A.C.E. launches into new adventures!

MISD’s annual Academic Camp for Elementary or ACE is winding down today, but what a week around here!  Elementary students from around MISD have participated in the following ways:

Camp SCRAPs (Super Cool Recycled Art Projects), taught by Baxter teacher, Amy Sears.  Artists explored who uses recycled materials in their work while creating their own unique prints, paintings, drawings, collages, and other crafts using a variety of previously enjoyed materials blended with quality resources.

Drawing! Painting! Pottery! Crafts! was designed by Miller teacher, Scott Fiorenza.  Various art topics were explored through different mediums to create inspired artwork based on the art elements and principles of design.

Creating Music Using Technology, shared by Irvin’s music teacher, Adriane Brown, had students using technology to create and perform original compositions.  Digital instruments, iPads,, and other innovative online music programs were used.  Students performed a short program to showcase their amazing musical creations.

Be A Rocket Scientist, engineered by MHS teacher, Sarah Hardin, challenged rocketlauncherslearners to build genuine combustible engine rockets.  Young scientists ignited and launched their rockets in a special ceremony, marveling at each one soared upwards of 700 feet and then gracefully returned assisted by their skillfully crafted parachutes.

Balanced Brain-iacs, led by Vitovsky teacher, Paula Doskocil, focused on activities designed to enhance the brain’s function.  Students used balance boards, too backboards, rotation boards, balance beams, and the pendulum ball to enhance their handwriting, reading, and math skills as well as hand-eye coordination and focus.

Go Google, conceived by Vitovsky teacher, Stacee Johnson, used iPads and laptops to “go Google.”  Students researched topics of choice as they explored Google educational tools and web 2.0 applications to learn web search techniques and create a finished technology project to share with others.

Campers enthusiastically shared their overwhelming appreciation and thanks to these talented teachers for their creative experiences.  MHS Pals assisted and earned community service hours for participating during the week.  Special thanks to Miller AP, Robin Bass, and her team for leading the groups throughout the week.  Thanks to the campers, their leaders, and families who embraced the ideas and participated at the highest levels.  It’s great to launch into new adventures…and never better than the summertime!  🙂

Flower/Flour Techno Power!

You know it’s a Marvelous Monday when you smell cake baking and flowersflower-flour in the air.  Being curious during a brief morning walk-about, I discovered young learners following a recipe for a writing activity involving cupcakes while another group was up to their elbows in potting soil for special gifts (I won’t divulge my sources here to protect upcoming surprises), however, both groups were most enthusiastic about their processes.

The FLOWER group was enJOYing the dirt (they found a worm too!), the mess, and the future surprise they were planting for someone special in their life.

The FLOUR group was enJOYing the opportunity to create something yummy with their hands, something they would bestow as a gift to someone else later in the day (who was celebrating a big birthday).

Both groups were completely focused, engaged, and chatty about their learning activities by giving precise steps, directions, and personal insight along the way.  Their finished products reflected not only great results, but some great writing for others to follow later.  All this took place in small workstation activities (except for the actual baking) while the classroom teacher was working with a third group on a specific targeted skill.  Everyone was given the opportunity to participate in each workstation and share their writing experience too.  There wasn’t a pencil, worksheet, or paper in sight as the writing was completed on an iPad.  These Digital Natives truly took FLOWER/FLOUR Power to new techno heights today.  Bravos to all involved!  🙂

Note:  Just a reminder that MISD will be out of school this Friday, March 29, 2013.  EnJOY the day!

LAUNCHing into 21st Century Learning

There was a dull roar coming from the 3rd grade wing of our campus yesterday afternoon.  The arrival of the newest cart of iPads was cause for great rejoicing.  Our own Amy Clark, third grade teacher, has been chosen by Midlothian ISD as a technology pilot classroom teacher to implement IMG_0014digital tools in a vastly engaging 21st Century way.  Fellow chosen pilot teachers along with Ms. Clark will help chart the course for developing digital classrooms across MISD in the months to come.

While the content of the coursework for these students will not change (we must teach TEKS and required student expectations), the manner in which Ms. Clark’s students access the information and construct meaning and mastery may look different.  Each student will use an iPad in class throughout the day.  While most of our children already do this outside the walls of the classroom, we will hopefully be able to match the level of technology possibilities within this classroom now.  This class will specifically rely less on print resources such as textbooks and worksheets and work more with digital tools (like their iPads) to enhance the education of each learner.  This is an exciting start and this class will set a new standard of expectation for years to come.

We are excited and proud to be a part of this incredible pilot project and look forward to the process and products these learners and their technology-fearless classroom leader share in the months to come!  🙂

Technology and Learning

Technology continues to change the way we teach, learn, work, and connect in our classrooms today.  The following skills are ones we focus on for today’s learners to ensure they are 21st century leaders for their successful futures:

  • Basic Programming Language:  Our learners consume online content (for example, our Miller students rarely know what a card catalog is!).  We empower them in their daily learning to create their own multimedia online content (such as classroom blogs, etc.).  If you visit a site like Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu/), you will find fun, easy, engaging ways to use programming language and to help your student create interactive stories, animations, games, and even music.
  • Meaningful Projects:  We have our learners participate in projects throughout the school year that have impact on our community.  Although quite challenging at times, they learn important higher order thinking and critical problem solving skills in the process.  Check with your child’s teacher to learn what technology projects are forthcoming.
  • Responsible Digital Citizens:  The Internet is not going away, so teaching our learners to navigate the online world safely and responsibly requires a practical approach from educators and parents; we must continue to work together.

As our students become increasingly mobile, we are also finding ways to integrate mobile devices (such as smartphones) in ways that benefit learning in the classroom.  Some of our Miller 5th grade teachers have started this process on certain projects (and with parent permission only).  Technology and learning are interchangeable really; we hope you join us on this exciting journey!

Note:  Just a reminder we are testing this week.  We appreciate your understanding, patience, and cooperation as we work for the benefit of all our learners.