Windsor Mill Middle School’s Student Council promises to have a memorable year in 2017-2018. Seventh grader, Michael Oduniyi, was appointed Baltimore County Student Council Middle-School Liaison in June of 2017 and has had the opportunity to attend multiple leadership workshops, including the two-day River Valley Ranch BCSC Leadership Conference. Windsor Mill launched the Student-Council election campaign in September during a Tech-Tuesday lunch. All students learned about the BCSC and were given the opportunity to submit an application to run as a representative for their homerooms. The following week, each candidate gave a one-minute speech to his or her homeroom on why he or she was the best candidate for the job. Students voted, and this year’s WMMS Student Council representatives were revealed during morning announcements. Homeroom representative Kaylinn Tyler said, “Student Council gives students a voice, and as a representative, this makes me a better person. I’m looking forward to students in our school coming together to help each other and have experiences they can share.” The Council convened for the first meeting in October to team build, create norms, and identify goals. In coming months, the representatives will elect officers, take part in an induction ceremony, and identify topics of focus to make Windsor Mill Middle the community where all students come to learn.
Carter is a sixth grader at Ridgely Middle School in Timonium. Carter enjoys the fruits of the STAT initiative in BCPS; Voice Thread is just one benefit of STAT. Recently in Carter’s Spanish class, Mrs. Lutwyche, his teacher, assigned an engaging task. Students were asked to create a radio advertisement for a children’s camp. This curricular assessment measured students’ ability to plan, practice, and produce a spoken presentation in Spanish.
Carter recorded himself speaking Spanish to promote the children’s camp. This audio narrated the coordinating slides with graphics and text.
The success criteria for the assessment included “camp activities, benefits, age of children served, location, and purpose,” Carter explained. He chose to invent a sports camp. He added, “The camp includes activities such as football, soccer, and volleyball. [It boasts] an increase in cardiovascular endurance for all participants." The location he selected for the camp is his previous elementary school, with facilities to accommodate the activities both inside and outside. The age range of participants for his camp is five to twelve.
Carter explained that this recording is one section of a four-part unit assessment which took approximately three class periods to complete and is to be done independently. Mrs. Lutwyche is commended for attempting the spoken and written parts using this multi-media application with her students. Mrs. Lutwyche says, “With Voice Thread, students gain independence, privacy, and choice. A student can record and preview numerous times before submitting a saved document as evidence.” Because it is her first attempt with Voice Thread, she admits there is a small learning curve, as exists when experimenting with anything new; however, she adds that benefits are definitely worthwhile."
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math all come together at Rodgers Forge Elementary every day, but on Tuesday, March 21st these five areas of the curriculum were specially showcased in the school’s third annual STEAM Night. This well-attended event was an evening of fun and excitement for students, parents, and teachers alike. Activities included pendulum and catapult painting, coding, origami, and even a cool paper flashlight making activity provided by the Digital Harbor Foundation. Student volunteers working the event exhibited their musical talents through a coffeehouse setting, answered questions about their STEM Fair projects, displayed their art bots, and shared their SafeRacer vehicles. Special thanks goes to HotSpots and the Education Foundation for funding a $3,000 enrichment grant that allowed us to purchase materials for our school makerspace as well as for the event. The school was able to purchase LittleBits and 3Doodler Pens for student use. The STEAM Night committee at Rodgers Forge will reflect on the successes of the night, as they begin planning even more exciting events to include next year!
Throughout the second unit of Social Studies the 5th graders learned about the events leading up to and during the American Revolution. Throughout the lessons students were engaged and motivated by the opportunity to role play, discuss and write about what they were learning. In light of the mannequin challenge trend we decided to create a Revolution Mannequin Challenge. Groups of 5th graders designed props, created sceneries, and directed their classmates to pose and represent the event they were assigned. Each group also wrote a narration to accompany their mannequin challenge scene. The final product will be a complete retelling of the Revolution. Here is what students had to say about this project:
In effort, to prepare students for college and the workforce, Church Lane Elementary students participated in their first Church Lane Elementary College Tour. Fourth and Fifth grade teachers and their school counselor collaborated in effort to promote college readiness and a general understanding of the college experience. Through classroom guidance, students were introduced to and discussed the need for college and vocational training. With support from their classroom teachers, students in 8 classrooms worked hard and obtained information about a specific Maryland College. Each class created a display highlighting information about their specific Maryland College. Using the student created displays, students took a “College Tour”. Students read for information and completed a “scavenger hunt” to gain knowledge about college programs, tuition and extracurricular activities. All students upon tour completion received badges that said, “I am on the road to success”. Keeping with that theme, students then reflected and wrote on posters about what would STOP them on their road to success and what help them GO in the right direction. Prior to the College Tour, students had the opportunity to meet with 16 college students. In a panel discussion, 4th and 5th graders were able to ask questions to current college students and gain understanding about education and career options in their future. Students enjoyed the hands on and engaging opportunity to experience college using technology and discussion.
Mr. Park, 8th grade ELA teacher at Windsor Mill Middle School, opened the world of inquiry and technology to his students in the form of Genius Hour, a movement that provides students the opportunity to explore their interests and passions. Tech firm, Google, a leader in the movement, allows its employees to spend 20% of their time pursuing an idea that inspires them. More than half of their new products have been generated as a result of the practice. Gmail and Google news are just two examples of the fruits of Google’s Genius Hour. Google’s philosophy is simple: give people time to work on an idea that interests them, and productivity will go up. Mr. Park brought the philosophy into his classroom by providing students the time and structure to pursue a question they had. Students delved into issues about mental and emotional health and race relations. Park videotaped students presenting the ‘first draft’ of their presentations and sent them the link, pairing it with a rubric for self-assessment. Using their personal videos, students critiqued their performances and reworked their projects and presentations as needed. The Genius Hour projects have has taken on a life of their own; Windsor Mill students will use the research discovered by a student on anger as the text for an upcoming school-wide Socratic Seminar.
As we searched for resources for our upcoming neighborhood/community helpers unit Ms. Cargill went to one of her favorite BCPS One tools: NBC Learn. She stumbled upon a wonderful neighborhood project called “The Wishing Tree”. This tree isn’t just about wishing for toys although you could; it’s about wishing for something more, maybe not even for yourself but knowing you have the right to wish. You need to watch the story on NBC Learn!
In Kindergarten, we strive to teach more than content, we want to teach our children to be caring citizens. We wanted to spread this message of hope and kindness to everyone at Church Lane, so we made a tree! We sent out a flyer to everyone at school encouraging then to first watch the NBC Learn news story and then wish. We are very busy making more tags and branches because everyone is wishing! It feels good to wish but we have found it is even more moving to read the wishes. We don’t have to wish for wonderful students or teacher. The wishes on our tree let us know that that wish has already been granted!
Teachers and students at Rodgers Forge Elementary have embraced their new MakerSpace in a number of different ways. One way in which this space is being used is by two student book clubs that meet weekly. The fourth and fifth grade student book club is being facilitated by Mrs. Karrie Cook, and the third grade student book club is being facilitated by Mrs. Katie Schmidt. Both groups previously voted on a book of their choice to read, and they use the materials in the MakerSpace each week to work on a meaningful project relating to these texts.
Fifth grader Colin Kenney is reading the award-winning novel The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, with several other students. “I really enjoy reading this book because of the format, how it’s written in really short sections. I also like how it’s connected to sports. In the MakerSpace we’ve been creating our own robots that we will program to do different tasks. This connects to the nonfiction text we read a few weeks ago in book club called Robots.” This activity also gave the students some practice investigating how things work, as they are about to begin a STEM activity connected to The Crossover. Others in the fourth and fifth grade book club are currently reading I Funny by James Patterson.
All third grade students in the club chose to read Patrick Skene Catling’s, The Chocolate Touch. As they read, they are working on creating models of their own version of Hershey Park’s “Chocolate World” ride, relating to a subject of their choice. For example, third grader Liam McAvinue is creating an “Anvil World” ride, where he will inform riders about how anvils are made and used, while Elaina Razon-Fernandez is creating “Cupcake World” to take riders through the process of how cupcakes are made.
Google Expeditions brought the world to Windsor Mill using only cardboard glasses and a phone. Google and its Expeditions program, a virtual reality platform, travel the globe visiting classrooms and allowing students to immerse themselves in panoramic journeys from the bottom of the ocean to Curiosity’s trek across Mars. Students at Windsor Mill spent the day traversing continents to ancient monuments, diving into kelp forests, and flying to the dark side of the moon. Every student had his or her own favorite journey, but without a doubt, the question on everyone’s lips at the end of the day was, can we do this again tomorrow?
The Mobile Mining Experience came to Sparrows Point Middle School on March 22nd and 23rd to show students The Rock Cycle, which ties directly into the 7th grade unit “Digging into the Earth’s Past.” In this unit, students have been learning about fossils and the rock cycle. The Mobile Mining Experience brought all types of rocks and petrified wood to show students. During the presentation, the presenter stopped for questions where students had a chance to win different rock prizes. After the presentation, students got a chance to crack their own Trancas Geodes from Chihuahua, Mexico. Students were so excited about their geodes that they were taking selfies with them! At the end, if the students could answer a question from the presentation, they earned a piece of petrified wood. It was an exciting experience for all involved. Andrew Funari said, “It was a cool way to see the rock cycle, and I enjoyed how they were interactive with our class.” Haillie Browne added, “I thought the Mobile Mining Experience was really interesting because I got to learn while having fun.” With the new and reinforced knowledge from the speakers, students went outside and explored what types of rocks were most common at SPMS based on the geographical location. Students worked together to make predictions, search for evidence, and reevaluate their predictions to collaboratively come up with the correct answer.
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.