Thursday, September 26, 2013


Better than my birthday! All my Donor's Choose packages arrive this week!

 Since I joined Maury Elementary, I've written and received over $25,000 worth of grant funding to purchase educational materials for my students. I've also been lucky enough to have incredibly supportive PTA and 12 years of  connections to great people and organizations under my belt. It wasn't until recently though that I turned to Donors Choose to fulfill the project needs I'd created for some exciting new units. Over the years, I've supported many teachers for their projects but never had written my own! Now that I have gone back to the same organizations, people and grant funders again and again and I wanted to tap into the amazing network of everyday philanthropists for these new projects. It has been so rewarding! THANK YOU to all those who gave to my two most recent projects, "Build our Science Lab" and "Shhh... We are Tracking Animals". Both have been funded and materials arrived this week. While it will be about a month until we delve more deeply into the units you funded, our youngest students had a great time exploring our new Magnification Stations already! Thank you for caring so deeply about education... and science!

Until next time!
Mrs. Ford

Saturday, September 14, 2013


     Ms. Fox's students explore with Lego materials on Day 1 of our next Engineering Unit!
So this post is worth millions! (For a super fun montage of our 3rd week of school, click HERE!)

Our SMARTS focus this fall:

Ensuring that students get the opportunity to use many of their Multiple Intelligences is central to my program. So far this year, all challenges have been about using our Picture and People Smarts. 

Picture Smarts are officially known as Visual/Spatial Intelligences. This intelligence is about learning visually and organizing ideas spatially. Students see concepts in action in order to understand them. Working with these "smarts" allows students the ability to "see" things in one's mind in planning to create a product or solve a problem. 

People Smarts are officially known as Interpersonal Intelligences. Using these smarts, students learn through interaction with others and promote collaboration and working cooperatively with others.

Let two PK students show you how these smarts work together!

So, while the Monarch Larvae prepare to enter their adoptive homes ( aka the classrooms) for in depth study, other projects are happening in Think Tank.
Monarch Adoption Center! All larvae are now safely in loving classroom homes!

So... What's happening in each of the grade levels already? Let these pictures and videos be your guide. Enjoy!

PS and PK: PreSchool and PreK students are working in Think Tank through a series of center-based activities. Over the next two months, they will work with each of their 8 Intelligences ( Smarts) in these centers. So far they are LOVING it and doing such a great job working together and exploring STEM 
(Science, Engineering, Math and Technology) concepts.

                             Felt shapes to create with in one of the "Picture Smart" centers
GeoBlocks to create patterns
Working together to build with gears.

Felt patterns and creative design fun!

Explaining patterns at the drawing center!

Exploring reflections!


"Wow! I see four now!"
Exploring Science Picture Books
Massive collaborative effort with a big group! That's hard work!
K-4: All of these students have just begun various Lego units about Simple Machines! In addition to the STEM content covered in this unit, students are strengthening a number of Habits of Mind including "Listen Actively", "Collaborate and Inspire Teamwork" and " Use What You Know, Transfer Learning". Students are taking on a variety of challenges based on their grade level. The pictures below exemplify what a GREAT job they are doing at inspiring teamwork. It's not an easy task compiling ONE model with a group of people! Students are using their PEOPLE and PICTURE smarts in these challenges!

As students worked, I listened for words and phrases that inspired teamwork and recorded them. They are now posted around my room so students can reference them when thinking of ways to be supportive in their groups. This is one example!

Thank you to volunteer extraordinaire Elizabeth Nelson for these pictures she sent today! 4th Graders are working on engineering catapults!

HABITS OF MIND: Just a reminder that we always have a Habits of Mind focus with all of our challenges. The 4th Grade classes had 20 minutes to collaboratively make skits to explain the meaning of a few of them, and this one was particularly great! I'll let them explain " Wonder, Explore and Ask Questions"!

GARDEN CLUB: Under the guidance of Joe Ludes, one of our Special Education teachers, we have started a garden club for interested 3rd-5th grade students. Mr. Ludes happens to be a Master Gardener and runs the Hyattsville Urban Growers. He is leading the planting and education surrounding our new edible garden space in the front. Watch it as it transforms!

What about 5th Grade?
Not to worry! Pictures and videos are coming for this grade. They are taking part in the Anacostia Watershed Society's "Saving our Native Grasslands" project this month. This will include an in-class visit and two big field trips. It should be an amazing experience for them!

That's all I can fit for now. More will be coming soon, but you can always get daily updates by following me on Twitter ( @maurythinktank ). I also share lots of cool science articles and events there too!

Until next time... HAPPY THINKING!
-Mrs. Ford

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Follow Maury Think Tank on Twitter!

I'm in the process of trying to write a comprehensive new blog post with tons of pictures and info about all the great projects we've started this year. It's taking longer than I thought! In the meantime, follow @maurythinktank on Twitter and you can see DAILY updates from the classroom and links to fun at home events!

Expect a new blog post by the end of the weekend! Happy Thinking!
-Mrs. Ford

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Maury Monarch Madness

The fall of 2012 send-off celebration!

In less than one week, about 70 newborns will be delivered to Maury ready to be nurtured by our students. For our third year, we will observe, explore, investigate and create projects surrounding the amazing Monarch butterfly.  As we prepare to welcome these amazing creatures into our community, I want to try to more directly connect our school-wide study with things you can do at home together with your children.

Become a Citizen Scientist!
Join thousands of other everyday citizens and report your Monarch sitings! Report your sitings HERE !

Take a family trip to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum's Monarch Exhibit and IMAX!
 Haven't been to this museum's  Live Monarch Exhibit and/or go watch the amazing IMAX film about their incredible journey. Get more information HERE !

Search our neighborhood milkweed for eggs and larvae!
 Take a walk and spend some time on a search for the super-tiny Monarch eggs, evidence of the very hungry caterpillars (larvae) or a beautiful chrysalis. Eggs are barely visible and are often found on the underside of milkweed leaves. It takes patience to find one but well worth it when you do!
Look closely! The eating pattern should help you find them!

Find some leaves? Bring them in so that your child's classmates can investigate the larvae eating patterns more closely.

Not sure what milkweed looks like? Check out our front garden... and all over the city! You can find a visual guide HERE or look for the very common kind that is blooming all over our city right now! Please always wash your hands after you touch milkweed!

Swamp Milkweed has been a favorite of our larvae in the past!

Follow the Monarch migration from home HERE while learning all about their amazing migration! You will be inspired... I promise! Check out their journey HERE.

I hope you are ready to watch the amazing metamorphosis and pictures from our own Maury Monarchs next week.

Happy thinking!
-Mrs. Ford

Tagged and ready to fly South.... or not?