Project Studio

One of the many challenges students face in Project Studio is working cooperatively in small groups. In the beginning of every year, I am often posed with the question: Can I switch groups? My response is always the same. “ I probably won’t change the group, but I will work with you to become a better team”. It is in this time of the year that I witness the incredible transformation that takes place as your kids strive and learn to work cooperatively. The requests for transfers slip away. The distraction turns to focus. It shows in their work! It is incredible to see and to be a part of.

First Grade in Project Studio is all about communities. Recently we focused on why communication and transportation was important to the growth of communities. We learned Morse Code and experimented with a homemade Morse Code machine. We learned about the history of transportation and designed our own transportation of the future to serve the growing needs of our community. Next semester we will learn about community workers. Project Studio will transform into a gigantic mail sorting facility and a construction zone just to name a couple of our activities. There will be lots of exploration, problem solving, and very hands on lessons.

Second graders are finishing their unit on homes and architecture. In keeping with the multicultural theme of their Social Studies curriculum, we began by exploring different types of homes from around the world. Students focused on five different homes. Each home represents a culture and a climate. Next we studied the job of an architect and the many challenges they face. Each group was asked to design a home that reflects one of the places, cultures, and architecture we studied. Our culminating activity is to build each of the homes, much the same way an architect would make a model of their design. From cardboard, construction paper, tape, glue, and markers their designs are rising from two dimensional to three. I am always amazed with this project!

Third graders had a very exciting opportunity to think as archaeologists by looking at authentic artifacts of the Cahuilla people. The Cahuilla tribe was native to Southern California. The artifacts were graciously lent to us by the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. Students were asked to look closely at each artifact, describe the artifact, and do their best to determine how the artifact was used. It was amazing to see just how often their ideas were correct and otherwise how creative their responses were. We ended the lesson by making all the connections between the artifacts and their uses. We continued or studies with an interactive computer program that asked students to become part of a Gabrielino tribe and piece together the elements of a village. We are finishing our lesson by making Gabrielino villages complete with wiki- ups, storehouses, sweathouses, and ceremonial houses.

Fourth Graders have come to Project Studio for lessons that either introduce or culminate their Social Studies units. Recently, we have explored the question, “Who is an explorer?” We looked at the lives of five well known and very different kinds of explorers. Through a photographic investigation and on the laptop computers, we discovered how explorers have similar qualities, including their need to use technology. This month we will live a couple of hours on a mission. Mission life in Project Studio will included a challenging activity using a detailed large scale model of a mission, fresh pressed and cooked tortillas, candle making, weaving our own cloth, making adobe bricks, and designing original stained glass windows. As fun as it will be, students always remark that life on the mission is a lot of hard work!
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