Thursday 23 February 2012

Team Building With A People Machine-Grade 1/2

We've been playing a Tribes team building activity called People Machine. Students choose their own action and sound effect to do individually while working cooperatively with the whole class to create one machine. 

The first video below was our first try and I helped the students choose their positions. For the second video, we brainstormed what kind of machine they wanted to be and came up with a Taffy factory. The students chose their own positions as well as movements and sounds. They worked cooperatively to make sure they were connected and that their actions made sense (to 6-8 year olds!)

There were a few students that were hesitant to join in but their classmates encouraged them and everyone took part. I stood back and watched it happen. :)

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Viking Poetry (Socials and English 8)

This week students created Viking poetry.  We did this in Socials as part of our Viking unit, but it also hit English PLOs.  Students created a diamante poem and a shape poem.  They could write about anything that had to do with the Vikings and what we had been learning.  They demonstrated their understanding of Viking life through fun poems, rather than a traditional test or writing activity.  The students got right into it.   The examples below show a student who wrote the poem and decked it out to look really old, a student who wrote the poem in the Viking alphabet  (and included the translation for me), and a few cool shape poems.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Intergenerational Learning-Grade 1/2

As the resource teacher at my school, I have opportunities to be involved in a few different projects going on in the school. I cover a grade 1/2 class two block each week, and for one of these blocks, we have been visiting a local Seniors' care home to read with the residents. We walk there and back, and due to time constraints, we are there for a short period of time. It has been touching to see the connections being made between the students and the seniors.

Over the Christmas break, the Recreational Manager (I will call her "S") at the care home we visit read the same article I read in the Globe and Mail - regarding a Kindergarten class in the Kootenays which is held for two full days in a local Seniors' care home. She emailed me in excitement, saying: "Can we do this with a Kindergarten class!?!?" and I had to laugh as I emailed her back to say: "I was just thinking the same thing!"

My husband is a care aide in a Seniors' home, and what strikes me from our conversations about our respective experiences in our career roles is the similarities in our interactions with children and with the elderly. These are all unique individuals who thrive from the personal connections they make with those around them. The elderly resident who makes a connection with the person caring for them feels respected, valued, and truly cared for. The student who makes a connection with their teacher....well, they feel respected, valued, and truly cared for. This is what is most meaningful. And, as "S" said to me: "Everyone wants to volunteer with children, but it is so hard to find people who want to volunteer with seniors. Why not bring them together at the same time?"

To make a long story short, last week I accompanied a group of students and their teacher to the care home to start off what will hopefully be a regular, weekly, day-long Kindergarten class held in the Seniors' care home.

The words "Through a Different Lens" truly applies to this experience. A little snippet from the day:

We met one resident who used to be a primary teacher in Calgary. She is unable to speak except for in a very light whisper. The Kindergarten students spent a bit of time saying hello to her and just talking a bit about themselves, in the innocent way that is unique to 5 and 6 year olds. The resident was in tears as we prepared to leave and go on to the next activity. She whispered to her caregiver that interacting with the students made her day. And you should have seen the students - they were in awe and full of a million questions about this new experience. It has been one of the best days of this school year for me, as a teacher :)

Post Courtesy of Kathryn Golbeck

Monday 20 February 2012

Organized Chaos-Literature 12

Ok, I'll admit that my classroom (to a casual observer) would have looked like complete chaos today. We are on day 2 of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" which usually is a well received poem, but yesterday it didn't get the best reaction. Today the students worked in partners to record the key information from the poem on "Pirate Pack" boats donated by White Spot.

I know it looks really disorganized but there was actually a lot of structure to the lesson. We started with a very simple (but formal) review. The students are actually in a pre-arranged seating plan (I decided to have them work in 2s but I picked the partners). The kids also had a very specific set of things that they needed to include on their boats. Afterwards I evaluated the project with a simple checklist that they will get back tomorrow. Some groups will have to add a few things but most groups hit all objectives. So...there was Iron Maiden playing in the background (the Iron Maiden version of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner") and lots of paper and tape all over the place-and the atmosphere was very loud (especially for first block in the morning) but there was quite a bit of organization that went into making everything work-and it did work. I felt it was a very productive class.

Quick checklist (not for marks)

Sunday 19 February 2012

Referendum Surprise-Grade 4/5 Social Studies

To finish up our government unit, Kent and I planned to run a referendum with our classes.  They brainstormed then voted on some changes they would like to make at school.  Once we had our 4 questions we formed 8 groups, each assigned a question and position.  They were given time to prepare a campaign and presentation that was attended by the other grade 3 and 4 classes.  They made posters, prepared speeches, filmed commercials and created powerpoints.  Although they all made pros and cons T charts with points highlighted as important, some groups' messages got lost in the excitement of the campaign.  The following day students ran polling stations for the three grade groups at recess and lunch.  They had class lists and photo books to mark off voters, ballots with the questions on them, private voting stations and ballot boxes.  At lunch students counted and scruteneers recounted votes.  We did not expect the votes to go as they did but it gives us more points to discuss about democracy and also sending clear messages.  Voter turn out was quite good but we can talk about whether the vote could have been different had everyone voted.  We also talk about abiding by the decision whether you agree with it or not and the power to initiate change if you are willing to be involved.  The kids were excited the whole way through but we have to read their self assessments and reflections to see what they learned and what we may do differently.

This post is courtesy of elementary school teacher Judy Schneider.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Movement and Technology-Geography 12

Last Geography class we discussed the Earth's Four spheres - Atmosphere, Biosphere, Hydrosphere, and Lithosphere.  I started today's class with having them take out their phones / ipods etc.  They were instructed to go outside and take a picture of each sphere and to have some fun with it - "Do not go for the obvious."  

Below are examples from one group.  As a whole they were all laughing and having fun.  Students were then asked to explain what their pictures represented.  After that they had to share with another group while they guessed each others spheres.  A number students then emailed me their pictures and I set up a quiz in order to exit the class.

To a student they liked being able to get outside and move, use their technology and express themselves in a different manner. (Post courtesy of Russ Reid)


Friday 17 February 2012

Decimals and Fractions with Sticky Notes-Math 7

Sticky Notes - ( Math 7, Chapter 3- Decimals and Fractions) THANKS to PAM RUTTEN for the idea!

I teach 2 different Math 7 classes so I was able to try  this activity a few times.  I decided to use this activity as a Pre-Lesson and Post-Lesson.  This is what I did:

For an introduction into strategies that kids could use for ordering decimals and fractions from least to greatest, I let them get into groups of their choice ( about 3-4 kids).  I handed each group sticky notes and a piece of paper that had 4 groups of numbers.  Each groups was a combination of  10 fractions and decimals. 

  • I made the first group very simple, all fractions with an obvious common denominator of 100.  
  • The second groups was more challenging as half of them were decimals (still common denominator of 100).  
  • The third group a combination of decimals and fractions with a more challenging common denominator, 40.  
  • The fourth group had no obvious common denominator but I let them use a calculator and most of them discovered the easiest way to order them was to change them to decimals.
After the activity the kids really wanted to do it again and they asked all week.  

After we had a few lessons on varies strategies, including benchmarks and number lines, we did the activity again with new, more challenging groups of number.  This time I also asked those students who felt very comfortable with ordering fractions and decimals to come to the front of the class.  I than made groups ensuring that their was an "Expert" in each group to help the other out.  Again this worked really well and the kids were really on task, better than the first time.

This post is courtesy of middle school teacher Lindsay Guza

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Comic Life-Science 9

Instead of starting the semester with the usual bookwork about safety rules in the science lab, this teacher decided to try the software program "comic life" to add a little life into the learning objectives. Students were divided into pairs and given two safety rules which they they had to demonstrate in comic form. The most effective way to capture most of the lab rules (of course) involved breaking them. Students were required to sketch their scene first before they were allowed to take pictures. Many props such as lab coats, goggles, food colouring, flasks and test tubes, as well as construction paper and felts were provided to add to the authenticity of the photos. Students were focused and engaged for the photo taking class, as well as the class spent in the computer lab designing the finished comics. Students later presented their comics to the rest of the class by projecting them on the overhead.

Example of a finished comic

Sheet students filled out before they took their photos

Thursday 2 February 2012

Love In Our Hearts (Grade 1/2)

Building Community

We continued to work on our Body Portraits unit to encourage self confidence and understanding of others. Students made maps of their hearts to show people, places and things they love. We read My Map Book by Sara Fanelli to inspire our map creativity.

Everyone was engaged! The students forged ahead with great confidence (with out even asking for clarification on directions!) and then continued to work independently and have discussions with their table partners.  It was a great activity!!!
See the video below to see how engaged students were and hear them describe some of the things they love.

Oh Playdough (Social Studies 9-12)

Over the past few years I have integrated the use of play dough into all my courses (grades 9 - 12)  and other than the odd kid who "doesn't like how play dough feels" it has been an overwhelming success.  When one class gets wind that another class got to use play dough there is significant complaining that they should use it too.

I like to use play dough before I begin a new unit or introduce a topic (tell me what you know or what do you think this term / topic mean?) as well as for review.   As the students are developing their creation I engage them in a quick conversation asking them what they are doing, why they choose a term / topic (I often give the students a number of key terms / topics to select from) and how are they developing the sculpture / image.

Once they have completed their creation they have to explain to me the term and I ask a few questions about the term as it relates to the bigger picture - have them making connections that go beyond the obvious. 

Past experience suggests to limit the number of key terms / topics they have to create to three.  This number seems to get the best quality and conversation.  Any more and they fatigue. 

In the past following the "play time" I have had students write a paragraph, essay and other responses.  For the most part the written outcome has been over better quality compared to giving them a topic and having them write. 

This student had no clue what an actual plough looked like. He did use his iPhone to look up what one looked like but found it too complicated to create. I was not concerned about the final product, but rather that he could articulate the purposes of the plough and its impact on farming and society.
A student example of crop rotation. They explained how each colour represented a different crop.

I wish I had kept more examples of their work as some kids get into amazing detail.

I think play dough is received so well because the kids get to have fun.  By playing and creating they don't realize they are still learning and expressing their knowledge - it is almost tricking them into it.  They are not afraid to make a mistake and most often are willing to try to express themselves creatively. 

This post is by Russ Reid