Millbridge fourth-graders win $5,000 Impact award

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sarah Nagem
Salisbury Post
They didn’t win an Oscar, but Millbridge Elementary fourth-graders did get $5,000 for new technology.
With an Academy Awards theme, nine elementary schools from Rowan County made presentations Thursday evening. The goal was to display what students had learned using the statewide Impact model.
Impact encourages collaborative learning with the use of technology and interactive media.
Fourth-graders at Millbridge didn’t learn a unit about animals in a traditional way, with just textbooks and lectures.
The students did Internet searches about different types of animals and how they adapt in their environments. The four classes each decorated their classrooms in a different theme: the ocean, a polar region, a rain forest and the desert.
To top it all off, students transformed their classrooms into museums that showcased what they had learned. They invited other Millbridge classes to check out their work, and they also invited their parents.
The hard work, and the use of technology, won the school a first-place prize at the Impact awards.
Rowan-Salisbury Schools hosted what will likely become an annual event to recognize schools that are using the Impact model. One grade level from nine elementary schools in the county presented their units to a panel of judges Thursday night.
When Millbridge fourth-graders found out they won first place, they knew their hard work had paid off.
“It was awesome,” said Trilby Kirk, who is 9. “I didn’t even know that we had so many types of seals.”
Each of the fourth-grade classes was broken into teams, and each team became experts about a certain animal.
Ten-year-old Brooke Poteat’s team learned about the addax, which is an endangered desert antelope.
Poteat said she enjoyed the interactive unit about animals. It was a lot better than if her class had just read about different kinds of animals, she said.
“You actually got to experience it and actually do it instead of just reading it,” Poteat said.
The unit also taught the kids about new technology. Students searched the Internet for information and created presentations on Keynote.
“We got to learn about tecnology and how to use it,” said Macayla Upright, 10. “I learned that you can do more than just play games (on computers.)
This kind of collaborate coursework is ideal, said KT Laura Casner, a fourth-grade teacher at Millbridge who helped prepare the curriculum.
“It extends to all of the learner differences,” Casner said. “You reach all learning styles.”
Ten-year-old Victoria Patterson said she enjoyed decorating her classroom to look like an ocean. She and her classmates put up blue streamers and fish paintings, and they made a lighthouse and a sunken ship out of cardboard.
This kind of innovative thinking is what Impact is all about, said David Miller, principal at Millbridge.
“It’s a lot more hands on,” Miller said. “It’s a lot more thinking outside the box.”
The fourth-grade classes at Millbridge won $5,000 to use for new technology at school.
Fifth-grade classes at Overton Elementary won $4,000 for their project about forces and motion. Fifth-grade classes at Bostian Elementary won $3,000 for their research about Native Americans, and fifth-grade classes at Rockwell Elementary won $2,000 for a presentation about ecosystems.
The Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation, which provided technology for Impact classes, is awarding the money.