Learning Is Fun

“Today we will be starting our Winter Olympics. What are the Winter Olympics?” asked Fletcher Elementary School Physical Education teacher Greg Jackson. “They are a global event, where countries compete in different sports to see who is the best. The Olympics symbolize hard work, determination, sportsmanship and the celebration of sports.”

Jackson introduced Fletcher students to a physical education Olympic unit that all students will be completing over the next few weeks. Jackson and fellow physical education teacher Ardelle Rambacher created a lesson plan revolving around the Winter Olympics. Students will spend time practicing and learning about the sporting events and compete in actual Winter Olympic events like bobsledding, hockey, speed skating and ski-jumping. The teachers came up with creative ways for students to experience these events. For example, during speed skating, students will use scarves as ice skates and race around a “track.”

WINTER OLYMPICS COME

TO PHYSICAL EDUCATION CLASSES

In addition to the physical education components like competency in motor skills, teamwork and learning about new sports, students will also participate in an ELA station where they will read about curling and answer questions about what they read, pulling out the important details. Along with the connection of the real Winter Olympics, second-grade students have an ELA module on the Olympic Games where they learn to identity ancient Greece as the site of the Olympic Games and describe the games of ancient Greece. This creates a link between the classroom and physical education.

“Everyone is talking about the real Olympics and it’s nice to make a global connection in the classroom,” said Jackson. “You can talk about bobsledding or speed skating but it’s an entirely different thing to actually try it. Our goal in physical education is to get the students moving and excited about exercise. By creating activities around a real-world event, it makes it fun to be physically active.”

Fletcher Elementary School’s physical education classes are just one area where students are learning and having fun at the same time.

ART AND CULTURE

REINFORCE CLASSROOM LESSONS

In Anna Sandberg’s art classes, students are learning more about the art and culture that goes long with their classroom lessons. For example in third grade, students are completing a module about frogs. In art, they study the anatomy and habitat of a frog so that they can properly draw one. By using warm and cool colors, students learn more about color theory. Second graders created the Parthenon out of hand-marbled paper and drew Greek statues as part of the Greek Gods and Goddess module. Fourth graders are studying Native Americans and created blankets constructed out of paper.

“I learned about the Tree of Life in class and I chose it as my symbol in art for my blanket. I had to imagine what it might look like and create my own Tree of Life using the five arrows to symbolize the five Native American nations coming together,” said Fletcher Elementary School fourth-grader Asia Hough.

“Being in class lets you think with your head about a subject and art lets you use your imagination. So combining the two helps me remember the lessons I learn in class.”

In each unit, Sandberg introduces students to art from that culture.

“Art is important as some students are able to better express themselves visually. Because they like art, it draws them into the subject matter and makes them more interested,” said Ms. Sandberg. “I try to work with the teachers to find out what is being taught in the classroom and devise a way to incorporate it into my art lessons.”

JEOPARDY CELEBRATES

SECOND-GRADERS LEARNING CHALLENGING TOPICS

Second-grade teachers, Chris Emley, Teresina Isabella, Trevor Hitchcock, Mary Indriolo, Shannon Osborne and Sylvia Johnson found a fun way to culminate their ELA module work. Fletcher “Jeopardy” had student teams push the buzzer to answer questions regarding: Fairy Tales, Tall Tales, Ancient India, Ancient China, Ancient Greece, Greek Myths and War of 1812. Teachers created the questions and set-up a big-screen Jeopardy game with “Zeus” Trebeck hosting. Students answered questions and celebrated with high-fives when their team answered correctly.

“After all of their hard work, we thought it was a fun way to review the information,” said the second-grade team. “Even though the modules and topics are challenging for the students, they are proud of themselves and the knowledge they have learned. We are always looking for a way to help celebrate their successes. The Jeopardy game lets the students see that they were up to the challenge to learn this information.”

The final Jeopardy winner, Greta Bollman, loved playing the game.

“My final question was, ‘What Greek God turned Arachne into a spider?’ The answer was Athena who the Goddess of Arts and Crafts. I love art so she is my favorite,” said Greta. “I had heard of Zeus but didn’t know anything else about Greek Gods or Goddesses before we learned about them. I think all the different things we’ve studied this year have been hard but we are going to need to know all of this when we get older so it’s good for us to learn it now.”

MUSIC ENHANCES

CURRICULUM

Music teacher Mary Crandall also incorporates classroom work into her curriculum. The third graders worked on a Canoe Song to go along with their Native American unit using instruments, pentatonic scale/harmonies and rhythm pattern combinations that make up the cultural sound of Native American music. Currently, she is working with second graders as part of their life cycle module. She is using the song, Metamorphosis as an effective way to solidify learned facts in students’ long-term memory.

“Students respond so well to the continuation of study from their classroom to their music class,” said Crandall. “The fine arts like music and movement are scientifically proven to enhance student’s processing abilities. Studies show that musical activity boosts brain development and enhances memory functions by creating those “cross-over” connections between the left and right sides of the brain.”