Wong (1991) suggests that a positive learning environment helps students feel secure and thus learning is enhanced and behavior is improved. Mrs. Stowell’s classroom certainly demonstrates a positive environment as the walls are covered with student work, high expectations are posted and followed by students, and engaging projects are a normal occurrence. There are even prisms hanging from the ceiling!
In a recent project, Mrs. Stowell asked students in her 6th grade class to work in teams to design a poster demonstrating their knowledge of quadrilaterals. Each shape on the poster had to be clearly labeled, characteristics clearly described, and integrate the idea of a quadrilateral family. Each group had a unique project that clearly demonstrated their knowledge of shapes (see photos below). Well done students!
Mrs. Stowell was searching for a way to engage her students in a 6th grade proportions lesson, while at the same time showing them real world applications. She came up with a great idea: a cooking lesson. These students would be given a Marshmallow Ghosts recipe that serves 12, and use proportions to determine the necessary ingredients to serve the 30 students in the class. After determining the ingredients, students cooked with Mrs. Stowell to make delicious Halloween treats. As all students couldn’t cook at the same time, there were four stations set up in the class that students rotated through. In addition to the cooking and recipe stations, there was a decimals station, and a poster station. All students were engaged and left with smiles on their faces. This is certainly an experience that Mrs. Stowell’s students will never forget.
If you would like a copy of the recipe worksheet, click Popcorn Ghost Worksheet.
Mrs. Stowell (Dodge) and Ms. Mullen are the queens of the Castle! In searching for ways to engage kids in a Core Extension block, these teachers have ventured into the world of computer technology. Athena Middle School students have the opportunity to receive an extra period of math, science, social studies, or English instruction through Core Extension. Mrs. Stowell and Ms. Mullen have decided to dedicate part of this time for the Castle Learning computer software.
Stowell’s 6th grade students and Mullen’s 8th grade students came into the library where they immediately logged on to access Castle Learning. Each teacher co-taught the login process with Mr. Haines, the middle school library media specialist. Students were highly engaged and worked hard on finishing each problem. Many other Athena teachers have had positive experiences with Castle Learing including Mr. Smith, Mrs. Schreiber, Mr. Titus, Mr. Ingerick, Mrs. O’Brien, Mrs. Salamone, Mrs. Cannito, Mrs. Dionisio, and Mrs. Gross. Please let me know others!
According to http://CastleLearning.com, students are achieving higher levels on raw scores, growth scores and state testing. Teachers find Castle Learning Online helpful for supporting instruction and assessing students throughout the school year, making them more effective educators. Administrator access provides assessment reporting to assist in making decisions and meeting district, state and national objectives. Parents can mentor and be engaged on a regular basis in their child’s education.
Practical Strategy: Use a variety of computer technology, such as Castle Learning, in your math instruction. Seek out the help from a colleague or coach for implementing this in your classroom.