Back Creek Fifth Graders gained a deeper understanding of sound as they participated in a STEM activity last week. Students had to design and create an instrument that creates sound. Once the design process was completed, if the instrument didn’t produce a sound, it was back to the drawing board!
The students started by designing a blueprint of their instrument and mapping out the details of their creation. Next, they put their plan into action and engineered an instrument that would produce a sound. Along they way the explored vibration, pitch, and frequency.
The instruments were well designed and quite inventive. As a final wrap up, students Glogged about their design process, their creations and what they learned along the way.
Navigating a new school can be a challenge for any young student. The PK class at Green Valley had a little extra help this fall!
Their teacher, Mrs. Williams, video taped welcome messages from key members of the staff. Members of Green Valley administration, the speech teacher, the school nurse, the librarian and the custodian were all recorded. The videos were then linked to QR codes and hung near the rooms where students would most likely find these adults. As the class learned how to move around the building, the students used iPads to scan the QR codes and watch the videos. The activity helped the students get to know members of the Green Valley staff who were not available to meet them in person during the tour.
After the activity, the teacher brought the QR codes back to the classroom. The students continued to watch the videos and learn the names and roles of Green Valley staff members.
Thanks to the innovation of a clever PK teacher, these students feel a little more at home at GVE!
Back Creek first graders are sharing their reading skills in a new way this year. Their teacher signed up to participate in the Global Read Aloud program and joined classrooms from around the world in an Eric Carle author study.
Last week, the BCE students Skyped into a classroom in Washington State and read the Very Hungry Caterpillar to the first graders on the other side of the web cam. When finished, they were polite listeners while the class in Washington read Brown Bear to them. Both classes are eager for the next session!
The Back Creek first graders didn’t stop there, though. They created hand print caterpillars and wrote sentences about the things they would eat if they were the very hungry creatures. These pictures were added to a VoiceThread and the children narrated them. The new friends from Washington State are in the process of adding comments to their work.
There are several weeks left in the Global Read Aloud program and more Eric Carle books to read. The first graders will share books and ideas with other kids who, just like them, are learning that reading a book can open the door to a whole new world.
Roanoke County Pre-K students practiced estimating, counting, graphing and sculpting recently when they participated in the O.R.E.O.2013 project. The students were asked to estimate how many cookies they would be able to stack and given two attempts to reach or exceed their estimation. The students counted as each cookie was placed on a stack and quickly developed strategies for cookie placement, since they could not adjust the stack once the cookie was place.
Once the stacking was completed students created sculptures out of the cookie filling and crusts. The sculptures were quite remarkable given the fact that these students have not yet reached their fifth birthday!
Although the O.R.E.O. project is officially over for 2013 both teachers plan to revisit the activity throughout the year to practice estimating, counting, graphing and creating patterns.
‘I already love the 4th grade” whispered one boy to a classmate. “They let us do stuff.”
Roanoke County Schools opened for business last Tuesday and on Wednesday, 4th graders became very involved in their learning. A STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) project was the impetus of his comment.
Fourth grade students in this Green Valley Elementary classroom used STEM to learn about the five regions of Virginia. Each group was assigned a region and had to create a mystery box containing clues that would help their classmates guess the regions.
The box could contain only one word and had to contain a minimum of 10 items that represented the region’s products, industries, land forms, water features, animals, renewable and non-renewable resources. At least four of the items had to be 3-dimensional.
Each team received a set of materials for artifact creation. Buttons, cotton balls, play dough, pipe cleaners, colored paper, yarn, straws and cotton swabs were in limited supply and if they ran out they had to come up with another way to create.
While learning about the regions of Virginia, students practiced essential 21st Century skills – communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. Journal reflections at the end of each class period helped students identify what they’d learned that day and what they’d need to find out in the next class session. It was a pretty tall order on the second and third day of 4th grade but the Green Valley students stepped right.
Once the boxes were complete, students generated QR codes revealing the name of their region. Next week, classmates will make predictions based on the clues inside the box and use the QR code to reveal the mystery.
The project wrapped up today with students already asking about the next STEM activity. It appears that the first week of school at Green Valley pretty much rocked!
Kindergartners got a chance to compose and narrate a page in a shared class book recently. The subject was what they like about Kindergarten. The students chose their favorite aspect of Kindergarten, wrote a sentence about it and, using the iPad, took a photograph of someone demonstrating the favorite thing.
Using StoryKit, a free iPhone app, students created their pages. The writing is authentic and each student narrated his or her own sentence.
The result? A great book that was easy to make and one that all of the students enjoy reading and listening to.
Research. Not a favorite activity of students around the world, but a necessary skill, none the less. I recently teamed with an 8th grade teacher to turn the the research requirement of her SOLs into a project with some oomph! Students researched a variety of topics related to the ocean environment – everything from climate change to shark finning to the effects of pollution on marine animals and coral reefs.
Students got started by viewing Sylvia Earle’s TED Prize - My Wish to Protect our Oceans Students were given research topics, assigned to groups and used engines like Gooru to find information. The big question, ‘What changes are necessary for humans to survive?’, framed their research. Students needed to explore both sides of their issue and come to a conclusion. While students had their choice of presentation modes, most chose Prezi or Glogster.
The student presentations were well done and well,sobering. With each presentation classmates generated ideas about changes necessary for humans to survive – reducing carbon footprints, improved fishing practices, and responsible seafood choices.
Here are a few samples:
This project awakened a passion and interest in many of the students. They came away with an understanding of the problems our world is facing and with ideas on how to impact those problems. It is my hope that they will carry this knowledge with them and take actions that will make this world a better place.
“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” -Baba Dioum
18 young pirates scoured the grounds of Green Valley Elementary in search of treasure. Four boxes, hidden in the play yard contained pictures of words that started with the initial consonants the pirates were learning about in class. The Kindergartners worked together in teams to read the hand held GPS units, find the hidden caches and decide which pictures matched the initial consonant.
Nouns are a hot topic this week. First graders have combed the school to identify and photograph the nouns around them. Click the link below to view a short video of what they found!
Ted Talks – ideas worth spreading – are some of the most relevant conversations in education today. A Ted Conference is just wrapping up this afternoon. It was lived streamed to two locations in the US – Palm Springs and Roanoke, VA. I was at another learning event this week and was unable to experience the live stream but hope that the information will be available to learners soon.
In the meantime, here’s a fantastic look at why the world needs all kinds of thinkers. Temple Grandin gives us insight on Autism.