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When it Rains, It Pours Innovation
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When it Rains, It Pours Innovation!

Students reap the benefits of collaborative teaching at CET

When teachers collaborate, the result is simple yet impactful: students receive innovative and engaging learning experiences that resonate. At CET, iTad (Innovative Teaching Across Disciplines) provides special area teachers with the opportunity to do just that and work side-by-side with classroom teachers to reach students in new ways.

The fourth-grade team is beginning their Native American unit to align with Native American History Month. To kick off the unit, classroom teacher Ana Maria Strattner and Music teacher Marlena Horton developed a two-part lesson with a strong musical influence, focusing on traditional Native American rain dances.

First, each student designed and built a rain stick. They were provided with materials (aluminum foil, stones, dried corn, toothpicks) and encouraged to utilize trial and error to create different sounds. Amelia shared that she found the toothpick approach to be “hard” and decided to combine twisted aluminum foil with dried corn and pebbles to create the perfect sound.

To decorate their rain sticks, students referenced appropriate symbols and designs to honor Native American culture. Some students admitted that it was challenging to avoid their usual doodles of hearts and rainbows, but they understood the importance of ensuring the designs were culturally accurate and are looking forward to learning more about Native American culture at the Redhawk Native American Arts Council assembly later this month.

When it came time to “make it rain,” the blinds were shut to darken the room and set the scene. Mrs. Horton then read a rain dance story as the class acted out the different parts, creating the sounds of the storm with their custom rain sticks. Some grownups joined in on the fun too! Mrs. Bianchi and Mr. Campanaro produced thunderclaps with sheets of metal, Mr. Griffiths was in charge of flashing bolts of lightning, and Mrs. Strattner brought the 4D experience to life with spritzes of water. To say the students had an amazing time would be an understatement. The only sound in the room that wasn't authentic to the “storm” was the giggles squeaking out from a carpet full of delighted children.

Students shared that they were grateful for the extra time with Mrs. Horton and had so much fun working on this lesson. They also recognized that through one project they were able to learn about art, music, history, and science, with each choosing different parts of the project as their “favorite.”

Mrs. Horton described the experience as a “dream come true,” and went on to say that she loved having the additional time with her students and the opportunity to expand her lessons. She hopes to bring this learning experience to all five of the fourth-grade classes this month.