Friday, October 28, 2016


Today we worked on making letters and shapes and putting them together in "concertina," which means accordion style, so they fold up. The kids copied the models, but were quick to make their own variations as well. 

T for Turtle
T for Turtle, S for Squirrel, and W for Woodpecker.

We learned that letters and shapes are easier to make when they have vertical symmetry.  The letters and shapes that are not symmetrical (vertically) take a lot more thinking and planning in order to get them to "pop out" the right way.

Of course, we also had plenty of crafting and building going on in the library today.  We have a handful of kids in each class that sit right down and read too, but I never think to take those pictures.  :)

Halloween craftiness!

They were excited to see the Keva planks out again.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


We have lots of programming going on in the enrichment blocks. The younger kids worked on "offline programming" such as writing instructions for how to open a door, or how to do a dance, then moved on to They are loving it, though some definitely find it more challenging than others. This week we had a little chat about "helping" versus "doing for" as I noticed one kid had taken over her friends laptop and was doing the work for her friend. I asked what they were doing and the first girl said, "Oh, I'm just helping her." I paused the programming for a quick chat about how best to actually be helpful. :) I love seeing them work together though and many of them are very good at helping one another.

The older kids ended up with some extra sessions and were thrilled to continue with their Scratch programming. After several kids showed their programs at the Unity Day assembly, everyone was eager to try their hand at making a game for their classmates to play. You know the kids are engaged in their learning when they ask to come in at recess or after school to finish "just one more thing."

Next up, digital book reviews!

Friday, October 21, 2016

3D cards

After spending two weeks on origami, the Think3d! crew is moving on to paper folding and cutting. They have to think about how and where to cut and fold to make letters and shapes "pop out" of their paper. In one lesson they are given instructions on where to cut and fold, then the next lesson they have to reverse engineer the projects. Working backwards from a finished product, or just starting with an idea of their own, the students take blank sheets of paper, draw their cut and fold lines, then go to it!
A person, a Christmas tree, "HOME" with a heart on top, Quack!, "LIVE", and "EMMA"
Think3d! is challenging for some and less so for others, but everyone is flexing their brains and working really hard to complete these projects. Some kids love them, other kids groan, but the beauty of this project is that it is very leveled so each person can work at a level at which they can be successful. I love seeing the light in their eyes when the idea "clicks" and the create something cool.

Unity Day

Dothan Brook is an amazing school. In case you weren’t aware, October is National Bully Awareness Month and our school is tackling that issue head on! Our school councelors have done an amazing job of exploring bullying prevention and the students, from pre-k up to 5th, are all familiar with the three signs of bullying and what to do about it. We have excellent examples of students standing up for one another in school, on the bus, and out of school. Ask any kid and they will tell you exactly what bullying is and how it can be stopped.  All week I read the classes books about bullying and they were so proud that those times of situations don't happen at DBS. 

All week the students have been making signs and banners, pencil toppers, wrist bands, and more to prepare for the big day. The students and staff have bright orange “Otters Don’t Bully” t-shirts and everything is decked in orange, the official color of bullying prevention.

On Thursday we held a Unity Day celebration, starting with a very orange group walk to school (see the DBS Facebook page for some great photos!).  At the end of the day there was  school-wide assembly where they showed projects students had made, built a chain of bullying prevention messages, heard the story One be read by two 5th graders, and had a performance by the Select Chorus.  The energy was was high and the students were excited. 

The Unity Day chain, with a link from each student, stretches across the length of the gym.
These students are from my 4th/5th grade enrichment group.  We worked on anti-bullying projects using Scratch programming. The kids only had a few days, but the were committed to showing great projects at the assembly and several of them came in during lunch or recess or study hall to complete and refine their projects.  I was excited to see the enthusiasm for both the message and the technology!
Enrichment group students showing their anti-bullying projects.
I feel so fortunate to be working at a school so committed to each and every student.  I couldn't ask for a better environment to spend my days. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dothan Brook Otters love to read!!

At Dothan Brook School we love to read! For our current bulletin board I had every kid in school write what they like to read. Some were very specific with exact titles or series, while others were a little less so with "scary book" or "adventure books" or "books about dogs." I got a great feel for what kind of books are popular (Hello Minecraft!!) and what books I need to order.

We are also fortunate to have Dartmouth students participating in the America Reads program. They stop by once a week to read with the students during library time. Everyone loves it.

Reverse Engineering

This week we are working on reverse engineering origami projects. Last week we followed directions to make origame, and this week we took apart completed origami and wrote our own directions. Reverse engineering is an excellent learning tool to increase your understanding of how something is built. This exercise also gave the students a chance to practice their "instruction writing" skills, including labeling and attention to details.

I will be taking these origami instructions and hanging them in the library for other students, not in the Think3d! program, to follow. I have a table set up with lots of origami paper, instructions, and books for the kids to read and check out if they'd like.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Book trailers

Are you looking for a new book to read?  Check out these book trailers for a fun new way to browse books!  If you see something you like, check to see if the library has it!  If not, let me know and I'll order it for you!  Happy browsing.

Friday, October 7, 2016

2/3 Enrichment Block

I'm so excited about the enrichment blocks we've started.  Twice a week I'll get a small group of kids, selected by their teachers as kids who could use a little academic enrichment, and we will do fun things.  The program will vary as the year goes on.  Right now my 4th/5th group is working on Scratch programs and my 2nd/3rd group is learning the fundamentals of programming.  On day one we started with a series of "unplugged" activities that demonstrate programming without a computer.  The kids loved it!  At the end I have them a challenge to write a dance "program" on paper that we can all do at the next class.  I can't wait to see if any of them do it!

More origami with Think3d!

We had more fun today making Flapping Butterflies, Scuttling Mice, Crown Towers, and Origami Drinking Cups.   I love the excitement in their every when the connection clicks and they make something cool! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016


After two days of mind-bending pre-tests, the 5th graders finally got to dig into the Think3d! program. Think3d! is a research project through Tufts University that is studying whether certain types of activities, such as origami and creating 3D paper structures improves spacial reasoning in students. Dothan Brook School has participated for the past few years. This year all 4th and 5th graders will be joining in. The program involves a series of pre-tests to gauge baseline spacial awareness, then six consecutive lessons, then a series of post-tests to measure improvement. The students did not love the pre-tests, but everyone has enjoyed the origami!

Participating students will be bringing home "Think Beyond" activities that can be completed at home or during free time in school. These are completely optional, but many students find them enjoyable.