Learning at "The Ranch"
Most folks in our community are familiar with Ranchvale Elementary, about 20 minutes northwest of Clovis, fondly referred to by staff as "The Ranch." Along with our other school sites, a host of wonderful learning activities are taking place at "The Ranch."
For example, not long ago Ranchvale hosted a "Books & Bingo" evening event, the second year they've held this activity. Jennifer Inge and her fifth-grade students facilitated the year's Books & Bingo as an opportunity to involve parents and students in a family-fun evening event, which involved both literacy and numeracy. Inge's fifth-graders happily helped "work" the event, passing out and checking bingo cards, filling popcorn bags, not to mention sticking around for cleanup afterwards, aided by many volunteers.
This year's attendees numbered 218, a wonderful turnout, and all had a great time. In addition to playing Bingo, during the course of the evening, students collected various types of data, and the following day classes, across grade levels, used the data in a variety of ways: data represented in graphs or charts; figuring median, mode, and range, among others. It was a fun-filled evening, and every student went home with a book.
Not long before "Books & Bingo," Michele Roberts' first-graders hosted the next in a series of Ranchvale Learning Assemblies. They presented a "Reading Fair," during which they shared their favorite books through storyboard displays to "encourage student enjoyment of reading … and sharing that enjoyment with others," according to Roberts. Students used a process somewhat similar to science fairs and shared all pertinent information about their books: The title, author, illustrator, publishing information, setting, main characters, plot/conflict/solution, and author's purpose in writing.
As I was collecting information about these recent events at Ranchvale, I happened upon Vicki Guiffre's third-grade classroom. Students had just finished researching and creating presentations about explorers and Native American leaders and were bursting to share their findings.
Their enthusiasm was delightful, and their eagerness to share made their projects sound like such fun; I know I learned a lot that day from those third-graders. For example, Josh Campbell and Joey Whorton described their research about Charles Curtis, who also happened to be Herbert Hoover's vice president. Bianca Jaramillo and Tanner O'Brien studied Crazy Horse Dakota. Zoe Santos shared her information about explorers famous for discovering what is now called New York Harbor.
I could not believe the degree of enthusiasm with which these students described their work. Students' research had come from multiple sources, including books, encyclopedias, the Internet, and other sources. When I asked a question of one young man, he could not immediately recall the answer, but assured me, "Hang on just a second," and he promptly went to the bookshelves, thumbed through several books and found the piece of information that answered my question; very impressive.
This third grade teacher, Guiffre, described upcoming projects, and when I complimented her on her students' obvious success, she offered, "You know, no place is perfect, but after teaching in Chicago, and then coming to Ranchvale Elementary, this school is pretty close to perfect!"
Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at email@example.com