Thursday, April 26, 2018

Day 136 - Traveling the World at Fox Hill Family Geography Night

This post first appeared on the BPSEdTech Blog

On Thursday, April 12th Fox Hill students and their families experienced the first ever Family Geography Night. This student-centered event exemplified three core values of Burlington Public Schools; teacher leadership, collaboration, and family engagement. The entire organizational team was thrilled to see over 100 people in attendance and we’d like to extend our sincere thanks to all the Fox Hill families who supported our inaugural event.

Fox Hill Family Geography Night Organization Team (pictured left to right) Elementary Social Studies Coach Katie Bercury, second grade teacher Michelle Tigges, third grade teachers Heather Lisano, Elana Snyder, Instructional Technology Specialist Jenn Scheffer, third grade teacher Karen Saia, and Librarian/Media Specialist Patrick Murphy.

The idea for Family Geography Night was shared with Elementary Social Studies Coach Katie Bercury by third grade teacher Karen Saia when she returned from the 97th Annual National Council for the Social Studies conference in San Francisco, California. Ms. Saia had attended the workshop, “How To Plan a Family Geography Night,” an event developed by Robert P. Poirier of North Andover Middle School, and thought Fox Hill could create a similar event that could be tailored specifically to the elementary social studies curriculum. After an initial meeting with Katie Bercury, an organizational team was formed and planning for the Fox Hill Family Geography Night began. The team engaged in extensive planning and created a blueprint for the event not only for Fox Hill, but for other schools throughout the district to use a guide in planning their own Geography Nights in the future. The team brainstormed to create seven original and interactive continent stations. These hands-on stations gave students the opportunity to “travel around the world in a day” and explore a variety of grade-level appropriate geography topics with an emphasis on mapping skills, continents, and landforms. The team made it a priority to develop stations that would allow students to learn alongside their peers and families, making this a truly inclusive educational experience. Each station was facilitated by a member of the Fox Hill Family Geography Night organizational team and students were completely engaged throughout the night. The creation of Family Geography Night was the epitome of teacher leadership, and we are fortunate to work in a district that supports and promotes teacher leadership initiatives. We look forward to next year’s Family Geography Night and giving Fox Hill students and their families the opportunity to once again travel the world in a day!

Family Geography Night Continent Stations
Europe: Karen Saia

Our first station, run by Ms. Saia, was Europe. This station allowed students to obtain their passports for the evening and indicate either their place of birth or a country that was important to them, on our world map. Passports featured an image of each continent which corresponded to a particular activity. After completing each activity, the continent on the passport was stamped by the station facilitator. The completed passport was turned in at the end of the evening and students received a mini globe to take home as a souvenir.

South America: Katie Bercury
Our South America station was our giant National Geographic map of South America. This station was facilitated by Katie Bercury and gave students the opportunity to walk across the map and explore the entire continent of South America. Earlier this year, Fox Hill hosted a creativity and curiosity assembly and this station definitely evoked curiosity in the minds of our young learners. Students were intrigued by what they discovered on the map and were able to ask questions to gain more knowledge about the continent of South America. Since this station was such a unique experience for students, it will make subsequent lessons about mapping and geography more motivating and engaging. Additionally, students will remember what they learned from this experience and apply it to gaining new knowledge and skills in the social studies curriculum.

Asia & Antarctica: Patrick Murphy and Jenn Scheffer

The Learning Commons offered students and their families two stations, Antarctica and Asia. The Antarctica station offered students and their families the chance to test their knowledge of countries and states by playing the iPad games Stack the States and Stack the Countries. In this area of the Learning Commons we also displayed Google Earth on our Apple TV and flew from Rome, Italy to Jerusalem, Israel. Students and families were able to view these places in 3D and parents seemed especially impressed by the Google Earth technology. The Asia station was our family photo green screen station. Students had their photos taken in front of the Grand Canyon, Eiffel Tower, Great Barrier Reef, The Vatican, Taj Majal, and the Statue of Liberty. It was wonderful to see parents and students engaged in collaborative learning experiences and we look forward to developing more events that will foster a strong home/school connection and increase parent involvement in the educational process.

Africa: Elana Snyder
Our Africa station was facilitated by Mrs. Snyder. This was a highly interactive, hands-on station where students were able to create many geographic landforms with everyone’s favorite…playdough! Students used topographical globes to identify where different landforms are located on all seven continents and were able to select a continent to create a landform. This activity gave students the chance to demonstrate their artistic talents and share their creations with their parents.

Australia: Heather Lisano
Mrs. Lisano did a fantastic job facilitating a wide variety of geography games including geography bingo, Countries and Capitals, and a world puzzle. Students enjoyed multiple rounds of Global Bingo that allowed them to practice their oral language skills, as Mrs. Lisano asked students to state the names of various countries from around the world. Students identified the continent where the country was located on their Bingo boards and had an absolute blast while learning more about geography.

North America: Michelle Tigges
The North America station was organized by second grade teacher Michelle Tigges. This station consisted of mystery pictures from around the world. Students and parents tested their geography knowledge by trying to identify the country of the landmarks that were pictured on the cards. This station was challenging and fun for both students and parents!

 As you can clearly see from the photos in this post, Family Geography Night at Fox Hill was a huge success. The evening could not have been the success it was had it not been for the efforts of the leadership team and their commitment to the planning and promotion of our inaugural Family Geography Night. We know that the Burlington Public Schools administration advocates and supports events that strengthen the connection between home and school. We will continue to brainstorm unique educational opportunities for all Burlington families so stayed tuned!

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