Wednesday, April 30, 2014

George Washington Teacher Institute

One of the coolest parts about being a teacher is seizing professional development opportunities.  Conference, edcamp, lecture, institute, what have you:  these PD opportunities are crucial for our students.

I have learned so much about the way that I teach by fully immersing myself in as many opportunities as possible.  I have so much fun when I learn new ways to approach various subjects and also get a chance to meet like-minded educators across the country.

My heart hasn't stopped racing since the early morning, when I received word that I was accepted into the George Washington Teacher Institute.  This July, I will spend a full week living at Mount Vernon as I explore the legacy of Mr. President himself.

I believe that this opportunity will change the way that I approach my entire social studies instruction.  I'm so excited to promote the Woods and also expand my own professional learning network.

I can't wait to bring this back to the kids.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Teacher in Residence: National Aquarium

Summer, to me, is the ultimate time for active learning and discovery.  Vacations of all sorts are great, particularly for the mental re-charge.  Still, to me, something about summer screams think, do, learn to me.

I am incredibly excited and honored to announce that I will be National Aquarium's Teacher in Residence this summer.  I will work alongside non-formal educators at the aquarium to develop new ways in which to use their exhibits as teaching tools.

I'm primarily excited about this opportunity because I know that I will return to school in the fall armed with a plethora of new ideas and activities for my students.  Our very first intensive science unit is centered upon oceans.  This residency is a match made in heaven for me - and for my students!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Resident Expert Techies

Learning binary.  Writing scripts.  Launching a class blog.  Programming robots to perform simple (and fun!) tasks.

We have immersed ourselves in technology as of late.  With global demand for computer scientists on the rise, what better way for second graders to learn technology than by active inquiry?

We are fine tuning our research skills and honing our writer's voice as we contribute to our class blog.  We'd love it if you'd check our posts out!  A link to our blog can be found HERE

Along with learning to program with Scratch, our class will participate in frequent Hour of Code sessions.  You can learn more about Hour of Code by clicking HERE

Second graders have hit the ground running with our robotics unit!  This unit is particularly fun because of the way in which it involves following complex directions, working in partnerships, understanding simple machines, predicting ultimate results, and measuring class data.

Lastly, here is a photo collage of the previous few weeks of learning in second grade.  The second graders helped to curate this in iMovie.  We look forward to making more of these in the future!

Friday, February 28, 2014

STEAM Event for Girls

This little old blog may have been quiet as of late, but the happenings within our classroom are lively as ever.

I had the pleasure of working with the phenomenal Mrs. Pilong and Mrs. Taverner to create Woods Academy's first ever STEAM event for girls.  We hosted approximately 40 young ladies aged 4 through 8.  Mrs. Taverner did her magic with art, Mrs. Pilong instructed the girls in robotics, and I got to play around with some very fun engineering concepts.

It was hands-on.  And exhausting.  And one of my favorite Saturday mornings ever spent teaching.

And exhausting.

But a tired teacher is a happy one.  Seeing these young engineers build, trial, modify, and achieve was immensely inspiring.

I can't wait to do it all again next year.  Or perhaps sooner?  The boys here at school were mighty jealous about the event.  It would be great fun to organize one for them, too!

Carly builds an awesome car.

First graders Sibel and Marissa work hard on their designs.

A finished product, with some Scribble Bot markings beneath.

Valeria, age 5, shows off an awesome Marshmallow Shooter

Second grader Stephanie is impressed with her hard design work

Having lots of fun watching the Scribble Bots on the go

Testing out a car - how far from the ramp will it travel?

Go, Bot, Go

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays!

There is much to post about; penguin research, circuit building with dough (yes!  it's possible!), learning geometry, and new highlights from Genius Hour.  We will get back to regular blogging activity (with some new, very excited, very young bloggers here to help me pick up the slack!) in January.

Until then...

Happy Holidays from the teacher with the cutest students in the school/state/world:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Scribble Bots

We have been learning about electrons in second grade.  No kidding:  we've been attempting to wrap our minds around the concept of something so tiny being something so incredibly powerful.

What better way to become Masters of Electrons than by creating our very own circuits?

We constructed very cool Scribble Bots. Our Scribble Bots consisted of a few key components:  a double A battery, electrical wire, and a 1.5 volt motor.  We used empty salt cans as the "body" of our mighty bot.  We attached some markers onto the bottom of the bot in order to get some color involved.

It was an awesome lesson in teamwork.  Thomas Edison once said, "I have not failed.  I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Let's just say that we worked just like Thomas Edison himself on this project.  Lots of duct tape, struggle, laughter, planning, and ultimately success.

The mingling of science and art is not to be missed!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Learning with Primary Sources

A second grader's day is a busy one.  We have to master verb tenses.  We have to write clearly, yet creatively, when composing our spider reports.  We have to finish up our marble ramps before Mrs. Hall takes back the much-needed classroom space.  We must find time to talk to God and share our opinions about being the best disciples of Jesus that we can possibly be.

(We also have to cram in some of that much anticipated "recess" thing, too.)

In our constant attempts to work smarter and to achieve as much new learning in a day as possible, social studies can get pushed to the wayside.  This shouldn't be:  social studies is a key way for us to learn about the past while collaborating and solving problems that might face us in the future.

Today, we utilized a very impressive, very puzzling primary source.  Students were given 12 small pieces of a map.  Puzzle pieces, if you will.  Their task?  Piece everything back together, while analyzing all of the strange language and symbols prominently featured.

Soon enough, evidence of learning started to be happily chirped around the classroom.  "I can see continents!"  "There are tiny flags!"  "There's a map key!"  "The map is surrounded by a border of numbers!"  "What is that strange language?!"

The map in question was drawn by Martin Waldseemuller in 1507.  It is the first document known to name America.  It is, quite literally, priceless.

It was astounding to watch these learners transform into analysts and keen observers.  Soon enough, maps started getting pieced together.

We figured out that strange language (Latin).  We figured out who those two curious fellows featured at the top might be (they have navigational tools... maybe they created this map?)  We also worked to understand why some parts of the map were much more detailed than others.  (Why would Europe be so much more accurate than America or Asia?!)

My favorite part of the activity occurred when Johnny and Ana-Sofia wandered over to our collection of maps.  Without any prompting, they were excitedly piecing together the similarities and differences between old map and new.

I had never tried this activity with second graders before; shame on me.  Their determination, insights, and enthusiasm blew me away.  I can't wait to bring more primary sources into the hands of these investigators.