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.


Posted in Creativity, Featured App, Project Based Learning | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lego Robotics Summer Program @Fessy

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Lego Mindstorms, Programming, Project Based Learning | Leave a comment

Fraction (Stop-motion) Action in First Grade

photo (42)

Rita Edelman’s first graders really got into fractions last week by making stop-motion animated movies demonstrating their understanding of fractions of a group.  The movies were made on iPads using an app titled, MyCreate.  For this project, boys worked with partners to create a stop-motion animation that demonstrated a group of objects breaking into parts to show a fraction of that group.  After a brief demonstration of how the app worked, the students worked independently to practice using the iPad, the MyCreate app and tripods.  The next day, they selected a problem from an envelope and made a movie showing the specific fraction, for instance, “What is ⅓ of 12?”  Using color tiles, they took turns being the “director” and shared the responsibility of moving and photographing the action, making sure to give credit to themselves at the end.  After each student created his movie, the team made a new animation solving a word problem. This allowed the boys to connect their learning to a possible real life occurrence where the math they’ve learned could be applied.  The boys worked with great independence and hands-on manipulatives to solidify a difficult concept – and enjoyed every minute.  See one of many videos created below:


Posted in Featured App, Humanities, Teaching | Leave a comment

4th Grade Egyptian Tourism Podcasts

        Mrs. Maiurano’s fourth grade classes used their iPads this month to make podcasts using the iMovie app.  As part of a foreign country study, students conducted research to learn about, and then build, Egyptian landmarks.  With partners, they planned and executed the build from recycled materials in the classroom with the help of a few volunteers.  Language Arts was integrated by asking students to write podcasts, as tour guides, explaining the monument and its history to visitors. These podcasts, recorded using the iMovie app (iOS 7 version), will help educate visitors about the monuments and landmarks on presentation day.  The students enjoyed both writing and recording their information to make it interesting and lively.  And, if you have ever asked students to record their writing, you know that it is an incredibly valuable exercise to get them to read closely their own writing – often for the first time.  It is also an amazing way to improve and practice fluency, as students will read and record multiple times to reach a high standard of delivery.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Click here to hear one student’s sample.  He is presenter #2 at the Abu Simbel Temple.

Posted in Creativity, Project Based Learning, Teaching | Leave a comment

6th Grade Cross Curricular Project Kicks off with Hands-on Field Trip

On Friday, May 9, sixth grade students enjoyed a day of activities centered around fishing.  This field trip was designed to pique student interest and pave the path to a cross-curricular project focused on human impact on oceans, which will be introduced during 1st and 2nd period on Monday, May 12.

Friday began with a grade meeting in the PAC, where Mr. Sanborn outlined the itinerary, and Mr. Pepi gave a riveting and personal presentation on fishing safety.  Mr. Cincotta and Mr. Minehart then provided casting tips.  Next, the boys divided into homerooms for the first of several friendly competitions scattered throughout the day.  Homerooms collaborated on a human impact trivia quiz, and went through one round of the Hat Game before the fish called us to depart to our fishing destination.

Fishing at Norumbega Point in Auburndale, MA, provided another opportunity for good-natured competition.  Countless nibbles were reported, but only a handful of fish were caught (and released).

Boys returned to campus for lunch, and then enjoyed a quiet period watching an episode of Wicked Tuna, a National Geographic show featuring some local fishermens’ hunts for tuna in the Atlantic, the same species featured in the current Language Arts book.

The day’s adventures drew to a close with some fishing-themed outdoor games and a light-hearted awards ceremony.

Stay tuned for more updates as the project kicks off on Monday!

Posted in Creativity, Project Based Learning, Teaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

QED Update

This year, as you may have read in the “Red & Gray Magazine” Fessenden has created a new extra curricular academic based program. This program is called the “QED” meaning question, explore, demonstrate. Students apply to be able to participate in the QED program, once accepted it gives them the opportunity to be able to start studying their own interests, including engineering in math, technology, science, humanities, programing and design. These are just two examples of what you can do.
Students must have good academic standing, then from there they come up with a problem to solve about something that they are passionate about. Their gaol is to solve that problem through the program. They explore their interests, and research their topic, taking down notes and processes that they may take when doing their project. They even talk to experts outside of the Fessenden Community who have devoted their lives to the field in which the student is basing their project off of. The student is then paired with an advisor, someone who will coach them throughout their process, in how to solve the problem, or the question that was created by the student. The goal of this program is to create innovative thinkers, and after working here for just about a two months, I have seen students building dirt bikes, and printing out parts, using our 3d printer to create a robotic hand. Check out these photos!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One upper school student, Griffin, has been working on his QED weekly during his free time. After hearing about the program during a school meeting, Griffin was interested in robotics, and he was also intrigued by the schools 3D printer. He decided to create a robotic hand for his project. “To get familiar with the parts and the how to power the hand, we started by making just a finger” Griffin told me. He then went into detail about the technology they were using to power the hand.
They print each part of the hand piece by piece starting with the wrist, and gradually move up to each joint of each finger. The 3D printer, using programs found by Griffin with the help of his QED advisor, can generate each body part out of plastic. Currently they have most of their parts, and have started programing the technology used in powering the hand to open and close, grasping different items. They use a “servo” to power the hand, it pulls a fishing line that is wired through each printed joint of the hand to bend the fingers. They also use an “arduino” which is the mind of the “servo”. This is basically a mini computer that stores the codes and programs which tells the “servo” what to do. Meaning the “arduino” is the piece that is programmed to make the “servo” actually pull the wire that is threaded through each joint of the hand.
As you can see from the photos, they still have some work cut out for them. Their goal is to have the hand programmed and running by the end of the school year. For now they are still testing the power of the grasp, and putting together the parts. Griffins research is now allowing him to use the 3D printer, and create technologies that no other classes can offer. Learning this much at a young age about the tools of our future helps to create more innovative thinkers, and expand the interests of our students.

Seventh grader Charlie decided to use the Fessenden resources and is now working on his own dirt bike here at school for his QED. Working in the Buildings and Grounds garage, Charlie is building his own dirt bike start to finish. “I’ve been riding dirt bikes since I was 10 for fun, and started working on my own bikes around two years later” Charlie told me. Once he heard about the endless options of the QED program, he knew what he wanted to do. So he put in the research, showed the school his passion about dirt bikes, and applied to build his own frame for his project.
He is now putting together a personalized frame with the help of his project advisor Mike Hanick who works with Buildings and Grounds, and has some expertise with motor bikes from his background.
This is just one of many options students can create or join for the QED projects. Charlie is expected to be completed with his dirt bike by early April, after starting this fall. His plan is to sell the bike to make some money for this coming summer, and donate the rest of the money to a charity that he hasn’t chosen yet.

Posted in Q.E.D | Leave a comment