Pamplin Media Group – Gladstone Teachers Appreciate Return to In-Person Classes


Kindergarten curriculum thwarts impact of pandemic isolation, while seventh grade students present science research

Gladstone teachers are making the most of this year’s return to face-to-face classes five days a week, leading discovery sessions to develop kindergarten social skills and having seventh graders give science presentations.

To counter the impact of pandemic isolation, the Gladstone Kindergarten program introduced a new Discovery program to develop socio-emotional skills. Studies have shown that children with skills such as collaboration and compromise are more likely to be successful academically.

In a program funded by the Oregon Student Investment Account, groups of 10 to 12 Kindergarten students in Gladstone visit Discovery twice a week. During each 45-minute session, they can choose from a range of small-group activities, including Maker Space (build objects for dramatic play), Light Table (explore patterns and colors), and Big World (build with large blocks). Each student can choose other activities such as creating with clay, sharing books, designing collages, and exploring dramatic play with figurines.

As the kids play, teacher Rachel Gannon asks guiding questions, giving kids the chance to develop skills in communication, observation and thinking, as well as vocabulary and math.

“What the students learn here are the foundational skills that help us live fulfilling and connected lives: self-reliance, problem solving and exploration,” she said. “My hope is that children develop a joy in learning and identify as investigators and communicators.”

Meanwhile, small groups of seventh-year Gladstone scientists recently presented their research. Two boys put on a great white shark puppet show, while another student read a poem about the critically endangered axolotl.

Each student chose a different sea animal to research, and they created posters and templates to add interest to their presentations. Students created a huge plush sea otter, a papier-mâché octopus, and a delicate ceramic bugle angelfish.

“I love these kids and I’m so excited about these projects,” said Mary Parnell, science teacher. “It’s the best project they’ve ever done. It’s the first time in 18 months that they’ve had the chance to present, and they’re doing it so well.”

During the project, students practiced research, reading, writing, and presenting, preparing for future college and high school projects.

Parnell asked the students to explain why they care about these animals, the role they play in keeping ecosystems in balance, and how each species is affected by water pollution, such as microplastics. Classes will write letters to Governor Kate Brown to share their concerns. COURTESY PHOTO: GLADSTONE SCHOOL DISTRICT - Gladstone seventh grade student Amaya Taylor with her octopus uses smart use of Cheerios for suction cups.

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