Archive for October, 2013

Interactive Algebra at SCW

October 28, 2013

A student’s interactive notebook from Mrs. Norris’ class.

This year all of Mrs. Norris’ students have been working on an interactive notebook in algebra. Their notebook is a mathematic tool that will represent their experience in math class. These students have created foldables, color coordinated notes, investigated vocabulary meanings, and much more. At this time, Mrs. Norris’ algebra class is working on Unit 2, which covers equations and inequalities. Along with their interactive notebook, the students created posters illustrating their ability to construct algebraic proofs.


Algebraic proof posters on display in the hallway.

In addition to the posters, students also played a game using equation cards. The objective of the game was to match the steps for solving an equation.  Students determined the order of play.  On an individual’s turn, the student picked the card with the equation on it and picked a card with the first step in solving the equation.  The next player picked a card that would be the next step in solving the equation.  They continued play until the equation was solved.  After solving the equation, players picked another equation to be solved and started over.

equation game

Briana Rios, Ivie Santiago, and Tyler Scott playing the equation game.

Mrs. Norris states, “The interactive notebooks have made my students more responsible for their own learning. They have become more involved in the lessons, more attentive during the activities, and more precise in their note taking.”

Written by Laura Norris


Project Based Learning in 4th Grade at MES

October 15, 2013

Fourth grade at MES has gotten off to an exciting year.


Students display their maps of the regions of Virginia.

Students have done numerous hands on projects as well as engaging lessons in various subject areas. While studying Virginia Geography, students replicated the map of Virginia using play dough and cookie mix. They were required to label the five regions of Virginia, as well as the products and industries of each region.


Heather Evans, assistant principal, and Amy Stamm, principal, with Virginia dough maps.

While studying Scientific Investigation, the students were transformed into scientists. Through a thrilling hands-on activity using Diet Coke and Mentos, they worked their way through the six steps of the Scientific Method.


Students prepare for the scientific experiment.

They were required to ask a question, research the material, make a hypothesis, perform an experiment, analyze data, and make a conclusion. While conducting the experiment, we used multiple variables that altered the outcome of the experiment.


Teachers scatter as the explosion takes place!

It is very important to connect what the students are learning in the classroom with the real world and allow them to see the relevance of what is being taught.

Written by Sara Spain

MHS Launches 1:1 Tablet Initiative

October 9, 2013

MCPS is proud to announce the 1:1 KUNO launch at Middlesex High School. The importance of this initiative will positively affect the future of students in Middlesex County. Superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor explains, “No matter what our students choose to do after high school, we know that they will be expected to be proficient and ethical users of electronic devices. It is also a moral imperative for Middlesex County Public Schools to prepare our students for the reality of computer-facilitated learning by teaching them how to use these devices ethically and effectively. This investment in our community’s youth will net dividends that will continue to be evident for generations.”

KUNO pic1

According to Steve Dunkel, Director of Assessment, Research, and Technology, “The device we chose for our division is called the KUNO.  It is an Android device that works with a software package called CurriculumLoft.  The software uses cloud technology to distribute content to students. Teachers and students send assignments, notes, assessments, and research materials using the device. Every student and teacher at MHS has received a device.  Staff was trained during multiple sessions of professional development.”

The best feature of the KUNO launch is how it is advancing learning for our students. “KUNOs are taking learning at MHS to a whole new level. Students are interactively engaged in their teachers’ presentations and curriculum. It’s an exciting time at the high school,” says Jeannie Duke, MHS Principal.

In Susan Butler’s Spanish class, she uses the tablets to teach listening skills to her Spanish students. “I am able to record my voice using a voice recorder app and then import it into an assignment.  Students play the recording and then answer the questions that follow.  It is great having them use headphones so that they can listen at their own pace, as well as repeat it as necessary.”

KUNO pic2

Kate Peters has noticed students’ willingness to complete tasks with the KUNOs that they usually avoid. “They not only found the dictionary on the KUNO, they enjoy using it! We also began exploring how we might use the tablets in Spanish class. We went online to start our project about Hispanics in the United States. The information found was surprising and the statistics astounded many of us.”

In World History classes, Melisa Naumann and Lee Anderson are utilizing the KUNO tablets for a project-based learning assignment.  For the project, students assume a natural disaster has occurred which has returned the area to pre-historic times.  Students research how to make a simple shelter using only materials that would have been available during pre-historic times.  In addition, they design a map of their current location (Middlesex County) which identifies landforms, water, and natural resources and create a PowerPoint presentation to describe their survival plan. The students, working in pairs, used their KUNOs for research, to create their presentations, and to trace maps, which is difficult on a laptop. Because each student has their own device, the teams were able to multi-task during their project.

Naumann said, “Overall, students were more engaged and interested in completing the project because they find the KUNO easy to navigate and they prefer the touch screen.  The class enjoyed being able to stay in the classroom as opposed to going to a computer lab or using a laptop.  The KUNO is providing a lot of options for differentiated instruction, and I am looking forward to using it in many other ways.”

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Michael Cromartie states, “Developing our students as learners, citizens, and leaders relies on our collective emphasis on technology and how technology may be used to advance students’ skills and knowledge acquisition.  Educators often talk about 21st century learning and how we are preparing today’s students for careers and societal roles that do not currently exist. I am thrilled that Middlesex County Public Schools is leading our region in this type of thinking and working.”

In addition to advancing classroom instruction, the KUNO has other benefits for the students. Unlike devices designed for the general public, the KUNO tablet with CurriculumLoft considers student safety. An embedded filter makes the device CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act) compliant, both on and off school property.

The device design also considers school budgetary constraints. Superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor explains, “This learning solution is destined to lighten backpacks and lessen paper consumption over time, saving the county immeasurable sums while forwarding advanced methods of student learning. Students will be able to submit assignments electronically and save documents and assignments to virtual storage space on the school’s virtual cloud.”

Overall, the launch is an exciting new initiative for MCPS for now and for the future, which provides advanced technology to the high school students on a daily basis. Cromartie states, “Through our 1:1 Kunos launch, students at our high school have the opportunities to fully experience curriculum integrating knowledge across the content areas, producing work and receiving feedback in innovative formats, and eventually maintaining their own ePortfolios to exhibit their learning and growth over time.”


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