May 12, 2017—Students from three district elementary schools have a new after-school club that provides new and exciting ways for them to use their math, science, and technology skills. Thirty Bryn Mawr, Campbell Hill and Lakeridge elementary school 4th-graders are learning robotics and computer coding as part of the newly-established West Hill Robotics Club.
The elementary students meet every Monday afternoon in the Campbell Hill library to build and program robots, with the expertise of five Lindbergh High students, two retired engineers and three mathematics coaches. Using their recent study of geometry and measurement, and multiplication and division, the 4th-graders work collaboratively to solve problems, and have discussions to reflect on strategies they’ll need to get their robots to travel exactly 125 cm and turn 90 degrees. The Lindbergh High volunteers work with students to design and create maze challenges, then program the robots to navigate.
The extra-curricular robotics club helps to greatly improve student engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. The hands-on experience of learning to design, build and program robots of increasing complexity greatly boosts student teamwork and problem-solving abilities, while helping them to learn how abstract concepts of mathematics, engineering and computing actually work in practice.
Materials for the Robotics Club, like robotics kits, are made available thanks in large part by funding from a Circle of Giving grant.
August 29, 2016—Teachers and staff at Bryn Mawr, Campbell Hill and Lakeridge elementary schools continue their work to be better prepared to make meaningful changes in the lives of their students.
In March, the district kicked off a new initiative called West Hill Now! to create action plans and timelines for targeted work to dramatically increase student achievement, and thus the outlook and hope for a better future for children at the three West Hill/Skyway schools.
Last school year, at the start of the initiative, the district asked teachers and school staff at the three West Hill elementary schools to come together as a team to create individual school plans to increase student achievement. The district also asked staff to present a list of needs to the district to help support and ensure the success of those plans.
Staff worked for several weeks in teams to incorporate into their plans math labs to increase effective and differentiated math instruction; positive student discipline; and increased community and family engagement. The plans also call for additional time each week for staff to come together and discuss student outcomes and engagement, and use the information to improve teaching practices and strategies.
Before the end of the school year, staff from the three schools presented their individual plans to their families, and asked for further input. Leadership from the Renton Education Association, the teacher’s union, also reviewed the plans and enthusiastically endorsed efforts by staff at the West Hill schools to increase student achievement efforts for children and families.
In April, the district reviewed those plans and committed to funding all of the teacher’s request to improve student learning. The core components of the plans are:
Aside from the core components, Bryn Mawr Elementary will increase meetings and strategic communication with families. Campbell Hill Elementary will continue to institute the Kids at Hope model (a belief system, supported by a cultural strategy to enhance school programs) and partner with the University of Washington Teacher Education program. Lakeridge Elementary will work to continue to engage parents in better understanding of grade-level math and literacy curriculum and teaching strategies.
West Hill teachers and staff have continued to meet prior to the start of the new school year to hone plans and ideas to be implemented at their individual school to strengthen instruction and improve student achievement.
Building Blocks of West Hill Now!:
Why West Hill Now!
The overarching impetus for the West Hill Now! initiative is to provide equitable outcomes to a population of students and families in the district that reside in an area outside of Renton city limits where very little economic development or quality of life improvements have taken place in many decades. West Hill Now! will work towards student achievement outcomes that enable success for all children; ensure a climate of access, opportunity and inclusion; and guarantee equitable treatment through a climate of safety, respect and support for children and adults.