Thursday, March 22, 2018

Day 117 - Celebrating Women’s History Month at Fox Hill - Mr. Murphy - Fox Hill Learning Commons

March is Women’s History Month and we are celebrating in the Fox Hill Learning Commons by studying books by and about female authors. Come visit the Fox Hill Learning Commons this month and check out a book! We have books about many famous women such as Coretta Scott King, J.K. Rowling, Malala Yousafzai, and Amelia Earhart just to name a few. We also have a fantastic collection of books about women who, while they may not be household names, are no less important to our society and culture, and have made incredibly important contributions to our world. Highlighted here are several books about some fascinating women who you may not have heard of before but will want to learn more about now! These books highlight women who helped and are helping science move forward by leaps and bounds! Additionally, all of these books were written and illustrated by women as well!

Ada Lovelace – Poet of Science by Diane Stanley and Jessie Hartland
Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron, but her true interests were in science and math. In 1800s Victorian England, she began experiments and building machines that could compute numbers using punchcards. It was a form of the earliest computer programming and Lovelace built machines to add numbers before there was available electricity! As early as the 1840s she was even writing about whether a computer could create artificial intelligence. She was quite famous in her time and was admired for her work by people like Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin. Next time you turn on your iPad, you’ve got Ada Lovelace to thank!

Caroline’s Comets by Emily Arnold McCully
This book tells the story of Caroline Herschel, who in 1786, was the first woman to discover a comet. She was also the first woman in history to be paid for her scientific research. She named the first comet The Ladies Comet and went on to discover seven more! She didn’t just watch the skies though. She built telescopes and learned how to make the glass for the lenses. Not an easy job in 1786! Caroline and her discoveries opened the door for astronomers and astrophysicists that came after her. Check out her story today!

The Women in STEM series.
This fantastic series highlights both legendary women in science, like Jane Goodall and Rachel Carson, and emerging scientists like Majora Carter and Sandra Steingraber. Often girls are discouraged from developing an interest in science and technology. This series is designed to change that by empowering girls through showing them successful women to look up to. Topics in this series cover subjects like computer science, conservation, earth and space science, engineering, medicine, and physical science, so from animals to outer space, there is something for everyone. In another twenty years, I’m expecting to see our Fox Hill scientists being featured in the updated series!
Happy Women’s History Month! Girls can do anything!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Day 116 - 8C Social Studies Goes Medieval! - Mrs. Volpe - MSMS Grade 8

This post first appeared on the MSMS Blog

Students in Mrs. Volpe’s 8C social studies class show off their creativity and talents as they work on their Medieval Europe Projects.
“We are studying Medieval Europe and my group decided to research anti-semitism. I have learned so many new and interesting things about how different religions were treated over this period of time. This project was both fun and challenging. My group worked great together and things got done very fast which was great. We felt very accomplished when we looked at our completed project.  This was one of my favorite projects and I was always excited to go to Social Studies every day to work on it.”
Student reflection:
“In my opinion, the Medieval projects were very enjoyable. One of my favorite parts was that we got to pick our own groups and our topic. I also liked how no two groups had the same topic, so everyone’s project was different and unique. Another reason that I liked the projects was that I was able to learn a lot about our topic, Queen Isabella, and King Ferdinand. The textbook gives some information about the King and Queen, but doing the research project on them, really allowed me, as well as the other people in my group, to learn so much more about them.  I learned about their accomplishments, where they lived, and why they created Spain. For example, I learned that Queen Isabella funded the legendary trip made by a Christopher Columbus and was greatly responsible for the Spanish Inquisition. Lastly, I enjoyed getting to be creative. I have never had a set of guidelines that included three 3D objects, but I enjoyed it. It was a very fun, and a different challenge. In conclusion, I really enjoyed this project for many reasons, and I hope we get to do more like it.” -Izzy

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 115 - Where is our Earth in the Universe? - Mrs. Lynch - Francis Wyman Grade 5

This post first appeared on Mrs. Lynch's blog

After two snowstorms and 4 snow days, we are finally finishing out our exploration of Earth in the Universe. We have discovered that the Earth spins counterclockwise by placing sundials on ourselves to see where the sun rises and sets. The children explored their own understanding of the vastness of space by making models of the distance between the Earth and the sun. They determined the relative size of the Earth as compared to the sun and more. However, today came as a real revelation when they could put everything they already knew into play along with what we've learned.

As all the students stood around the 'sun' today holding a map of the United States with an X on Burlington, one student stated, "I have to turn counterclockwise because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. He used evidence to determine which way he had to turn. Success, he used a tool. Another student was struggling to determine which way the Earth rotates around the sun. We were able to draw from the last student and utilize a similar problem-solving strategy. She compared herself to the skillfully spread out summer, fall, winter and spring solstices to determine that the Earth also orbits the sun in a counterclockwise direction.

There is so much more to tell, but hopefully, you have a 202 student at home who can't wait to share.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Day 114 - Snow Day Challenge - Mrs. Parnell - Pine Glen Kindergarten

This post first appeared on Mrs. Parnell's Blog

We are so excited that SO MANY of our students chose to participate in our Snow Day Challenge. WAY TO GO! We are so impressed that you spent some time today working on your school work. We cannot wait to see what you turn in when we return to school. We are so PROUD of our students!  At the time of this post parents of 12 students had sent me pictures of their child participating in some type of academic work - JUST AMAZING! 

AJ is working on the Let's Find Out online resource. Awesome Job AJ!

Zoe is working on the Let's Find Out sight word worksheet. Looking great Zoe!

Pranila is working on her writing about the penguin book she read.
Very impressive Pranila!

Garrett is in a thinking position, working on his sight word worksheet!
Nice going Garrett!

Jackson is also working hard on his sight word paper. I can also see that he
has his homework folder and book pouch out ready to work on. Super Job Jackson!

Matthew is working on finding sight words in the Let's Find Out text.
Excellent Effort Matthew! 

Gabby is also working on the Let's Find Out online component. Great Job Gabby!

Taylor is working hard on the Let's Find out online game. She is really focusing here!

Ben is reading hie book on penguins. So glad to see students reading, Love it!

Dominc is working on his sight word paper! Off to a great start

Connor worked on his writing.

Connor also worked on his sight word worksheet.

Connor also worked on his flashcards! WOW! Way to go Connor.

Ben chose to work on ST Math before attempting his Snow Day Challenge. 
So glad that you are spending time on exercising your brain today Ben!

Pranila also spent some time on ST Math!

Sebastian was absent yesterday so he did not get the Snow Day Challenge.
So happy to see that you are spending some time reading today! Nice Job Sebastian!

AJ ventured outside to play and get some fresh air! Hope you had fun!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Day 113 - Remote/Virtual Learning Days - Diana Marcus - Mobile Learning Coach

First of all, let me say this at the outset – I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE FOLLOWING SUGGESTIONS ARE BETTER THAN BEING IN SCHOOL ON A WINTER DAY.  I’ll probably have to say that over and over again because people challenge me over and over again on the topic.
We’ve had so many snow days this year that I’ve actually lost count and need to ask the district office for the current projected last day of school.  To make matters worse, the last two snow cancellations have been 2-day stretches; one was a Thursday-Friday combo so students were out of school for four days in a row.  Then, they came back for Monday and were out Tuesday-Wednesday.
If you’re a teacher in the middle of a unit or a book, you already understand the problem here.  That topic you started two or three weeks ago will need to be restarted.  Students have forgotten the math algorithm you were teaching because they haven’t practiced and turned it into muscle memory.  YOU probably can’t remember where you left off in that book and your students have certainly lost the plot.  And, you are thinking about the so-called “end of year” tests which are rapidly approaching.  (I say “so-called” because they test the standards to be taught by the end of the year but are given one to three months before the end of the year.)
Nothing beats the interaction between students and their teachers and peers for learning.  After all, we know that learning is a social activity and that educators create the best environments for learning.  But sometimes it simply isn’t possible or safe to be in school due to severe weather, a leaking roof, or a failed heating system.  What then?  The traditional answer has been to add missed days to the end of the year.  This does nothing to address the interruption in learning that occurs over snow days.  It doesn’t push back the state-mandated testing so that it aligns with the change in where students are in the curriculum.  It doesn’t take into consideration that most elementary schools and many middle and high schools do not have air conditioning and have miserable ventilation so that late June brings sweltering classrooms that endanger student health, not to mention learning.
A few years ago, our district attempted to take the lead in making a change.  Sadly, of the three options that were put forward, the School Committee chose the worst of the three.  Every student in grades 1-12 was given a “blizzard bag” project to be done later in the year, not during the snow days, that was meant to replace the lost time on learning from the missed days.  While the topic of the project, Bees/Pollination, was noble, the additional work was not connected to what students had been learning and was overwhelming, having been assigned on top of what students were already doing.  It resulted in a near-universal verdict that this was not how we wanted to do things.  Unfortunately, the public now equates any attempt to be innovative about school cancelations with this model.
There is a better way, which was the one recommended by teachers, and for which I continue to advocate.  Thanks to advances in meteorology, school cancelations are rarely unanticipated, so with a little preparation, teachers can make sure students have an opportunity to make progress on days when they cannot make it to school without snowshoes or an inflatable boat.
Here are some simple examples from my own experience as a fifth-grade teacher:
  • read the next chapter in our core book and answer questions about the reading;
  • write a reflection on a topic from our master list;
  • revise your current writing project for (insert focus area here);
  • practice math equations/problems (I always had extra practice sheets);
  • watch one or more of the science or social studies videos I’ve assigned through Discovery Education and be prepared to discuss when we return to school (assuming you have power);
  • Read this Cobblestone (history) or National Geographic (science) article and highlight the portions you would like to discuss or learn more about (no electricity needed);
  • Depending upon the special (Art/Music/PE) we would have on that day, do the activity assigned by that teacher;
Of course, there are always people who think this is a gambit by teachers to get out of working.  Let’s just put aside the fact that I don’t know an educator who doesn’t use snow days to catch up on lesson planning, grading, IEPs, professional development, or parent communication.  Teachers wouldn’t get the time off on a remote/virtual learning day.  Depending upon the situation (grade level, subject, available resources) teachers would provide support for students and families.  A few options could be responding to questions via email, conversation threads on Google Classroom, Google Hangouts, checking in on student work through Docs.  Obviously, if everyone loses power, then there would have to be alternatives but it wouldn’t be that difficult to work something out so that districts would feel that they were getting their money’s worth out of the teacher day.
Again, there is no question that being in school would provide a richer, more supportive, learning experience for most students.  But if we are willing to let go of the “snow day” of the past, we can not only keep students immersed in their learning, but they may even discover that learning can happen outside of the classroom.