Week Four: Summer of Learning - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Week Four: Summer of Learning

Posted on July 13, 2008

by Dr. Edna Hussey on July 13, 2008

We celebrated our fourth week of summer school with another student assembly featuring the work of several classes — Jump Start Kindergarten, Lego Robotics, Reading and Writing Workshop, and The Genius of Inventions. Our assemblies are important occasions for students to proudly share their learning and to build our summer school community. Unlike the regular school year, we have students from many other O`ahu schools and from other countries, as well as faculty from other schools, so we make an extra effort to ensure that students and faculty are experiencing a sense of community through these assemblies. And we have had wonderful attendance by our families who seem to be enjoying these presentations as much as the students.

What did we learn during this assembly? The overall theme in Jumpstart Kindergarten is about water — its properties and importance as an essential element for sustaining life on earth. One class has learned about ways to conserve water and sang a lively melody espousing conservation. Another class is engaged in an inquiry about water — students generated a number of questions about water — and has been finding answers to their questions. This past week, they were learning about things that sink or float in water and speculated on various reasons for their observations. One student is determined to find the smallest rock that will sink in water!

Small groups of students in one of the Reading and Writing Workshop classes prepared posters and speeches about their favorite authors. Many are “into” reading several books by the same author such as Patricia Polacco and Beverly Cleary and experiencing the same kind enthusiasm that adult readers have once they’ve found their favorite authors.
They understand an author’s writing style, main characters that might be found in succeeding books, or an author’s favorite settings. And these authors are inspiring students to write their own stories. Journal writing is an extended period during which time students select their own writing topics. Several students have often told the teacher — “Could we please have more time to write?” Ahh, music to a teacher’s ears!

There are definitely budding inventors in the Genius of Inventions’ class. They brought their inventions to the assembly and sold us on them! Having researched past inventors and their inventions, students tried their hand at replicating some of the classic inventions such as the first moving picture (images pasted on the inside of a cylinder with slots, which, when spun, creates an effect that the image is moving) or a closed circuit that turns on a miniature fan. Last week a student asked me what things I could use help on, so I explained that I usually keep my office door in locked position. When I’m in a meeting in my room, I’ll sometimes have to leave momentarily and close the door behind me, which means locking myself out of my office! So she cleverly devised a system. Now when I push the door stop as I leave my office, the door stop hits a chime that sounds like a door bell followed by the sound of a cow (moooo!) — a musical reminder that I need to unlock the door. How d’ya like that?!

The last presentation wowed the assembly. The amazing vehicles created by the students in the Lego Robotics class captivated even our usually squiggly preschoolers.
They demonstrated their fastest cars, a vehicle that climbed a ramp and turned itself around to go downhill, another vehicle that could jump a ramp, land on the other side of the ramp, and keep moving, and yet another vehicle equipped with a rotating “arm” to move a ball forward. Small teams of students who have learned to collaborate quite successfully with one another have designed all of these vehicles.

Just before the end of the assembly, students in the Magic of Sewing class proudly walked to the front of the room donning their newly crafted and knitted woolen scarves and hand-sewn fabric bags. I’m quite amazed by the concentration and discipline required by our young students (as young as first grade!) to complete their projects. Alas! I have only two weeks to learn how to knit. (The children keep me reminding me that I had expressed interest when summer school began and are holding me to this.)

We will be planning an assembly for the summer camp sessions on July 17 at 1:00pm and July 23 at 2:00pm. Students in these afternoon sessions have been very busy and are just as eager to share what they’ve been learning.

Thanks for getting your children to summer school of time, sending them with healthy snacks, asking them about what they’re learning, and reading the content of the Friday packets. Your participation in these ways is important in helping them enjoy and value learning.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey