Annual Fund - Second largest source of annual income for Synapse, after tuition. Like many independent schools, emphasis is on 100% participation for the entire Synapse community. The Annual Fund pledge period runs from September to November. Contributions can be made subsequently through March.
Activate - The third phase of the HEARTS model. Experiential learning that blends cognitive and emotional content and brings models to life to enable students to begin learning and test new concepts.
Advisor - Advisors are the main point of contact and support for their Middle School advisees and advisees’ parents/guardians. Advisors help students manage workloads, practice executive function, and coach students in their PEP goals.
Advisory - Each day, students meet with their small advisory groups to work on team-building, share personal and school work, and bond as a “family.” Each advisory develops its own unique identity, and the students have their advisor and their advisory-mates to support their social, emotional, and academic growth. Advisory time is also used for all MS meetings, explicit SEL integration, and development of community.
Associate Teacher Program - The Associate Teacher Program is Synapse’s teacher apprenticeship program. Associate Teachers work and learn in the same classroom with a Lead Teacher.
After Care - Synapse’s supervised after school activities. After Care runs from dismissal to 6:00pm most days, unless there is a special school schedule. Parents may sign students up for After Care on a day-to-day basis.
After School Programs (ASP) - Special classes that take place after school which students can sign up for per trimester. Students must be registered at the beginning of the trimester to attend After School Programs.
Book Exchange - An opportunity to clean out your bookshelves at home! Bring used books in during the collection period and receive one book per ticket. When the exchange opens, students use tickets to get “new to them” books. Typically held before Winter Break.
Book Fair - Hosted at school by Scholastic, proceeds are used to purchase new books for the Synapse main library, classroom libraries, and other literacy resources. Typically held in the Spring before Spring Break. Books are available for all ages.
Brainwave Learning Center (BLC) - It is a multifaceted initiative, including curriculum support for teachers, integration of best practices from learning sciences research, unique neuroscience learning opportunities for students at all levels, and leading-edge scientific research on the developing mind and brain. The BLC is co-led by Bruce McCandliss, PhD, Stanford Professor, and Liz Toomarian, PhD, Director of the Brainwave Learning Center. The home of the BLC at Synapse is in Building 4.
Buddy Program - Cross-level buddy assignments between students which support social emotional growth. Buddies are assigned starting from Level I, and may change from year to year.
Building 1 (B1) - Building 1 houses our Makerspace, as well as our Middle School STEAM classrooms. It is a multipurpose building that has also been the home of our Spring Benefit and Graduation celebrations in past years. Sometimes referred to as “the Warehouse”.
Building 2 (B2) - Building 2 contains Visual and Performing Arts classrooms, the Community SEL Room, the Cafe (where Level I students each lunch), and our main gathering space (Playspace) which is used for assemblies, indoor recess, presentations, and other large school activities.
Building 3 (B3) - This is the oldest of the Synapse School buildings at 3375 Edison Way. All Lower School classrooms are located here, as well as our main entrance and communal spaces, including the Library, Teaching & Learning Lab, Engineering Space, Math Lab, and Staff Co-lab.
Building 4 (B4) - This building is where most of our Middle School classes are held. Building 4 is the most recently remodeled of the four Synapse School buildings. In this building you will find the Head of School’s office, the Brainwave Learning Center, Empathy Hall and the Multipurpose Corner where small community gatherings are held.
Change Maker - Synapse defines Change Makers as people who impact the world in positive and authentic ways, are robustly prepared for real world challenges that require the integration of academic, creative, and social-emotional domains, and are not defined by numbers or scale. Each year a specific Change Maker who embodies the annual theme is chosen to help focus curriculum across all levels.
Change Maker Themes - The 9-year cycle of Change Maker Themes are the building blocks of a Change Maker. The themes influence Synapse Curriculum and the choice of each year’s school-wide Change Maker, who is chosen to align with that year’s theme.
The themes are Intersection - Turning Point - The Power of One - Crisis & Opportunity - Iteration - Counterpoint - Risk & Initiative - Transformation - Noble Goal
Did you know… There are 9 themes so that a student starting at Synapse in Kindergarten would have experienced one year of each theme by the time they graduate from 8th grade?
Change Maker Space - Now known as the Engineering Space
Class Notes - Weekly level-wide communication with a review of activities from the past week, a preview of activities in the next week, announcements, important calendar events, and pictures. Class notes are shared through the newsletter and can be found here on My Synapse.
Coffee - 1. An informal gathering for parents, scheduled by SynC, which generally takes place immediately after drop-off. This is a great time to gather and catch up on Synapse news with other parents.
2. The caffeine beverage consumed at a “Coffee”. Always available for teachers and parents in the Building 2 (B2) Cafe.
Common Ground Speaker Series - A parent education consortium on the San Francisco Peninsula, of which Synapse is a member school. Each year they present a variety of cutting-edge speakers, topics and special events designed to inform, engage and inspire our school communities. We advertise upcoming Common Ground speaker events in the Synapse Weekly Newsletter.
Learn more: http://www.commongroundspeakerseries.org/
Community Math Circle - Synapse Community Math Circles are open to the public and provide an opportunity for students and their parents to experience the thrill of mathematical discovery, through problem-solving and interactive explorations. Sessions are available for PK-8 students, led by experienced Mathematicians and Math Educators, from within and outside Synapse. Math circle leaders strive to create experiences that are low-threshold and high-ceiling, offering many points of entry and making the content accessible with minimal mathematical background, but often lead to deep mathematical concepts and can be connected to advanced mathematics. We encourage parents to attend and participate with their children.
If you are looking for the class, see Math Circle.
Community SEL Room (CSR) - The home for Synapse Parent Education events and some student SEL classes. Located upstairs in Building 2 (B2).
Conferences - see Parent Teacher Conferences
Constructivism - An approach to learning that views students as active constructors of their own knowledge, building on past experiences and reflecting to make sense and meaning from new learning.
For the parent-teacher cover band, see The Constructivists.
Dad’s Night Out - SynC organizes a monthly evening out for Synapse dads. Dad’s Night Out is typically held the second Tuesday of each month at Harry’s Hofbrau in Redwood City.
Dome - The geodesic dome in the back playground (between B3 & B4) was built and decorated by 7/8 Math classes, and serves as a shade structure, eating area, and outdoor classroom.
Educational Vital Signs (EVS) - An annual survey given to all school constituents regarding the climate of the school.
Emotional Intelligence Model - Six Seconds’ framework for learning and practicing emotional intelligence. Informs curriculum and all aspects of a Synapse education.
Empathy Hall - The large open seating space in Building 4 (B4).
Engineering Space - Located in Building 3, this is a flexible space used for classes and projects that don’t require the larger tools and materials of the main Makerspace. The Engineering Space is fully equipped with any supplies and tools students might need for smaller-scale projects.
End of Year Playdates - During the last week of the school year, Room Parents organize a playdate/activity for each level after school (e.g. playground meetup, picnic, pool party, etc). It’s a great way to cap off year and generally happens immediately following the last dismissal of the year.
Engage - The second phase of the HEARTS model. Fun and playful activities with cognitive and emotional hooks captivate students, stimulate their pre-existing knowledge, and develop a context for new learning.
EQ Check In - A time for individuals to reflect on their emotional state. An EQ Check In is often done at the start of the school day or a class or activity.
Some examples of EQ Check Ins: How do you feel, 1-10? What emotion word describes you right now? What is your theme song of the moment? What weather do you feel like? If you were a body of water right now, what would it be? Etc.
EQ Seminar - A Self-Science class for 7th and 8th grade students. Students often meet in small groups to discuss applications of EQ competencies.
Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) - The EIC was created to increase student, staff and parent education around social justice and inclusivity. EIC has launched Equity and Inclusion in Action, a multi-year and multi-pronged initiative involving members of our entire Synapse community.
ERB - Educational Records Bureau, the organization that develops the Comprehensive Testing Program, a standardized assessment Synapse uses with 5th-7th graders.
Exit Ticket - 1. A check-in at the end of a class for students to reflect on their learning and ask questions of their teachers.
2. The final project of a Synapse 8th grader’s career. This Exit Ticket encompasses two parts: A service project for the school community and a shared reflection and presentation at the end of the school year.
Expeditions - The Middle School's annual week-long trips that act as capstones of the MS community experience. Expeditions' itineraries tie in to projects from through-out the school year. Past Expeditions have gone to the US South, Washington, DC, Chicago, Alaska, Boston, Hawaii and Los Angeles.
Family Access Module (FAM) - Also known as InResonance, the Family Access Module hosts our school directory, students’ schedules, attendance records and Trimester Reports.
Family Camp - Not to be missed, SynC organizes this twice yearly all-school camping trip and it is one of the community highlights of the year. New families, make sure not to miss the fall trip. It is a fantastic way to get to know the community and make new friends. Note that this is car camping a little over an hour away from campus, with real bathrooms, walk-in fridge and some kitchen facilities. Very approachable for non-campers. There are plenty of activities for students and adults alike including orienteering, crafts, soccer, hikes, skits, ultimate, campfire gatherings and socials.
Friday Focus - Part of our Friday programming for Middle School students, developed out of the commitment to provide our students more in-depth experiences across a variety of topics. Each Trimester, students have had a choice between Photography, Filmmaking, Elements or Ceramics. The first three classes are taught by Riekes staff, and Ceramics is taught by a long-time outside provider, the Marvegos Fine Art School.
Garden - The Synapse Garden, located on the far side of Building 4, is a community space where students & teachers can learn about gardening and grow their own plots. Produce from the Garden also helps fill the staff salad bar.
GrowFit - Organization that Synapse partners with to organize our physical education program. GrowFit coaches teach PE and coach sports teams, and provide recess support as well as After School Program classes.
HEARTS - Synapse’s framework for constructivism & project-based learning.
Heat - The first phase in the HEARTS model. Students begin the day exciting their brain, body, and heart through hot cognition, physical exercise, and community building.
Humanities - A combination of Social Studies and English Language Arts, Middle School Humanities courses encourage depth in content over breadth; Synapse teachers identify important moments in history and coach students to develop cultural literacy.
Ice Skating Party - Join students and teachers across levels for our annual ice skating event for some fun times on and off the ice! Pizza and hot chocolate is served. Brought to you by SynC. Generally takes place around Winter Break.
Innovation - Innovation at Synapse is dedicated to developing creative fluency and confidence, to help students bridge the gap between imagination and action. Innovation is taught across all levels and is embedded in all other curriculum.
Innovation Model - Synapse’s framework for transforming a creative idea and finding solutions for human-centered issues.
Innovation Studios - An exciting Lower School afternoon Friday program led by Synapse Associate Teachers that aims to develop fluency in creativity and divergent thinking within a Design Thinking framework. Embedded in the program is the Synapse constructivist philosophy of offering students a variety of project choices, a key to intrinsic motivation, and our commitment to supporting EQ competencies such as Noble Goals.
Interactive Lab - Synapse’s traditional mid-year all-school event centered around the annual theme and change maker with interactive exhibits built by students. A highlight of the school year!
Level - The term Synapse uses for its Lower School cross-grade classrooms; i.e. Level I = Kindergarten, Level II = 1st & 2nd grades, Level III = 3rd & 4th grades. When speaking informally, "all levels" is often used to refer to Lower School plus the Middle School.
Fun Fact: In the early days of Synapse’s Middle School, when it was only one class, it was known as Level IV.
Literacy Electives - Small-group, literacy-based discussions and activities based on teacher and student interests that meet once a week on Fridays. This is a Middle School elective course.
Literacy Groups - Differentiated literacy instruction in the Lower School. Topics include reading fluency, phonics and decoding, vocabulary development, literature circles, guided reading and writing, and comprehension skills.
Makerspace - A space for making things. The Makerspace is housed in B1, “ the Warehouse”. This is the main space where many of our larger projects have their humble beginnings.
Math Center - These are whole class sessions in the Lower School where students are provided with a various options for math practice. Every child has access to all levels of challenges and teachers provide assistance as needed.
Math Circle - These are 30 minute sessions on Fridays where students have choice of different topics. Math circle topics have included Hyperdimensional Geometry, Computational Paper Folding, Mathematical Art, Sports Statistics, Strategy Games, Mathematical Puzzles and more.
For the evening parent-child event, see Community Math Circle.
Math Lab - The Math Lab is located in Building 3, and is used in a variety of ways during and after school to support the math program. The math lab contains a variety of mathematical tools to support learning such as multi-base blocks, geoboards, omnifix cubes, etc, There is also a problem of the month posted each month on the bulletin boards. Math Mornings and Mathletics are hosted there as well.
Mathletics - This is a free after school program which provides an opportunity for Middle School and Level III students to solve interesting problems from a variety of mathematics competitions including AMC8, MOEMS, Bay Area Math Olympiad, and Girls’ Adventures in Mathematics.
Math Workshop - Lower School-specific; weekly skill-targeted math instruction focused on themes found in the curriculum. A variety of games, hands-on activities, opportunities for students to work on extensions from our HEARTS investigations, and problem-solving is offered along with additional support from our LS Math Specialist, Peggy McLean.
Mealtrain Program - SynC’s Sunshine Committee organizes meals and other support (rides, playdates, etc) for teachers, staff and families going through challenging times, such as an illness, new baby or passing. If you become aware of a community member going through a difficult time, discreetly bring it to SynC’s attention (if appropriate) and we can ask if they would like support.
Mom’s Night Out - SynC organizes a monthly evening out for Synapse moms. It’s typically held the first Tuesday of the month, somewhere in the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area.
Morning Meetings - In the Lower School, community meeting involving an EQ check-in, updates or announcements for the day, and hot cognition.
Morning Munchies - SynC supports our staff by organizing parents to provide a light breakfast for faculty and staff one or two days per week. We ask that each family try to participate once during the school year. Families can either put the meal together themselves or join forces with another family. This program makes a huge difference for our staff and is deeply appreciated.
My Synapse - Our online parent portal. My Synapse is your one-stop-shop for Synapse information. You are there now, congratulations! Now get exploring!
NAIS - National Association of Independent Schools. Synapse is a member school.
Narwhal - Synapse’s mascot! Elected as a result of a 7/8 math project.
Nature Day - Nature Day is an important part of the Synapse program both for social emotional growth as well as the development of an appreciation for nature. As a school that encourages change and fosters the growth of future change makers, we feel it is important to develop an appreciation for our earth through experiencing nature and learning more about it in a hands-on, authentic way. Each Friday for one trimester, Levels I, II and III head to Huddart Park in Woodside. Level II has Nature Days in Trimester One; Level III will attend Nature Days in Trimester Two; and Level I will attend Nature Days in Trimester Three.
Newsletter - See Synapse Weekly Newsletter.
Operation Gratitude - Starting the day after Halloween, SynC collects any extra candy you’d like to get out of the house. It is then donated to First Responders and the Military through a non profit based in southern California. It’s a great way to support those looking after us all while getting rid of any unwanted candy.
Pajamas & Pancakes Day - A Synapse tradition! The day before Winter Break, Synapse buddies spend time together while teachers & staff make pancakes for lunch. Everyone (teachers included) is encouraged to wear pajamas.
Parent Association - See SynC.
Parent Mixer - These level specific mixers are for parents only and serve as a great way to socialize with other parents in the community. They are typically done potluck style and held in a private home. Not to be confused with Parent-Teacher Potlucks or Middle School Socials.
Parent-Teacher Conferences - Held four times a year, conferences are an opportunity for parents and teachers to learn from each other and strengthen partnerships in educating change makers. Conferences are typically in August, December, March and June. LS conferences are with Leads and Associates; MS conferences might be with advisors or content teachers, or even run by students.
Parent-Teacher Potluck - Toward the beginning of the school year, SynC organizes a Parent-Teacher potluck. This gathering is held at school and provides an opportunity for parents and teachers to socialize in a relaxed setting. This is one of the only social events of the year where teachers are sure to attend. So, take advantage of this chance to get to know our amazing staff!
Performing Arts - A cohesive, sequential, progressive skill building 9 year program that empowers students to express themselves through performance and develop creative fluency by providing sequenced skill development, age appropriate performance experiences.
Personal Education Plan (PEP) - The document that students and faculty use to track and reflect on their goals, centered around the Synapse Learning Outcomes.
Playspace - Our main school gathering space, used for assemblies, indoor recess, presentations, and other large school activities. See Building 2 (B2).
Pods - K-8 groups of students that work together during assemblies and special events. LI/III and LII/MS buddies are assigned within pods.
Portfolio Day - A day in which students showcase their work and demonstrate their learning to their parents; occurs at the end of Trimester One and at the end of Trimester Three.
Problem Solving - A Middle School class; skill-targeted math instruction focused on themes found in the curriculum. Includes a variety of games, hands-on activities, and opportunities for students to work on extensions from our HEARTS investigations.
Project Based Learning (PBL) - The learning process through which students construct meaning from investigations that value process over product. Students conduct research, build, reflect, transform, and communicate information in new ways.
Riekes - The Riekes Center for Human Enhancement is a contracted organization (right next door) that provides Synapse with nature and arts instruction. Riekes instructors manage Lower School Nature Day activities, and provide class options for Middle School Friday Focus electives.
Room Parents - Each level has 2-3 Room Parent volunteers representing SynC. They are responsible for helping foster community and supporting our amazing staff. Unlike many other schools, their work is generally outside the classroom. It includes organizing potlucks, playdates and our teacher appreciation activities among other things. They also serve as liaisons between teachers and the parent community.
Six Seconds - An emotional intelligence network, international nonprofit organization, and the founding organization of Synapse School.
Silicon Valley Math Initiative (SVMI) - Synapse is a member of the the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative, which is comprised of over 150 members. Members include school districts, individual schools and educational organizations. Members are entitled to a large library of resources including performance tasks & Problems of the Month (POM), curriculum & instructional tools, summative & formative assessments, and professional development opportunities.
SportsHouse - Sports facility at Edison and Fifth that Synapse uses for physical education classes and home athletic games.
STEAM Elective - Middle School elective courses that embody the intersections between science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math.
Store - The sixth step of the HEARTS model. Students are encouraged to store the lesson in long-term memory by repeating what was learned and completing a short exit ticket exercise at the close of the school day.
If you were hoping to find out how to purchase Synapse swag, see the Synapse Store.
Student Support/Success Team (SST) - The Student Support/Success Team process is designed to assist Synapse teachers in addressing, documenting, and supporting student needs.
Summer Camp Share - This is an online place organized by SynC to share your kids’ summer plans to coordinate with friends and get ideas. It contains an archive of the prior summer’s info as well as tabs for each level for the upcoming summer. It begins circulating in January and is invaluable for summer planning and syncing calendars with friends.
Summer Playdates - Room Parents organize get togethers over the summer to foster community and help everyone stay in touch over the summer. It’s particularly great for incoming Kindergartners to get to know each other before school starts.
Sunshine Committee - The portion of SynC responsible for Morning Munchies, Mealtrain, Welcome Back Staff Lunch and Operation Gratitude. If you would like to join the committee, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Synapse Learning Outcome (SLO) - Practices and habits of mind that encompass our three frameworks for teaching and learning: leading-edge academics, social-emotional learning, and innovation.
The SLOs are Communication - Perspective - Feedback - Creativity - Follow Through - Inquiry - Iteration - Advocacy - Risk
Synapse Weekly Newsletter - A weekly school-wide communication to keep you updated on all school events and announcements. The Weekly Newsletter is sent via email.
SynC - The parent association at Synapse is called SynC. Its mission is to (1) foster a vibrant and inclusive parent community and (2) support and appreciate our amazing staff.
Teacher Appreciation Luncheon - Once a month, SynC Room Parents organize a lunch for the staff. Each level does this twice per school year (LI hosts only once since they are half the size). Parents sign up to contribute food and decorations.
Teacher Appreciation Week - For one week in the spring, we celebrate our teachers. Typically, each of the five levels takes a day and, led by their Room Parents, organizes an appreciation activity. The overall effort is planned and coordinated by the SynC Teacher Appreciation Week Chair.
The Constructivists - Synapse’s rockstar parent-teacher cover band. The band puts on a one night only show at the end of the school year. Anyone is welcome to join the band with a nominal time commitment for rehearsals. This is a remarkably talented and fun group and a fantastic show. THE parent event of the year. You don't want to miss it!
Town Hall - Once a month, an opportunity to join Jim, Head of School, for coffee and conversation. This is a time for Jim to get to know parents better, for him to share what is happening at Synapse, and for you to ask any questions you might have.
Transform - 1. The fifth phase of the HEARTS model. Students transfer their learning to another context, develop deeper problem solving skills, and apply new understanding to purposeful and creative projects.
2. A Middle School class - an opportunity for project work, students have access to teachers for support and questions. Each session, students work toward goals and either stay in their advisory to work, or transition to another teacher’s space for targeted support.
Two Stars and a Wish - A quick, accessible format for giving feedback. Also called “Glows and Grows” in some classes.
Visual Arts & Design (VAD) - A cohesive, sequential, progressive skill building 9 year program where students use the Innovation Model to explore creative connections to academic areas of focus. Students analyze historical context, develop an understanding of artistic and design concepts and experiment with new skills to execute on their vision for their projects.
Welcome Back Coffee - Parents gather in Building 2 for coffee and breakfast snacks after drop off on the first day of school to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.
Welcome Back Staff Lunch - Teachers and staff are welcomed at the beginning of each new school year with a scrumptious lunch compliments of SynC. The lunch usually happens the day before school starts while the staff are all working hard setting up for the year.
Writer’s Workshop - Modeled after Lucy Calkins’ work (and other educators in the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia), Writer’s Workshop is a Middle School class designed to encourage a love of writing, build fluency, and self-management in writing. Writer’s Workshop focuses on the mechanics of writing, as well as structure and craft in the genres of narratives, exposition, and opinion/ persuasion.
That's ok! Complete the form below with your questions or term(s) that you are still confused about. This glossary is a work in progress. We would love to hear your questions and suggestions!