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Student work in spotlight during division's exhibition
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Martinsville Middle School seventh-grader Jason Woods blows on a bottle containing water to produce a musical note. He was demonstrating a hydro-harmonics project Monday during the city schools’ Spring Student Exhibition of Learning. Choir director Shauna Hines, who led students in the project, demonstrated how to play a melody on the bottles with a rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” (Bulletin photos by Paul Collins)
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Baby chicks were drawing attention Monday night in kindergarten teacher Tammy Allen’s classroom at Albert Harris Elementary School during the city schools’ Spring Student Exhibition of Learning.

The division-wide event focuses on MCPS’ emphasis on project-based learning, in which students learn by doing projects; students take more ownership of their learning and teachers guide the learning; and students problem-solve, collaborate, think critically and creatively, and make presentations.

Allen said her students researched and learned about the 21-day life cycle of the embryological chick and built coops out of recycled materials.

Kindergartner Javier Penn said he learned that chicks have to incubate for 21 days at 99.5 degrees and must break through membrane and eggshell to hatch.

His mother, Kenyatta Lassiter, said Javier would come home from school and tell her about the project.

“He has a lot of animals, so I think he’s going to look at being a veterinarian” when he grows up, she said.

Greg Hackenberg, Jennifer Goins, Elizabeth Lynch and Morgan Belton — who teach various fifth-grade subjects — had their students create educational videos.

John Martin said he and two other students did a video titled “Sedimentary Rocks Are Awesome” about how sedimentary rocks are formed, and John and another student graphed which videos created by fifth-graders received the most online views.

In all, the various projects by fifth-graders got 1,480 views from throughout the world, John said. “Virginia’s Major Rivers” got the most views (385), and “Story of Pocahontas” came in second with 138.

“I think it’s great. It’s impressive to me these children made these videos ...,” said James Martin, John’s father.

Student Jennifer Cedillo said she wrote, narrated, made the props and did the choreography for “Story of Pocahontas,” a play about Pocahontas’ life.

Hackenberg said grant funding from the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce helped with the project.

Fourth-grade teachers Lesley Crowe, Diana Boyd and Lisa Riley had their students study life cycles of butterflies and frogs, and the parts of flowers and plants. Students created colorful artwork to line part of a hallway to illustrate what they learned.

Student Trey Collins said he learned the life cycle of a butterfly is: from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult butterfly. He said he enjoyed the project, especially making a wheel to show the life cycle.

His mother, Kristi Collins, said she thinks he will remember what he learned better because it was a hands-on project.

English Language Learner students Nureen Yasin and Maite Lopez and six other ELL students brainstormed, organized their ideas, wrote a draft and wrote a creative story about an encounter with aliens. They also drew illustrations. Nureen and Maite said the project helped them with their writing skills, and they had fun.

ELL teacher Lynn Henderson said: “The students did a wonderful job. I am so proud of them.”

Dozens of other projects were on display at Albert Harris and at each of the division’s other schools.

MCPS Superintendent Pam Heath said project-based learning is an opportunity for students to apply skills they have learned and it gives a purpose to learning.

Angilee Downing, assistant superintendent of instruction, said she was enjoying hearing students talk about their projects and what they had learned, and seeing excitement on their faces.

At Martinsville Middle School, Principal Cynthia Tarpley said there was a nice turnout and students were enthusiastic.

Health and physical education teacher Amanda Sandt and guidance counselor Stephanie Adkins had representatives of CHILL (Communities Helping Improve Local Lives) and For the Children and three doctors and a nurse speak to students about various health and family life topics and self-esteem. Students were assigned to develop public service announcements in the form of posters, slogans, brochures, raps, etc.

For example, one slogan was, “Abstinence is key.”

Another project explained how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Choir director Shauna Hines had her students study hydro-harmonics by filling glass bottles with varying amounts of water to create different musical notes.

Seventh-grader Jason Woods said the project helped students “have a visual reference.”

His mother, Sheila Woods, said she believes the project has further inspired Jason’s interest in music and helped his technical skills.

Hines said students used a Cadenza application on a mini-iPad to determine what notes they were playing when they blew on glass bottles filled with various amounts of water.

She also demonstrated how to play a melody by blowing on bottles filled with various amounts of water. She played “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Seventh-grade history teacher Tiana Hunnicutt and seventh-grade English teacher Donna Lowery had their students do projects answering the questions: Who were the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, and what are their contributions today?

Lowery said her students developed PowerPoints and made posters and booklets about such people as Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and W.E.B. DuBois.

“These kids have worked extremely hard researching, and learning how to put together a PowerPoint presentation,” Lowery said.

Hunnicutt said her students did cereal box projects about Jacob Lawrence, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. They covered cereal boxes with pictures, a timeline of the 10 most important events in the person’s life, a crossword and other fun facts.

Student DeCorey Bishop did his project on Ellington. DeCorey said he learned, among other things, Ellington wrote his first composition at age 15, and he won a total of 13 Grammies.

Special education teacher Martha Lambert said her sixth- through eighth-grade students learned about, developed and planted a garden with begonias, roses, cactus, monkey grass, petunias, geraniums, lilac, yellow daisies, and more.


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