Friday, April 29, 2016

Learning About Non-Fiction

Our students are very fortunate for many reasons, but the one I am highlighting here is about our annual Author Visit. Our PTO always sponsors these visits. We have had some amazing authors in the past including Grace Lin and David Biedrzycki. This year we decided to invite an author who writes non-fiction books. We spend a lot of time teaching our students about text features in non-fiction books, about searching for information, about writing and about drawing "true" illustrations to go with our work. We thought author Melissa Stewart would be a great choice. Our students love her (more than 180) books and we have many of them in our library.

It was a thrill for our young learners to meet a real author and for many to purchase an autographed book by Melissa. All classes read a few of Melissa's books prior to the visit. First graders in Mrs. Paget and  Mrs. Ravinski classes made welcome posters which were hung around the school. Mrs. Teany's kindergarten students each created a poster about one of Melissa's books. It was a thrill for sure when she looked at each drawing and made comments about them. She loved the posters so much she took them home one night to show her husband!

Here is a very short video showcasing the kindergarteners posters. Enjoy!

Here are a few photos from the visit:

Even our Preschoolers had a session with Melissa Stewart!
Kindergarten class
Looking at each and every poster made by students
Autographing a student's book
First graders with a few of their welcome posters

Thank you Medfield K-8 PTO for supporting our literacy program at Memorial School! We are so grateful :-)

Update May 1, 2016: Melissa Stewart was awarded the New England SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Crystal Kite Award for her

book Feathers Are Not Just For Flying

Congratulations, Melissa! Our students will be very excited to hear this news.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Trendsetting" with KIBO's!

Thought it was time to give an update about our KIBO project. Last June I submitted a grant to the amazing Medfield Coalition for Public Education (MCPE) for two KIBO's. The grant was approved! We started using them in the fall with three kindergarten and three grade 1 classes. You can read about our 1st experience using KIBO's here.

In the meantime, something most unexpected happened. The Tufts DevTech Lab (which provides 'resources to teachers, parents  and anyone interested in using robotics in early education classrooms') asked if I would like to be featured as one of their "Teaching Trailblazers." Whoa, what an honor! 

Click here to read the entire Early Childhood Robotics Network interview

Back to planning our KIBO curriculum...We were very pleased with our first KIBO lesson but realized quickly that it would be a much better experience for our students if we had more KIBO's. Julie Colantoni, Meredith Teany and I wrote a new grant requesting eight more. We are so grateful that the MCPE approved this request. We now have 10 KIBO's at Memorial School!

We've been using our 10 KIBO's for the past two weeks and I can say for sure that this is the way to go. The whole class can now use the KIBO's at the same time and work in groups of 2-3 students per KIBO, which is how they are meant to be used. The kids loved having another opportunity to use KIBO and learn about more of the sensors and blocks. Each student had the opportunity to try out all of the jobs: planner/programmer, checker, scanner, and the very important, push the start button.

Mrs.McAvoy sharing the How to Make KIBO Work How-To Book, which her students wrote. It was the perfect way to begin our 2nd KIBO lesson.

Going forward, we will dig deeper into what our students can do with our KIBO's and learn from using robotics. We can't wait to use our KIBO's with more students this spring. 

Many, many thanks to the strong support from our principal, Dr. Melissa Bilsborough and to the MCPE.