Cinco de Mayo Celebrations!

Earlier this month at Maple Lake Academy, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo! The students had a chance to learn the real story behind Cinco de Mayo and where it comes from and why we celebrate it. They were taught about the Battle of Puebla and how it marked a significant victory for Mexico. It’s a hardly remembered commemoration of a battle in some parts of Mexico, but here it’s a celebration of Mexican heritage and traditions. To celebrate those traditions, we participated in a few of them. Also, we watched the movie Coco, an excellent way to introduce the students to the Mexican tradition of celebrating Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. They were able to learn about the importance of family, music, and connecting with our ancestors. 

We also made Ojos de Dios, or God’s Eyes, a tradition that predates the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico. Using yarn woven over a wooden “t”, this beautiful and simple piece of art symbolizes protection from harm. They also got to practice the Mexican Hat Dance, a classic dance that can range from very simple, to insanely complex. Our students had a blast learning this dance. Ask your students about the things they learned and the cultural practices they participated in for Cinco de Mayo!

Lights, Camera, Action!

Teacher Kolton Instructing Students
Maple Lake is excited to be offering Theater Arts Classes to our students this term.  We actually began classes at the beginning of Term 3 and the students are having loads of fun!           

Our new teacher is Kolton Michalek.  He has been involved in many theatrical productions, and he discovered his love of theater when he was in high school.  He will be graduating with his MA in theater at the end of this year.  Kolton is also married with three young children and has a tremendous ability to relate to our young people.         

During Term 3, students learned about Stage Directions, Character Analysis, Theater Etiquette, etc. Throughout the term, the students rehearsed individual/group performances which ranged from vocal performances to piano pieces, to scenes from plays. The students were able to perform at the end of Term 3 for a final grade.          

Currently, Term 4 is dedicated to learning about Musical Theater.  The students at both campuses are learning simple choreography, and actually learned a dance routine to a song from the musical, “Aladdin”.   Make sure to ask your child to show you the dance they learned!         

As the students continue to learn to express themselves through music, speech, song, dance, and staging, they will be working on special performances to be shared at our upcoming Parent Weekend (Girls-June 15 & 16,  Boys-June 22 & 23).  We’re looking forward to showing off some amazing talent!
Practicing the Aladdin Dance

Studying Careers At School

Spring is an exciting time for Maple Lake Academy as well as finding out about fun careers. In English class, we have been writing expository essays that meet the 9th Edition Modern Language Association essay format. Writing and following the MLA format is no easy task, but we took it step by step. We do not strive for perfection, but we do push for the best efforts of the students. To begin the student-driven process, students listed 3-4 careers of interest to them. Only two of their favorite careers were researched and written on. These essays required in-text citation, a work cited, and COPS reviews (Capitalization, Organization, Punctuation, Spelling). It’s amazing how students can be creative with their posters, presentations, and Power points. Their insight into future possibilities was expanded through this unit.

Some of the careers that were studied include the following: Quality Assurance Tester, Chef, Video Game Designer, Marine Ecology, Fashion Designer, Musician, Theater Acting, Graphic Designer, and much more!

Ask your student about the career they explored.  At Maple Lake, we have career testing for our upperclassmen. It is a great program that matches student abilities with promising careers.  Ask our department for more information.

Experimental Design and Curiosity

The students have been hard at work all term on their Experimental Design Projects. I believe that science should be all about curiosity. Young children are known for their curiosity. It’s a gift that many of us lose as we grow. The very best scientists never lose their curiosity, but we do learn how to satisfy it. When we have a question about the world around us, how do we find the answer? If your first thought is to Google it, you’re not alone. However, my hope is that our students can learn how to come up with a question and design a solution to find the answer.

There are some critical parts of an experimental design. First, the question. What do you want to know? Some of our students chose to assess the growth of different plants under different circumstances. Others chose a more psychological approach, wondering how their peers will answer controversial questions. Some wondered about bacterial growth, wood decay, crystal growth, sound waves, and on and on. Once they came up with a question, they needed to make a hypothesis (an educated guess about what will happen in their experiment. Our hypothesis’ followed an “If, Then” format. If Plant A receives fertilizer, then it will grow larger than Plant B. The students then developed their individual materials and methods, not unlike an ingredient and directions section of a recipe.

Finally, the best part. Each student began their experiment and carried it out to their own specifications. Some students chose experiments that could be completed in a single class period. Others chose to ask questions that take a bit longer to answer. Whether it be plant/ bacterial growth over time, or a social experiment that takes several interrogatory sessions, the students have been diligently collecting data on a schedule that they set.

Overall, each student chose something that interested them, and has continued to follow through via data collection and/or analysis. As they work to analyze and understand their data, I will encourage them to dig deeper and make lasting connections to the world around them, and hopefully to maintain a level of curiosity that lets them see the world through a scientists lens.

Teachers are More Than Teachers at MLA

If our social studies teacher looks happy, it is because he is. Last week he completed Van Training along with other teachers. Being a teacher at Maple Lake Academy is more than just writing lesson plans and grading papers. Teachers are part of the larger MLA community and participate in training like all employees. One of our best assets at Maple Lake is our people. Training is essential to maintaining standards, continuity, and safety for all. “Dedicated training and development foster employee engagement and a more efficient, competitive, and engaged workforce are critical to your company’s performance.” (Ottawa University, 2021)

Employees that engage in high-quality training are empowered and therefore invest in the culture of the community. Solid training fosters leadership and builds respect and trust among co-workers. At MLA, training and accountability are essential parts of what we do. We participate in training to better serve our students in areas of safety, social-emotional awareness, and increased academic performance to name a few. Training also allows employees to manage tasks as individuals and as part of a team.

We value our teachers and appreciate all their efforts in and out of the classroom. You can be confident that all of our teachers go the extra mile to ensure our students are successful.

Good-bye Edmodo, Hello CANVAS

We say farewell to Edmodo this week. They are closing their doors and our new platform for learning will be CANVAS. We are currently in pilot mode so some of the student classes have not completed the process. We appreciate your patience as we work out the “bugs” and “kinks” over the next weeks. Our teachers are working diligently to ensure that everything is in order and that the student has a good experience.

CANVAS is a leading learning management system, “an education technology company with a mission to elevate student success, amplify the power of teaching, and inspire everyone to learn together.” The company started in 2008 and has been serving the education community well. We look forward to a long relationship with CANVAS which will serve our students in their learning goals.

Summer Students Have Virtual Visits to Germany

This summer MLA students were able to take a German course that introduced not only language but the culture and sites of Germany. They participated in virtual visits and were able to view sites in Southern Germany as live participants. Some of the locations that students observed were the Dachau concentration camp near Munich, the birthplace of Albert Einstein in Ulm, a well-preserved medieval town founded in 1274 called Rothenburg, and the castles at Schwangau. The castle pictured is Hohenschwangau near the Bavarian Alps and the Black Forest. The Black Forest is where Grimms Fairy Tales are thought to be born. Students were able to have lessons on these famous fairy tales to increase their learning about German history and culture. Students were inspired to learn more about this beautiful country and its rich history.