News de Nous – 3/8/21

March 8, 2021
King of Swing !
 With all due respect to Benny Goodman, our student above makes a strong case for the title.
 Lots to get to in this edition of News de Nous, including the return of Camp FASTB this summer, a February flashback that includes Black History Month biographies, and, with spring break looming, updates and reminders regarding COVID safety and our early release on Friday.
 Plus, we are still in enrollment mode for next year – we have news about admissions and a compelling case for learning a language at a young age – and a great video from AEFE about the worldwide impact of their network French schools, of which FASTB is a proud member. It’s all below…
Protocol Update – Spring Break Edition
Spring Break arrives at the end of this week and, although if may feel like we are turning a corner in the pandemic with people getting vaccinated, our current protocols regarding travel and gatherings remain in effect as we continue to align with the CDC and our medical advisor, Dr. Gaetane Michaud.
School Policy to Return After Break
  • Families and staff who avoid travel and stay within their household groups may return to school without quarantine or testing.
  • Families and staff who choose to travel and/or mix with those outside their household** (visiting or hosting) may do one of the following to return to school:
  1. Get a PCR test on the 4th day following your return from travel or your last day of mixing and return with the negative result
  2. Quarantine 10 days (revised by CDC from 14) following your return from travel or your last day of mixing
**There is no way to confirm that people we encounter during travel or outside our households do not have the virus, so we have to err on the side of caution.
Regarding testing, we have learned that USF Health in Tampa is now processing PCR tests in-house and turning around results within a day. Their drive-through testing is only open on weekdays and it is by appointment but it may be the fastest way to get a result in the area. USF Health can be reached at 813-974-2201.
The recent vaccine news is encouraging and last week’s announcement regarding school staff eligibility was very well-received by our teachers and staff. Hopefully, we are getting close to a turning point, but for now, we thank you for your continued vigilance and cooperation with our safety measures.
February Flashback – Black History Month and more
Olivier’s elementary students were hard at work throughout the month preparing biographies of famous African-Americans in celebration of Black History Month. Researching, writing, creating visuals and presenting these biographies in French was challenging work for our students, but they all did a terrific job.
Among those profiled were Frederick Douglass and Kamala Harris, both pictured above, and other profiles included Jackie Robinson, Booker T. Washington, Maya Angelou, Thurgood Marshall, and NASA mathematician, Katherine Johnson (below).
FASTB En Classe - Black History Month Presentation
Aftercare Virtual Field Trip
Also in February, history unfolded before the eyes of our aftercare students as they watched the live landing of the latest Mars Rover, Perseverance. The final moments as the rover touched down on the red planet are seen below.
Live Look at the Mars Landing
Parent-Teacher Conferences This Week
This week marks the close of trimester two and we are having Parent-Teacher Conferences this week. Most of you have already signed up – if you haven’t yet, please contact the office to get the sign-up link for your class.
One other reminder – this Friday is an early release day to accommodate the conferences. Pick up time is 11:45 and there is no aftercare that day. Thank you!
FASTB Admissions – Kindergarten Double Bonus
This continues to be a very busy and exciting time of year in the admissions world. As we look ahead to 2021-22, we do have some slots available so please contact us ASAP to set up a virtual tour.
Rising Preschool and Kindergarten students can enter our immersion environment with no previous instruction in French. These years are foundational for language development and students at this age are particularly suited to thrive in this environment.
The added bonus for Kindergarten students is that we accept Florida scholarships starting in Kindergarten (must be 5 on September 1 to be eligible). Step Up for Students is now accepting applications from returning scholarship families but will open the door to all soon. You can click here to be notified when you can apply.
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 and safe 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.
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.
Camp FASTB Returns!
If you’re looking for a safe place for you kids to enjoy the summer, please join us at Camp FASTB Bilingual Summer Camp and Childcare! Mornings will include a fun French activities and afternoons will be filled with arts & crafts, games and plenty of time for free play. The Early Childhood group will have time for rest in the afternoon.
Camp FASTB is open to ages 3-12 with full and half day options, during the weeks of June 21, June 28, July 5, July 12, July 19, July 26 and August 2. Please visit our Camp FASTB page for more details and to submit your enrollment. Merci !!
AEFE: témoignages d’anciens élèves
Les élèves, anciens élèves, personnels et parents d’élèves du réseau AEFE ont la parole ! À travers leurs expériences et leurs regards, des témoins partagent ce que sont pour eux les forces du réseau AEFE, fort de 540 établissements dans 138 pays et rassemblant plus de 365 000 élèves, et les atouts du système éducatif français, qui participent au rayonnement de la France à l’étranger.
L'enseignement français à l'étranger : leurs témoignages
Students, alumni, staff, and parents of students of the AEFE network have their say! Through their experiences and views, witnesses share the AEFE network’s strengths, with 540 schools in 138 countries and more than 365,000 students. The French education system’s assets, which contribute to France’s influence abroad, are for them. Video 2 below has English subtitles.
L'enseignement français à l'étranger : leurs témoignages, sous-titres en anglais
The Write Stuff
In case you missed it in our last NdN, 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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