Tuesday, January 31, 2012

From their viewpoint

Our 5th grade photography group is catching some fantastic e-time moments.  I hope they will continue to be generous with their photos and share them with me for the blog.

Kindergarten students work with Mrs. Raney to create puppet shows depicting their favorite fairy tales and stories.  I wonder which story this group will be performing.

Technology is already becoming an integral part of e-time across the school.  These first graders are conducting a little research on snow and other aspects of winter weather.  (At least normal winter weather...not what we've been having lately!)

Have you ever made a painting out of simple household items like flour, water and salt?  What an interesting texture it adds to a piece of art!  Easy to clean up too!

These young ladies are excited about the skit they are creating.  They have been making adaptations of favorite fairy tales.  They re-write the stories in the form of a script, assign parts, practice lines, revise, gather costumes and perform them on camera.  They are going to have quite the video collection of stories by the time this round of e-time is complete!

For once, our photography group is in front of the camera, not behind it!  They are learning about choosing the right photos for an assignment as well as editing, saving and sharing their work.

Now that we are getting more comfortable with e-time, I look forward to seeing how our kids (and teachers) will expand on the already engaging things happening on Friday mornings.  The conversations I overhear tell me that the students are leading us into new, unexpected but interesting directions with their learning.  You can't help but smile about that!

Friday, January 27, 2012

C Hall happenings

Many of our fourth graders are learning about the joy of creativity.  The young ladies who are working on their own dolls have completed the heads and were setting up the frame for the body.  When I walked in, they couldn't wait to show them off!  I'm saving pictures of the dolls until we have a final product to show off!  Trust me, it will be worth the wait!

Another group of students treated me to a special drum performance that they had composed themselves after exploring different rhythm patterns on the Internet.  What a treat!  I'm learning more about students every week when I come in to see all the great things happening during e-time! 

Across the hall, some more science minded 4th graders were deeply involved in the "destruction" of common objects to learn more about the different parts and how they work.  That microwave I mentioned on Twitter last week?  It's barely recognizable now as the students have taken it apart.  They were super excited to find an electromagnet!

From last week

Our fifth grade photography group is almost evolving into a journalism group.  Students have been around the school during e-time capturing photos and taking video.  On their own, they decided to interview students as well.  Take a look at a couple of videos they captured last week.  I think that they enjoyed the opportunity to talk with the younger students and ask them questions about their e-time experiences.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Stay tuned!

I will get a full blog post to you on Monday.  Why the delay?  Our 5th grade photography group was out and about this morning capturing all the awesome e-time moments with lots of pictures and video and we just haven't had the opportunity to sort through it all!  Until then, take a look at some of our kindergartners who worked so hard to create and perform their own puppet show!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Marble run needed

Does anyone have a marble run similar to the one pictured below that a 3rd grade class could borrow this week for e-time?  If so, please contact me at ckirby@coppellisd.com.  Thanks in advance!

Friday, January 13, 2012

We need you!

I hope all of our Austin parents have had the chance to look through the blog to see what's happening around the school during our Friday morning E-time.  I'm sure that your child has told all about it!

As you can see, we have quite a variety of interests across the school!  If you have a special talent or area of expertise, we'd love to have you share it with one of our groups!  Just send an e-mail to me, Mrs. Kirby, at ckirby@coppellisd.com, to let me know what areas of interest you might be able to help us with.  While we may not currently have a group working on that topic, it would be wonderful to have that information for the future.

Even if you can't come up to the school on Friday mornings, you can still be a part of E-time.  If you have materials or resources that we could use or are willing to Skype with one of our groups, you would still be a crucial part of making our E-times a success.  There are many ways that you can help even if you can't physically be here!

Thanks in advance!  Our Austin parents are THE BEST!

Round 2 of E-time!

This morning as I monitored my usual duty spot, I added, "Enjoy your e-time!" to my usual "Happy Friday!" greeting to the students.  Every single kid perked up and added a little skip to their step because they were pumped about their e-time plans! 

Let's take a look at some of the exciting things that were happening across the school.  I apologize in advance that I don't have any pics for 3rd, 4th and 5th grades.  I discovered that my camera battery was kaput pretty early in the morning.  As soon as more teachers have a chance to get some pics to me, I will most definitely add them!

Snails aren't icky!  They're fun!

We love to do research!

This week, the kindergarten students branched out and worked in mixed groups across the grade level with other students who shared a common interest.  In one kindergarten room, future scientists made observations about snails and went to the computers to research more about snails.  They were much braver than I can claim to be because they didn't seem remotely bothered by holding the slimy snails as they checked them out up close.  When I walked past another kindergarten class and overhead, "What kinds of things taste good dipped in chocolate?", I knew had to stop in.  The students were learning how to follow a basic recipe when cooking.  It didn't take long for Mr. Hilton to make his way down there too!  We were fortunate enough to be taste testers and I have to say that the chocolate covered marshmallows made a tasty post-lunch treat! 

Learning how frost forms

Showing off a pattern block snowflake

Further up the hall in 1st grade, the students were engaged in a variety of activities related to snow.  From the creation of pattern block snowflakes to an experiment with ice and salt, every student was immersed in the concept of snow and winter.  One student explained how important it was to do the folds just right when making a paper snowflake so the patterns you cut out would be symmetrical.  The creations around the room were a sight to behold!  Be sure to ask your 1st grade student about the frost experiment! 

Creating a masterpiece
Down in Mr. Wu's room, about half the students were involved in explorations of using different materials for building such as paper, clay and legos.  I overheard some excellent teamwork as students who have some experience with building coached their classmates in how to make their buildings stronger and more stable.  The other half of the students had chosen to express themselves through painting.  The student pictured above has plans to use the painting she created in an original story.  Can't wait to see that!

Students in Mrs. Schulz's 3rd grade classroom continued their investigation of building or designing a game that uses common classroom objects.  I was so mad that my camera battery was out!  The marble run that was created using chalkboard erasers, tissues boxes, rulers and string was incredible.  The students were so proud to explain how they had come up with their design idea and watch other students play with their creation.  They then went into a conversation about Rube Goldberg machines which set the sparks flying again!

In 4th grade, the students had the opportunity to pick up where they left off last week.  Mrs. Malone's students continued their work on the class blanket.  I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with a student in Miss Kayl's room who is in the beginning stages of designing and building her own doll.  As she put it, "I love dolls and I know I could just buy one.  All the dolls out there aren't what I want so I'm just going to make one myself so I know it's what I like!"  Each week of e-time will be spent designing and creating a different part to add to her doll.  Once it's completed, I will definitely share pictures with you!  Another group was pounding out some rhythms on djembes, a type of African drum.  By the end of e-time, they had already come a long way in getting the rhythms down.  Maybe they'll put on a little performance for us sometime in the future!

The 5th grade students are mixed up into four different interest groups.  The athletics groups spent time researching their favorite sport or game.  As they started delving into the history and rules of their sports, they really began to understand how intricate and complex certain sports have become when they originally had very simple origins.  Our photography group had the chance to work with one of our awesome parents who just happens to be our yearbook coordinator.  These students will get the opportunity to help work on the yearbook and give their opinions and insight into the photos included as well as take some of their own photos for the yearbook.  The performing arts group has expressed a strong interest in commercials and song parodies.  They've spent time finding songs they can use and are learning more about the characteristics of a parody before creating and performing one of their own.  In the technology 5th grade group, students had the chance to Skype with another amazing parent of ours to get ideas for the "Tech Tips" website that they would like to create for the students of Austin.  Another subset of the technology group was psyched to learn that they will have the chance to use some borrowed robotics equipment from the high school.  They corresponded with Mr. Yakubovsky from CHS who shared some ideas with them and is making future plans to have one of his engineering students help the group get started on their robotics exploration.

As you can see, we had an OUTSTANDING second day of e-time!  My favorite part was listening to the students work together and set goals for future e-times.  They are truly engaged and eager to share their learning!  Thanks again to all the teachers (and some parents!) for their preparations to continue the excitement this week. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Arts and crafts with a twist

Students in 4D share the results of their exploration
of different types of arts and crafts styles.

Exploring earth science topics in K4

Kindergarten students declare themselves scientists after
spending time making discoveries about rocks, minerals, and shells.

Making a plan

5th grade students interested in photography record what they already know
about the subject and what they want to learn during their first round of e-time.

What is e-time anyway?

Students in Ms. Voltz's third grade class used a
SMARTboard activity to explore what e-time is all about.

Making circuits in K2

Students in K2 were encouraged to bring something of interest from home to share during their first e-time. 
Look at what this young man already knows about electrical circuits!

First day of e-time!

4A talks about what enrichment means.

Students in 2A complete an interest inventory and discuss what they have in common.

Future scientists in K4 make observations about rocks and minerals.

Exploring woodburning as art in 4D

3B wraps up their first e-time by discussing the different activities they tried and their ideas for future e-times.

And so it begins!

As I walked through the building from 8:00-9:00, I couldn't help but grin listening to all the activity and noise I witnessed in every classroom.  "This is AWESOME!"  "We get to do this every Friday?!?"  "I've never done this at school before!"  Every student I encountered could not contain their enthusiasm as we had our first "e-time" (enrichment time) of the year. 

Each grade level and class had unique ways of  introducing what e-time is all about and what it means.  The common theme that grabbed every students' attention was the fact that e-time is based on their choices and their interests.  It's a time set aside from the usual school routine for students to pursue their passions and possibly discover new passions with the teacher acting as a guide.  Today, we focused on getting to know each other's interests better and dipped our toes in the enrichment water with a variety of activities to see what ignites that spark.  Some of the exploratory activities in different classrooms this morning included such topics as Legos, circuit boards, rocks and minerals, woodburning art, photography and performance arts.  As I made my way around the building, I found myself torn between staying in one particular classroom because I was so interested in what they were doing and continuing my own exploration of what was happening in other classrooms around the school. 

A sense of camaraderie began to emerge in many classrooms as students were finding out things about their classmates that they had never known before.  "I didn't know you liked that too!" was heard quite frequently as students worked together brainstorming and sharing.  Given the energy and excitement in our first e-time, I truly cannot wait to see where our students take us as we begin this journey together.

Kudos to all of our teachers for working so hard to make the first e-time so successful and engaging!  I think our students are hooked and eagerly anticipating what lies ahead!