Monday, April 11, 2016

April Showers Bring Us Powers

Greetings! I apologize that the blog is woefully out-of-date. Don't be fooled into thinking that, because I haven't posted in a bit, there's nothing good going on around here.

If you get the MCS school newsletter, you will see that I have had a busy couple of weeks. On March 30th, I, along with ANESU Interim Superintendent Armando Vilaseca and Innovation Coach Caroline Patrie, went to the Capitol Plaza in Montpelier for a day-long celebration of innovative educators from around the state of Vermont. It was really inspiring to hang out with other teachers who are doing the kind of interesting and progressive things that I am drawn to. I am also newly returned from Boston, where I spent two days at the Museum of Science learning how to teach the Engineering is Elementary STEM program. The workshop strand I chose to participate in focused on integrating math in engineering and design. I was heartened, again, to be in a room with teachers who value the kind of teaching and learning that takes place in Room 110 already! As part of my scholarship to participate in EiE, I will also be getting a kit for one of the EiE units (there are 20 to choose from!) and other ancillary materials as my scholarship allows. I am very excited to choose my unit (I have narrowed it down to three possibilities based on our science content for next year: one about water filtration, one about cleaning up oil spills, and one about solar power... choices, choices!).

Our Innovation Faire planning seems to be humming along for most teams. By now, everyone should have an innovation goal in mind. We are working on developing a persuasive piece to help prove that such an innovation is necessary and developed the Flowbee Test as our metric (Does it solve a problem or fill a legitimate need? Is it a true improvement on the existing system or method?). Students are finding evidence through research to support the need for their prospective innovation and many groups are building a strong case for the work they are doing. I really encourage you to talk to your innovator about her/his project plans; being able to communicate the what and the why for this project is essential!

We kicked off our Civil War unit last week by starting one of the "Choose Your Own Learning Adventure" activities together. In this activity, we examined paintings and photographs of the time and used them as a window to the emotions, politics, and general zeitgeist of the era. While I was in Boston, students who have Lit Circles with me self-managed their first week's worth of reading and response by meeting to discuss their selection and then using Google Classroom to synthesize their notes and the group chatter. I have a TON of reading to do to catch up to these killer readers!

Speaking of our reading prowess, I am sure you heard, but ICYMI, the Gagner Gang took home top honors in the MCS Read-A-Thon! We logged the most minutes of any class and earned ourselves an ice cream party, which will be held on Friday the 15th after lunch. I am really proud of the class for stepping up to take on this challenge. The Read-A-Thon made readers of us all and that is a beautiful thing! I am also pleased to announce that our own Owen K. was the top fifth-grade reader, another fantastic honor for our crew!

We are just a few short days away from a much-deserved April Break and I really can't believe that we have just seven "ish" weeks left of school this year. The gang and I counted down and, once we get back from Break, we have five days in April, 20 days in May, and six-and-a-half days in June. That's only 31.5 days of school! Seems like only yesterday that we were starting on this journey. My how far we have come.

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