Thursday, 7 June 2012

Equal Shmequal

Last month, we were working on understanding equality as balance in relations to numbers and equations.  

During the first lesson, I handed out the number balances and gave the class about twenty minutes to explore this new apparatus.

After exploration time was over, we gathered into a sharing circle and each student was asked to share one thing they noticed and one thing they wondered about the number balances.

After our sharing time, we headed back to the number balances to explore some of our wonders.

This lesson led nicely into a problem solving lesson using the book Equal Shmequal.

This problem evolved from a study group that I was a part of in 2009/2010.  The study group explored communication and mathematical problem solving.  We spent the year creating problems, often linked to picture books that were open ended, focussed on problem solving and children communicating their learning in a variety of ways.

Equal Shmequal is about animals wanting to have a tug- o- war.  But all of the animals are different sizes, so they try to sort out how to make both sides equal.  From the book, I posed the question, "How many different ways can you arrange the animals so that they can balance on a see saw.

I like to see all of the different ways the students make sense of the problem and show their learning.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

What Living Things Need to Survive

A few weeks ago, I wrote about part one of checking prior knowledge and establishing some background information as we embarked on your temr three study of living things.  While in the first lesson, we classified things we saw on our nature walk as living and non-living, in this lesson, we talked about what living things need to survive. I divided the class into small groups of two or three.  Each group was given a piece of paper with the name of a plant or animal on the top.  I chose familiar plants an animals like hamster, cat, dog, tree, squirrel. They were asked to jot down notes on their paper about what this plant or animal would need to live.

After about fifteen or twenty minutes of working in the small groups, we came together as a class to share our information.  I started a master list of what each group shared about their plant or animal.  When one group mentioned an item that was already on our chart, we would put a tick mark beside that item. As we created our list, we noticed that the plants and animals need many of the same things.  We talked about how scientists come to conclusions based on what they know, what they observe, research and what they learn.

Each student was then asked to write in their science notebooks what living things need to survive.

One of our goals in science if for our students to make connections from one science activity to another, from our science to their own lives and from science to other subject areas.  When we hear a child make a connection, we often jot it down on a post it note and put it in their notebook.  You can see this in the example above.

We these lessons completed, we are ready to jump head first into investigating many local living things.  More posts on living things to come.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Go Fish Tens

This term, we continue to develop number sense.  Term three continues with addition and subtraction with a specific focus on developing personal strategies that support the students in their ability to answer addition and subtraction questions.  Knowledge of numbers that make ten is a great personal strategy and can also be a part of the "friendly number" strategy that some student employ.

This game is a fun way for students to become very familiar with numbers that make 10.  We call it Go Fish Tens.  We play the traditional card game, "Go Fish," but instead of asking our opponents for a card that will make a pair or a match, we ask for a card that will go with one of our cards to make a ten.

I teach the students to remove the Kings, Queens and Jokers from the deck for this game.  We use the Jacks as zeros.

I also found a cheat sheet on pinterest that you can see pictured above.  I sent the cheat sheet home and told the students to teach their families how to play.  Before you know it, they have flipped the cheat sheet over and are not using it anymore.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Nature Walk: Living and Non Living

This term, we are very excited to be embarking on a new topic.  We are going to explore living things.  But, we feel very strongly that students learn best by doing and when their learning is interactive and hands on.    We want our kids to guide their own learning.  We will not be standing at the front of the class spouting facts about different living things.  Instead the kids and their wonders will guide us.  But, before we get started we want to check for understanding and establish some background knowledge.  First order of business, a nature walk.

Armed with clipboards, magnifying glasses and pencils we headed outside.  The kids were asked to to write down everything they noticed.  We walked around the school examining trees, litter, rocks, spider webs and playground equipment.

Once inside, we sat in a sharing circle and each student shared one thing from their list.  As they shared from their list I wrote down what they shared on recipe cards.  Now we had 22 different objects from outside.  Next, we played a game where I showed a card and they had to decide whether the item was living or non- living.  We classified (a grade one process of science) our items and created a two column chart on the chalk board using masking tape.

There was a lot of great discussion and big thinking about how to tell whether an object is living or non- living.  Part way through our discussion we realized we needed to add a new column.  We decided to call this category, "used to be living" in order to provide a list for leaves that had fallen to the ground and dead spiders.

After our discussion, the students were asked to go back and work in their science notebooks.  I wanted them to classify the objects on their personal lists and record their classification in their notebooks.

This is a great opportunity to see the children's thinking skills in action.  How will they classify their own lists and how will they represent their learning?  Will they use a t-chart, a labelled diagram or a web.  These are all different tools that the students have been exposed to throughout the year from their peers and modeled by their teachers.  This open ended type of activity allows every child to succeed and show what they know.

This lesson leads nicely into our next lesson, what living things need to survive?  To be continued....

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

If. . .

We have been getting our students ready to begin literature circles.  Before starting, we wanted to make sure that the children would be able to engage in meaningful chats with their peers around the different books they were reading (I'm sure Literature Circles will be a future post so stay tuned!).  We have spent about a month engaged in activities around how good readers make deep connections, ask questions and make inferences.  One of the activities was from Adrienne Gear's book, Reading Power.  Basically, I read the book If. . . by Sarah Perry.  After reading and discussing the book with the students, they got with a partner and were given a photocopied page from the book.  They had to work together and record different questions they had.  It was amazing to hear some of their thoughtful, deep wonders.

That night, I went home and showed the book to my son.  He then proudly created his own mini If  Book. (Yes, I know, the teacher in me never stops!  For the record, I showed him the book and he went off and created the book on his own).  It got me thinking, writing their own If stories would make a wonderful Thinking Outside the Box Challenge.  Wow, once again Division 10 amazed me with their creativity and their ability to be such great thinker!

If carpets were magic

If words could talk

If dogs could fly

If magnets weren't magnetic

If guitars can play themselves

If balls were tears

If sumos could fly

If numbers could run

If babies grew on trees

That would put a smile on any teachers face!!!!  I promise I didn't pay her anything for that one!

If this is the end dream up more.