News de Nous – 2/18/21

February 18, 2021
French American Heartland !
 Both before and after our holiday weekend, Valentine’s Day was very much in focus for all ages – we have the story below as we take a spin around our classrooms.
 Plus – two students receive an outstanding recognition as Rising Stars, news about admissions and the 2021-22 calendar, a chance to visit one of our galactic neighbors today and a terrific article on the importance of one of our specialties, cursive writing – it’s all in this week’s News de Nous!
En Classe – Kings and Queens of Hearts
Some great creations from our students heading into Valentine’s day – Cécile’s students made the red hearts pop in their adorable cards for their families (above & below).
Magali’s CP class began with 10 hearts each (above), then combined their efforts for a 100-heart masterpiece (below).
And upon return from the long weekend, students shared their Valentine’s, as you see above in Olivier’s elementary class – who says you can’t tell if someone is smiling behind their mask?
Lastly, French royalty made an appearance in Emmy’s middle school class as students took a deep dive into the history & symbols of French royal power including the fleur de lys below.
FASTB Rising Stars Recognized
We are pleased to announce that two of our students (above and below) have received the Step Up For Students Rising Stars Award for this school year! Nominated by their teachers, both were recognized for making great strides this year, both academically and as student citizens. The virtual recognition ceremony is this evening – bravo to the winners and their families!!
FASTB Live Virtual Tours – Front Row Seat To See Immersion In Action
This continues to be a very busy and exciting time of year in the admissions world and interest in FASTB is on the rise! We had new students starting this past week and the door is open to all for the 2021-22 school year enrollment.
So whether you are looking to join us now (it’s not too late) or next year, if you want a school for your child that is small and adaptable, with COVID protocols in place, and offers full language immersion in an authentically French environment with excellent teachers and a supportive community, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible to explore a fit and virtually tour our school.
Private Virtual Tours
You hear things about language immersion, but what does it actually look like? Well, the best way to see what we do first-hand is to schedule a private virtual tour, which will take you inside our dynamic classrooms to see where it all happens.
Our Director of Admissions, Audrey Talarico, is regularly conducting these tours, offering you a live look at our school in action – see and hear what French immersion is all about, observe the structure and content of lessons, view our welcoming environment and student artwork and tour the rest of the school and playground as well. You will see what makes our school unique in this region, so please contact Audrey to schedule a virtual tour.
You can also feel free to visit our Admissions page and website to further explore what we have to offer, and learn about our admissions process.
Additionally, FASTB also accepts Florida scholarships for grades K & up through Step Up for Students, which will be opening up its 2021-22 application period soon for families who are renewing scholarships, and then later for new families. You can click here to be notified about these application periods.
Additionally, we also accept French Bourses for students with a French passport – please keep in mind that the deadline is this Friday if you are applying for the French bourses.
We look forward to hearing from you soon – merci !
2021-22 Calendar is Here!
Speaking of next year, we have our school calendar for 2021-22 available on our website. You will find start dates, holidays and more – just click on the image above and you can download the calendar.
Bored with Earth?
Pretty cool deal happening today at 3:55 – the latest Mars rover will touch down on the red planet and you can watch it live on NASA TV. We will make it available for our aftercare students today.
The Write Stuff
Check out this great article on the the benefits of cursive writing, a major point of emphasis in FASTB’s curriculum:
Why cursive handwriting needs to make a school comeback
Article by Hetty Roessingh, Professor – University of Calgary
featured in The Conversation- Academic Rigor, Journalistic Flair
Teaching connected-style handwriting, otherwise known as cursive handwriting, has fallen out of fashion on many school curricula. Older generations have sometimes been shocked that some younger people today can’t sign their names on official documents or even read a handwritten note.
Canadian provinces have seen a decline in teaching and learning cursive. In Ontario schools, for example, teachers might introduce cursive, but it’s not mandatory.
Such a development is reflective of larger trends of focusing less on teaching and assessing handwriting for itself — and more on what it’s communicating.
Alberta’s kindergarten to Grade 9 curriculum, for example, stipulates that students learn to “listen, speak, read and write” and also envisions outcomes that require printing, such as connecting prior ideas. But the curriculum doesn’t mandate assessing printing skills themselves. In Alberta’s 2018 new draft curriculum yet to be implemented, cursive is mentioned, but it’s not identified as a competency.
Beyond nostalgia for the pre-digital age, there are good reasons why cursive handwriting needs to make a comeback. As a researcher who has studied the relationship of handwriting to literacy, along with other scholars, I’ve found that developing fluency in printing and handwriting so that it comes automatically matters for literacy outcomes. Handwriting is also an elegant testimony to the human capacity for written literacy and an inspiring symbol of the unique power of the human voice.
Too difficult?
In today’s age of digital literacy, many think handwriting is irrelevant altogether and a waste of precious instructional time. But touching a “d” on the keyboard, for example, does not create the internal model of a “d” that printing does. Keyboarding can wait.
Some may associate cursive with any number of outdated formats of handwriting that may have indeed seemed like a curse to master — loopy, twisty, and hard on little hands in terms of muscle movement and also for visual memory.
But handwriting is only difficult if it is not automatic and, in turn, offloaded into long-term memory. Evolving research in the neurosciences underscores the importance of developing automatic skills in relation to what educational psychologists call the cognitive load.
Lessons learned from sports or the performing arts highlight the importance of establishing neuronal connections that promote fluid movement. With reading and writing, too, the keys to unlocking creativity or interpretation of story elements are also related to being able to write automatically.
Lack of fluency
By Grade 4, the cognitive demands of curriculum quickly accelerate: students must produce more, faster, and better. Students who have fluent handwriting consequently have more working memory capacity available to plan, organize, revise and retrieve sophisticated vocabulary.
In a study I conducted with my colleagues of about 250 Grade 4 students in an Alberta school, we found that only about half of the students in our study achieved the necessary threshold in handwriting.
These children’s handwriting was insufficient to communicate the complexity of vocabulary and ideas expected in Grade 4. Most students had vocabulary they were not able to mobilize onto the page. Students’ failure to reach the required threshold of expression at this level is associated with a phenomenon recognized by researchers as the Grade 4 slump, a drop in outcomes from which students may not necessarily recover.
Improving literacy outcomes
Schools must and can do better, starting early. The key is not only teaching cursive but a greater focus on all printing to cursive handwriting, spelling instruction, and fine motor skills. These developments are essential for literacy foundations in the kindergarten to Grade 3 years.
Building on these earlier skills, the key to improving academic outcomes in Grade 4 is teaching young students to connect their letters, resulting in a style of handwriting that is legible and fluent.
Steven Graham, an expert in special education, writing, and literacy at Arizona State University, advocates for beginning with printing or “traditional manuscript” and transitioning to what he calls mixed mostly manuscript, whereby the child is learning a continuous stroke.
Similarly, an example from early literacy scholar Sibylle Hurschler Lichtsteiner of Germany shows a transition from manuscript letters to joined letters. It evolves naturally, with support, from children’s initial style of print in grades 2 to 3. Once young students have internalized stable, mental models of letter shapes, they can generalize and recognize various types of cursive script with a bit of practice.
Power of the pen
Testimonies draw attention to the power of cursive handwriting. The film Saving Private Ryan made famous the historical Bixby Letter written to the mother of sons killed in the American Civil War. While historians debate whether Abraham Lincoln or a member of his staff actually wrote the letter, ongoing interest in the letter through history suggests how human handwriting conveys personhood, care and captures imagination.
2100 62nd Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33702
Telephone: (727) 800-2159
Dan Hannigan: School Director
Audrey Talarico: Director of Admissions
Elizabeth LeBihan: Founder and CFO
Willy LeBihan: Founder and Head of School
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