Friday, February 9, 2018

Celebrating Light in Grade 2 Enrichment

How does light travel?
How does light interact with other objects?

These are the questions that we investigated in our science study into light in second grade enrichment.  In our first meeting, students came into a dark enrichment space, and were challenged to think about light.  It is all around us, yet we found that we had not spent much time thinking about its properties.  If students closed their eyes, could they feel when a flashlight was shone on them?  What are some sources of light? What questions do we have about light?  We had a great discussion and then spent the rest of class using flashlights to develop observations and questions.  

Next we used our great science thinking to consider sources of light.  Students created tables to compare objects that produced light, and ones that did not.  I observed many great discussions as students considered what light really is.  

Next we investigated how light travels.  We used questions, observations, and careful note taking to share our results. 

Lastly, we studied various materials and how light interacts with them.  We tested many materials and discovered through investigation that  depending on the type of material light will interact differently. This realization led us to an engineering problem in which students had to select the best material to design a bike helmet.  Students used experiments to test out their hypothesis and did a great job showing and sharing their thinking.

Last week we wrapped our unit with a 'celebration of light'.  We made our own flashlights with LEDs and batteries and we built light mazes and forts.  Second graders learned a lot about light and did a great job connecting real life ideas and problems to their discoveries.

Kindergarten Enrichment Students Drive Their Learning

The Kindergarten enrichment programming is a play based exploratory environment that supports social and academic learning driven by student choice.  A key component of the program is that each kindergarten student gets an opportunity to create a station which other students in their class will visit during exploratory play. Each student conferences with Mrs. Rankin to discuss their interests, passions and ideas.  During that conference we develop a plan for their student driven center.  We develop a list of materials that will be needed and what students will 'do' when they visit.  Over the course of the rest of the year each student will have an opportunity to share their center with their class. 

It is truly amazing to see all of the topics that students come up with and how they want to learn with their classmates!  During their share week students have a chance to answer questions from the whole class about why they chose their topic and what we will be doing.  They really step up to present and classmates are respectful and excited to learn from their peers.  Student driven centers began two weeks ago, and we have already learned about horses, how to make snowflakes, art, stars, space, gymnastics and fairies!  It promises to be another amazing year in enrichment exploring and learning from and with each other.

Maker Mondays

Maker Mondays at Richmond Elementary school is an after school program that gives students an opportunity to design, create and make in our makerspace.  During our time together students do guided tinkering projects, such as lighting up their creations with LEDs (as shown in this video) as well as the freedom to create from their own imaginations!  Students also enjoy using our Take-Apart station to understand how things work as they dismantle and investigate broken keyboards, computers and more!  The makerspace offers an exploratory environment where students can make and learn through hands on discovery. Students of all ages work side by side--learning from each other--supported by their teacher-- and independently driving their own learning through choice.

Jeh Kulu us Coming to RES!!!

Richmond Elementary School is excited to WELCOME BACK Jeh Kulu--African Dance and Drumming Ensemble--for an Artist in Residency in April 2018.

All students in Grades K-4 will have an opportunity to dance and learn from Jeh Kulu during their PE classes on April 17th to 20th This residency was made possible by a grant from the Vermont Art Council, as well as fundraisers supported by the PTO (To donate to make sure every class gets this opportunity, please click here:  Go Fund Me Page: . Thanks!)

Science Fair Resources

The science fair is coming! On Thursday March 15th RES students in grades K-4 are invited to come and share their great science fair projects with our community.  The science fair is a great way for students and families to work together to explore and learn about topics that interest them.

Entry forms will be sent home Friday February 9th and will be due back by Friday February 23rd.
Open ...

Not sure where to get started?  I highly recommend starting with your interests! Is there a topic you studied in school that you would like to learn more about? Is there something you have always wondered about--maybe how it works?  Do you have a special collection you would like to share?

The RES science fair is a non judged family event...which means adult help is welcome and appreciated..AND kids can work together to create projects too!

Not sure where to get started? Here are a few resources!

I love this website. It has tons of great project ideas and even lets you answer a survey to narrow down the choices to your interests!

This site also has great examples, and includes some great videos which will support visual learners too! Although they are also a business trying to sell science materials, it includes many great free resources in the 'Experiments' section:

And one more of my favorites!

In addition, the RES school  library is full of science project ideas and resources.  Did you know you can check out additional books with a family account?  See Mrs. Redford to set this up.

And lastly, I have several science project idea books, and am happy to discuss and brainstorm ideas with kids or families....just stop by and see me, OR email me to set up some time.

Happy Experimenting, Discovering and Learning!
Have FUN!


Thursday March 15th, 2018
Students in Grades K- 4 will be sharing their great science projects in the RES gym!  The Farm to School program will be offering a dinner during the event so that both participating families and those looking for a night out can grab a great meal!   Raffle prizes will be awarded to students who ask great science questions! Everyone is welcome!
RES Farm to School Dinner
Time: 5-6:30pm
Location: RES Cafeteria
SIgn Up To Help Us Meal Plan at:

RES Science Fair
Time: 5:45 – 6:45 pm
(participants may set up projects any time after 5:15pm)
Location: RES Gym

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Community Building and 3D Printing

Each year it is so exciting when I am asked to collaborate with other teachers on projects.  I am currently collaborating on a technology and community building project with our technology integration teacher.  It is exciting to collaborate because often I am learning a new skill along side students.  It is also exciting because I believe by modeling collaboration we teach students how to effectively collaborate themselves.

This project began as a discussion about how to best utilize a 3D printer in the elementary school setting.  We knew we wanted students to build something meaningful (not just a trinket)...but we also recognized that there would be a learning curve to utilizing a new tool and we did not want to make something so complex that success would be beyond some students.  Mr. Langevin had the brilliant idea of building something for younger students--perhaps a playdoh tool for use in the kindergarten classroom.  We settled on this idea and began to develop lesson plans that would get us to that end goal.  Our essential goals were to build community in our school and give voice and choice in student learning, while at the same time learning to use an awesome new technology tool.  During these lessons we wanted third graders to:
--Learn to 3D design in Tinkercad (
--Develop a relationship with a kindergarten student
--Create a design for their new kindergarten friend that aligned with their interests
--See their iterative design process through to completion
--Give their creation as a gift and way to build community
We wanted kindergarteners to:
--Develop a relationship with older students in the school
--Feel welcomed by our school community
--Receive a personalized gift that they could use to play, explore and create at school

To date third graders have created Tinkercad accounts, met with their kindergarten buddies to learn their interests and began to design their playdoh tool.  It has definitely been an exciting month in enrichment! I am not sure if I enjoy seeing students stretch their learning and risk taking through the use of the new Tinkercad tool or watching the relationships in our school community grow---they are both awesome!  We hope to have playdoh tools completed in January.  I have also enjoyed listening to students make connections to the measurement unit that they are studying in math as they determine the correct size for the 3D printing.