Posts Tagged ‘project based learning’

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.


Collaboration was the name of the game at all three schools this week.  At each school, I was working with my gifted students on projects that required cooperation, communication, creativity, and critical thinking, the 4 C’s of 21st Century education.

At school #1, students were working on “Mood” stories.  With the celebration of Halloween, most stories took on a scary mood.  Some of my students asked if they could work together.  I considered it and decided to let them, but I was skeptical about whether they could truly collaborate.  I was pleasantly surprised.  They gathered together and used a story board to plan their stories.  They talked and wrote, wrote and talked.  The class was buzzing with the sound of collaboration.

Dawson was writing on his own.  He asked for big paper to use for his story board.  He wrote his “longest story ever!”  I enjoyed his use of text features to create the mood.  This was his favorite part to read aloud.

They all sat down and chanted,”Oh Ouija Board, oh how do you do, show us the spirit that lives here too.” Their hands moved and spelled L I G H T S O U T. At that exact moment the lights went out and the tv came on with static.

In the static they could make out a man that said,” III WWW III LLL LLL KKK III LL LL YYY OOO UUU!!!

At school #2, we are working on podcasts about endangered animals.  Each student chose an animal to research.  One of the best things was when we were able to talk on the phone with a local bird expert.  My students are powering through the steep technology learning curve.  I am hoping we’ll be ready to publish them next week.  We are looking forward to a call with a marine biologist this Monday.

At school #3, we worked with Mystery Science lessons and made a chain reaction machine.  After many tries, I was sure it was going to work for this video.  I ended up giving a little hand in the chain.


I am a strong believer in project-based learning experiences.  My students become motivated and engaged, and they own their learning.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Years ago, my colleagues and I created a monthly enrichment day for our gifted 6th graders to combat underachievement. This year we selected the theme of Communication. Each student or group of students were charged with asking a question about something they were interested in communicating. Emily asked if elderly in resident homes are lonely. She assumed the answer was yes and followed her research to discover that loneliness can actually lead to death. She was moved to do something about it.

Emily decided to set up a field trip to a local retirement home. With a little direction, she called the retirement home activity director, contacted our gifted supervisor for permission, and created a Valentine’s Day activity. I have never seen her so empowered and so excited. The night before the field trip, she hand made 34 Valentines to give to the residents.

My colleagues were more than cooperative in getting their students to the retirement home. The students quickly found an elderly resident to spend time with. As I circled around taking pictures, I was pleased to see these young kids talking freely with their new friends.



On Wednesday at our monthly Wow (Way Out Wednesday) meeting, Emily compiled the surveys. She also put together a video of one of the residents talking about her life and how she liked living at Garden View. Emily’s presentation about this experience is coming together, but it’s taken on a new direction. She discovered that the elderly at Garden View are not lonely. They live in a community there. Activities are planned for them. People visit often. They are well cared for.

Beyond the original intent of Emily’s project, she has discovered that relationships at any age are important. She discovered that she can influence others and spread kindness. When we as teachers take the lessons out of our hands and put it into those of our students, they can be difference-makers.

If you are joining the DigiLit conversation today, please leave your link below.

Read Full Post »

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Last week I celebrated the hard work of planning a new learning community, our 6th grade enrichment project. We call these special Wednesdays, “WOW” as in “Way out Wednesdays,” and this week was WOW! We have an amazing group of students who enthusiastically mingled and became fast friends. One of our teachers had the brilliant idea of grouping them by what they like to do (computer, art, writing a play, building/crafting), and these groups built their own super hero. One group did a Powerpoint, another a play. The art group created a poster, and the craft group built a costume. This was one of those situations a teacher dreams about. All the students on task and completely self-directed. I celebrate this new learning community and have high expectations for the products they will create.

Super Hero costume: Cop Copter!

Super Hero costume: Cop Copter!

My classes are becoming places of safety, learning, and fun. Yesterday we celebrated two birthdays. It delights me that the wish that my students have for their birthday celebrations is the apple peeler. I have an old turn style apple peeler. They each get a turn to peel their own apples. Kielan brought in cookies to share. She created a scavenger hunt that included book titles. And she chose a poetry writing activity from Laura Purdie Salas’s book Catch Your Breath. This is what I call a literary birthday celebration.

Kielan's birthday

While every other day of the week is focused on reading and writing, Fridays are fun! In my other classroom (I teach at two schools), we celebrated completing the week’s assignments with game day. Don’t tell my students, but the games are all educational. They don’t know that. They just think it’s fun. As it should be!

Game Day: Building with the game Brain Builders, challenging and fun!

Game Day: Building with the game Brain Builders, challenging and fun!

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts


Take the wonder tour of Iberia Parish. Our 6th grade gifted students culminated their year long enrichment project with a presentation of the Wonders of Iberia Parish. The video was created from a PowerPoint slide show of the 10 wonders. Students created a list of possible wonders after meeting with the director of the Iberia Parish Tourist Commission. They created a survey on Survey Monkey. To display the results, each student painted a wonder image. These images have been glued to a quilt top. They also researched and wrote a blurb for a selected wonder.

The quilt is on display at the Bayou Teche Museum on Main Street in New Iberia. The video is posted on the Iberia Parish Tourist Center website.

Click the link below to find more digital literacy posts. Link up your digital literacy posts here:

Read Full Post »

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.


This past Saturday was the culmination of a year long student project. We began working with the group of 6th grade gifted students in August. Each month we met together as a group, 6 teachers and 23 students. In the beginning we immersed the students in the theme we had selected for this year, bridges. We brought in speakers including the chief engineer for a bridge being rebuilt in New Iberia. The bridge had been out for more than two years, and some of our students were well aware of the inconvenience this caused. Barbara Ostuno, chief engineer, piqued their interest in the construction of a real bridge. As discussions over a service project were held, the students brought up the bridge and how we could celebrate its completion. Thus we began to plan a bridge opening ceremony.

In January, Mayor Hilda Curry came to visit our group. She spoke to them about the ins and outs of planning a community event. She explained how the original bridge was built by her grandfather when he was mayor. The new bridge will also be named for him, Joe Daigre. She then invited them to meet with the department heads to talk about their ideas. We planned a field trip for February.

On this trip, we started the day bridging the generation gap by meeting elderly in an assisted living facility. The students played games with them and interviewed them for a later writing project. They wrote essays about their grandfriend and submitted them to the Legacy Project contest.

In the afternoon, we met with the Chamber of Commerce about a ribbon cutting for the bridge opening and with the city department heads. This was incredibly empowering to our students. They gained confidence in knowing their voices were being heard and were important to others. They were having real world experience being community organizers.

Raising Cane's manager and employees joined the celebration.

Raising Cane’s manager and employees joined the celebration.

As a group, the students decided to raise funds for playground equipment for a local park. They went out looking for sponsors for the t-shirts. They gathered 30 donations of $50-$250 each.

The students presented their plan to the City Council at a regular meeting in March. We even brought some council members to tears as they were touched by the students’ poise and enthusiasm. A few students and teachers represented our project to the school board and received a donation from the superintendent.

All of this work culminated in our event on Saturday. Wearing our student-designed t-shirts, we met at City Hall to walk down Main Street to the new bridge. The bridge is named for our mayor’s grandfather, so it was fitting that she cut the ribbon.

students at the bridge

Students spoke and led the ceremony. At last count, the donations and t-shirt profits were close to exceeding $3000. I feel pretty confident that this real world experience will stay with these students for a long time. They will drive over the Joe Daigre Bridge as parents and tell their children about the grand opening celebration that they helped to organize.

Read Full Post »

Slice of Life Challenge Day 7

Slice of Life Challenge Day 7

Yesterday our sixth grade gifted students met the author of a book they have been reading for our enrichment Wednesdays. We’ve been using project based learning while meeting monthly focusing on the theme of water. We selected the book Flood on the Rio Teche by Diane Marquart Moore for a number of reasons. One, this historical fiction novel would help the students learn about the history of New Iberia’s discovery and settlement, and Two, water is important to the story. Also, the author lives locally part of the year. We were lucky to catch her before she moves back to Sewanee, TN for the spring and summer.

Our students were interested in how she came to write the book, her inspiration and her research. But I saw the lights go on when she talked about being an author. She didn’t candy-coat it, either. Being an author is hard work. She gave advice that she had gotten from Ernest Gaines when she had the privilege of taking a class with him. He said, “Revise, revise, revise,” and “The first sentence is the most important one of the whole novel.” She talked about how once she figured out that the rain on a palmetto roof would hiss like the snake for which the Teche was named, her book was ready to be written.

Opening sentence for Flood on the Rio Teche: Rain hissed on the palmetto roof, and Antonio felt like hissing back at the downpour.

Diane writes a blog at A Word’s Worth.

bayou iris

The Slice of Life Challenge has been revealing to me as I participate with my students. There is an immediacy about it. They rush to the computer and often compose right there. Then they hit the publish button. I am amazed how fresh and fun some of the writing is. However, the teacher in me wants them to be conscious of their reader and use correct grammar. I want to think about how I can continue the momentum while showing them the value of revision and editing.

Read Full Post »