Posts Tagged ‘elementary school’

Project Based Learning in 4th Grade at MES

October 15, 2013

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Learning About Life

May 7, 2013

In Mrs. Kelly Thomas’s class, students have been learning about life cycles, what hatches from an egg, and “new life” in spring. The MES art teacher, Ms. Dixie, brought eggs from her chickens and an incubator from Middlesex 4-H was used for the eggs’ development. Each day for 21 days, the students read how each chick was growing inside the egg’s shell.

cracked egg

To help the students visualize what they were reading about, they “candled” the eggs in front of a bright light to see what was happening inside. In the beginning, they saw the red veins and then a black dot as the chick began to grow. Later, they could only see the dark shadow inside the egg as the chicks took up more room allowing less light to pass through.

chick hatching

Currently, 15 chicks have hatched, one is pecking its way into the world, and 12 more are still developing. The students have been able to experience all phases of the development and hatching. Over the weekends, students have taken eggs home to baby sit, and a few students had the opportunity to share about their experiences on the radio at 99.1 in Gloucester.

kids with chicks

Innovative and demanding lessons such as this one enrich the education of all students, and it takes teachers such as Mrs. Thomas who are willing to go the extra mile to offer the enrichment in their classroom. Congratulations to her class on all their new babies!

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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