Monthly Archives: February 2012

Around The Water Cycle

Around The Water Cycle

Solving Problems Together While Practicing For The Play

For Shared Reading this week, my students worked on reading and performing the play, Around The Water Cycle. We initially read this play in class, with individual parts for each of the students. Today though, the students worked in groups of six to create their own Common Craft video of this play. They had to rework the parts, so that there were only six parts instead of 22. Since the students were going to film their own play as well, they had to decide who was going to do the filming, and what role this student would also play in the performance.

Practicing The Play

Making Sure They Know The Order For Speaking

Not only does this play help the Grade 2 students understand the water cycle — a Science expectation for them — but it lets both the Grade 1 and Grade 2 students take on different character roles (a Drama expectation) and create media works (a Media literacy expectation). Students were also able to work on their decoding skills, as they used various strategies to decode unfamiliar words (a Language expectation for Grades 1 and 2). Fluency was also an important part of this performance, and Reader’s Theatre is a great way to help with reading fluency. Best of all though, the students were able to focus on our school goal of descriptive feedback by writing and discussing their thoughts on their performances after listening to each recording. Below are the three recordings, as well as some photographs of descriptive feedback written by the students:

Descriptive Feedback On Water Cycle Plays on PhotoPeach

As an aside, all students realized that “condensation” and “precipitation” are two difficult words to say.

What descriptive feedback can you offer the students? Thanks for your help with this!
Aviva

That Chickadee Feeling

That Chickadee Feeling

Last week, we had the privilege of listening to author Frank Glew discuss many of his books including, That Chickadee Feeling. Our principal, Mrs. Chabot, loves this book, and she asked if she could come in and read the book to my class. Mrs. Chabot let me record this reading — thank you so much for that — and allowed me to share it here so that you can discuss That Chickadee Feeling  with your child at home.

When has your child had this magical feeling before? When have you had this feeling? Feel free to add a comment here to let us know, or write a blog post together on your child’s blog about this chickadee feeling.

After hearing Mrs. Chabot’s wonderful reading today, students worked in groups of four and five to make their own Common Craft videos about their chickadee feelings. Students decided what they were going to say in the videos, and they even worked together to record their videos using various tools including an iPod Touch, a flipcam, and a digital camera. We hope that you enjoy these videos, and can use the ideas in them to further your discussions at home.

For those reading this blog post that are not in our class, what are some of your chickadee feelings? How can you give others that chickadee feeling too? We would love to hear your thoughts! A special thank you again to Mrs. Chabot for sharing her love of reading with all of us and sparking a great conversation both in class and at home!

Aviva

Never Underestimate The Power Of Modelling

Never Underestimate The Power Of Modelling

When I started this unit on shapes at the end of January, I had some initial concerns with how students were describing the properties of shapes. They were all able to label the shapes, but when given a video camera and ask to explain what they saw, many students just named the shapes. I wasn’t getting the good discussion that I was hoping to receive.

My blog post on January 21st sparked some great discussion and really helped me change the types of conversations I was having with my students about shapes. I also modelled for students how to independently discuss shapes using the video camera, and how to question each other during these discussions. I gave them more opportunities to practice these discussions and to reflect on how things went afterwards. Today I realized the true power of modelling.

For one of my math centres, students used the geoboard on the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives website to create various shapes. They then used the video camera to record their discussions about these shapes. Students were asked to identify the shapes and to discuss the properties of these shapes. Listen to these videos of the students as they record their discussions:

As an aside, I especially love the two students that discuss the “left-angled triangle.” If it points to the left instead of the right, shouldn’t its name reflect that too? Oh, the power of language! 🙂

It’s great to see the difference in these discussions though compared to the ones that took place at the end of January. In fact, it’s actually the same student in the first video here that’s featured in the video from January 21st. Today though this student is talking about the properties of the shapes. She’s showing what she knows, and she’s explaining how the same rule holds true regardless of the location or the size of the shapes.

Over the past month, this student has been involved in numerous class discussions on shapes. She’s been able to work with shapes in many different ways, and talk about them both in small groups with her peers as well as individually with me. She’s heard me modelling numerous think alouds in math, and she’s heard her peers modelling many great think alouds too. Now this student’s moved beyond just labelling shapes, and she’s used a wonderful technology tool — the flipcam — to capture her own learning and the learning of her friend.

Wow! The power of modelling. How do you model in math class? In your experiences, what are the results of modelling discussions about thinking? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Aviva


Reflections On Our Math Congress Skype Call

Reflections On Our Math Congress Skype Call

For Valentine’s Day, a group of four of us — two teachers from the States and two teachers from Canada — decided to plan some math problems together. We created a GoogleDoc and shared ideas. Our thought was that we would have the students complete the problems, and then use Skype, to have classes interact together for our Math Congress. Since it would be difficult to have all four classes Skype together, we split into groups of two: @jgriffith2 and @amsgoodwin‘s classes paired up, and my class paired up with @techieang‘s class.

Angie Harrison, @techieang, teaches a Grade 3 class in the York Region District School Board. We’ve done other projects together, but our classes haven’t met up yet this year. Since Angie teaches a higher grade than me, she also added an extension to the problem for her class. I also modified the problem for my Grade 1’s. During the Math Congress Skype call though, only a couple of groups of Grade 2 and 3 students shared their work.

The math problem itself, and the Skype call, both led to a lot of reflection. I found it interesting that all of my students automatically added up the students in the question and figured out the number of Valentine’s Day cards based on the total number. Nobody in my class looked at the individual class numbers compared to the card options. One of Angie’s students did though, and it was great that my students could hear this solution as well. They got to see a different approach to the problem.

Angie also had her students working with 100s strings and “nice numbers,” and her students taught my students about both of these. It was clear that the 100s strings would be a great tool for a problem like this one, and these strings also work well with “nice numbers,” which really focus on tens. It was great because after our Skype call today, students applied what they learned about “nice numbers” to solve a variety of addition questions. Then they shared what they did and how these “nice numbers” helped them solve the problems. Thank you to Angie and her students for helping guide our learning today!

As for my reflections, I learned that my students do better discussing their thinking when they do so soon after they’ve thought it. When I was working with the children yesterday, they shared some great ideas, but they had more difficulty articulating their thoughts today. The learning was not as fresh. In retrospect, I should have had the students review what they were going to say, and had some of the discussion prior to the Skype call. This may have helped them share more during the call itself.

I also realized that with students sharing their math thinking in so many ways in the classroom, they’re not always writing down every step that they do and why they do it. They are recording these steps in their video dialogues or talking about these steps in their Livescribe pencasts, but they’re not putting them down in writing. The thinking is still there, and I realize the benefit of this, but Skyping today with a Grade 3 teacher that is going to be doing EQAO in the coming months, indirectly reminded me of the importance of having students write their thoughts. I liked the format that Angie’s students used, and I think that I will do more direct teaching of this writing component as well. This doesn’t mean that I will stop using all tools besides a pencil and paper, but it does mean that I will include the pencil and paper component more often. The children can even type out their steps on their blog posts or write them on the iPad, but I want to move more of them away from the oral responses to the written ones.

Thank you to Angie Harrison and her students for teaching me as much about good teaching practices as you did about math! It was a very reflective afternoon. Have you ever done a Math Congress Skype call before? What did you learn from this experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Aviva

Can We Get To 100 Tweets?

Can We Get To 100 Tweets?

For our 100th day of school yesterday, my students facilitated a global Twitter chat. Initially the chat was a way to share information about different communities, but it really evolved throughout the chatting process. Our goal was to collaboratively post more than 100 tweets, and thanks to my amazing PLN on Twitter, we made it to 118. Yeah!! We did it!

Listen hear as some students explain what they’re doing:

They are working together to read tweets, think about the answers, write their responses, edit their responses, and share their thoughts with the world. With tweets coming in from Canada, the United States, and even Croatia, students know that their voices are being heard. They are motivated to write, and as a teacher, there’s very little I want more.

How have you used Twitter in the classroom? As my Grade 1 and 2 students are tweeting more, I’d love to hear some different ideas that you have to share.

Aviva

To Inform Teaching Practices

To Inform Teaching Practices

At math centres this week, my Grade 1 students are solving various addition and subtraction problems and sharing their thinking in a variety of ways. Today’s group of students used the flipcam to explain how to solve different questions. Listen as they share their thinking with you:

Listening to these videos really helps me inform my teaching practices. I know that the students,

1) understand the concept of subtraction.

2) can explain what subtraction means.

3) use some key mathematical vocabulary in their explanation for each question.

I also know that I need the students to show their thinking in more than one way. What other tool can they use to help them solve each question? What mental math strategies can they use to help them determine each answer?

Maybe I should add a list of questions or prompts at each math centre to take students further in their thinking. Then even when I’m not there, the students can use these ideas to help them decide what to do next. What do you think? What have you done before? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Aviva

Integrating Science and Language

Integrating Science and Language

Today was a very exciting day! The Grade 1 students continue to learn about energy in class, and the Grade 2 students are just starting to learn about air, water, and the water cycle. During our literacy block today, the students explored these science topics more as they read, wrote, spoke, listened, and created multiple media works.

The Grade 1’s facilitated a Twitter chat on ways to reduce energy, and Grade 2’s facilitated a Twitter chat on ways they use water at home and at school. Thank you so much to all of the fantastic educators and students from as far away as Croatia, that chimed in on these discussions today!  Students were also really excited to see tweets from @bloggucation and @learninghood that they’ve met in person before, and now could see online. These connections matter! 

Grade 2’s also watched The Magic School Bus episode about the water cycle. While watching it, they wrote what they learned about the water cycle. Here are a couple of examples of what the students wrote:

While doing this, the Grade 1’s had an energy design challenge. They needed to create a box that allowed them to push a collection of valentines from one end of the table to the other end. Students created media works, as they designed videos to share what they did. Here’s an example of one of the videos:

Students had so much fun today as they shared their learning in a variety of ways. They collaborated and problem-solved, while also reading, writing, and learning science!

Have you done an activity like this one before? What were the results?

Aviva

Science Day

Science Day

Thank you so much to the wonderful Grade 2 parent that put together these photographs of the Liquids and Solids Science Day for all of us to enjoy!

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What did you learn on this special day? What did you enjoy the most about this day? Why? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Miss Dunsiger, Mrs. Lucarelli, Mrs. Ryan, and Ms. Stretton

Making Math Meaningful

Making Math Meaningful

I’m thrilled that our school did a Math Is Everywhere week. It was great to see the students really understand the importance of math, by not making math about memorized facts or ideas in a textbook, but making math “real.” This week helped me realize the importance of constantly connecting math back to the “world,” and helping students see the value in all that they learn.

Researching Math Is Everywhere

As a final activity for this special week, students worked in partners this afternoon to look through books (both online book websites and the paper variety) to find examples of math. They drew and wrote their ideas on sticky notes, organized their thoughts, and then shared them with the class afterwards. Students reflected on what they learned. They made connections to what other people shared. They questioned, and they rationalized. It was a great week of learning and fun!

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How would you help students realize that math really is everywhere? What can we do at home and at school to help make this connection even stronger? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Aviva

No Need To Be Perfect, Just Learners!

No Need To Be Perfect, Just Learners!

Today, I know that my students all realized that we don’t need to be perfect. We just need to be willing to continually reflect and learn.

This week, my class read, The Little Red Hen, for shared reading. This was a longer play than some previous ones we’ve read, so I decided to have students work in groups as the different characters. Students helped decide on their character groups, and yesterday, they even made puppets to match their characters. This morning, I recorded the students reading the play, and then I recorded their reflection of the play. The focus of this follow-up discussion was on what went well and what should we change for the next time?

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I was really pleased with the follow-up discussion. As a school, we’ve been working on descriptive feedback, and I heard the students giving this feedback to their peers. Now we have a goal for our next play, and I’m excited to see the impact this has on our next performance.

What feedback would you give the students? Please help us as we all continue to learn!

Aviva