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Students at CIS 339 live-blog their school's Parent Expo

Four students from Bronx middle school CIS 339 wrote about their school’s Parent Expo on Thursday. Here are their (edited and condensed) accounts of the event, providing a unique student view of the Expo. As you will read, the Expo was a chance for students to show off their work so far this year to their families, highlight technology integration at the school, and celebrate together over dinner. The four authors are Bintou, Yctor, Aurelie, Osafo.

Bintou, a 6th grader, let us know how people were feeling as the night commenced:

People are proud to see how much work their kids have done. Some students are excited to share their work and nervous. The presentations are cool and interesting. Even I presented, and I was shy.
Here’s more from 6th grader Yctor:

Ms. Wolk is talking about our accomplishments…. Justin is talking about Champions Book of the Month and how he really liked the book, The Outsiders. Next are Ruby and Darbo, who are talking about cool people like Mr. Levy and Mr. Martin, and what they do and why they are cool. Next is Henry, who is talking about crazy stories. One of his funny stories is ducks vs. elevators.

We are going over to the math room to see our PowerPoint on fractions. I almost forgot — me and my friend are recording in iMovie. Now Ms. Midkiff put our math PowerPoint in the SmartBoard. And my friend who is also helping is recording the parents and we are recording the presentations. And if some students aren’t here the teacher skips their presentations.

Aurelie, an 8th grader, gave us up-to-the-minute updates as events unfolded:

Today is the year’s first Parent Expo Night at CIS 339. Students spent two weeks preparing their projects, so parents could be satisfied by their progress this year. The extraordinary thing is that our school is using technology (laptops) in every class. We want to see the reaction of parents to how strongly this technology has been integrated in our school.

5:25 pm All classes are empty right now. Teachers are a little bit tense and hope that parents and students will all be there for the rendezvous. Some students are preparing some of the speeches they will present in front of the class when parents arrive. The entrance of the school is crowded by people signing in. Balloons and some small tables are placed just where people walk by the principal’s hallway.

Our principal is walking around each class room to see if everything is fine and working perfectly.

6:00 pm A few 8th grade parents are here now. They are signing in. After that they will each receive a raffle ticket.

In class 801, Mr. Blanchard, a math teacher, is explaining how the web site MathScore can help students in home and class. Most of the parents in this class came. Each student is sitting with her or his parents to show them the work they have done since the beginning of school. All the work students show is in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or PowerPoint.

A parent of one of the students has a big smile on her face when she says, “I really like the way this school uses laptops. My daughter teaches me how to use computer at home. She shows me all her work in her laptop and it is amazing.”

6:45 pm In the Social Studies room at the library, parents are laughing and impressed about a project based on inventions. The tables are placed in a U, and the teachers, Ms. Kaelin and Ms. Abraham, put the display boards on the tables. Parents are walking around to see all the student creations. Students had to create machines which were never invented yet. The room is filled up with laughter. A parent said, “I really don’t know if all those invention will exist one day. It is so creative what they did.”

In Ms. McKeon’s class, they presented a character journal on Google Docs to parents. Ms. McKeon said, “Some parents didn’t come because they have to work, and the weather, too. And I understand that.” Her classroom is very pretty with colorful posters on the wall. Parents are so ecstatic to see computers in every classroom.

The hallway is filled with movement because students are trying to show all their class projects to their parents. There are some students who are showing where parents should go, giving them all the directions they need. They have sheets where the schedule is written, permitting parents to know what hour to go to what room.

6:50 pm In an English Language Arts class, a student is presenting his project on Ning. Ning is a website made by Ms. John, an English Language Arts teacher, so students can blog about a book called To Kill A Mockingbird. Students pretended to be a character in the book in their reading journals.

In each room, teachers place the laptop of each student on their desk. When parents enter the classroom with their child, they sit beside each other and the child shows the work he or she has done. The desks are placed in groups of four or five. Some courageous students are presenting their projects in front of the class for parents. Parents are happy about the friendship between teachers and students.

7:00 pm The 6th grade Parent Expo is almost over. Some students present their work to parents. All parents here are very admiring of the way we are using laptops in class. One Social Studies teacher insisted that parents go to students’ blogs to see their work and posts. One little girl did an expo presentation about science energy. However, her parents were not there to see the interesting science project she did.

7:15 pm A 7th grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Mello, is introducing the new technology in our school. He is explaining how students use Google Docs and diary entries. The current project is the trial of Christopher Columbus. Students in this room know what they are talking about. Parents are listening intently to every word. They are focused on the image projected on the board. A parent says, “It is really nice how they are using technology for the education.”

7:40 pm The cafeteria is crowded. Parents and students are eating. There is enough food and drink for everyone — pasta, meat, rice, and more. You cannot see the color of the tables because of the variety of dishes. There are blue, red, pink, and yellow balloons on the edges of each table. People are walking around to fill their plates. While we are eating, two persons in charge are doing the raffle. As prizes, there are bikes and a computer. I didn’t have a chance to meet the lucky one. Everyone is satisfied with the treats.

Another 8th grader, Osafo, presented the event grade-by-grade:

6th Grade:

The Parent Expo on the 6th grade side of the school was very wonderful. In the sixth grade classes, most of the teachers did the same thing. They made videos about the books they read. The sixth graders did a very good job on their presentations. When you looked at their presentations you could tell that they put a lot of effort into the work they did.

In Mr. Spevack’s class, the children showed their parents videos of what they have been doing. When I asked Mr. Spevack he told me that the videos are kids pretending to be characters from a book, and others students interviewing them.

In Mr. Pena’s and Ms. Sowin’s classes, they made a huge and wonderful PowerPoint about energy. Their ideas were pretty extraordinary for 6th grade classes. The children showed what energy was. They showed where to find energy. When I went to that class I learned something I didn’t even know. One child was talking about sound energy. He used our President-elect Barack Obama as an example of sound energy.

In Mr. Dell’aquila’s 6th grade class they also made a video. Their video was the kids in his class interviewing other students about the books they read.

In Ms. Marmora’s English Language Arts class the children made a video to explain the books they have been reading in class. The difference between the video these kids made and videos from other classes was that they recommended the books. After watching the videos, I felt like going to get a copy of each of their books.

7th Grade:
In class 261, a student named Ameen did an extraordinary project. His PowerPoint was a slide show about him. He wrote it to express himself and tell his parent things they didn’t even know about him. He made a whole slide about his hobbies, including basketball, which he seemed to like.

Ms. Tiller’s and Ms. Chang’s classes did something different. They showed their parents how they use computers in class. They also showed them pictures of experiments they have been doing so far in the school year.

In Ms. Meade’s math class they made a slide show focusing on the math they have been doing so far this year. The parents were so proud to see what their kids have been doing.

8th Grade:
In Mr. Blanchard’s 8th grade class the students do wonderful work and they have one of the best projects in the whole school. They had a very fun project and edible project, called the Trix Project. It mostly involved Trix cereal, counting, and making graphs. What most of the kids did was make a PowerPoint explaining what they did in the Trix Project. They used things like graphs to help their parents understand it more.

In Ms. Johns’ class, her students made Ning pages. Ning is a MySpace-like website, but it can be educational. Their Ning project was about the book To Kill A Mockingbird. In their projects, they pretended to be the characters from the book. One student named Algenis Ramos pretended to be Atticus Finch, a character from the book. His portrayal of Atticus would make you believe that he was Atticus.

In the Social Studies section of the Expo the students made inventions. Some of their inventions were to better the world in this global warming era. While some kids invented things to help the world, some kids invented things to help other students. One invention was glasses that help kids cheat on a test while another was garbage cans that were eco-friendly. The Social Studies part of the expo was great. It helped the kids express themselves.

In the Science part of the Parent Expo, the kids did a very interesting project. They wrote a story that explained what DNA was.

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