Happy Holidays~NRE Staff & Families!


I want to wish the Staff and the Families of

Northridge Elementary,  the Happiest New Year to come!

A stellar thank you to our School Staff members who have given so much to our learners during the first half of this school year, and a super special thank you to  our “Speedsters” Staff who are caring for our children throughout the holiday periods.

All of these people give their professional best to support our children!

May the 2017 Year be a year filled with positivity and love for all of us at NRE !

Very Best !

James Hamilton, Principal

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Bus Loop is for Buses ~ Thank You for Using the Designated Drop Off Loop !

img_0204Dear Parents,

A reminder that the bus loop is to be used only by the district buses, emergency and maintenance vehicles. The bus loop is not a drop off location for students.

As the winter weather approaches we wish to img_0196 remind everyone of this expectation. It is established for student safety and to manage the school traffic. 



Please use the dedicated student drop off and pick up zone loop. Please obey the speed limits at all times. 

Thank you for your cooperation! 

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Balanced Literacy and 21st Century Communication Skills ~ Reading, Writing, Listening and SPEAKING !

Students in Mrs. Lehnert’s 2nd Grade class are demonstrating a balanced and integrated approach to Literacy. Well developed, organized and thoughtfully presented information is a core feature of 21st Century Communication skills.

Being skilled at sharing information, concepts and perspective with others who may have very different background, knowledge and opinion, in a respectful and competent manner, is a critical skill for democratic discourse. Development of balanced literacy helps students develop reflective skills and their ability to collaborate with others.

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A Chilling Appreciation to NRE Year 6, for a Most Hallowed Event of the Year

Sincere appreciations to the work of the Year 6 Teachers, Students and all of the Volunteers ! Who supported the Fall Halloween Festival at NRE!  It was a fun night for all and a very successful fundraising event that supports our daily educational programs.

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Breaking Glass Ceilings and Literacy Codes with Lego Communities…

In a classroom visit to Mrs. McKinzie’s class this week, I had the great fortune to happen in during Lego Literacy Centers. In corners of the room, mixed gender and ability groups of kids were working in collaborative groups, planning, staging, role-playing with their mini-figure alter egos, and developing literate story lines through an engaging and developmentally appropriate activity!

Learning through play is not only natural, it is a natural part of literacy development. Rehearsing, through external role-playing or as an internal thinking process is a critical aspect of literacy development. The externalizing of literacy thinking is referred to as “oracy”.

The role of oracy in the classroom can, then, be seen as performing two key functions.

Firstly, it can provide opportunities for learners to develop and extend their oral repertoire. This can also give them chances to orally rehearse sentence structures and vocabulary that may in turn become part of their written language. This may be particularly important if learners have limited oral repertoires.

Secondly, talk can be seen (particularly in social constructivist models) as key to developing thinking. In these models, learner (to learner or to teacher) talk gives learners opportunities to explore understanding and develop strategies for problem solving. These two elements are, of course, closely interrelated, rather than discrete, elements.


Of equal or paramount importance is the fact that children develop language competency in a social context and negotiate their world views with others through these activities. Professor Anne Dyson, formerly at UC Berkeley and now at U. Illinois, emphasizes the importance of play in literacy development and learning in a social context within classrooms. Whistle for Willie, Lost Puppies, and Cartoon Dogs: The Sociocultural Dimensions of Young Children’s Composing or Toward Unmelting Pedagogical Pots

The Ninjas, the X-Men, and the Ladies: Playing with Power and Identity in an Urban Primary School

When we consider the opportunities that we create for children to interact with each other in a society that is increasingly diverse and increasingly global, teachers can facilitate meaningful language development and thinking skills. Through interaction with others who are different from us in so many ways, we help students development open-mindedness and help them consider and choose other possible ways of seeing the world and we help them to consider expanding their concepts of their roles in it.

It was exciting to watch the active language and social negotiation through play and literacy while Mrs. McKinzie’s students, c0-created lego worlds. The magic of this medium brought girls and boys together in a way that might not be usual, presenting opportunities for them to experience, negotiate and reflect upon perspectives that might ordinarily be gender biased, through socially enforced segregation or the gravity of gender-based play.

So, not only did this organized learning opportunity provide for social learning, but it provided a highly collaborative and interactive sharing of language schemas, vocabulary and thinking skills. Many of our NRE teachers use Legos and other stimulating media to develop and extend learning opportunities in fun ways!  Just another of the many fabulous learning experiences occurring everyday at NRE!

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NRE Foreign Language Teachers and Principal Hamilton Attend Language Conference

All Teachers are Language Teachers

img_3829Our Northridge Foreign Language Teachers,  Mrs. Yawen Lien (Mandarin)  and Mrs. Irma Morgione (Spanish), along with Mr. Hamilton, attended the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers held Saturday at Summit High School in Breckenridge.

The focus of the conference was the theory and practice of additional language acquisition. A keynote presentation was provided by Dr. VanPatten from the University of Michigan.

At NRE, we have numbers of students who arrive at our school speaking multiple languages. All of our students have the opportunity to learn additional languages through our Mandarin and Spanish language instruction program.

All of our students are acquiring increasing proficiency in English in Basic Interpersonal Communications Skills and in Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (See this video by Mary Acevedo to understand more about this framework developed by Professor Jim Cummins).  Language proficiency is a continuous process, continuing well into adulthood, higher education, expert fields full of advancing and often “new language” (“boson”) to describe academic and theoretical concepts. It does not stop…

At Summit High, our team attended breakout sessions modeling additional language teaching and learning strategies including, Total Physical Response approaches, integration of technology tools and other methods presented by Colorado language teachers.

Dr. VanPatten’s  presentation emphasized the use of communication for two purposes:

  • Pyscho-social
  • Cognitive Informational

Dr. VanPatten defines communication in the following context:

img_0171His frame of reference for communication and Additional Language acquisition is widely used in the field of linguistics.

Certainly, as our global community has become more interactive, the need  for effective communication has expanded.

Traditionally, foreign language acquisition has been regarded as a form of skill-based, progression through form and grammar, toward a concept of second-language fluency measured in degrees. The current system of classifying fluency formulated in the Council of Europe, uses the following frame: The CEFR describes foreign language proficiency at six levels: A1 and A2, B1 and B2, C1 and C2. It also defines three ‘plus’ levels (A2+, B1+, B2+).

More contemporary ways of understanding language acquisition focus on the Universal features of language learning and how the human brain integrates language. Professor Jim Cummins from the University of Toronto is one leader in the field helping us to understand Multilingualism in an intercultural context. More and more children in the world emerge from their educational years with the capacity and the need to use several languages. The needs are driven by our Mother Tongue and family language roots, which are in themselves quite often divided (i.e., English/Spanish, Hindi/English/Punjabi, Mandarin/English, etc.)

Because English is an internationally used language, many children enter school with varied levels of fluency in the language of their father, mother, national language and English, for example. With more and more migration and cultural interchange based upon commerce, cultural needs, common international missions for world health or other needs, these scenarios become increasingly so.

According to Dr. VanPatten:


Colorado Conference of Foreign Language Teachers, 09/2016

The research on second-language instruction has evidenced that second language learning benefits children’s primary language acquisition and academic achievement. It is clear that the human brain’s “universal architecture” for language learning provides learning benefits that are transferable across languages so that language learning in language A, assists the development of language learning in language B. This is one of the reasons that research indicates that continued development of Mother Tongue (native language) is very important for developing higher levels of fluency in additional languages.

Our Writer’s Workshop approach to balanced literacy is one way that we are deepening fluency for all of our NRE kids in English. We are looking at ways to deepen and extend the levels of additional language instruction, for all of our students. Multilingualism is an essential 21st Century Skill for our students. Developing Basic Interpersonal Communications Skills and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency in more than one world language is both achievable and essential for our students.

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Invitation to a Monthly Principal’s Coffee

Sept. 29, 2016images-1

Dear Parents, 

 I wish to invite you to a Principal’s Coffee meeting. Please join me for a cup of tea or coffee, or bring your own. 

This is an informal opportunity to meet with me for about an hour the first Monday of each month (to be rescheduled if there is a holiday) to talk about the educational program at NRE. I will continue this throughout the year. 

We have so many great things happening here and I wish to use this additional avenue to share them with you and to invite you to participate.

I will also use this time to share about any unique project or initiative and to answer any question about the learning program. 

As a consideration of privacy, this is not a venue to discuss individual needs or concerns regarding students. 

 Meetings will be held in our Library Commons. 


First Monday of each Month

 Library ~ Commons 



I look forward to meeting with you and to our discussions. 


James Hamilton, Principal

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