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At LPS, we believe that elective classes can enrich the lives of our students, helping them find their interests and passions, build self-esteem, and develop real-world problem-solving skills. In addition to some traditional elective classes like Art, Physical Education, and Computers/Technology, we also offer three unique elective opportunities for students:
Horticulture (Middle and High School): Classes take place in our campus greenhouse and learn the basics of greenhouse maintenance, plant care, growing herbs and vegetables, and how to plan and start a garden in the springtime. In the spring, the greenhouse holds a Plant Sale and is open to our local community to purchase houseplants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable seedlings to plant in local gardens. Horticulture students learn planning and organizational skills, patience, work ethic, environmental awareness, mindfulness, nutrition, healthy eating, and much more. Students also learn entrepreneurial and marketing skills while running our greenhouse as a business. Many of our vegetables and herbs are utilized in our collaborative farm-to-table program with our Food Service team so everyone in our community can enjoy the benefits of our program.
Food Service (High School): Through the production of breakfast, lunch and special events, students prepare a variety of dishes. Our program focuses on fundamental culinary and employability skills in a true commercial kitchen setting. Skills developed in our class include kitchen safety, sanitation and safety, knife skills, nutrition, serving and customer service, reading and following a recipe, communication and teamwork.
Childcare (High School, Age 15+): Students have an opportunity to work in a licensed program that provides active Child Care for LPS employees. Students work alongside the Child Care teachers to directly assist the children with the daily routines and tasks necessary. Teachers provide instruction using school-wide learning strategies to reinforce work skills and behaviors throughout the school year such as the importance of punctuality, positive social skills, teamwork, self-advocating, professionalism, timely task completion, sequencing tasks and health & safety. Students do not necessarily have to want a career in Child Care to participate, however if interested, will be provided information and support to pursue further.
After School Programs have been proven to support social, emotional, cognitive, and academic development. This is especially true for the program at Learning Prep School. We offer programs that encourage students to continue to develop their physical abilities, cognition and creativity while also having fun. The confidence gained through these programs can be seen in and outside of the school environment. Teachers and parents at LPS see the growth in their students. All of this happens while the students are having fun! The After School Program can be a wonderful addition to help foster your child’s academic progress and social growth.
Learning Prep School was thrilled to bring back our After School Program at the start of the 2021-22 school year after its hiatus due to Covid. Our After School Program gives students the opportunity to engage in current interests and discover new ones while interacting with their peers outside of the classroom setting. All of our programs this year have been run by trusted LPS teachers. They have created a safe environment for the students to take risks, learn and grow as humans. We pick programs based on the interests of our students. This gives them a place to engage with their peers who share common interests, which is a great way to spark lifelong friendships. Some examples of these groups include: Drama Club, Sports, Video Games, Anime, Baking, Dance, Dungeons and Dragons and so much more!
If you haven't already, consider having your child try our next session of After School Programs!
We are thrilled to announce a new partnership with MassBay Community College that provides qualifying Seniors the opportunity to earn college credit while attending LPS.
This opportunity provides so many advantages to our high school seniors including:
1) Transfer credits. The courses they take while LPS may be transferred to the college they attend following high school, as per the rules of the college they choose to attend after graduation, which saves time and money for students.
2) Exploration. Students can explore their different interests through the college courses and be exposed to an educational experience outside what their used to. This can help them learn more about themselves as a person and a student.
3) Build confidence. Students enrolled in college courses have the chance to see that they can do it and take the "scariness" out of going to college.
More information will be coming out soon including how students can qualify and how to apply.
With dual-enrollment now an option for students at Learning Prep, we know this opportunity will be a wonderful supplement to their educational experience.
Pretty soon after the Near Year, parents everywhere are starting to think, “Okay, what is my child going to do this summer?” For roughly a third of LPS students, they will attend our annual 3 week Summer Program which is held every July. And new this year, we are thrilled to open up the program to the public!
The LPS Summer Program (EYP) is designed to maintain progress and prevent substantial regression through structured educational and social experiences. The students benefit from the appropriate academic instruction, teacher directed interactive academic lessons, strategies and accommodations responding to students’ learning styles, skill reinforcement and social skills training through their classes.
For all students the program consists of reading, math, writing, essential speech and OT, social activities, electives and weekly field trips. Middle schools students additionally have social skills groups, and organizational support; while High School students develop transitional /independent living skills development via a volunteer-based work experience, twice a week.
This year, the LPS Summer Program will operate from Monday, July 11 through Friday, July 29, running Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 2:00pm. Our fully in-person program will maintain COVID safety measures including mask wearing and social distancing and as always, we will continue to follow the state COVID safety protocols.
Registration for the Summer Program will be open in the coming weeks so be on the lookout. We hope to see many returning and new faces around campus this July!
Twenty years ago in 2002, Learning Prep School began using a new system of visual tools called Thinking Maps®. Developed by Dr. David Hyerle in 1988, he figured out that every person analyzes information in 8 different ways:
Breaking down into parts
Establishing relationships between things
From this understanding, he developed a set of visual tools for understanding and mastering these eight thinking processes in a way that is clearly defined and helps students to think on their own, and process information independently.
All students at Learning Prep School use Thinking Maps®, starting from their first day here. Since all staff are trained and use them on a regular basis, students develop an automaticity with them and are able to apply critical thinking skills to problem-solve and develop higher-level, abstract thinking. Because Thinking Maps® works in every grade, in every subject, in every elective, and at any level of academic activity, we have found that students are able to more quickly and effectively grasp and retain new concepts, given that they are used in every class by each teacher. Through their use, students can organize and see their own thinking and teachers can then use the completed maps to observe the students’ thinking processes.
Since we have been using them, we have found that Thinking Maps® have an enormous benefit to our community:
Students and teachers sharing a common language that improves communication and facilitates the learning process.
Students are developing a higher level of thinking (application and evaluation) while working on recall and comprehension skills.
Students’ attitudes have become more positive toward learning.
Students have demonstrated improvement in their ability to organize thoughts.
The quality of learning has been taken to a higher level, as activities have become more meaningful and relevant.
Students demonstrating a greater retention of knowledge.
Improved quality and increased quantity of writing has been observed by teachers.
Teachers who have used Thinking Maps to plan lessons and develop curriculum have noted improved organization and focus.
In conjunction with the results of ongoing research in the field of education, the developers of Thinking Maps have altered and added to their set of tools over the years, particularly as technologies have improved. These changes have been notably beneficial for developing students’ writing skills and providing AT (assistive technology) accommodations. Ongoing training with regard to Thinking Maps for all LPS staff ensures that current “best practices” are incorporated into every class.
As we celebrate 20 years of Thinking Maps® this year at LPS, we are thrilled to have such an effective tool to support our students.
For more information on Thinking Maps, check out www.thinkingmaps.com, or feel free to contact any member of our LPS Thinking Maps Team: Marla Jacobs, Dana Haberman and Cheryl Baggen.
At Learning Prep School (LPS), our teachers and staff know that in order for students to access their academic skills and be engaged learners, they need to have their sensory system needs met first. What does this mean?
If we take a look at the pyramid above, we can see that the “red and orange pointy end” are students’ senses that make up their sensory systems: olfactory (smell), auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), gustatory (taste), tactile (touch), introception (ex: ability to recognizing internal sensations like hunger, thirst, and urges to use the bathroom), vestibular (movement and balance), proprioception (pressure or deep touch).
The student’s senses are foundational and impact how they interact with their environment. Sensation has a large impact on how individuals feel in any situation, and supports our abilities to feel balanced in our bodies and in control. This is commonly referred to as sensory modulation which is our ability to regulate sensory information or input and respond appropriately in order to maintain the right level of energy to be a ready learner. This requires self-regulation of our behavior and emotional responses to sensory input from the environment.
If students have sensory difficulties which impacts their ability to self-regulate, it has a ripple effect and it will be hard to access other skills further up the pyramid such as attention, emotional control, memory, social participation, and academic success.
In order to address students’ sensory needs, teachers and staff at LPS build supports into their classrooms to address students’ sensory needs. This may involve auditory modulation (ex: reducing noise levels), reducing visual information, or providing structured movement. One example of a support utilized at LPS are the ACT (Activate-Calm-Think) Program Exercises. The ACT Program exercises are designed to support students’ sensory modulation and self-regulation. The program consists of simple exercises that can be completed in a variety of ways that can be beneficial without requiring any specialized equipment or large classroom space. The ACT Program provides needed and evidence-based “movement breaks” in a structured manner. Each exercise is designed to provide specific sensory input, which are either alerting or calming. For example, activities that provide deep pressure, such as pressure pushes, are considered to be calming activities for most people, due to the release of certain brain chemicals that create a parasympathetic (rest/relax) response in the body. The ACT Program exercises include:
1. Reach up to the sky then touch toes
3. Arm stretches while sitting or standing
4. Pressure push on head or with hands together
5. Weighted bean bag toss
6. March in place
If someone is feeling tired or has low energy, exercises that involve movement such as jumping, reaching up and down, or marching, can alert or increase energy for most people. This helps address student's sensory needs (bottom of the pyramid) allowing students to better access those further-up-the-pyramid skills and make the desired progress.
Amanda Nardone, MS, OTR/L and Katie Dabdoub, OTD, OTR/L
What is Enrichment at LPS? You may hear your student talk about “enrichment” and wonder, what class is that? Enrichment is period 3 every day and starts at 9:20. At the beginning of enrichment, students can go over to the cafeteria to pick up a free breakfast or a snack or students can also bring in a snack from home. Students eat their snack in their enrichment rooms where the first thing that staff do is read the daily bulletin. This is information specific to each building (Middle or High School) that includes information about fun happenings coming up (“Guess the Weight of the Pumpkin”), changes in routines, staff absences, what amazing lunch is offered today, upcoming Student Council events and more. This is an opportunity to answer any day to day questions and offer student support.
After snack, students then engage in their “enrichment” activity. Enrichment class exposes students to different experiences that they don’t have an opportunity to have within their academic schedule. Students have a different Enrichment group every day of the week providing multiple opportunities to try new things! Options have included Yearbook, Color & Chat, Podcast, Improv, Yoga, Cultural Group, Walk & Talk, Arts & Crafts and Creative Writing (taught by Head of School, Kurt Moellering!).
One of the 5 Enrichment groups for all students is a Study Hall once a week. This is an opportunity for students to complete homework, make up a test, meet with a teacher and receive support from staff.
The staff who run Enrichment are our related service providers such as our speech therapists, counselors, occupational therapists, library media specialist, assistive technologist, reading specialist, elective teachers and a few academic teachers. These staff are in a perfect position to support students in the areas of executive function, social skill development and creative thinking. Enrichment offers a time for students and staff to interact with each other in a more informal way, explore new interests and have structured social time with peers - ask your child - they may say it’s one of their favorite periods of the day!
By: Amy Davis, Principal
In May 2021 Learning Prep hosted a fundraising event, the Silver Linings event. A school-wide movement to highlight and create perspective on the many positive changes that last year may have brought upon everybody. Our way of life was changed by the Covid-19 Pandemic, but among those changes, new seeds were planted along the way that germinated into messages of hope, and the importance of family and community. With this in mind the Silver Linings event raised funds for a new technological upgrade at Learning Prep, the purchase of 18 Newline Interactive Displays!
Interactive Displays are becoming more common in the classrooms. In essence these are big touch screen TVs, but these TVs are not just there to watch the football game on Sundays, they instead are pre-programmed with different applications and widgets to help teachers and students interact with classroom materials in the Digital Age. During the height of the pandemic, schools had to adjust on the go to the new challenges of remote learning, or hybrid classrooms. New methods and workflows had to be learned by students and staff; zoom links, google classrooms, Chromebook maintenance, how to engage a class remotely. All of the sudden, teachers had to forgo the typical whiteboard and markers, and translate it to Jamboards and Kahoot. But now that we are a little bit back to normal with students and teachers in the classroom, could there be a way to get the best of both worlds, the digital and the physical? That’s where the Newline Interactive Displays at Learning Prep School come in!
These displays allow teachers to be able to write on the touchscreen, just like a whiteboard, while also broadcasting what they are writing or teaching to every student’s device, or even enable students to participate remotely by letting them mirror their device screens. All of this is made possible by the 75’’ touch screen display, making it possible for anyone to be able to see what the teacher is writing no matter the distance, or their physical location.
However, the most important part of these displays is the ability to address all learning styles from one device. Teachers can now zoom in so that students can see the notes clearly, without ever running out of space on the board. With the swipe of the finger teachers can now pull up video platforms like Youtube for the class to watch, stop the video, and then annotate on top of video and send the screenshot with the annotation for the students to review later. The touch screen is able to handle 20 points of contact independently, making it possible for group activities to be more interactive and dynamic. Allowing students to pull up pictures from the internet and paste them on the interactive whiteboard with a few clicks, all while classmates collaborate by writing notes or drawing on the same board. Nothing is better than to see students interacting with these boards and immediately see the smiles on their faces and those big bright eyes of “Aha! I can do this here!”.
We are truly excited here at Learning Prep to implement the displays in all of the classrooms, and cannot wait to see what new methods, and student works, become possible with this new technology. This is truly an essential step for the future of our classrooms and students' education. A step that would have not been possible without the amazing effort, and kindness of the Learning Prep Community!
By: Luis Gaitan, Computer Teacher
Learning Prep School | 1507 Washington Street | West Newton, MA 02465 | (617) 965-0764
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