Fourth Graders came to Project Studio this week for what I like to call " A Day on the Mission". Mission life included a detailed large scale model of a mission, fresh pressed and cooked tortillas, candle making, weaving our own cloth, making adobe bricks, and designing original stained glass windows. As fun as it was, many students remarked that life on the mission seemed like a lot of work!
"Some archeologists believe that the arch was the Sumerians' greatest architectural achievement. Made of bricks, Sumerian arches were inverted U- or V-shaped openings built above doorways. Sumerians built arches by stacking bricks one on top of the other so that the arches projected out from the walls of a building. The bricks rose in steps from the wall and met in the center."
Sixth Graders returned to Project Studio to culminate their studies on the rise of civilization. Students came to Project Studio with an amazing amount of prior knowledge but this day was all about the experience. Students were challenged to create an arch using cardboard boxes,pieces of tube and masking tape. The tape would help to hold the boxes in place but the strength of the project relied on the design of the arch and team-work.
I shared very honestly with the kids that although I had conceived the lesson, I truly had no idea if it would work. The results and the perseverance of the kids was amazing!
California State Standards ask us to compare and contrast how land is used in Urban, Suburban, and Rural environments. After a quick introduction to the basic concepts, we set out to use our Project Student space well by filling the whole room with photographs that exemplified this. Of course it was entirely up to the kids to sort and categorize each picture. Project Studio is very hands on!
Many of the pictures were purposefully tricky, exhibiting characteristics from more then one land use and requiring the kids to look closely for details. We then asked the question: Is Los Angeles considered Urban or Suburban? Maybe even a little Rural? Lets hope that next time our Second Graders are gazing out the car window, as they often do, they have a little more to think about ...
What does problem solving look like? This picture may capture it pretty well!
Fourth Graders recently came to Project Studio for a culmination to their lessons abut Native American tribes from different regions of California. Students were met with artifact stations from each of the tribes they studied. Each station had artifacts from either the Yorok, MIwok, Chumash, Maidu or Mojave tribes. Determining which station was associated with which tribe was entirely up to the kids. It was a challenging but fun activity that required the kids to use their prior knowledge, attention to details, and to work cooperatively.
The students were then asked to design their own tool for one of the tribes using mostly natural materials. Students need to site, with evidence, why the tribe would need the tool and how they would be able to make it with the available resources of the region.
Next week fourth graders will be back for the first of an ongoing series of lessons that will focus on the characteristics of effective collaboration. We will continue to pull the content from the social studies curriculum but put the emphasis on the collaboration. It is our goal that while our students master the content, they also learn the skills necessary to excel while creating projects in small groups.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international problem-solving competition. Teams of seven students from around the country and the world choose a problem with a long list of criteria that must be met. The “solution” culminates in a one-of-a-kind performance that demonstrates not only how they have met this criteria, but their creativity, team work, problem solving, artistic abilities, costuming, and acting. Most importantly, all of the work must be accomplished by the kids, as there is no adult participation and only the guidance of a coach.
On Sunday, Project Studio and the Odyssey Program will host a Writing Workshop for 21 of our students. Our big idea is: Applying Creative Thinking Allows For Change. (Don’t tell the kids though … we want them to get there themselves.) We will be using Peter Pan as our core text and examining the elements of story writing through characters, challenges, motivation, setting, obstacles, climax, and closure. They will be participating in various activities that focus on these key elements while deconstructing the story of Peter Pan. They will then reconstruct the story through their own written interpretations of key scenes. I’m certain it will be a fun and educational experience.
I am so happy to welcome back the Sixth Grade to Project Studio. I really enjoyed seeing how confident and comfortable they are with the type of learning that we do here. You can see it in the way they work together and in the sophistication of their work. From the moment they walk in, they truly own the space.
In collaboration with the Sixth Grade teaching team, Project Studio integrated into their lessons on early humans and the rise of civilization. Our goal was to create a tool used by early man. Prior to arriving, students were asked to plan their projects. They were asked to make a connection between a hominid and the tool they want to create. The connection had to be supported by what necessitated the need for the tool, the natural resources that were used, and how those resources were modified from their natural state.
Students were then given a large selection of mostly natural materials from which to create their project. The brand new Project Studio workshop was fully utilized in the creation of the projects. Be sure to look for the these projects in the Sixth Grade rooms and ask them about all the learning behind their work.
Fourth Graders come to Project Studio for lessons that introduce or culminate units of their social studies curriculum. This week students entered the room to find that they would be working around a "room sized" map featuring California's regions. Each region corresponded to a hands-on activity that highlighted the characteristics of the region.
In the desert, students were guided through a technology based exploration of desert plants and the characteristics these plants must have to thrive in extreme conditions. In the central valley, students were challenged to identify produce, as it appears on the farm, and match it to an agricultural map. In the mountain region, students took a treacherous journey to the top of Mount Whitney and along the way identified the unique geographical features of the region. In the northern coast, students discovered that the scenic geography created a reliance on bridges and learned some basic engineering techniques. While in the southern coast, students were spontaneously hired by an advertising agency tasked with creating slogans and logos that encouraged environmentalism.
I am truly excited that Fifth and Sixth Graders will also have the opportunity to continue their Project Studio experience through these types of integrated social studies lessons.
First Graders are learning about the rule making process in a democracy. We learned about the traditional voting system this week, but next week we will explore creating our own representative systems for creating rules.
Students were challenged to create their own rule or law for kids. Many were very thoughtful in creating environmental and safety oriented rules. Others took on tough issues such as, "kids should be able to do whatever they want" and "we shall eat candy for breakfast on Fridays". Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and both of these initiatives were vetoed, in the voting booth.
It's been an amazing two weeks in Project Studio! First, Second and Third Graders have all begun their weekly classes. Plans are in the works for Fourth, Fifth and Sixth graders to come for special lessons and projects that integrate directly with their Social Studies Curriculum.
In the past two weeks we have introduced universal themes such as Relationships, Power & Change, and Adaptation. We explored the life of Leonardo Da Vinci who was a prolific disciplinarian as an Artist, Scientist, Architect and Inventor. We are learning and practicing strategies that will help us work in small collaborative and creative minded groups.
Our brand new Project Studio space continues to be a great source of excitement for kids and teachers! We are freshly stocked with anything and everything we will need to create amazing projects. As the year progresses I certainly hope that parents will stop by and experience the work that will undoubtedly fill the space.
"Project Studio is a virtual playground where students engage in divergent thinking exercises using a variety of educational modalities to arrive at an elevated result."