Thursday, February 14, 2019


You all should have received an email in recent weeks regarding the new website for information and current events related to GCT/Enrichment programming for you students.

This new website includes a blog section as well as photo gallery, upcoming events, FAQs, contact form, and about section.

I will work to write frequent blogs and notify you of those postings.  You can subscribe to the website at the bottom of the page to receive additional news/updates.

When you visit this link feel free to explore the site.  If you would like to focus on the blog, just click the "blog" link at the very top of the page.  :

Let me know if you have questions!

Thursday, January 31, 2019


Due to weather the WAWM District Spelling Bee scheduled to take place tonight is cancelled.  We will be working to schedule a new date tomorrow and Monday.  The rescheduled Bee will take place prior to 2/18 as that is the week of regionals.  Please contact me with any questions regarding this matter.

Stay warm today!

Friday, January 25, 2019


Well this was quite an odd week for our district!  No school for students Monday-Wednesday!  Hopefully everyone enjoyed their snow day :)

4th and 5th Graders at Franklin are currently participating in a PBL unit, called "Math-ter Chef".  They are planning a meal for a valued community member and will be adjusting recipes and creating shopping lists with their collaborative group using addition, multiplication, and division of fractions.  Students will be planing and preparing this meal.  In addition to the food prep, they are in charge of creating invitations and decorations as well.

We wanted to use this opportunity to introduce students to experts in the field and connected careers.  On Thursday 1/24 Joe Aiello (my husband) presented to Team Enterprise and Team Voyager at Franklin.  Joe holds the role of Visual Communications Director at TKWA (The Kubala Washatko Architects)  He spent his earlier career in graphic design and art direction at GMR in New Berlin. There he had the opportunity to work on exciting projects, including Super Bowl Stadium Graphics and three Olympic Games (Vancouver, London, and Sochi) with Visa.

Joe presented to students about what Graphic Design means and how it affects their environment.  He also discussed with them design tips (hierarchy) to consider when creating an invitation.  They will be able to use this information as they begin designing their own invites.  Students also had the opportunity to ask questions regarding this line of work.

Project Based Learning is a great opportunity to connect students with their community and make their experiences more authentic by speaking with experts in the field.  This year (and last) students have had the opportunity to hear presentations from and be in communication with the following experts:

  • Published Poet 
  • Published Children's Book Author
  • Project Manager
  • Graphic Designer/Visual Communications Director
  • Architect (TKWA) 1/29
  • Large Mammal Curator at Milwaukee County Zoo
  • Owner of Compost Crusaders (St. Francis)
  • District Head of Sodexo (food service) 
  • West Allis-West Milwaukee Fire Chief
  • Former college athlete (hockey)
We hope to continue building these community relationships and giving students the opportunity to learn from people working in the fields they are exploring.  This is also great exposure to different careers.  

Below are some pictures from Joe's Graphic Design presentation in Team Voyager (photos courtesy of Mrs. Vollmer).



This week we had our School Spelling Bees at Franklin and Irving!  All of the Spellers did such a great job.  We will be sending two students from each intermediate and elementary school to compete in the WAWM District Bee on January 31st at Central (6pm).  


Congratulations to Tevin Dominic who placed 1st at Franklin.  Aiden was 1st runner up and Tevin was 2nd Runner Up.  Dominic and Aiden will compete in the district bee and Tevin will serve as our alternate.  I look forward to seeing these three represent Franklin!


Congratulations to all spellers!  Anvesha placed 1st, Jayden came in 2nd, and Tristen placed 3rd in the Irving School Bee.  Anvesha and Jayden will compete in the WAWM Bee on 1/31 and Tristen will serve as alternate!

On Thursday 1/17 Team Odyssey at Franklin was able to conclude their Civics Board Game PBL unit by hosting two game sessions. Students designed their game boards, game rules, and wrote original questions and answers for players to answer in order to advance in the game.  For the first session they invited 5th graders from Team Voyager to come join in playing their games.  For the 2nd Session parents were invited to test their knowledge about the 3 Branches of Government.  I was able to attend the 5th Grade session on Thursday afternoon.  Below are some pictures from the experience.  Students were engaged and cooperative.  3rd Graders were proud to share their hard work with a larger audience.

Have a great weekend! 

Friday, January 11, 2019


Week of 1/7-1/11

Mark you calendars!

School Spelling Bees:

Franklin-Tuesday January 15th 2pm, Library
Irving-Wednesday January 15th 2pm, Gym


  • All 4th Graders at Irving had a chilly wet visit to the zoo but sounds like they made the best of it!   Gianna, Henry, Joey, and Anvesha rushed to their session when they returned to get in at least a bit of their GCT time.  They will be setting up a practice obstacle course next week and holding their actual obstacle course with selected participants on 1/28.  At this point they will be recording data in order to complete calculations.  

  • 5th Grade Math students at Irving continued to develop there 20% Project ideas and even began to start researching their topics.   Tristan shifted his project from developing a new construction material to instead creating a book of projects and activities students could complete using recycled styrofoam. He is studying the negative affects of disposing styrofoam, researching activities that others have done with styrofoam, and developing his own activities.  He will share his research, book, and examples at the 20% Fair.  Charlie began to researching to help answer "How can we live on Mars?".  He is looking at conditions that make earth habitable and comparing that to conditions on mars.  He will then address these challenges by coming up with solutions and products that would make colonizing Mars easier for humans.  


  • 3rd Grade Social Studies PBL Civics Unit
    • Ms. Rapp's 3rd Graders are completing their Branches of Government board games.  They have designed the game instructions, board, written the questions, and developed the answer key.  Next they will have their questions cards printed.  Today they are creating invitations for Ms. Vollmer's 5th Graders to come and join them for a game day.  This is how they will take their games public.  Next week they will be completing practice play sessions with a fellow third grade class.  Their game day takes place Thursday.  Parents will also be invited to a session in the afternoon.  Way to go Team Odyssey!

  • Ms. Vollmer's students are beginning our "Math-ter Chef Junior" PBL unit.  They will be working in collaborative groups to plan a meal that will be made and served to a valued community member.  They will be adjusting recipes (using multiplication/division of fraction), creating shopping lists will common items from there dishes (adding fractions with unlike denominators), designing table scares, designing invitations (with the guidance of a guess graphic designer), and finally cooking and serving their meals.  
Today they participated in a launch activity to begin thinking about adding fractions with unlike denominators as well as multiplying fractions.  They worked in collaborative groups to make a batch of trail mix.  They were given a recipe for one serving and needed to adjust it to serve their group (depending on the number of students).  They also needed to then figure out how much each person in their group would be able to have.   Educational and delicious!

Enterprise 4th Grade

Henry, Adele, and Aidan began planning their 20% Project.  Henry and Adele will collaborate to explore chain reactions and Rube Goldberg machines.  They will be creating their own and exploring the science of simple machines.  Aidan is studying hydraulics-how this system works, what it is used for, and he will create his own model using a STEM hydraulics kit.  

Chess Club 

Franklin's Chess Club was thrilled to try out their new professional Chess Boards.  We are now able to use the grid letter/numbers to identify different squares.  Students are working on:
  1. Controlling the center (super squares)
  2. Developing pieces (knights and bishops) rather than moving all pawns forward
  3. Castling (king and queen side)
  4. Looking for opportunities each move to check, capture, and threaten


5th Grade Math: Stock Market PBL Unit presentations
  • Students will have the opportunity to share their stock market work and portfolio performance with peers in their class over the next three weeks.  They used KeyNote, Google Slides, or tai-folds to create engaging informative presentations. 
  • Tevin presented today at Franklin and was able to explain the skills worked on, the project objective, how and why he chose his companies, how he tracked his companies' performance, and he reflected on the process.  Tevin fielded numerous questions from his audience and was able to answer them knowledgeably.  

  • Charlie and Tristan both presented their projects today at Irving. 

3rd Grade Travel Agents
Students are nearing the final stages of this project.  They are wrapping up the last of calculations in some cases.  Others have completed calculations, completed their presentation, and were able to confer with me today to receive feedback.  From there they went on to make a few last revisions.  The agents will communicate with their clients next week to set up a meeting to share their vacation proposal.  

3rd Grade Set Designers
This week Jason and Seraphina shifted gears to look at the evidence they had gathered that led to their set design.  They begin typing out the textual evidence they will present with their set models.  We practiced using prompts/sentence starters that show the reader we are using textual evidence.  Some examples include:
  • On page ___ the author states
  • According to the text...
  • For example...
  • The book says...
  • From the reading I know that...


4th Grade reading group:  students split their time between their foreshadowing fiction writing and 20% Projects.  Andrew began formatting his story in Book Creator.  Research for 20% projects is underway and students are seeking out reliable informative resources to help them gain knowledge around their topic. 

5th Grade math group:  we had a mini review on interger multiplication/division and addition/subtraction per the results of our assessment last week.  Students completed and integer operations maze to show that they had mastered these skills.  From there they continued work and research on their 20% Projects. 

3rd Grade reading: students dug back into their texts after a couple weeks of working on models.  They recorded evidence that they had gathered to design their sets using text evidence sentence starters such as: 

  • On page ___ the author states
  • According to the text...
  • For example...
  • The book says...
  • From the reading I know that...
Students shared their work with their group.  Next week they will split their time between typing out their evidence (eventually to be displayed with their models) and model building. 

3rd Math 
Jefferson 3rd grade math students are nearing the final stages of this project. They are continuuing calculations.  The past two weeks they have been focusing heavily on finding the average price of a menu item for each meal.  To do this they listed all prices for one menu section (ex. breakfast).  They then found the sum of the prices.  From there they divided the sum by the number of numbers to find the average price.  They used the partial quotient division strategy complete this step.

5th Reading: Students are working on their foreshadowing fiction.  Some students have completed writing and are on to formatting and publishing.  This group opted to spend half their time on writing and half on their 20% Projects today..

5th Math: Students completed a final integer activity, a maze, where they showed mastery of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing with integers.

4th Reading: This group is incredibly enthusiastic about their 20% Projects.  Today they spent a portion of time writing their foreshadowing fiction pieces.  The remainder of the time was spent on working through the beginning steps of their 20% projects, mainly research.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Welcome Back and Happy 2019

Welcome back everyone! 

 I hope you all had a great break-maybe relaxing, maybe running around with lots of family time.  We had a whirlwind of a break filled with 4 play performances of How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the kids, family celebrations here in town, then traveling to Minnesota to see more family!  It was busy but we enjoyed every second.  

It was great to get back and see students this week.  They were eager to continue project work and get started on new projects!

I want to use this post to tell you what to expect in the coming weeks as far as events and student work.

20% Projects

4th and 5th Grade groups are being introduced to the concept of 20% Projects.  There may be some 3rd Grade students that participate but I found that this was a challenging task for them in the past in addition to the rest of their work.  Some 5th students are on their third year of completing a 20% project so they've been valuable resources for students new to this idea.

20% Projects or 20% Time was pioneered at Google to give their engineers and scientists the opportunity to innovate with freedom.  Employees there were encouraged to spend up to 20% of their week or one whole day working on a passion project.  The idea was that this freedom would lead to innovation and engagement and it worked.  A number of groups watched this video (the 2nd half is an ad, we skipped that) to get a better idea about the motivation on Google's part for embarking on this path.

After watching we talked about how we could compare managers/employees to teachers/students and how sometimes pressure can inhibit creativity and comfort in learning.  This proved for interesting discussion.

Four years ago our district GCT/Enrichment team decided to try 20% Projects with our students.  The first year I literally gave students 20% of their one hour sessions to design and carry out a passion project.  While the ideas were amazing, 12 minutes a week was not sufficient.  They were also working on personalized academic projects at the same time.

Next I decided to give students 50% of their time on passion projects, and 50% on personalized projects-this was better but we still felt overwhelmed.

Last year and this year as well,  I've shifted to spending our time through January and February to commit to student-designed passion projects.  To frame their project planning I asked, "How can you make your world a better place"?  "World" could be small scale like a classroom or our immediate community.  This could also mean our schools, state, or planet.  We discussed studying a topic you've always been interested in and sharing knowledge, creating an invention to solve a daily or even larger problem, redesigning problem infrastructure, creating business a model/plan, raising awareness about a topic or organization, and the list goes on.

That question really allows for students to consider how they can use their interests and strengths to impact the world around them.

This week students brainstormed their interests, hobbies, topics of interest, questions they've had, ideas they've dreamed.  They then shared these ideas with peers who helped them to think of ways to design a project around topic.

Students articulated their project overview, resources needed, steps to completion, and how they will create a public product to share at the 20% Fair.

The ideas generated so far are intriguing and I can't wait to see students in action!
  • Katlyn wants to redesign zoo habitats for tigers using research and exploring current model deficits
  • Charlie is asking the question-What would it take to live on Mars?  What has been done so far?
  • Alex and John are creating a Pokemon math game to help peers practice math skills
  • Tristan wants to create a new mutli-use building product-moldable styrofoam
  • Kayla and Jeremy are collaborating to publish a healthy cookbook for kids
  • Levi is asking the question, what if dinosaurs never existed?
  • Jace is envisioning a center for veterans that is part hospital, rehabilitation, and community shared space
  • Shaylin wants to look at creating a better model for dog rescues.
  • Brianna has always wondered why people salivate when thinking about food-she's going to study the science behind it.  
  • Willa is basing her project around the question: How can I help sea animals that are hurt by the vanishing coral reef?
  • Abby will study ghosts-the origin, science, and cultural impact
  • Maggie and Za'riya both want to learn more about their household pets.  They will research as well as document with pictures and recorded data from their animals at home. (hermit crabs and bearded dragons)
  • Cooper is going to study the evolution of football equipment: past, present, and innovate about future solutions
  • Olivia and Violet asked many questions about clouds that will guide their project:  Why do clouds stay in the sky?  How can clouds hold rain but not other heavy objects?  They will use the list of questions they generate to drive their learning. 
All of these students are planning ways to go public and also engage their audience in their displays.   Our 20% Fair will be Tuesday March 5th at FLW, time TBD, but it is usually around 5:30.  

PBL (Project Based Learning) Units

There are groups that are still wrapping up there PBL unit projects.  We will do our best to balance time to complete these with 20% Project time.  Groups still working and their upcoming tasks are as follows:

4/5 Math-Stock Market presentations to class
4 Reading-Writing/Publishing/Reading aloud fiction with foreshadowing
4 Math-Practice Obstacle course set up, Official obstacle course-with data recording, calculations
3 Reading-Set design completion and sharing out
3 Math-Final steps on travel presentations to clients and presenting

Voyager math-present stock market slides to class
3rd math-complete and present travel calculations to clients (getting close)
We will incorporate GCT/Enrichment time into the upcoming "Math-ter Chef Junior" PBL unit for Voyager and Enterprise students

5 math- a few students will present stock market slides to class next week
4/5 reading-continue writing/publishing/sharing foreshadowing fiction
3 math-complete travel calculations and share with clients
3 reading-complete set design and share out

We're busy bees here!  Students are approaching new and continued tasks with enthusiasm and engagement.  As we add in 20% projects I encourage students to let me know if they feel overwhelmed.  I am flexible!!! If we need to put something on hold we can.  Feel free to reach out if you notice any stress/burn out as we embark on this busy time as well.  

Important Upcoming Dates

January 15th: Franklin School Spelling Bee 2pm, Library 
January 16th: Irving School Spelling Bee 2pm Gym 
January 21/22: No school for students
January 31: WAWM District Spelling Bee-Central 6:30pm
March 5th: WAWM 20% Fair at FLW Cafetorium and Gym

Have a great weekend!