"One of my favorite activities this year has been in conjunction with the McIntire family of teachers “Virtual Mentors”-- an idea that was supported by a CobbTank grant. (There are 4 of us who teach in Cobb). I have been able to experiment with different types of authentic, real world problem solving with students, and involve them in the 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, creativity & communication. At Palmer, the 8th grade students in PBL (Science Academy) classes were assigned 3rd grade “mentees”. The mentors did two projects with the younger students, all revolving around science standards that both grades study -magnets and heat transfer. For the first project, we held a skype session to meet their mentees. My students collected data from an interest survey of their mentees, and then were given the task to design an educational toy for a 3rd grader inspired by magnets. After weeks of design, prototyping, peer feedback and revision, they took a trip to Pitner and held a Toy Expo for their mentees. For the second project..."
8th Grade Physical Science, Palmer MS
What better way to wrap up the year than to spend a little more time showcasing more of the skillful educators that work within the Cobb County School District. Take a look at the amazing work they have done, as described in their own words.
Issue # 21
"I am collaborating with a group of teachers in this county, at various grade levels, to create a Virtual Mentor Program. This is the first school year that we are fully implementing the program. First, my students met their middle school mentors via Skype. The middle schoolers were given the task to create innovate games that could teach my students more about magnets. After brainstorming ideas with my students during the Skype session, the middle schoolers created their games and then brought them to my school. The mentors and mentees had a wonderful day of playing games, while learning! Then, my students met their high school mentors. They, too, came to our school to work collaboratively with my students to learn about pollution. The groups were given the task to document pictures of pollution around the school, then put them into a video-slideshow called a “Flipagram”. The mentor program has been the most innovative and engaging experience that I have been a part of, and I encourage other teachers to pursue.”
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Third Grade Teacher, Pitner ES
with Tami McIntyre, Marissa Gaines, and more
Andrea 's classroom employed a few models including the flipped model. Below is a brief synopsis of some of the activities that took place in her classroom this year.
"Self-Paced Model – Our financial decision making unit has a large project attached to it that I assigned at the beginning of the unit. The due date for the unit is 5 weeks later with individual presentations in which admin, support faculty, and several individuals from district are invited to hear and ask questions. I decided to make this unit self-paced by student choice which enables me to apply differentiation and focus on those students that need additional instruction in class as well as allow my proficient students move ahead so they don’t get bored during the unit.
How it works?
Students will watch videos the evening before and record the notes as well as work 1 -2 homework problems which is uploaded on the blog (HW post). The following day I review the video summary (Streaming Cobb) as well as homework posts and then I’m able to group students according to their submissions (I try to “Student Think” so I’m able to figure out where they made their mistakes before they enter class). What does groups look like?
Math, South Cobb HS
7th Grade Reading/Language, Arts Lost Mountain MS
over $3,000 thanks to student voice, parent involvement, and a community that demands the best for our students. Next year we’ll continue to raise money to purchase flexible seating options for diverse learners.
But, what impresses most about the impact of Stand Up for Healthy Habits is not the money or the desks. It’s watching my students work hard on something they care about. Our club has grown from five core members to forty members - in one year - and this is thanks to their enthusiasm, their creation, and their dedication. These students have created a website, https://www.standup4hh.com/, a commercial, , and they create posters and flyers each week to advertise different activities that we have going on. They inspire me each and every day!
If you listen to what our students want to do and give them the support they need, they’ll impress you exponentially. "
Mrs. Farmer's Blog
As readers and writers, we forget how much a picture impacts our learning. There's a reason we expose ESOL students and early readers to picture books. Aside from the misconception that they are "easier", illustrations and photographs give us a setting and description of characters that many say 1,000 words cannot capture. As I generally integrate content into our reading instruction, I have found that exposing students to photographs and other primary sources from history really helps them visualize a time period so far from their own. Deborah Wiles, author of the 1960's trilogy books Countdown, Revolution and soon-to-be Tribe, has taken advantage of this by creating documentary novels including primary sources for her reader from the setting of the story. In my classroom, I take those primary sources and make them into fake Instagram posts for my students.
The first time I did this was with some Dorothea Lange and Gordon Parks photos from the Great Depression (checkout the linked text to order Carole Boston Weatherford's books on these two photographers). I started this lesson by discussing digital literacy with the students. We have discussed credible sources and other research standards throughout the year. With that, I am in no way naive enough to think that these kiddos aren't on some type of social media. So I show them two screenshots of Instagram posts and we discuss helpful and non-helpful comments left on these posts. One post was from a teacher I follow on Instagram (go follow @miss5th on Instagram). In the post she's sharing a march madness activity she does with books in her classroom (see linked text above). The other post I share with the kids is from @cnn about a Buddhist festival happening in China. In the comments section of the CNN post, someone comments "fake news"...
"Throughout my years at South Cobb High School I have been inspired by my colleagues and administration to step outside of my comfort zone and try new engaging activities in my Personal Fitness and Health courses. Over the past two years I have instituted a Genius Hour project, an interactive Fitness Scavenger Hunt, and a Data Journal for Personal Fitness. Implementing the Genius Hour Project into my Health and Personal Fitness classes was originally part of my Teacher Leadership Academy Legacy Project. In collaboration with my awesome ELA colleague, Dr. Lisa Cherry, we developed a Genius Hour Project that was implemented into our curriculum. Our students were introduced to the idea of a “Passion Project” or Genius Hour Project and were given plenty of time in groups and then individually to brainstorm their topic. This process took a great deal of time for some students because they struggled with the freedom of the project. Students are not often given a “voice” in their learning. They are usually given assignments with rubrics and guidelines to follow stifling some of their creativity. This project allowed them to have that voice and control over their learning.
After developing their idea and what change they hoped to create from it..."
5th Grade ELA, Pitner ES
"I pursued the calling of English education eleven years ago, but not because of the subject matter. I am a teacher because of my passion for people. While I do love a light-bulb moment, a well-written text, and a seriously debatable topic, it’s the story of humanity that gets my out of bed in the morning. Last year, in my eighth year as an educator, I was a part of the inaugural year of CCSD’s Humanities in Practice (H.I.P.), and man-oh-man – did it change me! Thanks to H.I.P. I re-lived the importance of teacher voice, of student voice, and of experiential learning. While attending H.I.P. meetings in the fall of 2015, a parent of a student reached out to me; her child, a then sixth grader, wanted to bring stand up desks to Lost Mountain Middle School. And so we did! Not only does the club we established last year, Stand Up for Healthy Habits, fundraise for stand up desks, but we also re-launched a recycling program that had gone dormant at LMMS with the help of other H.I.P. teachers (Ms. Jennifer Dawson and Mrs. Julie Denison). In its second year, Stand Up for Healthy Habits has raised
Physical Education/Dept. Chair, South Cobb HS
"I am super excited about a new PBL that the 9th Lit PLC team has been working on. Our students are reading, Animal Farm by George Orwell and studying one of the Usher’s New Look principles: leadership. So, in our PBL, we have combined leadership roles and utopian societies by creating a United Nations Exhibit. Students are working in groups and held a lottery for specific country characteristics. We used the World History SPICE acronym (social, political, interactions with geography, culture, and economic) to help create the lottery. Students are then working to create a Wikipedia article on their newly formed country as well as specific products associated with the five characteristics. The details can be found on my blog at https://mrsrust.wordpress.com/unit-2-project-based-learning/.
Click through to view slideshow.
9th Grade Literature/English Dept. Chair, Pebblebrook HS
Abby honed in on two lessons and activities that were impactful learning experiences.
"Integrating choice with student-paced math centers
I started teaching guided math the way many teachers do--by ringing a bell while everyone rotates through groups. The problem I kept running into, was that many students would not finish the activities I had so tirelessly spent hours planning. On the other hand, I would have some students zip through everything in the workstation and left with nothing to do. My local math coach (Krista Bennett) and I worked together to devise a way that integrated student choice with student-paced work stations. Each month, I plan six work stations with extensions (for those zippy learners) that students can move through at their own pace. This allows me to pull groups for as long as I need without feeling tied to a bell. This also provides scaffolding for beginning learners since they can work with a partner or individually. My students love math centers and ask for it every day!
Reciprocal teaching after GA Milestones testing
After the GA Milestones, I love to keep student engagement high through the use of reciprocal teaching in Social Studies. Students prepare an engaging lesson that teaches their classmates a new concept and an interactive activity to practice their newfound knowledge! It’s a highly rewarding experience because students learn everything that goes into a single lesson, and they have a blast being the teacher. This is a perfect activity to do after testing since it allows for students to review previously-taught concepts while staying on task and engaged through the end of the school year! "
Twitter: @MabletonSTEAM | @AlanaDavis1233
"As a STEM teacher, I try to make student experiences align with current events and try to involve professionals in the same STEM field careers. NASA’s Osirus-REx mission caught my attention when a mission update popped up in my news feed. When I read about this being the first ever mission to actually take a sample of the asteroid Bennu (which is believed to be a remnant from the formation of our universe) and return the sample to earth, I knew I had to get my students involved. I began by contacting NASA’s Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta to answer the questions students generated while researching the mission. Erin Morton who is the Communication Specialist for the team responded immediately and began sharing resources and encouraging more investigation by the students. One of the most interesting resources was the 3D printer file of Bennu, the target asteroid of the Osirus-REx mission. After a few tries we had the 3D printed rendering of the asteroid Bennu that NASA mapped out using the Arecibo Radar Telescope in Puerto Rico. Students are using this model as their “target” for the rockets they are building.
To begin our rocket building, we studied different types of rockets and decided on a basic rocket building criteria. Then, student build paper rockets and launched them towards the 3D printed Bennu. After following the engineering design process to create a paper rocket that could reach Bennu, students have begun using CAD to design a 3D printed rocket. Students are now actively building their rockets in CAD in preparation for the big launch day in May, when 5th grade will compete to see which rocket design will hit Bennu. It has been a delight to see students use the Engineering Design Process and integrate technology in a meaningful way to engage in real world problem solving. The students plan to share their designs with NASA’s Osirus-Rex team during an upcoming Skype session with Sope Creek Elementary."
Check out these great resources that were shared with Sope Creek students:
The MakeSpace at Mableton Elementary School is where a lot of STEAM magic happens. I facilitate student learning in this unique space by providing countless materials and endless possibilities as it relates to content they are learning in the classroom. Whether it be coding with robots, recording sessions on the green screen, or just tinkering around and building with Legos and K’Nex it really has bumped student learning engagement up tremendously. One of my favorite things about our MakerSpace is that the students dictate what happens and how. I become a facilitator instead of an instructor and students get to develop their 21st century work skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity. For example, most of the materials that we have in the MakerSpace feature an artistic connection that students can explore such as building a replica of the Tower of London depicted in a painting while learning about engineering and stability. Then, students can work with partners to code a Sphero to go under the bridge and through a maze complete with different types of angles they are learning about in math. Everything can be integrated in the MakerSpace and it makes for the #UltimateLearningExperience for our students.
STEM Teacher, Sope Creek ES
Innovation Specialist, Mableton ES
Honors World Literature, South Cobb HS
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At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, SCHS acquired a new 3D printer. I was anxious to be the first teacher in the building to try it out, so I incorporated a “digital component” into my unit on the Greek Tragedy Oedipus. After reading the play, students browsed through critical commentaries on the plot, character, etc. and then completed a documented essay. However, one portion of this writing assignment had to correspond to a 3D model. In other words, students came up with a thesis (Oedipus was a ____ man) and proved it/supported it with an MLA/APA quote AS WELL AS a 3D model. The kids loved the activity because it was hands on and engaging for the home stretch (we had about 6 weeks left in the year!). They were excited to stand at the 3D printer as it made their object, and they were amazed that it took so long (over a day for some!!) of their models to materialize. They got to apply art skills in painting and decorating the models. It also built a few “dendrites” and “electroneurons” in their brains. I did not allow their models to be literal in nature. The 3D object HAD TO BE FIGURATIVE and SYMBOLIC. While they are hard to see in the attached picture, I had great products: light bulbs for the knowledge Oedipus was missing, locks/keys for the mystery aspect of the play, etc.
P.S. The idea caught on with other staff members. Now most of the kids have used the 3D printer for a similar project in other areas such as math, science, etc. A colleague in ELA who was reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis with her class made a “bug museum” of 3D insects to represent themes in that story.
Dr. Lisa Cherry