Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2014

Economical Activities and Supplies for Teachers

Not only am I a fourth grade teacher at Lomita Park Elementary School in Millbrae, I also frequently train other adults to be more effective and creative Cub Scout leaders. I present ideas monthly when I facilitate the District Round Table meetings where Cub Scout leaders come together to share ideas. This is my fourth year as part of the Western Region National Camping School staff where leaders are trained as Cub Scout Day Camp Directors, Program Directors and Staff Advisors. I can’t begin to count how many times RAFT has been the perfect answer to whatever I was facing.

As an elementary teacher, I regularly use RAFT kits as part of my science program. Many of the kits are just what the kids need to bring a concept to life. For example, our science text book includes an Investigation where groups of students build an electric circuit using a D-battery and a relatively expensive flash light battery. My first year at fourth grade, I didn’t have very many of the supplies needed for this…

Forces and Motion - RAFT Retractor Car

As part of the forces and motion unit my students had the opportunity to play around with the RAFT Retractor Car Activity Kit. The modified activity [available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/17grd41wMyBj7kjTaZgBZk7x-trCcrDeQxNyx1LWYRhc/pub] involved the students building the vehicle [as specified by the project page] then deciding what they wanted to test. Students had several options:
how will the car perform over various surface types?how might the speed or distance be impacted if the car has to travel up an incline?how would increasing the mass on the car impact the speed or distance the car travels?how could the design be adjusted to make the car go further or faster?As usual, only one person selected to try this activity, at least until the rest of the students saw the car cruise across the classroom floor. Thank goodness for those students who are ‘early adopters’ and willing to try something unknown. In the end there were several groups who performed the surface test; one…

RAFT and Common Core

As we approach the full implementation of Common Core and the Next Gen Science standards the classroom has become a far more busy and chaotic place.  Lots of learning with lots of mess and noise.
My curriculum is all designed around a grid system where students need to accumulate a certain number of points via various assignments and projects.

My first grid is learning the basics: like vocabulary, concepts, ideas, laws, formulas, etc.   There are even choices within each choice [ridiculous!]. Most of these assignments involve writing, reading, watching videos, or using a digital media to create a learning tool [ex flashcards, vocabulary game...]
My second grid is where the students apply what they learned via grid #1 and any offline/in class learning to USE their knowledge to create or complete something.  RAFT is indispensable for these types of activities.  For our forces and motion unit the students utilized four different RAFT kits in addition to all my weird RAFT supplies.
So pic…

In the Beginning

I began teaching at Mt. Hamilton Elementary in the early to mid 90’s. Mt. Hamilton School was a one room school located at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton. I was the only teacher, and I had grades K-8 in one room (I did not always have a child in every grade). Lick Observatory is located some 20 or more miles east of San Jose in the Diablo Range. Being the only teacher I had to find other ways of networking and collaborating, and RAFT was one resource.

My first experience with RAFT was when you were in the other location. Was that in Sunnyvale? I remember walking in and thinking what is all this stuff, but on my out I saw a bin full of white binders that said FREE. I took some and, my relationship with RAFT was born.

Pat Graham, Teacher and RAFT Fellow

Third Grade Ventures in Project Based Reports

It’s amazing how much students can do when they are given a little freedom, time, and a computer. I’ve taken a giant leap back from providing information and expecting my class to remember it. Most of my lessons are driven by collaborative work between students. The lessons take a social constructivism approach to learning where students are encouraged to explore, discover, and create their own understanding while working with others and sharing their ideas and information. Students are expected to work together in teams with a common inquiry goal.

The students' first science project gave them the chance to explore different biomes and consider which environment they would consider the best home. Students were able to choose their environment, which naturally selected the groups with common interests. They then used critical thinking by asking questions such as how would a plant or animal survive in this environment. Raul noticed that the grassland environment required camouflage …

Excited About Science

Nick Williams, employee at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and avid science educator, is a new RAFT member who just took 1,300 of our hands-on activity kits to rural Alaska. We enjoyed learning about how Nick and his team helped hundreds of students get excited about science.
________________________________________________________________________________

This fall, I took 1,300 RAFT kits on a trip to promote learning science at schools in the remote Alaskan villages of Kivalina and Kiana. Kivalina is a coastal village situated atop two square miles at the southern tip of a narrow, eight-mile long barrier reed separating the Chukchi Sea from the Kivalina River. It has a population of approximately 375, with about 150 in their school, Pre-K through 12th grade. Kiana is inland and sits on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Kobuk and Squirrel Rivers in northwestern Alaska, about 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Approximately 350 people live in Kiana, with about 120 kids in thei…