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posted: Sat, Jun 13th, 2015

Who are you wearing? 

The fourth-graders wore custom-designed clothing for their recent presentations to parents.

Daria Cucu was wearing Thea Stilton.

Joseph Drew was wearing Randi Borrow.

Madison Ogden was wearing Patrick Skene Catling.

Stilton, Borrow, and Catling aren’t designers; they are authors.

Fourth-graders in Marieke Hopp and Kelly Rogalsky’s class recently completed book report tee-shirts. The literary fashions were a fun and creative take on the old-fashioned book report and included all the typical elements that you’d include in one: a summary, character list, settings, etc. 

“The kids loved it,” said Ms. Rogalsky about the project. “The standard ‘read a book and write a report and hand it in’ can get boring for them. Here they take ownership of their work and are really proud of what they create.” 

The tee-shirts featured illustrations of important moments and objects from the novels which the students had read during school. (Every day students spend 30 minutes independently reading books of their own choosing.) The fourth-graders designed and decorated their tee-shirts at home with the help of their parents using such things as

fabric markers, glitter paint, puffy paint, stickers, and heat transfer images. Neo Rivadeneira even used a load of plastic spiders for his shirt about a book in the popular Goosebumps series.

“The reports really tie a lot of the reading skills together,” said Mrs. Hopp. “Techniques such as summarizing, story structure, and looking for the main idea – elements that we covered this year in our Journeys language arts program. The tee-shirt design aspect put all of the info together in a way that allowed the students to express themselves artistically.”

Each tee-shirt included a written summary of the book that left out details about the climax and resolution. That way other students inspired to read the novel wouldn’t have the ending spoiled.


The Revolutionary War for $100

Alex Trebek couldn’t have done it better himself. Sandshore fifth-graders created “Jeopardy” games as part of a recent research project.

The project, about the Revolutionary War, was designed to allow students to actively learn and then show off what they had gleaned about that pivotal period in U.S. history. It was a fusion of social studies, writing, and technology, along with a variety of research skills. 

The study of the causes, events and outcomes of the revolution – along with the game creation – spanned about four weeks. Students, working alone or with a classmate, researched the war using teacher-approved websites and print sources. They compiled their notes using a graphic organizer or color-coded note card system. The students then wrote interactive reports that were enhanced with hyperlinks that directed readers to appropriate images, video clips, music tracks, definitions, and reference websites. 

The “Jeopardy” game categories and clues were designed using information presented in the reports. Categories included the Boston Tea Party, Battles of Lexington and Concord, Winter at Valley Forge, and the Declaration of Independence.

On June 15, the fifth-graders presented their reports to parents and friends who then played the Jeopardy game to measure how much they remembered. (Yes, they had to answer in the form of a question.) 

“This was a fun way to engage the students and keep them very active in the learning process,” said teacher Tricia Mitchell. “They really took ownership of their work and were incredibly proud of what they accomplished.” 

The project was a culmination of many of the skills that students had learned throughout the year such as paraphrasing, identifying main ideas and details, presenting orally, and the proper notation of source material, to name a few.


Learning about community helpers

Kindergartners at Sandshore recently learned about the many occupations that provide important public services. Each student chose a type of community helper to research and write about for a project that allowed the kids to put together everything they had learned during the school year. 

Yup, research. Kindergartners. The age-appropriate project set the stage for the types of skills the students will explore in detail next year in the first grade.

The kindergartners learned about the different community helpers from books, websites, and on-line videos. Earlier in the year, they also received firsthand information from visiting firemen, a state trooper, and a crossing guard who discussed their jobs and uniforms.

Each student investigated what a person engaged in one of the occupations does every day and the specific ways in which the community helper aids the community. Special tools and equipment used in the occupation were also noted.

All the information was put together by the students in the form of graphic organizers (see examples below) in which students filled in sections with the information they had learned.

The organizers, as well as posters the students had made of their community helpers using art from the Kidspiration website, were presented to parents during the Writing Rocks celebration held on June 12. The kindergarteners also reviewed with their parents all the writing and art projects they had done over the course of the school year.

“The students didn’t think they could do a 'research project' and were so excited when it was completed and they were able to present it on their own,” said teacher Tracy Church. “They have been working hard on reading and writing all year and they have improved dramatically. Parents had a chance to really see the progress. In September many students could only write one or two words and now in June they are writing complete sentences.” 

In the final weeks of the school year all district students in grades K-5 complete research projects that combine language arts and technology.


Danielle Cabsaba takes notes for her research project

Far from the world they know

First-graders at Sandshore are wrapping up research projects about lands far from the world they know. The assignment, which lasted about four weeks, was really a primer in the techniques that students will use in second grade and beyond. The students learned about research basics such as where to find information (e.g. World Book Kids website) and how to use Google Images.

Each student chose one of three continents to learn about and research. The kids were grouped together by topic and each first grade teacher presented information about a continent. Students who were learning about Australia were taught by Shelley Credidio, those learning about South America were taught by Lisa Lamendola, and those learning about Africa were taught by Carmella Ciccarella.

The students were immersed in the cultures of other lands, learning about such things as Vegemite, Australian slang, and the importance and popularity of coffee in the countries of South America.

The classroom teachers then guided their first-graders through the process of note-taking, writing the first draft, revising and rewriting, and publishing. Each report included facts about some of the continent’s most popular foods, sports, landmarks, and indigenous animals.

“The project excited and entertained the students, and empowered them to find reliable information about the world around them,” said Ms. Credidio. “It taught them to appreciate and embrace different cultures.”

The first-graders will display their research projects and other pieces of writing done throughout the year on June 19 as part of the district’s Writing Rocks Celebration. The second annual writing recognition program underscores the importance of writing in our lives.

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498 Sandshore Rd Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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