Greetings! Our outside sign last week captured an inspiring message from the middle school students. Their message was, "Learning: enjoy it!"
Two recent events have showcased learning at St. Johnsbury School. One of those events was Family and Community Math Night, an evening where families gathered to play math games, solve math puzzles, listen to their children explain problem solving strategies, and have fun with numbers. There was definitely an atmosphere of enjoying learning that evening. Then in the area of spelling our fifth and sixth graders represented our school very professionally in the Vermont Principals' Association Spelling Bee.
Preparing students for 21st century careers is certainly an important part of instruction, and technology plays a key role. This week I would like to report on some ways that teachers are integrating technology. Earlier this year sixth graders went on an Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) expedition and hike. Students used digital cameras to enhance documentation of their trip, taking pictures during three different activities. One activity was the scavenger hunt where students were given scavenger hunt cards with the task of finding as many items as they could from the cards, photographing the items upon finding them, and asking the guides questions about the items. Another activity was photographing group members and writing about them. A third activity was interviewing and photographing the AMC guides.
Sixth graders have been documenting their science study plots as part of the Northern Forest unit. They have been photographing their findings, such as thermometer readouts. They have been documenting the forest change over time by taking photographs of views to all cardinal directions from their study plots. To culminate this part of their unit, students will generate power point presentations about their study plots.
In seventh and eighth grade, students have been working with computer simulations to reinforce scientific experiments. They have also used technology to enhance learning in their St. Johnsbury culture unit. Students posted their writing on individual blogs then viewed each other's blogs and responded to each other's writing. Teachers posted assignments for this unit online, and students submitted their assignments online for teacher review. A high point of the culture unit was a trip around town with Peggy Pearl. Students from our Newspaper Club recorded the trip with pictures and detailed notes. As an extension to this trip with Peggy, students went on a web quest throughout St. Johnsbury. They used an interactive map of St. Johnsbury, searched around town finding locations, answered questions about our area's history and culture, then listed to a walking tour of St. Johnsbury to fill in gaps they may have had in their notes.
As St. Johnsbury students, teachers, and parents continue to work together, we become stronger as a community, learning opportunities expand, and ultimately students benefit. Way to go Catamounts!