Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seven Natural Wonders of the World

Third grade students spent their enrichment class before break viewing natural wonders around the world. After viewing some amazing photographs of these locations, students selected one location of their choice, and classroom materials , and began creating. After the break we will locate some of these places using a variety of mapping strategies.

We also began some interesting discussions about how these locations are selected. Could we have the Seven Natural Wonders of Richmond? Of Vermont? What might they be?

Valentines and More Dinosaurs!

Students in kindergarten created a center on dinosaurs and a valentine bracelet making station. Each student driven center is a celebration of student interest. Student centers also allow students to express their knowledge and skills to peers through an excitement that is intrinsic, based on their personal selection of the topic and student self-selection of center participation.

Student Ideas Drive Choice

During a brainstorming session with fourth graders about making school more fun (we were practicing our brainstorming skills to prepare for deciding on our capstone project topics) several students brought up the idea of being involved in the set up of their classrooms. As some other classes had exploratory time later in the week, I decided to have a few options in which students could contribute to the design of the enrichment classroom. This is something I had not thought of for explore time, because I had assumed that it might feel too much like a teacher task instead of an exploratory center. But with the student input in mind I offered up the design of a bulletin board and the development of an organizational system for my classroom library. Students jumped at the chance!

I am so grateful for students who voice their opinions and ideas--not only because of these great new additions to the enrichment classroom, but because their ideas teach me how to provide learning opportunities that matter to them.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

RES Spirit Sculptures

Last week in enrichment students in first and second grade were challenged to work together in small groups to create sculptures. Students were given a set of materials and asked to create something that shared school spirit. Sculptures included models of a cougar cub, a three dimensional 'RES', a person with an RES sign and much more. Students understood that these sculptures would not be permanent, but were a way for us to practice working together to create. The sculptures have been on display in the enrichment room this week....leading other classes to ask when they will get to build and create with tin foil and materials!

During this activity I saw students sharing ideas and using materials in a variety of creative ways. I think next time we do something like this I will pan to create a video of finished work so that we have a way to save their creations and share them beyond the classroom.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cooking with Kindergarten

This week in the enrichment classroomthe Farm to School Program, local chefs (and RES Community members) and parentvolunteers teamed up to cook with students. During our kindergarten enrichment block students used the brand newcooking cart to make Cranberry Coleslaw. We hope your child enjoyed this cooking opportunity!  Be sure to ask them all about how we measuredand worked together to create the recipe! 

Special Thanks goes to Amy Gifford, KarylKent, Katie Webster, Doug Paine and Karen Cotrone for making this possible!
       Here is the recipe we used!
Cranberry Coleslaw
·        ½cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
·        1/3cup mayonnaise
·        1Tablespoon sugar
·        1Tablespoon red wine vinegar
·        1teaspoon celery seed
·        ¾teaspoon salt
·        ½teaspoon dry mustard
·        10cups green and red cabbage, shredded
·        1cup carrots, shredded
·        3large apples, sliced into small strips or chunks
·        ½cup sunflower seeds, shelled
·        1cup dried cranberries

1.      Shred cabbage in a food processor.
2.      Peel and grate carrots.
3.      Peel and slice apples.
4.      Measure sunflower seeds and dried cranberriesinto a bowl.
5.       Measureyogurt, mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery seed, salt and mustard into acanning jar. Cover tightly and shake to mix.
6.      Put cabbage carrots, cranberries, and sunflowerseeds in a large mixing bowl. Add dressing. Stir to coat.

RES Family Science Fair

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The RES Family Science Fair is an annual event that allows students and families to share their interests and their love of science! The fair is a non-judged, family event in which families are encouraged to work with students to create a project to share with the RES community. Science fair projects have included things as basic as a student's rock collection, and as complex as a model of how the human heart works.

A science fair enrollment form will be sent home soon. It is requested that all students planning to attend fill out the form, so that they can be included in the science fair program.The science fair will be held on Thursday March 14th!

We have discussed the science fair during enrichment classes, and students know that they can come to me with questions or for resources----I am here to help.  They were also excited to find out that IF we have over 75 science fair entries, I will take a cream pie to the face in the name of science! So, start experimenting and exploring and SIGN UP for the RES science fair!!!!

The internet is full of science fair project ideas, and the best ideas are generated from students own interests....but if you need some help getting started, here is a great site:

Did you know?  Although students can check out two books a week from the library, families may check out more!  I encourage you to take advantage of this when seeking resources for the science fair--our school library has some great idea books, as well as nonfiction science resources that are very helpful!

Amazing Racers Cross the Finish Line

This week in enrichment the third grade classes are completing their race around the world. Challenged to work as a team and to persevere through difficult tasks students have accomplished their mission! After the last challenge was complete, students were asked to create a poster, as their last team task with this group, that showed their learning during the race. It was great to watch them reflect on their learning as they highlighted tasks that they enjoyed, or that they were proud to have figured it. I watched one group discuss how a student had solved an anagram for the word London in the fastest time on record (!). I loved that the team decided to list this accomplishment at the center of their poster. Other groups focused on art or cultural pieces that they had created, from origami to African body painting. Posters also included the names of continents and places that they have visited during their learning.

After posters were made, we met as a class. I recognized each team for their hard work and then passed out certificates to each student. I had planned to say something about the various groups, but after I saw the reflection and praise that were built in to their poster making,we instead had a high-fiving session and took team pictures!

Next in third grade we will spend some time focusing on geography and mapping skills. We will be using a National Geographic program to guide this work. I look forward to watching students apply various skills and to trying out some new technology components to support their exploration.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Enrichment Challenge

The enrichment challenge is a scorecard packed with excellent ideas for students to expand their learning horizons! Students are encouraged by the challenge to get outside, to visit new places, to help others, to learn a new skill, and much more. Each student in the school received a copy of the scorecard.

The enrichment challenge was created in response to many parent questions about how they might enrich student learning at home. This scorecard gives concrete ideas for individual and family activities. Students are also excited to find that they are already doing some of these things in their extracurricular activities, and so it is a way to celebrate these efforts too!

This year the enrichment challenge will run from now until the end of May. Participation in the challenge is for fun, and is an optional, at home activity! All students who participate in the challenge will receive a certificate at the end of the year and a small reward, but as we discussed in class --the real reward is looking at your completed scorecard and seeing all of the great things you have accomplished.

I hope all students will TAKE the CHALLENGE!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Inspired by the Farm to School Program and the RES Health Team

I am constantly grateful for the connections and resources that are provided to RES students by the Farm to School Program and the RES Comprehensive Health Team.  In the last few weeks, several projects have reinforced for me all of the great work everyone is doing---volunteering above and beyond to make our school a better place for kids to learn and grow!

As a member of the FOCUS team (Families, Community and School Focusing on Student Success) I participated in the planning of the recent RES Family Movie night. This was a well attended event with over one hundred community members crowding the gym to watch a movie on a cold January evening! The Farm to School program became involved in this night when they suggested that we locally source the popcorn kernels that we would use.  Several people worked to get them to school in time for the show and they were great!  I had the pleasure of announcing this local food connection to the packed house and received a giant round of applause! I of course could not take credit.....but I was thankful.

Next, I am very enthusiastic about the work that has been done by these groups to acquire a cooking cart for RES students to use! Over the course of the next few weeks I have signed up to get many of the classes in school engaged with the new cart and I am very excited!  In a few weeks we will be cooking with all the kindergarten classes--and Farm to School has facilitated having local chefs there for this first introduction!!!  On Monday one of my second grade classes used some class time to explore the cart, and next week they will work with Karyl Kent to make a movie to describe the great possibilities for its' use!

Finally, after a meeting with Amy Gifford, F to S Coordinator, and a survey put out by the Comprehensive Health Team, I was really inspired to think about movement in my classroom.  I often feel very schedule driven, and fear movement as a significant loss of time......but conversations with these great school resources has made me reexamine this fear.  On Wednesday I responded to their input and tried a 3 minute movement break with a fourth grade class.  It was fabulous! And students were able to move and then engage in learning tasks immediately after the 'break'. 

I am very thankful for this team of people who has a constant eye on the health and well being of our school and their unending support of students.