Teacher Feature: Spring with Ms. Isabel

March and April have been busy months for the 4th thru 8th graders. In March, all students worked on a science fair project and I was very proud of all of their finished projects. For me the highlight was watching the students learn from each other and help each other complete their experiments and tests. In addition, students traded board design ideas and were inspired by each other. Other highlights from the month of March included outdoor learning trips to Irish beach for tidepooling, fort building and viewing a large flock of snowy plovers.

Then, before I knew it, April arrived and I was headed to Catalina Island with the 6th thru 8th graders. I was proud of all of the students for stepping outside of their comfort zones and trying several new and challenging activities. Although there are too many memories to recount in this short article, I will tell you some of the highlights from our epic journey.

After a lively hour-long ferry ride on the Catalina Express, we arrived at Catalina Island Just in time for lunch On Monday April 4th. Our afternoon and evening at camp included not one, but TWO snorkeling trips. All of our students rose to the challenge and after learning how to snorkel in the afternoon, they bravely ventured back into the ocean after dark for the night snorkel. Although they grumbled about putting on cold wetsuits, they all gleefully jumped into the bay, flashlights in hand and swam off with the group. Highlights included seeing some large lobsters that come out of their caves during the night and swimming under the stars. Best of all was the bioluminescence, which we all saw when we turned off our flashlights and moved our hands under the water. I was so excited that I dove down at one point and accidentally freaked Derringer out, as they thought I was a seal (oops). Hot chocolate and a quick warm Shower were our rewards.

The second two days were equally as full and active. Students completed team building activities, investigated the microscopic world of the kelp forest in the microscope lab ( we found numerous baby sea urchins, brittle stars, strange worms and a tiny crab), the climbing wall, and a knorkel. The knorkel, formally known as the the adaptive strategies kayak and snorkel, gave students a chance to explore a kelp forest in an adjacent bay, requiring that they first kayak to the bay and then snorkel from there. Highlights included snorkeling in clear water, which allowed for wonderful views of the orange garibaldi fish, beautiful kelp and much more. Oh and a cute seal sunning on a rock.

Students learned about the local ecosystems, sustainability, the islands history and composting. During their free time students enjoyed beach volleyball, free swim, Gaga ball, and card games in the cabin.

On the way home, we stopped a In San Luis Obispo and had the opportunity to tour Cal Poly University. Our guide, Violet, grew up in Point Arena and gave us a tour around the campus. Although it was a hot and busy day on campus, students enjoyed seeing what a large college campus is all about.

Overall the trip was a great success and I’d like to thank our chaperones Linda and Maryann for driving and joining us on the trip. I’d also like to give a big shout out to Jen and Lacey for doing most of the trip planning and dealing with the logistics. As always, I look forward to helping lead this trip in the future and thanks to all families for their support!

As April comes to a close, I can’t believe that we only have about seven weeks of school left. We still have many activities, lessons, and projects to complete including class performances, Gualala River kayaking trips, and hikes on the Stornetta lands. Looking forward to filling everyday to the brim with fun and learning.