The 4th and 5th grade Enrichment Cluster Showcase is this Friday, December 12th from 8:30-11:00 am. Our students will be docents at the displays. They will share what they learned during their enrichment cluster journey and answer questions. An invitation (and reminder) was sent home with every 4th and 5th grader with the student's docent time.
A big part of the showcase is for our students to share their products and services with our community. However, we also want to remember the journey that our students took over the past eight weeks. We want the students to remember the skills they learned associated with their enrichment cluster and product/service. But just as important, we want the students to remember they learned how to communicate with each other. They learned how to work with others. They learned how to collaborate with their peers on a product or service. They learned how to solve problems dealing with their enrichment cluster topic. And they learned how to be critical thinkers.
I hope that some students found a true passion in an area of interest, while others may have realized that they are not so interested in a topic as they originally thought. All in all, these learning experiences in areas of students' interests are unique and valuable at Laurel Mountain. And these aspects of enrichment clusters and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model are another way that we are able to develop world-class talent.
Summaries of our 4th and 5th grade Enrichment Clusters
LME Pet Troupe
The “LME Pet Troupe” had a splendid time learning and creating during our eight weeks. We learned about dog grooming, how to care for a dog, and all about dog shows from Mrs. Debbie Bretsch, (LME PE teacher, who breeds and shows English Cocker Spaniels). We got to see the puppies and adult dog and grooming in action! Then we met Rowdy, a golden retriever who is a service dog with the “Austin Dog Alliance”, to learn about service pets and dog training. As an authentic product, we made a book about how to care for a dog that we can give to anyone who wants to get a dog or adopt a dog at our showcase booth. We made fleece dog beds and chew toys that we will donate at the end of our showcase to the “Austin Pets Alive!” The students were passionate about providing an authentic service to our LME community, as well as making products to donate, so we are happy to welcome the “Austin Pets Alive!” animal shelter volunteer, Jessica Powers, and the dog Maribel (who is up for adoption) to our showcase. Folks can learn about the shelter, how Austin is a “no-kill” city, and maybe even form a bond with Maribel to adopt her out! We look forward to sharing tidbits of our learning with you and teaching others about animal adoption with the “Austin Pets Alive!” at the showcase on December 12th.
LME Software Development Institute
Over the past eight weeks the “Word Up” enrichment cluster has been busy designing, creating and finalizing an issue of the first ever, LME Newspaper! Students collaborated to create The PRIDE Prophet (the title inspired by the LME motto and Harry Potter). Journalists in the “Word Up” designed, edited and finalized the school newspaper to include any variety of informative and entertaining articles. To name a few: Poetry Post, Short Stories, Interviews and What's Happenin' at LME! Be sure to grab a copy of the December edition....there's something for everyone!
Mad Scientist and Crazy Chemists
Rocket powered skate boards fueled by the chemical reaction between Mentos and coke, creating instant snow out of diaper absorbing materials, Alka-Seltzer pop-top rockets, solar pizza ovens, and so much more. During our time together the “Mad Scientist and Crazy Chemists” enrichment cluster members were able to explore chemistry, electricity, physics, mechanics, engineering and more. Our lab books will allow us to recreate these science experiences for others, sharing our love of science, and knowledge of how it works. We will also be cooking for our families using our solar power pizza box cookers as our weather becomes a little more cooperative. At the showcase, we will be featuring some of our favorite and less dangerous experiments for our classmates. Go science!
Tape It Up!
“Tape It Up!” had a busy and fun eight weeks. We learned various techniques for using duct tape and wahsi tape. The students had to learn how to follow precise directions, use their problem solving and math skills to be able to create different tape projects like wallets, pencils holders, flower pens, notebooks and more. They had a great time getting creative by creating pumpkins which were used at the LME Fall Carnival for decorations. At “Tape It Up!” just give us some scissors and tape and wait to see just what we can create!!
The Texas Techies have been busy!!! Web sites were generated. Blogs were written. Games were reviewed and even created!! Not only did everyone have fun producing a product, we all felt the frustrations of the technology world and the feeling of satisfaction when we triumphed over technological glitches. Everyone is proud of their work and can hardly wait to show you at our showcase.
In this e-cluster we worked and played with LEGOs the entire time. We discussed architectural designs as we built an outline model of LME using real blue prints of our school. We also learned and made "How to" LEGO books. Groups of students created a LEGO masterpiece and took pictures of each step along the way. Next, we printed and assembled the book. We have how-to books that are simple to extremely complex. Finally, what better way to end our cluster than to simply build, build, build with LEGOs? We created elaborate space crafts, machines, and many contraptions too complex to explain. To answer the question, YES, we have LEGOs!!
To Be or Not to Be
In the enrichment cluster “To Be or Not to Be,” we've had a grand, expressive, creative, over-acting, subtle-expressing, laugh-filled time! We've done creative warm-ups, improvisation, and performing. We've learned vocabulary, being “aware” on the stage, and the importance of staying in character. The kids were visited by senior theater students from Westwood High School who spent the period teaching the ways to prepare (and relax) for a performance, as well as strategies for blocking. For the Showcase, the kids had the option of finding a play to perform or writing a play to perform. (There was NO DOUBT that performing is what they wanted to do!) The kids who didn't want to write a play asked Mr. Holmstrom to write a play for them, so he wrote two of them. We’re excited (and under rehearsed) about our Showcase performances of “Retold Little Red Riding Hood,” “The Very Hungry Chicken,” “The Courtroom,” and “The Classroom.” We love to perform and can’t wait for the audience!
Creativity with Colors
Every week was a new and different adventure. Some of the activities we were able to try for the first time were tie dyeing, paint blowing (this is where you dip a straw into paint and then blow it onto a large canvas), model magic , finger knitting, scarf dancing, making our very own kaleidoscopes and much more. We thought it was exciting to pick what WE wanted and explore OUR ideas!
LEGO Motion Picture Institute
The students learned how to create a stop-motion film. They decided on a topic, used a graphic organizer to layout their process, and divided their plot into small manageable pieces. The used LEGO pieces, background scenery, and digital cameras to capture snapshots between each movement. After they collect approximately 10 digital shots per one second of film, they loaded their digital pictures onto Microsoft Movie Maker. They edited, added music, and transition slides to create their 30 second stop motion film.
Games! Games! Games!
The students who participated in the “Games! Games! Games!” enrichment cluster had an enjoyable time learning how to play several new games and sharing some of their own games from home with other members of the group. We played dice, word, card, board, strategy, and domino games. The interactions during our cluster time were meaningful, fun, and sometimes quite exciting! Hopefully the students who participated will have an opportunity to teach and play some of these games with younger students at LME and friends and family at home.
During our group's first meeting, the students decided to change the name of our cluster from “World Class Helpers” to “Mission Kindness”. They came up with many ways to share and show kindness throughout the school. The students made bookmarks with words of encouragement that were randomly placed in library books for students to have. From there, inspired by students in different parts of the country, our students developed a bulletin board entitled "SPPRAK"- Special People Performing Random Acts of Kindness. The objective is to have students and teachers write thank you notes thanking others for their "act of kindness". These notes are placed on the bulletin board for the school to read. We made a video for our morning announcements that shows how to use the notes and the bulletin board. The mission was to brighten someone's day!
CSI: Let's Solve Some Mysteries
In the “CSI: Let's Solve Some Mysteries”, we had hand-on activities for the students to get a feel for how detectives use evidence to solve a crime. We found a very cool CSI website that demonstrated how detectives use and analyze DNA, and the importance of an autopsy to determine cause of death. Students collected samples on the website and used this evidence to solve the crime. Two private investigators from a local agency visited our cluster and shared their experiences in the field as well as some tools that they use in their line of work. Students chose to write and perform an episode of CSI: The Death of a Billionaire.
Made from Scratch
In “Made from Scratch”, we spent our first meeting exploring the creative possibilities of Scratch programming and learning about the program itself. We decided that our focus would be to create some sort of learning game that would benefit other elementary students. Students planned out their projects and then went to work programming. There were many levels of experience in the group, but each had questions and problems to solve with their programs. The students ran our sessions like a real project team. When a student or group had a question, they would post it on a chart and more likely than not, another student would have some advice or creative solution to the problem. Teams shared their progress at each meeting and received feedback from the group on issues. Over the course of the enrichment cluster students experienced team work, project planning, problem-solving, research, and of course programming. In addition, an unexpected product developed in the group called a "scratch card". Students who had success at programming a particular movement or action on their game created a card explaining the steps and picturing the code used. Others could then use the card to program their own games. Finally, a visit and talk from a real programmer, Devon Winegar, wrapped up our time together.
League of Extraordinary Crafters
In the “League of Extraordinary Crafters”, the students decided to create a medieval village. We looked at some examples of medieval architecture, and found and installed a Minecraft texture pack that would make the village look more authentic. They divided into groups and worked collaboratively on different buildings found in a village, including a defensive wall and a castle nearby. The end result is a really detailed, well-done village!
Movies, Videos, Reporting…Oh My!
Over the past eight weeks students in groups of 2-3 have made their own movies using the WeVideo program. During the first session, we had a guest speaker from RRISD video services come to talk to the group about how videos are made and used in the district. During the next session, the student wrote scripts for their productions and plotted out what they wanted to film. For the rest of the weeks, the groups staged and filmed. Some groups acted out their scripts in person. Other groups used stuffed animals or clay figures to depict their characters. Students were taught to edit all of their own videos, and encouraged to have fun. All of the students participated enthusiastically and are proud of their creations.
Up to Our Ears in Clay!
What a blast we've had using our imaginations and skills to create unique works of art from clay. Our creations range from sculpture to potter’s wheel pots to pieces made with clay slabs, coils and pinch pots. Many of our pieces have been glazed and fired. They are waiting to be seen at our “Gallery Opening” at the showcase. We have produced over 70 works of art. Not only have we been busy learning about different clay products, techniques and skills, we have had a lot of fun creating and learning with each other. We are also helping the Austin community by donating several of our bowls to the “Empty Bowl Project” auction, which raises funds to support our local food banks.
Into the Wild: Citizen Science
Over the past eight weeks, ”Into the Wild: Citizen Science” students learned more about the patterns of life in our world and how their work at LME gives them a voice in the processes that impact the success of conservation efforts around the world. Students used the iNaturalist.org platform to record wildlife observations in our Preserve as part of the new wave of "Citizen Scientists." Citizen scientists are typically non-science professionals who conduct experiments and/or record observations that are then shared with the general public and professional scientists. Professional scientists use the data as part of their greater efforts.
With our ongoing work at LME, we have the opportunity for student observations to contribute to discussions about the preservation versus destruction/development of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve just behind our campus. Continued annual sightings of the endangered Golden Cheeked Warbler by LME students help preserve this precious habitat. Students used tablets, netbooks, digital cameras and desktop computers to capture and track their results as part of the cluster.
The cluster gives us a window on how we can more broadly share our research with other schools, and how we can continue to engage students in outdoor learning by incorporating their digital interests in meaningful, authentic learning experiences.
In the “TEAMwork” enrichment cluster we played games, viewed short video clips, and discussed how teamwork is part of our everyday lives. The team building activity "Cookies in the Cookie Jar" taught us that working together will build success while the lesson of "Banana Surgery" showed how once things in our lives are broken (relationships, trust, our reputation), no matter how hard you try to put it back together, it will never look the same.
The students played sport games involving teamwork like FlickBasket, which was a game developed by a 2nd/3rd grade cluster last year. They also played Ultimate Soccer in which students taught students how to convert the ball from the ground level to the air, having two ways to score. Collectively, the group expressed wanting to make posters and visual symbols to display in the halls of LME. Some created posters while others videotaped and made a movie for the showcase. Everyone worked hard and enjoyed experiencing the importance of “TEAMwork”.