Sunday, March 30, 2014

Drums, Dolphins and Sewing

One thing I love about the enrichment room is that each day offers new and unique opportunities for learning, brought to us by students themselves.  One kindergarten interest driven center this week had the theme of drums. The student wanted to drum on real drums, an iPad app called GarageBand, and read books about drumming.  We are lucky at RES to have an awesome music teacher who inspires students love of music.  Mr. Arthur is also always willing to lend musical instruments to classrooms.  It was awesome for our drum center to have real stand up drums.  We did drum and repeat as a whole class and during centers time students were able to participate in a drum circle!  I also am excited to see students mixing technology into learning centers in a healthy way.  Students collaborated on the iPad as they learned the application and they tried to figure out ways to connect to the drumming they had just done!

In a different class a Kindergartener shared her love of dolphins (everyone in her family except her dad loves these animals and she wanted to share this with us!). We made dolphin tissue paper murals and used kinetic sand to play with dolphins and other animals in their habitat!

Another student center this week was very special as a parent was able to come and visit our class as we learned about her daughter's passion for sewing.  With parent support we had access to a sewing machine and every student in class got to make a small pillow for a stuffie.  As a teacher I would have never planned this sort of activity for a group of Kindergartners to complete in forty minutes.....but the students were motivated by her excitement and they did it!  At one point I was able to take a break from helping students cut their pillow patterns and I captured a photo of our student presenter guiding a fellow student through the use of the sewing machine.  She allowed her friend to push the pedal as she steered the fabric...all the while explaining how and what she was doing.  She was the lead teacher and it was awesome!  I also love how this student sharing build connections.  During her share another student shared how he had learned to sew last great to build connections within our classroom community!  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Movement! Drama! Choreography!

  All RES students in third grade had the amazing opportunity today to participate in a Flynn Workshop.  These forty minute workshops are developed by the Flynn as a way to give students hands on experience with the performing arts that they will then witness during their trip to the Flynn Theater. The Flynn does an excellent job finding artists that are excited to share their passions and skills with students.  Today a choreographer led students through physical movement activities and helped them understand how performing artists fill in negative space on stage.    The workshop itself is a great chance for students to connect with an artist in our community (check out the joy and engagement captured in the photographs!), but it is also important because of the learning connections that it provides.  Students will now experience their trip to the theater more connected to the actors and their tasks.  The show will have more meaning and be more powerful!

These workshops were made available to RES through a generous grant from the Champlain Valley Educator Development Center.  We are grateful to be the recipients of this funding!

Third graders will attend "At NightFall" on Tuesday!   The trips to the Flynn Theater are an excellent way to view the performing arts and engage different learning styles for our students.  We hope that this experience will awaken a passion in some students, and create an appreciation of the arts in all!

A special thanks goes to the third grade teachers, Mrs. Ankerson, Mrs. Ayer and Miss Darby for freeing up time to attend this great class to support performing arts at RES AND the Flynn artist and workshop coordinator for making this experience possible.  If you are interested in learning more about workshop opportunities for future performances (the cost to fund a workshop is one hundred dollars per class), please contact me.  Below are the future performances that students will attend this year at RES.

 Grade 1:
Performance:            "Seussical" the Musical
Performance Date:       Apr 16 2014  9:30AM

Grade 2:
Performance:            "Stuart Little"
Performance Date:       May  7 2014  9:30AM

Thanks to Mrs Redford for the images!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Learning about Light

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

These are the questions that we are investigating as we begin 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.  

Last week 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.  

This week we investigated how light travels.  We used questions, observations, and careful note taking to share our results.  If you see a second grader in the hall...ask them how light travels!

Next we will study various materials and how light interacts with them.  As we continue to learn and grow our thinking, we will ask questions, and discuss what the main characteristics of great scientists and scientific experiments are!

Country Exploration

In third grade enrichment classes we are continuing our year long study of World Geography.  We just kicked off the next phase of our learning in which students will explore and learn about a country of their choice.  Students took some time this week to think about what country they might be interested in learning about.  Students are using their background knowledge, personal connections, our work from earlier in the year, books and various websites to inform their decision.  Students enjoyed the Amazing Race and all of our teamwork, but I can tell that they are also really enjoying this chance to have individual choice.  Allowing each student to select a different country means that we need to have many resources.....and it means that I get to learn alongside students.  I look forward to this phase of our study!

The images below show our third graders using many resources to learn.  I love getting pictures that show our integrated use of technology, and how it is used interchangeably with books and atlases and maps, depending on what students are doing!  I believe strongly that this method for technology implementation is the most realistic way to research and learn.

If you have a special connection to a particular country, we would love for you to share it with us!

Creating Books, Airplanes, Wolves, and Really Tall Snowmen!

In kindergarten enrichment class students continue to lead interest driven centers. We have enjoyed a variety of great centers!  One student was interested in making his own books.  After making books on his own, he asked that he lead a center where students could make a book about a topic of their choice.  I am often asked if student interests really drive learning.  This was an excellent example of how one student's passion for writing led almost the entire class to spend their choice time writing and creating books!

Another student shared that he had recently flown in an airplane and was really interested in learning more about the different kinds.  We read a book as a class and then students built an airport and created a place to think about airplanes.  

In another class a student was determined to build really big snowmen.  I was able to find a great book in the library about using math as you build a snowman.....and so we read this and then students built and measured a snowman that ended up being ten feet and two inches tall!  

And the last center we had this week was all about wolves.  The student shared why he was interested in wolves ( he had read a book and wanted to know what they ate).  Next we watched a Pebble Go video to learn more.  Students in his center colored wolf coloring pages and made wolf puppets.  In addition students used how much fun they had creating books a previous week to make wolf books! 

I was also overjoyed to have a student bring in an awesome space book to connect with some play from last week. Students used the book to imagine and learn!

Kindergarten enrichment is full of exploration and is great!