2020-2021 News & Event Archive

GSM has a pre-school! Virtual info sessions bookable now!

July 16th, 2021


Join us for an info sessions about the brand new Pre-K program 

Thursday 12 & 19th at 10AM EST on ZOOM. Sign up here


We are starting our 4th year on September 9th 2021 by adding our first ever Pre-K class! The effort was inspired by our parents and we were happy to create this program that will start as a 4s only program and will extend into a 3s and 4s program the year after. The dual language immersion Pre-K curriculum will be the perfect preparation for GSM’s bilingual Kindergarten. The target language German will be favored in a 70/30 German/English language instruction ratio. The curriculum is project- and play-based and will provide the foundation for Kindergarten academics in both languages, science and math. We can’t wait to share more info with you. Please stand by for upcoming dates for virtual tours. You can take the tour if you’re interested in the current or next school year, or if you’re not sure yet if a bilingual setting is right for you. We will have the answers to your questions!

Social City is coming to GSM

June 30th, 2021

Social City offers group social skills classes and individual speech-language therapy.

Curriculum information and consultation sign up here.

Educational Highlight: Getting “up close and personal” with DNA

April 30th, 2021

As part of GSM’s science/Sachkunde curriculum, we invited a very special guest teacher for a monthlong workshop called “Meine DNA und Ich” (4/7-4/28 2021)

Naiyiri-Blu Brooker, B.S Biology (Organismic Sciences):

As an intro to Science Week, the second grade Owls learned about the importance of DNA not only to us, but to all living things, such as plants, animals, insects and even bacteria. 

Over the course of four weeks, they got up close and personal with our DNA structure. Like the term ‘Deoxyribonucleic Acid’ is extremely long, DNA is an extremely long ‘thread’ full of information, like our skin, hair, and eye color; our hair texture; our height; if we are left or right-handed; and most importantly, that all humans share about 99% of our DNA. They also learned that humans share 95% of our DNA with chimpanzees, 60% with a fruit fly and 50% with a banana, to show that DNA is the center of all life and that we are all connected because we have all at one point, far far in the past, shared a common ancestor. 

Activity after activity, from drawing self-portraits to building our very own unique DNA structure, the second grade Owls soaked up all they could about the important ‘code’ that makes us Us. 

They learned that every little detail about themselves, such as eye shape, ear shape, the way our paper cuts heal, the phenomenon of how we’re able to breathe, comes from a computer in our body that translates the building blocks that make up our DNA structure (A,T,C,G) into proteins that carry out the work and projects in our body. To help the Owls remember these important building blocks, the class came up with very funny phrases: “Gorillas trinken gerne Cola” (Gorillas like to drink Coke) and “Ananas/ Aepfel schmeckt am besten auf einer Torte” (Pineapple or Apples tastes the best in Pie). Both phrases were used to show the importance of the pairings of the building blocks in our DNA.

Through another fun activity the Owls learned about how sometimes our computers in our bodies make translation mistakes, how, in simple terms, misreading a building block (A) as (C) could accidentally give the person allergies against peanuts or pollen. How forgetting to translate a ‘code’, for example (ACG) becomes (AC), could give someone dimples or freckles. The owls learned that farmers do this all the time with our vegetables and fruits, for example expressing specific genes to get our modern-day bananas or strawberries. With a quick genome reading of four vegetables (Wild Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Cauliflower and Broccoli) the students were delighted to find out that Cauliflower and Broccoli are technically the same plant, just that farmers chose to express different genes to cultivate different looking plants. 

As a final activity to ensure our students have become Future Scientists, they used the tools we all need as scientists: creativity, critical thinking, and a magnifying glass, to solve the stolen cookie case. They understood that even though our DNA tells us apart, it is inside our body and too small to see without special tools, but we still have another way to show how although we are all similar, we are also unique – our Fingerprints! Not one set of Fingerprints is like the other, even with twins. With this new information, and fingerprint clues spread around the classroom, the owls spent their final minutes of this science project finding the culprit of the stolen cookie case: Naiyiri-Blu Brooker. 

With their Future Scientist Certificate and DNA knowledge, the second grade Owls are ready to be able to discover new things, create, think, and most importantly play. All the things that make each and every one of us a Scientist. From a Baker to a Painter.

GSM Education Blog: FRESCH Thinking

April 26th, 2021

Above we have one example of what the FRESCH method looks like in practice in the second-grade. Every week we practice, discover, and deepen our knowledge of German orthographic rules with a new “Sentence of the Week.” We can see the FRESCH method here with the color-coded signs beneath specific words. These symbols recur while sentences change, helping the students to recognize regularities in German grammar. 

While looking at the whiteboard above in the Owl classroom, you might also hear the sentence “gefällt is written with an ä and not with an e because it comes from the word gefallen!” (“gefällt schreibe ich mit a und nicht mit e, weil es von gefallen kommt!”). 

The strategy above is called “Ableiten.” It means deriving the spelling of a word from another related word that explains why the vowel a becomes the umlaut ä. 

This is but one out of six strategies that comprise FRESCH – a method that focuses on the regularities of the German language and that helps students to understand and logically deduce the spelling of a word. The FRESCH method is a fixed component of our German curriculum at German School Manhattan and it is a vital part of our German language lessons from Kindergarten onwards. The different strategies are taught alongside the regular German core curriculum and they enrich the grammatical components of the lessons. 

Beginning in the first grade, we work with a Sentence of the Week. In the example above, the first graders have already found the difficult parts of the words and explained them with the help of the FRESCH strategies. Each strategy is represented by a memorable symbol — this excludes the black triangles, which depict Montessori word classes.

The FRESCH method (Freiburger Rechtschreibschule) was developed by Günter J. Renk and Heike Buschmann as an approach to language that focuses on perception, movement, and rhythm. It was first developed for students with difficulties in reading and writing, but it soon became part of the regular curriculum in many elementary schools across Germany. School book publishers have adopted the method into their textbooks and extended it. At GSM, we can find this in our Zebra (Klett) textbook. Usage of this method has been validated in the elementary and secondary school levels.

The method comprises six strategies which are used to organize the school relevant vocabulary (we use the German core vocabulary for elementary schools as the basis) according to certain aspects words share in regard to spelling. These strategies can be understood as a tool kit that we offer our students to be prepared for independently deducing the spelling of words now, on an elementary level, and later on in secondary school since the strategies apply to the entire German language. 

The syllable serves as the basis of orthographic writing and learning. It is understood both as the natural rhythm of a word and as a unit of segmentation to break down a word into shorter parts. Syllables are connected with movements so that the memorization and development of the natural rhythm is supported visually and aurally. This is called “rhythmisch synchrones Spreschwingen” and it is the first of the six strategies. 

girl at white board
Our second-grade student Charlie explains the difficult parts of words in our Sentence of the Week with the help of the FRESCH method.

The strategies

Rhythmically emphasizing syllables

In the German lexicon, approximately 50% are spelled as they are pronounced. The rhythmic swing of syllables allows words to be broken down into shorter, simpler parts. When rhythmically emphasizing syllables, the individual sounds are exaggerated and every phoneme is to be identified. This strategy helps students write longer words independently. It is also connected with the rule that every syllable needs a vowel. This enables students to check their spelling independently after a little practice. 

This basic strategy is taught and used in Kindergarten as it establishes the foundation for more advanced strategies. In Kindergarten, the students approach this strategy playfully by moving to syllables and discovering vowels as the core of syllables. In first grade, students continue using this strategy for more complex words. The focus is the identification of long and short vowels. The latter is crucial for second grade as orthographic rules are connected with long and short vowels in their regularities. This relates to double consonants, for example, or the use of the “sz” /ß/. 

If a word cannot be spelled correctly with this method, i.e. if the word is not written as it is pronounced, then the other strategies come into play. 

Extending words – Verlängern

For example, this strategy [Verlängern] is used when the end sound of the words cannot be clearly identified. These end sounds comprise the following sound pairs: b or p, d or t and g or k. The word is extended by one syllable to make the end sound audible.

This strategy is introduced in first grade and connected with German specific digraphs, as for example /ng/ vs. /nk/. This work continues in the following grades and is used as a means to explain and check the spelling of words. 

Our first-graders, the Dragons, have just learned about the strategy “Verlängern”. With the help of the symbols, they correct strategy-based mistakes in the Sentence of the Week. 


Deriving the spelling

This is the strategy used in the example above. It is used when the spelling of a word with the similar sounding sounds of /e/ vs. /ä/ and /eu/ vs. /äu/ can only be derived from a related word with an /a/ or /au/ as the root vowel. 

This strategy is introduced in first grade. It is used more frequently and with increasing complexity from second grade onwards.


Words that need to be remembered (Merkwörter)

All words whose spelling cannot be deduced from one of the strategies explained above are called Merkwörter. These words need to be remembered by heart.

In first grade, we focus on the most common of these words, in accordance with the German core vocabulary, e.g. und or sind.

In second grade, we focus on specific word families, e.g. all words beginning with V, words with ä without a related word, and more diverse words from the German core vocabulary. 

In the bilingual context at GSM, we link German “Merkwörter” with English sight words. We use similar games and strategies to practice to offer the students different strength- and approach-based ways to remember the spelling of words. 


Upper- or lower-case letters – additional strategies 

Instead of a strategy, this symbol can better be understood as the summary of the regularities of upper- and lower-case letters in the German language (beginning of a sentence, nouns, names). We introduce these rules already in Kindergarten on a very basic level, although the symbol is only used from first grade onwards. We also use it as a means to compare regularities between our two languages.


Building blocks for words – additional strategies

Similar to the strategy above, “Wortbausteine” comprise a set of syllables. This symbol stands for common prefixes, suffixes, and word stems of the German language. The idea is that these components can be taken and put together to create a new word. An example is the word stem “-lieb-”. The part that needs to be recognized is the long vowel /ie/. If this syllable is remembered as a word stem, then it allows me to spell every word correctly that is part of its word family: Liebe, lieben, lieblich, verliebt, etc. 

The most important word stems are introduced in first grade and are constantly reviewed in second grade. 

When students are used to working with these strategies, it allows them to correct their own texts independently — the spelling of words no longer seems elusive, but can be explained with at least one of these strategies. In our German-English bi-lingual context, students suddenly start to compare discoveries they made in one of these languages with the regularities of the other. For students who learn German as a foreign language, the complexities of the German language become more accessible and more easily. understandable. 


All strategy symbols: ©Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH, Stuttgart 2021. All rights reserved. 


GSM Education Blog: Black History Heroes

March 26th, 2021

Black History Heroes : Portraits Inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Artistry

by Sydney Rivera, M.S. Ed.

In social studies, the Dolphin Classroom has been learning about historical figures in American Black History. We explored individuals from different professions and made sure to not only celebrate their contributions to society, but to also celebrate their uniqueness and qualities as a person. The students learned about Black artists, scientists, activists, athletes, writers, and leaders from both the past & present. They began to deeply admire these individual’s talents, as well as acknowledge the racial obstacles they had to overcome in order to achieve their goals. 

For our end of unit project, students were assigned one Black History Hero and created a portrait of that person using the artistic influence of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Jean-Michel Basquiat was known for his vibrant portraits of ordinary people sitting on a throne, while wearing a crown over their heads to represent their importance and value. The students have shown a love for Baquiat’s royalty portraits and wanted to create their own interpretation of his artwork. After creating their portraits, they were each asked the question: “Why is this person a hero to you?”

Common themes included: 

  • Bravery
  • Hard work
  • Talent
  • Doing the right thing even if it was hard

Summer Camps are bookable now!

March 19th, 2021

We are so excited to be offering summer camp again! You can finally book them now. July is GSM Camps and August will be the return of the Galli Theater! Either way, you will find something good!

GSM Education Blog: Spotlight on SEL (Socio Emotional Learning) & Art in Kindergarten

March 16th, 2021

In the Dolphin Classroom, we always incorporate Social and Emotional Learning into our daily curriculum. Social and Emotional learning (SEL) is defined as an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process in which all young people learn to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, achieve personal/collective goals, feel & show empathy for others, establish supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions (CASEL 2020). 

In the Kindergarten age, when conflict arises many children are finding the balance between needing assistance from adults and independent problem solving. In this project, we embarked on a journey to answer the questions: Is this a child-sized problem or a grown-up sized problem? Can I solve this problem on my own or do I need help from a grown up? What would I have to do or say to solve this problem on my own? After frequent community discussions, exploring different scenarios, and role-playing, the Dolphins gained a better understanding on what it means to be a problem solver and the importance of communication with their peers. 

In this project, Dolphins were given the task to work with a partner to create a visual representation of a child sized problem and a grown up sized problem. Here are some of the scenarios they came up with:

Child sized problems: Someone has a toy that you want, you want to join a game that others are playing, there is not enough room for your body on the rug.

Grown-up sized problems: There is a fire, you have a broken leg, someone is repeatedly bothering you and won’t stop.

GSM is open!

September 10th, 2020

GSM is still a young school. Weighing out the pros and cons for a possible reopening kept us busy all summer. On September 8th, GSM reopened its doors to welcome back grades Kindergarten, as well as 1st and 2nd grade. The classrooms have a slightly different set up and mask wearing is a must for students and staff. GSM is lucky that its location offers enough space for all GSM students to be on site together (grades are no larger than 12 at the moment), so we didn’t have to opt for just a partial in-person model (hybrid). Some families are taking advantage of remote learning, the classrooms are streaming 3 live sessions a day. In some ways, being back in school is different. Hand hygiene, a strict protocol for material use and socializing in our rooms and in the park feels like we are learning it all over. But luckily some things are the same! Giggles, shares, ideas, lessons, stories, math – we are getting back into the groove. We want to thank the GSM community for supporting our reopening plan and making it happen. A very special thank you goes to our teachers that are tirelessly working on optimizing the learning experience. We will keep you posted, as we are settling into our new schedules and routines. Here are some pictures we took over the last few days.

GSM Admin & Faculty preparing for a very special school year

August 26th, 2020

While the GSM faculty is preparing to come back to school on September 8th, the kids and families are full of anticipation of a school year that will be different in many ways. As the staff is getting location and materials ready, the excitement to be back in the classroom is growing by the minute. As we are carefully reviewing and implementing our reopening protocol, we simply can’t wait to see our students. Families will gather at a Zoom Townhall Meeting on Wednesday September 2nd that will address the reopening plan specifics and that will give everyone the opportunity to ask questions. What stays the same? Setting up classrooms, getting supplies ready, decorating. We are prepared to speak with our voices and bodies, to listen with our ears and eyes, and teach from our hearts.

GSM concludes 2019/21 school year with remote learning & remote celebrations

July 2nd, 2020

Congratulations to all GSM students that completed the 2019/20 remotely. Highlights of the month of June were an Open Mic and a report card ceremony with Zoom dance party! Thank you to our teaches, who inserted so much love and dedication into the remote learning. This year asked so much of every single family – a well deserved party!

Anti Racism Remote Project

June 12th, 2020

Dear GSM Families,

We write this in shock and with sadness, as we mourn the lives of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Tony McDade in Florida, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, amid countless others. We now see people all over the country rising up in defiance of these crimes, rising up in defiance of the systemic racism that affects every member of our society, rising up to have their voices heard. 

Some teachers have already started talking about these events in age-appropriate ways with their classes, and we will continue throughout the week and beyond. As always we will keep the children’s developmental stage at the forefront, and we are working together as a staff to prepare how to best support the children and give them space to process what is happening all across our country as well as in our community. 

This is an important opportunity, especially for white and non-Black people of color, to listen and learn, to stand with our black colleagues, friends, and family members, to learn how to be better allies and advocates. To the black families in our extended community, we stand in solidarity with you.

Here at GSM, we will prioritize growth opportunities for the staff during our weekly staff meetings, including revisiting our resources for how best to discuss hard topics like racism with children and adolescents. The English teacher Dr. Adley will take the lead on this, but all staff will be involved. 

We will send out additional resources to support your conversations at home in due course. We’d also like to share an anti-racism resource primarily geared toward white people and parents to help support the fight against racial injustice in the United States. It’s about each individual working for collective change.

We are committed to constantly strive to do better in the work toward social justice. This is one step on a long road, but we have to keep walking.

In solidarity,

The GSM Team