It is hard to believe that the Thanksgiving holidays are already upon us! At VVE, we are taking time to celebrate together, through feasting together (Kindergarten Charlie Brown Feast), helping each other, and writing about those things for which we are thankful. Cardinals are thankful for family, friends, and many wrote about being thankful for their teachers. Our VVE teachers give so much to help our young learners, and I'm ever grateful for the many ways we learn and grow alongside one another. Thank you, VVE, for being a school filled with care, support, and love.
Fifth grade Cardinals have recently begun their biography research project which focuses on learning and writing about a person who has made an important contribution to society. Fifth graders selected a person they wanted to research, then each began a Padlet to collect research resources. Ms. Moore came in and did a little research lesson on how to select key search terms, and then use them in the different databases we have access to at VVE. We discussed how the resources at the top of the Symbaloo grid have the most simple, straight-forward information data and those lower on the grid have more complex search abilities and allow a researcher to find higher-level texts (e.g., more complex vocabulary, higher lexile levels). In coming days, the fifth graders will write about what they learn and we will add QR codes that link to students' Padlet bibliographies.
Valley View continued its annual tradition of celebrating and honoring our veterans this year. Our assembly opened with Boy Scouts marching in our US and Texas flags, and leading us in the pledges and moment of silence. Next, directed by the fabulous Mr. Zenon, our Second Grade students sang a medley of the US Service Songs, followed by a rendition of a thank you song to our service people. Stellar VVE Volunteer, Jackie Smart, created a slideshow with the images and names of all VVE students' and staff members' family who have served in the armed services. We then invited all veterans present to join Ms. Dusek on stage and each one shared a message with our VVE Cardinals. We were especially amazed to share in one Cardinal's family presentation of a special US flag that flew over ships just after WWII. It was a special day of remembrance and honor, and we are grateful to have shared with our VVE family.
Mrs. Illes and VVE fourth and fifth graders have been working on sharing book recommendations through Flipgrid. Initially, 5th graders selected some of their favorite books and then composed little digital book talks using the Flipgrid app. They wrote and then recorded information about the book title, main idea, what they liked about the book, and why another reader might enjoy it. These flipgrid videos were then shared with 4th graders who then watched them and selected a book they wanted to read based upon the 5th graders' insights. Fourth graders are now creating their own Flipgrids to share with 3rd grade students. What a great way to share digital literacy in support of text-based literacy!
This week we have celebrated learning through our parent conferences and through our school book fair. This morning, our cafeteria was filled with books, children, and parents, as all eagerly searched for a new (or tried and true) favorite text. In my teacher donation box, I have a few new books I'm excited to read, including the latest from author Sarvinder Naberhaus & artist Kadir Nelson, Blue Sky White Stars. I love Nelson's work (he won the Coretta Scott King author award and the Coretta Scott King illustrator honor award for Heart and Soul), both as an artist and an author. But I'm also excited about this book because it gets me thinking about how we can share our stories together as a community. Last week, a colleague sent me links to blog posts about the need for diverse books and the lack of multicultural children's books, and these posts reminded me of my work with early childhood students who longed to see themselves in the books we read together. It also reminded me of my own reading journey, and how educative and humanizing it has been to read both books in which I could see myself, as well as books in which I can learn the stories of others who have had different experiences from mine. I'm excited for our VVE Cardinals to find more books from which they can learn to think and even understand themselves, their world, and others. The book fair helps us do that, as will the children's section of the upcoming Texas Book Festival. I look forward to the new conversations and exciting understandings our Cardinals will share from the books they will be reading!
Periodically throughout the year, we Ed Techs support each other by assisting in projects at sister schools. Today, I was excited to present a session to kindergarteners called "Next Brilliant Inventor" in support of fellow Ed Tech, Ashley Pampe, and the BCE STEAM day. We jumped right into the A in STEAM (Science -- Technology -- Engineering -- Arts -- Math), beginning with singing, and quickly moving into a shared reading of Beaty & Roberts' amazing book Rosie Revere, Engineer. If you haven't read it, you must; it is the story of a timid inventor, Rosie, who loves creating things but is shy of sharing them. After a few fits and starts, her great aunt (an allusion to Rosie the Riveter) helps her find confidence and the knowledge that multiple iterations are often needed for a design. Little Rosie soon learns that failure is part of the process, and brilliant inventions take multiple explorations, designs, makings, and re-makings to create that next amazing item.
After reading the text together, kindergarteners had four invitations to explore and create. They were offered in the form of provocations -- a way of inviting learners to explore, question, think, and create on a given topic. The concept of provocations comes from the Reggio Emilia approach to learning -- one that lends itself to scientific exploration and discovery. In our kindergarten classroom, students were offered carefully selected materials, and thoughtfully selected picturebooks, and invited to one of four areas to explore the following (the first two were "stay & play" the second were "make and take"):
1) What structures can you design/build? (Unit blocks, Citiblocs, small manipulatives to add to creations)
2) What story can you tell? (Fabric backgrounds, wooden numbers, animal shapes, sea glass, plastic leaves/acorns/pumpkins, buttons, shapes, shells)
3) What creature can you create, and what special powers does it have to help others? (Air-dry hypoallergenic clay, feathers, chenille stems, google eyes, colored sticks, small craft sticks, markers, trays)
4) What gadget/gizmo can you design (paper, sparkle-glue, chenille stems, feathers, foam stickers of various shapes & solar system items, stamps, stamp pads, scissors, markers craft sticks)
Students creatively explored and time ran out way to quickly! If we had more time, I would have taken careful notes on what each child chose to explore, what they worked on, and what they shared about their creation. I could then use this information to design more interest-based provocations, select more materials, and work to connect these experiences to learning goals for each child. We would then take time to dig in to these provocations, allowing for time to engage in multiple iterations, thinking deeply, questioning curiously, and collecting more data. If done well, it can be just like the design process -- a reiterative process that allows the designer/teacher to continue refining the creation (in this case, learning) so as to better support deep thinking and meaningful connection to content. We invite you to try too!
Second graders at VVE have been learning about communication and how to write different kinds of letters. They have been writing friendly letters, business letters, and this week we began composing digital letters via our email. Ms. Moore created a Showbie class with some different videos and examples of internet safety, digital etiquette, and how to compose emails. We also read the book The Jolly Postman, a little treasure book of many kinds of letters written to different fairytale characters. Students then composed emails to their teachers choosing between different topics, including their preferred recess toys (if they could dream for anything), what costume they might like to wear (if they liked to dress up), or their favorite topics/books for reading. The teachers LOVED reading students' emails, and we look forward to using digital communication. (Since teachers' names are included above, the images of student emails above do not include their names, for the purposes of student privacy.)
Third graders in Ms. McDaniel's class have been working on summarizing stories using details about setting, conflict (problem), and resolution (solution of the conflict) in their Language Arts writing time. In addition to using graphic organizers, to get their thinking started, students also worked to check off each element on a checklist of items to be included in an Explain Everything video. Ms. Moore helped orient the students to how to use this great technology tool, and students then shared their work through their Showbie classroom. The multimodal composing possible through Explain Everything allows students to make choices about not only text, but also background colors, images, voiceover, text, font, page design, and highlighting tools. This was the first time students used this app, and as they continue to learn, it can help them develop their digital literacy while also practicing comprehension skills. We look forward to seeing more projects using Explain Everything!
Kindergarteners have been practicing their letters and numbers, and learning each others' names! They have been using multiple apps to do this work, including Draw & Tell HD, Pic Collage Kids, and See Saw Learning Journal. Students used Draw & Tell HD to practice writing a letter and then find a "sticker" of an animal or item that begins with that letter. Some of them even added a voice-over recording and movement (e.g., the Bb bumblebee video above). They also used this app in math centers to create their own representations of differing amounts. Students had a little baggie with number cards (with numerals and 10-square dots for 1-10). They pulled a card from the deck, and then showed how they could represent that number using a numeral and different items. They used the Draw & Tell recording feature to trace over their numerals and count their items.
Finally, students in one kindergarten class also practiced reading through creating their own name-pages using Pic Collage Kids (see example above -- face hidden for student privacy). Each student took a selfie, added it to a collage page, added stickers, and saved it to their camera roll. They then shared it with Ms. Moore who assembled them into a Book Creator book and saved as an Epub. With Apple Classroom, we could push the classroom name book to each student iPad. We are learning to read and compose with letters and numbers (and color, and image, and design), one step at a time!
VVE Booster Club organized and ran an amazing carnival this week! Students enjoyed this day of play and family fun. We are so grateful to all our amazing Booster Club volunteers organize for VVE Cardinals. You can support their work by visiting their new and improved website (click HERE). Thanks, Booster Club!
VVE Tech & Learning
Holly Moore, Educational Technologist, and Lilly Kephart, Instructional Partner, share student learning here, in our Cardinal Community Blog.