Project-Based Learning: 

Come join me on a tour of some of my unforgettable adventures in project-based learning! Discover the joy of in-depth, long-term learning experiences enriched with local fieldwork, expert guests, and authentic final products!  

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CONNECTING TO THE COMMUNITY

Now more than ever, students need real-life context for their learning. They need to see a connection between the classroom and the world in which they live in order to understand the purpose of their studies. As an educator, I have seen even the most reluctant of learners meet and frequently surpass my high expectations when their learning is driven by meaningful community connections and real-world experiences. So, when engaging my students in a study about how the geography of Japan affects how the people live, I set up a visit to a local sushi bar and grill.. See entire blog post...     

OGDEN RIVER BECOMES THE CLASSROOM

My co-workers and I designed an expedition entitled, "A River Runs Through It" to help our 3rd-5th grade students explore, connect with, and become stewards of the Ogden River. What better way to launch on expedition on the Ogden River than to take our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students out kayaking on the reservoir! We wanted the students to connect with the river, to experience it first-hand, and develop a love and appreciation for it. Most of the students had never been kayaking before but their adventurous spirits urged them onward. See entire blog post...

PROJECT-BASED LEARNING

Few things are more captivating to young children than creating and growing their own vegetable gardens. Experiencing the excitement of planting a tiny seed, nurturing it, and then harvesting the edible reward, makes for one fascinating learning experience. During my 2nd year of teaching, I engaged my 1st and 2nd grade mixed-age class in an expedition I called, "Little Hands on the Farm. " For 3 months, I immersed my students in the space and water-saving techniques of square-foot gardening. See entire blog post...

GETTING KIDS EXCITED ABOUT LEARNING

​Throughout my career I've striven to create fun and engaging learning experiences for my students to help them invest more in the learning process. A few years ago, my 1st and 2nd grade students created "The Trey Foote Show" as a way to promote awareness about the important role that frogs play in the ecosystem. It's a 1950s black and white television spoof hosted by Trey Foote, a student who was at first reluctant to play the role but who I knew to be the perfect fit. He interviews one "Garrett the Frog Guy," an expert local herpetologist. See video here...  

PERFORMANCE CELEBRATIONS

I'm not sure who loves performance celebrations of learning more, the students, the parents, or me but one thing's for sure; they are a powerful platform for students to showcase the story of their learning. Last year my 3rd graders demonstrated their appreciation for and depth of understanding about Japanese culture by crafting and performing scenes that reflected important elements of Japanese culture. See entire blog post...

CELEBRATING STUDENT EXCELLENCE 

A few years ago, my fellow 3-5th grade teachers and I brainstormed ways to reward students who were consistently completing their work and to try to inspire those who weren't to jump on board. We tossed around ideas until we came up with the idea of hosting a special lunch banquet in my classroom for students who completed all of their math, reading, writing, and expedition work for one month. We shared the idea with the students and they loved it! We carefully tracked their performance and reminded them regularly of our school value of excellence. The results were amazing! See blog post...

BRINGING EXPERTS INTO THE CLASSROOM 

Connecting students with experts in the field can be a powerful motivator for children. It allows them to interact with individuals who have successfully used their knowledge to make the world a better place. It helps students to see the value of their day-to-day learning. Throughout my teaching career, I have worked to provide my 1st through 5th grade students opportunities to connect and collaborate with experts in the field, in an effort to enhance and enrich their learning experiences. See entire blog post... ​ 

MATH DIFFERENTIATION: MEETING STUDENTS AT THEIR INDIVIDUAL LEVELS 

As a first grade math instructor, I encountered a recurring issue in regards to the range of proficiency that my young mathematicians exhibited as well as in my ability to support each learner at his/her current level of understanding. This was no more apparent than during independent practice time. My proficient students were done in a flash and asking what they could do next and my struggling students were sitting at their tables waiting for my one-on-one assistance. See blog post...

DECORATING THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION

An Arthropod Christmas? You bet! When our 3rd graders were invited to decorate the Utah Governor's Mansion, my co-workers and I decided to allow the students the opportunity to create decorations that reflected their current unit of study on arthropods. They created mini-book ornaments with photo-copied samplings of their scientific journal entries along with butterfly ornaments made from their scientific arthropod drawings. See blog post...

GETTING KIDS EXCITED ABOUT WRITING!

The Common Core English Language Arts writing standards emphasize 3 types of writing: Informative, Narrative, and Opinion. Knowing what the standards are is just the first step. Getting students excited about writing in these formats can be quite a task. As such, I created monthly writing prompts in Real-World formats such as newspaper articles, cookbook pages, flyers, comic strips, and more in an effort to help students make connections to the real world and spark excitement about writing. The feedback I have receieved from teachers across the country has been incredible! Teachers are reporting that even their most reluctant of writers are excited about writing! See blog post...    

3RD GRADE NEWSCAST

Each year at our charter school, classes take turns hosting the school-wide morning assembly. This is an opportunity for students, faculty, and parents to come together to build school community. The hosting class is responsible for leading the school in a greeting and in reciting the pledge of allegance. It is then their opportunity to share what their class has been studying. Last year, my 3rd grade class and I documented all of our on and off-campus excursions via a news cast. Student reporters interviewed experts in the field and reported on the learning experiences of their fellow classmates. See blog post...