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  • Included in our school's vision statement is the development in our students of a sense of responsibility to society. The school has sponsored a canned food drive by our kindergarteners, a "toys-for-tots" type of toy collection spearheaded by the Boy Scouts of America at our school, a holiday "Giving Tree" sponsored by our active PTO, and holiday baskets put together by our staff. We were also involved in the "Pennies for Patients" fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, where our students and families raised $2,038, up $690 from last year.                                                                      
  • Implementation of our Discipline and Positive Referral Program by our Student Development Coordinator, Mr. Gregg Eldred, is producing very positive results. The program recognizes instances where behavior improvement is needed as well as when students demonstrate positive behavior traits. In both instances, teachers and staff are involved in the process and parents are informed. Both students and parents, as well as our teachers and staff, feel the program has made a real difference in creating a positive environment at our school.
  • Once again, young artists at DaVinci Academy are being recognized by outside organizations.  The work of one of our second graders was selected for the January "My Fantasy Land" Top Artist of the Month campaign at ArtStamps.
  • DaVinci Academy is building a tradition of participation in the Minnesota Regional Science Fair competitions. In February, five students presented their projects at this event, receiving top honor awards in three different areas and many honorable mentions.
  • DaVinci Academy students participated in the "Read the Most From Coast to Coast" competition in March, and set a new national record for the number of Accelerated Reader Quizzes taken in one day. Accelerated Reader is the nation's most widely-used reading management software program for K-12 readers, and helps teachers motivate students to read, measure progress, and improve reading levels.
  • DaVinci Academy enjoys a very active PTO organization, which is engaged in both fundraising and community building events. The annual Read-a-Thon event, the spaghetti dinner, "Muffins for Mom" and "Donuts for Dads", the uniform swap and various box-top, labels and bottle-cap fundraising projects are a sampling of what they do. Visit their pages on our website for more information.
  • The DaVinci Academy School Board created a new School Development Committee to better coordinate fundraising activities at the school. They will focus on both fundraising events and various grant opportunities available to the school.
  • For the second consecutive year, the boys basketball team competed in the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services State Basketball Tournament. Fourteen teams were involved in our division, and, like last year, the DaVinci Academy boys came home with the championship trophy. We are very proud of them!
  • This was the second year our students and families enjoyed a play by our DaVinci Academy performers. The play "Baited", written and directed by Mr. Cauley, one of our fourth grade teachers, was a huge success. The students/actors were very excited and parents were very proud.                                                                                                                
  • One of the culminating activities our second graders participate in is a Greek Olympics at the end of the first quarter. The students take part in making a Greek head wreath to wear during the event as they participate in different math challenges. The students throw straws (javelin) and cotton balls (discus), measuring the distance they throw these items. The students also do a version of a high jump and measure their jumps, taking the best of three tries. It is a great way to incorporate math into other curricular areas and a fun event to end unit on Ancient Greece.
  • Second graders are wrapping up a unit on fairy tales in their classroom. This has involved writing their own fairy tale, illustrating pictures and then putting everything all together on the iPads. The iPads were used to take pictures of the illustrations, then students typed their stories using the Book Creater app. The pictures were imported to the correct pages and then finally, the students used the voice recorder on the iPad to insert their own voice reading the book. The books were exported to the bookshelf so everyone in the school could read and listen to them.
          Many times the iPads are used to teach a new skill or reinforce an emerging skill. With
          the Book Creator app, the iPads are now being used to create new things -- a higher level
          thinking skill that we promote at DaVinci Academy
 
          The books are limited to our virtual bookshelves, unfortunately there isn't yet a way to
          export them and mail them home, but please stop by and ask to see your children's work
          next time you're at school.
 

Educational Best Practices

  • Accelerated Reader: The Accelerated Reader program is used in first through ninth grade.  Students read and take quizzes on books they read throughout the school year.  Our students read an average of 350,000 words last year and took an average of 16 quizzes per student.  This accomplishment earned us a nomination for a national award from Renaissance Learning.

  • Small Class Sizes: We continue to cap each class at 26 students in first through sixth, 25 in grades 7 through 9 and 18 in kindergarten.  This small class size ensures that students are able to receive more individualized attention from the teachers.

  • Math and Reading Groupings: In the areas of math and reading in grades one through five, students are placed in ability groups rather than homeroom groups.  This ensures that students who need extra help are able to receive that assistance and that students who need more of a challenge are at a level equivalent to their abilities.  Groups for reading and math are kept as small as possible to allow for maximum academic growth in these areas.

  • Data-driven assessments in Math: Friends of Education provided training on data-driven instruction and we then implemented interim assessments in math and reading. These assessments help to ensure the student performance is at the same level of rigor required by state standards. Teachers are also able to see where students are struggling and reteach topics as needed.

  • IXL Math: IXL assesses students' understanding as they practice, and generates detailed performance reports to give valuable insight about students' abilities. Reports can be generated which include data on grade-level proficiency, trouble spots, and even progress toward meeting state standards.

  • Homework Club: Homework Club is offered after school several days per week. Homework Club is staffed by DaVinci teachers and is a time for 3rd through 9th grade students to get extra help in specific academic areas. Homework Club is only for those students who need to use it and, therefore, students must be invited to attend by teachers or they may request an invitation to attend Homework Club from a teacher.

 

"Above and Beyond the Books" Experiences:

  • In the "Paint Like the Masters" project, our kindergarteners explored the famous works of Michelangelo, including his Sistine Chapel ceiling painting. Ms. Fischer had students paint a mural on paper taped to the underside of a table. Students ended up with paint in their hair and lots of tired arms, but loved the unique experience.
  • Our Core Knowledge series gives second graders the opportunity to study various aspects of the human body. Ms. Dick includes the dissection of a deer heart as part of this project. The students enjoyed the opportunity to closely examine an actual heart, and some were even brave enough to touch it!

See DaVinci Connection 3-20-12.

  • On Veterans Day, to remember, honor and pay tribute to the men and women who served our country, our first, second, and fifth graders took part in "Honk for the Troops". Our school abuts Highway 65 in Blaine, so our students waved flags at passing cars. In less than an hour 223 drivers acknowledged the importance of the real difference our veterans have made for all of us.

See DaVinci Connection 11-29-11.

  • Ms. Berth combined math, science, and social studies into a hands-on lesson on erosion. Student groups created rivers for their imaginary towns with a budget to spend on materials aimed at producing the least erosion. Water was then sent down the rivers to determine the best design. Students enjoyed observing both their design as well as those of their classmates.

See DaVinci Connection 3-27-12.

  • Ms. Steele's first grade science class planted sunflower seeds in plastic cups, observing their growth and eventually taking them home. One of those students, now a second grader, took very good care of her sunflower, watching it grow to over six and one-half feet tall. She brought a picture to class, exciting all of her fellow students on what can come from one little seed!

See DaVinci Connection 9-27-11.

  • In Core Knowledge the first graders study Mexico. Throughout the unit they learn about Spanish art, history, and the language. To end the unit, parents are invited to a Mexican Fiesta to showcase what has been learned by making crafts, playing games, and eating traditional food.
  • First grade studies ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt in first trimester. To learn about the Egyptian culture, one that is so different from our own, the first graders spend a month learning about Ancient Egyptian writing, food, and daily life. To further explore Egyptian culture, the kids spend that time making Egyptian artifacts in art class. As a celebration at the end of the unit, the kids dress up like Ancient Egyptians and have a bartering fair where family and friends can come trade for their works of art.
  • The "Law and Order" intersession created a unique learning experience for our middle school students. Special visits by a probation officer and the Blaine Police Department, including the "arrest" of teacher Mr. Melander, were something new to our students. A visit to the Ramsey County Courthouse, where students met judges and attorneys and sat in on live court, ended with a classroom mock trial. The students love it!            

See DaVinci Connection 1-17-12.

  • The "Arctic and Antarctic Regions" intersession, led by Ms. Carter, helped second, third, and fourth graders learn more about these two regions of the world. They explored the Inuit people, learned more about the wildlife that occupies these regions and had hands-on projects with igloo building, the warmth of polar bear blubber and a trip to the Como Zoo.

See DaVinci Connection 1-17-12.

  • The "100th Day Celebration" by our kindergarteners was a huge success. They celebrated their 100th day of school with various activities revolving around 100. Since community service is part of our mission statement, students also conducted a canned food drive, with a goal of collecting 100 cans. The kids were very proud when they met and exceeded their goal.

See DaVinci Connection 2-7-12.

  • Fourth graders studying Minnesota history earn "pelts" for every "A" work they turn in, and bring those pelts at the end of the quarter to the 1804 Northwest Company Fur Trade Post in Pine City, where they trade them for trinkets and learn about the lives of the voyageurs.
  • Third trimester in fourth grade immerses the students in a study of medieval Europe. Many lessons are taught in theatrical fashion, with travelers from the past arriving to enlighten their journey back to the Dark Ages. The accomplishments of the school year are celebrated with a costumed medieval feast.
  • In his "WWII Comes to the 7th Grade" project, Mr. Melander had his students engulf themselves into WWII by attending a performance of The Diary of Anne Frank at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul. They also had the great opportunity to visit with a WWII veteran, who fought in the South Pacific and fascinated the children with his experiences as an infantryman and field medic. The students welcomed interacting with someone who was part of history.

See DaVinci Connection 3-13-12.

  • During our "Art Cards" elective for middle school students, Ms. Larson introduced students to "artist trading cards", which are miniature works of art students create, incorporating painting, tissue paper, sting, stencils, fabric and other elements. Students swapped their cards and now have collections of their own and their friends' artwork.  

See DaVinci Connection 4-3-12.