South Orangetown Central School District

In a timely winter collaboration, Instructional Coaches Samantha Levine and Shannon Bogart have joined forces for series of lessons on the science and geometry of snowflakes at William O. Schaefer Elementary School!

“It’s the third year that we’ve done this,” noted Ms. Levine, who is the district’s Instructional Science Coach for grades K-8. “Teaming up makes sense because science involves math at all levels and it gives students a chance to see how skills transfer across subjects.”

The duo designed lessons specific to each grade level. Kindergartners focus on geometry by stamping, tracing and coloring designs of the six-sided snowflake. First-graders discover how atoms form the hexagonal shape and construct their own snowflakes with toothpicks and marshmallows. Snowflake symmetry is the main topic of the second-grade lesson, during which students design a six-sided, symmetrical snowflake and, using a saline mixture as “paint,” apply the concept of evaporation to create a crystalline appearance.

“It’s the perfect lesson,” said Special Education teacher Carol Heinemann, who co-teaches a second-grade class with Jennifer Fanning. “It’s age-appropriate, highly motivating and has supports built in to make it accessible for all students.”

And that’s the point. “We talked about the hexagonal shape and they’re practicing what they’ve learned by creating their own designs. All of them are practicing the same skills,” explained Ms. Bogart. “Math is a subject that many people are anxious about. When students leave this lesson, they feel good about being successful and that makes them more likely to take risks and try strategies when they run into math challenges in the future.”

Teachers dressed as snowmen for lessons