Monday, May 23, 2016

A Gratifying Teacher Moment

During our 20% Time program, kids come up with amazing project ideas. Sometimes they want to build, sometimes create, sometimes innovate and sometimes fulfill a lifelong goal. One student from last year, Rosalie Garzia, decided last year that, as part of her 20% Time project, she would write a novel. She'd always wanted to write a novel and now she had the chance. She worked on her book all of last year and when it came time for Student TED Talks, the culminating learning event of the year, she talked about how she made a lot of progress but was not ready to publish yet. That was the last we'd heard.

Well, earlier this year, Rosalie did indeed publish. She worked all summer and fall and published her book this spring. So, on April 7, 2016, The Island by Rosalie Garzia hit Amazon! We are immensely proud of her and the work she put in even after 20% Time was officially over for her. The other day, she came up and gave Melissa and me our own copies of her book. She signed them for us and we also discovered that she dedicated the book to us. What an amazing feeling to know that we opened up a door for Rosalie that had previously been closed to her. We were blown away.

The Cardboard Boat Regatta

Sometimes we come up with a learning experience that is so engaging to students that we can just step back and let the kids go. The Cardboard Boat Regatta was one of those experiences. In science class, kids were charged with the task of building a boat out of cardboard that could be raced in the city pool with students in them. Kids could have between one and three students in each boat. They had about one week to build a prototype, draw a pattern for their boat and construct the vessel out of the cardboard that we had been collecting for the last two months. It was on!

Kids LOVED this experience. They were talking about weight, buoyancy, water distribution, and a host of other principles of shipbuilding and science. The boats took many forms and the kids had a day to decorate and give their ship a theme. Needless to say, these groups of kiddos worked during the allotted class periods, before school, during lunch and after school for about a week. This morning, we walked to the city pool to have our races. The following are pictures and videos of the entire experience. Enjoy!

Here is some footage taken by Mr. Rambach (@rrambach) with his drone.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Track Day 2016

Every year in May, the Phys Ed department puts on a track and field day for the kiddos. Kids run events, participate in field events and also take part in crazy, fun events. It is a great time for the kids to run, jump, cheer on their friends and have a great time! Below are some pictures from Track Day 2016.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Student EdCamp 3

Today we ran our third student EdCamp of the year. Since we had been through the process a couple of times before, the kids were ready to spring into action once we announced that we were doing a third EdCamp. Some kids chose to preview their 20% Time projects in an EdCamp session. Others chose to share some of their learning outside of school in a session. As usual, there were many technology sessions but there were also other sessions like Cupcake Decorating and Dance. Even with a few small glitches, this morning went very well. Here are some photos from today's EdCamp.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ideas From Everywhere

Each year in May, our school puts on a track day. Kids sign up to run various track events and participate in some field events, some crazy events and some team-building events. It is a fun half-day of school and the kids really get into it. They come to school sporting their team colors and wearing their team regalia. This year, for the first time ever, a couple of our students had an idea to create Harmony Team Track Day 2016 shirts. It was a great idea that Celia and Ian had.

One day in class last week, I heard talk of t-shirts for track day. I paid it no mind, thinking that the kids were talking about wearing their team t-shirts for track day as we normally do. Nope. They were creating full-blown special event t-shirts. When the kids asked if they could do this, I said, "Sure." I didn't know if the idea would come to fruition or not but I thought the attempt was worthwhile and the energy they were showing was amazing. They immediately got to work designing the shirt. When they were happy with the design, they created a flier and order form. One of the student's parents would coordinate with the t-shirt company and handle money. We were off!

My only part of this was to publicize the shirts and give a form to any student who asked for one. Well, nearly half of the team bought a Harmony Team Track Day 2016 shirt. I was pleasantly surprised. After all, this was a completely student-driven, student-created project that occurred for no particular reason but that it was a good idea.

I am so very happy and proud that our kids think this way. They don't wait to be told what to do. They have an idea and they run with it. We support the kids as much as we can but the idea, the learning, is theirs. We provide the opportunities for learning and the kids, most of the time, take advantage of those opportunities. They launch projects that are relevant and interesting to them. We support where we can and watch the awesomeness that is student-driven learning.