Thursday, August 17, 2017

Blog - August 10

Hi!! My name is Cindy Trueblood and I am the STEM Rec Coordinator for Franklin Discovery Academy. I am thrilled to be apart of your child’s educational experience.  We have put together an exceptional team of educators to provide your children with enriching and engaging challenges throughout the year.  

By way of introduction, my undergraduate degree is in social sciences with a teaching certificate in secondary education. I completed my Master of Education with an ESL endorsement 5 years ago. I have many years of teaching experience including teaching at a private school in Panama, and for DODDS, the school system for military families.  I have also interned in a Montessori school. Additionally, I worked in the private sector for many years as the manager of a very successful sculpting studio.  

BUT, the most important thing I would like you to know about me is that I know how special your children are. They are our future and every student in STEM Rec will be treated with the utmost respect and dignity. To clarify how we feel about our responsibility towards our students, the STEM Rec team put together this mission statement for school year 2017/18.

Why do we exist?  To ignite a passion for learning.
How do we behave?  We love, support and challenge our students
What do we do?  We create a rich, engaging, and positive learning community.
How will we succeed?  We believe in our students.

I am always available to discuss ways to improve STEM Rec. If you have ideas, questions or concerns, please contact me via email at or call the school at 801-785-6500. I would love to chat!


STEM Rec is a unique and exciting learning environment where students have the freedom to choose which activities they want to participate in. As educators, our goal is to empower each student to explore subjects that interest them by providing an environment rich in materials and learning opportunities. Their job is to take “control” of their own education and become responsible learners.

To accomplish this, challenges will be offered in the following subjects: (STEM) science, technology, engineering and math, social studies, literacy, art, music and wellness. We provide up to 6 focused, Station Master-led challenges (explained below) weekly. Additionally, students can participate in self-directed challenges (explained below) found at each station and at the exhibits throughout STEM Rec.  

Focused challenges conducted by Station Masters.  
Focused challenges are small group activities (8-10 students) led by an adult who has expertise in their subject area. All challenges include hands-on activities to make the lessons fun and engaging. A reading and writing component will be added to challenges when possible. Focused challenges change weekly so there will be a plenty of exciting learning opportunities for students to choose from.  A list of  the upcoming challenges will be posted to the blog each Friday so you can review them with your child and discuss which challenges would be most interesting to them.  

Self-directed challenges
Self-directed challenges are available in each of the subject areas and at each of the exhibits in STEM Rec.  If students prefer to work alone or create their own small groups, they can. Self-directed challenges are created by Station Masters to follow the themes they are teaching at their stations. These challenges change continually so students always have a variety of options to choose from. You should never hear your students say, “There’s nothing to do in STEM Rec”.

Incentive Card Program
Each week students can choose to participate in the STEM Rec incentive program.  Cards are available at the Fox Dot Store and can be kept in their name badge.  As students complete challenges, station masters will punch their card.  If students collect 5 punches each week, they can enter their card in the incentive jar.  Students who consistently complete their incentive cards will receive a special treat at the end of each block.  

Parent Volunteers
There are a variety of ways parents can volunteer or help out in STEM Rec.  Elementary age students LOVE seeing their parents at school and in STEM Rec, we do too!! PARENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME!!

Drop In
No need to coordinate with us, just drop in and spend as much time as you can afford.  Stay for 30 minutes or several hours.  It might be fun to volunteer when your child is in STEM Rec and work with them to complete a self-directed challenge or assist the Station Master as they participate in small group activity.  Children grow so fast (trust me, I raised 5).  Spend as much time as you can with them while they are little. You will never get this time back.  

Prepare Materials
If you are a mom with toddlers at home and find it difficult to come into the school to complete your volunteer hours, we have good news!  STEM Rec is in constant need of volunteers to help prepare materials.  Cut, color, and collate things at home while the baby naps. If you want to take more initiative, create a challenge!! Parents did this last year and students were so happy and proud to share a challenge they helped create. Contact Cindy if you are interested.  

Become an Honorary Station Master and prepare a challenge
For parents who have expertise in specific areas, we encourage you to come and share your knowledge with our students. Become an honorary “station master” and prepare a focused challenge.  Present your challenge to a small group (or groups) of students. This would need to be coordinated, so contact Cindy if you are interested. We urge parents to participate in the Honorary Station Master Program.  Sharing what you know will make our school a better and more interesting institution of learning.  

Service project
Per our charter, service projects are an important part of our student’s curriculum.  If any parents are interested in heading up a service project, STEM Rec would be a perfect place to organize and implement it.  Some ideas that come to mind: teaching a small group of students to knit and knitting scarfs to send to refuges, making wooden toys to give to Toys for Tots for Christmas, creating quilts to take to the hospital for preemies.  Again, just let me know If you are interested.

Contribute Materials
We are in constant need of materials as we have 500+ students passing through STEM Rec each day!! Parents can contribute material in lieu of volunteer hours. Every $10 of materials equal one hour of volunteering.  Here are some ideas:

Construction paper Card Stock Origami Paper
Popsicle sticks Toothpicks String
Pipe Cleaners Balloons Modeling clay
Sandwich bags AA Batteries Disposable gloves
Markers Crayons Colored pencils
Paper towels Tissue Hand sanitizer
Clorox wipes Yarn Batting (for pillows)
Thread Straws Rubber bands
White out Theater props Straws
Pencils Pens Erasers
Tape (duct, masking, etc) Wood glue Glue Sticks
Sponges Cotton Balls Small Cups
White ankle socks (for art projects) Used magazines (all kinds - storyboarding) Books (reading corner) Stuffed animals (reading corner)
Winter knit gloves (puppets  - art) Science Magazines or books
Utah themed books (social studies) History / Cultural books(social studies)
For our makerspace (engineering and design challenges) we are looking for recyclables: paper towel and toilet tubes (empty) fruit and yogurt cups, cereal boxes, metal washers, empty spools, plastic spoons, egg cartons, cups, bubble wrap, etc.  You get the idea.  

Upcoming Focused Challenges

August 15-18

Welcome Week
We will be going over procedures and rules for the STEM Rec Room. Miss Aubrey, the Science Station Master, will demonstrate the phenomenal natural wonder - the total eclipse of the sun - in preparation for the upcoming eclipse which happens on Monday, August 21.  Students will use a model sun, earth, and, moon to mimic eclipses. We’ll talk about the differences between solar and lunar eclipses as well as total, partial, and annular eclipses.

State standard: Students will understand the scale of size, distance between objects, movement, and apparent motion (due to Earth's rotation) of objects in the universe.  We will be discussing a folklore stories from around the world and how ancient civilizations explained the eclipse. We will also be explaining what folklore means and its role in history.  Our theme will carry over to the art station where student will use their creative ? to make a unique mask to go along with the stories they will hear...wolves, dragons, suns and moons are waiting to come to life!

August 21-25

The objective of this week's lesson is to open up to one another and feel comfortable with writing. We are going to start off with each student picking three different color starbursts. Each color has a corresponding question students will have to answer.  Students will share the answers to their questions with the group.  Next, we will go outside where we will divide into partners.  Each student will trace their partner with chalk. Once they have traced each other, they will learn three things about their partner and write them down on the other half of their focus sheet!

We will be playing "Trashketball". Using flash cards and having the kids answer the questions as fast as they can to help them learn to recognize simple addition, multiplication, divison and subtraction problems on sight. Also adding a fun competitive side by letting students who answer correctly shoot the ball into the trash can for points.

Snap Circuit certification. We are offering three levels of certification in Snap Circuits this block. Students begin with the Standard Certification, where they will be guided through lessons 1 - 100 with the Station Master. This is a week long challenge which students sign up for and attend daily.  Once a student has completed the standard certification and are competent in using Snap Circuits, they are qualified to work independently to continue learning.  There are two additional levels of certification available - Expert Certification (completing lessons 101 - 200) and Master Certification (completing lessons 201 - 300).  

This year at the Art Station we will be exploring all sorts of art techniques, cultures, and artists from around the world!  Would you like to try weaving, sculpture, printmaking, collage, painting, hand-building, jewelry making, large collaborative pieces, and so much more? Plan on visiting our station each week to see what fun we will be having as we travel the globe!  We begin our adventures right here in America getting to know Jackson Pollock and his wacky and mesmerizing expressionist murals...we think everyone will go crazy for splatter painting!!  Join the fun as we tie this into "Space Week" with a glittery and colorful galaxy masterpiece like none other! We also kick off our first service project of creating beautiful hand folded paper flowers to be added to cards and delivered to local rest homes in honor of Grandparents Day coming up.  If you finish any station early, make your way to our service project table and join in the effort to brighten the day of a local senior citizen.


Constellation Week. Students will be able to describe the appearance and motion of groups of stars in the night sky relative to Earth and how various cultures have understood and used them. By the end of the challenge, students should be able to:
  • Connect the dots to form constellations from stars.
  • Recognize a few famous constellations, and know the myths behind them
  • Look up and understand that everything they see is science.
  • Locate and identify stars in the night sky.
  • Demonstrate their understanding of constellation patterns and earth movement
Utah 6th Grade Science Standards:
STANDARD IV:  Students will understand the scale of size, distance between objects, movement, and apparent motion (due to Earth’s rotation) of objects in the universe and how cultures have understood, related to and used these objects in the night sky.

Social Studies

Halley's Comet has been hailed as an omen for thousands of years.  Appearing every 76 years, it's been a symbol of reign and a predictor of pestilence, and inspiration for kings, scientists, and artists alike.  This week, the kids will learn about some of these stories and, through pen and crayon, create their own.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Literacy Update

Narrative writing is the name of the game in Literacy this block. All grades are working on refining their storytelling craft through writing, games, and activities that promote proper narrative writing. All grades are learning the basics of narrative writing correlated with their grade level. 1st and 2nd grade are learning how to tell a story that stays on topic, while 3rd - 6th grade are practicing the elements of plot and learning how to use them to produce narrative stories. Choice is a big part of the curriculum this block; with the exception of 1st and 2nd grade, who are focusing on dinosaurs, the kids have the opportunity to write about whatever they like as long as it is school appropriate narrative writing.

Each grade has a lens through which they are studying narrative writing:

1st/2nd - Dinosaurs
3rd - Narration
4th - Setting Development
5th - Character Development
6th - Conflict Development

Planning conflict and resolution

Learning the elements of plot

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Who wants to Dissect Owl Pellets??? 

   Students in the previous block had the opportunity to dissect and analyze the contents of owl pellets. A pellet is fur and bones that are regurgitated by owls.  Owls cannot digest the bones and fur of their prey so they are spit back up in a pellet.  Other birds of prey spit out pellets, including hawks. However, hawks can digest the bones so hawk pellets are fur only.
   The students bleached the bones they found and then had the opportunity to count the number and variety of animals in the pellets.  Several students found multiple complete skulls.  One student even found a bird's beak.
  Despite many students feeling this project was "gross,"  by the end of the exploration the class was fascinated and said they learned a lot of new information about birds, especially owls.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Science Lab Updates

Hello Franklin Discovery Families!

Well, we have had a very busy 2017 so far.  As you know our Science Fair was April 19th.  I want to thank the FSO and all the families that helped with materials and supplies for the fair.  This event could not have been without your support.  
The kids had a wonderful time and the fair was a great success.  You should be so proud of your children!  We are looking forward to the 2017-2018 Science and STEM Fair in the Fall.

This block we are working on a variety of skills. First, since we finally have some consistently nice weather, the first and second grade classes have begun constructing our outdoor planters.  I know many of you have expressed interest in our school garden.  There is a lot of work ahead of us in this space.  Please be on the lookout for a meeting announcement regarding prepping our garden space this summer.

Third grade classes have been focusing on Earth and the Sun, as well as Forces and Motion using the Lego League materials.  These students have been constructing simple machines and examining how the machines move and make work easier.

Fourth graders have been busy learning about weather and the water cycle, as well as Utah plants and animals.  The Weather Class has successfully completed Water Cycles in a Bag, while the Utah class have made imprint fossils.

The two Fifth grade classes have been working on coding using the Scratch program from MIT. They are currently working on creating their own "code" while practicing giving explicit directions. The Electricity and Magnetism class has been exploring how magnets work.

Finally, the sixth graders are exploring extremely small objects and organisms with our new microscopes.  They have successfully completed microscope training and are currently exploring slides with a variety of specimens. 

Thank you again for all of your support!  I look forward to seeing you all in the very near future!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


We are excited to present Annie. We have three performances for Parents.
There is also an assembly for students on Wednesday. 

There are three shows for Annie
Performance #2 Thurs. 4/13 at 7 pm

Performance #3 Fri. 4/13 at 7 pm

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Social Studies Tuesdays and Thursdays

I apologize if it's been too long since my last post; life gets hectic, and sometimes I don't want to school after school hours.  Anyways, today I'll explain how my Tuesdays and Thursdays are going this term, and give a preview of what's to come.  Buckle up!  This post will probably end up taking a while!

My Tuesdays and Thursdays start with French, which we have combined with Mrs. Kenter's Spanish class.  Some of our kids are excelling at learning language.  Many of them have completed more than 20% of the language (as scored by Duo Lingo, which is our online language program) this term.  I only have 9 students, but they are mostly flying.  In fact, I recently gave the students who have completed 20% of the language the chance to learn other languages.  The kids are having fun, and I enjoy seeing them learn.

Next is my Mesopotamia and Egypt class, built for 1st grade students.  This class is a Core Knowledge curriculum class.  These kids are amazing!  They've learned four of the Mesopotamian kids (ask them!), and enjoyed learning about it.  We're now learning about Egypt.  The kids have learned a bit about Egyptian hieroglyphics, and will learn a bit more about Egyptian language this week.

My third class on Tuesdays and Thursdays is my India and China class.  This is also a Core Knowledge class.  The kids are have learned some Indian customs, including some about henna tattoos.  They're now learning about some Mandarin numbering, and should have 1-10 memorized (or rather yi through shi) memorized soon.

Group 5 (consisting of students from Grades 4, 5, and 6) follows, and this class is taught with Mrs. Kenter.  This is a class on early American culture, and the students are learning both documents related to the American revolution and how to create their own government.  It's turning out to be harder than they thought, and some of these students are being challenged for the first time.  That said, they're also rising to that challenge, and it's great to see.

After lunch, Mrs. Kenter and I combine to teach Group 6, which is composed of 5th and 6th grade students, and Group 3.1, which is composed of 3rd graders with some 2nd graders thrown in.  We had to create a unit based on both 3rd grade standards and 6th grade standards.  We feel like we did it!  Our project covers both ancient civilization (in the form of Egypt) and human geography.  Our project is a choose-your-own-adventure book that the kids are writing based in Egypt, and the kids seem incredibly interested and seem to be working hard on their books.

Finally, we end the day (as we end every day) with Shakespeare.  Mrs. Kenter wrote some about that yesterday.  I just think this class is amazing!  The students are translating MacBeth.  I've known college students that have had trouble with what these kids are doing with aplomb.  More to the point, the students invited our Director to class to see it, and he came and saw what has turned into the comedy of MacBeth.  The kids ROCKED it!  I couldn't be much happier.  One of our two groups is even creating a scene for the end of Act III.  What an amazing group of students we have at FDA!

That's where I am right now.  I hope this novel was worth the read!  Until next time!

John M. Adams, Social Studies.

Monday, March 27, 2017


1st/2nd Grade Reader's Theatre:
Reader's Theatre has been a blast so far; we have been practicing our reading skills under the guise of fun stories and acting! Recently we've been practicing our prosody (reading with expression) using childhood favorites such as Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The kids have gotten great at adding inflection and feeling to their reading; a key component of reading fluency. We just started working on adding actions to the stories we are reading. We spent a day practicing with Mercer Mayer's There's a Nightmare in my Closet, using the text and picture clues to help us decide on actions that fit the story. Acting out a story helps support reading comprehension. This week we will continue practicing prosody and adding appropriate actions with the fable Rumpelstiltskin.

4th - 6th Grade Spanish:
The Spanish kids are soaring through lessons in their new language! With the help of DuoLingo, an online language learning platform, their peers, and teachers, kids are learning new vocabulary and language usage in each class. The requirement for the class is to complete 10% of the language, but most students are much further than that and the block is barely half over. To motivate kids, Ms. Kenter is learning Welsh and sometimes challenges them to see who can master the most lessons in a certain amount of time. The kids also have the option of starting a new language if they reach 20% completion of Spanish, encouraging them to push themselves in their current language and to grow a love of learning about different cultures and languages.

Group 3 Literacy/Social Sciences Pirates:
Our Pirates group is having a blast as they learn about pirates and writing in this class themed on adventures in the high seas. In Social Studies, First Mate Adams has been leading the crew in learning about real pirates, such as Blackbeard, and other real pirate history, such as how pirates create flags and how pirates hunt for treasure, as well as basic mapping skills. Captain Kenter has been taking charge of the crew in Literacy where they have been practicing their writing skills through pirate journaling. This week the pirates are starting their final writing project where they will plan, write, and publish an informational piece on a pirate-related topic.

Group 4 Literacy/Social Studies Utah:
In Literacy, our Utah group is working on service learning projects to help others while they learn about Utah history and geography in the Social Studies portion of the class. The service projects are being done in small groups of kids who all have interest in the same type of project, ranging from planting trees, to fundraisers for the school, to item drives for the community. The bulk of their work revolves around project proposals which they are writing to get support and permission to do their projects (actual projects will not be executed in this class). To write the proposals, kids learn the writing skills in literacy class and then work with their groups to apply the skills to their project. Teacher conferences and outlining scaffold the building of these important writing skills. Lately in the Social Studies section, kids have been learning about Utah Native Americans and Utah animals; this week the kids started to learn more about the history of Utah, including her role in the success of the Pony Express.

5th - 6th Grade Shakespeare
Our Shakespeare kids are continuing to work their way through Macbeth. We've transitioned from having them read/act out the play in Elizabethan English to having the kids work in groups to read the original play, translate it to Modern English, and then perform their translations. One group has even begun writing their own extra scene to bridge Act III to Act IV! The results have been amazing and highly entertaining! Through this work, the kids are flexing some major high level thinking muscles as they construct meaning from the classic play, and performance time fosters and grows speaking and listening skills. Mr. Adams and I are continually in awe of what these kids are capable of doing and also continually in stitches over the often comical interpretations of the play.