As the coordinator for the ManorISD Project-based Learning initiative, I spend my days supporting campuses across the district with their implementation efforts. In addition, I get a chance to witness many exciting things happening in schools. This blog will highlight a few of these events, projects, and opportunities.
The Pre-K team at Pioneer Crossing Elementary recently completed their second project and I had the chance to see some of their presentations. Students played the role of explorers and exhibit guides for visitors from Kindergarten and around the district who wanted to learn about different habitats. I was impressed at the students’ ability to remember details, vocabulary, and the process they used to learn. Students told visitors about the animals and plants that live in each habitat as well as climate and foods that animals eat. They used words in correct contexts such as prey, insects, arctic, survival, and habitat. A few days later, the teachers invited me to meet to reflect about the project. They were very pleased with the amount of growth their students made during the project. For example, students became better at reaching consensus with their partners, they eventually improved their questions and willingness to add questions to their Need to Knows. They also became more excited about finding answers to their Need to Knows during whole-group story-time and center time. At one point, the teachers reported how their students were so motivated to dig deep and share their new knowledge that they were over-stimulated and began yelling the information out to visiting classes. Eventually, they realized that the students needed to bring it down a few notches so that visiting classes would not be scared away.
Over the weekend, I had the chance to visit the Manor Heritage Festival and saw some student performances. Even though the rains had flooded portions of the park, vendors and performers were set up along the streets that surround the park. It was a lovely day to spend time with the community. Below is a picture of the Bluebonnet Trail Elementary Choir.
Students across the district took their STAAR exams this week, or will be taking them next week. For the elementary students, they were getting in a few more study sessions this week to prepare for next week. However, students were given multiple breaks in between the test prep. At ShadowGlen Elementary School, the third graders have the opportunity to participate in Genius Hour. During this brain break, students get to choose projects they are interested in and have a chance to be creative. I had the opportunity to visit with some of these students in the hallway as they experimented with coding. They would write some code on the iPad, and then use the code to program their Sphero. By running the program, the Sphero would roll, change colors, turn direction, or stop. It was cool to see that students were trusted with these tools in order to work in the hallway on a project of their choice.
Across all of the district Elementary schools, the AIM Program offers a project-based learning environment for advanced learners. After doing real world group projects, students culminate the year with a project of their choice. Students in Ms. Cooper’s AIM class at Pioneer Crossing Elementary, were working dilligently on revising their driving questions and researching this week. I enjoyed seeing students dig deep into their research by taking notes, narrowing their topics, and asking more questions. I had the chance of helping one of the students to think about designing a more real world product. I also had the chance to give the student feedback to improve her driving question.
Until next time,