Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Robot Rodeo--Sharing and Learning

One important goal of my enrichment programming is to provide students with unique and varied opportunities.  This week I was able to take several students to Dynamic Landscapes in Burlington Vermont.  This education conference is attended by many educators interested in innovating their teaching practice through learning from each other.
We were presented this opportunity because of our involvement in the first ever Vermont Robot Rodeo.  During the month of January RES students had participated in Robot Rodeo ( I blogged about this here:  http://robotrodeovt.blogspot.com/2016/01/cubelets-explore-halls-of-richmond.html and here http://robotrodeovt.blogspot.com/2016/02/richmond-elementary-says-goodbye-to.html and here: http://robotrodeovt.blogspot.com/2016/01/cubelets-arrive-at-res.html). 

I was very proud of students as they presented and shared their knowledge with educators.  These few students represented RES as they shared their passion and excitement for learning.  I hope that those that visited our booth learned about robots and understood the value and high engagement that these sorts of innovative opportunities give to our students.

A special thanks to Mrs. Hackett for sitting with us and to parent Sherri Gouse for providing students with a ride!

Seeking Enrichment Feedback

The enrichment program at RES continues to evolve as we develop a program that best meets the needs of students and teachers.  In class we routinely ask students for feedback about lessons and projects.  Parents and community members feedback is equally important and will influence the direction of the program as it continues to grow. We appreciate all feedback--positive and negative--and ask that it be given constructively so that we can use it to improve and learn.  If you want to extend the discussion beyond this feedback form, please contact darcie.rankin@cesuvt.org .

The last two years I submitted a similar survey to our community, and made direct changes to my programming as a result of your comments. I value our community--please share your ideas with me.

Survey time:  5 minutes tops-- to help our students!

Thanks so much.
Darcie Rankin, Enrichment Teacher

To take the survey, you can click on this link:

Monday, May 30, 2016

Westward Expansion Projects

Throughout the school year the third grade team and myself collaborate to create connected learning experiences that bridge the enrichment classroom to the topics that students are studying in their classroom. Sometimes the learning in enrichment is preparation for extension in their classroom--for example we explored many materials useful for learning about electricity during enrichment time and then students expanded on that use in their classrooms.  This year for students' study of Westward Expansion we decided that their enrichment time would be spent creating  projects that would be a culmination  of the learning that happened in their classrooms. Students spent three enrichment classes creating and making something that would share their learning about the Westward Expansion topic of their choice.

We had students cooking, creating green screen videos, making 3D projects from wagons to models of gold rush panning and the Alamo.  I love giving the students freedom to create anything that showcases their learning and to see what they produce.  I also really valued that students wanted to include reports and information that they had collected in their classrooms during their research. I think that creating a project at the end of a learning process can be a great way to give students creative freedom and to help them synthesize the knowledge they have acquired.

Sharing their learning in a project was great, but what gave it additional meaning was the knowledge that they would also share their projects with second graders and in the display case at the front of RES....as well as online in this blog post. As second graders prepare for grade 3....this connection at the end of the year is meaningful for all!

Here is a glimpse into the share with Grade 2:

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Maps, Mappy Maps!

Students in first grade enrichment have been continuing their study of community with mapping activities and investigations.  Over the last several weeks we have explored classroom maps, building maps, and town maps.  Students have been thinking about how maps teach us information and the methods they use to make sure we understand that information. We have been learning the importance of keys, addresses, symbols, labels and more!  We had a great discussion about the spherical nature of planet Earth, even though we usually see maps of our world on a flat surface.  I challenged students to peel a clementine and then create a flat map with the skin.  As we munched on our treat we realized how the Earth connects in a sphere even when the flat map does not show this.  Students were surprised to learn that people did not always know the Earth was round.

We have learned songs (mappy maps is our current favorite!) to help us remember cardinal directions and all the purposes for maps and we have used robots called the Ozobots as well as physical movement to practice our knowledge of directions. We have also done whole class and individual exploration of Google Earth, an online tool which allows you to virtually tour the world via satellite and streets views.

Currently students are creating treasure maps.  These aged looking maps will be creative and will confirm all the great learning we are doing by allowing students to showcase their knowledge of what maps contain as well as their purpose, with the added benefit of being inventive and fun.  I cannot wait to see their creations!

In addition to all of this cool work, the art teacher Mrs. Aucter and I are collaborating on a project in which students will be creating wooden community buildings. Once completed we will be creating a giant 3D model of our Richmond community!

Maps are a great way to learn, but are sometimes an abstract idea and hard to grasp. We have been doing a lot of work to make the maps connect to our understanding, but students could benefit from continued building of these connections.  I encourage you to check out Google Earth at home, sketch a map of a favorite room in your house together, or just look at a map or our town, state, or country (there are always free town maps at local restaurants!)  What do students notice?  What can you use the map for?  Have fun exploring!

Kindergarteners in Enrichment

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to have kindergarten students visit the enrichment classroom once a week for the last six weeks of school. We have had a great time getting to know each other and the enrichment room space.  I am impressed with their collaboration and kindness and I look forward to more great learning with these students next year!

Invention Prototypes

In third grade students had an opportunity in enrichment to design and build some invention prototypes.Their creativity and inventiveness was inspiring!
Here are some examples of the excellent inventions made by third graders during enrichment:

For details on our process check out this blog post:  http://enrichmentatres.blogspot.com/2016/04/engineering-design.html

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Wrapping Up Our Grade 2 Inquiry Projects

This month second graders in enrichment are wrapping up their interest driven, inquiry projects. I am proud of the work that students did to answer their questions, and I think they are too!  We are celebrating by sharing our work and answers with each other. 

I am always amazed at the curiosity and interests of kids and I am so grateful to be part of their learning journey.  I hope they will always stay this inquisitive!!!