Preparing to share far & wide

Now that all of the schools participating in the Young Authors Workshop have completed the sessions with their facilitators, they’re going to share what they learned with each other and everyone else.

They’re going to do that using a zine (more on what that is later), with each classroom creating a part of a single publication, collaborating from afar. Dr. Coppins from SHARP Literacy and Adam Carr visited each of the classrooms to help the students get started on their submission.

We’ll be able to share the final product soon!



Session #2 La Causa Charter School

Thank you for another fun filled day of YAW. The students learned a lot from Ms. Xela and Dr. Dina. They were very excited for them to come because they enjoy their personality and engaging activities. The students have been learning about health, the different types of germs and how they affect us.

The students especially loved the La Causaterium activity  from the first session because it was a very different experience for them and they continued talking about it days later! They also enjoyed the survey on brushing their teeth and the making of the bar graph chart. Students were very impressed on how many students brushed and flossed their teeth each day.

They also enjoyed writing down the types of food and checking off the particular ones that contained sugar. They really enjoyed making cards to people about their oral health to be mailed out. The students benefited from these activities and learned a lot, including different types of germs and using safe methods when coughing to stop the spread of germs. They also learned how sugar can create build up in the mouth and cause germs which might be harmful to their health.

The students loved how Xela and Dina were very interactive and engaging with their activities.

Session #2 at Metcalfe: Scribble Bots come to life!

The second YAW session consisted of a follow on exercise to the original session. The students were initially introduced to the simple motor project and learned the how and why about the force generated by electricity flowing through a wire when it’s in the presence of a magnet. During the second session the students were given a motor to start their project. This project’s purpose was to show the students how a motor can be used to build a toy that can generate art.

All students were excited and motivated to complete the project. Some students were able to complete the exercise by themselves while others required some assistance. My observations during the exercise revealed that additional preparation prior to the distribution of materials would benefit the overall goal of having a fully functional Scribble Bot by the end of the session.

Written by Michael McNeary, Metcalfe YAW Facilitator

Dispatch #2 from MESA and Professor Stern

Today we learned about the audio transduction (which is the passing of sound), different parts in your ears (like the cochlea), and how the ear drum works. Our ears have a lot of parts that move inside.

We went outside to make videos again. We had to be quiet in the first video, and loud in the second video. It didn’t really work for us because we were having computer problems. The examples he showed were neat, and I wish ours would have worked.

Questions we have now:

-How can an ear drum bust?

-How loud does it have to be for an ear drum to pop?

-Why do we have so many parts in our ears?

-Why do some of the ear parts move?

-How many inches are the bones?

-Is Nathanial coming again?

-How can I do that at home (what was done with our class?)

-How did you make the video?

A collection of fish tales from Trowbridge

sharp for trowbridge 1

Our friends from Trowbridge decided to contribute a series of writing narratives to the blog, which is excellent! These were created in response to observing and tracking the fish and plants of their school’s aquaponics tank.

Click here to download a school of Trowbridge fish tales.

MESA Report #1: Motion sensors & the math of colors


Nathaniel Stern is an artist and writer. He came to our classroom and showed us that when you zoom in on a picture it ends up being a bunch little squares called “pixels”. He taught us that a pixel is a “very small area of illumination on a display, one of many from which an image is composed”. He also told us that white is 1, black is 0, and grey is .5.

After Mr. Stern’s presentation we made videos in our school courtyard. It was fun because we learned how to make motion video recorder just with a camera. We learned that you could use anything with a motion recorder. Some groups did a dance and made scary faces. My group did a dance, and then we saw pixels back in the classoom. When we were in the courtyard we learned to work together.

One of our favorite parts of the experience was learning about pixels. We also liked learning about the motion sensor. Plus we got to shoot our own motion video with our groups. We liked to learn the math of colors. For example white equals 1, black equals 0, and gray equals .5. Last but not least we got notebooks to write down things that we learned, and we can write more things when Mr. Stern comes back. We hope that you can learn the same.

We have questions about the next time you come. What will be our next project/activity? What will we do in the class? Will the project take place outside again? What will the subject be this time? Just like with the camera, will you bring anything else? Those are some questions that we have right now.

Bonus videos of the action that took place during the session:

To: Mr. McNeary; From: Room 215

The students from Metcalfe took a slightly different approach to the introductory assignment, writing their YAW facilitator directly. Check it out:

Dear Mr. McNeary,

Hi Michael, this is room 215, a room you will never forget. We are fourth graders here at Ralph H. Metcalfe. We are honored to have you visit our school, because we love having guests. Let us tell you a little about our classroom.

The most important thing you need to know is that we like to have fun. We like to play games on our laptops, but we also like to learn. 26 out of 29 of us like math. That means only 3 don’t. 16 of us love to read! We also like writing, earning Moola, Helping out, and Pizza parties!

However, SOME kids are rude, so please just ignore them. And sometimes EACH of us have our ups and downs. Sometimes we have problems, but mostly we’re good! So, that’s the truth about our class. We look forward to meeting you on Wednesday. Have a great day.


Room 215

Intro to La Causa

la causa


My 5th grade students and I are very excited to begin our Young Author’s workshop with our facilitators. We are very grateful for this opportunity and I am sure the students are excited to learn more. I will begin by giving you a short summary of our school. Charter School is located in the Southside of Milwaukee and serves approximately 800 students and their families. Grades range from 1st through 8th grade. The main languages spoken are Spanish and English. The school provides innovative, foundational, bilingual and multi-cultural learning experiences. La Causa has a strong emphasis on Fine Arts and Vocational Education. Some of these programs include: Music, Art, Physical Education, Video production, Robotics, Project Lead the Way, and Computer Science. Our extracurricular activities include Soccer, Taekwondo, Volleyball, Guitars, Dance, First Stage Theater, LEGO Robotics Club, STEM Science Club, Boys Scout, Soccer, Girls on the Run (and Boys on the Run) and Choir, to name a few. We participate in events such as 5 de Mayo, Cantos de Las Americas, and many others. La Causa also has a school garden in which staff and students volunteer to plant vegetables and fruits.

Our 5th grade bilingual classroom consists of 31 students who are enthusiastic and curious learners. At times they can get chatty but they are great students. They all know the school and classroom expectations and for the most part follow through with it. When my students are interested or excited about a topic, they usually love to get involved. Most of my students are Spanish speakers with English as their second language. Many of our students have strong cultural backgrounds and are involved in many of the activities and events that the school offers.

Our 5th grade class is very excited for their first YAW presentation. They enjoyed their Discovery World visit and all of the workshops. Thank you very much for allowing us to experience everything that Young Author’s workshops had to offer. We look forward in seeing you again.


Ms. Narvaez

La Causa Charter School

5th Grade Bilingual Teacher