Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Interacting with experts and more...

Snow days, delayed openings, and early dismissals will not deter the PES Media Center from impacting student learning!   
Where to begin... a few highlights!

Girls Who Code Club was scheduled to begin the second Monday returning from holiday break-January 12th.  We were going to Skype with Karen D. Miller, Co-Founder of DoInk and the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper was sending a reporter and photographer.  However, Mother Nature had other plans--a snow storm--no school.  Yet, a snow day did not stop our girls from coding.  I emailed parents and provided login information, and these ambitious girls started coding at home!  We rescheduled our Skyping session to only have it cancelled by another snow storm.  We will eventually Skype Ms. Miller! And we have contacted an organization called Women Who Code who is willing to add our club information to their newsletter in order to connect us with speakers!

We FINALLY had an in-person coding session and it was extraordinary to look around the PES computer lab and see every desktop occupied by a 4th grade girl.  Our goal is to have all members complete course 2 through code.org and then start exploring Scratch by MIT. We have two families so far who want to donate a MaKey Makey kit which will elevate the level of creativity and innovation.  Very exciting to facilitate the Girls Who Code Club.


Other highlights from the month of January had to be our two video conferences. First graders had recently completed their nonfiction writing unit and pairs of students researched animals and created reports.  I supported their digital research during library lessons using Pebble Go.  We then read aloud, Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate.  It was important for the students to grasp protecting wild animals in their natural habitats.
To reinforce students in understanding this concept, we Skyped with Paul Reynolds from Wild Futures. The first graders were completely engaged in learning about the reason this United Kingdom primate sanctuary exists.  Students were thoughtful in their comments and questions with Paul.  In this digital age, it is so easy to connect with experts which raises the level of thinking and depth of understanding.  @WildFutures provides these sessions free of charge.  Paul easily adapted his presentation to the first grade level and gave us 40 minutes of his time.  Highly recommend Skyping with Wild Futures.

For a glimpse into our session, take a look at a video clip.

The second video conference we participated in was with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Ohio. Recently, I met with Mr. Maunsell's 4th graders to brainstorm ideas for a project block. The students had interests in sports, science, comics, and creating a magazine.  So, it made perfect sense to choose a magazine project which all students could pursue their interests and publish their work in the magazine.  Since many of the students were interested in sports and with the Super Bowl right around the corner, I contacted Jerry Csaki at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  We scheduled a session for Thursday, January 29th.  

The topic of our session was: The Story of Pro Football.  The focus would be on preserving the history of Pro Football.  Manager of Youth/Education, Jerry Csaki interacted with the students for almost 50 minutes!  It was fantastic. @csaki_hof is knowledgable, enthusiastic, and engaging.  Highly recommend a video conference with this organization.

Again, we witnessed how snow days did not deter our students from learning.  Just days before our scheduled video conference, another storm rolled in--resulting in a cancellation of school.  However, PES students took advantage of the snow day and explored the Hall of Fame website and generated questions. Two days later, they arrived in the media center, prepared and eager for the video conference.  They took notes during the live session and will now work in groups to create articles for our first magazine issue. 

Take a look at the article reported in the Republican-American.


Once a month, I offer a Parent/Child iPad Workshop.  These sessions are some of my favorite experiences as an educator.  To witness parents and children spending one-on-one time together thinking, playing, and creating is pure delight.  January's session was fortunately scheduled in-between snow storms.  Participants were given an authentic task/challenge.  The results of their work is shared with the school community and beyond. This is a great format for parents and children to explore a variety of apps while researching, writing, and creating.

So what was their task/challenge?  On our school calendar, we had a few upcoming events: Spirit Assembly which is also our PB and J collection for the local food bank and Dancing Under the Stars Family Event/Fundraiser.  Take a look at the awesome promotional videos our parent/child participants created in a 1 hour session using the Green Screening app by @DoinkTweets and iMovie.


While the above events were some of the highlights of the week, the day-to-day teaching and learning in the PES Media Center is also cause for celebration.  

Take a look at this video for a glimpse into the last week of January!  
You'll hear about how Grade 5 is now using Google Classroom, a 3rd grade bookclub, a Nutmeg NewspaperDragon Appreciation Day, and more...


Our PTO is extraordinary and are planning our upcoming One Book, One School project. It's a Celebration of Reading program which is sure to delight all ages. Look for my next post for more details.

1 comment:

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