Valley View Cardinals spent a day filled with messy, playful, hands-on learning last Friday, and joyfully engaged in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics) activities. VVE parents Ryan Herrman and Barbara Paier assembled an army of volunteers, including VVE parents, Westridge Middle School students, Westlake High School students, and even local and national talent to share so many exciting learning activities. We began the day together with bird expert Kevin Gaines from Sky Kings, who brought some very special guests to fly through the cafeteria! Cardinals watched, laughed, and learned alongside a hawk, owl, vulture, and even a kookaburra! Students then went back to their classrooms for rotations through multiple centers. We concluded the day with younger students attending a chemistry demonstration and older students observing the physics of flying through BMX biking experts. Check out a newsteam video here and see the photos below.
hAPPy Friday! Adobe Spark Video, formerly Adobe Voice, is a simplified video editing tool that can include pictures, up to 30 seconds of video, narration and a soundtrack. You can trim clips easily and add several themes. Check out Ed Tech Marianna Ricketson's blog on this app here and view her app integration handout here.
Several grade levels have been conducting research across our school. In fifth grade during library time, students have picked an animal, conducted research using library databases, composed keynote slides, and then presented their findings to the class while Ms. Iles videotaped their presentations. At the end of their presentations, students answered questions from the audience and gathered feedback including both positive comments and suggestions on what they could do to continue strengthening their presentations.
In fourth grade during library time, students have been working on their National Parks research. Each student picked a national park, conducted research using their iPads and National Park websites, took notes, and over the past days they have been creating Google Slides in a shared Slides presentation. It took us a while to navigate the best procedures for all working on a shared slide show at the same time, but students persevered and figured it out! When they have completed their slides, Ms. Iles will print the slides so students can practice using editing marks they have been learning about in their homerooms. After editing on paper, they will make their final edits and share with the class. Ms. Iles will eventually make a book of their work that can be checked out by other students in the school.
Finally, in Ms. Abell's class, 5th graders have been working on "Be the Change" research projects, in which they have each selected an issue in which they see a need for change, defined a problem statement around that issue, and then they collected information from multiple resources including Ebsco Databases, Encyclopedia Britannica, Discovery Education, National Geographic for Kids, and Kids Infobits. As they finish gathering their facts, students are creating their own Weebly websites with information to share about their selected topics. Creativity abounds as they make choices about how to represent the information in multimodal ways.
Way to go, Cardinal Researchers!
Cardinals have been sharing their cultural backgrounds with each other while also building friendships and understanding. Fifth graders created circuit boards for our international day celebration a couple of weeks ago. They began their work via a little survey to learn more about their own family culture. Then, using our Macbook cart and iPads, students continued with deeper research on one of element of their family culture, and began constructing a simple matching exercise using facts about their selected country. Finally, students printed their work, added images, and then assembled circuit boards using cardboard displays, wiring, batteries, lights, and metal elements. They displayed these circuit-board games in the hallways and students around the school enjoyed walking by and testing their knowledge of other countries. Before taking the circuit boards home, 5th graders got together with their 1st grade buddies to share their work. The halls were filled with blinking lights, laughter, questions, and warm conversations as the 1st graders and 5th graders shared cultural knowledge while also building friendships. Thank you for sharing your family history with fellow friends, fifth graders!
Ms. Abell and Ms. Moore worked with first grade students in Ms. Alden's class today as students explored two of the tools from the new STEAM carts. Students explored two items -- Squigz and Magnatiles -- and worked with partners to complete different tasks according to a given list (determined by the roll of a die). Students created playgrounds, castles, people, and even dragons. They also used their iPads to take photos of their creations. Students can then use these photos for future writing prompts. Ms. Alden's class will continue exploring with the materials this week, and then next week they will move to another first grade classroom. Way to go, creative Cardinals!
First graders explain all the elements of their playground design, completed with Squigz pieces.
This week's hAPPy Friday app is the simple presentation app Shadow Puppet EDU. VVE students have used Shadow Puppet for a variety of tasks including recording art reflections and sharing about their family culture. In Kindergarten last week, families and students together filled out a little survey about how their family came to Texas and what they loved most about Texas. We then used Shadow Puppet EDU to display student drawings of their favorite thing about Texas and recorded them telling their stories. Each recording was then given a hyperlink and a QR code. The QR codes were pasted in the back of students' "All About Me" books as well as on a master map indicating the variety of cultures represented by VVE students. At our Open House, parents could view the books and scan the QR codes to view the videos.
For more information on how to use Shadow Puppet Edu, check out the App Integration Sheet and see the video example below.
Two amazing moms have helped VVE celebrate its first-ever International Day! Ms. Anita Lakshman and Ms. Maile Kono-Wells worked tirelessly to plan with VVE teachers and staff, and with local groups interested in helping us learn more about our own cultures and the cultures of others. Our International Day was made special by a variety of activities, including performances by local artisans (including some of our own students, and even some of our WHS Chaps friends), a multitude of classroom experiences, and a culminating Open House event replete with music, video, and food from around the world.
To prepare for the special day of performances and Open House, VVE Cardinals have been learning about their own cultural heritage and as well as the cultures of others. Over the course of the last few weeks, students have been interviewing family members, gathering artifacts, and creating materials to share their own histories. Each grade level worked on special activities that they then shared with family members at Open House on February 2. Ms. Moore even created a special website to share images and information with families. Check it out by visiting vveinternational.weebly.com.
On the actual day, students participated in a variety of performances, including: Japanese Taiko Drummers; African Storytelling shared by Elizabeth Kahura; Classical and Bollywood Indian Dance by one of our own VVE students, and Westlake HS students who shared Chinese Yo-Yo skills; Chinese Ribbon Dance; French Folksongs; and Slavonicka Polka music. We are so grateful to Ms. Lakshman and Ms. Kono-Wells for helping to organize this educational (and fun!) day!
As indicated in an earlier post (see January 11, 2017, "Coding in Third Grade"), VVE students can now use ROBOTS to practice coding! As part of our hAPPy Friday series, Ed Tech Debbie Smith shares about one of the apps that works with our Dash robots -- Wonder App. See her blog post here and check out more lesson ideas here.
Our own VVE fourth graders learned to code the Dash robots using Blockly (another app by the same company). They explored the puzzles to learn how the different coding blocks worked and then had opportunity to create some of their own simple codes.
Students then shared their feedback about coding using our Showbie app. It was a great way to gather a little formative assessment feedback!