THE FWSU STORY: The Hive is Alive! GEMS 6th Graders Explore the Importance of the Honey Bee

A small group of 6th Graders gave us the “buzz” on bees this week as they presented their work on the importance of honey bees.  For four weeks, these students studied the honey bee and all the intricacies of the hive; culminating in an hour-long presentation, complete with costume, simulations, and snacks!

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Students learn about the honey bee.

The students had an opportunity to participate in a workshop shop with Kurt Valenta from Exordium an authentic learning experience with a lot of hands-on components, all within the classroom setting.

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Mr. Kurt Valenta from Exordium shared the importance of the honey bee.

The presentation focused on 5 key concepts: Pollination, Community, Communication, Energy, and Design.

Students learned about 5 key concepts about the honey bee.

Students learned about 5 key concepts about the honey bee.

Each component was connected to the Driving Question: Why are honey bees important and what can you do to help?

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Students discuss their learning with their classmates.

The students lead their peers through two simulations – demonstrating honey bee communication and pollination.

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The class was energized by their learning experience!

The 6th-grade class was energized by the experience provided by their classmates. One student commented, “They obviously put a lot of work into this presentation.  You can see the process of beautiful work.  They were well-rehearsed and prepared.  I had so much fun!”

THE FWSU STORY: Second Graders Make A Difference at Georgia

This year at GEMS, Mrs. Ferguson’s second-grade class embarked on a journey to learn to knit and to make a difference in their local community.

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Mrs. Ferguson’s second grade class began a knitting journey this year.

The project began in September. Every Monday, the class dedicated time to improve their skills. Members of the GEMS staff offered instruction and guidance throughout the year including librarian Mrs. Rider, math specialist Mrs. Wilson, Innovation Lab teacher Mrs. Payne, reading paraeducator Mrs. Dow and paraeducator Mrs. Palmer.

An imperfect start at knitting ends in neatly stitched rows.

Knitting is a journey! An imperfect start ends in neatly stitched rows.

“Each square shows their growth,” explained Mrs. Ferguson, pointing to a square of student work. One end is uneven, full of loopy stitches, many of which are connected to nothing. She points to the opposite end, “You can see how much they have learned.” The end she is pointing to has neat stitches lined up perfectly. As students became more proficient, they knit during class breaks and during read-aloud time. Many also knit at home, making gifts and accessories for family and friends.  By the end of the year, the class had created three blankets and one knitted ball to donate to the Franklin County Humane Society.

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The second graders proudly display their knitting creations!

The students are proud and excited about their work. Not only have they learned a new skill, they have learned work habits such as perseverance and problem-solving. “One of our class focuses has been encouraging a growth mindset,” said Mrs. Ferguson. “This project demonstrated for the students that if they think that they can learn new things, they will even if the skill seems difficult at first.”

The students are also very pleased about how they’ve been able to make a difference in their community. The Humane Society was grateful for the donation. They said that the blankets would be used frequently to comfort animals. When the class was told that their hard work would be featured on the FWSU Story, one student exclaimed, “Maybe other people will see this project and want to do the same for pets where they live. We made a difference here, but maybe we will make a difference in the world too!” Interested readers can go to The Snuggles Project to learn how they can contribute in their areas.

Check out the video below to see more of the class’ journey.

 

 

THE FWSU STORY: Young FWSU Artists Featured in Franklin County Art Show

Last month, the Collins-Perley Sports Complex hosted the annual Franklin County School Art Show.  Students from BFA Fairfax, Fletcher, and Georgia Elementary and Middle School were represented as well as many other schools from our neighboring communities. Art teachers presented selected artwork to showcase their students’ accomplishments over the past school year.

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On May 15th, Georgia Elementary Middle School presented an opening reception for the community, students, and art teachers to celebrate amazing art by our students.

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It was great to see so many supporters participate and to see the amazing work from the smallest students in our county to our oldest students. A big thanks to FWSU art teachers Jenn Hart, Marc Choiniere, Kim Desjardins, MC Baker, Sara Wolfson, and Dorsey Hogg.

Be sure to join us for our next show in May 2019!

THE FWSU STORY: Young Children at GEMS Make Meaning Through Discovery

Children learn best through play and this works very well when you teach a concept such as patterns. As they enjoy activities involving patterning, young learners understand that the sequencing of such items allows for making predictions about what comes next. 

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Learning about patterns in the early years of education is an important developmental milestone for children. Patterns help children learn sequencing and making predictions which help children develop mathematical skills, structure, and establishing order in everyday life. Children learn to use patterns to determine the days of the week, months, daily routines, odd and even numbering. Children learn by moving patterns, by watching the way water flows through objects to teach creative thinking and to use building structures and bridges to help children think about constructing and how things fit together.  Children first develop patterning skills by sorting objects by color, shape, size, and similarities such as the number of holes in buttons.  Simple patterns begin to develop when children are exposed to color patterns such as red, blue, red, blue (AB) patterns, and then begin noticing patterns in their daily environments.

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In music class, children have been learning about musical patterns by playing colored bells that go along with familiar songs. The children also learned about patterning when trying to keep the beat to familiar songs by tapping on the drum.

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Patterns are everywhere in life! Help your child discover them in their homes, outside, or in any environment.

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THE FWSU STORY: GEMS Spanish Class Explores Artistic Expression at Dartmouth College

The students in the Advanced Spanish class at Georgia Elementary Middle School recently took a field trip to Dartmouth College. The students toured the basement of the Baker-Berry Library where a famous mural is tucked away.

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GEMS Advanced Spanish Class

This 24-panel mural is a “fresco” style piece of art entitled The Epic of American Civilization. It covers 3,200 feet and explores the history of the Americas through the lens of artist Jose Clemente Orozco.

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An Orozco mural displayed at Dartmouth

Students participated in a workshop which involved careful observation, interpretation, drawing and presenting their ideas about the different pieces of the mural. Orozco took two years to paint this mural, and the students decoded most of it in two hours – no easy challenge! This opportunity was rare and students were able to use their knowledge of culture, history, art, religion and Spanish to aid in interpreting the murals.

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Students explored artistic expression and interpretation.

“I enjoyed seeing the murals. They are unique.”  – Tanisha G

“I was challenged by trying to understand what the art meant.” –  Jacob H 

“I enjoyed the bus ride and the facts behind each art piece.  I learned more about the past from them.”  – Taylor R

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Another large fresco mural featured in the Baker-Berry Library at Dartmouth

“I learned more about the type of painting he used (fresco).” – Sydney L

“I enjoyed eating lunch in the middle of the college.”  – Tallon S

“I learned that Orozco cared about the future.”  – Andrew Y

THE FWSU STORY: New Assessment Measures Physical Fitness at GEMS

The Vermont Agency of Education has made some changes in the state assessment system this year in accordance with the Federal “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA). One such change is the implementation of Physical Education assessments in targeted elementary, middle, and high school grades.

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Students at GEMS practice physical fitness in PE class.

The Vermont Agency of Education has selected FitnessGram to serve as its statewide physical education assessment for both state and federal accountability purposes. FitnessGram is a non-competitive fitness assessment developed in 1982 by The Cooper Institute and is currently the most widely used fitness assessment tool nationally. Our state views this assessment as an important measure of good health as opposed to athletic ability.

This year, in May, each student in grades four and seven will be assessed in four areas: aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. Body composition will not be measured or reported. Because this is the initial year of the testing, parents will not be receiving individual student results.

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Students assess their physical fitness with FitnessGram

FitnessGram Assessment includes:

Curl-Ups: The curl-up test measures abdominal strength and endurance, which is important in back support and core stability.

Push Ups: The push-up test measures muscular endurance of the upper body.

PACER Test: The PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run) is the default aerobic capacity test in FITNESSGRAM. Aerobic capacity is perhaps the most important component of any fitness program. Research indicates that acceptable levels of aerobic capacity are associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and other health problems in adults.

Sit and Reach: The sit and reach test is a common measure of flexibility, and specifically measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstring muscles.

If you are interested in learning more about the assessment and the standards it is designed to measure, please visit:

THE FWSU STORY: GEMS Students to Create Projects in New Outdoor Woodworking Center

With generous funding from the Georgia Elementary Middle School PTCO, the first-grade team was able to purchase tools and other supplies to create a woodworking center. Our center is now complete with safety glasses, aprons, gloves, hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, a saw and miter box, levels, measuring tapes, and speed squares.

Supplies available in the woodworking center at GEMS.

Supplies available in the woodworking center at GEMS.

Eighth-grade teacher Brad King and students from the middle school built a movable table that will support flexible learning opportunities to work outside in the fresh air and sunshine – and to let our creativity run wild!

A table built by middle students at GEMS

A table built by middle students at GEMS

After a few safety lessons, small groups of first graders will be able to head outdoors to the woodworking center. With adult supervision,  the students will be able to use hammers, drills, screws, and measurement tools to cut and create anything they can imagine!

Students at GEMS will uplevel their skills using various tools and be able to apply some of the math we have learned this year in the context of their woodworking projects.  Finished pieces can also be painted and decorated, integrating opportunities for artistic expression as well.

This new center will provide every first-grader a real opportunity for connected hands-on learning and success. Students kids are very excited to get outside to make something with their hands and try out all the new tools.

Thanks to the GEMS PTCO for their generous support!