Thursday, January 30, 2014

Seeds and Observation

Students in first grade enrichment are continuing their exploration of plants with an in depth look at seeds.  This week we planted bean seeds in small starter pots.  We will observe these over time.  In order to contemplate what was happening under the soil, we have done two experiments.  First, we placed some beans on wet paper towels in order to see if we could watch the beginning of plant development.  Second we dissected some lima bean seeds to investigate and observe what is inside a seed.

We have observed first hand that seeds contain tiny plants ready to grow.  We noticed that seeds seem to have a skin or protective coat, that seeds can hold water and more.  Many students found a tiny root and even leaves inside their seeds.  It took a lot of intense observation to notice these things, as the seed parts were the same color!

We also learned through our reading that the largest seed in the world can be up to sixty pounds.  This is bigger than the average first grader!!

Authors and Illustrators in Grade 2

In second grade enrichment students are putting the finishing touches on books that they are creating for a kindergarten friend.  Book topics were picked by K students, based on their interests...but they did not know what I was going to do with my interest survey!

During the publishing process I have seen amazing teamwork.  Some students are co-authoring works and so have really had to collaborate on both stories and pictures. Other students have worked independently, but in the finishing phase are relying on classmates to listen to their finished work as they practice reading it and prepare to read it to their kindergarten friend.  I have enjoyed listening to and learning alongside students as they maneuver the writing process.  The ideas and imagination of students makes each class full of joy! I hope to post some of their original work, or excerpts on the enrichment blog in the near future, so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Traveling with Tori--Final Challenge

On Friday January 17th, students in Mrs. Ankerson's third grade class had a great surprise when Tori, our traveling contact came home toVermont  and visited us!  Mrs. Rankin and Mrs. Drury were in on the surprise so we had the classroom set up for a proper tea party to celebrate our final challenge!  Tori challenged the students with the following rhyme:

I am a building

Big and Round

Italy is the country in which I can be found!

I was home to gladiator fights galore,

But now I don’t even have a floor!

I am almost 2000 years old.

Trevi fountain and gelato can be found just down the road!

Where and What am I?

It was great to use our map resources, and then have Tori help us reveal the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.  Students then sat at tables and tried some tea biscuits (made in England, and something Tori had mentioned enjoying in our notes to us) and had the opportunity to view a slideshow of Tori's travels , as well as ask her questions!

We are so thankful to Tori for her creativity in creating awesome challenges and to Mrs. Drury for connecting us at the beginning of the year and helping us to celebrate!  Learning from other people is a great way to enrich our classroom experiences!

Do you have a traveling connection to share?  Third graders will continue to study geography in enrichment throughout the year and we would love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Take the Enrichment Challenge!

In January every K - 4 student received an enrichment challenge booklet.  The packet is a series of activities that students are challenged to try over the course of the rest of the school year.  Challenges range from participating in a community event, to building a lego creation and everything in between.  Students can choose which activities to try, and can work with family and friends to learn!  Some of these activities will match things they are doing at school, while others will extend their skills in different areas.  

I created the enrichment challenge my first year at RES in response to requests that I received about how families could extend, enhance and enrich their children's learning outside of school.  The challenge has grown to include a large variety of activities that were requested by students as well as community members!  

I often get told that families like the freedom of choosing which activities they will do and when!  The enrichment challenge is not homework, but it can bring an increased level of learning to a planned family activity ( instead of a game or movie about taking an enrichment challenge?)

I hope everyone will enjoy this 'challenge'!  I always look forward to hearing about the learning that students are doing outside of school!


RES Science Fair

In my fourth year as the enrichment teacher at RES, I am excited to continue the school tradition of a non-judged family science fair.  Each year I am amazed by student work and by the time and talent that families put into their projects.  The science fair at RES is an opportunity for students to pick a topic and then work with their family or friends to create  a way to share their learning.  This is a somewhat unique opportunity in that students are encouraged to work with others and use the support of their community to complete their work.  I have found that this method allows for families to have an amazing time exploring science together!  Doing a science project takes time and the exploratory and experimental nature of the learning that takes place, on topics of students' own choice , is what makes it great! 

The RES Science Fair will be on Thursday March 6th this year.  I hope everyone will participate--either by creating a project and/or attending the event.

If you need resources, please contact me!  The library also has great texts that could be used to help answer questions or design your project (Families can check out extra books beyond their student check outs if they need resources).

See you at the Science Fair!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from the enrichment classroom.  We just created a new bulletin board in the classroom that reminds us that each RES student is unique and amazing!  I hope that this year of learning embraces this idea to the utmost!

As an educator I am constantly trying to give students opportunities to learn that provide them with voice and choice.  I want students to feel that their ideas, opinions and questions are amazing! I want students to express themselves as individuals, but to also realize that only together are we a snowstorm (and we all want one of those)!

I welcome ideas and visitors into our learning community at any time.....please email me if you would like to share and connect with us!  

Creating Amazing Race Challenges

Third graders in enrichment classes are wrapping up their amazing race around the world.  So far we have visited three continents and taken challenges ranging from cultural dances to surfing and reciting facts about the Great Barrier Reef, to making and testing boomerangs, as well as many map challenges!  Next students will spend time creating their own challenges for a continent.  Students are responsible for working with their amazing race team to develop:   a challenge to figure out their continent, a cultural challenge, and a geography mapping challenge. After the challenges are created, students will exchange them with another team.  This will allow them to learn about two more continents as we finish our world travels!

Kindergarten Explorers!

Kindergarten enrichment is a time to explore.  The use of centers allows us to make choices, set the pace for our learning,  be self directed, play, and have fun with our peers!  As kindergarteners become comfortable with the enrichment space, we are beginning to plan for student interest driven centers.  By the end of kindergarten each student will have an opportunity to work with me to design and run a center based on a topic and idea of their choice.  Students conference with me to share their ideas and create a plan and list of needed materials.  So far this year student ideas have ranged from sewing to tigers to volcanoes! In a few weeks the first students will begin to share their ideas with the class.  On their day, a student will share their topic with the whole class and describe their center.  Next, the student will run their center during our exploratory choice time.  Their classmates will be able to visit their centers (these automatically become the most popular place to be in the classroom).

During this experience, kindergarten students learn: to identify their interests, to make a plan for how to share their ideas with others, to speak in front of the class about their interests,  and to be the lead learner at a center (they are the expert after all).  

I cannot wait to begin this next step in our exploration as learners! Stay tuned to hear about all the great experiences we will share!

After School Programming Provides Opportunities

The RES after school enrichment program is a unique opportunity for students!  There are many great things about the program...and perhaps a few you have not thought of!

*Students have an opportunity to learn from a variety of different adults.  These adults are skilled in their area of class selection and have a passion that they want to share! In our lives we must learn from and with a huge variety of people.  Having the opportunity to be exposed to different teaching styles and great local community members is part of the enrichment experience.

* Students take multiage classes that allow them to interact with students from other grades.  This set up allows students to be older leaders and mentors to younger classmates and it provides an opportunity for younger students to grow and learn from other students.  

* Classes last for six week periods.  Unlike many other after school activities where students are required to play for a season, or commit to them for a year, the enrichment program prides itself on setting up an environment in which students can TRY things.  Taking risks in your learning leads to growth, and knowing that you are not committed long term encourages us to make choices and try new things!  

*  It is fun!  This one is probably obvious.....but it is so important I had to include it! The pictures below include students showing off their Asian cooking, making 'exploding snowmen' and creating doll crafts!   As this was going on, other students were jumping rope, learning about French culture and more!

So....if you have not tried the enrichment program before...consider these great benefits!  Sign ups for the next enrichment session will be sent home the week before February break!  As usual there are many great offerings!  The new classes will begin Monday March 10th and continue for the next six Mondays into April.

We welcome all feedback on the programming...both positive and constructive!  We are also always looking for caring adults to share their interests!  Please contact me with questions, comments or ideas!