Monday, November 21, 2016

Cougar Cub Inventor's Workshop

On Thursday evening RES hosted the third annual Cougar Cub Inventor's Workshop.  Three years ago this event began as a conversation between myself and a representative of the Vermont State Science Fair who had recently acquired materials via a grant to do engineering outreach at schools.  Each year I have been thrilled to add a diversity of learning experiences to our event that engage students and families in the creative process of making.  This event, attended by over one hundred students is made possible by a great number of people. I would like to thank RES teachers Beth Redford, Tonya Darby, Diane Kane, Katie LeFrancois and Illeen Gilbar for their amazing particpatory support.  I would also like to thank other MMUSD educators who gave their evening to support learning opportunities for our kids, including: Quinn Keating, CHMS TechnologyEducator  who brought a 3D printer and exposed students to Tinkercad design; Willie Lee BRMS Technology Educator who brought gliders to fly with students and Dave Bouchard JES Enrichment Teacher for bringing materials and teaching us about green screens and drones!  We also had members from outside our community....the Vermont Society of Women Engineers hosted centers as well as Mater Christi educator and friend Tricia Finkle.  And new this year ECHO STEM educator Chris Whitaker wowed students with a zip line! In addition we have an amazing 'behind the scenes' staff in Toby Beane, Jen West and Jeanne Adams that all help to make RES events successful!

As an educator I believe in the value of engaging students in learning through hands on exploration and learning.  I also believe that there is strength in education when we can build a community of learners in families and other amazing community members.  I feel lucky to have witnessed this type of learning on Thursday and I hope that everyone had a great time making and creating! I saw low tech creations as students built a massive house structure and space needle out of cardboard, high tech engagement as students coded and designed and everything in between.

I will continue to work to support making at RES and I welcome all feedback and comments about this evening and/or ideas for future projects.

Thanks to all who attended this event!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lantern Making

For the last two weeks the art room has been alive with creativity as students created lanterns with Mrs. Aucter and our 2016 artist in residence, Gowri Savoor.  Each class was engaged and worked hard to make a piece of art to share at our Lantern Parade.  I am proud of our students  and so thankful for our awesome art educator.   The Lantern Parade is tonight, and I cannot wait to see all those beautiful scultures bobbing across the field to the beat of a drum! 

The art community is also supportive of our efforts, as the materials and residence fees were made possible with the support of the Vermont Art Council and Huntington Valley Arts Organization.

Tinkering Award for RES

I am happy to announce that RES is the recipient of a Tinkering Award. This grant award fits with my goal to increase making and tinkering at RES.  The award, is sponsored by the Vermont After School Project ( and the Montshire Museum of Science ( and includes professional development as well as tinkering materials for students.  I was lucky to participate in a full day workshop last week in which I had an opportunity to tinker with materials, work with other passionate educators interested in making, and think about the structure of a tinkering space.  It was a great experience and I came back to school this week energized to bring this style of exploration to students and staff at RES.
I love when teacher training includes time for us to be the student and explore new materials. Here are some of my creations:
What will I make?
Light Up School Spirit
Tops! I made a swimming shark and a magic eight ball top!

I am so lucky to have teachers who are interested in supporting this sort of exploration and I was able to try out one of the tinkering activities with a group of third graders on Monday.  They were creative and inventive and willing to tinker! It was great!  Another hilight for me was getting to listen in to a conversation after wards where students asked why they had done this during what was typically math time. The teacher did an awesome job of turning this question back to students...and their are ideas and comments are worth noting:
*We had to try different strategies to see what would work
*We had to persevere 
*We had to think about balance, just like when we have to balance equations
*We had to understand different shapes
It was awesome for students to be able to express the value of tinkering!  I love that students are finding value in tinkering beyond the act, and also that they are enjoying these activities at their face value as well.
Here are a few pictures of students first time with the Tinkering Kit Award materials.

I look forward to improving my teaching practice and to offering an after school course to support this type of learning in 2017. Stay tuned for more information.

Our Place in this World

Third graders have spent the beginning of the school year in enrichment thinking about their place in this world. Geography and understanding sense of place is an important part of the third grade curriculum.  This study also supports our enrichment goals of continuing to learn about ourselves while giving us a context for our passions and interests.  I love beginning the year with this project because it gives students a chance to be creative and work in groups as we learn.

Students selected a place, and then worked in groups to show this place.  Next the class used an iPad to film and create an iMovie.  Below are the finished results!  Students celebrate our place in his world and we hope you will enjoy their creations.