• Five Indicators for Success in the Middle School

    Posted by Brian Griggs Coronado Assistant Principal on 2/27/2020

    Middle School girl

    Before joining the Coronado Elementary team, I worked at a junior high for 13 years. Over the years there were a number of skills that students developed. Here are five skills that are indicators for success in middle school:

    1. Taking ownership 

    There is a distinct transition from 6th to 7th grade: new friends from other schools, new electives to take, new food in the cafeteria. There are a lot of options and opportunities. Students who take ownership of their learning, who believe that they are the most influential factor for their success, thrive. Taking ownership empowers all other skills.

    2. Organization 

    With so many options and opportunities, students are faced with the tough decision of how to invest their time. The ability to organize tasks helps students achieve their personal goals alongside what is required of them. There are many organizational tools out there; it is one of the reasons that we provide a planner in 6th grade. A branch of that is knowing how to take notes and reviewing that information. We want to foster those skills in our current students.

    3. Knowing when to ask for help 

    Middle school is not without its challenges. Friends become more of the trusted source for information, but sometimes a group of friends does not have all of the answers. Students need to know when to ask a teacher for help on a missed concept. Students need to know who to go to when there’s trouble with friends. Most of all, students need to know that, while they are the difference maker, they are not alone.

    4. Follow through 

    Students who can remain motivated to see something through to the end will enjoy their middle school experience. When students can stay ahead of the workload, they can participate more fully in extracurriculars, whether sports, performing arts, or another shared interest allowing for the development of meaningful relationships.

    5. Kindness 

    No matter what other skills that students bring to the table, they can always choose kindness. While we talk about preparing students for the next level of schooling, we must never forget that our students have a big wide world open to them and that who you are matters even more than what you know.

    Comments (-1)
  • 8 Reasons Why You Should Take Up a Musical Instrument

    Posted by Coronado Band Teacher on 2/20/2020


    Playing Violin


    There are so many reasons to start playing an instrument. I would like to share my top 8 personal reasons.

    1. Meet new people/make new friends

    When you start playing an instrument, you will likely meet similar minded individuals; particularly if you start playing from joining band or orchestra at your school. You will already have something in common with these fellow musicians, and you may even make some new friends in the process.

    2. It teaches you how to work in groups

    Any instrument you play can be played in an ensemble, whether it be a rock band, an orchestra, a jazz trio or a Dixieland band. When you play with a group of musicians, you must work with them to form a cohesive group, one that can successfully get through a piece of music from start to finish. A good group of musicians (or at the very least a well-practiced group of musicians) can make this look and sound easy. Though don’t let that fool you, it takes time and teamwork to make any ensemble sound cohesive.

    3. It can help you relax

    For me, the best way to relax and unwind after a long day is to sit in front of my piano and practice a few songs. There is nothing in the world (at least I don’t think there is) more relaxing than having some alone time with your instrument of choice and just playing. A bonus to this is that depending on your mood, there’s a piece of music to play: feeling happy, work on a Joplin rag, feeling sad, maybe a Chopin Nocturne is what you’re looking for. The point being that no matter my mood, I can find a song that will either match that mood or find a song that will help me change my mood.

    4. It can help with attention

    Learning an instrument is not an easy task. It takes time and dedication to get proficient at whatever your instrument of choice is; and that time and dedication requires that you pay attention for prolonged periods of time towards your musical studies whether it be with your instructor/teacher, or when you are practicing independently.

    5. It gives you a sense of accomplishment like no other

    Whether you’re a beginning student or a professional, you’re going to come across a piece that take a bit more time to master than others. Once you have mastered that piece from practice and dedication though, the feeling of accomplishment/achievement you’ll feel when you either play the piece on your own or for an audience is like nothing else. Not only do you know the time and energy you put into completing the piece, but the listeners also can tell.

    6. It is a confidence builder

    Instruments are meant to be played for an audience. Sure, you must practice on your own, but once you have a piece down, it’s important to perform it. At first, performing in front of other people seems like a daunting task; but once you’ve done it long enough you will be able to get up in front of an audience more readily than others who do not play instruments. Will you still feel nervous sometimes before a performance? Sure, but we all do, and that just means that you care about your performance.

    7. It can help with your memory

    Research has shown that playing an instrument improves your memory powers, and that makes sense, as there are multiple things you need to focus on at once when playing an instrument. Take piano for example: you have to have correct posture, you’re hand position needs to be correct (curved fingers, no drooping wrists!) you need to keep a consistent tempo, you have to count the beats as you play, what key signature are you playing in? Are there accidentals (sharps or flats or naturals that are otherwise not in your given key signature) that you need to watch out for? And the list goes on and on. Playing an instrument means that you must remember a lot of important details to be successful.

    8. It’s just plain fun

    This is the most important thing to know about playing instrument. You should have fun while you do it. It can be frustrating at first, but as you get better through practice and instruction, playing an instrument is an absolute joy.

    Comments (-1)
  • How Traveling to China Helped Me Become a Better Teacher

    Posted by Coronado Teacher on 1/23/2020


    My teaching experience in China was positive for multiple reasons. 

    Not only was I able to see a part of the world that I may never have traveled to otherwise, but the experience afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my teaching. Being immersed in a school (country) where English was not the native language made me keenly aware of how overwhelmed our ELL (English Learner) students must feel when trying to learn the English language coupled with American culture in our schools.

    While making me more empathetic, it also reaffirmed my belief in the benefits and importance of providing picture cues in my lessons as well as incorporating  tactile, hands-on activities whenever possible to help students learn and understand the content so they can apply it in their daily lives.

    In China my ability to be flexible was also put to the test upon occasion.  As a result, it confirmed my belief that effective teachers need to be flexible  and able to handle unexpected situations.

    Finally, I will always value my teaching opportunity in China for it allowed me to experience and to appreciate another culture as I visited The Great Wall, saw the terracotta soldiers, and even ate new foods like dragon fruit.

    Ironically, these experiences have allowed me to make connections with some of my students which helps make me a more effective educator. 

    Comments (-1)
  • 5 Great Books Your 5th Grade Student Can Read During Winter Break

    Posted by Coronado Teachers on 12/12/2019

    Girl reading a book

    Winter Break is a great time for families to enjoy reading together. Below is a list of books for all 5th grade students, and their families, to enjoy together. These titles are perfect for an early morning read or a before bed read. We hope you enjoy.

    1. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
    2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
    3. Holes by Louis Sachar
    4. A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
    5. Wonder by RJ Palacio

    Comments (-1)
  • 10 Ways to Help Your Child Be Proactive During Winter School Break

    Posted by Coronado Teacher on 12/5/2019

    1. Maintain a homework routine


    Student doing homework

    Maintaining your child’s normal homework routine (as much as possible) will help keep your kids ready to jump back into their school mentality after a break. Keeping a daily reading expectation and encouraging them to use their online school assigned programs (Redbird, Freckle, Mandarin Matrix, etc.) will help keep them in a routine.


    2. Use your child’s report card to help reteach/extend certain areas


    Going through paper work

    Look through your child’s report card to find areas to focus on during break. Look online for opportunities to practice with your child in areas of weaknesses or focus on areas to extend their learning that they excelled in. ABCYA https://www.abcya.com/ has different grade level games for reading, math, typing, and even science skills that make learning game like yet educational. Reach out to your child’s teacher for more specific examples of how to help reteach or extend different areas of learning.


    3. Find a book for the whole family to enjoy


    reading a book

    Winter break is a great time to pick a book that the whole family can enjoy together. Check out several copies of the same book so you can all take turns reading or following along. Reading books based off popular movies is a great way to encourage reading. Discuss the story together during family dinners or while traveling. After finishing the book, watch the movie as a family and discuss the similarities and differences between the two. On a road trip, listen to an audio book or podcast together as family. Check out the same book you are listening too at the library and encourage your kids to follow along. Download library books on the OverDrive app from your devices app store to listen for free.


    4. Use everyday opportunities to incorporate math practices


    making cookies

    Use opportunities such as cooking to incorporate fraction skills and serving sizes. Use coupons from the newspaper to help compare prices for your meal and add up the cost. For younger kids, focus on having them add smaller numbers or tell you the place value (ones, tens, hundreds) in a given number. Gather Christmas ideas by having them look through magazines and calculate how much their items cost. Develop a budget for them to track how much they are spending on presents for family members.


    5. Research a place you are visiting or a topic of interest


    looking at map

    Before traveling to a new location, brainstorm questions of interest about the area. Take a trip to the library to gather books to learn more about the destination. Winter break can also be a great opportunity for your child to research an area of interest besides what is covered in school. Help them find articles and books about their topic of choice. You can encourage them to create a presentation (puppet show, PowerPoint, story, comic, video clip, etc.) for the family about what they have learned.


    6. Create a family reading competition


     kids writing


    Scholastic has a winter reading challenge with different tasks your child can attempt to complete. Or get the whole family involved by making your own family reading competition with fun prizes and challenges. Track each members progress with a colorful chart and discuss different books read over break. Set time aside to turn off devices, turn on some relaxing holiday music, and enjoy your books together as a family. https://www.scholastic.com/content/dam/parents/migrated-assets/printables/pdfs/winter-break-reading-challenge.pdf


    7. Make it a challenge


    Fun activities

    Ask each other quiz questions while driving to destinations. Review spelling/ vocabulary words while wrapping presents together. Make it a game involving points for questions answered correctly.

    8. Check out a local museum


    museum inside

    Take time to visit a local museum in the area or go on a nature walk. Encourage your kids to keep a journal of notes and artifacts they find as you explore as a family.


    9. Visit your local library



    Local libraries are a great place to take the whole family for fun and educational experiences. They offer free activities, great storybook read alouds, and time to explore amazing books. The link below shows the Maricopa library events for winter break along with their times and locations.


    10. Keep a sleep schedule or ease back into it


    Alarm Clock

    Keeping a regular bedtime and wake up routine can help make the transition back to school after a break less stressful. However, if this isn’t possible try to ease back into the school routine several days before the Monday alarm goes off January 6th, 2020.

    Comments (-1)
  • The Challenges & Joys of Having a Mandarin Immersion Student

    Posted by Coronado Parent on 11/28/2019

    Students in Mandarin Program

    Ni Hao?
    Speaking Mandarin is difficult. Parenting is also difficult. Parenting a child who is learning to speak Mandarin is…… sometimes awesome, but also difficult.

    I was warned of some of the possible difficulties of enrolling my child into a Mandarin Immersion Program.

    If I can’t speak Chinese, how will I help them with their homework?
    Kids in dual immersion don’t do as well on standardized tests in Math and Science.
    Other kids will tease them.
    They are with the same kids every year from Kindergarten on, how will they make other friends? Chinese teachers are really strict.
    It’s really hard….like, really hard!

    We were warned of just about every ‘downside’ anyone could think of. In the end, we still decided the opportunity was too big to pass up. We were lucky enough to be chosen out of a lottery of 500 prospective students and I can honestly say in the last 6 years of having 3 kids in the Mandarin Program, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Did some of the concerns prove to be true? Of course! And even some new ones nobody thought about! But we have learned that kids are resilient, they are adaptive and they grow and stretch as their environment requires them to. Outside of the United States, it is common for children to grow up learning at least 2 languages, so this isn’t actually rocket science, kids can do it!

    Watching my children converse with teachers and peers and sometimes even complete strangers on vacation, in a language I cannot even pretend to understand, holds a satisfaction and joy all of its own. One elderly tourist was so pleased he was brought to tears as he cradled my sons face in his hands and thanked him over and over. Maybe mom shed a tear or two of her own as well. Hearing them sing songs, recite things and even stand in front of a crowd speaking confidently in any language is a heart-swelling occasion, but seeing them do that in the Mandarin language never ceases to amaze me.

    We felt it was a skill we could offer our children to help them prepare for a more global future and understanding because Immersion programs aren’t just about the language, there is a heavy emphasis on culture that holds an enrichment all on its own, and is certainly one I have benefitted from as well.

    During the first few weeks of the program, we sometimes had to skirt past brave children (and parents) brought to tears at the prospect of another day of school, but that subsides quickly, and I have noticed there is an even greater sense of accomplishment that develops. Telling my kids they can do hard things pales in comparison to them proving it to themselves. And learning to read, write and speak in Mandarin is a hard thing. But one that is well worth the effort.

    Comments (-1)
  • How Student Council Helped Me Become a Better Leader

    Posted by Student Council President on 11/21/2019
    I am Brooks the student council president of Coronado.
    The main reason I wanted to be a president is to help the students of Coronado. Being a student council member has changed me by helping me work on leadership skills.
    Also, I am not usually a leader, so this is a new experience for me. By being in student council I hope to be a good example for other students.
    I do not like talking in front of other people, but I've learned to make it fun. Being a member has allowed me to meet a lot of people like the superintendent and Coronado Principal Mr. Jeff Armstrong.
    Being a student council member has given me confidence to say my ideas out loud. I can be an example for the whole school which is cool.
    This makes me think of my actions all time. Next year I will be in middle school and plan to join student council.
    My experience now will set me up for success. I am grateful for this opportunity to be a leader at Coronado and apart of another great school year.
    Comments (-1)
  • The Benefits of Cheerleading

    Posted by Coronado Cheer Coach on 11/14/2019


    Our Coronado Cheer team includes 40 students in kindergarten through 6th grade.

    Every year, we choose a captain and co-captains to help run the team. Those team members learn leadership skills, as this is an important part of what we stand for at Coronado Elementary. The older students love to show the new and younger teammates how to be an awesome cheerleader and what it means to be a teammate! It is wonderful to see the team building and leadership between a 6th grader and a kindergartener and the possible relationships that can build from that.

    The ability to be decision makers and teammates play an intentional role in the growth and development of young individuals.

    Cheerleaders are able to build endurance, flexibility, and strength training during the season, which is great for additional physical activity. Each year we build new skills and develop routines.

    The team progresses year-to-year, providing veteran experience to help new student-athletes. Students learn to work as a team and communicate properly in a stunt group to keep cheerleaders safe and execute stunts to almost perfection. They also cheer at the Coronado basketball games, which shows them how to be team players and how to have a positive attitude.

    Cheerleaders always make a tunnel at the end of the basketball games for the basketball players to run through no matter the outcome of the game, reinforcing the positive attitude aspect of the game. We often hear them talking to their classmates the next day and complimenting the players on their skills on the court, which summarizes how important it really is to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

    The cheerleading team is very involved and dedicated to ensuring they represent Coronado in an energetic and positive manner! Come watch us at the half time show or at our competition in March!

    Comments (-1)
  • Three Secrets to Learning a Second Language

    Posted by Coronado Mandarin Teacher on 11/7/2019

    Chinese Characters

    Practice is key! Not much of a secret; however, its importance cannot be underestimated. Repeated practice builds the connections necessary and passes vocabulary and grammar knowledge from short-term memory to long-term memory.

    According to research, it can take as many as 17 exposures to a word for it to be retained - the best kind of exposure being over an extended period of time. One tip for increasing this kind of exposure is spaced repetition.

    This involves repeatedly studying a set of words for a few minutes at a time. The idea is that students review them again before they forget them, and this will help them pass words to long-term memory. Apps like QUIZZLET, ANKI and MEMRIZE are built to help with this.

    Persistence is key! To learn a language - whether it is studying it, being exposed to it, or using it - it is important to persist in efforts. Learning language takes time and can have its highs and lows.

    Often times students will make mistakes. However, if they persist they will improve. 

    Students will learn more from making those mistakes than sitting through hours of memorization. It is important to persist, make those mistakes, and then persist some more.

    Most important, students need to find a way to learn the language that they enjoy. That will make all of this easier.

    For example, allow children to read their favorite book in that language (it will be difficult at first), watch their favorite shows in that language, cook recipes in that language, etc. If they find a way to enjoy the process of learning a language, they will be able to follow the first two tips effortlessly!

    Comments (-1)
  • Help your student build strong study habits

    Posted by Coronado Teacher on 10/31/2019

    Child looking at map

    Helping your student build strong study habits is an excellent way to help them in their educational career. Here are a few simple ways to foster study skills at home:

    1. Consistency

    Children thrive with predictable routines and expectations. Having a consistent routine for homework/extra practice will help your student create productive habits with lasting benefits. Explain your expectations in regards to homework so that your student can rise to the occasion. For example, you may expect your student to do their homework as soon as they get home or you may want them to have free time first. In both cases, set clear expectations (how long should they work on homework before they move on to free time or how much free time do they have before moving on to homework?). Clear boundaries and expectations can help eliminate the dreaded homework battle.

    2. Get Organized

    Designate a workspace for homework/extra practice. Stock the workspace with a few necessary tools like pencils, highlighters, and scratch paper. Having the tools they need for the job will help your student stay on task during homework time.

    3. Tackle the difficult items first

    Putting off the more difficult tasks until the end of homework time will lead to frustration. Teach your student to take care of the big or difficult jobs first. Help your student learn the value of effort by praising perseverance and not only accuracy.

    4. Be positive

    Children are very perceptive of our feelings as teachers and parents. Staying positive during homework time will show students that it is not a punishment or a time to fear. Taking small breaks or incorporating interests and movement into homework time also sets a positive tone for the experience.

    5. School Readiness Skills

    Outside of academic skills, students benefit greatly from strong self-help and problem solving skills. Younger students should be able to tie their shoes, open their snacks independently, take part in family chores (especially those related to organization or taking care of possessions), and share with friends. In addition to the skills previously listed, older students should be able to keep track of their assignments, take care of their belongings and work through conflicts with peers/siblings. Working on these skills at home will allow your student to maximize their time at school spent on academic learning.

    Comments (-1)