How can talk about science be facilitated so that all students feel part of the community and are willing to contribute their expertise to the discussion? On September 23, Mrs. Reba Johnson, MSPS teacher of the 1st/2nd grade multi-age classroom (Johnson’s Dinosaurs), shifted her students outside to continue a discussion as part of their unit on weather.

Mrs. Johnson's students were able to observe the rock being removed from the cup and watched intently.

Despite plans to study the sun this week, the planned lessons were literally rained out. Instead, this opened an even more exciting student-led experiential learning activity about the water cycle, precipitation, and rain gauges!

Clear plastic cups were used as rain gauges to measure the amount of rainfall that had been collected.

Students were able to capture the rainfall overnight and examine how much rain fell in our area by creating rain gauges from plastic cups.

Each student had their own rain gauge with their names labeled on them.
Students were provided with an opportunity to look closely and observe the science that had taken place.

There was a lot of trial and error and they decided placing a rock in the bottom of each cup would prevent cups blowing away in the wind or present the possibility of them falling over and losing their data. The class was joined by UNCG STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative (STEM TLC) team member, Dearing Blankmann, as they checked the results the following morning. When the students were taken outside on this day, the cups had plenty of water in them due to rain from the day before.

Each student observed the rock being removed from their rain gauges.

Through the use of effective questioning techniques, Mrs. Johnson and Ms. Blankmann prompted students to think about what they observed.

The class noticed that the water level dropped as the rocks were removed from each cup. Specifically, they noticed that the bigger the rock, the bigger the level dropped. They also began to wonder where the rain that was not in the cup went. What would happen if the water in the cup had more rocks in it? What would happen to the water if the cups had been left outside?

The students’ wonderings led them to understand how, when a rock was removed from a cup, the water level decreased. This lesson was a beautiful example of the integration of math and science. Students engaged in the application of math concepts, including volume, even and odd, and doubles equations. The students discovered the displacement of water, which was another great phenomenon! This student-led inquiry helped promote scientific discussion, journal writing, applied math concepts, and more ideas for science lessons to come based on student interest.

Mrs. Johnson calls her class the "Johnson's Dinosaurs."

What can students learn from an exploration with magnets, rulers, and paper clips? On September 29, Mrs. Chelsea Walker, fourth grade teacher at MSPS, and Ms. Katie Stepp, UNCG junior intern, created an exploratory activity with magnets that truly brought all of the students’ learning together. As Walker and Stepp monitored the students through the activity, they prompted the students to find out how far away an object needs to be for a magnet to attract it. Most students found that, with the magnets and paperclips they had, the paperclip had to be about one inch away from the magnet for the magnet to attract the paper clip that was not being held. The teachers were strategic with their questioning as they asked questions, such as: What does it mean to repel? What would we say the length of our magnetic field is?

While the students were working, Katie Stepp asked students questions as she walked around to monitor the students in groups.

The students were able to express in words how objects, such as magnets, have a magnetic force that can pull or push on other charged objects and make the objects move closer or further away.

Mrs. Walker emphasized the vocabulary words for the lesson in the questions that she asked students.

Although Walker and Stepp facilitated the conversations in groups with students through asking questions and using precise academic vocabulary, such as attract and repel, the students discovered some key concepts on their own. The students below investigated how magnets can attract other metals.

The students used rulers to measure the distance at which the magnet attracted the paperclips.

One student found that more than one object can be attracted to a magnet at the same time.

Mrs. Walker facilitated while the students worked to explore the relationship between magnets and multiple paperclips.

When a different student explored using many different paper clips, he realized that magnetic forces are still strong when the magnet is suspended in the air.

Through discovery and demonstration, a student shared how strong the magnet was by the number of paperclips that was attracted to it at one time.

Through complete discovery, one student even demonstrated his understanding of magnetic forces going through thin objects, such as paper, when he showed how the magnet under the paper could move the metal object that was directly above the magnet on top of the paper. Overall, this inquiry-approach to teaching and learning fostered engagement and ignited the students’ curiosities to create a student-centered learning experience for all of the students.

How can students be positioned as writers? With the support and guidance from teacher leaders at MSPS, every grade level planned to focus on the narrative writing standards as part of the first quarter goals. Although teaching and learning looked different at each grade level and within each classroom, third grade teacher, Mrs. LeAnna Myers, guided her students through an interactive approach to narrative writing. Over several days’ time, the students were engaged in understanding the narrative writing elements, including: (1) the characters, (2) the setting, (3) the problem(s) and solution(s) in the story, and (4) the sequence of events. Throughout their learning, the students had anchor charts, which are shown below, to support them in their thinking about narrative writing.

A narrative writing anchor chart helps support students in the classroom with remembering story elements.

On August 3, the third grade students were in their second day of learning about narrative writing. A narrative had been modeled with the students the day before, and the focus of this day was on thinking about the characters who would be in the students’ stories and what the settings of their stories would be. As a class, ideas were collected on a graphic organizer, and each student had their own copy of the graphic organizer for writing down their choices for characters and setting in their own narratives. Ms. Myers invited the students to come up one at a time and share their ideas with the class. With the support of Ms. Myers, students had an opportunity to be creative and take pride in their own work as they were positioned as leaders in the classroom.

Students came up to share their ideas with the whole class.

Subsequent days focused on the students thinking about the other story elements and choosing additional details they wanted. This led to the writing of a rough draft for the students, including an introduction, a beginning, middle, and end of their story, and a closing paragraph.

Through monitoring at each table, Ms. Myers could support students' thinking to help them move along with their narrative writing plan.

When asked what she had learned from her students from this experience, Myers reflected on and shared several key learnings from observing her students. For one, she was reminded that, if students can write about what they are interested in, they can write about a lived experience or an imagined experience. Myers also discovered some things that she did not know about her students, such as one student’s interest in witches and how they shared friendships through using classmates’ names in their stories. From monitoring and making observations of the students throughout the writing process, Myers gained valuable insights regarding the support that some students need with writing, such as with capitalization and punctuation. This was just one example of how the K-5 teachers at MSPS supported their students with narrative writing throughout the first quarter.

The 1st/2nd multi-age classroom at MSPS, filled with Mrs. Reba Johnson’s Dinosaurs, presented Little Red Hen, a reader’s theater play for school community members on September 17.

Students stood when it was time to read their parts of the play.
Students followed along with the text and read silently until it was time for them to read aloud.

The students had engaged in practice all week long as they learned about characters’ point of view, reading character dialogue in text, and use of expression and intonation to portray the voices of various characters in the story.

The students wore hats with their roles labeled on them.
Some students were in the audience to listen to the play.

Students were provided a differentiated script for their character as they read and acted out the moods and voices of their different characters. Students without an “acting role” for the presentation were able to practice listening skills as a part of the audience in the community.

Students followed along with the text and stood for their parts of the play.

Jacqueline Cooper, shown below, is Mrs. Johnson’s junior intern, and she was there to assist students with their various roles throughout the presentation. Learning to read with purpose and in authentic settings is common in the multi-age classroom!

The junior intern from UNCG was there to support students with their roles.
The students in the multi-age classroom proudly call themselves the "Johnson's Dinosaurs."

On August 12-13, 2021, Dr. Brooksie B. Sturdivant provided a two-day professional learning program for the MSPS staff in the area of Restorative Practices (RP). Founder of 3E LLC Equity and Empowerment through Education, Sturdivant focused on building a positive school culture through the development of trust, authentic relationships, shared experiences, and community. On the first day of the learning experience, the science and psychology that frames RP as a practice was revealed, and the focus on day two was learning about and engaging in restorative conversations and specifically the intentional and effective use of circles.

Mrs. Chestnut and Dr. Sturdivant presented to the staff in the gym.
The staff was positioned in a circle.

The idea of restorative conversations and circles enables the professionals to engage in intentional conversations and actions to repair any harm that has been done and to sustain a healthy school community. Also, in practice, RP focuses on humanizing people by meeting them where they are. Over the two-day learning experience, the MSPS staff practiced with circle situations, circle applications, energizers, and rituals.

Sturdivant opened up with how to do circles in the classroom.

The MSPS staff engaged in various activities to illustrate RP, including preventative practices that are not catered toward discipline.

A ball was utilized to provide the chance for everyone to have a voice. The ball was passed around, and when someone was holding the ball, they had the floor to speak. 

Explorations were conducted in affective questions and statements, and staff members were able to tap into their own selves as educators. Additionally, the staff engaged in discourse with regards to the social discipline window and the nine affects and the compass of shame. “Circle lesson plans” were created by the staff to guide them through topical issues that may come up in various classrooms, such as with identity development, class environment/needs, celebrations, and self-care.

Movement activities were utilized to illustrate the restorative practices.

To find out more about the speaker, Dr. Brooksie Sturdivant, the websites below can be reviewed.

In the afternoon of August 17, 2021, K-5 classroom teachers and support teachers were provided with professional learning from other teacher leaders, Nicky PIckard and Tina Ashley, in the area of guided reading.

Mrs. Ashley and Mrs. Pickard present how Kindergarten journals can support emergent writers.

With all K-5 teachers choosing to implement guided reading this school year, this professional learning opportunity provided an introduction to a balanced literacy framework, including (1) shared reading for whole group instruction using grade level texts, (2) guided reading for small group instruction using leveled texts based on student assessment data, (3) use of read-alouds, and (4) incorporation of word study and phonics.

Based on The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading, the professional learning provided hands on activities for word study, videos to understand how to implement small guided reading groups, and a discussion about the importance of utilizing running records for ongoing assessment and progress monitoring. Below are pictures of the teachers working collaboratively on the word study activities.

On August 19, 2021, nineteen UNCG nursing students met in the Moss Street Partnership School media center for the first day of their Practicum for their Population Health Nursing course. Dr. Colleen McGovern, one of the clinical instructors for the course, led the orientation and introduced the students to Dr. Cathy Montgomery, who is the School Health Coordinator and Educator at MSPS. From 8:00am to 12:00pm, the students for both sections of the course were situated at MSPS for two main reasons.

19 nursing students were there for the first day of class.

The first purpose was for the students to have orientation to the course and for them to understand what a clinical in an elementary school setting will look like. The orientation included information about how school nursing involves treating the child at the school, but how it also extends to the family and community, including direct service to staff members within the school.

The nursing students engaged with the nursing instructor via Zoom during class.

The second purpose of the meeting at MSPS was to introduce the nursing students to a nursing instructor at the Matibabu Foundation College of Health Sciences nursing program in Ukwala, Kenya. This was made possible through the project, INTOUCH, which stands for International Nursing Technological Outreach Uniting for Community Health. The School of Nursing at UNCG and the nursing college in Kenya collaboratively received this 2021 – 2022 Global Rural Nursing Virtual Collaboration Learning Grant ($5,000) from the Global Rural Nursing Exchange Network, which was provided by the Matson Halverson Christiansen Hamilton Foundation. The purpose of the project and grant is for the UNCG nursing students at MSPS and the Matibabu Foundation College of Health Sciences in Kenya to develop a virtual collaboration, which includes evaluating the health needs of the respective rural communities (Reidsville in North Carolina and one or more villages in Kenya), and work together on a community intervention to address a health concern. The intention is to have a positive impact on community health and enhance the nursing community health curriculums. Here are two pictures of the class connecting to the nursing instructor, David Oluoch, in Kenya.

According to Dr. Colleen McGovern, the grant provides a fascinating opportunity for everyone involved to learn about: (1) a different culture, (2) the resources and needs of each location, and (3) how to develop international connections with participants.

Orientation for the nursing students took place in the media center.

More information about the project and grant can be found on the Global Rural Nursing Exchange Network website.

On August 17, 2021, K-5 classroom teachers and support teachers were provided with professional learning from teacher leaders in the school. In the morning, four classroom teachers, including Kristen Perkinson, Danielle Carl, Reba Johnson, and Annabelle Jones, shared their expertise in writing with the other teachers in the school. Throughout the entire learning experience, the teacher leaders emphasized the importance of building a safe space for writing in the classrooms and providing students with an opportunity to share their voices in the classroom.

Mrs. Perkinson and Mrs. Carl showing and sharing importance of writing journals.
Carl and Perkinson shared the value in providing students with writing journals and writing along with them to model and encourage the formation of student ideas and interest in writing.

Perkinson described the importance of modeling writing and the editing process for students. During the writing process, students need to understand that it’s reasonable to be messy during the writing process due to making omissions, substitutions, additions, and other changes. One idea shared was having students read aloud what they have written to the teacher. Not only does this strategy support students in making self-corrections, but it also supports the teacher in understanding what the students are trying to say in their writing.

Mrs. Perkinson sharing strategies for emergent writers.

Johnson provided everyone with ideas for interactive writing and shared writing experiences, especially for the younger students, to ensure that all students have a chance for their voices to be heard. Use of mentor texts, sticker stories, gratitude journals, and writer’s workshop were some of the recommendations that she shared and provided details about. To gain additional ideas for narrative writing, Johnson recommended the activity, “Roll A Story,” where students can use a die to help them create a story with specific characters, settings, and problems.

Jones provided effective strategies to use in the classroom to support reluctant writers. One strategy she shared included encouraging students to write down topics that include big memories inside of a big-drawn heart and everyday events written outside of the heart. She emphasized the importance of promoting students’ freedom in what they write about, and how to use the students’ listing of topics to get to know each of them personally and to support the building of relationships. Students can also refer back to this page with the heart later to add more ideas to the page, as well as to find a topic on which to write at the moment. During the professional learning experience, the teachers participated in a timed writing activity related to this while calming background music played. Other strategies Jones shared included (1) the power of using student-drawn pictures to motivate and guide the students in writing and (2) using objects that are meaningful to students to stimulate their interest and ideas to write about. Strategies that Jones utilized during Summer Learning also included having a Poetry Jam and using Gratitude Journals.

Various resources were shared with the teachers to help celebrate student writing in their classrooms. Use of the Young Writers’ Camp at UNCG and Student Treasures Publishing were highlighted as means to publish and celebrate student writing. Whether books are published with a single student author or as a class book, the publication of books provides an authentic experience for students, while also motivating students through modeling and interactive writing activities that include their experiences. Book Creator and Story Jumper were also identified as means to promote student writing. Integrating various subject areas with journal writing was also discussed.

For the last part of the professional learning experience, Jones, Johnson, Perkinson, and Carl shared the importance of assessing and progress monitoring as a part of writing instruction. The teachers were separated into two grade span groups, K-2 and 3-5, to discuss how narrative writing for the first quarter of the school year can be assessed through analyzing student writing and utilizing rubrics to assess student progress. There was great energy and enthusiasm as the teachers participated in this work collaboratively. #bettertogether

Grades 3-5 teachers and CAPE teachers collaborate on a writing rubric that they are looking at.

Moss Street Partnership School had its 2021-2022 school year Open House on August 19, 2021. Open from 12:00 noon to 6:00 pm, the school invited parents and students into the building to meet and to get to know the teachers and staff in the building. The picture below shows Ms. Chelsea Walker and her UNCG student intern, Katie Stepp, prepared to meet with parents and students.

Mrs. Walker and her student intern were ready for parents to arrive for Open House.

Ms. Chestnut, principal of MSPS, greeted the parents and students as they entered the building.

Ms. Chestnut met parents at the door and let them in for Open House.
Dr. Montgomery posed with three teachers to show excitement over having students in the building again during Open House.

Tables were set up by various staff members to help the visitors find their teachers and classroom locations. Below is a picture of Christopher Cook, the music teacher at MSPS, prepared to assist parents in finding students’ classrooms.

Mr. Cook, physical education teacher, was ready to assist parents who needed support finding their children's classrooms.

Tables in the gym were set up to provide parents information about transportation and the local YMCA for after school care.

Mr. Somers and Ms. Richardson were in the gym to greet parents and students as they came in for Open House.
This YMCA staff had a table to introduce the YMCA after school program to parents.
A transportation table was set up during Open House so parents would be able to sign up to get their students on buses, in cars, etc.

During the visit, students were also able to investigate the classroom environment while the parents filled out paperwork and asked questions. Below are pictures that were taken in the second grade, fourth grade, and multi-age classrooms, including four teachers, Mrs. Miles, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Gilmore, and Mrs. Johnson.

Mrs. Gilmore was showing students the variety of books she had in the classroom.
Mrs. Jones invited one of her students to show his Ninja pose in excitement about coming back to school.
Mrs. Miles posed with parent and student for Open House while student shared a new backpack.
Mrs. Johnson shared with parents important information during Open House.

Excitement and laughter filled the hallways and classrooms as everyone prepared for the first day of school, which will be Monday, August 23. Below are pictures of MSPS teachers and other staff members who excitedly anticipate the first day of school.

First and second grade teachers posed with media specialist, Heather Kelley, to show readiness and excitement for Open House.
Two student interns and the custodian posed with four teachers to show readiness and excitement for Open House.
Three teachers posed to show readiness and excitement for Open House.

Students were kept motivated throughout the summer learning experience. 

  • To celebrate their work and learning throughout the summer, the K-5 students were invited to participate in Water Day and Kona Ice celebrations. These activities provided everyone with a lot of fun and excitement, which correlated with the academic and summer camp experience for the students.In preparation for moving up to Reidsville Middle School for sixth grade, participating 5th graders were able to attend Leadership Camp there the last week of summer learning. Reidsville Middle School provided the daily transportation.
  • A Kinder Camp for rising kindergarten students in Rockingham County was offered on August 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Thirty participants attended during these three half-days, and the experience concluded with a visit from Kona Ice. Staff members were invited to the celebration and enjoyed the cold treat.