Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saving Syria - Innovation and Design Project

I worked with 6th grade Social Studies teacher, Jeanne Bentley, ELA and Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator, Melissa Bettencourt, and Tri-Town Director of Digital Learning, Steve Guditus to develop a unit and project that incorporated the innovation and the design process while studying the Mideast.  This project is "Saving Syria".

Design Scenario
Assignment to students -
You and your classmates are working for a relief agency called Saving Syria. The relief organization is going to build a village to house people escaping the war in Syria. Your team will be competing with other teams to research, design, and build better housing for the 12 ½  million Syrians looking to leave Syria and immigrate to Lebanon.

Students were introduced to the project, “Saving Syria” during their Social Studies unit of study of the Middle East.  They received background knowledge of religions and politics in the Middle East.  They received several articles that introduced and explained the crisis in Syria.  Mrs. Bentley introduced key vocabulary to understand the project - Refuge, Refugee, Asylum, displaced, persecution, oppression, etc.  They watched 2 videos about a girl and her experiences in Syria.
Video 1

Video 2

Teachers Introduce Project

Research and Brainstorm
Students worked in small groups and researched the geographical features and climate of  Lebanon to find out  how to build temporary shelters. They cited their research sites.

Research and Design.jpg

Budget and Materials

The average cost to support a refugee for a year is $1057 so it would cost $5285 to support a family of 5. Saving Syria is looking to build a better shelter so your team will have $795 to purchase the materials for building.

Store Materials and Supplies
Students were able to purchase supplies each day to build their structure. They had $795 to spend.


Shelter requirements: Your team will need to build a shelter that can house 5 people (2 adults and 3 children). You will be given a 12” by 12” plot of land that your shelter will sit on. The shelter needs to withstand rain, wind, heat of the day and cold nights of that area. When all the shelters are built we will also assemble them together into a village to see how your shelter will work within the village itself.

Shelter Expectations:
How will you keep your shelter warm at night and cool in the day?
How will your shelter provide protection from the rain?
How sturdy is your shelter against high winds?
How does your shelter interact with the environment?
How permanent will your shelter be?


At the end of the project, the teams presented their shelter  with the Saving Syria administrators and their classmates.

Throughout the process they captured their progress and created a presentation. A Google Slideshow was created by each group and presented to the class.


Testing the Structure
Each structure was tested for weather conditions that they would endure in Lebanon.
Wind - Hairdryer for 1 minute
Rain and Flooding - Water from watering can for 30 seconds

Students read and discussed an article in Junior Scholastic magazine, Nov. 2, 2015, “Building a Better Life.”  They learned how the company Ikea is helping to build a better shelter for Syrian refugees.

What was the strength of your shelter?
What was the weakness of you shelter?
What problem did your shelter resolve really well?
What shelter shape is the strongest?
What were some successful strategies more stable?
What designs in your shelter would make it more useful in an emergency?
Did you shelter create an unintentional problem?
Self assessment.jpg

Teachers work with students for reflection on the project


Thanks to our PTO for supporting our Innovation and Design curriculum.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Google Read & Write

Students in Middleton have been introduced to the Google Chrome app, "Google Read & Write".  Read & Write supports student literacy and writing through technology.  There are many features in this program that benefit students by improving reading and writing confidence.

In computer class, students in 3rd - 6th grade were introduced to the highlighting tool.  This tool allows students to highlight text, either in a Google Document or on a website, and capture those highlights into a new Google Doc.  The information that is captured is also cited.  This feature is great for research.  While showing students this feature, we were able to have another discussion about plagiarism.                                  

Google Read & Write Toolbar

Features include:
  • Read Aloud with dual-color highlighting
  • Translator
  • Talking and Picture Dictionaries
  • Fact Finder
  • Study Skills highlighters and Collect highlights
  • Vocabulary List Builder to create a list of highlighted words with text definitions and images.
  • Annotation tools (PDF and ePub)
  • Navigation tools (PDF and ePub)


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Google Keep

Google Keep allows the user to make different kinds of notes, including text, lists, images, and audio. Sharing options enable real-time note cooperation with other users. Users can set time or location-based reminders.

Students in Howe Manning's Student Help Desk tried the Google app, "Google Keep."  This app allows them to make notes and checklists, as well as set reminders, to help them keep up with their assignments.  The students absolutely loved this app and saw great potential for using it.

Using Google Classroom, students received 2 assignments to complete to use "Google Keep."
Assignment 1:
We are learning how to use a Google App called "Google Keep". This app allows you to create notes, checklists, and reminders for upcoming assignments/activities etc.

Go to your Apps Launcher in Google Chrome, click "More" and "Even More". Find "Google Keep".

Create a NOTE that says "Math Test on Chapter 6 Next Week."
Color code it Red.
Share it with me.

Assignment 2
You are going to use "Google Keep" to create a CHECKLIST.

Working with a partner -
Create a CHECKLIST titled "Charity Project"

Include the following List Items:  Tell each other the charity you are writing about, why you chose that charity, who benefits from
        the charity.

Color code it Blue.

Share it with your partner using their email address.

Once your partner is on the checklist, complete the tasks on the checklist and when your partner answers the questions, check
         off the task.

Click HERE for Reasons that Teachers and Students will LOVE Google Keep.