Washington Middle School 5th Graders Participate In Valuable Learning Experiences

Emily Cocherhan interviews JPS SRO Alexis Carlson as part of a writing project in Courtney Housler’s class.

Entering middle school can seem overwhelming for fifth grade students.

But at Washington Middle School, the school’s youngest students have the opportunity to take advantage of exciting learning activities.

In Allison Morganti’s science class, students recently simulated pond life by creating terrariums in the bottom of a two-liter bottle.

” One of the performance standards for the fifth grade life science unit is for students to develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment,” said Morganti. “To facilitate students in reaching this objective, I implemented the creation of an ecosystem within the classroom.”

One by one, in groups, students introduced plants, fish, and even live snails into their terrariums to allow them to “truly grasp the importance of ecosystems.” Students then had to document what they noticed about how those within the ecosystem

Washington 5th grade teacher Courtney Housler works with students on a writing activity and project.

“This approach not only enriches their learning but also ensures that their time in science class leaves a lasting impression,” she said. “I find great fulfillment in conducting lessons characterized by active student engagement, hands-on learning experiences, and student-led initiatives.”

Meanwhile, next door in Courtney Housler’s classroom, students have been working on a unique writing unit: the art of “creating” a newspaper.

“Each student had the chance to pick a topic and write an article about it,” Housler said. “They chose between some relevant topics — the solar eclipse, Black History Month, the Summer Olympics coming up, the Super Bowl — and others wanted to interview teachers or our School Resource Officer Alexis Carlson.”

Interviewing Carlson was Emily Cocherhan’s idea and created a cool moment between the fifth grader and the SRO.

One of the questions Cocherhan asked Carlson was “What’s your favorite part of your job?”

Niam Rivera, Summer Seeley, and Safi Mulonda observe a terrarium filled with plants, rocks, snails, and fish during a science lab in Allison Morganti’s class at Washington Middle School.

Carlson responded, “I love being able to help people!”

The activity helped students learn the importance of taking notes and researching.

“It was great for the students to learn about all of the elements of a newspaper — from the front page to the back page — and the importance of compiling information.”

Lucas Beatty, Mykenzie Hinton, and Joalondra Mestre Santos make observations during a lab in Allison Morganti’s class.


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