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Updated Thu, Apr 19th
Updated Thu, Mar 22nd
Updated Thu, Mar 15th
Updated Thu, Apr 19th

By First Grade Teacher Talia

It was a typical morning. The kids were eating breakfast at a snail’s pace. “We have five minutes until we have to leave, and you still have to brush your teeth. Please finish eating!” I said to them as I walked out of the kitchen and down the hall to brush my own teeth. An all too familiar feeling of anxiety was beginning to creep in, and I silently told myself that today would be the day we get out the door without a fight. A few minutes later, Robby came into my bathroom.

“Mom, I have a ques-”

“Have you brushed your teeth yet?” I interrupted.

“No but-” he answered, trying to ask me again.

“Go brush your teeth! We’re going to be late!” I could feel my voice and anxiety rising. We were about to fall into our same routine of me shouting to get the kids to finish their tasks, and all three of us leaving the house a little grumpy.

“But Mom, can I ask you a question first?” He tried again. To be honest, I wanted to say no. I wanted everyone to just focus on the tasks until they got done, and for no one to complain or say another word. But today was going to be the day that we changed that routine, I reminded myself. I took a deep breath.

“Of course you can. What’s your question?” I said.

“If the same water has been on Earth for millions of years, then is it possible that there is a drop of water somewhere that has never been touched by a living thing?” he asked me earnestly.

Wow. Where did that come from? Although the question seemed to come out of nowhere, it didn’t really surprise me. Robby has always asked thought provoking questions, questions that I have no clue how to answer sometimes.

“Hmmm. I’m really not sure. That is such an interesting thing to think about!” I answered. “Maybe we should try to find the answer after school today.”

“Ok. I’m going to brush my teeth now.” he said.

As he walked away, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of his thoughtful questions I’d missed, simply because I was unwilling to take the time to listen. Although I do my best to use Positive Discipline to influence my parenting, I’m human and I’m guilty of sliding back into what seems easy in the moment. Taking a moment to connect with my children before offering a criticism or giving feedback sometimes seems to take too long. It’s quicker to just shout to get what I want. But that’s not what I really want. I want to build a trusting and caring relationship with my children, and that won’t happen without taking the time to remain calm and listen, especially when times get stressful.

Later that day, I saw another example of connection before correction at work. This time it was on the softball field. Aubrina is on a new team this year, with a coach who has a reputation for always having a winning team. He has a loud voice, and he always knows what every girl is doing. Aubrina is on a team with girls who are taller, stronger, and older, so it’s not hard for the coach to find things to coach her on. Watching practice that day I realized a pattern with how the coach communicated with each girl. He would first say something positive, and then afterward he would give his feedback. For example, when Aubrina fielded a ball and then threw it to first base, he said “Aubrina! Nice job getting behind that ball. Next time follow through with your whole body on the throw and you’ll have more power.” The entire interaction was simple, quick, and demonstrated that he sees the positive and not just what needs to be fixed — a way to connect before offering correction.

It’s easy to forget that as adults we don’t get a lot of feedback on our behavior from others, whereas kids get criticism and correction all day, everyday. Connecting with our kids first is one sure way to build a relationship where they feel safe, supported, and loved.
For more about the “Connect before Correct” tool card, visit the Positive Discipline web blog. For more Positive Discipline Parenting tool cards, visit the Positive Discipline website.

Updated Thu, Apr 12th

Spring 2018

Not the mission project you remember: Our 4th grade students were assigned a portion of the mission grounds to research. They built a 3 dimensional model and programed a Dash Robot to negotiate their model. Some groups were assigned the orchards, some the actual mission structure, some the gardens and so on. The Dash Robot then moved about the map on a student-programed route stopping at programed spots. The robot then delivered a student-created script describing the unique features of the location on the map. The individual maps were then combined to create an entire 3D mission grounds with multiple Dash Robots moving about the programed routes and giving tours. During this complex, multi-day learning exercise every student found an access point to engage in the learning. Some students found their level of expertise in building the map layout, some in building the 3D structures, some in programing the robots, some in conducting the necessary research – every aspect required students to work collaboratively and problem solve in a real life context on a project they were all connected to. Every student found a way to be heard and valued.

Teachers are pioneering a vital shift in education, being re-energized by the level of student engagement and their role in igniting the fire and passion in students that results in real, honest, purposeful, meaningful and contextual learning. Teachers are communicating this passion and their colleagues are listening and adopting. The purposeful use of technology allows students to work in a reality that is contextually appropriate to their lives and virtually limitless.

Updated Thu, Mar 29th

By Jennifer, Village and Young Triton Parent

Young Triton’s Running Club (YTRC) is a before and after-school running club and self-development program for boys in grades 1–5. In its third year at Village School, YTRC instills strength, self-compassion, empathy, cooperation, balance, character, perseverance and teamwork through a structured bi-weekly, eight-week program.

Without a doubt YTRC is about far more than physical performance. This year’s curriculum was Mindcraft-themed. That’s not a typo but an intentional play on words as the boys collected bricks in their inventory and strengthened their minds while training for the Run. Sweat. Love. 5K.

Teaching young boys to become well-rounded, feeling, and caring young men requires role models that demonstrate the behaviors we hope to see them develop. We are extremely blessed at Village to have 6 dedicated parent coaches.

Coach Caesar shares his experience with YTRC: “The impact of the program is very personal to me. Not only do we as Coaches get to share our passion with the children and watch them develop before our eyes, but we also get to build relationships. Most parent participants are moms at Village. Having some “Dad Time” gives us the opportunity to make friends, share experiences and start new relationships that probably would not have happened without YTRC,” explained Coach Caesar. “[My son] sees that I go out on runs but rarely makes it to my events. When we first started doing our runs, he would not push himself nor would I want to push too hard and discourage him. Now running with 15 plus friends, he loves to run, loves to push himself and loves to help his teammates!”

Results of the program: 68 Happy Hearts, 136 Strong Legs, 34 5K Teammates, 6 Dedicated Coaches and 23 Young Tritons who have discovered that the finish line is just the beginning. 


Updated Thu, Mar 22nd

Village is unique in so many ways. Of course, our students learn traditional subjects like reading, writing and arithmetic, but where else (other than ‘The Farm’) can one train to be a spy or study the art of Jedi mind control? Learn more about two of our newest and most unique STEAM Centers to date, and beware the skills your budding secret agents and Jedi bring home!

Spies Among Us

By Amy, Spies Center Lead and Village Parent

Students in the brand-new Spies Center try their hand at investigative activities such as fingerprinting and cryptology while gaining a basic understanding of skills that secret agents use in their work. As one of the center leads, I (Amy, aka Blue Raven), developed the curriculum with the collaboration of Kindergarten Teacher Lori, Lead Amy (aka Silver Ninja), and Day Manager Allie (aka Green Hornet). The goal is to create an opportunity for students to have fun while they use creative thinking and deductive reasoning.

Students create a unique spy name and choose whether to share that name with their fellow spies, or remain incognito (only use their actual name) during the four weeks of centers. I enjoy watching students’ enthusiasm when I reveal my Harry Potter inspired spy name, “Blue Raven” and name badge at the start of centers. We added the option for students to conceal their spy name when one student pointed out that keeping your identity a secret is important for spies. When asked what he enjoyed about Spies Center, this student said, “The good stuff is making your spy name.”

In subsequent weeks, students use an alphanumeric code to create a corresponding Secret Agent ID number for their spy name and design a unique Spy Symbol which they replicate using invisible ink pens. They decipher codes, reveal secret messages using multiple methods, and try their hand at walkie talkies.

The center culminates with the Campus Mystery Scavenger Hunt when students don disguises and use the skills they have practiced to solve a crime (details omitted to avoid spoilers). Students almost unanimously agree with one student who said, “My favorite part of Spies was when we were looking for messages and clues.” The initiation of these new junior sleuths, who so eagerly collaborate in this final mission, is a fitting conclusion.

Jedi Mind Tricks

Q&A with Priya, Jedi Mind Tricks Lead and Village Parent

What exactly is the Jedi Mind Tricks Center? How was the curriculum developed?
The Jedi Mind Tricks Center, originally called the Brain Powers Center, is a brand new upper grade Center led by Village parents, Priya and Dorothy. The curriculum is based on the work of Marie Nathalie-Beaudoin in her book, Boosting All Children’s Social and Emotional Brain Power. Weaving together social-emotional skills and themes from Star Wars, we’ve tried to make this center a playful way to learn important life skills that we’ve termed “mind tricks.” We begin by explaining that the Jedi can’t control other people’s minds they way they show in the movies until they learn ways to understand and strengthen their own minds. We jokingly tell the kids, “mind control will be discussed in the sequel ‘Jedi Mind Tricks Center, Episode 2.’

Each week we teach the kids a new skill and practice using it with examples and in-class skits. Often the kids share examples from their own lives, exploring ways to resolve disappointments, disagreements, or general mishaps and mix-ups.

What are some of the Mind Tricks you work on?
Shrinking Power — the ability to shrink problems (solving problems)
Double Vision — the power to see what’s going on inside of someone else (empathy)
Choice Mind — the ability to weigh options and make better choices (non-reactivity and self-awareness)
Foresight — the ability to see the future (foreseeing the consequences of actions)

The kids have a great time acting out ways to handle tricky situations using their mind tricks!

What are you hoping students gain from the Center?
The Center helps kids to develop stronger coping skills and emotional regulation, but we don’t really tell them that. Our approach to teaching is playfulness. We bring out props like Jedi robes, lightsabers, brain hats, walkie-talkies, and more! In our last class we bring all the mind tricks together and then share some Jedi Jello.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
One of the highlights from this year was one student’s response to the question, “Why are we even learning about this?” His response, “Because they help us with the M&M’s.” Yes! It was a powerful moment of integration.

Updated Thu, Mar 15th

By Amilia, Village Parent

I like to consider myself a world traveller. I love to visit new places where the language, culture, food, geography and general way of doing things are different. But, despite a good deal of experience on the global scene, the second graders at Village have me beat on at least one intriguing measure. Although I have visited a fair number of countries, I have certainly never created my own.

Yes, you heard me correctly! Our second graders created their own countries, complete with constitutions, laws, national flags, currencies and even national anthems. What sparked this exciting undertaking? 

Well, our second grade teachers, Chris and Elizabeth, started with a unit on Government. Students learned about how our government is structured, from our school, local (city) and state governments right up to our national government. They learned who the current people in charge are (president, governor, mayor, etc.), about the three branches of government, about how we vote in elections, about rules and laws and why we need to follow them. They studied government jobs — police, fire, teachers, librarians, park rangers, etc. — and even took a field trip to Campbell City Hall to meet some of these government workers, seeing firsthand where they work and how their offices are structured. 

While at city hall, students toured the police station, quietly observing the 911 Call Center, and more boisterously exploring a fully-loaded police car! The most memorable part of this field trip, though, was when students had the opportunity to conduct a mock city council meeting. They were assigned parts — City Council members, Secretary, Fire Station Chief, Police Chief and concerned community members — and given an agenda item to debate, ‘Should the city spend available funds on 2 new fire trucks or 5 new police cars?’ It was a delight and surprise to see how creative and bold our 7 and 8 years olds have become, and how thoughtfully they were able to consider and analyze the issue at hand. All voices having been heard, the ‘mock’ City Council member voted and passed a motion to purchase the police cars, rather than the fire trucks.

In past years, this is where our second grade unit on government would have concluded. But, not this year! Our teachers discovered a delightfully tongue-in-cheek, but informative, book about, How to Build Your Own Country by Valerie Wyatt and decided that, indeed, that is what our second graders should do!

And so, their foray into government and all of its institutions culminated in this final project — to create their own countries, complete with a name, a population, a location, a government, a constitution, laws, an economy, neighbors, a flag, currency, a national anthem, national holidays, etc. In full disclosure, students only had to choose a handful of these elements to develop, but the results were a dazzling array of interesting, creative, and often funny lands, and a wonderful insight into the thoughtful and honorable citizens whom we are raising… not to mention, a host of new and exciting places to add to my bucket list of global travel destinations!

Here are just a few of the many creative and inspired countries that our second graders envisioned:

  • The Kingdom of Donuts, where the citizens are donuts of all different colors and types, the language is called ‘donya’ and whose neighbors include the Republic of Cupcakes and Cookie Land
  • Empire of Vikingland, whose currency is in denominations of the lucky number 7, the President is chosen by Ro Sham Bo, the capital city is Hawking (named after famed physicist Stephen Hawking), and there are absolutely no guns allowed. 
  • Candyland, whose people are only a few inches tall and where everything is made of candy
  • Circus Land, where every citizen 10 or older must work in the circus once per month and the day cotton candy was invented is celebrated as a national holiday
  • United Gabes of America, where everybody is named Gabe and you must have President Gabe’s permission to use the restroom
  • Drawing Land, which is ruled by King Mateo and is the only monarchy created by the second grade class
  • Ultraland, an island in the Pacific Ocean where there is free housing and free education for all. They also manufacture tree houses as their primary export.
  • Costanzoe, which is the biggest and most powerful country in the world and whose land is under great threat of super volcanoes
  • Pokeland, a republic located on a planet called Pokeworld. Leaders are voted into power and citizens are not legally allowed to use weapons.
  • Loveable Land, where there are no laws and red roses everywhere
  • Super Trio, named for a combination of the student’s favorite superhero (Superman) and favorite number (3), where everybody over 4 is required to go to school and you are not allowed to swim in a pool unless you are 6 years or older.
  • L Island, where the most important law is that you cannot hurt anybody or use weapons.
  • Baile, which is an island country known for its dancers, where everybody is welcome and everybody has freedom of speech. Pomegranates are the most popular produce and, by law, all citizens must respect each other. Also, all young people must go to school, but can attend any school they choose.
  • Beachside Land, whose population of 900,000 all have equal rights
  • Living Joy, located in the student’s living room. No pets are allowed.
Updated Thu, Mar 8th

By Bev, Library Team Lead and Village Parent

By now you probably know that the library team is just plain crazy for books, authors, and reading! You may not know, however, that one of us (Lisa) is an aspiring children’s book author and participates in many writers’ groups and organizations in pursuit of her dream of one day being published.

It’s because of this connection to the literary world that Lisa was able to grant Village 3rd graders a very unique opportunity. In the fall, she participated in an online charity auction to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Lisa bid on and won a classroom Skype visit with Debbie Levy, author of I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark as well as many other children’s books.

As the date for the visit approached, the kids, their teachers, and the librarians were all excited! Ms. Roberta and Ms. Aisling read I Dissent aloud to their classes and engaged the students in thinking up questions they’d like to ask Debbie about the book and being a published author.

Then, on the Friday before Thanksgiving break, the entire third grade packed into Teacher Aisling's classroom to digitally welcome Debbie to our school. The students saw her home office and met her 15+ year old cat Zoe. They heard all about her childhood love of books and writing, including seeing her first “published” works: Something Happened to Tuggy, and Fish, both of which she wrote in school at age 7. They learned that before becoming a published author, she earned a law degree as well as a master’s degree in politics, and worked as a newspaper editor.

Then it was on to questions the students had prepared:

Where did she go to college?
Debbie attended both the University of Virginia and University of Michigan.

How many drafts of I Dissent did she write?
Debbie estimated she had written about 20 drafts for I Dissent and finished the manuscript for the book in 5-6 months. She said this was a more accelerated timeline than most of her other books, and she showed the students a closet where she stores the many drafts from all her books (the students seemed very impressed with this!).

Is she friends with Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
No, she is not friends with RBG but she has met her and has a picture of the two of them together.

How did she find out so much about her?
To write the book, Debbie sent a letter to RBG asking for permission, and she got a reply saying yes! From there she researched everything she could about Ruth’s life and career. She went to the Library of Congress and read through all the information they had on her, which is contained in 180 boxes of materials!

What’s her favorite book she’s ever written?
The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family and Farewells, which is a book she wrote for and about her mother, who left Germany as a child with her family in 1938 during World War II.

Is she writing another book now?
Yes, she is currently working on another nonfiction book about a brave young woman who stood up to segregation in the south during the 1950s.

Debbie was kind, generous with her time, engaging with the kids, lovely and gracious. In addition to donating the classroom visit to the third grade, Lisa received four of Debbie’s other books and donated them to the Village library collection: Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil WarWe Shall Overcome: The Story of a SongDozer’s Run: A True Story of a Dog and His Race; and The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family and Farewells. Debbie autographed all the books, and provided an autographed bookplate for library’s copy of I Dissent.

A huge thank you to Lisa and her family for sharing this amazing opportunity and experience with Village!

Updated Thu, Mar 1st

By Amilia, Village Parent

In December, amidst the frenzy of the holiday season and the wind-down (or, more accurately, wind-up) to Winter Break, Teacher Chris’ second grade class took some time to reflect on what giving back truly means. The Surfin’ Second Graders took a field trip to Toys for Tots, an organization that collects and delivers gifts during the holiday season to community children in need.

This outing fit nicely with the November/December Cornerstone theme of “Impact”. As part of the ABC reading program, all classrooms at Village read the book, Big by Coleen Paratore. This book discusses how to be a ‘big’ person, with ‘big’ defined not by size but by one’s perception of and interaction with the world at large. The author defines ‘big’ as being bright and imaginative, healthy, kind and helpful, friendly and valuable members of society.

Building on this theme, the Surfin’ Second Grade’s ABC Reader discussed with the class “ways to be active citizens to improve the world by committing to daily acts of caring and outreach in our community with acts of service.”

“Volunteering and service are powerful ways to build assets,” she explained to parents in a lovely follow-up email to her ABC lesson. “The research shows that service is powerful in helping kids succeed in all areas of life – health, friendships, school and self-esteem.”

As a lead-up to the field trip, Teacher Chris explained to students what the program is about, and how their volunteer service would help so many in our community, including children and families affected by the Bay Area fires. As one might expect, everybody was excited to be able to help others in a very hands-on way.

On the day-of, in a touching role-reversal from traditional Christmas order, students played the part of Santa, delivering gifts donated by their families to the Toys for Tots warehouse. Their excitement to “give” was heartfelt and a valuable lesson in and of itself. While at the warehouse, they helped the Marines who run the program sort gifts by age and gender. The field trip also offered opportunities for math practice (counting and tracking the number of gifts they sorted, estimating the total number, etc.), deduction and reasoning (determining how to categorize/sort each gift – girl/boy, age range), reading (category signs, gift box descriptions) and teamwork.

Finally, as a reward for all of their hard work, students were treated to a rare opportunity to explore and climb on an ENORMOUS marine transport truck. Even Teacher Chris was enthralled!

Our children are blessed to have so many opportunities at Village – from the fall Second Harvest Food Drive to the holiday Family Giving Tree program to the Stop Hunger Now initiative – to give back to the community and to extend their impact beyond the boundaries of our little school and into our global Village. I can’t think of a better way for them to grow 'big'!

Updated Thu, Feb 22nd

In November, our ABC readers read the book, Big by Coleen Paratore, a book that expands the meaning of ‘big’ to mean not large in size, but in impact and service to the world at large.

Read below the true meaning of 'big' in the wise and unfiltered words of our own Upstanding Unicorns (1st Graders).

“Big is helpful and sweet and strong. By throwing trash in recycling.”

“Big is being helpful for helping people.” 

“Big is kind.” 

“Big is

  • Being responsible
  • Having big imagination
  • Be good
  • Dream big
  • Kindness”

“Big is being helpful and helping each other and be kind and being a big heart.”

“Big is having a big heart and having a big heart is when you love people.” 

“Big is having a big imagination.” 

“Cleaning up your napkin is being big.”

“Big is helpful. You can help someone when they are hurt you can be big.” 

“Big is being kind. Kind is helping others. Helping others is being friendly. Friendly is being big.” 

“Big is being helpful. How to be helpful is to pick up somebody’s napkin on the floor.” 

“Big is… helpful and playful. Like playing with people.” 

“Big is caring.” 

“Big is being a helpful friend by… helping your neighbor with her chores.” 

“Big is cleaning up everybody’s mess. Big is helping people and the world. Big is being an upstander. Big is to be kind. Big is to be respectful.” 

“Big is being a big friend and being kind and helpful.” 

“Big is being a big friend… and being big is being.” 

“Big is being flexible.” 

“Big is proud.” 

“Big is… being helpful“ 

“Big is taking my dog out on a walk.” 

“Big is being strong.” 

“Big is doing big things. Big things are good things.” 

Updated Tue, Apr 17th

More than 1,600 people participated, providing thoughts, ideas, and questions for the district leadership.

Input from parents, staff and other community members is very important to us in Campbell Union School District. Working closely with our community is essential to ensuring that the needs of all students are met. 

In January, we added ThoughtExchange—a new, online way for our community to engage and communicate with us about our district and schools. See the results here.

The response rate for this first-time, online forum was high, with more than 1,600 people generating and rating more than 2,700 thoughts, ideas, and questions for us. Results from this and future ThoughtExchanges will inform our goals and decisions for the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), our Profile of a Graduate, and other initiatives aimed at providing an education beyond the expected.

Thank you for engaging in this new way to converse with us.

Updated Wed, Apr 4th

District Governing Board urges lawmakers to support greater school safety through increased funding and “common sense gun reforms.”

At their March 29 meeting, the elementary school district trustees passed Resolution 2017-18-25 calling on state and federal legislators to do more to bolster funding for services that support students’ mental, physical and emotional health and protect students from gun violence. 

“Gun violence on school campuses, while relatively rare, represents a particularly egregious and unacceptable threat to the lives of students, teachers, and staff across the country,” the resolution states. 

Prompted by the February 2018 mass shooting at a Florida high school, the resolution cites data about bullying, harassment, and student access to guns, and it asserts students’ and staff’s rights to safety at school. 

The resolution also requests for adequate funding to support students social and emotional needs in addition to their academic achievement.

“Our District partners with community health services to help students and families who need support with social-emotional and other non-instructional issues,” said Superintendent Shelly Viramontez. “The costs of educating and supporting students have been rising faster than state and federal funding, making it difficult to provide services that allow our teachers to teach while students get support for their social-emotional well-being.” 

A copy of the full resolution is available on the district’s website.

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