On our final day before Winter Break, VVE students were blessed with several special sharing activities. First thing in the morning, Westlake High School Madrigals continued their annual tradition of coming to perform for us during our morning assembly. We laughed, sang along, and enjoyed this special holiday time. As the high schoolers then rushed off to finish taking their finals, Mr. Z led our students and teachers in our holiday sing along. The halls rang with the joy that comes in sharing together in song.
Finally, the VVE Second Grade class continued their tradition (now in its second year) of giving back to the school by helping to clean. Second graders emptied trash, helped clean the floors, and even helped disinfect (with safe materials, of course) our windows and stairway handrails (for which we are so grateful during this flu-season). They helped our custodians and our school, and showed us one of the many ways we can care for one another. Thanks, VVE Second Graders!
Fifth graders engaged in playful exploration today in their math & science rotations, using STEAM tools (Science Technology Engineering, Arts, Math) to explore scientific concepts. Ms. Douglas, Ms. Woods, and Ms. Moore created 5 centers with instruction cards for each center explaining the key goals to accomplish with a given set of materials, and what needed to be stacked together during clean up time before the next rotation. After initial rule explanations, the students moved to their groups and remained in each center for 20 minutes before having a couple minutes to clean up and move to the next area. Students explored the following stations:
Fifth graders have been creating digital books to share what they have been learning in math and science classes in the last few weeks. Students were tasked with the expectation to create a story that included 5 math terms and 5 science terms. Their stories could be fiction or non-fiction, as long as their included all the terms, and a glossary at the back defining each term. Fifth graders were then eager to come share their books with their first grade buddies. Ms. Chapman's and Ms. Alden's students were excited to learn from their fifth grade buddies and read together. The fifth graders even shared their glossaries to teach the first graders new mathematical and scientific terms. An informative (and fun) time was had by all! Thanks to the students in Ms. Woods' and Ms. Douglas' class for sharing your science/math writing!
Last week, fourth graders in all five classes began STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) center rotations for about an hour and fifteen minutes at a time each week. Ms. Moore and the fourth grade teachers designed five centers and uploaded instructions, videos, expectations, and helpful hints into Showbie so students could refer back to this information as they engaged in the challenge at each center. Students stayed in a single center for the entire time, completed the challenge, and then worked to upload their products into Showbie. The five centers included programming robots to play a xylophone, push an object, or pull an object; designing a 2-D map and then building with 3-D objects (Magnatiles and Keva planks); designing a structure with a base area of 16 square feet (using straws and connectors); building specific circuit challenges using Little Bits; and designing a marble run that takes full advantage of potential energy and kinetic energy to run as long as possible (using Quericett Marble Run). This week, students will complete their second center rotation, and continue after the holidays.
Mr. Z led another stellar concert this week, helping us ring in the winter season with joy, light, and beautiful music. The Cardinal Choir and Percussion have been diligently practicing after school for weeks, and their hard work definitely paid off. VVE students were regaled with group and solo singing of songs from around the world, instrumental pieces, dancing, dialogue, beautiful lights, and even emergent holiday decorations that floated from the ceiling and popped up from the wings. Then, to top it off, they sang in an evening of SNOW and we all drove home into a wintery mix that continued through the night. We were all overjoyed to sleep in a little the next day and play in the snow on Friday. Thank you, Choir and Percussion, for helping us all get into a festive and celebratory mood!
VVE teachers have begun using a program to support student spelling, and met recently to vertically align their teaching practices. Under the guidance of our FIT (focused instructional time) team, teachers worked together to design upcoming spelling lessons that supported students' understandings of patterns in English-language spelling, including regular words, rule words, irregular words, and morphology. Ms. Harrell and Ms. Didlake used Google Slides and Peardeck to share information, and have teachers contribute during the large group discussion in real time. Teachers then broke into small groups to continue planning and working together. Teachers had meaningful conversations and Peardeck allowed us all to collaborate and share together!
Fifth grade students in Ms. Abell's class have been creatively constructing games, and sharing them with others! After watching a video about Caine's Arcade, and then doing research on what makes games fun, and what makes people enjoy playing them, these innovators designed new games and invited others to try them. I must say, I very much enjoyed myself playing every game...there were challenges, ways to gain bonus turns or items, and it was difficult to stop when time was up and players had to move to the next game. The students also created videos of their work and others playing their games, and are now beginning some documentary work to explain their own processes and strategies for game design. A big thanks goes to Ms. Abell for her own creative work to design this experience for VVE Cardinals. We look forward to seeing the upcoming documentaries!
A few students in VVE Kindergarten classes have been doing some research on animals. After they shared their research interests, we created this Padlet with links to research information. Students then read, watched, and listened to information, and added their data to printed booklets. As they wrote, students were encouraged to use emergent writing processes as they added text and hand-drawn pictures. Emergent literacy allows students to make choices between when they wish to practice copying words with conventional spelling, and when they wish to use their own understandings of letter-sound correspondence to sound out words. In the video examples below, you will see both conventional spelling and emergent spelling as these budding readers/writers develop their composition skills in developmentally appropriate ways. Further, they are practicing their reading skills as they read back what they wrote. Students then imported saved photos of animals and of their hand-written data into the Shadow Puppet EDU app and added voiceover to read and explain what they learned. We look forward to more reports over time!
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, writing about those things for which we are thankful, and even running and dancing together. 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.
VVE Tech & Learning
Holly Moore, Educational Technologist, shares student learning here, in our Cardinal Community Blog.