Monday, October 9, 2017

A Great Start

Every teacher spends time over the summer thinking about how to make the school year great....and we all know that a great start goes a long way towards helping students get excited about the year and invested in their learning.  In the enrichment classroom I am lucky to see students once a week as we plan and learn together.  Even though I spend a lot of time over the summer reflecting on the previous year and learning about new ways to engage and work with students, I believe strongly in the idea of using the first days of class to meaningfully reconnect with all of the students.

When you enter my classroom the first few days of school, we aren't going over rules or jumping in to curricular content.  What you will see is students playfully exploring a huge range of materials.  You will observe me meeting individually with every student.  Our discussions will give me a chance to make sure every voice is heard as we discuss: What have you been doing since I last saw you?  Do you have new news or ideas to share with me?  What are your goals and ideas for this year that will make learning awesome for you? Do you know how important you are to me as a teacher, and to our learning community?

These conversations are invaluable to me as a way to connect with students, but also because they provide a backdrop for how and what we will learn.  Of course lots of conversations are based around a students trip to the fair, or time they spent with extended family...but they are also a time for students to share grief or worries.  I want students to know that we are teaching the whole individual person and my investment in time to listen to them is intended to provide a safe and welcoming environment.  I believe that relationships and mutual respect are the cornerstones of meaningful education, and I want my year to begin with those values front and center! 

Now those first few classes are behind us...I have met with hundreds of kids and talked...but mostly listened.  Now we will begin exciting learning in a huge variety of areas. Student input has helped me to get a vision of what our year of learning will look like--and it is going to be great!

If you have ideas about how to make enrichment programming at RES better----please reach out to me.  Community voice is also important as we plan our great year.

An Engineering Challenge: Design a PaperClip

This week in enrichment students in Grades 1-3 spent time participating in an engineering design challenge. At the beginning of the year I like to use these challenges to build teamwork as well as to have students use their creativity!  This is the first year I have done this challenge, and it is  a lot of fun.  First we watched a film about how paperclips are made. Next we looked at other student paperclip designs...and then the challenge:  Build a unique paperclip that holds five pieces of paper.  

I know that RES students are creative, but their ideas and creativity really blossomed.  It was also cool to watch students iterate their designs through the class period if one strategy did not hold paper, OR to create another type if one worked.
Students brought their paperclips home, but here are a few pictures of their work:

My idea for this challenge came from:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

An Amazing Learning Extension!

Last year in fourth grade students participated in a combined library and enrichment class in which they were supported in developing research questions based on their own interests, finding the answers to those questions and then developing a project to share what they learned.  The process we used with students is documented on this blog:

The work that students completed during this capstone process is always amazing and unique because it is really driven by their own interests.

Last year one student decided to work on the question:  How do we remember things?

It turned out that this was a question that his sister and he had been discussing at home and that she had submitted to a podcast show for young learners called Tumble Podcast   He thought that instead of waiting for their response he would find the answer and create his own podcast!  His work was great and at the end of the school year he had completed his podcast:

His podcast was shared with our school learning community at an in person celebration and posted online. Normally this would be the end of the capstone process as students move to the middle school for Grade5!

But in this case, the exciting part is that at the same time the Tumble Podcast had also decided to explore this question. They created their own podcast with the input from expert scientists...BUT they also included our RES students' work as well (his family had shared his work with the podcast producers!)
Here is the completed Tumble Podcast with our RES student featured!

When students pursue their interests their learning is always amazing, but this extension beyond the classroom adds to the idea that we build knowledge as a community of learners -- within our school community but also with the support of family members and experts.  I love playing just a small role in a students' learning journey as they navigate their interests and new knowledge.  As a teacher I believe that it is important to support student interests. Each student is the reason I became a teacher, and this connection to the real world is a reminder to me of how we all play a role in the education of our kids. It is inspiring to see how students have the same questions that other adults pursue as careers over a lifetime.  I am so lucky to learn next to such amazing, thoughtful students!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Open House 2017

It was so great to see so many families at the RES Open Houses this week.  I got a chance to see old and new members of our school community, and am so excited to work with all of you to make enrichment programming at RES awesome! If you did not get a chance to stop by the enrichment are a few images of what visitors saw:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Flynn Trips for 2017-2018 School Year--Save the Dates!

All students at RES attend a student matinee at the Flynn Theater in Burlington Vermont each year.  These shows are a great connection to the performance arts in our community and beyond!  Flynn field trips are a popular trip to chaperone--so save the date now and join us for a great show!

Here are the current show plans by grade level:
Grade K
Shhhh We Have a Plan
May 9th, 2018
(11:15 Departure, Approx 1:45 Return)

Grade 1
Shhhh We Have a Plan
May 9th, 2018
(11:15 Departure, Approx 1:45 Return)

Grade 2 
David Gonzales (Cuentos)
November 13th, 2017
(8:15 Departure, Approx 11:30 Return)

Grade 3
David Gonzales (Cuentos)
November 13th, 2017
(8:15 Departure, Approx 11:30 Return)

Grade 4
Freedom Train
March 15th, 2018
(8:15 Departure, Approx 11:30 Return)

If you are interested in learning more about the Flynn or supporting additional connections to these trips by financing classroom workshops...please contact Darcie Rankin at for information.

See you at the SHOW!

Happy 2017-2018 School Year

I am looking forward to a great year of learning with kindergarten - fourth grade students, RES staff and the community!
Students are the reason we are here! (Classroom Wall Sign)
As in the past few years every student will visit the enrichment classroom once a week to do a variety of fun and engaging activities that focus on their interests and strengths as well as learning NEW things. I welcome visitors to my classroom to share or observe and am happy to receive feedback and ideas that will make our classroom awesome. The best way to contact me is via email at

 Here is the current weekly enrichment whole class schedule:
Monday: Robinson, Girouard,Mumford, Darling, Berliner
Wednesday: Purvee, Ankerson, Babineau, Senning
Friday: Hackett, Ayer, Gilbar, LeFrancois

 Happy New School Year!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Fourth Grade Capstone Project Celebration! Save the Date!

RES logo.PNG

Fourth Grade Capstone Project Celebration!

All RES fourth graders will be sharing their
Capstone individual research projects
From Enrichment Library class on

June 14, 2017
8:50-9:30 am
RES Library

Families are welcome to join us!
(this is right before the start of Field Day)
We will also be posting all these awesome projects
on our Enrichment Library class blog,

Darcie Rankin, RES enrichment teacher
Beth Redford, RES library media specialist

Friday, May 12, 2017

Tomatosphere Resources

Second Graders!

Check out this link to find awesome information about our Tomatosphere project and space exploration!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

RES Ambassadors of STEM

A few months ago I blogged about an opportunity that Richmond Elementary School was part of through a grant from the Vermont After School Program and Montshire Science Museum. That Tinkering Grant award allowed us to have some awesome materials for engineering exploration both in school and in an after school class that I hosted.  The relationship that RES established with the Vermont After School program has led to excellent learning for students as well as professional development for myself as the RES enrichment teacher. It also led us to an opportunity to visit the Vermont State House in Montpelier last week and talk to state representatives about all of the great engineering activities, and the amazing makers and scientists that we have at RES.

I was proud to bring six students to Montpelier to participate in a day that included engineering design challenges, a visit to floor of the State House (where our Richmond representative called out our students by name!) and time to engage representatives in making through our RES marble maze display (Students designed elements and created on the spot).

It was great to share about the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)---and to see RES students SHINE!  At RES this year we are on a journey to bring making, creating and engineering to all students through the creation of a Makerspace.  It is a journey as we figure out how this work fits into our curriculum as well as our after school programming.  Connecting to the Vermont After School program has been an excellent way to engage in dialog about how we can provide multiple avenues for all students to access these skills and opportunities.

If you have ideas about this topic--I would love to hear from you. This journey is a collaborative one that invites all of us to think about how to provide awesome opportunities for our kids!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Today in Second Grade Enrichment

We are going to WONDER together!

We are at the beginning of your second grade inquiry projects and we are going to get started using the website tool Wonderopolis.  We are going to learn about how to wonder and then we are going to use words, pictures and videos to answer our question!

Today's Class Question:
Are Sloths Lazy?

Wonderoplis Link:

Step 1:
Talk to your partner about the question. What do you already know about sloths?  Do you think they are lazy?

Step 2:
Go to the website link:

Step 3:
 Listen or read the information about sloths.

Step 4:
Look at the pictures of sloths.

Step 5:
Watch the sloth video.

Step 6:
On a sticky note write something you learned from Wonderopolis today and place it in our Wonder Jar!

Step 7:
Explore other wonders OR comment on blog posts!

RES 17th Annual Science Fair Success!

Last Thursday evening over one hundred people gathered at Richmond Elementary School to celebrate science and learning!  The RES Family Science Fair is a tradition at our school that brings family and friends together to share their learning.  There are no awards, or winners......just students learning and sharing and excited about all of the great and amazing concepts that science brings to life.  Each year I am inspired by students--the extra work they do and the depth of their thinking is awesome!  This year we had a large range of projects. The below video is an attempt to capture some of their great work.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My cat Lulu

One summer day August 14th 2016 I got a cat called Lulu from a animal shelter called random rescue🐱. She is a orange tabby cat. She is one year old. She was once stranded in the woods once but safe here and now.
Guest post by Elise

Taylor's animal blog

Tigers have stripes. Tigers have sharp teeth. Tigers are mean. Tigers are my favorite animal.  Do you like tigers or lions better?
Guest post by Taylor L.


Space is huge. Think of stars as grains of sand.  If you put them all on a beach the beach would have a thin amount of sand on 100x50 foot spot.  Scientists have just discovered seven planets that may have water. They are all orbiting the same star forty light years away.  A light year is the distance that light travels in one year

I think Jupiter should not be a planet. Do you know why? Because Jupiter has asteroids that are orbiting with it and my mom told me that in order for a planet to not be a planet it had to have bigger things than the object itself orbiting with it. And then I figured out that the dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt should be a planet.  

Space xDragon was launched in February of 2017 and I hope you like space.

Guest post by Elliott

Back to class blast for girls!

If it is the end of summer and you are about to start should read my blog it is about dream lockers and pencil blocks and let's get started.Well I love❤️😍 pretty and cute things.and I am going to show you a picture of my blog.
And these are pictures of my friends.


Guest blog by Maddie C.

Zacs fire cry game blog

in this game there is a rifle.
There is a vehicle called a jeep.
Have any of you played this game?
Guest post by Zachary

JRs Awesome Minecraft

I play Minecraft most all the time.I made so many things.  I made a safe house that I am still working on. I like to watch videos of Minecraft.  I would like to learn how to get mods on my you know how? Do you think we can get 100 comments on our blog? If you think we can..thank you!

Guest post by JR

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Guest post by Justice

Have you ever played Minecraft before? Do you even know what it is? It is a game you can play on an Xbox phone or TV. But first you might have to buy it if you want to play on an Xbox.  It is really fun. I will show you an example of a picture of what it looks like when you build a world.

Abigail's creative blog

Face paint 🐲🐍
Have you ever tried air face paint? It is really fun!🐲🐍I love it!

Noelle's creative blog

 My good art project 😍🐢.
I got a new book that had all kinds of adult drawings I have done some  of them.  They are very beautiful.  Here are two of my best friends. What do you like about the picture?😜

Toy Trains by Alex

Guest post by Alex
Sometimes toy trains are fun to play with  !  When I play with toy trains they go fast! Toy trains are cool!

Baby animals

Guest post by Katie
Have you seen a baby animals before? Well I'll tell you about one its a baby lion. They live anywhere in Africa. But mostly in jungles and grasslands. They eat meat not grass. There are a lot of cute animals.... but go read some other blogs.

The super bowl

Guest Post by Isaiah
The Super Bowl is a football game played at the end of the season. It was the Patriots versus the Falcons and the Patriots won. I was really happy.  Were you happy?

Snow Day

Guest post by Gabby
We had  a  snow day on Monday.
On  January 20th we had  no snow.
And now  the  snow  is  up  to  the top of my boot.

Calebs Minecraft blog

A Guest Post by Caleb

Minecraft rocks!!!!!!!!!!  Because you can build really cool stuff.πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»in survival you have to get your own stuff, like making swords and pick axes.But in creative you have infinity stuff like pick axes, shovels and swords also you can put on armor. I hope you like my blogπŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

What is your favorite mod?

A tiger post

A Guest Post by Cassidy
My name is Cassidy and I think tigers are cool very cool🐯.I drew cartoon version of two tiger cubs one is sleeping and one is stretching.🐯 what is your favorite type of tiger?

Owen's Poke blog

POK'EMON ROCKS!!!!!!!I love pok'emon so much.
I have 405 pok'emon cardsπŸ˜€πŸ˜„πŸ˜Š
How many cards do you have?
I also have 6 exes and 2 megas and 1 breakπŸ˜„
Do you collect cardsπŸ˜€?
A Guest Post by Owen

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Guest post by Kayla

Do you like music? I do.  What is your favorite band? Mine is the Lumineers.  The y have cool lights. I saw them in a concert. It was good.