5th Grade Bird Unit Flying Along

Mr. B’s science classes continued in full flipped classroom mode through January and February.  Boys worked in research teams to create a website featuring Fessy campus birds.  Mr. B structured this project in some really neat ways.

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Website Target Audience Brainstorm

First, before boys knew the bird they’d focus on, the entire class participated in a 30,000 foot view project introduction.  Here, the class determined the target audience(s) for this website:  ornithologists (novice to professional), students researching birds, and prospective Fessy families.  In delineating these groups, they also brainstormed ideas about what specific items and strategies they could use to make sure their page appealed to this audience.

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Student Generated Effective Website Criteria

Students also referred back to a list they’d brainstormed in the Fall around what makes an effective website, and were charged with creating one that followed the very standards they’d written earlier in the year.

Another important element of this project structure is the research Team Check, in which each group reports its work status, accomplishments, and challenges to the larger group and receives feedback when appropriate.  This helps keep students accountable within their group and to the larger class, and provides an opportunity for crowd-sourced solutions.  Watch the video below to see a Team Check in action.

These web pages are now connected to QR codes, which are posted at Fessy Feeder viewing sites.  The boys are continuing on with an exciting adaptations project.  Stay tuned for an update!

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Slum Urbanization Project Challenging Grade 9 Students to Think at Higher Altitudes

Mr. Morrissey’s World History students are well into their slum redesign project!  This week, boys refined their research questions, delivered a “critweak” to their classmates, and continued to consult with other committees. Watch excerpts of some “critweaks” here

On Friday, both classes welcomed Iqbal Dhaliwal, Deputy Director of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab.  Mr. Dhaliwal provided valuable feedback to each committee, as they presented their progress and ideas.

It is inspiring to observe boys questioning, working, creating, collaborating, and pushing each other within the skill-based and content-rich structure Mr. Morrissey provides.  On Thursday, Mr. Morrissey shed a metacognitive light on the boys’ work thus far, introducing them to the concept of thinking at 30,000 feet. Mr. Morrissey is challenging the boys to develop their entrepreneurial sides, encouraging them to ask “Could this work?” with an eye on possibility, rather than becoming mired in “Will this work?” details.

You can view Mr. Morrissey’s explanation of thinking at 30,000 feet here.  You can find video clips of project work from various classes on the World History Topics page on My Fessy.

Students, feel free to review Mr. Dhaliwal’s 30,000 foot presentation here. You’ll find a helpful overview of urbanization and economic issues.

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Come to America Colonies Project Culminates with a Battle of the Pitches

Grade 7 History students faced the challenge of researching and advertising an early American colony in order to attract new European settlers. Boys worked in groups to design an ‘Ad Campaign’ designed to convey their message across the Atlantic. Each group selected and worked with 3 different media options, combining them into the following presentations that were delivered to the class.  
You can view the variety of presentation clips in the YouTube playlist below AND on the class topics page.

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5th Graders Donating Their Time to Create 3D Printed Tactile Books for Charity

Grade 5 RSS students were recently invited to join a community-based project extension activity, in which they team up to create a 3D printed children book for visually impaired children.  I am thrilled that even thoughthis project is not for class credit, and must be completed on the students’ own time, NINE students decided to take part!

Boys chose, divided, and reimagined the books they’d like to remake in 3D and tactile fashion.  Cat in the Hat, It’s Not a Box, Goodnight Moon, and Where the Wild Things Are round out the selections.  Many boys elected to collaborate on a book remake, and so have divvied up tasks as necessary.  3D design is happening via TinkerCAD, and other tactile elements will be created by hand.  Boys meet with Ms. P weekly for project management purposes.

Huge thanks go to Connor, Jack, Blake, Spencer, Getchell, Ben, Max, Joe, and Ryan for using your free time to work on this great project!  It is very fun to work with you!

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Grade 5 Science Students Rolling on the River (Project)

Two source groups wielded a saw and cut their rivers’ paths today!  The day also brought more group collaboration, work group updates, and our first Committee Report session.  During this time, boys presented brief summaries of their progress to their peers and recounted a particular challenge.  Other groups provided outstanding suggestions on ways their peers might address this challenge.

Below, you can view the Bald Eagles’ first weekly Committee Report, and source groups cutting their rivers.

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Mrs. Bhan’s Grade 8 English Students Rewriting Of Mice and Men, Creating Photo Essays

Students in Mrs. Bhan’s grade 8 English classes have started an exciting new project to conclude their exploration of Of Mice and Men. Inspired by Great Depression photojournalism, this project requires boys to rewrite the ending of the story from the perspective of one of the main characters.  Students then will create a narrated photo essay depicting this ending from their chosen character’s perspective. To populate their essay, students have access to an incredible, large database of Depression-era photos compiled by Yale University.

Stay tuned for updates on this project!

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Grade 5 Science River Design Maker Project Is Underway!

Work groups have been formed, brainstorming has begun!  Mr. B’s grade 5 science classes have started their exploration of the question “Can I design a working, accurate model river?”  Today’s classes had some groups in and out of the iLab testing their ideas, others problem solving in the classroom, still others coordinating their efforts with other work groups.  Check out the awesome collaboration happening in Bald Eagles class between the River Source and Design groups.

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Summer Reading Comes Alive

Photo Sep 22, 1 48 49 PM

Project learning linked to summer reading is a terrific way to hit the ground running when the new school year starts.  As a summer reading assignment, 4th grade boys read their choice of a number of “Who Was” series biographies (among them: Rosa Parks, Barack Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs and others).  In the first days of school, boys got a productive start by organizing the information they learned from their books and writing a biographical summary.  In 4H and 4M  boys began the process by completing a short reading survey (via a teacher-created Google form) about their book.  Using the Google spreadsheet, compiled with their survey comments as digital notes, boys drafted, revised and finalized a summary on the life of their person, in first person perspective.  Learning about perspective was a part of the writing assignment, as was a review of writing as a process with distinct steps in brainstorming, drafting, editing, and revising, before a final copy is complete. Once the final piece was ready, boys had a lesson on copyright and used recommended web sources to find and download a copyright-friendly image of their person for the project finale.  The final step involved FaceTalker, an iPad app that puts your audio recording and a moving mouth on a still photo.  Using this app, boys made their historical figure “speak” about themselves by reading their biographical summary.  Listen to one here.  The process of reading their writing aloud helped develop and practice important skills in reading fluency.  Additionally, this audio examination of their writing frequently resulted in additional edits as boys really listened to what they had written and realized by hearing it aloud, there was a better way to frame the thought.  Videos were saved to the camera roll and uploaded to DropBox to be shared with their peers.  This was a thoroughly engaging way to get the boys right into writing, introduce them to fourth grade technologies and a proper forum to make summer reading relevant and enriching.


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The Fessenden iLab is Open!

The iLab at Fessenden is finally open! Students have been filing in since the first day of school. There are four electives between the Middle and Upper School taught in the new space, while opportunities are available for students in the Lower School to visit with their classes and Mrs. Fogarty. (Stay tuned for details regarding a new after school “Innovation Station” program for LS students…) Boys are also coming in from study halls and help and work each day to work on projects and experiment with the various tools available in the iLab. Teachers have also been trying their hands at the various resources in the iLab and are busy planning various curricular projects utilizing this great new “hackerspace.” We now have multiple 3D printers, many Lego Mindstorm programming kits, a 40 watt laser cutter, 15 Mac Desktops, an assortment of hand-held and power tools, soldering irons, raspberry pi’s, arduino unos, Makey-Makeys, and a beautiful short throw projector which displays on a wall of IdeaPaint. Come check it out!

Be sure to follow @FessyiLab on Twitter for all the latest news and updates.

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Lego Robotics Summer Program @Fessy

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