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Books Enhance First Graders’ Reading Skills

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With a book in hand, King Street Elementary School first graders worked on their independent reading in teacher Erin De Laura’s class. During a recent lesson, the students selected books from a basket on a variety of topics that were tailored to their individual level. De Laura said the activity was designed to get the students excited about reading and pique their interest in books.

Date Added: 10/3/2023

Fifth Graders Take on Roles of Robots, Programmers to Stack Cups

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Fifth graders at John F. Kennedy Elementary School participated in a hands-on, unplugged activity that helped them understand the connection between coding and an algorithm, which is the sequence of specific commands that instruct a computer.

During a lesson in technology and STEAM teacher Lisa Ciraldo’s class, the students worked in groups to create a predetermined pyramid shape out of cups. One student was assigned to be the robot while the other student took on the role of a programmer. Equipped with three cups, the programmer was assigned to give specific verbal commands for the robot to follow.

“The students quickly realized how they need to be extremely specific and use certain vocabulary, including directional and degrees, in order to successfully have the robot complete the task,” Ciraldo said.

The activity was designed to help the students develop a concrete understanding of coding concepts before using programs, such as for, Scratch and Tynker, for coding. It also prepared them for coding on their computers, where they will have to develop specific algorithms to complete various tasks.

“In addition to being fun and engaging, these types of unplugged activities teach students in a familiar format, allowing them to concentrate on learning key concepts of coding and algorithms before applying them on the computer,” Ciraldo said. “Equally as important, they allow the students to practice key skills, such as critical thinking, communication and leadership.”

Date Added: 10/2/2023

Fourth Graders Create Longest Paper Chain

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Equipped with one piece of construction paper, glue and scissors, Thomas A. Edison Elementary School fourth graders were challenged to work in groups and create the longest paper chain. The STEM activity was part of Cynthia Chaves’ science classes, which stimulated their creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration skills.

Throughout the experience, the students brainstormed ideas and collaboratively devised their strategic approaches within their groups before they began cutting and folding the paper into strips and connecting each strip with glue.

“They deliberated over diverse cutting techniques, folding methods and approaches to connect the paper strips, stimulating their critical thinking and creativity,” Chaves said. “They also determined their roles and responsibilities during the building of the paper chain, instilling a sense of ownership in their collaborative efforts.”

Chaves said the fourth graders experimented with various cutting methods to maximize the length of their chains. When they encountered challenges, the students engaged in reflective exercises to identify what wasn’t working and apply their problem-solving skills to make the proper adjustments to their approach.

“Once the time for constructing ended, we compared the lengths of each chain side by side to see which chains were the longest,” she said. “We also took the time to debrief and discuss as a class, providing an opportunity for students to share their individual experiences, strategies, outcomes and insights into how they would approach this challenge differently if given the opportunity to do it again.”

Chaves said the STEM challenge helped the students gain insight into experimental thinking, refine their problem-solving skills and understand that combining their ideas and efforts can lead to better outcomes.

“In science, the ability to identify problems, devise solutions and adapt to challenges is crucial, and I believe this activity mirrors those problem-solving processes in an engaging and interactive way,” she said. “Throughout the challenge, they had to test different techniques and strategies to determine the most effective way to create a long paper chain, introducing them to the basics of experimental design. I hope they appreciated the value of creativity and innovation in overcoming challenges. In science, finding solutions to problems is often key to forming advancements.”

Date Added: 9/28/2023

PCHS Seniors Participate in Her Honor Mentoring Program

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A group of Port Chester High School seniors have been chosen to participate in Judge Judith Sheindlin’s Her Honor Mentoring Program, which connects young women with strong and positive female role models. The students were each matched with a mentor after applying to the program and completing an interview process.

The 12 students – Jennifer Alzerreca, Guadalupe Angulo, Angie Arellano, Karla Castillo, Alexa Chavez, Dina Cordova, Deisy Herrera, Karen Hidalgo, Adaly Maldonado, Melany Monroy, Ariana Pareja-Becerra and Alejandra Rosales – attended the opening luncheon on Sept. 20 where they met Judge Judith Sheindlin and their mentors.

School counselor Vanessa Clay-Williams said this is a great opportunity for the Port Chester students. During the opening luncheon remarks, Clay-Williams said that Judge Sheindlin expressed her desire to reward excellence to young women in high school who may need a little boost to recognize their dreams and believed the program helps drive them toward greatness.

According to the program, the yearlong mentorship helps young women reach their full potential by connecting them with dynamic mentors across a spectrum of industries. During weekly meetings, the students will explore topics related to education, career and financial literacy. The students said they joined the program to learn how to network effectively, expand their view of possible careers and learn from successful people.

“I hope to meet new people, improve my communication skills and broaden my horizons,” Cordova said.

Her Honor Mentoring Program was founded by Sheindlin’s daughter, Nicole, in 2006, and has since partnered with several Westchester County school districts to provide unique learning opportunities and resources for young women and help boost their self-confidence in the workplace and everyday life.

Port Chester High School Students to Perform in Area All-State Choir

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Port Chester High School students Mariangel Osorio, Jamie Perez and Melody Sapione have been selected to perform with the prestigious Area All-State choir on Nov. 5. They are among a group of talented performers from across Westchester County who will be participating.

Osorio, a sophomore, Perez, a junior, and Sapione, a senior, were chosen for their proficiency and accuracy based on auditions among more than 600 applicants. The students performed their prepared pieces before a panel of judges, who assessed various aspects of the performance, including pitch accuracy, tone quality, musicality and interpretation.

“As their teacher, I have seen these students pour their hearts into their craft,” music teacher Jonathan Pereira said. “Being chosen for the Area All-State Choir was a testament to their unwavering dedication. This is a recognition they have truly earned, and I couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments.”

The Area All-State choir performance will take place on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 1 p.m. at New Rochelle High School. More than 100 students from across Westchester County are expected to perform.

Date Added: 9/20/2023