Total Pageviews

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Vanderbilt Polycom

We have been lucky enough to work with Island Readers & Writers again this spring as they offered us a pilot program with a focus on science-based literature. Scientists at Vanderbilt University met with us via polycom for three sessions. The last session was on invertebrates and the kids got to examine different invertebrates, some with exoskeletons...some without.
Here was my personal favorite: tarantula! The Polycom was so clear that you could actually see the hairs on its body. We hope to work with these terrific scientists again next year!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cody and Dylan's Promotion

Mr. Liebow, our superintendent, and Joanne Harriman, our principal (and assistant superintendent) came out to preside over our small, but meaningful, 8th grade promotion. Rob Liebow was the keynote speaker and he talked about the lore of the mermaid egg. He then gave each boy a 'possible' egg that he had gathered for them, to bring them luck, hope, and prosperity in their lives.

He also had a special rock, that had a twin lucky stripe around it to signify the special bond that these twin boys will always share, something that will always connect them to each other.
Joanne Harriman handed out the diplomas and with that, our class of two, moved on to high school.
Each boy got up and spoke, quite eloquently I thought, about their time in Frenchboro School and the changes they had seen.
It was a chance for them to thank the people that had helped them along the way, and they did just that.
We could not be more proud of these boys. We have had the chance to watch them turn from boys to young men full of wisdom, integrity, humor, and kindness. They will be sorely missed.

Thanks to Becky Lenfestey for sharing these photos!!


Our last art class happened when Cody and Dylan were away with Mr. Finn and their dad on the 8th grade trip. All of us who didn't get to go on the zipline painted watercolor lighthouses! I know, I know, even with the exclamation point, it just doesn't have the zing of ZIPline.
They came out beautifully, though, and it seemed a fitting art project for our little island school!

Brody Brings a Friend

Brody brought Shredder in for shares on Friday. We were highly distracted by her antics and cuteness. Seth was giving a play-by-play of her every movement. "Ms. Finn. She's out! Look at how cute she is! She's nibbling! Awww...she's chewing on the paper! She's washing her face." To which I finally replied. "Ahhh. Brody? Can you put her in the cubby area?"


We had a rather impressive storm recently, which apparently brought a tornado to other parts of Maine! Of course, we all trooped out onto the porch to watch the clouds swirl above us, bringing heavy rains, with a bit of hail!
Jessica took this gorgeous one of the clouds above the ball field. Amazing! The thunder and lightning really brought a lot of oooo's and ahhhh's from the kids. Who doesn't love a good storm?

Fitness Test

We've been working all year on our calisthenics and it was time for our fitness test. The kids did it twice, to see if they could improve from one week to the next. They did sit ups, push ups and pull ups. The really impressive scores were Cody's 12 pull ups, Bradley's 131 situps, Cadin's 220 situps and Austin's 330 situps!! We're talking real situps, too, not crunches. They were hobbling around like old men for the next two days.

Mr. Finn Catches a Turtle...Again

Our first year, while walking with the students on an amphibian finding mission, we happened upon a turtle, which Mr. Finn promptly caught to show the kids. Bradley didn't get a chance to really get up close and personal with it, and we always regretted not letting them touch it and inspect it. So, the other day while we were walking the dog, Mr. Finn caught another turtle.
We brought it into the school for a couple hours. Bradley got to hold this one. She was a good sport and only hissed at us twice. I love painted turtles. They are so brilliantly colored and their tiny, webbed feet are surprisingly soft on the bottom. I also love their perfect pin-hole nostrils. I named her Calpurnia because we've been reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate for science class.

Apple Blossoms

I'm a sucker for a photo op. And our favorite apple tree was in full bloom when we went to transplant our seedlings. I could not resist. "Hey, kids! Stop what you're doing and climb this tree!"
I did not have to ask twice. Isn't this the greatest class picture ever? Love it.

This is reminiscent of the Myron/Brody photo from the garden last year. Love the dirty noses.
And dirty knees.

A beautiful day in the garden with the best kids on earth.


Ever since we got the garden grant, we've been starting our seedlings in our Aerogarden. Well, this year it was so inclement that we just couldn't transplant, so the tomatoes got gargantuan and we had to move them from the hydroponic unit to larger containers, where they continued to grow....massively.
Finally we got a stretch of warmer-than-50-degree-weather so we headed down to the garden to put in our babies. Well, teenagers.

It was a Plant Parade!

I think these plants were as happy to be in the soil as we were to get them out of the school! I hope they bring lots of sweet, succulent tomatoes to enjoy all summer long.


This has been two years in the making. We started three years ago, actually, with a discussion about service learning and about how we could make the community and school better. We made lists of things that we could do to beautify the area, like beach cleanups, and other things that would be useful or helpful to our school, but that might require funding. The kids then power voted on each list for their top pick. Number one in the fundraising was a bike rack. They came up with the idea to do a Fun Fair and it was so successful that not only did they purchase a bike rack, they began the process of accomplishing the second most popular item on the list: adding on to the playground. Well, two years and three Fun Fairs later, we finally had enough money to begin the addition. The kids had designed a plan for how they would like the addition to look, in keeping with the original design. The only thing left to do was purchase the materials and break ground. Thanks SO SO SO much to Paul Charpentier for running several important errands for us when we couldn't get off-island.
This was the result of two weeks of labor. A couple parents helped a bit, but truly, it was the kids who were involved in every aspect, from pouring the cement for the footings, to measuring, cutting and nailing/screwing in all the wood. A great effort.
Then it was time for staining. They had wanted blue and Cody just happened to be in Lowe's with me when I was buying the stain, so he got the final say on the blue.
Two afternoons were dedicated to staining...thank goodness it had FINALLY stopped raining.
Everyone helped.
We were Covered with paint.

Some of us more than others. (Sorry, Katie!!)
Jessica even came down to help out. She sure had the right idea with the chair!
The Three Stooges were on weed patrol while the rest of the kids mulched.
Taaaaa Daaaaaa! Now, is this not the most beautiful creation ever? Try to tell me otherwise, just try.
Climbing wall on the back side. What a gorgeous blue!
I swear, every time I look out back I just smile, smile, smile! And the best part? The kids haven't gotten off that things since we finished. They are constantly playing on it. What a GREAT job and a GREAT effort, kids! I'm so proud of you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Meeting with Vanderbilt

Island Readers and Writers always offers us a chance to do wonderful programs with authors and illustrators. They've taken it one step farther, now, by teaming up with Vanderbilt University's Aspirnaut Program to offer literature links to science instruction. We've been reading two wonderful books: We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Both of these children's books deal with natural selection and Darwin's Evolution of the Species. The second part of the program is to meet with actual scientists from Vanderbilt over our Polycom.
Here is our new friend, a scientist at the University, Stephanie Zeiger. She took us through a lesson on how birds' beaks evolve over time to better adapt to their food sources. We had several kinds of beans and several kinds of implements that would serve as our beaks. The kids were then timed to see how many beans they could gather in two minutes.
Chaos ensued. There were beans flipping all over the place. They LOVED it.
Of course, some implements were easier than others. I hope that I don't ever get stuck as a bird with a beak like chopsticks.
All in all, the data we gathered showed that lima beans were easiest to gather, and that the spoon was the most successful implement. The second round, everyone switched their implements, but we saw a marked increase in all the implements success due to the learning process everyone went through. This brought up a great discussion about adaptations and evolution of species from generation to generation. A great thanks to Jan Coates from IRW and to Dr. Zeiger from Vanderbilt!