Friday, February 22, 2013

Think. Communicate. Collaborate. Problem-Solve: Critical Skills


If we want genius to show, then we must allow the genius to grow. How?

We provide lots of opportunities for the human genius to develop -- projects that require thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving, the skills most needed as adults.

One such project is the Marshmallow Project. Teams of students have eighteen minutes, 20 spaghetti sticks, one yard of masking tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow during which time and with those materials they must design and build the tallest structure possible with the marshmallow on top.

So how did students solve the problem?






How did they communicate and collaborate to solve the problem?



This team's structure was 13 inches from the table top to the top of the marshmallow. A seventh grade team built a structure 18.75 inches tall, and a sixth grade built a structure 17.5 inches tall. (Glogster).

Seventh Grade Team:
Sixth Grade Team



What's important? The quick thinking, revising, and communicating to collaborate; the ability to take a risk and try, the ability to persevere!

Be sure to read, watch, and learn (TED Talk) about the thousands of others who have tried this activity, from kindergarten to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. What were the results? Kindergartners were the best solvers because they kept testing the marshmallow and redesigning. Architects and engineers were the best solvers too because they have the skills to know about structures. Who would think a marshmallow could weigh so much?

And skills? Watch the video and see the teamwork. That's what kids need to learn.

Photo Credit: Genius by CC Flickr mrsdkrebs

This is a school related site so please respect others and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or need to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. Reflect Curiosity and Wonder... Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Healthy Attitudes: Caring and Kindness


It's Valentines Week. On Valentine's Day, we continued our dedication to create a chain reaction of kindness, like Rachel challenged us. Go to KidBlog Valentine posts to read what we did and see our pictures. We integrated reading, writing, and art. We looked at a picture of the final project, we thought about HOW to do it, and we wrote directions step-by-step. Then we switched papers and read a partner's directions. We followed their directions, or revised them as necessary. The best directions are posted on KidBlog. For art, we made the "Hearts in Hands," wrote kind actions on them, and hung them up around the school.  That's reading, writing, and art!

Also on Thursday, Valentine's Day, Stacy Nicholson taught students in grades seven and eight about healthy relationships and how to prevent teen violence. Students participated in an interactive game to learn about the choices that will help them stay safe and help them choose healthy relationships.

Here are a few photos-- please ask your child what they learned.




This is a school related site so please respect others and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or need to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. Reflect Curiosity and Wonder... Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Genius Project Artists

Flickr Photo CC by mrsdkrebs Click to link

Our Middle School participates in Genius Projects every Friday morning. This provides time for Mr. Johnson's students to participate in science labs and in depth math explorations. Mr. Erickson's students can dig deeper into maps, research, and presentations for social studies or book projects. Ms. Edwards's students can pursue their own research, passion, or choice projects.

We believe students learn more when their passions are followed, when projects allow their strengths to shine, and when time encourages the type of deep thinking that solidifies learning and connects ideas in multiple disciplines. Our Common Core State Standards require this type of deep thinking and understanding.

This week in Ms Edwards's class we focused on storytelling and art as choice projects. Students could also choose their own topics. 

5 Card Story

Creating stories seems easy, until your choices include five random pictures. Then the creative and critical thinking skills matter: How do you start a story at one random picture and end up at another by connecting all five pictures together? Some students struggled with attempting a simple concrete story, and others created poetic journeys. The important thing is they had a problem to solve, asked for help and strategies, and struggled with ideas until each created a story. Too often in our classrooms, students are provided with so much scaffolding that they are unable to think for themselves and then are unable to transfer the process to other situations.  This engaging activity expected students to struggle in order to strengthen their own thinking processes to solve the problem: How do I create a whole story given random pictures? If you want to try, here are the directions, and for examples, enjoy our grade seven stories here.

Art in 3

Our next choice in Genius Project day in Grade Seven, provided a chance to play with art and present our efforts. We wanted to again choose a prompt that focused our thinking to develop an image on which our artistic talents would create. Then we chose three art styles to create within the time allowed. 

Our directions here provided choices, although we needed to change the number from five styles to three since we had already used our time for the 5 Card Story project. Here are four finished and displayed projects:

Topic: Welcome
Styles: Sketch, Pastels, Computer
Artist: May



Topic: Storm
Styles: Computer, Sketch, Pastels
Artist: Alka



Topic: Storm
Styles: Sketch, Pastel, Computer
Artist: Aly


Topic: Storm
Styles: Sketch, Pastel, Cubism
Artist: Shee



How did we do? How do you think Genius Project Time is important?

This is a school related site so please respect others and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or need to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. Reflect Curiosity and Wonder... Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Digital Learning Day #dlday

How does Digital Learning occur every day?

We are researchers, and today we used our map and questioning skills. These two students used search and Google Maps to figure out where the students from our Mystery Skype school lived.

One student kept track of questions and answers  in Google Docs so we could remember the answers our mystery school provided us. Beside her, another student pinned possible places on the map, zooming in to add to questions that the two mappers above provided to our official "Inquirer," the student who actually asked our questions to our Mystery School.

We were really stumped because one answer was that they did not live in the Rocky Mountains, which ruled out British Columbia. But after asking several more questions, we asked if they lived in British Columbia, and they said yes. So our Rocky Mountain question must not have been clearly asked.  Asking good questions is an important skill, as are map skills. Finally, we asked if they lived in a largely populated area, and they said yes.  Quill and Vinick argued with each other, should we ask if they live in Vancouver or Surrey? They chose Surrey, and were correct. Quill said, "I didn't think we'd get it because they got like ten questions right and our state correct so quickly."

We then answered their questions again so they could figure out where we lived. Since we are in such a rural area, it was difficult to guess, but we all clapped for them when the did.  We learned that it's important to know how to ask good questions, it's important to know how to find important places on maps (and to know the world), and it's helpful to politely let people know how to correctly pronounce names. We mispronounced Surrey and they mispronounced our town. So we all learned together.

How did we know to Mystery Skype? I received a Tweet from @ValerieLeessd36 and @TeresaOakland asking to do so. None of us had experienced a Mystery Skype but the clear directions here from Global Connections provided the framework for us to jump in and do it!  

Go ahead and set one up.

In seventh grade students began 5 card Flickr stories. More will be added later; they took part in he end of the Mystery Skype and so didn't have time to work on their project.

In grade six students learned more Internet Safety -- Be safe online and off with NetSmartz.  We started our presentations for the Beat the Tricks video -- how to be safe offline and on, and what the tricks and solutions are.  

Digital Learning Day is every day for our middle school: how do we research, share, consider, collaborate, read, write, present in clear and accurate -- and safe -- ways? We live it. How about you?





This is a school related site so please respect others and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or need to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. Reflect Curiosity and Wonder... Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...