Friday, February 13, 2015

Science Olympiad Preparations

The preparations for the 2015 Science Olympiad competition are well underway.  Fifteen students in grades six through eight will be testing their skills against other middle school teams from across the Buffalo region.

Many of the events involve taking a traditional written test.  This requires knowledge of various scientific topics.  Some of the testing events include Anatomy, Bio Process Lab, Crave the Wave, Crime Busters, Disease Detectives, Dynamic Planet, Entomology, Fossils, Green Generation, and Invasive Species.
Students preparing for the Meteorology event get help from Mr. Atkinson.

Veteran Science Olympians gathering knowledge for their events.

First time Science Olympians preparing a "cheat sheet" for a testing event.

Still having fun while getting prepared for competition!
Many of the other events involve hands-on skills as part of the competition.  Experimental Design challenges students to create their own experiments on the spot.  This requires knowledge of such terms as hypothesis, control, and variable.
The Experimental Design group researches science terms prior to creating experiments.
Other hands-on events include Bottle Rocket, Bridge Building, Elastic Launched Glider, and Wheeled Vehicle.  These events will require students to build a project to be tested on the day of the competition.
A third year Science Olympiad veteran researches plans for Wheeled Vehicle.

Another third year Science Olympiad veteran prepares to build a prototype for the Bridge Building event.
The regional Science Olympiad competition will take place on Saturday, March 7th at Waterfront Elementary in Buffalo.  The team is looking forward to representing Pioneer at this exciting competition!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

French 8 Community and Neighborhood Project

During the first week of February, the library was turned into a French village thanks to the hard work of Ms. Marshall's eighth grade French students.  The French village project brought a new level of hands-on creativity to the traditional community and neighborhood vocabulary unit.

Before the project began, students were introduced to the French vocabulary for the unit.  In addition to knowing the terms listed below, students also needed a working knowledge of the community vocabulary learned during French 7 last year.  The seventh grade words would come into play later when the students start creating the French villages.
An example of some of the vocabulary words needed for the French project.

After the French words were introduced, it was time to get to work on creating the villages.  Each was divided into four groups.  All of the groups were responsible for different buildings that would become a part of the class period's specific village.  The group responsible for making the village's shops needed to refer back to their French 7 lists in order to find the French terms for different shops.
The buildings each group was responsible for creating.
Once the groups were formed, the students then worked on the cut-out templates for the buildings they were creating.  Students were able to consult the project rubric to see how they would be assessed during this portion of the activity.

The requirements for each group during the building phase of the project.
This part of the project ties in closely to the Maker Club activities at Pioneer Middle.  Hopefully some of the students that really enjoyed making the buildings will consider joining Maker Club in the future!
All buildings were carefully colored.

Students had to divide the work in order to get all buildings completed.

All buildings needed to be correctly labeled in French.

Once the buildings were colored and labeled, they needed to be cut out and assembled.
Although the original plan was to have the building phase of the project completed in one day, two days were definitely needed in order to complete all of the building requirements.

Once all of the buildings were cut out and assembled, each group was then responsible for placing their structures within the different neighborhoods of the village.
Each group was responsible for a quartier (neighborhood) within the village.

Students created and labeled roads for their village.

Each quartier was then added to the class grid, thus creating a complete village.

An example of an excellent finished product!
 A great aspect of this part of the project was that the creation of the village required a great deal of communication, cooperation, and teamwork.  All teams needed to divide the work in order to accomplish everything.  Once the teams finished their quartiers, they then needed to work together to make sure the entire village was decorated and labeled.

Now that the villages were complete, students were able to individually participate in speaking and listening activities with Ms. Marshall.  Because Valentine's Day is right around the corner, students were to deliver valentines to three different locations within the village.  The writing piece involved creating written directions to points around our area in Yorkshire.

The rubric for the individual speaking and writing project components.
Helpful French words for the speaking and listening activities.
Working on the speaking section with Ms. Marshall.
On the last project day in the library, students used the Nearpod app on the iPads in order to take a vocabulary quiz for the unit.  Nearpod was a nice resource to use for this activity because it allows students to go back and check their answers.  The quiz scores are also reported instantly and teachers can see the percentage of students who answered the questions correctly.  For extra credit, students worked on a "foldarama" sheet which helped to reinforce the vocabulary list even further.

The rubric for the last day of the unit.
An example of a Nearpod quiz question.

Another example of a question.  This requires translation skills.

Students taking the Nearpod quiz.

Completing the foldarama activity.
 Although the project was a success, there will be aspects changed for next year.  Most importantly, this project should span an entire week instead of just three days.  We had a great time working together to build the villages, learning vocabulary, and using writing and speaking skills to give directions in French.  Until next year!

Monday, February 9, 2015

SnapShotNY: A Day in the Life of a Library

The New York Library Association (NYLA) invites all libraries across New York to participate in SnapShotNY, an initiative to document a day in the life of a library.  Libraries are allowed to pick a day between January 20 and February 9 and keep track of all the great things going on in the library during a given day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 is the day we chose to document for SnapShotNY.  Although our library is not usually a quiet place, this was a particularly busy day!  Here are the highlights.

During the school day, there were 113 book checkouts (Mrs. Boberg had a very busy day!!), 6 equipment checkouts, and 82 page views to the library website.  Approximately 45 students visited the library to work independently on classwork and research projects.
Students in the library to print a project.

Using the computer to research a cool new game!

Using the library computers to research a "Where in the World" assignment for social studies.

Getting cozy while researching for the "Where in the World" assignment.
Mrs. Proudman's class visited the library for their weekly library class.  During class, we read the book Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith, Jr. in honor of Black History Month.  This book discussed how the White House was built by both slaves and free people.  Since Mrs. Proudman's students have previously discussed slavery, reading this book led to a very rich conversation.  We then colored pictures of Washington, D.C. landmarks and checked out books.
Reading Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith, Jr.

Coloring pictures of Washington, D. C.
Mrs. Richards and Mr. Kramer's two fifth grade social studies classes continued work on their South America research project.  The classes were previously in the library gathering research on a South American country using the World Book database.  Students are now putting their research together in a PowerPoint presentation.
Fifth grade is working on South America projects.
Probably the largest event happening in the library that day was a project with Ms. Marshall's eighth grade French classes.  Five classes visited for a total of 95 French students in the library.  As part of their Community and Neighborhood unit, the classes visited the library in order to make villages out of paper.  Each class was broken into four groups with each group responsible for creating the different neighborhoods in each village.  This required knowledge of French words (since all items needed to be labeled correctly in French) and a lot of teamwork.  This project also tied into what our library offers through Maker Club, too!  After the neighborhoods were built, students then used their French knowledge to give directions around town in French.
Creating the neighborhoods required a lot of teamwork.

Once all of the buildings were placed, students then decorated the neighborhoods.

Cutting and assembling the buildings.

An example of the different French terms that students will need to give directions.

The final rush to finish the village!
In addition to the scheduled classes using the library, there were also a variety of study groups that came down the library to work on classwork.  These groups were led by Mrs. Rickerson, Mrs. Hunt, Mr. Souder, Mrs. Battaglia, Mr. Mazzatti, and Mrs. Izzo.  Twenty-eight students participated in these groups.
Mrs. Hunt's study group.

Mrs. Battaglia helps fifth grade students begin their study of South America.
Even when the school day was over, there was still work to be done.  February fourth was one of a handful of staff development afternoons at Pioneer known as Mandatory Days.  During Mandatory Day, all teachers stay for two hours and use the time for planning, goal setting, and curriculum development.  Throughout Mandatory Day, Ms. Muhlbauer checked in with different teachers to see how the library could help with planning.  She met with eighth grade ELA teachers Mr. Colaiacovo and Mrs. Wood to hear how their medical ethics research project was progressing.  They will be visiting the library with their classes later in February to go over works cited pages.  Ms. Muhlbauer also visited with the fifth, sixth, and seventh grade ELA teachers concerning updates to the summer reading book lists for 2015.  Ms. Muhlbauer also gathered resources for two fifth grade science teachers, took down ILL requests from Ms. Schaper and Mrs. Rice, and worked with Mr. LoBianco and Ms. McKenzie on a STEM grant submission to support Maker Club.

All in all, a very busy day in the library!  Below is a summary of all that happened during February 4th.  We hope to participate in SnapShotNY again next year.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Team Competitions with Kahoot!

All seventh and eighth grade ELA students visited the library during the month of January.  We had a lot of important information to discuss, but there was time for some friendly competition as well.

During a summer iPad training session provided by CA BOCES, I learned about a tech tool called Kahoot.  Kahoot makes it easy to create interactive quizzes.  From my iPad, I projected the Kahoot questions onto the screen.  Students broke into groups and each group was given an iPad.  The students could then choose the correct answers on their iPad.  Kahoot awards points based not only on correct answers, but how quickly you answer.  This definitely helped to create a competitive atmosphere in all of the classes!
Seventh grade teams participating in Kahoot! challenges.

The questions were projected on the screen. Teams used their iPads to select the answers.
The seventh grade ELA students were just beginning to work on a nonfiction unit.  They came to the library for a refresher on how to use the OPAC, call numbers, and where to find the nonfiction books in the library.  The Kahoot questions tested their knowledge of nonfiction.  Here are some examples of the seventh grade questions:

When the eighth grade classes visited the library later in January, their purpose for visiting was a little bit different.  The classes were reading Flowers for Algernon and were preparing to write an essay about a medical ethics topic.  

First, the eighth grade students were reintroduced to Pioneer's online databases.  They then learned about Opposing Viewpoints in Context, a database new to the middle school this year.  This is a great resource that was made for this type of project.  Students can not only access differing viewpoints about many controversial topics, but they can also see newspaper articles, magazine articles, or websites related to the topic they are searching for.  After the database refresher, we discussed using Note Sheets to keep track of sources used.  We also discussed ways to avoid plagiarism, how to evaluate websites, and better ways to use Google and Wikipedia.  That was a lot of ground to cover in a short time!  Students were looking forward to the Kahoot after all of that information.  Here are examples of the eighth grade questions:

The winning teams in each class were offered prizes.  The prizes included some of the "limited edition" scratch and sniff bookmarks, puff ball animals, and stickers.  We will definitely be bringing Kahoot back for some more lessons in the library.  The competition added a new layer of excitement to library topics.