Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Vacation!

I look forward to more great learning in 2013!! Hoping for some real snow over the break!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

After School Enrichment Forms Due by Friday

Get signed up for session 2 of after school enrichment! Sign ups went home on Tuesday and are due by Friday December the 21st.
Great classes and opportunities to learn with our school community!

Questions? Contact Darcie Rankin at

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Teaching Technology Through Play

I feel very strongly that playful exploration is an excellent method for all types of learning, but have found it especially useful for teaching technology this year. This week in the enrichment room there were two awesome examples of this that I hope will lead to future application!

In fourth grade during our enrichment/ library block we continue to work on media literacy and developing our critical thinking skills through the use of advertising strategies. Students are currently thinking about visual ads that have a video component-- for example TV commercials. As a part of our work together we will be creating book trailers that advertise a book available in the library. I have made movies with students in the past, but limited student involvement to writing the script and acting it out while I did most of the technology work to make the end product. This time we gave students dedicated time to use the tool to play. Students all made a fun trailer which they were able to share by the end of class. Their trailers were really funny and creative! They worked together in small groups and learned by trying. I believe that this playful exploration will lead to the ability for these students to create their book trailers from start to finish independently.

In kindergarten explore time two students approached me and said they wanted to ' do computers'. We had a great discussion about what that meant. These students really just wanted to play with this tool and that was their entire goal! We decided that they would login to a classroom laptop and check out a fantastic library resource called Pebble Go. I watched as they navigated through screens and decided which buttons led to videos or words or pictures. Their natural exploratory playfulness served them well as they taught themselves this new resource!

Watching students learn technology through play reminds me that this way of interacting with new tools and ideas leads to some great new knowledge and skills and it is a method that I as a teacher should not just encourage but also practice.

Cultural Exploration and More

Third graders this week spent time reviewing some of the geography ideas we have been studying together. After this mini review, we used the rest of our class period for exploratory play.

I opened several of the cultural activity boxes, and encouraged students to check out the various materials inside. Students were engaged in a variety of tasks including, building, trying different clothes and instruments, checking out characters of foreign alphabets and much more. Explore options also included the classroom puppet theater, legos and kinex. We have begun thinking about how we might include legos in our amazing race challenges, so stay tuned! Here are a few pictures of the explore time.

Reading Buddy Project a Success

Today a kindergarten enrichment class got a surprise when a second grade class visited to deliver a special gift made just for them! Students each received a bag that included a book, a handmade bookmark and a reading buddy. Reading buddies were each designed and hand-sewn by second graders.

Students started by introducing themselves and then sharing their special creation. Next each pair spent time reading their new books together.

This project is an excellent example of an idea that was developed by students and supports our school community. As a teacher I loved both the reading component as well as the idea that relationships are forming between different ages! We hope that students will check in with their new friends and that kindergarteners will enjoy using their reading buddies the rest of the school year during classroom reading time.

I look forward to hearing what this amazing group of second graders will plan next!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Special Delivery for School Cheer

This week first graders delivered special plants to each of the classrooms in the school. This project gave students a chance to think about their school environment and how they could make it a better place to learn. Students had the opportunity to share their plant with a class during their morning meetings.

This activity allowed first graders to meet a variety of staff and students in other grades --and we hope the growth of the plant will continue these interactions for weeks to come!

A Compass Rose

In third grade enrichment this week students created a compass rose with cardinal and intermediate directions. They also explored geographical resources to find some examples of directions on different kinds of maps. Next we used their knowledge of direction to travel around the world in small groups. We moved from continent to continent, and from country to country traveling in various directions until we landed back in Vermont!

Building a Community!

Students in Mrs. Robinson's second grade class have been creating a model of Richmond during enrichment. As the project took shape today I witnessed students working together to support each other at every turn. Students were invested in making something great together. Although many had worked on individual pieces, when the time came to finalize the town, every student was part of the team and they displayed this with their cooperative actions.

Students are excited that this model can be used by younger classes to understand our town and is a part of their efforts to connect with the community.

Listening and Sharing

This week in enrichment first graders have been working in pairs to interview each other. Students were asked to draw a picture as a way of reporting on what they had learned from their interviewee. This exercise was a great way to practice listening skills as well as adding details. Students found that they could not draw a good picture to report to the group if they did not listen carefully to their partner. In addition we got a chance to find out some great information about students and their interests through our end of task interview share!

I hope that these listening skills will be applied as we work in various groups throughout the year to collaborate on projects.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snakes, Snowflake Hats and Fairy Tools

Today my kindergarten son was speaking to a friend of the family about enrichment. His first comment was to let them know that I was the enrichment teacher and that I was his teacher. Next he told them that he didn't really learn anything in enrichment! I was taken by surprise, and then listened very closely to what he said next. He told her that all he did was read, ask questions, and make lots of choices about what he wanted to explore. Then he told her how his friends had created a station and taught him how to make a hat. He told her that his friend had picked the materials and planned what they would do.

In kindergarten, enrichment time is about play, it is about choice, it is about getting to know what your interests are, it is about trying new things, it is about exploration, it is about being with friends, it is about sharing with each other (ideas and objects!). We are learning every day--sometimes without realizing it!

This week in enrichment students have led centers on snakes, and created snowflake hats and fairy objects. Students are learning great things and they are learning how to share their passions with each other!