Monthly Archives: March 2019

First Week of the 4th and Final Quarter! ~March 30, 2019

Science Fair for All

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I know that the words “Science Fair” can cause stress and anxiety in a parent’s heart, but I love that our entire school participates in Science Fair for many reasons. Of course, it makes sense for a project based school to do Science projects and students learn many of the same skills doing these Science projects as they do with their Explorations, but another thing I love about CES Science Fairs is that it’s an opportunity to work with community partners and foster cross grade level collaboration. Our Bigs help Littles get ready and set up, our Middle School students serve as judges for Scouts (Kinders), high school students and teachers come and judge for most communities, and members of our community come in and judge in all communities.

It’s more than just learning about Science! Students learn many other important life skills like public speaking, working with a deadline, doing research, synthesizing their learning and communicating that to others, and problem solving. I also love that you can see that most of the our students take on the role of learner from start to finish. If you look closely at the pictures above, you see lots of evidence of “kid work”. It is quite typical for judges to share with us how impressed they are with our students’ ability to speak with authority and working knowledge of their project–from the process to what they learned. This is because most of our students take responsibility for their projects and do the work themselves. Although I think our parents “get it”, I’m including a link to an article below that discusses the importance of Science Projects and kids doing the work for themselves. Kudos to all of you parents who provided the opportunities and support but allowed your kids to do the work and the learning. When you do this you are sending a message to your kids that they are capable–if you do the work for them, you are sending them the message that they aren’t able to do it themselves. The final product may not be as beautiful and perfect as you would like but the pride a child feels knowing that this is their work and the lessons they learn from that are far more important. As the article I’m including states:

Recent studies conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggest that parents can best support their children’s learning by refraining from becoming too involved. The optimal approach is to encourage children to do their own work. As tempting as it may be to rush in and get the job taken care of, or as much fun as the science project may be when you’re an adult, or as desirable as it is to help a child to be a classroom star, the long term effect of such actions is to cause children to disengage from the learning process.

It’s an excellent article and I hope you will take the time to read it. It may help you understand why when kids are working on projects/Explorations we focus so much on the process rather than the product too. I especially thought the section from a Science Fair Winner’s perspective was quite interesting and relevant to all of our projects here at CES.

Whose Science Fair Project is it Anyway?

Now that all of our communities have finished their fairs, we are sending students to the District Science Fair April 25th and I’m confident our students will do well. Look for results here in my last blog of the month.

Voyaging to Old Bent’s Fort

Voyagers made the long bus ride to Old Bent’s Fort for a wonderful educational field trip wrapping up part of their 3rd quarter learning. They were supposed to go the last week of the quarter before Spring Break, but they had to postpone due to our Snow Day.

Hookin’ ’em in on the First Day

Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of all of our teachers on Monday, the first day of the quarter, but in addition to the Solar Systems, the Dinosaur and Weather Girl you see there, we had gardeners, water lovers, and farmers roaming the building on Monday. I just love how our teachers will go out of their way and sometimes their comfort zone to “hook” kids into their next quarter unit. Sometimes I don’t think our kids know just how lucky they are!

Is it Bullying?


I’ve included something similar before, but I found this and though it was a helpful way to determine if the conflict children may be having is at the point where an adult needs to step in. That does not mean that adults should not help children deal with rude and mean behavior. By all means, we should be helping kids develop the tools to deal with this type of behavior. Here at school, we teach students Conflict Resolution for this very reason. But, if the behavior has crossed the line into Bullying, than it’s time for an adult to step in.

Thank you for reading! Until next week,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

March Madness~March 17, 2019

St. Patrick’s Snack Class

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Wellness team held the third Healthy Snacks class after school on Tuesday. Wanderers learned how to make several healthy snacks that are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. They had a blast making pepper rainbows, cucumber clovers, and Irish fruit salad (all green and orange!). The best part was eating it all after we finished our masterpieces!

One more class will be offered for the Voyagers. Watch for more information in April or May!

Amazing Explorations!

Last week in my blog, I referenced the changes that have been happening with our projects and how they are becoming Explorations to deepen the learning and purpose. This week, I would like to highlight a few more classes.

Mrs. Burrell’s Class

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

During the first half of the year, Mrs. Burrell’s class chose to make their Exploration about beautifying our school and they landed on the bathrooms. The boys and girls in her class broke up into teams to first research and design. They then had to make a proposal school officials to receive input for revision. That team chose the winning designs and then final touches were put into place. Mrs. Burrell reached out to a community partner, Hadley’s Signs and Embroidery who worked with the students to create the designs on vinyl and install in the bathrooms. It took some time, but the designs were finally installed last week and look wonderful!!

Mrs. Saffold’s Class

Mrs. Saffold’s class tied their Explorations with their Colorado History Unit. They each research a different important Colorado figure. They then designed a poster, brought in artifacts, and dressed as that person at their presentation.

Mr. Omer’s Class

All of our 5th/6th grade classes were immersed in a conceptual unit about Adaptation. Mr. Omer’s class chose to make their Explorations about adaptations and focused it on ants. They then culminated with a wonderful museum night that not only featured their Explorations but highlighted the use of multiple intelligence. We had songs, art work, slide shows, writing, drama, hands on interactive activities, building projects, and puppet shows. It was a wonderful example of exploratory learning!

Mrs. Bryan’s Tech Elective

Using the defined STEM curriculum for middle school, students have been researching all quarter on the adaptations marine animals go through in order to survive in their habitat. Conor and James created a puppet show; Tori and Luke created clay figures and put them in a fish tank for their demonstration, and there were other creative presentations. Another wonderful example of using our multiple intellegences as we learn!


Voyager Science Fair

This last week we had our first community Science Fair. It was wonderful to see great examples of student learning and student work. The judges were AP Science students from Mr. McIntyre’s class. They were impressed with how well prepared and well-spoken our students were.

Voyager Big Buddies mentor Scouts in Science Explorations during MI Mash

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Voyagers 5th/6th graders are Big Buddies to Scouts and this quarter they worked with them on Fridays on all kinds of Science experiments and explorations in a Science Fair type format. Scouts have also been learning about water animals and learned about how blubber keeps Arctic animals warm in ice cold water.

March Madness in the Library


This month Mrs. Reed has been fostering some friendly competition in the form of a Library March Madness. Students selected books on their bracket and each week the favorites rose to the top. It all ended this week with Isaac R. being our big winner with the most points and also predicting the big book winner: Captain Underpants!

Spring Break Safety

We know that with breaks like the one we are looking forward to this week, kids will be on their technology more than when we are in school. They especially spend a lot of time on You Tube. Take a few minutes to watch the video below so that you can be aware of a potential problem and can be proactive to prevent any issues with your children.

You Tube Has a Pedophile Problem

Image result for bark app

This video came from the Bark App people and Mrs. Bryan highly recommends this app for parents to help keep their kids safe on their phones. Check it out in this next link below to learn more about how Bark might help your family:

Bark App


Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful Spring Break! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, Principal



Students and Parents are Exploratory Learners~March 10, 2019

Examining Explorations



A goal for our staff this year was deepening our projects. Along the way, we decided to change the name so that students would disassociate the our old ways of doing passion projects with our new process over product emphasis of our Explorations. All of our communities have taken different approaches as they have experimented with different ways to make to make Explorations, or projects, more meaningful and rich.I will be featuring the classes and communities Explorations over the next few blogs.

Mrs. Hartman took the first semester to do a class project called Explorations Examined where students dived into to the different components of research and exploration paired with a lot of modeling and exemplars from Mrs. Hartman.

This quarter, Mrs. Hartman’s’ class learned how to be a Scientist by being inquisitive and observative, asking good questions, and using literacy skills to learn more about a topic. Their Explorations were completely integrated “How-to” projects that incorporated chemical reaction, sequencing in addition to the skills mentioned above. We were to to “how-to’s” about making slime and play-do, sewing, putting a bike together, and many other things. The kids really enjoyed and learned a lot during this process. Additionally, we had some really great Buddy help from Mrs. Strong’s students. I would especially like to highlight Dustin Kletke who not only just does a fabulous job working with out younger students, but took his own time to help his little buddy who was sick and out of school for a couple of days. Dustin invited Jack to his house to work with him about how to put a bike together and then brought his own bike to school for Jack to use in his presentation. We have other wonderful examples of Explorations in other classes and communities that I hope to highlight in upcoming blogs.

Spring Mini-College: Finishing Strong



This last Thursday we had our Spring Mini-College featuring a variety of very informative sessions providing an educational opportunity for our parents. These sessions included “How to Help your Child with Anxiety”, “Changing Conflict to Kindness”, “Generation Wild: Getting Your Kids Outdoors in Fremont County”, “Love and Logic: Skills, Siblings, and Summer”, and “Reading at Home with Your Child”. I would like to extend my appreciation to Ashley Sack of Fremont Adventure Recreation (FAR), Adam Gonzales of the Canon City Public Library, SRO Robbie Vidmar, Shirlee Brule’, Krystal Saffold, Emily Cornella, and Jamie Murray for all being wonderful presenters.

Ashley Sack even created a special Scavenger Hunt just for our event but that is now available for all that is specific for hiking in the the Fremont County area and a great things to keep your kids engaged on hikes. Below is a picture, but if you’re interested, there is also a link to their site where you can grab it–after clicking the link below, download the Scavenger Hunt Adobe file. There are other great resources there for getting your family outside in Fremont County.


Fremont Adventure Recreation Link

Trailblazers Destination Imagination Team Going to State!!


I’ll have more info and pics in next week’s blog, so stay tuned, but in the meantime–CONGRATULATIONS to our amazing Trailblazers! They took 2nd place and will be heading to state April 6th. And, a bit thank you to Mrs. McLaughlin for sponsoring and coaching our team! Thanks also go to Mrs. Keller for her help with the team too!

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, Principal

Finishing February Inspired!~March 3, 2019

Teachers Inspiring Teachers

This last Tuesday, our teachers took an hour out of their day to participate Inspiration Walks (sometimes called Instructional Rounds). Four different teams walked the building during the day visiting as many classrooms and SMARTs teachers as they could during the 60 minutes. It is not often that our teachers have the time to see what is happening in one another’s classrooms. Since we are stronger together and have a shared vision, it is important for us to have an idea of what we all do. Additionally, we can learn so much from one another. We already collaborate and learn together during our Professional Learning Community times that take place during our Two-Hour Delayed starts and this is a wonderful use of our time; but, to see one another in action is a completely different thing and we were all so impressed with high level instruction that is happening across our building. The teams also noticed how evident and strong our building culture is in every area of the building.

Guest Columnist, Molly Merry on Multiple Intelligences

While developing the Exploratory model I read extensively about the brain and learning. One bit of information that stood out and was supported by research was that meaningful learning is always connected with emotion.  This made so much sense to me as I observed students and considered my own learning. And it explains why rote memorization for the sake of memorization is so difficult, why memorization for the sake of a test is soon forgotten, and why our most memorable teachers (and more significant learnings) are those who engage all our our senses, create drama, activity and energy.

At CES, teachers work to engage students’ interest and emotions to increase meaning.  Rather than telling students why they should learn, students are allowed to create their own understanding and buy-in through the arts, through discussion, through demonstration, through real world connections, through games, or through direct experience.  Using Multiple Intelligences activities is an invaluable resource for engaging students’ emotions.  At CES, students do not spend their days sitting in their desks listening or reading. While these are significant learning activities, their value is increased when there is time spent in discussion, in research, in creating, in experimenting and of course exploring.  Any visit to CES will be an adventure in watching diversity in student engagement and activity while learning.  And you won’t always see teachers in front of the room ‘controlling’ learning. This is a testament to a commitment to teaching and learning for creativity, application, depth, meaning, and significance.  This is also a testament to developing students’ internal understanding that they are learning for their own growth and development, for their futures.

When Exploratory began we would sometimes hear from others that our students weren’t ‘learning’ because they were out of their seats, actively busy, talking and engaged.  We always knew the opposite was true; that students were indeed learning, emotionally connected, and making significant meaning by applying their academic skills and knowledge.  Time has shown we were right!


Spring Mini-College: Finishing Strong


If you haven’t already, please sign up for our Spring Mini-College. It’s this Thursday! We have great sessions led by some wonderful people. To sign up easily, go to: Sign Up Genius   It will be a great night!

PE Inventors!

This week all Physical Education classes participated in a fun, creative, brainstorming, and teamwork activity called Invent a game!  This activity was a wonderful way to support our culture and goals set for CES!   In order for this activity to be successful, the focus must center around Creativity and Innovation that leads to higher quality student engagement, rigor and relevance.  Students designed the game using any equipment provided, presented how to play the game, gave the game a name, and demonstrated it.  After all teams presented, the students had time to go and try out other games.  Great job by all CES STUDENTS!


Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, Principal