Fraction (Stop-motion) Action in First Grade

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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:


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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.

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Music and Media Toy Factory

Toy Factory is a project where the boys create prototypes of toys that play music. They will eventually product test each toy with boys in their demographic. The toys range from potty training, to pocket dubstep machines, to snowboards that all have some type of musical component. This video shows the design phase, along with the test phase for some of the toys that are being built.

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5th Grade Science Students Adapting Birds

Fifth grade science students are in the midst of considering “What makes birds survive?” One option boys can elect to explore is a Total Bird Redesign. In this option, boys select a Fessenden feeder bird and relocate it to an area with a more extreme climate and geography.  After researching the new location’s features, they redesign the bird with adaptations that will enable it to survive in its new location.  Boys are using TinkerCAD to create a 3D model of the new bird, which will then be printed and painted.  All phases of the project will be laid out in a Google presentation.

I’ve been interviewing boys like Henry and Will (see video above) about their ideas for adaptations, and have been impressed with how well they express their rationale, their understanding of the domino effect of one adaptation forcing another, and the physical representations they’re creating on TinkerCAD.   It’s awesome to watch the boys run through many iterations of their birds and ideas in a short period of time, most choosing to collaborate with a partner and pushing the speed at which they develop their ideas.  Stay tuned to see the finished products!

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RSS Class Explores Egypt via EdTech

RSS students explored Egyptian religion more in depth this past week, researching a god or goddess of their choice and using various EdTech options to create a product.  Students used a research template created in Google Docs to gather background information on their god/goddess.  They then chose from the following four product options:

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Click this image to read student stories.

    • Design a children’s story about an Egyptian god or goddess, completed via a Docs presentation (with words and pictures).

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    Click this image to play student games.

     Create an online game using Scratch that contains factual information about your Egyptian god and how he or she interacted with the other gods.

  • Make a commercial for your god and his/her product using GoAnimate.
  • Create a picture/trading card/sports card that portrays your god as a modern person.

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    Click here to view student cards.

    Use Google Draw to help you combine images into a cool picture.

Students presented their products and evaluated each other using this rubric.

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First Graders Inspired by Augmented Reality

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Things got lively in first grade this week as students got a first hand introduction to a technology known as augmented reality, which you have to see to believe.  If you’ve ever shopped for LEGOs at the large Toys R Us store in Manhattan, perhaps you held a LEGO kit in front of a screen that displayed how the finished model will look in 3D.  If so, you’ve been exposed to augmented reality.  Today, boys used iPads and an app called colAR Mix, to experiment with a flying dragon as part of their mythical creatures discussions.  Teacher Nicole Biondo explained the connection to their classroom work:  “During our study of Ancient Italy, the boys learn about mythical creatures.  They listen to stories about these creatures and discover why and how they are tied into Roman daily life.  As a class, one way we can expand our understanding is to recreate a mythical creature through mosaics.  However, before the boys do this, they will first use colAR Mix.  This app will provide fun inspiration that will foster conversations about one mythical creature and perhaps inspire the design some of their own mythical creatures as well.”

First boys colored their dragon drawing (printed from the colAR Mix app), and then listened to a brief introduction on how to hold the iPad for the image to appear.  This was the first time this app was used in the classroom and we discovered that some of the pictures would not engage the software to produce a 3-D image; but boys colored new dragons and everyone gained success.

When we ended the activity, we sorted the pictures into ones that worked and ones that didn’t.  As Nicole has time, the boys are going to examine the different images to see if they can discover the difference between those that worked and those that didn’t.  They will look for patterns and develop hypotheses to test with the app during their free time.  Check back for their recommendations on how to color the drawings so that they will be successful with the colAR Mix app!

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Fresh Breath and a Fully Charged Phone!

Fresh Breath and a Fully Charged Phone!

Charlie J. has created a mobile phone charger out of an Altoids can. Why? Because he could! 🙂

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21st Century Skills in Action – in 5th Grade Science, Bird is the Word

This is a screenshot of the Fessy Birds website home page.

This is a screenshot of the Fessy Birds website home page.

Mr. Banister’s Science classes began their bird unit by learning what every solid ornithologist should; how to identify birds via their unique characteristics.  The flipped classroom format meant that specifics memorization took place at home, leaving students valuable time in class to collaborate in the creation of the Fessenden School Feeder Birds site.

One of the QR codes found at bird observation sites around campus. Yes, that is a female northern cardinal silhouette embedded in its QR code. Scan it and see more!

One of the QR codes found at bird observation sites around campus. Yes, that is a female northern cardinal silhouette embedded in its QR code. Scan it and see more!

Each small group of boys researched a bird typically found at campus feeders, and designed a web page within a class Google Site that could be used to help other ornithologists identify it.  Boys also defended their format and content choices in a presentation.  Several boys have opted to develop additional pages for other campus birds, such as the red-tailed hawk, on their own time, to help make the site more robust.

Each student-developed page is linked to a QR code.  These QR codes can now be found at various feeder observation points around campus.  Certain feeders attract specific birds, so the boys’ bird counts have determined where each QR code is placed.   Visitors can learn more about each of these birds by scanning its QR code.  These pages will be updated over time to reflect current bird counts and related class projects.

Rohil is ready to take some bird counts!

Rohil is ready to take some bird counts!

Stay tuned as boys begin the next phase of the bird unit, the study of adaptations.  There is more fantastic project-based learning in the works in 5th grade Science!

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