The FUNd Stuff at PNA!

"In this world that we live in, language is key. Everything that we do is based off of our ability to communicate with people, and to communicate with them well."

- Emma Jones; Zach Raymond, Influence and Persuasion

Communication Skills

by Sheryll Orbse | PNA 3rd Grade Teacher

Today's world demands more than the three Rs - reading, writing, and arithmetic; today's workplace looks for graduates that are also proficient in soft skills. These soft skills are also known as the 21st century skills: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication. These skills are essential for students to succeed in life.

According to A. Owens (2015), communication tops the list of desired skills in the STEM workplace. Levy and Mundane, economists, wrote that today's workplace involves explanation, negotiation, and other forms of intense human interaction. Furthermore, global citizenship requires linguistically and culturally effective communication making it imperative for graduates to know how to communicate clearly and effectively. PNA recognizes the importance of helping students develop these 21st century skills so our graduates are better prepared to meet the challenges of their future workforce. In the classroom, students are given opportunities to develop these soft skills. For example, third grade's speaking standards expect students to be able to engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners, building on other's ideas and expressing their own clearly. To help students develop communication skills, third and fourth graders worked collaboratively on a broadcasting project that was live streamed as morning announcements.

The videos below show students' first attempt on broadcasting.

Watch the next video and notice some improvements from the first to the second attempt.

This broadcasting project does not only help students develop communication skills but also their research and collaboration skills. Students worked in different teams each day with a different broadcasting task. They also learned how to approach an adult or an older student for the interview segment. They applied what they learned in science to find information for weather report. In addition, they used their typing skills to type their script in a short span of time. At the end of every broadcasting attempt, students watched their video and reflected on how they could improve.

Live In 3... 2... 1...

by Matt Yancik | PNA Fourth Grade Teacher

We're happy to report that the Fourth and Third Grades met their goal for their broadcast project by going live with four morning news programs! This show was seen promptly at 8:30 AM each and every day in any Pacific Northern Academy classrooms that chose to tune in. Additionally, the broadcast was available to parents and anyone else who wished to view. (We would have broadcast on Monday but for a snow day that prevented us.)

Segments included facts on that particular day in history, birthdays of students and faculty, events going on within the school, the local weather forecast, and a featured student/faculty member of the day! (Along with other little surprises!) Last week both grades spent a good amount of time practicing their craft and, in the videos below, you can clearly see that the Fourth and Third upped their game with each successive episode of the show. Students became more confident in their abilities, and the behind the scenes crew worked hard to make sure those cameras looked flawless and smooth! In our first broadcast, just below, students worked on handing the baton back and forth with live, on-air switching between scenes, and simple speaking form. They also worked to hit their marks polish their timing. ​Here we go!

As you can see, the students did an incredible job! Students didn't have time to relax, though, and crews were rotated to ensure that every student got a chance at every piece of the puzzle. In the next video, each and every student has been moved to another job that they now had less time to prepare for. Students had to perfect their craft through preparing their routines, repeating what they may have seen before, and making things up on the fly to deal with new issues! Here with go with day two!

Another successful broadcast! But there was no time to waste, because the Third and Fourth Grades were going to do it all again the next day. All students were, once again, rotated in their roles and then snapped to it! Hosts developed the schedule and wrote their scripts! Researchers worked with hosts to come up with birthdays, historical events and other important facts! The breaking news crew roamed the school to see what had happened and what would happen! The weather crew worked to make predictions for the next day! And, last but not least, the interview crew gathered people from around the school to feature! Let's see how they did...

Nice job, everyone! After our Thursday broadcast, we finally took a moment to catch our breath. But, we weren't relaxing, because it was...

Time To Reflect

On Thursday, after a week and a half of practical practice, and several days of actually broadcasting for real, students took the opportunity to reflect on their work and the work of their peers. In the video below, watch as Mrs. Orbase takes the class through a rubric which helps Third and Fourth Graders evaluate their work, and performances, in detail.

Students evaluated themselves on a scale of 1 - 4 (Needs Improvement, Approaching Standards, Meets Standards and Exceeds Standards) over several different categories (Content, Speech, Performance, etcetera). In this way, students are able to reflect on their own abilities, as well as those of their peers, and work to improve and give critical advice to others.

After further reflection, students took tweaked their own performances... and it all paid off in Friday morning's week-ending finale! Watch below, and be dazzled!

Best show of the week, wouldn't you agree?

Postcards from the Classroom

Click any picture to jump into the slide show!

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Coming Right Up

The Three Musketeers

3rd through 8th Grade Musical

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Spring Break

Monday, March 5

through Friday, March 16, 2018

No School

ERB Testing Week

2nd-8th Grade

April 2 through April 6, 2018

Once Upon...

Annual Auction Gala

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Pacific Northern Academy Campus

For a full listing of events, please visit

the Calendar page on our website!

In Appreciation

We are grateful to our corporate supporters and individual donors who help make PNA and independent education possible for students and their families in Anchorage, Eagle River, and the Matanuska Valley. We couldn't do it without you!

John Hardwick and Ral West


APU Vestibular Laboratory

Imaging Associates

Plastic Surgeons of Alaska


Friends of PNA

Skiva Investments

Dr. Steven and Lindsay Tucker

Underwriters and In-Kind Donors​


Buzzbizz Creative

Who's Behind this FUNd Stuff madness, anyway?

The FUNd Stuff Editorial Staff

Jennie Tschappat

Kathy Heinlein

Contributing articles this week from

Sheryll Orbase and Matt Yancik.

You can find all the blogs here.

The FUNd Stuff is a bi-monthly (or so) publication from the staff, students, parents, and teachers of PNA.

Want to know more about anything we've highlighted here?

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As always, our continued success is shared with the people and companies that support us.


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John Hardwick and Ral West


Skiva Investments LLC



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