This program has personally allowed me to experience what it is like to be a teacher. It is a very hard job but also very rewarding. I have also learned that as much as we get to impart knowledge on these students, they have taught us things as well. For example, as a high school student going into junior year, I am terrified of what the coming school year will bring forth. However, watching these kids grow and seeing them believe in themselves more and more each day has opened up my eyes to realizing that I also am capable of working hard and improving through my junior year - as long as I put my full effort into it.
TA Blog Archives
This program has personally allowed me to experience what it is like to be a teacher. It is a very hard job but also very rewarding. I have also learned that as much as we get to impart knowledge on these students, they have taught us things as well. For example, as a high school student going into junior year, I am terrified of what the coming school year will bring forth. However, watching these kids grow and seeing them believe in themselves more and more each day has opened up my eyes to realizing that I also am capable of working hard and improving through my junior year - as long as I put my full effort into it.
Week 5 so far has been filled to the brim with work and preparations for the end of the program. But first, we have to surprise the students with one final surprise: Olympics Day! This event was introduced last year as a community gathering between the Bridge programs at Crystal Springs and St. Matthew's. The get-together was so successful that we are making it into a tradition, launching into our second year. The Olympics will be hosted by Crystal Springs and will include events like a water balloon toss, capture the flag, and a relay race. Personally, I am most excited for the finale of the relay race which will be a cupcake eating contest!
The ping pong elective hosted a tournament this week, and the top three winners earned delicious ice cream! The matchups were extremely intense, as veteran players engaged in singles matches. Several students took up an even greater challenge by playing in doubles matches. Coordinating with a partner takes the game to a whole new level. After weeks of practicing their serve, top spin, back spin, and all sorts of other advanced ping pong moves, the tournament was the perfect way to showcase the kids' newfound skills.
This Monday, our sixth graders took part in a rock climbing enrichment activity. Some leaped right into the activity, while others said this was "too far" out of their comfort zones. This could have easily been a train-wreck. But, I am happy to report that each and every sixth grader not only put on the harness, but also made it to the top of the wall. Afterwards, when I hugged each of the kids and congratulated them, I could sense how proud they were of their accomplishment, and how overwhelmed they were by the experience. It's an incredible thing- to help people overcome their fears.
At Stanford, the students enjoyed a quick bagged lunch before we headed to the Hoover Tower. At 14 floors, Hoover Tower is the tallest landmark on the entire campus, allowing tourists to climb up and get a sprawling view of the entire bay area. The TAs and the students started giving each other riddles the entire time we waited, including an excellent riddle that went something like this: "It has cities but no houses, it has oceans but no water, it has forests but no trees, and it has deserts but no sand. What is it?" The TAs pondered for a very long time, but eventually the students had to give us the brilliant solution. The answer was "a map." After we descended to the bottom of the tower, we headed off to our next event.
Our next stop was the Environmental Engineering building at Stanford. Here, kids were given a tour of the laboratories (with complimentary lab goggles) and learned about the various projects that were taking place. One scientist discussed her work with filters that would remove poisonous pesticides from rivers and lakes. Another discussed genetically modified plants that would produce bigger and healthier vegetables. The greatest spectacle of all was in the fluid mechanics room. Here, the students gazed in awe at a massive tank of water that demonstrated the flow of liquids in different ways. The kids touched the water, floated boats on it, and asked interesting questions. Our adventure ended with the seventh graders when we took one final group picture and headed back to Crystal Springs.
We have also been adopting many great "artsy" activities over the last week. Each of the students participated in a Journaling Through Art activity. In the activity, the students went into our school chapel and looked at the stained glass windows in complete darkness. They then reflected about how the stained glass looked, what spiritual effect it had on them (if any), and created their own stained glass project in the classroom. Nervous at first, the students embraced the project and became excited about their own creations.
We have also tried to create opportunities to expand these students' life experiences. For example, this week the students worked together in their TA groups to build boats and design them. Once each group was done, they went outside and each team raced each other. The students worked together to create a plan to make sure their boat won. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, but no matter what the outcome, the kids cheered each other on, and we're all happy with what the results were. I overheard one of the students saying, "It doesn't matter who gets to go the Boat race on Wednesday as long as our school is represented!" It warmed my heart because it showed me that our students have developed good sportsmanship.
For the field trip this week, the girls went to the Asian Art Museum, where they participated in a "scavenger hunt." It consisted of finding certain types of art and drawing them in detail in their packets. The girls loved trying to capture the details of the sculptures and paintings, and they learned so much about the different types of art. They had a lot of fun and thought the trip was too short!
On Tuesday, we put the finishing touches on our boats and made signs to support our teams. If you were to walk through the St. Matthew's hallways you would see tons of signs advertising the teams' strengths and cheers to demonstrate their spirit. The teams even came up with uniforms that they would wear the next day to be unified. They were beyond excited and ready for the challenge.
This activity started off with the volunteers explaining what kind of bridges they make and create, and then the students got split up into six different teams to build their own bridges. This activity allowed the students to help each other, work together, and collaborate with a professional in the field. They made sketches on how each of them felt the bridge should look like and then they put all their ideas together to create an amazing and original bridge. Some students held popsicle sticks together while other students glued. This activity involved a lot of trust, communication, and teamwork.
Jose stepped to the line and let it fly. As soon as he let it go, our hearts sank. It flew straight and true--directly into the target. The kids erupted in cheers, as we braced ourselves for an afternoon trip to Safeway...
It is moments like these--spontaneous challenges, jokes, and games--that define the spirit of Crystal's Bridge site as much as the day-to-day classes and electives. Aside from ice cream challenges, we play card games such as Egyptian War at breakfast and snack, during which kids and TA's laugh as they compete in friendly competition. They also love to play the piano in the mansion ballroom, learn songs from "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to Journey's smash hit "Don't Stop Believing."
But the extracurricular activities do not limit themselves to the cafeteria and the mansion; one of the most popular locations on campus is the Gryphon Center, Crystal's huge underground gym. Every morning and afternoon, the kids flock there for intense games of knockout, and their cheers and groans resound around the gym while music blasts in the background.
Half the bucket filled...
The bridge collapsed, hurling the toy hummer to a watery doom.
This same scene repeated itself several times last Friday, as our students, armed with two hundred popsicle sticks and hot glue guns as well as the guidance of a team from DPR Construction, built bridges that would withstand the weight of several gallons of water. During the two-hour special event, they learned different structures of bridges, drafted blueprints, then eagerly filed out of the mansion, excited to start their projects.
It was a hot day, one of the hottest of the week, but the weather hardly deterred students' resolve to craft the best bridges possible. Collaboration and effective problem solving were the names of the game. Students huddled together and brainstormed ways to maximize the strength of their bridges. They used clever tricks like doubling up popsicle sticks, crisscrossing the floors of their bridges, and building extra supports. Afterwards, the students' bridges were put to the test. Some collapsed quickly; others took quite a while. Whatever the case, students were all smiles, and any other sounds were drowned out by their giddy cheering. To finish the day, students celebrated their accomplishments with perfectly fitting refreshments: ice cold popsicles.
This week at St. Matthew's, our focus was to fully incorporate the sailing theme into our enrichment activities. Our week started with a few videos to inspire the kids. Captivated by the Oracle Boat traversing the San Francisco Bay, the kids could not stop expressing how exciting and dangerous the sport was. Common exclamations included "NO WAY! WE GET TO DO THAT?" and "Wait...we wear helmets, right?" Later on in the day, our students took part in a relay races enrichment activity where they competed with their sailing teams. Our goal was to build teamwork, cooperation, and leadership opportunities. The enthused fifth and sixth graders helped each other blindly (literally) through an obstacle course, examined how wind moves objects (in our case ping pong balls with straws through an obstacle course), and worked on strategizing and listening to one another when crossing over "lava".
There's nothing like the first week of school. The nervous excitement, new friends, and growing independence are just the beginning of the adventure. When our kids came in on Monday, their anticipation was tangible...
"Do you know who my homeroom teacher is?"
"Can we play Capture the Flag again?"
"Do we get lockers this year, too?"
These were all common questions that circled when gathering in the St. Matthew's auditorium before heading off to the classrooms. Little did the kids know that us TAs and teachers were just as enthusiastic and nervous about the summer. Like the kids, we were unsure of what was to come in the first couple days.
One of my favorite moments of this week was when we all began the boat making project! The kids enjoy working on designing the boats, as well as imagining the prospect of getting to win it all and go on a boat themselves! The TA's and I are also all very much invested in the project and hopeful to win! You may or may not see find us in the art room during lunch frantically sanding away at the sides of the kids' boats. A little extra help never hurt right?
On Thursday, July 26, 2012 we took a break from the five long weeks of reading, writing, and problem solving. The highly anticipated Raging Waters trip was under way, and the kids all piled on to the bus at 9:00 in the morning. Since there were over 60 kids and nine TAs, constant TA supervision was not at all possible. Luckily the water park is not that large so our check-in spot was not far from any of the rides. In order to keep kids from getting lost or injured, the buddy system was put into effect. Each scholar athlete paired up with his or her best friend or found a group of friends to share the day with.
As it turned out, banding together with your best buds is the perfect way to try new things and face your fears. I certainly experienced this feeling when a group of 7th graders kept encouraging me to join them on the newest addition to the park, Bombs Away! Last year I did not have the courage to even walk up the stairs to this slide. Complete with a fully enclosed tube, a fifteen-foot drop, and speeds up to 20 mph, this ride just seemed too dangerous for me. I felt bad about disappointing them this time so I joined them on their journey. As we neared the starting capsule with the trap-floor, I realized that I wasn't just tackling this slide for the 7th grader's sake, I really wanted to face my fear of this ride and come out of the blue and black tunnel with a sense of accomplishment. At the end of ride we all celebrated and high-fived each other.
Throughout the rest of the day the scholar athletes went down every slide they could. The weather could not have been better, as it was not to hot but not too cold. I was very happy to see that each kid made it to the 1:30 checkpoint and boarded the bus on time ready to leave the park. One of the kids remarked, "The three and a half hours was the perfect amount of time at Raging waters, because now I am too tired too go on any more rides". Certainly exhausted, I could not agree more.
A final Word from Castilleja Site Director Mary Hurlbut
The Peninsula Bridge Program at Castilleja concluded with a lovely End of Summer Celebration. Directed and produced by the Peninsula Bridge TAs (who managed lighting, stage direction, costuming, choreography and program details), the rising fifth grade Bridge girls lit up the stage with fabulous dance, poetry, and singing performances. The profusion of thank you's, and the flood of tears and hugs at the end of the event were testament to the strong bonds established throughout the short five weeks.
As the beginning of the fifth week started the thought that ran through my mind was: "How am I going to feel after I leave these kids?" When we first started Bridge I looked at the kids, and I never could have imagined that I would feel this sad at the end of the end of the program. I have made so many relationships with these kids, and now I can't imagine my summer without them.
Hi my name is Laura, I am not only a T. A for the Bridge Program but I am also an alumni of Bridge. As an alumnus I have been able to see the radical changes from the Bridge program that I went through to the Bridge program I am now a T.A. for. The biggest change, I have to say, is the inclusion of the health and nutrition class. I have been a T.A. in that class for three years now. I have always had the opportunity to see how much enjoyment the children get from participating in the labs and learning in this class.
The Castilleja Bridge Program will be celebrating its first ever Spirit Week. Today we celebrated Halloween in July. Students wore costumes such as bumblebees, fairies, and the hulk. Miriam M. stated, "The most fun part of Halloween in July was getting to see a lot of people dress up with different costumes that I hadn't seen before". Katie C., a TA at Castilleja, went all out by wearing a royal outfit, faux powdered wig included. Her enthusiasm toward the spirit day inspired the girls to try even harder for the next spirit days.
The students had a busy, yet exciting, fourth week. In math class, they just finished learning how to convert fractions into decimals and decimals into percentages. Many of them were really into these lessons and cited that it was their favorite lesson so far. Hard to believe, but true! In their English class, they have learned 40 new vocabulary words and are half-way through the book "Holes" by Louis Sachar. They really enjoy reading the book in small groups and discussing about what they have read. They also seem to enjoy their afternoon electives: field hockey, science, arts & crafts and study skills.
This past Friday, the students took an exciting field trip to Shoreline Park. The students were involved in many activities like a nature scavenger hunt and a tour of the Rengstorff House. The history of the home and the park captured all of the students' attention and they were all amazed by how much history there was in Mountain View. This trip not only kept the students' interest piqued, but it also taught them a lot about the city they all live in. The docents at Shoreline Park did a great job designing age-appropriate activities for the students.
"Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." - Clement Clarke Moore
The room was silent. There was no noise. To my surprise, all the girls and boys were reading silently while walking up the stairs, the cool breeze from the air vents relieving them of the heat. The students stayed in their seats constantly smiling as they continued to read far past what was required for the assignment that day. The sun shining down on their faces, they continued to embark on their wondrous journey at recess. At the end of the day they maintained those same bright smiles. They were even somewhat sad because they had no homework, because they had already completed it during the day. It may not have been Christmas, but we enjoy giving the students the gift of knowledge. The students continue to look forward to a different gift each day, reminding us that it is better to give than to receive.
The Woodside Priory campus finally had a guest speaker to talk to the students. Students were excited to find out what this speaker had to say. Kids would ask TA's over and over, who the speaker was and what the he would say? However the only answer they received about the speaker was that he ran marathons and ran one in Antarctica.
Last Friday the Crystal site had the pleasure of visiting seven unique companies across the bay area. The companies varied from technological giants such as Microsoft or Genentech to local law firms to TV stations. All the students had a blast and couldn't wait to tell their friends about their amazing experiences.
This third week of Bridge has been the best thus far, although it has been the most tiring. I would not change a thing. During Enrichment, it's "Dance Week," so I teach dance to four classes a day and then one math class. The Math teacher is supportive of this program and allows me to teach the kids. I started this program last year and I am so proud of how far it has come. The students, especially the boy classes, jumped right into the warm ups, across the floors, and the dance routine. Their eagerness to move and follow my lead in stretching has really inspired me. Dance is such a big part of my life and being able to share my passion with the students and have them pick up the choreography and attempt the stretches is rewarding. Music is one of my happy places; helping to understand life, and always being there whenever I doubt what is good and this week has just shown me how much I have in common with the students. Music has brought us even closer together as most the girls lips sing or actually hum the words of the songs together during class.
The third week at the Sacred Heart campus was exciting for many reasons! First of all, tours of the campus took place. This was a chance for student's parents to see what was happening inside and outside of the classroom. The kids were extremely well behaved, and I was very proud to see them working hard and showing their parents their enormous successes.
At the Woodside Priory campus the Bridge students have been having fun all week. To change things up a little bit, we were able to provide a field trip to Windy Hill for a hike. It all happened because of a raffle, that we won, which provided a free bus for the day. The kids were excited upon arrival. During the first week of bridge one of the students, Wesley, saw the huge scenery from our dining hall and asked, "Are we be able to hike that?" Having just one kid be able to hike this huge hill was satisfying, but having all the other students finish the hike was much more.
"I did it! I did it! I did it!"
This triumphant chant could be heard by the lucky eleven who finally joined the illustrious 15,000 Step Club on Wednesday afternoon. Hard to even fathom, the insane amount of steps seemed impossible to achieve just three weeks ago. Yet through hard work and some extremely intense walking, many students have found it possible to walk 15,000 steps in a single day. Some even opt out of their beloved soccer games at lunch to run around the field, striving for more steps. Now that's dedication.
Sometime in the whirlwind of grammar, vocabulary and literature that middle school students are faced with today, I think they can lose sight of just how enjoyable writing can be. One of my favorite things about Peninsula Bridge is that since we do not follow a traditional curriculum, we can instill that love of the English language into them before they go to high school.
When I arrived at Peninsula Bridge yesterday, I felt like James Bond--the combination of my dark suit and reflective aviators gave me the swagger of an invincible secret agent. I strode through campus, feeling like the king of the world, until my cool veneer was temporarily shaken by the sudden and unexpected appearance of a large, furry dinosaur.
This past Thursday the girls visited the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The girls enjoyed looking through the exhibits which included Phantoms of Asia and collections of art from China, Japan and India. The TAs planned a scavenger hunt with the winner being the group that had the most detailed drawings of the artwork they were supposed to find. The girls had to draw pictures of the hybrid statues they saw as well as keep track of all of the different animals.
Week Well Spent
Week two has gone by fast. Every morning when the bus drops off all the kids they scatter at the breakfast table. When they get to the breakfast table kids ask, "What are we having today?" or just say a simple thank you. We could also overhear what the kids think of the food and how good the compliments are, it's a joy to see everything gone by the end of the morning. We are glad to have this new breakfast program established at the Priory campus.
Generosity and Surprises
For the first year out of my four, I am not in a classroom this year. Upon first realizing this, I was concerned that my relationship with the kids might be affected since I would only be spending time with them in the second half of the day. However, they all embraced me with open arms--literally!
The Sacred Heart Campus has had much excitement this past week between starting afternoon electives, having two guest speakers, and celebrating the Fourth of July! Each student was able to choose two electives they want to participate in the afternoon for the next few weeks. The options include swimming, arts and crafts, basketball, robotics, nutrition, soccer, and media. I have had the pleasure of playing basketball with twelve of the students. The children adore playing the sport, and many choose to do it all throughout lunch as well!
"What you don't realize, is that you are living in them most innovative place since Italy during the Renaissance," Mort Grosser, a co-creator of the Gossamer Single Engine Plane told Pinewoods' bridge students.
For the past two weeks, we were honored to welcome Mort Grosser to the Pinewood Site, to speak to our students about the importance of innovation, and the keys to how to succeed at it. Grosser explored a number of topics, discussing everything from ballet, to flight, to the physics of the atom and of course his own innovations. Grosser though emphasized one element of innovation in particular: The question "why not?" He made the students promise to him that they would not be hesitant and keep asking "why?" but instead why not. This struck a chord with the students who would use this phrase throughout the week.
I was originally planning to do bridge solely for the sake of making money, so, after being notiﬁed that I would not be getting a paid position I was reluctant to accept the available volunteering position. Yet after thinking it over, I had a moment of clarity when I realized that I would much rather work out of charity and goodwill than for the money and accepted the volunteering position. It's only been two weeks into the program and I already feel like being a part of Peninsula has been entirely worth my time. I was in the same boat that these children were when I was their age. I know what it's like to come from an under resourced home and school, so reaching out to them is a personal obligation that drives me and keeps me motivated every day.
The saying "time flies when you're having fun" rings very true for our experience here at the Crystal site. It's already been eleven days since the opening ceremonies but I still remember our trip to Sacred Heart like it was yesterday. Although this is my first year as a TA, I feel as though I've known the students for much longer. It's been great bonding and getting to know all of the students while we play Bridge Ball, crack jokes during lunch, or just lounge on the field. It's not all fun and games here at the Crystal site however, our students have mastered the balance between work and play. Within the past two weeks, there has been substantial amount of development in the students. On the first day of classes, the students were shy and hesitant to raise their hand when asked questions in class but this week during our flex periods, we coordinated a trivia bowl where the students confidently exhibited their extensive knowledge on a variety of topics ranging from Science to Pop Culture.
What is poetry? The students at Castilleja Bridge answered this question in today's Language Arts class. Students read from a poetry book, which included poems from great writers such as Shel Silverstein, Langston Hughes and Billy Collins. The girls took turns sharing what they noticed about poems. They learned that poems can have similes, rhymes, and emotions. Today the students read a poem about feeling sick. The students then wrote their own poem about a feeling using their five senses. Feelings included love, happiness, curiosity and enthusiasm. The girls learned how adjectives and adverbs could make more descriptive statements. They came up with phrases like "[Adventure] sounds like roaring lions" wrote Anna D. and Evelin R. wrote "[Kindness] smells like baked brownies."
Really Getting to Know Each Other
Week two has been all about learning something new about each other. I have especially enjoyed seeing how the students have become so welcoming and caring towards one another; I never see a child left out. The 6th graders are (surprisingly!) very nice to our 5th graders and don't mind spending time with them. It is so sweet to see them together. It also makes it easier for us as TA's to plan activities for all of the students because we know they will cooperate with each other.
Greetings from the Sacred Heart Bridge Campus! It was at the Olympics Event held on our campus when I was initially introduced to my group of fifteen incoming fifth grade boys. My fellow TAs and I have constantly raved about how wonderful and eager the children are. I am so excited and look forward to embarking on this exciting, fun-filled summer. Immediately greeted by smiles and accompanied in laughter, I had no doubt this would be an amazing experience.
Crystal Springs: A Walk To Start it Off
If spirit is the name of the game then the atmosphere at Crystal Springs Uplands School is the perfect setting for the 7th and 8th graders at Peninsula Bridge to go all out. As a Teaching Assistant I can clearly see that the kids here at CSUS have arrived with an unprecedented amount of excitement and readiness to learn.
Woodside Priory Blog 1
The kids have been waiting all year, and now the Bridge Program has begun. On their first step onto the Priory grounds I could tell that the kids were curious of what their summer would be like. Everyone soon piled up to listen to the first announcements from their new Priory Bridge director, Mr. Lavalle. They all learned about what they would be doing this summer. The kids were also introduced to their teachers, their classes, and even the TA's they would be with for the summer. Although the most exciting part of the announcements was finding out that each kid was split up into one of eight countries competing against one another for a gold, silver, or bronze medals because of this year's summer Olympics. The kids lit up when they heard prizes would be involved with the first three teams with the most medals.
Let the Games Begin
This week, the St. Matthew's Bridge students sprinted off their starting blocks with a bang! Given the Olympic theme, they entered the campus to be greeted by our world flags and a bus bringing them to their Opening Ceremonies. Nervous, giddy, first-day-of-school laughing aside, all the students agreed on one thing: this summer was going to be "awesome"!
Coming Back from College
When our site director addressed the kids during lunch and asked if anyone had any comments about their family lunch groups or the TAs, a kid in my group quickly nudged the guy next to him and whispered, "Raise your hand and say that Kathy is awesome!" I've been a TA at the Menlo site for the past three years, but comments like this one still warm my heart every time. This summer is especially interesting for me because I'm back at Bridge after my first year of college. Coming back, I was so excited to return to a program that has influenced my life quite greatly these past few years, from showing me that I want to go into education as an adult to getting letters of recommendation for other programs from the wonderful teachers and directors.
Under way at Castilleja
This week at the Castilleja Peninsula Bridge site we began our walk to London in celebration of the Olympics. On Monday our fifth grade girls cheered with excitement at the news that the Bridge Program would be walking to London. The stories told by the Olympians inspired them to always try their hardest in order to succeed in achieving their dreams. As soon as we arrived back on campus all of the girls received a brand new Peninsula Bridge Pedometer. The girls immediately began to walk and run around campus. They eagerly shared the number of steps they had taken. Every day we recorded the amount of steps taken by all of the girls. This past Thursday we calculated how many steps our site had taken on that day. The total amount was 83, 293 steps which is about 20 miles. The girls learned to value how much hard work and perseverance it takes for an olympian to reach the Olympics.
Who Will Win? The Boys or the Girls?
The walk to London has begun! The students have enjoyed their first week with the program and they are looking forward to the rest of the weeks. This first week has been full of activities to get the students familiar with each other, enthusiastic about learning, and get their pedometers going! Relationships between teachers, TA's, and students are blooming. Everyone is looking forward to these next 4 weeks.
One of the most memorable moments of my experience as a Bridge student was definitely my first day. I remember that I was nervous and excited because I didn't know what to expect. So many questions ran through my head like would the teachers be nice, how would the environment be like, and would I like my classes? When I arrived at Menlo I realized that all the worries I had were silly because the Bridge TAs and staff that came to greet us were really nice and fun. They made every moment as fun as possible and kicked the day off with an orientation on the grass field. We played all sorts of trust games that helped us bond with the TAs as well as with the other students. We finished the day with a BBQ and more field games. For me, the first day really tells you what the summer will be like and I found the first day to be awesome and I knew that the summer would be fantastic.
Emotions have been stirring up in anticipation of the upcoming graduation. The Staff has been finalizing the details for next week while students are still engaging in activities outside and inside the classroom. Students have become more aware of the opportunities provided by the Bridge program and have grown thirsty for the sweet taste of change - change that can only be brought on by their own individual efforts and desire to prosper. Much of their desire to change has developed from having the Teacher Assistants as positive role models.
This week we started the process of making key chains! The kids were given a 10 Dollar loan (fake money) and they purchased an assortment of neon, sparkly, and metallic beads. The purpose of purchasing these beads is to sell them for real money in order to pay back their loans and teach them about saving and profiting. However, more importantly, it serves as a way to teach them about teamwork and how to make business decisions since each team chooses an organization to donate a portion of their proceeds.
There has been considerable build up
for Thursday night since it will be the first major event for this program this
year. Some of the preparations in the office have included making newsletters
to inform the students' parents of the upcoming events, organizing groups to
cycle through classrooms, and synchronizing all staff members. Future events
include the final assessment test, Field Day, a Mystery Field Trip, and
This summer, I have found that the amount of care and thought my students put into each task provides a great example for the rest of us. It is a cyclical impetus for the TAs, teachers and other students. The energy we draw from each other is so amazing.
It's hard to believe that three weeks of Peninsula Bridge have already gone by. As a returning TA, I've had a ton of fun reuniting with past students, as well as meeting all of the new students. These three weeks have been a whirlwind of class chants (Stanford vs. Cal), advisory dances, University Day, Back-to-Bridge Night, bridge building with DPR, and Career Day. The event I'd like to focus on for this blog entry is the bridge building with DPR Construction, a tradition that all of the eighth graders participated in on Wednesday and Thursday. Armed with just Popsicle sticks and hot-glue guns, the eighth graders divided into groups and set off on building the best bridges they could. The challenge was to build a bridge that could withstand forty pounds!
This week the girls had fun on field trips and enjoyed other fun activities! We started off the week with our field trip to the Tech Museum. This was a special field trip because it was a joint trip between the Castilleja and Saint Joseph's Bridge sites. It was an absolute blast! At the tech the girls participated in fun engineering activities, explored the museum, and watched Born to be Wild in the IMAX. It was an amazing day and by the time we got home the girls were tired and ready to go home.
The week got more exciting with the DPR engineering bridge building activities. For two days the girls were challenged to construct bridges out of popsicle sticks and glue. After the bridges were built we tested them with water weights to see which bridges were successful and which needed more help. Amazingly the majority of the girls' bridges survived!
We had some strange weather here during this second week. It was completely cloudy on Tuesday and just after snack time some of the TAs and I pushed all the tables inside. Just before lunchtime it started to pour! Of course, the students did not see the rain as hindering their playtime but as something else to play with. For most of the students however, we turned on a movie at lunch and they all gathered around at the rare event.
My favorite lunchtime activity by far is sitting with my family group: talking, laughing, joking and of course eating. It is so wonderful to hear them talk so excitedly about their classes, to see them run up to me with a question, a secret, or just a 'hello.' It was so hard to get them to talk the first few days because they were quiet and needed some time to adjust. Although it is only the second week, they are already bursting with conversation and enthusiasm about their favorite classes.
As I write this blog entry, I'm sitting in the bleachers of the Crystal Springs gym, trying in vain to focus over the deafening roar of the seventh and eighth graders; they're playing a heated game of Bridge Ball (our version of dodgeball), and class spirit is running high. Indeed, this past week has witnessed a remarkable increase in class enthusiasm. They cheer wildly during rock, paper, scissors tournaments. They chant during capture the flag. They even compete during the bizarre game known as twist-turn-twizzle. In short, both the seventh and eighth graders have been brimming with passion and a friendly competitive spirit. The energy is contagious, and as I write this, I'm itching to get into the game to help my class triumph!
It has been said that change is natural, making it the only certainty. That certainly held true for the second week of Bridge at Woodside Priory. The weather surprised us all, as the sunshine that surpassed 90 degrees became rain showers similar to those typical during March. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm of the students flourished as the group's unity expanded and solidified.
After completing their first week, the students
showed greater harmony not only among themselves, but also with the teachers and
assistants. Their bond is being bolted together by the lessons learned in their
classrooms. Mr. Nelson's "lemon drop" exercise serves as an excellent example.
In this activity students were given a lemon to carefully examine. They then
had to identify their lemon when it was combined with the rest of the students'
lemon. After being tested and succeeding
at identifying their respective lemon, they were then instructed to peel it and
identify it once more. The lesson was that although lemons appear different on
the outside, the insides are fairly similar. The recognition of each other's
similarities has been embedded within the minds of the students allowing them
be enthused about the time spent together.
The first week at Peninsula Bridge I did not know what to expect. I do not have any younger siblings since I am the youngest in my family. My idea of dealing with younger kids has been shaped by babysitting my 6-year-old nephew and my niece who just turned 1. All I had left to offer as a student myself was to incorporate that and be able to meet their needs as a TA. This has worked out well and the students have been respectful whenever I need their attention, but also know that I can play with them and have fun. They have grown as individuals in and out of the classroom and have helped me grow as well. For this reason, I've realized that this summer my goal is to have the kids acknowledge that they too can be role models themselves because throughout the week that is the way I see them- as my role models.
Jenny and some of the TAs are teaching the dance from the 'Move Your Body, Beyoncé Workout' during enrichment classes. The students are having a great time getting energized and dancing. I have only been present for two of the classes so far and I have to say that it is so much fun to watch! I love to dance with them! Everyone gets into it. The TAs love it, the kids get to move and get their energy out and watch their mentors and friends have fun with them. I was able to record the practice during class and their last run through. They improved dramatically throughout the period! At first they were shy but by the end of the period they were doing the 'dougie' (which is one of the dance moves) like pros.
The doors have opened and the students are eager. The teachers and the teacher aides are excited. Welcome to Peninsula Bridge at Crystal Springs! Here at Crystal Springs, students have the experience of expanding their math and English knowledge as well as exploring other classes such as science, French, and Card games. Students get the chance to expand their learning and have fun at the same time in an old but beautiful mansion.
As a teacher's aide for the seventh grade English class, I get to see what book they are reading. This year they are working on a novel called So B. It, by Susan Weeks. The story is about a young girl named Heidi who lives with her retarded mother and agoraphobic neighbor, Bernadette. However, Heidi does not know much about her life: her father, her last name, or even her mother's name. Thus a quest arises for Heidi to find out more about her past, as well as the history of her mother. This book demonstrates how even though people have differences; it does not make them completely different from another person.
We immediately dove into enrichment modules such
as Health and Wellness and Gardening. The hands on activities really let the
girls explore their creativity and allow them to get to know each other even more.
As the week continued, the girls were also able to enjoy other activities such
as Drama, Art, and Science. Creating heart maps in art, learning about plants
and nature in science, and participating in fun games and activities in drama
not only brought the girls closer together, but also the TA's. During break and
game, time the girls enjoyed playing games they had learned in drama- especially
Jell-O and Charades.
Every kid here looks up to every one of his or her TAs. Whether we're playing a silly game at 8:00 am to wake us up, discussing the philosophical weight of a novel, illustrating our own short-story creations, or running around capturing flags under the hot afternoon sun- they look at us with open eyes and open hearts. I expected this to some degree--that's what I thought was so special about the TA position. However, I don't think I could say that I expected to be looking up to these kids in the same way they look up to us. They participate in every activity with a genuine excitement that inspires me to stretch to new levels of enthusiasm I never thought possible.
After one week I am exhausted. The energy never seems to run out at bridge, especially during the first week! The fifth graders have been amazing both in and out of the classroom. This Friday we had our annual fifth grade scavenger hunt where small groups led by a TA ran all over the campus to take pictures of various objects. Omar said, "It was the best day ever!" Meanwhile, the seventh graders had the author of their summer reading books, Gary Soto, come talk to them about their book. It was an exciting day all around the Sacred Heart site!
This week was an incredible start to the bridge program and the best in my five years. The kids are excited to learn and even more excited to play. The first week is always chaotic but filled with excitement and wonder. I feel like we have already been together for five weeks but it has only been five days and I already know every fifth grader's name! This is huge for me because I am horrible at remembering names!
The sage and loving aura created by the staff has led the kids to see through the tough heat and greet new experiences with open minds. This was the case in the 5th period elective Team Building & Retreat. A new student joined the group by the name of Duy. Initially he dismissed the pleas of the Teacher Assistants to participate. Students, having already had a chance to warm up to each other, transmitted their confidence to Duy. It wasn't long before he joined a group and began conversing with his classmates.
It has been a great summer working with the students at the Crystal Springs site for Peninsula Bridge. We have had a lot of fun. The students got to improve their math and language arts skills, while also getting experience fun electives and field trips. One of the most exciting moments this year was going to Raging Waters and Great America with the students last week. The 7th grade students had fun slipping and sliding at Raging Waters, while the 8th grade students were screaming their heads off on the roller coasters at Great America. Both grades enjoyed the field trips, as well as the TAs.
This is the final week of Peninsula Summer Bridge 2010 at Menlo School and it has been filled with activities of all sorts. On Wednesday, we had a 'Celebration of Learning' event, during which parents were invited and there was a slideshow and, most notably, a talent show. A large majority of the students participated and everyone had fun.
Instead of reviewing the activities of the final week of Peninsula Bridge, I am compelled to reflect on the entire last 5 weeks. From the first day of staff training, I was immediately struck by the enthusiasm, motivation, and passion of my fellow TAs. Site Director, Brendan Gummerson, set the bar high from the moment we walked in the room. However, what has truly separated Peninsula Bridge from other programs and summer camps I have worked for in the past are the kids themselves.
I cannot believe that Peninsula Bridge is almost over! We've had such a jam-packed week here at Castilleja that I did not even remember that it was our last week until the TA's began to discuss our family & friends day, which occurs on the final day of the program. Now, on Friday morning, the reality of the end is blunt and sad, yet sprinkled with a sense of accomplishment. I know that the other TA's and I, as well as our wonderful teachers, have given our 31 girls a great summer and a strong foundation for 5th grade!
Peninsula Bridge is one big production and the kids are the entertainers. Every day I come to Peninsula Bridge as an excited audience member encouraging the children to do their best.
In English class, I watch them write and perform their very own skits and help them in the process by making props. They are writing these skits to show their understanding of the reading and to address the problems with bullying and name calling. Seeing them perform their finished products was amazing. I am their biggest fan, cheering every chance I get.
We have reached the last week of Peninsula Bride at Woodside Priory, and everyone can feel things coming to a close. The kids took their post tests on Thursday, which will be used to show the kids progress over the summer. These tests marked the final academic event of the summer, and the kids seem very proud of it.
We have reached the fourth week of Peninsula Bridge at the Woodside Priory campus, and people are beginning to look towards the end with mingled sadness and pride. The Construction and Design class finished its course this week with the final project of testing the bridges that the students made. They tied a bucket full of water to the center of the bridge and placed weights in the bucket until it reached maximum weight. All the bridges that the students constructed passed the test and the students were very proud of their creations. The class as a whole learned a lot about what goes into the construction of a bridge and how important they really are in our every day life. A big thank you to DPR construction for their magnificent work.
Bridge ball, bridge ball, bridge ball. There are so many things to say about this wonderful sport. Bridge ball is dodge ball, except it is cranked up to a whole new level. It is more intense, more exhilarating, and just plain old more fun. The rules are the same as dodge ball- hit the person they are out and catch the ball and a teammate can come back into the game- but for some reason playing it at Peninsula Bridge just makes the game so much different.
Monday, July 12, marked the beginning of our 4th week of Peninsula Bridge here at Crystal Springs. The energy is great, and the students are excited for their upcoming field trips and their performances at Celebration. The day began with our weekly Morning Meeting. Jose began the meeting with announcements concerning the week's events and plans for celebration. Our Word of the Day was "Narcissist," which means "one who loves or admires themselves excessively."
It is the end of the fourth week already here at Peninsula Bridge! I cannot believe it is almost done. On Friday, July 16 we had guests from the Marine Institute visit with the 5th graders from St. Joseph's and the 7th graders from Sacred Heart. In the past, we have gone on field trips on boats in the bay with the Marine Institute, but now we have them come to our campus.
The fourth week here at the Castilleja Peninsula Bridge site has been full of excitement and wonder. We started off the week with our field trip to S.L.A.C. (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center). Our site director, Mary H, gave the girls a brief background to S.L.A.C. as well as a short vocabulary lesson on some of the words that the scientists would use there.
Week four of Peninsula Bridge at the St. Matthew's Episcopal Day School site was filled with howls and triumph. The week started off with the 6th grade math class beginning their lesson with a run around the grass outside while howling like wolves. The math teacher Mr. Williamson likes to get the kids pumped up for learning something new by getting oxygen flowing to their brains. Meanwhile, the 5th grade has been working hard on their personal narratives in language arts, and are almost done reading Tuck Everlasting.
Since this is the last week of the program, I decided to ask some Teacher Assistants about their experience so far with the Peninsula Bridge Program. I asked if they had any lasting realizations from working with the kids one on one, or if they had any special moments with the students. Each and every TA had something to bring to the table.
This week at Woodside Priory we hosted another tour for the program. This group was the largest tour group the priory program has hosted this summer, and the tour guides handled the crowd admirably. Among the group were several parents of the TA's, including Katrina Wang's family who had flown in only hours before the tour from Beijing, as well as Mike Calbert, the father of this humble blog writer.
Castilleja's Peninsula Bridge site had a very eventful third week! We had a field trip to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The students researched Asian culture and art prior to the field trip and were able to excitedly recognize some of the artwork and statues they had researched at the museum. One of my advisee's, Cortney C., brought me over to a statue and was able to tell me what it exactly was, what it represented, and in what country it is most seen.
My name is Halsey and I am one of the TA's at Crystal's Peninsula Bridge. It has been an exciting few weeks. Last Tuesday, we took the students to Stanford and UC Berkeley for University Day. They spent the day touring the campus and learning the history of the schools, and learning what it is like to be a student at Stanford and Berkeley.
This is my third year working at Peninsula Bridge and every year it just keeps on getting better. This year, I am a TA for the seventh grade English class and the kids are amazing. I was the TA for this group of students two years ago when they were in fifth grade at the St. Joseph's site. It is amazing to see how much these kids have grown and how much progress they have made in their studies.
While the academics are a critical part of the program, what I enjoy most about Peninsula Bridge are the electives that each of the kids get to choose. It is a way for the kids to unwind after their classes and to try new activities and enrichment programs.
Last Friday, July 2nd we had our first family guided conversation. We wanted to address topics concerning bullying, racism and respect. I was nervous about guiding my family group at first because I feared they would struggle with the conversation, but I was pleasantly surprised when everyone participated and had very reflective, sincere and intelligent answers to group questions.
St. Matthews Episcopal Day School-Bringing in the Spirit Inside and Out of the Classroom by Marisol G (Week 3)
St. Matthew's Peninsula Bridge program enjoyed some wackiness this week, as we opened up our first day of spirit week with wacky hat/hair Wednesday. The uplifting spirit of the week shed some light on the role of encouragement between students at St. Matthew's site. While some students were willing to go all out, there were others who were less adventurous. As a TA, I noticed the encouragement and support the students offered each other. I heard one student say, "It's OK-you can do it. Just wear your regular pajamas to show your spirit." The encouragement and the support the students had for one another was truly inspirational, and the TA's can see the growth that is developing each and every day they are here.
This week at the Woodside Priory Peninsula Bridge Program, our staff hosted its first tour of the campus on Thursday, July 1. Sherri Shaner, the development director, and Grainger Marburg, the Executive Director, welcomed a tour group to the Woodside Priory Campus. Our guests included parents and grandparents of students, long time sponsors of the program, and as a surprise, Paul Trudelle. Mr. Trudelle is a veteran Peninsula Bridge teacher and the father of the current algebra teacher here at the site, Laura Trudelle.
The first Monday morning as a huge yellow bus pulled into the front of the school, I realized I was a little nervous. But now, a mere five days later, those feelings seem trivial. Neither the TA's nor the teachers can believe that it's only been a week! In this small amount of time, we have made great connections with the students, and the girls have enjoyed their classes and afternoon electives.
The time has just flown by - literally! In the first week of Peninsula Bridge at St. Matthew's, we celebrated Space Week, in which we made rockets out of recycled 2-liter bottles and hovercrafts out of old bottle caps and CDs. To add to the intergalactic spirit, all of the T.A.s adopted alien-like personalities, wearing antennae and Princess Lea buns, and 'space-walking' during activities. During the second week, 'Planet Earth Week', some of the kids signed up to work in our garden and plant new vegetables and learned about gardening, agriculture and the environment on our home planet.
In addition to the academic classes we have for our students, St. Matthew's also has some exciting new afternoon electives. Students can pick from a range of activities, from yoga to game time to music class.
At Crystal Springs' Peninsula Bridge, our week started out with the TAs yelling "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!".
It was the start of Spirit Week, and the theme was World Cup. Each advisory group of six students chose a country to represent in each of the Spirit Week competitions. Monday's competition was World Cup football. After a series of elimination games, the 7th grade advisory of "England" emerged victorious over the 8th grade's "Mexico", which created lots of excitement.
Early mornings at Peninsula Bridge are filled with so much energy; the sound of running feet, the smell of soccer and rubber balls in the sun, the sight of running kids moving from corner to corner across the quad, and everyone is excited for a new day here. This is only the second Monday of the five during the program, but already things seem to be working smoothly. The teachers and teachers' assistants work well together in the classroom and the students readily play together in one huge game of volleyball. Things are flowing well and we are able to begin to see the small joys that happen everyday. On any given day, you will see teachers and TA's sitting together playing guitar with a circle of students around them, TA's passing a soccer ball with students, and students running alongside new friends on their way to class.
Every morning when I see the excited, smiling faces of 90 Peninsula Bridge students getting off the bus, I gain a new sense of enthusiasm and energy for the day. My name is Maya C. and this is my second summer being a TA for Peninsula Bridge. The feeling that today's going to be a good day is an ongoing occurrence that I credit to the students. The students are absolutely incredible, from their fun jokes to their academic achievements to their bubbling excitement, Peninsula Bridge students always make my day.
The Woodside Priory chapter of the Peninsula Bridge Program began this week with a class of 60 rising eight graders. The kids arrived bright and early on the bus Monday morning and the enthusiasm they brought hasn't dulled in the slightest throughout the week.
One of the English teachers, Kindra Briggs, says about the students, "They have a lot of energy, a little bit of sass, and generally they seem pretty excited."
Their excitement is only matched by the eagerness of the teachers and the TA's, whether it's Elena Long leading the morning cheer, or philosophy teacher Mathew Nelson leading his class in an exercise in identity by peeling lemons.
Hello from Language Arts at Menlo Bridge! This summer, the students have been working hard on writing summaries of and responses to informational articles. They've been learning to write with a formal structure by using a thought-out topic sentence, supporting details, clear examples, and a conclusion in each paragraph. In order to inspire this kind of writing, the students get to read interesting articles about history, science and their peers. For example. this week, they've read articles about the construction of The Great Wall of China, volcanoes, and trading cards.
The last week of Peninsula Bridge summer program is, not surprisingly, bittersweet. Everyone is in the "groove" of their routine, comfortable with one another, and excited for the upcoming activities that will cap -- if not define -- our experience here. Indeed the program is ending after what seems like only a short while. But this week gives the teachers and the TAs a huge opportunity to make yet another lasting imprint on these children's minds, hopefully making them want to return year after year.
The last week of Bridge at the Priory Site simply flew by. Beginning with exams, and ending with a field trip up to San Francisco, the "Bridge Familia" was never at rest. The students finished with flying colors. They showed significant improvement, especially in math, which is an area with which many of them struggled before coming into the program. Field day was a blast. The water slide was a favorite, and the students seemed to get a lot of enjoyment out of the various stations we had set up for them including Palm Reading, Can Knocker, Twister, and even a Cake Walk. Meanwhile, I spent the day prepping the Performing Arts Building for Graduation, which was to happen that evening.
Even as we come into the home stretch of the Bridge program, I find myself still reveling in the many quirks of the kids. Every morning I hear some of the sixth graders playing Marco Polo in the room across the hall and clanks, from the metal puzzles Mr. Gummerson keeps at hand, as some of the other children try their luck at figuring the puzzles out.
As the end of Bridge draws near, there is much to be done here at the Priory site. On a daily basis you will find the teachers, students, and volunteers bustling around in an effort to prepare for the culminating events that take place next week. In addition to graduation and the surprise field trip on Friday, I'm collaborating with one of our teachers, Sean S, to put together an art show that will take place next week. This will give students the chance to show off their impressive work in Photography and Art & Leadership.
This week has been loads of fun, but Bridge is passing by too quickly! We TAs have noted we wish time would slow down a little bit!
Thursday we paid a visit to the Asian Art Museum, which was incredible. Kids were fascinated by the stone Buddhas and the intricately decorated dishes in the museum. The majority of the students declared that the Samurai section of the museum was the best part, as well as the exhibit where students could wear Samurai armor or a kimono. One student offered facetiously that her favorite part was the glass elevator which looked over a large portion of the museum.
On the brisk summer evening of July 9th, families gathered eagerly in the Father Egon Plaza. You could sense the anticipation and excitement on behalf of the parents as well as their children. In between helpings of Brie, fruit, and Priory's homemade cookies, parents congregated with the Bridge Familia here at the Priory. Back to Bridge Night '09 was certainly an event to remember.
As we wrap up our third week here at St. Matthew's, I've found that I've established so many friendships here. While it has been both a challenge and a delight to teach and play with the students, I always find it quite rewarding. I suppose the other TAs and I did not quite realize the impact of the students on us--and vice versa. We have shared many laughs and growing moments thus far.
My name is Evelyn and I am in my third summer of TAing at the Sacred Heart Bridge Program. When I arrive first thing in the morning, I'm so sleepy from working my second job the night before that it's almost impossible to stay awake. Once I see a few kids stream their way to the courtyard I wake immediately.
We're already into the third week of Bridge and time has flown by. I've already made memories that will last a lifetime and hopefully friendships, too, judging by the great connections I've formed with my advisory of girls, my fellow T.A.s and the site directors. Every morning, advisories sit together and eat breakfast. We talk about everything from light topics like weekend plans and embarrassing stories to heavier subject matter with topics like bullying, verbal self-defense, and what it means to be a part of a team. I love how my girls have told me that because of advisory, they can trust me and tell me everything. They have told me that I listen to them with all of my
being tagged by a swarm of fifth grade sharks. After the game I am master
"mike-a-chu" the highest evolved form of the popular Pokemon character
Pikachu. A fifth grader named Zack gave me this nick name and it spread like
wild fire. At break I am also the villain of the four square courts and self
proclaimed best four square player in the world. When one of the campers
manages to get me out, it is quite the spectacle. All of them cheer in
excitement as I walk to the back of the line to get back in. Juan hasn't let
me forget about last Tuesday when he hit the ball through my legs to get me out.
The minute the big yellow bus pulled into campus on the crisp morning of June
22nd, I was immediately drawn to the bright-eyed, glowing faces of this
year's Bridge students. I knew I was in the right place. Since then, they
have not let me down. The first week of Bridge at Woodside Priory School has
been a whirlwind, but in the best sense possible. The staff has been making
detailed plans and getting revved up for weeks now. Finally, we can put all
this preparation to good use.
Crystal Springs Uplands - Buongiorno! Comè state? Spero che bene perchè in Peninsula Bridge tutto sta molto bene! by Jose G
How are you? I hope you're doing well because in Peninsula Bridge everything is great!
Having been part of the Peninsula Bridge program since I was in third grade (I am a junior now at UC Berkeley), I know there will always be amazing days filled with surprises. Last semester, I studied abroad in the cittá eterna, Roma. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Each summer, I try to incorporate my elective courses with new knowledge I have acquired over the school year. In Italy, I took two intensive Italian language courses and quickly fell in love with the language. I therefore decided to teach my Peninsula Bridge students the language. In my elective course titled Coltura Italiana e Lingua Elementare (Italian Culture and Elementary Language), students learn Italian grammar, vocabulary and basic dialogue. Students have already learned Le Introduzione (Introductions), and Come Ordinare en un Ristorante (how to order in a restaurant). Every day, the course focuses on different Italian cities--cities which I visited in my stay-- and we discuss monuments, foods, culture and fashion; Rome, Venice, Pisa and Florence are among the cities the course focuses on.
multiply, reduce, and simply them. Just , the kids competed in a math competition during lunch (simplify as fast as possible!) and the Spanish class was dancing and eating quesadillas. Not to mention all the fun activities going on in the Art and Health classes. If this week is any indication, Menlo Bridge will be great!