Animal Adaptations

Thank you to Riverside Intermediate science teacher Liz Bradley for sharing the engaging way that her students applied their new knowledge of physical and behavioral adaptations in the animal kingdom! This assignment gave students choice and allowed for their own creativity as they demonstrated their understanding of concepts learned. 

“For this assignment we were studying behavioral adaptations and physical adaptations in science.  The children were asked to download the app Puppet Pals 2 and I let them play around with the app for about 5 minutes the day before we started the project.  I did this so they were comfortable with the app.  On the day that we made the videos, I had the children search for an animal of their choice and screen shot the picture.  Then they were able to upload the picture from their photos into Puppet Pals as their background.  I told the children that they needed to use the puppets to point out one physical and one behavioral adaptation.  The children then uploaded their videos to our class YouTube account.”

Check out this example!

And click this link for a second example!

‘Comical’ Monomyths

SUPER MAHEKWhen it was time for HSE Junior High’s Jeff Libey to teach the monomyth, aka, the ‘Hero’s Journey’, to his seventh grade English composition students last year, he didn’t even consider mere lecture. This key story structure, integral to much of classic and modern literature, begged for an interactive project–an activity in which the students could demonstrate understanding by constructing a narrative of their own. Libey’s answer: the monomyth comic book! This 2013 project was so successful that Mr. Libey recently encored it with this year’s seventh graders.

IMG_1531When HSE21 Shorts visited HSEJH last week, Libey had just finished covering introductory material–the Hero’s Journey cycle–with his students, and had shown examples of the hero’s journey in film and text. Then it was the students’ turn to show what they’d learned: HSE21 Shorts followed along as each student storyboarded their own monomyth, i.e., wrote the tale of a hero’s journey. Students acted out and photographed (with iPads and smartphones) their monomyths , and then edited the photos (comic-y filters!). Next would come layout and the addition of text, then peer-to-peer sharing to locate  hero’s journey elements in classmates’ myths.

Interacting with new concepts through creation and presentation aids in deep learning. Jeff Libey’s students will remember this creative and fun class project for years to come–even more, they’ll remember the Hero’s Journey cycle and recognize it as they approach literature in the future.


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Student Choice Makes Learning Meaningful

Riverside Intermediate fifth graders in Jenny Nance’s Humanities class have just finished a unit studying Native American regions. In planning the lessons and activities, Mrs. Nance was committed to offering options to engage all of her students–to tap the various interests, talents, and abilities of her young learners. Nance’s overarching goal: for every student to engage with and understand Native American history and culture in an enduring way.

Nance1The resulting project combined research, teamwork, creativity, presentation and choice, and was a smash hit with the fifth graders! Following mini-lesson introductions to the unit’s topics, student teams were formed. Through research and discovery, each team became the class experts on one native american region. Students were given choice in how they’d present their learning to the class–dramatic presentations, Minecraft creations, artworks and life-sized displays were all used to convey important facts and concepts to classmates. Throughout the presentations, Mrs. Nance served as Guide, helping to weave essential elements of all regions into a unified whole.

Active, student-driven learning – that’s HSE21!