Celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary School

4th grade researchers share Capstone Projects with community

celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary SchoolThis past Wednesday, 4th grade scholars at Richmond Elementary School, in Richmond, Vermont, shared the results of their research with their families and community. They opened the doors of their school to family and friends for Celebrating Learning at Richmond Elementary School.

I had a chance to attend the event and spoke with some of the students about their research work.

What does a 21st Century learner look like?

Earlier in the afternoon, I’d been having a conversation with Principal Berry and educator Beth Redford about what motivated, engaged 21st century elementary graduates might look like. We talked about our hopes that students would have artifacts of their learning to date, but also be capable and vocal advocates for their learning, able to explain what they were interested in learning and what worked best for them as learners.

Then the exhibit began.

Celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary SchoolAll of the scholars I spoke with were eager to share what they’d learned about their chosen research. They were all able to speak to why they used the tools they chose, and what the research meant to them personally. “What kinds of resources did you use to pull this information together?” I asked one.

“I’m not much into books,” he replied, “but there are a ton of really great videos online that can teach you a lot. I really like watching those.”

Research interests varied widely

The Capstone Projects on display encompassed a wide range of students’ interests, from firefighting:


to Magic: The Gathering:


through to wedding cake bakeries:

celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary School

a biography of Glee star Lea Michelle:

celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary School

and the future of car design:

celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary School


A controlled detonation of explosives explanation made with BitStrips for Schools:

celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary School

a Glogster history of animated cartoons:

and a personal journey into computer coding:

Celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary School

One scholar, Jacob L., accompanied by two generations of his family, proudly showed off the Lego re-enactment of a historical battle he had painstakingly assembled in miniature, right down to a sidebar explanation of the Lego “moc” community and red paint on the sides of the fallen horses:

Celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary School

“His grandfather’s a historian,” his mother explained. “He passed on his love of history to Jacob.”

Community-supported and educator-guided research

celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary SchoolOne impressive element of the event was the evidence of how deeply involved the Richmond community had been in supporting these students. Each of the stars you see in the photo at right represents a community member or organization who had been instrumental in assisting scholars with their research. That’s a highly committed community!

Exhibits included evidence of extensive use of tech to further scholars’ inquiries. Tools on hand included Google Slides, Google Drive, BitStrips, iMovie, a green screen, podcasting materials, Glogster, YouTube, Screencastify, Soundcloud, and the computer coding platform Scratch.

Also on hand was a display of how educators at this school are supporting their scholars’ research by providing them access to a huge panoply of tech tools and supporting their topic choice by simply providing tech tool access, and feedback on how best to showcase the results of the research. There was evidence that a huge effort had gone into also focusing on 21st century research methods, and how traditional scholarship intersects with online resource-gathering and evaluation.

celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary SchoolThank you to educators Beth Redford (@bethredford) and Darcie Rankin (@darcierankin), and Principal Mike Berry (@principalberry) for graciously allowing me to attend this amazing community event.

Check out all the amazing work by Richmond’s 4th grade scholars here and here. Follow their further adventures over at Think Create Collaborate.

Redford and Rankin will be presenting in-depth on the Capstone Research project at Dynamic Landscapes 2015.

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs. Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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