ISY Elementary Blog

Big Ideas

Mike Simpson, Elementary School Principal

September 24, 2021

Once a week in their Culture and Communication classes, our students in Grades 2 to 5 read a chapter of The Odyssey – the Ancient Greek tale of hero Odysseus and his men trying to get home after the Trojan War. 

The story itself is very entertaining but the students are also asked to use the story to think about some very big ideas. Every lesson we record the wisdom of our students and I thought I would share some of that wisdom with you:

On Beauty 

  • ‘Different people think different things are beautiful so that means beauty is an opinion and we can’t judge it.’

On Happiness

  • ‘How do you even know you are happy if you are not sad sometimes?’

On Rules

  • ‘It is hard to write rules for every little thing and it is sometimes hard to say what is right and what is wrong. It would be easier if there was only one rule – care about others.’

On Forgiveness

  • ‘It is silly to punish someone who already knows they did something wrong and have learned not to do it again.’

On Reasoning With Others

  • ‘It is better to help people understand what you are saying than to just tell them that they are wrong.’

In thinking about these really big ideas, students practice critical and creative thinking techniques and develop a belief that everyone’s thinking has value – including their own. These techniques can be applied to any problem or any subject and their ability to apply these techniques is strengthened by their belief that their ideas are valuable. All cultures have big stories like The Odyssey that students can read and think about big ideas. The more big stories they read the better!


How to Talk to Your Kids About Difficult News Reports

Students have been bringing questions to me about these challenging times, so I’m sure they are also asking parents these same questions.

Recently, I listened to a Life Kit podcast produced by National Public Radio (NPR) that featured important points for how to talk to your child about difficult news topics.  The show featured several points I felt important to share.

  1. Limit exposure to breaking news.  Although parents can’t control the news reports, they can control the devices in which children can access the news.  
  2. When your child is exposed to potentially traumatic news events, sit with them in a quiet space and ask them what they understand and what questions they have about the event.  Give them a chance to reflect and share.
  3. Provide your child with facts and context.  Often rumors or hearsay can reach your child’s ears.  Provide accurate information and context, such as showing them on a map where the events happened or explaining that generally news events are rare, that is why they are in the news.
  4. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” As parents, we can’t know all the answers.  It’s okay to be honest about these things.  Try to avoid labeling groups or individuals as bad.  These labels are unhelpful and can increase your child’s fear or anxiety.
  5. Allow your child to express themselves through play and art.  Often children can’t process verbally, they use play and art to make sense of events around them.  
  6. Focus on the helpers and be a helper.  When scary new events happen, place focus away from the tragedy and center it on groups and individuals making a difference.  Likewise, take action yourself.  Brainstorm ways that your family can help those in need or help make the world a better place.

If you are interested in listening to the complete Life Kit podcast or reading the accompanied article, it can be reached here.

Ms. Patty is available to support ISY families and students throughout this difficult time at

Patty Amundson-Geisel

Pre-K to Grade 6 Counselor

Internet Issues

Offline Learning Activities

Every Friday, your child’s homeroom teacher will email you a PDF of offline learning activities that your child will be able to do if they lose access to the internet. 

Please only use these plans if your child is unable to access the internet. If you have the internet, your child will be able to attend online classes as usual. 

To make sure the offline learning activities stay connected to what is happening in class, our teachers will review and, if necessary, update the offline learning activities each week. Please download the PDF document attached to the email as soon as you receive it on Friday. The email will also have a link to this instructional video:

Quarter 1 Progress Reports

We are now halfway through our first academic quarter.

On Friday, October 29, you will receive a written Progress Report on your child(ren)’s progress at the end of Quarter 1.

This Progress Report will provide a focus for our first set of Parent-Teacher Conferences which will be held shortly after you receive the report.

In the meantime, please always feel free to reach out to your child(ren)’s teachers. They will always be happy to discuss your child(ren)’s progress with you.

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