How to Prepare for the Middle School Transition

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by Logan Juve Janicula
Integrated Special Education Coach
Associate Editor ➟ BEYOND

Editor’s Note: We know that success in middle school is built upon a strong foundation of academics, character, creativity and social-emotional intelligence. We are proud that an independent study by SRI International found that our Rocketeers are thriving in middle school. As families at Rocketship and beyond prepare to transition to middle school we’re publishing this post again to help guide your way.

As temperatures rise and spring birds make their way back to our windowsill, many families will begin to think about the next step in their student’s educational trajectory: middle school. While we know this change can bring with it anxiety, it’s also an exciting time to exercise the power of school choice in ensuring all Rocketeers continue to thrive. We connected with Manny Barrera, Director of Academics at Alpha Public Schools, to answer some of your questions about the next step.

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4 Books for Black History Month

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by Logan Juve Janicula
Integrated Special Education Coach
Associate Editor ➟ BEYOND

February is a month to celebrate many things from Saint Valentine to our presidents. One of the most important celebrations of the month, however, centers around the diverse and critical history of African Americans: Black History Month. Continue reading

Everyday Iterations

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by Stephen Pham
Manager, Personalized Learning

Throughout my time at Rocketship, I have been fortunate to both teach in our schools and work in a network support role. Now, as I coach school staff in the implementation of personalized learning, I get to thought partner with educators as they push and grow their practices just as I did in my classroom. Continue reading

Boosting Your ABCs

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by Larissa Ksar
Occupational Therapist, Bay Area

Handwriting ­– a skill no longer needed, or the gateway to all higher-level academic skills? It depends on who you ask. While the use of technology and computers in our schools has greatly increased in the last several years, the physical act of writing develops many areas of the brain. AOTA defines handwriting as “…a complex process of managing written language by coordinating the eyes, arms, hands, pencil grip, letter formation and body posture.” Handwriting is more than just getting letters down on paper – it’s a skill that develops young brains. Here are some ideas to consider as we build our student’s handwriting abilities.
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MLK: A Guide to Teaching Tolerance

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by Logan Juve Janicula
Program Specialist
Associate Editor ➟ BEYOND

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is around the corner, presenting an opportunity to teach students about character alongside an important time in American history. While teaching King’s lessons of tolerance and respect are lifelong ones, beginning or continuing these conversations in the classroom can be a challenging yet important opportunity. Continue reading

Rocketship’s 2014 – 2015 Year in Review

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by Preston Smith
Co-Founder & CEO

As I look back on the 2014-2015 school year, I am humbled by the amazing accomplishments of our teachers, leaders, parents, and Rocketeers. In San Jose, Rocketship families convened the first-ever mayoral forum organized by parents advocating for high-quality schools of choice. In Nashville, our inaugural class of Rocketeers earned the second highest growth score of all 73 elementary schools in the city. In Milwaukee, our teachers and leaders are redefining excellence in a city with robust choice but limited quality. And above all else, Rocketeers across our network averaged 1.7 years of academic growth in math and 1.5 years of academic growth in English Language Arts. This is what gap-closing student growth looks like.  And while I know we can do even better in the school year already underway, I am incredibly proud of the impact we made in the lives of nearly 6,000 Rocketeers in the 2014-2015 school year.

Take a look at our Year in Review and I think you’ll see why now more than ever, I am convinced that together, we can eliminate the achievement gap in our lifetime.

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Photos: Rocketeers star in Avaya Stadium’s ‘Best Game Ever’

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by Nikki David
Associate Editor, BEYOND

Education can take you anywhere. In this case, excellent writing skills led a few lucky Rocketeers to the soccer game of their dreams – where they were the stars! Many Rocketeers play in San Jose’s New Stars soccer league, an external league created for Rocketship students by Rocketship Enrichment Center Coordinators. While checking out the San Jose Earthquakes‘s locker room, on what they thought was just a tour of the brand new Avaya Stadium, Rocketeers found out they had won the essay contest on why they deserved to play in the ‘Best Game Ever’. Continue reading

Turning Data Driven Instruction into Social Emotional Learning

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by Kate Laux
Assessment Coordinator 

As anyone who has worked with, loved, or even just watched teachers work would know, teachers work hard….really hard. They never stop, working an average of  nearly 11 hours a day according to a study by the Gates Foundation. There is always more to do for our wonderful, wacky little munchkins. Our students are a constant surprise and a never-ending joy that push us to long days and even longer weeks. Continue reading

5 Ways to Leverage Your Coach

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by Rhandy Siordia
Senior Associate, Achievement Operations

Snap!

In as much time as it takes you to snap your fingers, you have become a student again. It’s odd…you could have sworn that only a moment ago you were the teacher — leading discussion, imparting wisdom, guiding, correcting. But now, you’ve just dismissed your kids and you’re sitting down for a meeting with your coach. You have a to-do list as long as your arm, so a meeting about abstract-sounding strategies might not be your top priority at the moment. We’ve all been there. Aristotle always said the best way to become a strong teacher is to scribble a few notes while your coach makes suggestions, passing time until you can move on to that to-do list, right?
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Our First Day of School in Photos

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by Nikki David
Associate Editor, BEYOND

When we asked our Rocketeer parents to share their first day of school photos, we had no idea we would receive such an outpouring of Rocketeer pride! Thank you to everyone who shared your first day memories with us and with the entire Rocketship community on Facebook and Instagram.

Though we can’t re-share them all, we hope the photos below help capture the excitement for a brand new school year. From group shots to handmade signs to special animal appearances, your photos had it all.

These snaps are special not just because they’re adorable, but because they’re a celebration of new beginnings and our students’ and families’ love for learning. They are a reminder of how our engaged parents are Rocketeers’ greatest cheerleaders and advocates. Let’s take a moment to savor this moment, because we’re about to do a lot of growing, learning and changing over the next year. Here’s what Rocketeers did on their first day: Continue reading

Rocketship United Academy for Launch

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by Shaka Mitchell
Regional Director, Tennessee

Two months ago, families from south Nashville came together for a special evening. It was cold and windy, so we gathered under a tent and dove into an important task: naming Rocketship Nashville’s newest school. After some deliberation and a family vote, our community settled on Rocketship United Academy. After much anticipation, on July 28, United Academy opened its doors for the founding families. Four hundred kindergarten through fourth grade students, clad in Rocketship purple shirts, began their journey as Rocketeers. Continue reading