Unity Students Provide Warmth For Those in Need

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Civic Responsibility, Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Whole Child Education

by Jennifer Carcich

To close out the 2014 calendar year, the students in Jen’s 2/3 and Chris’ grade 5 learning groups focused on the joy of giving and appreciating all that we already have. The students worked together to provide warmth for those in need. Both classes collected t-shirts and upcycled them into scarves. Students created 43 scarves that were donated to Emily’s Hats for Hope, a local organization started by a 17-year-old Morristown student.

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About the Author:
Jennifer Carcich is the 2/3 Grade Teacher and Lower School Team Leader at Unity Charter School. This is her fourth year teaching at Unity Charter School. She is certified to teach both general education and special education students and has been in the teaching field since 1994. Jennifer takes pride in helping Unity Charter School continue to strengthen its unique and innovative approach to education and bring forth the school’s mission.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Democratic Governance Team Encourages Ideas

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Democratic Governance, Uncategorized

by Joeleen Corrales-Lee

On Wednesday, December 10th, the Democratic Governance team held its second meeting of the year. We had 4 multi-age groups working together to wrap newspaper around boxes for each learning group. Students shared ideas of what they would like to see happen at our school. The students decorated idea boxes that will be placed in every learning group classroom. Students will be encouraged to write down their ideas, and place the ideas into the box. At DG meetings, students will review the ideas and discuss the possibility of implementing these ideas at our school.

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The students have already come to meetings bursting with ideas. Some of the highlights included a school beautification day, a whole school field trip, requests for more picnic lunches, switching teachers for a day, and a friends assembly at the end of the year to talk about the new friends you have made.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Unity Students Learn to Code

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Education, Middle School, Technology

by Ellen Fishter Avery Cropped

Unity joined thousands of schools last week in celebrating National Computer Science Education week. In K, K/1, and 1/2, students were introduced to coding using Bee-Bots. Students followed command cards to program the Bee-Bots then pushed go to watch their bumble bee “dance.” We also programmed a flash mob of Bee-Bots.

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For grades 3-8, classrooms were set up with Tynker – Hour of Code. Students signed in using their school account so their progress can be continued. In Tynker, coding is achieved by sequencing a series of blocks. We started off with the beginner game, Puppy Adventure, then moved on from there. Many students asked for a copy of the logon information so they can continue at home. There will be follow up lessons in coding in the lower school using Scratch and the middle school using HTML.

About the Author

Ellen Fishter came to Unity Charter School as the technology teacher last March. Prior to that she taught in Clark for 4 years and before that, Livingston for 15. When not working, she enjoys watching her children play collegiate lacrosse, photography, biking, and sewing.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Positive Discipline – Unity’s Unique Learning Environment

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Positive Discipline, Whole Child Education

By Teresa LaSala IMG_4579

Unity Charter School is a unique learning environment in which positive discipline is a core component in our daily curriculum and embedded in all aspects of the community beginning with administration then filtering through to staff, students and families.

Unity’s charter was written based on the Adlerian principles of discipline. Positive Discipline, an international Adlerian research based program, teaches the importance of belonging and significance, respect for all people, encouragement, strategies for reducing misbehavior, and the development of problem solving and communication skills for students and staff. This is done experientially and in a manner that is respectful to both adults and children.

Positive Discipline workshops and materials provide teachers with specific lessons, for implementation into daily curriculum, to use with students, to teach social and emotional life skills and healthy self-discipline. Positive Discipline is based on the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline teaches. Teachers report they enjoy teaching more because Positive Discipline promotes respect, better discipline throughout their schools and classrooms and invites greater cooperation from all involved, thereby enhancing school climate, providing more teaching time and improved academic outcomes.

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We strive to address each student as an individual and consider the importance of educating the “whole child”. We have multi-age classes to best meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of all students. In addition, multi-age activities are integrated into our weekly schedule to encourage collaboration amongst students of all ages. Using Positive Discipline daily, in both school-wide and class meetings, we foster a peaceful culture based on embracing diversity. We approach all aspects of discipline with a focus on solutions. We want to empower the students to resolve conflicts through mutual respect, the wheel of choice, and effective communication in seeking a win-win situation for all. Our student-run Democratic Governance encourages students to have a voice and take on leadership roles. Our goal is to educate capable, confident, life-long learners and productive citizens of our world.

The following are additional examples of Unity’s implementation of Positive Discipline:

  • Student generated Code of Conduct
  • Class created guidelines
  • Older students facilitating Positive Discipline experiential activities with younger students
  • Student led parent/student/teacher conferences
  • Peer mediation program
  • Student led Interest Groups
  • Active Positive Discipline team available during school hours

In an effort to unify the community in understanding and applying the philosophies of Positive Discipline, free workshops are offered to parents throughout the year and additional ongoing training and education classes are available for registration. A five session, Positive Discipline “Follow Up” class is being offered through Unity beginning in January. Registration details and costs are available in the weekly Unity Digest or may be provided by contacting the main office.

About the Author:

Teresa LaSala, a Certified Positive Discipline Author, Facilitator and Lead Trainer, provides training, consultation and supportive services in public, private, charter and parochial schools throughout the United States and internationally. She served for 8 years as a member of the Positive Discipline Association’s Board of Directors and regularly facilitates Positive Discipline in the Classroom and Parenting with Positive Discipline workshops and certification trainings.

Teresa is a Whole Child Faculty Member – Regional Specialist for ASCD (an educational leadership organization). She serves as a School Culture and Climate Field Consultant with The United Way of Northern New Jersey’s/Collage of St. Elizabeth’s – Youth Empowerment Alliance Program; and has received an award from the NJ State Department of Education, as part of a team, for implementing a “Role Model Character Education Program” (based on the Positive Discipline Whole School Model). She is a licensed nurse with 23 years of experience in the areas of Family and Pediatric Care, Child Development, and General Medicine. She is also the author of two positive discipline books.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Unity Students Come Together to Give Back

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Health and Nutrition, Middle School, Uncategorized

by Marie Collinson IMG_4494

Two days before Thanksgiving, one of Unity’s learning groups, the 7/8 Jaguars, took twenty-four boxes of food to the Interfaith Food Pantry. For several weeks leading up to the delivery, students from all the learning groups brought in canned and boxed goods to donate: 263 cans, 44 boxes of things like macaroni, and 32 miscellaneous items such as jars of spices in all. These items were placed in decorated cardboard boxes by the front door.

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The boxes were decorated during an extended morning meeting time when the learning groups got together with their buddy classes. Children cut autumn leaves and “hand” turkeys from construction paper, made origami shapes, drew colored patterns directly on the boxes, and generally made the boxes look festive. This was a great bonding time for the different ages as older students helped little ones create the decorations.

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On delivery day, the Jaguars carried the loaded boxes onto a school bus for the short ride to the pantry. Once there, the food was taken into the center, and one of the volunteers gave the Jaguars a tour of the facility, which includes a room with shelves stacked with non-perishable food and refrigerators for perishable goods, a kitchen where clients may receive cooking lessons, and a large garden in the back. The garden coordinator spoke about the work she does there.

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The Jaguars asked thoughtful questions. One student wanted to know if there are restrictions governing who is allowed to come to the pantry, and as a group, the students were interested to find out that anyone in need can come, that even someone with what seems like a good salary might not have enough money for food if the family’s budget is overwhelmed by paying for cancer treatments or something of that nature. Another student asked how often the cooking classes are held. Still another asked about the big pieces of equipment and what they are used for.

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Overall, the food drive was a success as Unity families were able to offer a little comfort and hope to the community at large.