Archive for November, 2012

SCW Robotics Club Competes

November 20, 2012

On November 10, students from the SCW Robotics Club competed in the FIRST LEGO League competition at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen. The theme of the 2012 competition was Senior Solutions Challenge. The teams were challenged to find ways to improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their communities.

back row: Jerry Lindsey, Andrew Hudson, Tanner Johanson, Coach Matthew Short, Kevin Horton
front row: Matthew Wilson, Kenneth Beam, Jack Graulich, Jack Ruark, Tyler Radabaugh

There are three parts to the FLL challenge: the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values. The Robot Game and Project are what teams do, and the Core Values guide teams through the experience.

For The Project, each team had to find a senior partner. The SCW team chose Mrs. Dant, a familiar substitute teacher in MCPS schools. With the help of Mrs. Dant, they worked to identify and learn about a problem faced by seniors. The team then created an innovative solution to the problem for the competition.

In The Robot Game, students build and program a robot to accomplish certain tasks to earn points and compete against other teams, always keeping in mind the daily challenges seniors face as they age. The #1 rule for this challenge is to have “Gracious Professionalism”. The “Gracious Professionals” compete hard against problems, while treating all people with respect and kindness. Students also build onto other people’s ideas instead of resisting or defeating them.

In addition to the “Gracious Professionalism,” other Core Values form the cornerstones of the competition. By embracing the Core Values, participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.

The Core Values of the FLL are:

  • We are a team.
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  • We know our coaches and mentors don’t have all the answers; we learn together.
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  • What we discover is more important than what we win.
  • We share our experiences with others.
  • We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
  • We have FUN!

During the FLL Challenge, students are building strong character traits as well as using higher-level problem-solving abilities.  Matt Short, faculty sponsor, states, “There was a lot to do in a small amount of time, and the team did a great job. They should be proud of all that was accomplished and how well they did at the tournament. We will continue to meet for the remainder of the year in order to better prepare ourselves for next year’s challenge. Ready. Set. LEGO!”

SCW Builders Club Serves the Community

November 15, 2012

Builders Club is a student-led service organization for middle school students dedicated to school and community service. The St. Clare Walker Builders Club includes fifty students from all three middle school grades. Any student interested in service and of good character is eligible to join.

Kiwanis International, a worldwide service organization whose clubs serve children and develop youth leadership, sponsors the Builders Club. Its purpose is to develop leadership through service.

Laura Norris, faculty sponsor of the club, states, “It’s important that students are given opportunities to work together in service for their school and community. It is rewarding to work with such a great group of middle schoolers who are excited to make a difference.”

The students at SCW participate in a variety of service activities. One of the most popular is Book Buddies. Twice a month, students walk from SCW to MES to read to the elementary school students. This takes place during the LASER period from 8:30-9:00 during the school day.

Patty Larson, teacher at MES, says, “My kindergarteners love when our middle school book buddies come to read to them. The middle schoolers do a great job reading and asking questions about the story. I love watching the little ones’ faces when they listen to their book buddies read!”

Another MES teacher, Kris Brizendine, agrees. “I would say that Book Buddies is great because our Kindergarten students look forward to the older students coming to spend time and share the love of reading with them. It is time that they can sit in a small group and listen to stories and get inspired to learn to read. After the middle schoolers leave, my students want to share their story and show me what part they loved. It is a wonderful program!”

Another project involves the Kiwanis Club and the Oyster Festival. Students volunteer their time to serve customers at the Kiwanis food tent during the event. Although it is a long day and hard work, it is a fun time for the students. By handling part of the workload, the students allow the Kiwanis members to further enjoy the festival as well.

Within school, the Builders Club sponsors many events to raise money for charitable causes. Hat Day allows students to wear a hat during the school day when they donate $2 to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Movie night and other activities raise money for Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society. Candy sales and other events also add to the club’s charitable giving.

Builders Club fosters an attitude of service and leadership skills within its members. These students are being prepared for life beyond middle school as caring citizens and strong leaders for our community.

Teacher Feature – Renee Edwards

November 8, 2012

Renee Edwards, a second grade teacher at Middlesex Elementary School, strives to keep her students excited about what they are learning. She states, “My son started school this year and it was a real eye-opener for me.  This made me want to be the type of teacher I hoped he would have.”

Edwards uses group and partner activities in her classroom for most of her instruction. She feels this is an excellent way to keep things exciting while still ensuring her students have a good understanding of the material being covered. She says the following quote by Benjamin Franklin explains, “Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.”

During her language arts block, she uses the Istation reading program. This program contains vibrant animation with engaging characters in interesting stories. Every Istation lesson pulls kids in, boosts comprehension and retention, and makes learning fun.

During math, Edwards uses IXL, an online program that allows daily practice of skills, and math games. When students learn while having fun, their comprehension of the subject matter and their retention soar.

Edwards also uses a lot of music in her classroom.  She believes music can be a very positive thing when used to calm the students or to uplift them.  She explains, “I enjoy listening to music and find that most children do as well.” While some people would think music would be a distraction, Edwards has found that the addition of music to her classroom boosts her children’s moods and their motivation.

When her students are engaged in writing activities, Edwards incorporates many hands-on activities, such as making crafts, that relate to the subject matter that they are working on. This allows students to consider and analyze aspects of the subject from different viewpoints, which increases their knowledge and understanding.

Renee Edwards exceptional instruction and her creativity in her teaching helps her students succeed in her classroom. She, like William Butler Yates, believes “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Her efforts truly represent the dedication of the teachers of MCPS.

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