a single strand of Pi to the 1,000th digit. They began constructing the strand at 8:30 am and finished at 3:00 pm. After each class ended their turn, the students were treated to their very own “Pie” to eat! They came just short of their desired goal, creating a strand of 700 decimal places!
The Middle School Track season is off to a great start with some impressive showings in their first Pacific Basin League Meet this past week. Some notable finishes included:
- Andrew M. (Level 6) and Toshi S. (Level 6) tied for first place in the Boys' 60m dash with a time of 8.53 seconds
- Tyler L. (Level 8) took second in the 100m race with a time of 13.16 seconds
- Andrew M. (Level 6) took first place in the 1600m with a time of 5:46 (wow!)
- Nicholas M. (Level 8) took third place in the 200m with a time of 29.35 seconds
- Toshi S. (Level 6) took first place in the 400m with a time of 1:03.02
- Tyler L., Kobe E., Dean O., and Nicolas M. took 2nd place in the Boys' 4x100 Relay
- Cayla K. took third place in the Girls' 60m dash with a time of 9.50 seconds.
- Toshi S. took second place in the Boys' Long Jump
- Cayla K. took first place overall in the Girls' Long Jump
This was a tough meet with teams from eight area schools competing including Crossroads, Windward, Archer, Westchester Lutheran, Saint Matthews, Pacific Hills, Brentwood, and Turning Point.
Great job to all of our athletes! Please come cheer them on at the next meet on Tuesday, April 7, after school at Santa Monica High School.
On Thursday, March 12, Ms. McEneaney’s Levels 7/8 Actors Workshop students enjoyed an afternoon visiting the set of Modern Family at Fox Studios. The students are studying vintage sitcoms and will be performing excerpts from television shows of the 1950s, '60s and '70s at their annual “Scenes & Beans” coffeehouse performance in early June. This Study Tour gave them a glimpse into the inner workings of a television studio and left them all inspired and excited to begin rehearsals.
Earlier this week, Level 4 parents joined their children on campus for Parents at School Day. Students began the visit with a Poetry Jam where they recited original poems inspired by Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, William Blake, and Arnold Adoff, while using movement and sound to enhance their performances. Various educational activities helped to kick-start the morning and get everyone’s brains moving. Students shared their math knowledge through stations such as a geometry line-up, a color-it-on-the 100’s chart, place value thinking games, and a card game entitled “Name that Number.”
Coding class came next, where students and parents worked together to program a "robot friend" designed to move cups into specific cup stack designs. Next, everyone headed to the gym to get a peek into the wonderful world of P.E., where they played an active and exciting game of “Stock Market.” After all of the activity, students and parents ended the fun-filled visit with an outdoor lunch on the Grassy Area.
Thank you to all of our Level 4 parents for allowing us to show off our classrooms and share our day with you!
In the After School Books and Cooks class, students in Primary - Level 2 have been sharing some great stories and recipes. Each week, students learn a new story and then create a special story-inspired recipe. As each treat is prepared, students learn about seasonal foods, healthy choices, and key cooking skills including safe kitchen practices, reading and following recipes, measuring, and more.
In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, last week's Books and Cooks session featured The Cat in the Hat. Students read the book and then made cats in hats using an ice cream scoop, a cone hat, and strawberry fruit strips. Some of the skills they used to prepare the treat included thorough hand washing, following step-by-step instructions, counting ingredients and portions, and working together.
The Level 8 Community Leadership team recently returned from the 2015 Algalita POPS (Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions) International Youth Summit in Dana Point, where they had the opportunity to network with other student leaders from around the world in an effort to explore and expand their role in the plastic pollution movement. While there, our ambassadors explored current scientific research on plastic pollution, and shared ideas on how they could positively impact their local communities to become more mindful of plastic use.
The students on the Turning Point team - Vanessa P., Ben P., Tyler A., and Madison C. - showcased a project idea that they came up with in class: to make the school community less wasteful by eliminating the need for plastic water bottles. Their goal was to not only raise awareness about the effects of plastic production, but open people's eyes to the truly simple solution to this ongoing problem.
Please enjoy the video below which showcases the team's efforts to make the Turning Point School community part of the solution to the growing plastics problem. On behalf of the entire school community we thank you for playing such an important role in caring for our environment!
*The article below was repurposed from a communication sent to parents who participate in the Turning Point Toddler Program. Each week in the Toddler Program, parents touch on different themes that influence the joys and challenges of raising a toddler. This week’s theme is applicable to parents with children of any age.
Keep Your Relationships Thriving
As parents, we do so much research into topics that we think are important for our children’s healthy development. What is the best sippy cup to use? What toys should I be buying? What foods should they be eating?
These are all important questions, but there is one area that is easy to overlook – our relationships with the other adults around us. These relationships are not only important for our own well-being, but can actually have a huge impact on your child’s social and emotional development.
How our children see us interact with our partners, friends, and family members informs so much about the world around them. By watching us, they learn how to show affection, how to express dissatisfaction, and how to communicate in general. It is easy to fall into the trap of seeing our personal lives as separate from the lives we lead with our children, but it will truly benefit our children if we are thoughtful and careful about how we approach the other relationships in our lives.
With regards to partners, it isn’t all about date nights and romance (although this is important for most couples). We need to feed and enhance the friendship, and have conversations that are about something other than our children. Most couples already have weekly meetings or conversations to synch their calendars and determine who will be in charge of the various child-centered activities in the week ahead. The next time you have one of these conversations, try to include activities that involve one-on-one alone time with each other. Plan for activities such as date nights, but also include opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations: grabbing a quick drink, going for a walk together, doing a physical activity, or even just watching TV together. During these times alone, be careful not to just discuss logistics, household duties, and children. Try to talk about other things.
With regards to friends, it is so important to nurture these relationships. Once children come into the picture, dynamics can shift with friendships. Talk about this with your friends so that you understand each other’s expectations and feelings. Remember, frustration is the gap between what we expect and what actually happens. By openly discussing the realm of possibilities, you are able to maintain friendships even in the midst of changing routines and life circumstances.
Here are some actions that we can engage in with people around us in order to maintain healthy, well-rounded relationships:
- Give assurances that your partner/friends are still special.
- Try to be upbeat and optimistic. Feelings of satisfaction are often based on a ratio of positives over negatives. When you are feeling low in the “positives” bank, purposefully take time to express a positive – to yourself and to others. This can come in the form of emotional support, validation, or compliments.
- Simple touch! Studies show that touching a partner increases oxytocin, which deepens feelings of relaxation. Simply holding hands or sitting next to each other can make a big difference.
- Become an expert listener. Whether you are focusing on romantic relationships or friendships, it is always good to remember that you are not the only person in the relationship. This sounds like such a simple fact, but it can be surprisingly difficult for us all to remember.
- Show a sincere willingness to work through difficulties.
- Practice compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness towards others, your children, and most importantly, yourself!
I invite you to learn more about the Turning Point School Toddler Program by visiting our web page at www.turningpointschool.org/toddlerprogram. New classes begin on Tuesday, April 14. We work with a wonderful group of parents and children, and would love for you to join us!
VANESSA KARUBIAN SAXE
Turning Point School Toddler Program
Congratulations to all of our Middle School students for their creative and impressive work on the STEAM Expo last week. The annual STEAM Expo gives students in Levels 6-8 the chance to display and discuss the various projects they have worked on in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Projects this year included research in the areas of invention, environmental innovation, Rube Goldberg machines, scientific inquiry, and engineering.
A special thank you to Level 8 student Austin B., who created the following video that showcases how STEAM principles are incorporated into the learning that takes place every day at Turning Point School. Great job, Austin!
Level 2 took a trip to the California Science Center where they learned about the Galapagos Islands on the IMAX screen. They saw iguanas swim in the ocean, birds that cannot fly, and bright red crabs that all live together on volcanic formed islands. Students then had a chance to explore the Center to learn all about ecosystems, flight, and space. In the Science Lab, they learned all about insects through hands-on observation. They watched ladybugs in their natural habit and were able to see if they can swim! (They can!) Through the use of magnifying glasses, students also observed larvae and aphids, and even saw how minnows and turtles can coexist in a pond.