Friday, July 31, 2015

Minion Cookies, Upside-Down Chess, and Other Delights

Every day at camp, we have a morning message and they always end with our rallying cry: "Let's make it great!" Today being our last day, we put up a quick message and the day's schedule, and this set-up was a little different for campers to see at our morning meeting. As we were breaking up to start our first round of activities, one of our second graders said, "Hey, it doesn't say 'Let's make it great!' up there." He grabbed a marker and made things right.

No. He made them great.

The last week of the summer ELP at Robinson was beat-the-heat cool! Looking back at our attendance records, it's pretty wild to see that, in just 25 days on site, we have provided more than 1,600 hours of contact time with students this summer. That's 67 full days and a year-and-a-half of school day-length days. Now that's what we call a measurable impact!

Our week started with two new Specials teachers. We welcomed back one of our favorites, Hilary Redman, to reprise her wicked popular nature workshop and met Mike Gray, who became an instant fave by bringing along with him mountains of expertise in the fields of chess and Civil War-era baseball. Our third through sixth graders couldn't wait to hang out with Mike while the whole crew got to spend cherished time with Hilary in their special spots outside. Like all of our Specials teachers this month, these dynamos know just how to engage students. Mike instantly hooked the older students on chess and taught them a few variations on the game including chess relay, dice chess, and even upside-down chess with a magnetic board. Hilary's adventures with the group are detailed later in this post.

A string of special events added to our last week together. On Tuesday, Eugenie Doyle and Ruth Beecher came with the Bookwagon and perfumed the gym with the dulcet top notes of bunches and bunches of... GARLIC! Given how much the students have been learning about the land around them, it was so cool to visit with someone whose job it is to work that land and, in turn, provide food for neighbors. Plus, the room smelled delicious!

The last Wellness classes of the summer finished with a bang. On Monday, we tackled a cooking project that was in some ways the most ambitious yet: making broccoli delicious for skeptical elementary school students. We successfully made a broccoli slaw, also known as broccoli salad, with great results. Most kids ate and enjoyed the finished product, and many even demanded seconds! We squeezed in one more kitchen activity this week, making fresh lemonade on the hottest day of the summer. Some students added fresh-picked raspberries for an even tangier, pinker treat. Later in the week Wellness guru Isaac collaborated with Science and Math leader Nancy on an active scavenger hunt and walking trip to Lewis Creek and our Field Day activities, finishing the summer program on a really high note. Students were engaged and running around without being stifled by the heat and humidity. Now that's talented teaching!

Everyone has helped out with watering and seeding the pathway to the playground, which was damaged by erosion and heavy foot traffic. We hope the grass will have a chance to grow, sending those roots down to help hold the soil. The third and fourth graders made a barrier to help protect the newly seeded path. Another project we all worked on this week was weeding the entryway. This took patience and skill especially being careful not to get pricked by the rose thorns.

The first and second grade acting troupe continued to "link up" (ask your camper about it) every day to prepare bodies for focusing and minds for imagining. Acting this week include different jobs that people did 200 years ago and jobs people have today as well as riding our horses to town to visit with our fellow townspeople. A group scavenger hunt, in addition to the movement piece Isaac discussed, was a great ways for our youngest learners to review their summer learning and visit places like the berry patch and a DI (drain inlet, a vocabulary word we learned from Mr. Estey!).

Third and fourth graders learned about the importance of the blacksmiths in the area, and about the Bristol ore and the forges that made bar iron. We looked for evidence of iron in the rocks in the stone wall. The oldest group members, our fifth and sixth graders, continued work on their waterwheel models and some tried them out with water. They too explored the work of blacksmiths. A group challenge on Thursday was to divide the play dough into equal parts for all participants to take home.

Hilary's Nature Play workshop allowed students time to revisit the "special spots" they had picked and explored during the second week of the program. Students had the freedom to sit and reflect in their spots, choosing to write, draw, observe, wonder, explore, or relax... all by themselves. During one workshop this week, students were given a more guided task when asked to record in their journals something they saw or observed at ground level, eye level, overhead, and whole landscape from the vantage point of their special spots. It was amazing to see how similar and different their observations and perspectives were! This group has become a crowd of astute naturalists; their eyes always wide open to the natural wonders of their backyard. We ended the week by reading Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert. Students were give the choice to go out and collect some natural objects and turn them into their own creation. You'd be impressed by all of the very lovely and imaginative people, animals, and creations they assembled. We left them outside for the wind, after all, a leaf creation's got to go where the wind blows...

Below are pictures of the "living timeline" we have made throughout the course of our five weeks together. Every day, students were asked to write down something that stuck with them about the day. As you can see from the sequence of pictures below, things started out slow but as our community bonded, it got to the point where grown-ups didn't even have to ask; kids were grabbing markers and adding to our timeline on their own and the depth of their contributions grew and grew and grew. This is why we do what we do! Check it out:

Don't you just love seeing what resonates with kids in their own words? We started by telling them that spelling didn't matter, but their willingness and want to effectively communicate their ideas manifested in lots of collaboration when it came to spelling big words like "caterpillar" and "scavenger hunt." Still, we will always have a place in our hearts for creative attempts like "sowerdo," "liminad," and the myriad ways campers attempted to spell Wellness coach Isaac's name!

As always, we attempted to catch lightning in a bottle with our slideshow. However, there was so much going on that we decided to create a couple instead of just one. Take a peek...

Civil War Baseball Game

Field Day Activities

Everything Else

So ends our summer. We have had a wonderful time working with our town's learners and, though the week has been hot and we are in the wake of a blue moon which makes everyone a little more... fun, it has been an absolute privilege to spend time with the gang at Robinson Elementary School.

This last week at camp has shown just how much our learning community has gelled. No longer were the adults in charge. Older students managed lunch, serving their peers and making sure hands were washed and the table was quiet before choices were announced. At the end of meals, it was often a younger camper who was the first to grab the dustpan and begin to sweep up crumbs. Campers of all ages set up and took down our morning meeting circle without so much as a wink from a grown-up. It all became quite perfect around here. Within all of that student leadership and self-direction, there was one thing that the adults still took the lead on, though. That was our end-of-the-day ritual. At the end of every day, each student is dismissed to the bus or parent pick-up individually so they they can run a gauntlet of high fives and cheers from the staff on their way out the door. It isn't an earth-shattering idea, but...

Actually, no. It kind of is. At some point in their lives, everyone should get the chance to exit a building to the sound of raucous applause. It makes a body feel like a star.

So as we prepare to say, "See you next summer!" can we get a high five?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Last Week of Lincoln Summer Program

July 27, 2015

Friday was the last day of the summer program at Lincoln Community School. We were lucky to have Laura Collaro join us the last week of the program to teach a cooking workshop. The menu was designed around vegetables grown in our very own garden, as well as other fruits and vegetables that are in season this time of year. Some of the recipes included Chilled Blueberry Soup, Kale Pesto, Tomato Sauce, and Homemade Chamomile Tea. The students helped harvest the ingredients, prepare the recipes, and sample their creations!

Along with cooking the recipes, students also collected the recipes to take home. At the beginning of the week, students created their own recipe book which they bound and decorated themselves. Each day they added to the book the recipes which they made that day, accompanied by an illustration. At the end of the week they had a complete book of recipes to take home and share with their families.  Students also drew and painted pictures of the ingredients, which will be on display at LCS in the fall.


This workshop was a great way to celebrate the bounty from the garden while spending meaningful time with friends and teachers. Thank you to all the families who supported this new and growing summer program at LCS!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

So Much More During Week 4

This week, we will let the workshop leaders speak for themselves...

From Christine:
In ELA, our 1st and 2nd graders continue to design fun and challenging pictures for their I Spy books. This week, we created pages with the following themes: art, kitchen, and tools. The kids are having a grand time hiding secrets in their pages, and creating challenges for their readers! In 3rd-6th grades, we continue to work on our trivia game. The students are doing a fantastic job researching our towns, and writing questions to challenge and engage players. Some of our answers are more serious than others, and many of the students have had a lot of fun making up the wrong answers. We've also had a lot of fun creating a game board. We've created maps, stained boards, painted, and added details. Then, we got our hands really dirty by spreading coffee grounds over our artwork to create an aged look. Then, our oldest students even got to review some fire safety when we singed the edges of our maps to add the final creative touch. Next, we will be mounting our maps to our boards and adding a path for players to follow on their "Journey Through the Five Towns."

From Nancy:
The visit to Lewis Creek with Matthew Witten on Monday let the students experienced the difference of water level and velocity from the downpour Sunday night. We made a quick trip through the geological timeline of this area; glaciers, sea, sediment deposits, including sand pits, and waterways. Our journey brought us to the Abenaki and the importance of the waterways for these first people. Groups reenacted the story of the first settlers of Starksboro, learning about the harsh conditions and lack of food for the Bidwell family. We moved forward through time and play-acted the growing Starksboro settlement; gristmills, sawmills, blacksmith and store, and the farm families. We watched a slideshow of the Hoag Gristmill in town and a video of an operating gristmill. This furthered our understanding of the importance of Lewis Creek and other surrounding streams. This topic brought up energy discussing the transfer of water power to create mechanical energy. Talking about energy, the 5th and 6th graders continued their community project of filling in the gully. They are capable and hard workers! Pictures in the slideshow show older students making water wheels during their exploration of energy and Starksboro early settlement. Younger students can be seen play-acting the early settlement of Starksboro and the story Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle. These eager thespians have come into the workshop each day asking to do another play! We also conducted a yeast experiment, collecting the waste product of yeast, carbon dioxide and made dough models of the insects we found in Lewis Creek: caddisfly and stonefly larvae.

From Isaac:
This week's wellness program started with a bang on Monday with a "taste the playground" tour, walking the school grounds to gather and talk about three different wild edible plants that grow in abundance around Robinson. We learned about the colorful history of the plants and their uses by Native Americans and European settlers, and then headed into the kitchen to wash off our collection and have a taste-test. The strong flavors were not to everyone's liking, but some enjoyed the tastes and one especially enthusiastic student exclaimed after a tentative bite, "That's good, it's going straight down the hatch!" On Tuesday we had an all-student (and teacher) kickball game and yoga session, before we turned our focus to a more low-key project on Wednesday: sewing bean bags. For many kids, this was their first experience with a needle and thread, and it was wonderful to see every age group handing the needles carefully and working through inevitable tangles and challenges. We closed out the week with a student-choice game day, returning to gaga and other blood-pumping activities to finish strong on Friday.

Our special guest teacher this week was Grace Freeman. Grace worked with students in all age groups on sign language and singing, challenging them to perform rounds of songs with different lyrics but the same tunes. The end result was a concert on Friday and, as you can see and hear from the YouTube videos below, the kids worked really hard and stayed focused to make some beautiful music together! We were also joined by local coaches Steve and Don for story time with the Bookwagon on Tuesday morning and, as Nancy mentioned above, a visit with Conservation Commission member Matt Witten. These visits from community members are always such a treat and go a long way to helping our students feel connected with their town.

Next week is our last week together! In some ways it is hard to believe that July is drawing to a close already. We will end in style, though, with Eugenie Doyle visiting with the Bookwagon, Field Day activities on Thursday morning, special guest teachers Hilary (more nature journaling!) and Mike (baseball historian and chess coach), and hopefully a walking trip to Lewis Creek Farm. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Expanded Learning is the BESt at BES!

Things have been busy, busy, busy in the Expanded Learning Program at BES as students finished up their third and fourth weeks of learning and FUN!

Mr. Willwerth's workshop has focused on the study of compost. Some students had the opportunity to research their own topics pertaining to compost and present them to their group members. However, the highlight of the week came on Thursday when the worms for our compost bin finally arrived, something that students had been anticipating for days! Mr. Willwerth assembled a compost bin at home so that students here at BES can start composting all of their food scraps and put their worms to work! 

Students in Miss Raymond's workshop had the chance to sharpen their chopping skills as they made salsa and pickles from scratch. While the pickles needed a few days to soak up all of the flavors, the salsa was gobbled up by the whole group at lunch time. Here is the link to a quick and easy refrigerator pickle recipe. And, here is the link to a quick and easy salsa recipe too! Bon appetit!

Grace's groups got busy making music as well as learning more about sign language. Students not only learned some fun, new songs, but they learned how to sign the songs too! And, as if this weren't impressive enough...students also learned how to sing in rounds while singing and signing the songs at the same time!

Students in Caitlin's workshop had the opportunity to learn about and make their own catapults. Aside from seeing how far their catapults could launch a penny, this activity incorporated fine motor skills, science, physics, math, and more! There was so much thinking and learning going on all week long!

Miss Cathy planned some marvelous activities for her students on Thursday and Friday as well. On Thursday, she had a "Mystery Box" prepared for them which was filled with familiar items from the past two weeks of learning. Students had to used their sense of touch to try and figure out what some of the items were and then write about it in their journals. It was great fun but really hard not to peek!! On Friday, students learned about molecules and how they move with a fun activity involving a bag of water and pencils. You can try it at home; fill a Ziploc bag with water and then stick a pencil through one side straight through to the other. Do you think it will leak? 

Finally, last week culminated with an outdoor adventure. Students were able to choose between walking to the park in town or hiking up to the Bristol Ledges. Whether at the park or huffing it up the side of a mountain, students ended their third week feeling accomplished (and exhausted).

Friday, July 17, 2015

Week 3 at Robinson: Pizza, pastry, pebbles & poems!

Robinson summer program students are constantly increasing the variety of experiences they have as we continue to build a tight community of workshop leaders and learners. We have upped the ante as far as putting the students in charge of taking care of our learning spaces and we are seeing a lot of great things thanks to a mix of pure, unadulterated summer fun and focused, quiet mindfulness. This week, we crossed the threshold and are now in the second half of the program. It's hard to believe that school starts back up in only six weeks! But let's stay in the present moment for now...

Our special guest teacher this week was perennial favorite Bertha Allen, an all-star of the ANESU food service team whose workshops are always a hit. Bertha never fails to excite with her cooking and baking projects and the kids made cookies, cupcakes, peanut butter balls, apple prints, and other tasty treats befitting our halfway point celebration week. Every student even ate all of the fruits and veggies in their lunches to get their hands on their technicolor frosted and artfully decorated cupcakes on Wednesday. Now that's midsummer magic!

Here are reports from our other workshop leaders:

In wellness we continued our pursuit of healthfully moving and eating our way through each week. We kicked Monday off with yoga sessions in each group, where kids were calling out their favorite poses by name: "I want to do the dog!" was a shout heard throughout the day. Tree pose is proving to be another favorite. After joining up with math/science for the excursion to the creek, Wednesday and Thursday were focused on honing our pizzaiolo skills (that's Italian for pizza chef). Using the sourdough starters that we have been nurturing for the past couple weeks, we made both sourdough pizza dough with wild yeast, and regular pizza dough with store-bought yeast, comparing flavors and rising. No one hesitated to get hands doughy and sticky, and kneading was clearly the favorite part of the project for all ages. The feeling of soft, smooth, dough was exciting, and one student even exclaimed that they would like their pillow to be made from pizza dough! Finally, the week closed out with outdoor games and a general release of the yayas, always a necessary and important part of wellness.

Speaking of dough, our budding ecologists and stewards of the land made play dough and used it to make 3D models of mountains using topographic maps of Starksboro and surrounding area. Then we put the models in a container and added water to show how contour lines work. Some great connected comments and scientific observations were overheard: "I know what Camel's Hump looks like, I have climbed it.",  "I live by Shaker Mountain!",  "Look Bald Mountain,it has no hair.",  "Did our mountains just get flooded?"

This week in ELA and Arts, we have done outdoor resist paintings with oil pastel and watercolor. We've also started creating our own handmade "I Spy" books at the 1-2 level. At the 3-4 and 5-6 levels we have begun creating a large trivia game focused on the Five Towns. The students will be doing the research and writing the questions, as well as building a game board based on a map of the towns. Our hope is to leave the game with Robinson School when it's completed.

Under the guidance of our science guru Nancy, the fifth and sixth graders contacted building and grounds manager Andy Young to see if they could use what Tom Estey taught them about erosion to fix the path to the pavilion. On Friday, Andy brought a load of aggregate and top soil to school and a team of four students filled in the well-worn trench to make it safer, nicer looking, and more functional for the school. WE LOVE THIS! and it connects to the biggest hope we have for students who participate in this program: that they have a new-found sense of ownership of their school and community. 

Being at school during the summer months has an undeserved bad reputation. All of us hope that the all-access pass to the kitchen, walks through the adjacent woodlands, visits from community members, blackberry patch raids, helping with maintenance, and having the gaga ball court all to ourselves make some lasting memories for our summer kiddos. What we really hope is that, come September, all of our students will walk the halls and grounds of Robinson as if they have just spent the preceding five weeks in a sort of secret club.
...Because they have!

Try not to have a big, goofy smile on your face when you watch this week's slideshow. It has been a very, very happy week here at school.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Camp Heads to Lincoln


Lincoln's first ever summer program is in full swing! We have partnered with ANESU's Expanded Learning Program to up the ante and create and enriching program for our campers. We are in the middle of our 5th week of camp and will be finishing our program next week. Here in Lincoln our campers are offered a full day experience. They are able to arrive at 7:30 am and are picked up by 5:30 pm. We have broken camp into themes by week so that our campers have a specific focus for games, activities, and arts and crafts.

 Our first week was "Welcome Week" where we spent time getting to know campers as well as staff on site. Megan Cowette and Amber Thomas act as co-directors, Meghan Hahr is lead staff, and Abigail Diehl-Noble along with Anne Marie Letourneau are our summer tutors.

  The second week of camp we traveled "Around the World" visiting Mexico, China, Italy, and Australia. We learned about the culture of each country and completed a cooking project specific to each country. Campers learned phrases and sayings from each country and we tried to use them in our daily dialogue!

     We had a lot of fun during the third week celebrating the birthday of the United States of America. "Party in the USA" had us creating our own American flag out of a twin size sheet, creating toilet paper firecrackers, and baking Abraham Lincoln's favorite spongecake topped with blueberries and strawberries. YUM! We also tried our hands at creating Red, White, and Blue tie-dyed shirts which turned out to be quite a success.

This week we have turned our focus to the Olympics. Every morning at welcome circle we have been exploring the history of the Olympics. During the day we focus on different games and sports that are played during the summer Olympics. Well...except for that water balloon fight : )

During each day the campers attend a one-on-one tutoring session with one of our tutors. During these half hour pull-outs campers focus on literacy based activities and games. Each camper is assigned specifically to either Anne Marie or Abigail so that they can build on their learning each day.

As it is our inaugural year we have started out small and hope to continue to grow in the summers to come. We have provided a great foundation mixing in enrichment and continued learning with the ideals of a typical summer camp. We look forward to what future summers may hold!


Friday, July 10, 2015

Week 2, How Do You Do?

Our second week of expanded learning in Starksboro didn't miss a beat! We came off the holiday weekend and started to make this place our own. One of the first things was deciding that, instead of throwing away food from breakfast, lunch, and snacks, we are going to collect it for Devin to take to his family's farm every day to feed the pigs. It's this kind of thoughtful stuff that makes summer special. But wait, there's more!

Last week, the students in Nancy's science workshops were exploring the water cycle and imagining the life of a rain drop. They drew maps tracing the journey of a rain drop from the roof of the outdoor pavilion, down the bank, into the parking lot, and all the way into the storm drain. After looking into the storm drain, students decided that they were curious about what comes next. In the blink of an email to Town Clerk Mrs. Cheryl Estey, we were scheduling a visit from Road Foreman Mr. Tom Estey to help us understand the drainage of water around our school. Mr. Estey visited us first thing Monday morning to teach us about the two water cycle systems that are happening every day on the grounds of Robinson School!

Mr. Estey explained the mound system and leech field that are key parts of the school's sewer and septic systems. The students learned about all of the filtering that is going on right under their feet in addition to the water cycle that picks up once the water has been filtered and dispersed through the septic system. Students used maps of the area to learn where the water goes once it has landed in the drain inlet in the parking lot. From the pipe, the water makes its way to Lewis Creek by way of smaller brooks. From Lewis Creek, the next stop are the broad waters of Lake Champlain. On hot, sunny days like the ones that started our week, the water evaporates from the lake and the whole cycle starts again. The photos to the left are of Mr. Estey explaining how rocks and ditching protect the health of our dirt roads here in Starksboro. We learned that water is an incredibly powerful force, with the ability to crush six-foot culverts, move massive boulders, and make a lot of hard work for Mr. Estey and his road crew! The science behind it all is fascinating!

Our Bookwagon visit on Tuesday featured another special community guest. Starksboro firefighter Jennifer Turner came to school to share stories of her adventures helping families in Starksboro during very hard times. In fact, Jennifer has even responded to calls to help the families of a couple members of our ELP community! She had a lot of interesting stories to tell about her work and we are so fortunate that we were able to meet her and learn more about the life of a firefighter. Next week, our Bookwagon guest will be puppeteer Chris Runcie. We're surely looking forward to that!

Also on Tuesday, our Wellness and Science gurus Isaac and Nancy teamed up to present another project driven by student interest but guided by our Five Towns theme: The Science and History of (Maple!) Ice Cream. The students made ice cream using two methods and learned about ice cream's storied roots going back thousands of years to China and also more recently as a treat for the super rich and powerful like our own Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who once ate $200 worth of the stuff (that's around $3,000 in today's money!). Our older students collected data about the preferred ice cream flavors and styles of the group. Unfortunately, we didn't have the resources for one of Vermont's (un)official favorite creemee flavors (black raspberry) and Five Towns favorite Blue Goo!

Our Special this week was nature journaling and it was a HUGE hit! Thanks to Hilary Redman for providing quiet time reflecting outside and a fantastic hook for getting kids more mindful about their surroundings. On Monday, students made nature journals and found a "special spot" on school grounds. Everyone spent a lot of quiet, peaceful time outside every day and you could definitely tell that it made a difference on people's moods! While looking for special spots, Lux and Megan found a patch of wild blackberries and raspberries and they made a wonderful, sweet-tart addition to the homemade yogurt that the groups all made with Isaac as part of Wellness this week. Wellness class also took full advantage of the sunshine to get outside, starting off the week with games in the woods and revisiting their yoga sequence. Students got to see the corn, beans, and squash that they planted last week sprout and grow, and continued perfecting gaga skills.

Are we groovy or what?!

What's on tap for next week? Well, we are continuing to let student voice and choice drive our theme and are looking locally for ways that our ELP crew can make a difference at Robinson and learn more about Starksboro. There are some good ideas already in the hopper... you'll just have to wait and see!

Our slideshow for the week is here: (We'll work on getting it embedded... Had some technical difficulties with the program.)

Here is the recipe we used for the "old fashioned way" of making ice cream in bags. We also used Hilary's crank machines, which made the process a bit simpler for everyone, but wasn't nearly as messy, er, fun.

"Shake It" Ice Cream
Ingredients are per-person amounts
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 qt. freezer bag
  • 1 gal. freezer bag
  • 2 c. crushed ice
  • 1/4 c, kosher or rock salt
Ingredients must be cold! Put edible ingredients (minus salt) into the quart freezer bag. Put ice and salt into gallon bag. Put small bag containing ingredients into large bag containing salt and ice. Make sure both bags are sealed tightly and shake it!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Welcome to the BES Summer Expanded Learning Program!

Here, at BES, you will find students anxiously engaged in learning!! Our first full week has come and gone, and during that week we have seen students learn much about nature which is our overall theme for these summer workshops. Each of our Academic Instructors have taken that theme and created a focus that is tailored to their specialty and workshop. Here is a quick snapshot of what that has looked like in each of our four workshops this week! 

Jackie, our Math/Science specialist had students research and create a powerpoint about nature and what may affect nature. She also worked with students to recreate what happens when a cloud becomes full of water...precipitation! 

Patrick, our Literacy specialist had students create some great field journals to help them record and write about the process of plant growth and creating a garden. Then the students created a small garden out of soil bags and planted some beans and sunflowers in it!

Caitlin, our Wellness specialist worked on the importance of working together and how to play kick ball, which was out culminating project on Friday Fun Day! Students also completed a scavenger hunt of things to find in nature and things to do in nature.

Hillary is our special guest of the week! She is are very own nature specialist! She had students create Nature journals for some wonderful outdoor observations and exploration! They went bug hunting in the back yard and found some very interesting bugs!

Thanks to all those that participated in Expanded Learning Program last week and made it a huge success! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer Heats Up in the 'Boro

The Summer ELP at Robinson School in Starksboro finished its first week and things were hoppin'! There are about 30 kids in grades 1-6 participating and we are blessed with five wonderful educators who have planned and are presenting a fabulous program.

We are working on a theme about the Five Towns so that students can get to know the place where they are growing up. Each workshop leader has funneled the theme through their areas of expertise and we have all kinds of cross-curricular opportunities for students to make some really authentic connections. Here's what's up...

As scientists and mathematicians under the guidance of Nancy Hellen, students have been exploring water around our school. Their experiments have involved what happens when water and sand, rocks, and other natural debris mix. This led each group to discussions about sediment, silt, saturation, and erosion. Then, looking at the school grounds our scientists found evidence of water in the woods and did scientific sketches. The next big question was: Where does the water go that is run off on the school grounds? Mapping skills were utilized as students mapped a waterway for run off from the pavilion roof. This group will continue its exploration of water and the surrounding watershed in the weeks to come.

Over in Wellness with Isaac Kreismann, the students played, stretched, and experimented in the kitchen together. The first few days of were highlighted by an all-ages outdoor yoga session, the creation of sourdough starters and--a Robinson favorite--energetic games of gaga. We are excited to track the progress as each group continues to care for and work with their sourdough while it becomes a home for wild yeast. Yoga and gaga skills will be honed as we work in different ways to move, exercise, and play outside during July!

Literacy has been blended with Art thanks to Christine Vaughn who has been working with students on self portraits and "I Am From..." poems to help them develop a sense of place here in Starksboro using imagery from their homes and school to describe who they are. The students also made aliens out of their names using chalk and pastels. It was a very creative and artsy week for sure!

Each week, we host a special guest and this week it has been music teacher Jen Allred. Jen has been teaching the students handbells and they have learned all kinds of songs. The first and second graders have even written their own tune! All of the groups are learning a version of the hit song "Cups," made popular by the movie Pitch Perfect and the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders are getting pretty darned good at this complicated--and utterly cool--composition. Our special guest next week will be naturalist Hilary Redman, who will work on nature journaling with the students.

Here are the videos from last week's concert. What a treat!

Our Tuesday visit from the Bookwagon was a big hit. We were joined by outgoing principal Mr. Hartnett and new principal Ms. Frazer for a read aloud. The kids then picked out books to help them reach their reading goals and it became very clear that we have a crew of avid readers on our hands here at Robinson! The week of July 6th, the Bookwagon will be driven by Erin Bent and feature stories from firefighter Jennifer Turner.

Here is a slideshow of our week! You can also see it here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Expanded Learning Program’s Summer Camps!

The Expanded Learning Program is excited to offer 25 days of academically enriching workshops to students at Robinson, Bristol Elementary Schools.  We will begin programming June 29th and conclude July 31st, M-F, 8:00 - 12:00.  This year, as in years past, we will provide transportation to students, pick-up and drop-off.  Students will also be served a healthy breakfast and lunch provided by ANESU's Food Cooperative.  Here is a general outline of our schedule:

Students will rotate in small groups by grade through the following schedule:

These academic workshops are project-based with an emphasis on experiential learning.
8:00 - 8:30
arrival/breakfast/morning meeting

8:30 - 9:15
Fun with Literacy
Reading, writing, drawing, storytelling, games, acting, etc.
9:15 - 10:00
Fun with Math/Science
Numbers, strategy games, cooking, MAD science experiments, science fair, etc.
10:00 - 10:45
Fun with Wellness Coach
hiking, dancing, gardening, cooking, capture the flag, soccer, nature walks, etc.
10:45 - 11:30
Weekly Special
Each week we will have a special host that will teach an exciting week-long workshop.  One week it may be theatre; another week tennis taught by Middlebury college students,  etc...)
11:30 - 12:00
Lunch & Dismissal

*Rotation groups will be determined by age and learning level

Our intent over the summer is to provide students with learning opportunities structured in a summer-camp-esque environment.  We want students outside and moving as much as possible.  We want them exploring, questioning, and demonstrating.  We want them steeped in math, science, literacy and the arts.  Our intent is to promote summer learning in a fun way so students lose less ground over the summer months, but still feel like they've experienced the joys of summer.

What to Return:
  • Registration Paperwork
  • 20.00 per week Contribution (Do not let this be a barricade.  Please enroll your child for the summer program regardless of ability to pay.  If you can not pay 20.00 per week, pay what you can, or pay nothing at this time). Checks can be written to ANESU. Please note Expanded Learning Program in your check’s memo.