Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Touching Lives: Volunteers Sharing Their Passions with our Learners!

Each week, the learners at Austin Elementary have the opportunity to explore their interests and develop their passions under the guidance of the dedicated educators that facilitate their learning in the classroom every day.  If you have had the pleasure of visiting our campus during E-Time on Friday mornings, you have seen first hand some of the amazing discoveries that our learners are making during this time.  However, many of the incredible learning experiences that are taking place would not be possible without the dedication of our community and parent volunteers who willingly share their time and expertise with our learners.  Through their interactions with these volunteers, our learners not only gain access to skills and knowledge that might otherwise be unavailable to them, but they also learn to communicate effectively with those around them and make real world connections to their passions and learning.

If you would like to learn more about E-Time of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, we would love to have you join us for a tour on Friday mornings between 8:00 - 9:00 a.m.  Simply click on the link below to reserve your spot!

Or join us this Friday, March 1st, for our 2nd / 3rd Grade Enrichment Cluster Showcase where we will be celebrating the incredible six week journey of growth and learning that our second and third graders experienced during their recent Enrichment Cluster experience.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Showcase Preview: Part 2

Our Enrichment Cluster Showcase is only two short weeks away, and our learners are getting ready!  Engineering, emergency response, movie making, journalism, digital card design, archeology...the list goes on and on!  As I visit the classrooms each week during E-Time, I am amazed at the vocabulary and depth of understanding that these young learners are gaining through their cluster experiences.

Navigate Coppell:

Engineers are problem solvers at heart.  That's what the learners in this cluster are discovering as they work together each week to design and build a structure that not only meets the given criteria, but also overcomes the various challenges they meet along the way.  This week they were challenged to build a bridge that could span a "river" and support a certain amount of weight.  They met the challenge head on and were thrilled with their results!

                                                                                             Coppell Kids Painters' Guild:

These young artists are painting up a storm as they create their own unique masterpieces to be displayed in the local McDonald's restaurant.  The inspiration for many of their pieces comes right from the heart of Coppell as the students create reproductions of important landmarks right here in our city.  In this cluster learners are enjoying the chance to express their creativity and are very excited about the opportunity to give back to their community.  The artwork of course, is beautiful, but the giving spirit in the hearts of these children is the real treat.  It is a joy to see them working together to make Coppell a more beautiful place!

Emergency Response Crew:

These second and third graders are exploring the world of first aid and emergency response.  They are learning how to treat to a variety of minor emergencies and busy creating a series of videos that will be used as a resource for educators and learners who want to know more about first aid procedures.

Movies, Books, and More!                                                                           

Have you ever read a great book and wished you had a way to share it with others?  That's just what this group of readers decided to do!  They are using PowerPoint to create book trailers that will be used to advertise some of their favorite books and share them with other readers, not only at Austin Elementary, but at other Coppell schools as well.  What a great way to share a love for reading and get some great book recommendations out there for others to see!  I can't wait to see their final products!

Video Production Announcements:

These young stars are writing, directing, filming, and starring in their very own video production as they bring morning announcements to the big screen!  They have also been doing some investigative work around campus and are ready to share their findings with the world.   Tune in on Friday, March 1st to view their debut performance!

Digital Card Creations:

After exploring the history of card making, these greeting card designers decided to spread some cheer to the men and women in uniform who serve and protect us every day.  They are creating cards that will be shared with police officers and firemen, in Coppell.  They have also blessed the residents of
Remington Retirement Center in Valley Ranch with their messages of good cheer and love on Valentines' Day.  They are proud of the work they are doing and are eager to deliver their digital creations to the public servants who work so hard to keep us safe.

The Green Team:

Sustainability is
the goal for this group of ecologists as they investigate ways to help make Austin Elementary a more energy efficient place to learn.  From recycling and planting flowers, to surveying teachers and researching the feasibility of rain barrels, these young learners are doing whatever it takes to reach their goal.  Their enthusiasm is contagious and their indomitable spirit is an inspiration to those around them.
I can't wait to hear about all that they have learned
during their adventurous journey of
discovery and service.

Our learners are doing great things!  They are learning, teaching, serving, caring,  discovering, designing, and creating.  They are exploring their world...and making an impact on what they see.  They are excited about learning...and generating excitement in those around them.  They are discovering...or maybe helping US to see...that they can...and will...make a difference in our world.

If you would like to experience the excitement first hand, we invite you to sign up for an E-Time tour by clicking on the link below.

If you are interested in assisting one of our educators during E-Time, please contact Liz Malone at 214-496-7335 or by email at

Finally, mark your calendar for the 2nd/3rd Grade Enrichment Cluster Showcase on Friday, March 1st from 8:00 a.m. -9:00 a.m. in the Austin Elementary library.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Passing it On!

Our first graders enjoyed a special treat during E-Time this morning as they were introduced to the wonders of sign language by none other than our very own fourth grade signers!  If you have been following our blog for very long, you may remember that we have a group of fourth graders who have been exploring the intricacies of sign language over the last several weeks.  On Friday, they had the opportunity to pass on their newly developed skills as they shared some of what they have learned with a group of very excited, innately curious first grade learners.  I was inspired as I watched these young educators patiently model correct finger position and meaningful facial expression to this eager group of learners.  Not only was everyone having a great time, but both groups ended the day feeling excited about their learning and proud of what they had accomplished.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Showcase Preview: Part 1 - Come Be Amazed!

Walk down B Hall between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. any Friday morning, and you will find a several groups of 2nd and 3rd graders who are excitedly exploring various interest areas in their chosen enrichment cluster.  These passionate young learners have met four times and have made great strides in their learning.  They are working hard toward their chosen product and are eager to share their learning with you at the Enrichment Cluster Showcase on Friday, March 1st.  See below for a preview of what these amazing young have accomplished.

In CSI Frenzy, Officer Grisso is showing young learners the process of finger printing as together, they explore the science of Crime Scene Investigation!

The young magicians in the Magic Maniacs                       
cluster are particularly intrigued by optical illusions.   I can't wait to see what they have learned!

 Ready, Set, Cook!  These learners are cooking up a storm as they explore the world of cooking, create their own recipes, and learn the art of videography.  They are preparing a cooking show for our culinary enjoyment.  Yummy!

Miss Paraliticci's dad was the man of the day in Shock Your Socks Off as he guided these young engineers through an exploration of circuits and electricity.  The children were enthralled with the hands on learning and had an endless supply of questions for this electrical engineer.   I can't wait to see what they will do with this new learning!

These young crusaders on the Problem Solving Task Force are on a mission to make Austin Elementary a better place to learn!  No more bugs!  They are writing letters, doing research, and working hard to develop a plan for keeping all bugs out of our school.   They are documenting their journey through a blog, and are eager to share their results with our Austin Elementary family!

These young journalists are learning how it feels to seek out a story and share it with the world!  They are busy photographing, interviewing, writing, and editing as they get ready to publish an Austin Elementary newspaper.  Don't be shy if they approach you with a camera and ask, "What's Your Story?"

The Austin Archeology Association has been exploring the secrets hidden in the artifacts of the past!  Now they are ready to share their own story through a piece of pottery that is uniquely their own.  What stories will be revealed through these amazing clay creations?

Book Blooms are going strong after their consultation with architects, landscape designers, and our very own Ms. O'Neill.  They have gained some insight into the architectural design process and are now in the process of creating a model of their vision for a reading garden at Austin Elementary!

As you can see, our learners are bursting at the seams with excitement about the many learning opportunities they are experiencing in their enrichment clusters...and I have only shared half of the story!  Tune in next week to see what is happening with the rest of our 2nd and 3rd grade clusters as they continue to delve deep into their passions and learn what those passions look like in the real world.

If you would like to experience the excitement first hand, sign up for an E-Time tour at

If you are interested in assisting one of our educators during E-Time, please contact Liz Malone at 214-496-7335 or by email at

Finally, mark your calendar for the 2nd/3rd Grade Enrichment Cluster Showcase on Friday, March 1st from 8:00 a.m. -9:00 a.m. in the Austin Elementary library.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Kinder is Kicking E-Time Into High Gear!

With all the excitement of the Showcase and the launching of the second and third grade clusters, I have had  little time to check in on our youngest learners in Kindergarten.  That problem was remedied this past Friday morning as I got to spend some time with these precious little ones.  What I found when I arrived was a level of engagement and joy in learning that was absolutely contagious.
In Miss Morris' room, I found a group of learners exploring a variety of technology tools including iMovie, Word, and Paint.  The most impressive part of the experience was that these learners were not learning these skills from their teacher, though I am sure she would have been up to the task.  Instead, they were learning from each other as they each took on the role, not only of a learner, but of an educator as well.  I was able to simply sit back and watch it all unfold as these learners collaborated with their peers to make meaning of these new technology applications.

In Miss Thach's room, a group of young readers/writers/illustrators were exploring the literary work of Kevin Henkes, author of Chrysanthemum, Owen, and Lilly's Purple Purse.    After exploring his literary and artistic style, these young learners  attempted to reproduce what they had seen through a unique artistic creation of their own.  They were particularly excited about the opportunity to experiment with the medium of watercolor as a tool for expressing their creativity.  I can't wait to see some of the final products of their work!  Stay tuned as they move on to Mo Willems next week!

Across the hall in Mrs. Nutt's room, I found a rambunctious group of boys excited about the opportunity to pursue their passion...animals!  They were learning about some of their favorite animals and looking forward to learning more through some hands on exploration.  I'm wondering if we might have a few future veterinarians in the group!

Finally, in Mrs. Weegar's room, an energetic group of young ladies was eagerly learning a few dance moves as they boogied down to the beat of Elton John and Kiki Dee's "Don't Go Breakin My Heart!"  These girls were swinging and swaying with style as they learned to "cut a rug" just in time for Valentine's Day.

Encourage our young learners by leaving a comment about what you see!