Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Cotton!

A couple months ago, I posted about a cotton project we did where we harvested the cotton from our school garden, deseeded it, and learned all about the cotton process.

Well, our awesome garden educator Mrs. Breed-Parks came up with this fantastic idea of actually using the cotton we picked and making something out of it!  She decided we could make paper out of the cotton, and then create ornaments (for the ECC's craft fair) from the paper.  I thought this was a terrific idea, because it would show the students how cotton comes full circle from plant to product.

So we blocked a couple days this last week before winter break to partner up with Mrs. Breed-Parks and our art teacher Mrs. Schepker-Mueller to whip up some handmade cotton paper.  For those who are wondering, here's the steps we took to create our paper:
  1. You pick the cotton from the plant.
  2. You pull the cotton from the burr so you just have the cotton boll.
  3. You then de-seed the cotton and pick all the "trash" (leaves, etc...) out of the cotton so you have clean cotton.  The seeds you keep separate so you can replant them and grow more cotton plants next year!
  4. Once you have the clean cotton, you have to wisp it--you pull it apart into tiny wisps.
  5. When you have your wisps made, then you use scissors to cut the wisps into even smaller parts.
  6. You then cut up colored paper (depending on what color paper you want to make) into tiny squares: this is used as filler for your cotton paper you will make.
  7. You then put your cut up cotton wisps, colored paper, a little corn starch mixture, and water into a blender (you can add flower seeds to the mixture as well too--that way, once you're done with your paper ornament, you can actually plant your ornament in your yard and flowers will grow!).
  8. You blend the mixture up (adding more water so it's like the consistency of a smoothie) for about a minute until it's all the same consistency.
  9. You then pour the paper mixture out on a screen and press out all of the water as you're smoothing out your paper onto the screen.
  10. You let it dry for a day and then your paper is ready to be made into whatever you want to craft it an ornament!  You can decorate it with paint, markers, colored paper, glitter, whatever you want!
The students really had a great time learning about the paper making process (and seeing the cotton that they picked come full circle into a product).  They made some really cool ornaments from this paper that really show their creativity.

Check out the pics below for the whole cotton paper making process and the products they produced!  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Active Citizen Project 2013

Two years ago, the 8th graders (in the 2011-2012 class) did our first Active Citizen Project.  It was a huge hit: The Patch did a story on them, equal rights groups posted their gay-rights commercial, and the students really enjoyed picking from a "menu" of project options.

This project challenges students to showcase their knowledge from our government unit in a way that shows how they are members of a participatory democracy.  Combining our objectives, tech skills, and real-world knowledge, students set out to show their active membership in our democratic society.

So before winter break, we wrapped up our government unit with this same project, with a few modifications to update some of the tech pieces to 2013 standards.  The students were challenged with picking two to three projects from the project menu that added up to 100 points.  There were many different project choices the students could pick from (check out the options below), and they were given a few days in class to work on their projects (as well as whatever they needed to finish up at home) to get their projects completed.  This time, to turn in their projects, students created an "Active Citizen Project" folder in their Google Drive, shared it with me, and the uploaded all of their projects to this folder whenever they finished them.

Overall, (once again!), I was completely blown away by the projects these students created.  The political cartoons were great, the commercials were informative and engaging, and the letters were heart-felt and about real issues that were important to the students.  Check out a sampling of some of the projects below.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 9, 2013

MRH Community Tech Project

In technology we just recently finished up our MRH Community Tech Projects.  Students were tasked with creating a video (using iMovie) that documents the aspect of the MRH Community that they chose to highlight in their movie.

Students could pick from the list of aspects to make their movie centered around that included MRHMS' metaphor: School as Expedition, MRH's cornerstone program, MRHMS club day, MRHMS adventure club, MRHMS' sustainability program, MRHMS' home visit program, Joe's Place, or MRHMS' bee and garden program.

Students set out and found pictures and videos to use in their movie along with student and staff interviews they set up and wrote questions for.

Overall, these MRH community videos were excellent!  Last year's tech class set high standards to what I was expecting and this year's class really lived up to my expectations.  Check out a few of their community videos below!

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