Pembroke Hill Elementary School
Emerson Elementary School
Francestown Elementary School
Full STEAM ahead at Pembroke Hill Elementary!
Suzie Griffith, Principal Jenny Jones, STEAM Integration Specialist
How can students participate in more hands-on, Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) experiences at school? Pembroke Hill Elementary answered that question by creating the STEAM Integration (I)-Lab.
The STEAM lab is a 45 minute class that each student in the school visits one day per week. Ms. Jenny Jones, the I-Lab teacher, designs various learning experiences for her students, based in part on Project Lead the Way. She plans a wide range of projects for different grade levels (K-4), and focuses her lessons on creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving. These are multi-week investigations that cover a variety of topics. In the I-Lab children not only participate in activities that are fun and engaging, but they also interact with a variety of materials and experience what it is like to do jobs that exist in the real world. Anecdotal evidence suggests that students are carrying over problem-solving skills into their regular classrooms. Students look forward to their time in the I-Lab, and many students report that this is their favorite subject!
Ms. Jones starts the projects by introducing a story or video about a real-world, open-ended problem. The children then have an opportunity to try to figure out a solution to the problem. Next they get more information related to the problem and revise and reflect on their solutions. They use materials like coding robots (Beebot and Dash), Vex kits, crafts materials and tools, and building materials and tools. Look below for some examples of projects the students have participated in during their STEAM I-Lab time!
Creating marionettes, coding with Beebots, and experimenting with collisions
projects in the steam i-lab
Lots of squirrels had been getting hit by cars in roads near the school. Students designed solutions to help the squirrels.
Students had to figure out ways to protect homes from floods and landslides. They tested their solutions using models of landscapes.
Students designed and created tools to remove plastic trash from the ocean.
Students learned about animals trapped in a kennel during a hurricane. They designed a boat to save them. They used trial and error until they found a solution that worked.
A lion in a zoo in Mexico got stuck in a ditch surrounding its enclosure. The students created and tested solutions that would lift the lion to safety.
The challenge: keep an egg safe in a collision. Students participated in many experiments to learn more about collisions to gather information necessary to meet this challenge.
Students get experience with coding skills when they use robots like the Beebot and Dash.
Fourth graders visit the I-Lab and create endangered animal marionettes. This goes with a project they are doing in their classroom to educate others about the plight of endangered animals.
A plastic egg, that is. Students were sent home with one plastic egg and then challenged to do something creative with it! From catapults to life-size bird models, students and their families got creative!
Community Connections in Francestown
Katherine Foecking, Principal
Francestown Elementary School is no stranger to innovation. They have eliminated traditional grade levels; instead they have the Squirrels (traditionally K-2) and Owls (traditionally 3-4). The children are assessed using learning progressions that are based on the New Hampshire Competencies, and flexibly move in and out of classrooms according to their individual needs. They are part of the No Grades, No Grades initiative (read a little more about it here). Their latest project is Community Connections, an exciting way for the school and local businesses and organizations to develop relationships and partner in projects that benefit everyone involved. Read all about Community Connections below!
Each teacher at the school partnered with a community expert. Together they identified a problem for the students to solve, created a driving question to focus the investigation, and planned an entry activity (a "hook" to get the students interested). Community Connections kick-off happened in January, and the project will go on until the end of the year. Here is information about the projects underway. Watch this space for occasional updates!
Community Connections kick-off meeting!
What is a good way to use the backyard as part of the children's library?
G.H. Bixby Memorial Library
How can we reduce our carbon footprint?
Town of Francestown
How do we use the woods and forest around us and why are they important?
Francestown Conservation Commission and DH Hardwick & Sons
How can we help businesses in our community reduce their waste?
Vicuna Chocolate Factory
Can you help direct, edit, film, and interview to make a supercool video that shows off all our hard work?
How does a public water company work to protect our water?
Francestown Village Water Company
How can a police department strengthen positive relationships with the community it serves?
Francestown Police Department
How can we teach families in our community about the town's history at the Francestown Improvement and Historical Society's Beehive?
Francestown Improvement and Historical Society
On the Path to Personalization at Emerson Elementary
Lori Stevens, Principal Marianne VanValkenburg , Reading Specialist
Students participate in various activities to support personalized learning.
Emerson Elementary has taken steps toward a personalized learning environment for their students through the implementation of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework (learn more at http://udlguidelines.cast.org/?utm_medium=web&utm_campagin=none&utm_source=cast-home), while at the same time fostering a climate of collaboration for its staff. The basic tenets of UDL are to provide multiple means of: engagement (in learning tasks), representation (of learning by students), and action and expression (the "how" of learning). This philosophy gives students choices in how they learn and how they show what they know. It is a shift in thinking--teachers reflect on how they can remove barriers and change the environment so a child can learn. Students participate in goal-setting, making choices during learning tasks, and the development of strategies for self-regulation. Teachers at Emerson give students choices in how they show what they know, and use flexible seating, learning centers, and small group instruction.
There are several structures in place that support UDL and allow educators to collaborate with each other. Each week the principal, special educator, social worker, counselor, reading specialist, and a classroom teacher (a different one each week) meet for one hour and discuss ALL students in the class. This forum allows for all children to be seen, and for their needs to be met through dialogue and collaboration. A coaching team visits classrooms and gives feedback to educators to help them follow UDL and best meet the individual needs of the students. The team also shares strategies, tools, and resources for personalized learning during the school's professional learning community times and staff meetings. It is not only the coaching team that visits classrooms; all educators in the school are encouraged to observe and learn from each other. Teachers also "swap" classrooms for brief periods of time so the school community can make connections. The school also has a climate team and a wellness team. It is within this culture of trust, collaboration, and respect, that students and staff are all engaged in the learning process.