Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You can be a part of the e-time experience!

Dear Austin Families and Friends:

Our first steps into implementation of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) are well under way with “E-time!”  Hopefully your child has shared some of their favorite moments from our special Friday mornings.  As we continue to design these unique learning opportunities for all of our students, we are noticing a tremendous need for guest speakers and other volunteers who are willing to share their areas of expertise or personal interests with some of our students.  If you are interested in being one of our SEM volunteers, please complete the short survey at the link provided below.  (A paper copy of this same short survey has been sent home or will be this week for those preferring to respond that way.)  From Skyping to lending resources to helping with an e-time group, there are many ways to be involved!  Even if we do not have a group of students interested in your area at this time, it would be very helpful for us to have this information for the future.  Also, please feel free to forward this on to friends and family who may be willing to work with us. 

Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us provide these truly enriching and engaging opportunities for all of our students.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Cathy Kirby
GT/Enrichment Specialist

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 10th recap

Kindergarten students used recycled boxes, masking tape, and their imaginations to create "box robots."

1st grade students have a blast playing "Sight Word Candyland."  What a great way to combine interests in games and reading!

3rd grade students in the arts and crafts e-time group had the chance to explore using bars of soap as a medium for sculpting.  Good, clean fun for all!

Members of the 4th grade arts and crafts e-time group created bookmarks to give as Valentine's Day gifts for friends and family.  

The big, exciting news in the 5th grade technology e-time group was that the robotics equipment finally arrived!  Thanks, Mr. Yakubovsky!  The kids thoroughly enjoyed their first explorations with programming and building.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Making changes

Now that we are getting more comfortable with the idea of e-time, grade levels are beginning to branch out and try some new things with e-time.  Friday was the first day for splitting students amongst the grade level in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades.  Kindergarten and 5th grade have been split nearly from the start and I'm sure 1st grade is making plans in that direction as well.

This group of kindergartners interested in storytelling and puppetry had the chance to work with 5th grade students on designing an original skit.  As you can see from the picture, the kindergartners were giving the 5th grader their full attention.  This group in particular came up with a skit to help teach others about good manners.  Both ages of student thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to work with someone outside their grade level.

First grade is continuing their winter theme during e-time.  This last week, they incorporated some fun 100th day activities with it.  They spent time learning about proportion as they created a 100th day snack while other students had the opportunity to make "snow" paintings.

The second graders that I had the chance to visit were completely absorbed in their research on a favorite animal.  When I asked one student about what they were doing, she commented that she just loved desert cottontail rabbits and wanted to teach everyone else about them.  Sharing our new findings is a critical part of the research process so it really made me happy to hear that enthusiasm.  When the research is finished, they plan to create a presentation of some kind in a "pet show."

In 3rd grade, students were divided into groups based on the information from the survey that they completed a couple of weeks ago.  In Mrs. Cook's room, students were moving forward with explorations in physics with a very complicated marble run.  Even without the full directions, the students were able to put it together and discuss their plan to come up with a successful design. 

Down C Hall with the 4th graders, there was a lot of noise but in the best way possible.  I had to step in to the room dedicated to students interested in music.  The students had worked in small groups to compose, practice and perform pieces of music on the drums, recorder and xylophone.  Having been in band myself, I loved seeing how into the music they had become.  Learning how to play and perform music can be very difficult but the results are so rewarding.  I think that group was beginning to understand the rewards of that effort.  Another 4th grade group across the hall was doing a little research into stop animation.  Anyone out there know some awesome, but easy (and free, preferably) programs that we could use for that?

Heading upstairs into 5th grade, I had the chance to see students at work on original video games using a software download from http://scratch.mit.edu/.  At this point, they were trying to learn the ins and outs of the program so I'll have to come back up in a week or two to see their finished products.  It was quite evident how engaged the students were in this because half the students never even noticed that I was in the room!

Stay tuned to see what we have in store this next week!