Sunday, October 2, 2016

Hands-on Nature and our first student RETN / Tarrant Media Project

Wow - seems like we were just welcoming our new Kindergartners to their first day of school and now leaves are turning and the calendar confirms that October has arrived.   Of course it shouldn't be a surprise - with 800 students and over 100 staff there is always something great happening in the building and just trying to visit classrooms on a regular basis means 10,000 steps is just a staple of everyday - time does fly here at SCS!   Last week I was able to catch a visit from our Hands-On-Nature team as they visited Emily Vigneault's kindergarten class.   Honestly I had only planned to stay a few minutes, but the lesson on the life cycle of insects was so much fun I actually camped out for almost an hour.   Here are a few highlight photos:  

Introducing the concept of life cycles - the lesson included a fun puppet show about metamorphosis

Some critical thinking linking puzzle pieces of various insects and their life cycle phases
then the lesson moved outside to let our young students explore for insects and evidence of their life cycles

To make sure the lesson connects with reality - the classroom has painted ladies and monarch caterpillars for observation
Hands-On-Nature is an example of a great partnership between our school and PTO.   Each year the PTO funds one third of the cost for the materials and training of this K-2 Science program - which is run entirely by parent volunteeers.  As I said at the start - the lesson I saw was fantastic - structured to engage multiple learning styles and packed full of great science content directly aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  

Interesting note is that another third of the cost of the program is provided by a unique partnership between all parents and some middle school students - the Box Tops for Education labels that we collect in the main office are cut / sorted by a group of students organized by Behavior Interventionist Sue Schaefer.    It takes literally thousands of box tops to raise a few hundred dollars and year after year parents have come through and this team has cut and shipped them off.
Got any boxtops for education at home - love to take them off your hands to support Hands-On-Nature again next year!
Through the creation of meaningful projects like this, Sue helps our middle school students connect with each other and with areas that interest them.  Another example of this is work that she is doing in collaboration with RETN (Rural Educational Television Network) and the UVM Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education around empowering students to use media, especially video, to tell stories that are important to them.   One group of middle schoolers was intrigued to know how students would respond to the question "what do you wish people knew about you?" - giving them the opportunity to share just one fact that is important to them that perhaps others do not know.   So Sue helped them hone the idea, learn the technology and collect the information to share.  Here is our first compilation of this - showcasing the prime group from Alpha teacher Meg O'Donnell - who notes that she has always wanted to hike the Long Trail from end to end.

Click here if you can't see the video "Alpha / Meg"

We hope to be able to share several of these from many different classes over the coming weeks.  

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