Sunday, July 22, 2018

M25 Progress Reports

At the end of each nine weeks, I complete individual progress reports for M25 students. These are EMAILED to you around the same time report cards are sent home. Here are the criteria I use as our learning goals! Remember that the students are works in progress! (See the sample progress report)
  • enthusiasm and involvement in learning
  • responsibility for and independence in their learning
  • asking curious questions
  • depth of understanding
  • creation of high quality products
  • pursuit of challenging activities
  • willingness to tackle open-ended, complex tasks and problems
  • ability to see patterns and connections
  • personal decision-making and behavior that contributes to a positive, productive learning environment

Monday, June 18, 2018

Making the Most of M25

Tips to make the most of your child’s learning in M25...
  • visit my website at least once a nine weeks to discover what your child is learning--this leads to great conversations
  • review the progress reports and help your child set learning goals
  • discover what your child is interested in and find ways for them to develop the talents God has given them--I am happy to help with ideas!
  • help your child by fostering a positive attitude about school and learning
  • encourage independent reading
  • volunteer--what is your occupation/area of expertise?--share it with the students during Extra M25 time 
How can you get involved in helping out students? 
I am always looking for guest speakers for 2017-2018 who would introduce the children to their area of expertise or teach them something new. Would you volunteer or do you know someone who would? Please let me know!**

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Artifact Box

Collaborative Project with 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Grades

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Mill Mountain Zoo

Our Trip to the Mill Mountain Zoo to end our study on animal habitats.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Middle School Adventures

7th and 8th Graders
The real life mystery of the Lost Colony-students used a "CSI" approach through a webquest to gather information about this historical event and to develop their own theories about what happened to the colony. The students proved to join the great minds of history as they shared their theories, complete with evidence to support their positions.

6th Graders
Debate-students learned the art of debate, including defending a position with gentleness and respect, as the Bible instructs us to do. We have had fun with our impromptu debates as well as learning the parts of an argument and how to research a topic. The students made their final debate presentation to the 7th grade M25 students, who gave them feedback.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Spring Elementary Learning

​5th Graders
Mr. Van Feisty's top secret chocolate recipe was stolen, and the 5th graders were just the sleuths to help him solve the mystery. They used a real life process to solve the mystery and learned to do matrix logic problems to gather clues. In the end, they cracked the case and helped to promote justice!

4th Graders
Constellations-students learned that God's word references stars over 50 times and mentions specific constellations. They learned about our awesome Creator through this study of constellations.
A culminating project was to use a technology based product, Bloxels, to make constellations and myths in original video worlds. This is a free app that you can download at home for the ipad.

3rd Graders
Probability-students did experiments and hands on activities to explore mathematical concepts of probability. A probability menu of experiments brought our unit to a close as students predicted and gathered data on the likelihood of certain outcomes.

2nd Graders
Students created octagon kaleidoscopes and explored attributes in a game of deductive reasoning. They eventually had turns being the Venn masters in charge of the games.

1st graders
Geometry-students completed a menu of activities to more fully develop their understanding of geometric concepts covered in our Geoland unit. Recently, students explored random samples, permutations, graphing and logical reasoning problems.

Monday, March 26, 2018

God Mindset Learning

As we go on "The Great Adventure," we will keep in mind what we learned at the beginning of last year about a God Mindset:
What is a "God Mindset?"
  • positive
  • encouraging
  • not giving up
  • perseverance
  • trying
  • making something good out of something bad

How to get a "God Mindset"
  • Try again, and you learn something.
  • Read and memorize God's Word.
  • Decide beforehand to be happy and have a good attitude.
  • Encourage yourself and others.
  • Practice!

Insightful quotes from students:
"When you give up, you will not know what you could have accomplished!"
"Take correction as feedback, not criticism."

Colossians 3:23 "Work as if working for the Lord, not men."

Monday, March 5, 2018

CSI - Cooking Science Investigation

Through a generous grant from the Virginia Association for the Gifted, M25 students in upper elementary are able to investigate the science of cooking through hands on experiments, data collection, and the expertise of guest speakers. Based on their research and data collection, students develop and prepare original healthy recipes for their peers! 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Blooming In Critical Thinking

Recently, the high school teachers at our school approached me and asked how to help their students think critically. They explained their frustration over the alarming trend seen in students desiring to only recall basic information rather than using the information on assignments and in discussions. I believe that we, as a teaching community, contribute to this and must be the ones to undo what we have subtly created. With the demands driven by curriculum and assessment, we tend to just cover material rather than dig in and create opportunities for students to analyze, evaluate and synthesize information. Teaching students to think in this way takes time--a lot of time--time that we may not have when expected to stay on a curriculum schedule. It's surely a great challenge, but I hope to give you a few ideas for building higher level thinking into your daily teaching and assessment routine.

First, let's defer to Benjamin Bloom...remember Bloom's taxonomy from Education 101? No matter how long ago you took education classes, his description of thinking is still accurate and useful to both teachers and students. Get students to think about their thinking. This is called "metacognition." By teaching your students the levels of Bloom's taxonomy and practicing them, you are helping students to be more aware of their thought processes. You might use this when having a discussion or when students are responding to a writing prompt. I suggest having a poster of Bloom's taxonomy in your classroom so you may refer students to it when using different levels of thinking. It can also be used when reviewing information at the beginning or end of class. For instance, plan several questions, one or two from a lower level and one or two from a higher level. Students can respond either verbally or in writing. This is a great time to use Think, Pair, Share. I recommend careful planning of the questions on your part. This is another way to be intentional about building in higher level thinking as well as to use your class time efficiently.
**A good reminder: students cannot skip levels of Bloom. If they do not comprehend the information you are teaching, they will not be able to apply, analyze or evaluate it.

Second, intentionally and regularly build higher level thinking into formal and informal assessments. Students will generally value what they are assessed on. Use an exit ticket several times a week that always requires a higher level response.

Third, be less helpful. "What kind of advice is this for a teacher?" you may ask. I think it's really great advice--especially for me. I tend to come running to the rescue of students who need support and immediately "fix" their conundrums. While teachers should support students, they can build critical thinking skills by providing minimum support. For example, ask the student questions to help clarify their thought process and get them to see what they are missing. Remind them of any frameworks you have taught such as problem solving methods or historical time periods. Perhaps give them the next step only instead of the entire process. Try to balance your assistance between not giving any answers and giving the whole answer.

For those of you who really want to dive in and further explore models and ideas for developing higher level thinking skills in your students, check this out. There are many explanations of this model online, but I thought this was a good description of its usefulness on a teacher's blog that I found.

I haven't tried this activity yet, but I plan to in the near future! This looks like a great activity to promote higher level thinking:

Monday, September 4, 2017

M25 Times for 2017-2018

Wednesday1st Grade, 8:30-9:20
​7th and 8th Grades, 9:20-10:20
4th Grade, 11:00-12:00
3rd Grade, 12:00-1:00
Extra M25 for 5th and 6th Grades, 1:35-2:00 (every other week)

Thursday5th Grade, 9:30-10:30
6th Grade, 10:30-11:30
Extra M25 for 1st and 3rd Grades, 12:00-12:45 (every other week)
Extra M25 for 2nd and 4th Grades, 1:15-2:00 (every other week)

Friday2nd Grade, 8:30-9:30

Friday, September 1, 2017

Extra M25 Schedule

Extra M25Time...August-Angel Falls Collages
September-Houses Around the World
October-Japanese Woodblock Prints and Kanji Writing; School Lunches Around the World; Cultural Food Experience
December-STEM Christmas Activities
January-Stories With Holes
​February-Cinderella Tales from other cultures
March-Cultural Cinderella tales 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th); Archaeological dig boxes (5th and 6th); Stories With Holes
April and May-Charlotte's Web and literature activities

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Anchor Activities

The purpose of an Anchor Activity is to provide meaningful work for students when they finish early, are waiting for further directions, are stumped, first enter class, or when the teacher is working with other students. In other words, students are anchored to an activity which is is usually a logical extension of learning during a unit  Students must be well versed in the ground rules of working independently. The teacher must make adequate preparations so students are clear about the task and the instructions for completing it. The teacher should have a plan for monitoring and managing the activity.  

Examples of anchoring activities may include the following:
  • Independent reading
  • Content-related reading
  • Journal Writing
  • Creative writing prompts (introduce children to fun poetry forms and then make this a choice)
  • On-going independent projects
  • Working on a Portfolio
  • Working on a Learning Packet or Task Card
  • Working at a Learning or Interest Center
  • Practicing skills related to content students learned in their small group lessons
  • Working on an Extension Menu or Cubing activity
  • Word games or puzzles
  • Math facts games and practice
  • Art projects
  • Small group projects

Benefits of an Anchor Activity
  1. can be used to differentiate activities on the basis of student readiness, interest or
learning profile
  1. allows students time to work on independent research, to work more in depth with a
concept, or enrich their skill development

  1. can be used as a management strategy when working with small groups of students
  2. can be a vehicle for making the classroom more student centered

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tiered Assignments

Tiered Assignments Defined...
a readiness-based approach designed to help all learners work with the same essential information, ideas, and skills, yet still be challenged at varying levels on which they are individually capable of working

Criteria for Effective Tiering
  • All tasks are focused on the same essential information, concepts, and skills
  • All tasks require a high level of thinking
  • All tasks are equally engaging
  • In order to form groups, think in terms of whether students are “lower readiness,” “middle readiness,”  or “higher readiness”  relative to their achievement and ability in the content or skill.
  • Optimally, a tiered task is neither too simple so that it leads to boredom nor too difficult so that it results in frustration.

How to Tier an Assignment...

  • Decide on the skill or information to be practiced or learned.
  • Develop at least three different activities or variations of the same activity.
  • Decide on the complexity of the skill for each group. Be sure to promote higher level thinking in each group.
  • Divide students into two, three or four groups based on readiness for the material, skills or concepts being taught.
  • Assign student groups using colors, shapes, numbers or titles.
  • Provide teacher support for each group.

An Economics Activity Designed for 4th Graders After Studying Supply and Demand

TSW apply the concept of supply and demand by creating or analyzing a scenario.

Lead a review discussion on supply and demand, asking students to define each. Explain that students will do three different activities today.

Lower Readiness-The news reports that a category 8 hurricane in Florida destroys a lot of oranges. Show in pictures and words what would happen to prices. What other products besides oranges would be affected and how?

Middle Readiness-A new scientific study has determined that 3 servings of donuts will decrease heart disease. Explain in writing what will happen to the price of donuts and why. Describe what other effects could this have. You may use illustrations or diagrams as well.

Higher Readiness-Create a news story that illustrates increase in supply or demand.

Have students come back together and report on their scenarios.