May, 2015 - Second Grade Learning Experience!
Second graders enjoyed a wonderful spring day at Green Gate Farms just east of our community (see pictures in photo album). Green Gate Farms is a certified organic farm which was established by Skip Connett and Erin Flynn in an underserved neighborhood in east Austin in 2006. Working off-farm jobs to fund their efforts, they restored a historic farm site to create a community resource for neighbors of all incomes. Their vision is to cultivate an organic farm that feeds mind, body and soul. The students learned about their efforts as a perfect example of the PYP concept of "Action." They were able to interact with the produce of the farm, be introduced to a variety of animals and to see the connection the animals had to the foods raised. The trip was a wonderful follow-up to three of the second grade IB planners: Cycles help us understand how elements of life are connected; Structures in our world influence the ways communities function; and Living things make decisions when faced with scarcity.
May, 2015 - First Grade Fun
With the transdisciplinary theme of How the World Works, first grade's central idea "Living things depend on each other and the environment" led to a great deal of excitement. Students were deeply involved in caring for fertilized eggs that depended on them for rotation 3 times a day and a constant temperature of 99 degrees. Once born, the chicks depended on the students to be quiet, learn to hold, feed and meet their basic needs. It also involved learning to "let go" as the animals went to the farm environment. This cycle of life and dependency was an experience that many will never forget. In addition, students collected, organized and presented data through their inquiry projects. Students chose appropriate non-fiction animal books based on their curiosity and through inquiry and research became animal "experts" so that they could teach the class what they had learned. They used webs to organize their data and then used this information to present through a video script, brochure, poster or book. They became true thinkers and inquirers and pushed themselves to gain this knowledge!
May, 2015 - First Friday Event
Thanks to all who attended the event in Georgetown! Several Meridian students involved in instrumental instruction after school entertained participants and passers by - what great PR for Meridian!
First Friday Art Display
Several Meridian students had their art pieces selected for a one-week display at Thundercloud Subs as a part of the First Friday event in Georgetown. Those with work selected are:
K – Zach Boese – My Mondrian – collage
1st – Bailey Bagwell My Mondrian – collage
1st – Izaan Karedia – Her Comes the Train – graphite and paper
1st – Siri Pamu – Under the Ocean – watercolor and collage
2nd – Emily Anderson – Under the Sea – watercolor and collage
2nd – Joshua Fowler – My Mondrian – collage
2nd – Colby Taylor – My Mondrian – collage
2nd – Keertana Velpula – Under the Sea– watercolor and collage
3rd – Graham Cutler – Forest – watercolor, oil, pastel, yarn
3rd – Riya Patil – My City – watercolor and ink
3rd – Diego Rodriguez – Abstract Turtle – printmaking
3rd – Fiona Ryder – Leaf – printmaking
3rd – Jude Stippick – Under the Ocean – tempera and oil pastel
4th - Colin Clements – Germany – Pen and Ink
4th - Taryn Cook – Pattern 6 – mixed media
4th – Drew Day - Penguins - printmaking
4th – Stefani Dewald – Like Pollock and Kandinsky – oil
4th – Gigi Proctor – Like Pollock and Kandinsky – oil pastel and tempera
4th – Anoushka Soni – Greenery – textures with oil pastels
4th – Lexi Valladares – Like Pollock and Kandinsky – oil pastel and tempera
6th – Avery DiCarlo – Mandala – pen and ink
6th – Addison Gutierrez – Mandala – pen and ink
6th – Amelie Vain – Mandala – pen and ink
5th Grade Ceramics: Rachel Ayala, Laila Diaz, Aidan Fontenot, Braden Janke, Jadrian Johnson, Carter Langley, Tanner Tyndall, Amelie Vain
6th Grade Ceramics: Mitchell Caroll, Ismael Garudo, Alekzandr Kinghorn, Yogda Kulkarni, Alejandra Sandoval
April, 2015 - Math Pentathlon Competition
Meridian students on the Division 1 team competed in March and earned 3 Hall of Fame, 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze, 8 Honorable Mention and 5 Pentathlete awards. Students in Division 2 competed in April at the Austin MP Tournament and brought us these additional awards: 6 Gold, 4 Silver, 3 Bronze, 3 Honorable Mention and 2 Pentathlete! Now I’m excited to share that the Division 3 tournament was held May 2 and to the award totals Meridian added 1 Silver, 2 Bronze, and 6 Pentathlete awards! Congratulations to all of the students participating for their learning and their spirit in the competitions they have been involved in. This is the first year for the Meridian competition team and I know they exhibited the Learner Profile and made Meridian proud! Good luck to our Division 4 team in this month’s meet!
2nd grade - Sushant Botla, Anshu Jakkula, Triyatha Jammula, Ragotham Narayanan, Emrie Sindrey, Ethan Sommers, Addison Taylor, Keertana Velpula
3rd grade - Jash Bhalani, Haley Bush, Donovan Cho, Tariq Diaz, Harmony Ho, Iain Hock, Aleete Hogg, Juliana Johnson, Aiden Kirchoff, Harini Majety, Saishreyas Revuri, Waleed Tareen, Leon Tong.
4th grade – Anwita Siddavatam – silver, Krithy Melam – bronze, Ayushi Kate – bronze, Smriti Naarayanan – Pentathlete, Suraj Swamy – Pentathlete, Abhiruth Ladukodi – Pentathlete, Pranav Boopalam – Pentathlete
5th grade – Vedant Kotlapure – Pentathlete, Shreyas Prodduturu – Pentathlete
April, 2015 - Third Grade Systems Planner: In third grade, students just concluded a study of systems and how understanding the way systems are interconnected allows us to make a meaningful contribution. We examined what constitutes a meaningful contribution and came up with the following criteria:
A meaningful contribution is one that is...
Purposeful/worth taking action for
Important for everyone
Worth the investment
Positive with a result that helped something to advance
On one formative assessment the students had to think of someone they know personally or someone they have learned about who has made a contribution. Next they had to evaluate whether that contribution was meaningful. Here are some quotes from the student’s work:
Rowan was inspired to write about his dad. He said, “My dad is a nurse who takes care of people who are injured or who are just being dramatic. Either way he takes care of people and that is a meaningful contribution to our world. That’s why when I grow up first I will be a doctor.”
Dylan wrote about Martin Luther King’s contribution. He said that MLK “dreamed that children could be together” and that he “inspired many to believe that culture and color don’t matter.” He explained that his contribution was worth “being in jail for to accomplish his goal.”
Leon wrote that “Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) made an important contribution by being a good president and also a chief in the US Navy.” He explained that “the investment was worth it because it took time, but changed the states.”
Aleete chose Dr. Suess. She said that Dr. Suess’ books have helped children learn to read and develop their imaginations. She said that writing books was worth Dr. Suess’ investment and time because his contribution has benefited everyone, given positive results, and helps others advance in reading. Dr. Suess’ books also teach important life lessons.
Carter shared how his aunt has made a meaningful contribution to our world through her organization, “Little Helping Hands.” He described it as being an organization that helps other charities, such as making food for the Ronald McDonald House. Her investment of her time, energy, and money is all worth it as it helps many people!
We feel certain our students will grow up to make meaningful contributions to our world!
April, 2015 - Visual Art Connects to IB Planners
It is always exciting to watch the connections between multi-grade art projects and the IB Program of Inquiry! We recently watched three grade level IB planners connect in the following ways:
Kinder, 1st and 2nd were inspired by a provocation connected to four-time Caldecott Honor Winner, Leo Lionni. In his book Swimmy, a school of fish find a creative way to ward off large predators by working together, and Lionni's beautiful illustrations provided a perfect opportunity to teach systems and interconnectedness.
Within the kinder planner they discussed How the World Works by inquiring into how the cycles of sea life work together to form their interdependent environment.
The project then connected with the first grade planner in How the World Works by illustrating how living things rely upon each other within the same ecosystem, which was a direct connection to their central idea.
Finally, the second graders utilized various types of media (including collage,assemblage, and paint) to complete their interpretation of Lionni's work. They appreciated his creativity and enjoyed emulating his artistic style while connecting to their planner in How We Express Ourselves. This connected directly to their central idea, "Artistic media helps us discover and appreciate ourselves and others."
Primary Visual Art teacher, Brenda Costin, states, "Every time I read Swimmy I'm reminded of how it's message speaks to all ages, and then I'm reminded of how all great Children's books share that same quality!"
(see examples of student work below and in photo album)
March, 2015 - 5th & 6th Grade IB Mini-Courses
K-4 students take specials classes in art, music, physical education/wellness, Spanish A and Spanish B. However, students in 5th & 6th grades, in addition to art, music and physical education/wellness, take French Immersion, Internationalism, IB Approaches to Learning, and Mini-Courses. These mini-courses are connected to an IB planner studied at Meridian. For 2014-15 Semester 1, that planner revolved around the central idea "Diversity enhances creativity." For the second semester the planner central idea being followed is "A complex balance of interrelated factors contribute to an individual's well-being." Courses include: Games to Keep You Well; Making Beautiful Music; Writing for Peace and Prosperity; Don't Worry Be Happy; Animals, Music, Art and More (looking at different types of therapy); The Art of Relaxation and Fitness (Tai Chi and Yoga); Turn Up Your Brain Power; and Sacred Circles. Pictures to the bottom right include student work in this last class, which looks at the Mandala used in meditation and healing through the Native American Indians, Tibetan monks, etc. They are fascinating and extremely popular classes which many staff members would like to attend!
February, 2015 - Fourth Grade IB Learning Experience
The fourth grade learning trip to Fredericksburg, Texas was a great success. Students spent time in learning sessions at the Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War which honors Fredericksburg native son Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and his experiences in World War II. They also explored the natural landforms and habitats at Enchanted Rock, a huge pink granite exfoliation dome that rises 425 feet above the ground and covers 640 acres. It is one of the largest batholiths in the United States and has been a National Natural Landmark since 1970. Both experiences connected to I.B. planners being studied.
February, 2015 - Texas IB Schools (TIBS) Event
The Spring TIBS board and coordinators meetings this year featured a recognition and celebration of the life of Roshan Thomas, a humanitarian who worked with and served on the International Baccalaureate Board of Directors and was a friend to the Texas group of schools. Roshan and family spoke at TIBS events many times, updating on her work on establishing schools for children who had no access - particularly in Afghanistan. Dr. Thomas was killed along with others at dinner meeting at a hotel in Kabul. Students across Texas IB schools paid tribute by making handprints, which were then sent to an organization which will combine them in an exciting project. They also completed several other projects, including writing about what they wish their legacy to be. At the meeting, attended by Drew Deutsch - Director of IB in the Americas, Karen Phillips, Director of TIBS, spoke of her life and introduced her family who accepted funds for a scholarship for their organization.
February, 2015 - 5th Grade Living Museum
5th grade students participated in a Living Museum as the culmination of a month-long biography project for our How We Express Ourselves unit of inquiry. The project focused on the central idea The articulation of beliefs and values can result in conflict. Students researched both modern and historical figures who expressed their beliefs and values, often leading to conflict. Biography subjects included Joan of Arc, Wangari Maathi, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Benedict Arnold, John F. Kennedy, Fredrick Douglass, Frida Kahlo, Malcolm X, Galileo, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Elvis Presley, Cesar Chavez, Josef Stalin, Harriet Tubman, Albert Einstein, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Students read biographies, used the research process to take notes on notecards, created a thesis statement, developed organized paragraphs that included topic sentences and supporting details, and then wrote research papers. Papers included sections highlighting the beliefs and values of the biography subjects, the conflicts caused by the expression of these beliefs, the influence of the person on others and the world, and the IB attitudes and Learner Profile traits exhibited by the subjects. Students used multiple sources and wrote bibliographies, as well. Visitors enjoyed viewing the exhibits, which featured persuasive speeches by the biography subjects, Bio Poems about the subjects, photos or portraits, and propaganda artifacts, such as signs, buttons or banners. This project required a great deal of time, effort, and commitment, and students enjoyed showing off their research and hard work!