Classroom Learning – Feb. 2 – 13, 2015

February is a short month to begin with and we’ve added a lot of events which have also made for some short weeks. However my students know, a short week means even harder work and effort to ensure we continue learning.

Here is a brief overview of the past week’s learning and what we can anticipate coming up!

Language Arts

Student reading groups have been created and they have collaboratively chosen a book they will all read and reflect upon together. Reading time will be provided in class in addition to our daily Drop Everything And Read Time as I truly believe we need to provide our students with not only time for directed reading but also time for reading books of choice to build their love of books. We will be co-creating assessment criteria this week for their reading groups and get started! They have been so excited to begin and seeing this makes me realize that they love to read!

They have also been doing an incredible job updating their GoodReads and also sharing, reviewing and recommending books they have read. Keep it up guys!

We have started reading Wendell The World’s Worst Wizard together, which is a very detailed, descriptive Fantasy/Science Fiction/ Adventure book. This is a harder transition for students who are used to the more general Fiction reads and so we have  reviewed the characters and their roles as well as the settings of each section together to gather understandings. It is essential for students to connect to concepts in books in order to comprehend so its been quite interesting to hear their take on this story so far.

Our narrative writing pieces will start this week based off of Wendell. The students will brainstorm their characters and create brain cloud maps with descriptive details of their character. They will then create a draft outline of their story. This will all be in their Language Arts folder in Google Docs.

Mathematics

We hope to finish our Resort Report this week or early next week. This includes all of the student’s multiplication equation work in their duotangs as well as their reflections. Their entire completed project will be in their Google Docs accounts and also posted to their blogs along with their reflection on their learning and understandings of multiplication. I am so very proud of their work so far and some have even begun multiplying 4 digits by 4 digits using the strategy they feel comfortable with. However, any additional review of those facts at home would be immensely helpful! We will tie in this learning with Division which starts following the completion of this project.

Science

We’ve had a blast mixing and creating liquids and solids. The students engaged in multiple hands-on experiments last week and documented their findings in their Science folders.

Here are a few photos from last week:

Mixing liquids to observe what happens.

Mixing liquids to observe what happens.

They were excited to document the changes.

They were excited to document the changes.

Working together and discussing hypothesis of whether liquid and solid combinations will dissolve.

Working together and discussing hypothesis of whether liquid and solid combinations will dissolve.

We'll reevaluate our findings of the solutions this week.

We’ll reevaluate our findings of the solutions this week.

This week we will be working on an a project experiment called Fill’er Up where students will have to create a device, mechanism or find a way to move liquids across a solid.

Social Studies

We completed our See, Think, Wonders about both the Arctic and the Great Lakes Lowlands regions and these can be located in their Google Docs Social Studies folder. They were fascinated by Niagara Falls as well as the sizes of the Great Lakes. Each student then created two separate Google Presentation documents with each slide titled with a focus question, which they will have to answer with their research:

Examples:

  • How does the land shape life in the Arctic?
  • What are the challenges of developing natural resources in the Arctic?
  • How are Inuit ways of life traditional and modern?
  • How does climate influence quality of life?
  • Why does this region have the largest population in Canada?
  • What makes this region unique?

This week students will be shown how to effectively conduct research using the internet, how to cite their sources and we will review copyright practices and plagiarism. They will also be provided with written texts from which they will be required to pull information and re-word in their own words to ensure they are able to find the information they are looking for but also to create their own understandings of it. Their individual and completed presentations will then be posted on to their blogs.

Art

Art is one of our favourite subjects. We get to be creative, wacky and representative of ourselves. We have been working on a drawn piece called ‘Falling Backwards’. Students had to trace their hands and feet, in which ever perspective they chose,draw themselves, and then decide what would scare them the most if they were to fall backwards into something. They then outlined their drawing with a Sharpie and learned how to use watercolour paint to create texture. Their results are awesome and I can’t wait to showcase them with you once they are completed. Here are a few pictures of their work in progress:

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IMG_0941Stay tuned for more from LC5B!

 

Our Multiplication Strategies

We have started to apply our understandings of place value and multiplication and extending our knowledge to multiplying two by two digit and three by two digit numbers.

In our classroom, there is no “right” or “wrong” strategy, it is about what works for you. Whichever strategy a child feels most comfortable with and understands not just the application of but the why of, is the best.

We have shared and learned three different multiplication strategies and the amazing Jessie Krefting has created mini-videos demonstrating some of them. Students do not have to demonstrate mastery in all strategies, but must find one they understand and can apply when required.

1. Standard Algorithm

2. Caroll Diagram

3.  Partial Product and Why Is Math Different Now by Dr. Raj Shah

Students have now started an inquiry math project called Resort Report.

All mathematical applications will be completed on paper so students can demonstrate their understandings, then uploaded to their document for a complete view of their learning.

Classroom Learning – January 19 – 23, 2015

The students of LC5B have been working very hard since the start of the New Year. I can’t begin to explain just how proud I am of their spirit, dedication and care towards their learning.

Here is an overview of the happenings in our room:

Our trip to the Spruce Grove Innovation Lab:

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In Science, we have started our Classroom Chemistry unit and students have learned about the three states of matter. They have been applying their observation skills and jot note taking skills throughout our lessons. As we were discussing chemical reactions and the states of matter, one of our classmates Cassie applied this information to a very unique product that she creates with at home called Popin Cookin. This product contains a variety of powders that when mixed with water or a solution, quickly hardens and gels into a gummy-like substance and is edible. This allows the students to witness immediate chemical reactions and mixtures in an incredibly engaging and fascinating way.

Students took jot notes of what they saw, thought and wondered as Cassie led us through the experiment. As it happened, Mrs. Cameron stopped by and was quickly invited to watch and learn with us! You can read the student’s findings in their blog posts.

Here are a few pictures from our experiment:

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One of my favourite things is catching students deeply engaged in reading or in sharing their reading with others. We have full class participation in our GoodReads and some students have opted for writing down their reading to keep track. I am willing to assist them in whichever way works for them in order to build students who LOVE to read! Here are a few LC5 students caught reading this week:

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We also met with our GCMS collaborative buddy class LC7B and Mr. Heale last week for Art. Students are working on abstract murals in groups of 4-5. Each student contributes their abstract drawings and once complete all students will have the opportunity to add colour through painting on one another’s murals to create large representative pieces of our learning communities.

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To see more pictures and read more about our collaboration, please visit Mr. Heale’s blog : http://www.psdblogs.ca/dheale/2015/01/17/buddy-class/

We have a fun-filled and well-earned day of Hockey tomorrow and a full continuation of our learning on Friday. I am looking forward to connecting with you all on my next post and at our Student-Led Conferences on the 28th and 29th ( additional forms available for download under Important Notices) where the students will be showing you how, what and why they learn.

Also please take some time and read your child’s and others’ blog post reflections on their learning. They have posted their Social Studies presentations as well and would love to hear from you!

Miss D. Ariss

Our “Who Do You Think You Are?” Presentations

Students today had the opportunity to connect, collaborate and share their family’s history with their peers from Mrs. Krefting and Mr. Kolody’s class. They each had presented their findings to one another in our classroom and received both peer and teacher feedback but this afternoon they connected with peers outside of our homeroom for a different perspective.

Each student paired up with one or two other students to present and learn about one another’s ancestors and family origins. Thier discussions were centered around our three guiding questions for Social Studies:

  • Why did your ancestors come to Canada?
  • Where did they settle?
  • Why did they choose to settle there?

Each student-chosen group was provided with a venn diagram document on which they took jot notes of their partner’s family history, their own family history and the differences and similarities between. Students were quickly able to pick out the most important of details and make those connections about their own families.

It was an incredible afternoon of connection and learning and I have never been more proud of LC5B!  Here are a few pictures of our learning this afternoon:

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Our next step was for students to blog a reflection to share their learning with a focus on:

  • What they learned about themselves and their family
  • What they would do differently and what surprised them
  • What they felt was the most valuable part of the process

If you’d like to read their reflections, they are posted on their blogs at http://www.psdblogs.ca/dariss, however these are a few highlights:

Who Do You Think You Are Reflections

1. Ashley

2. Ian

3. Cassie

Classroom Learning – Term Two Update

Hi everyone,

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday break and a great first week back to school! We eased back into our routine last week and have begun some new projects. Below is a brief overview of the learning focus for in our room for this term:

Language Arts

We are finishing the book Out Of My Mind for our read aloud and students will continue making predictions, connections, inferences and asking questions for our reading strategies. They will post their reflections on their blogs and this term we will have a deeper focus on conventions in their writing. Emphasis and assessment will be placed on capitals and punctuation use in all writing.

We will also be focusing on the Organization trait in writing and students will be learning how to gather their thoughts and compose them in a fluent way. We will start a group read aloud on the book Wendell The World’s Worst Wizard and students will have the opportunity to write their own stories with detailed beginning, middle and end while also connecting predictions, inferences and questions with other classes also reading this book.

Students will also start their own book clubs and literature circles this term. Books will be chosen by student groups so as to focus on their interest but also their instructional levels. This may involve some at home reading if a student is not able to read in time allotted in class time. They will meet daily with groups and discuss the book, its contents, their reflections and predictions. Individual at home reading is still to continue whenever possible and is to be recorded on Good Reads or in their reading duotang  – whichever they have been assigned. Students are encouraged to continue to review their books, provide recommendations and search for additional books they want to read on Good Reads as well as set their 2015 Reading Challenge goals.

Our Reading Tree!

Our Reading Tree!

We had a beautiful Reading Tree drawn and painted by the incredibly talented artist Aiden. which we cut out and placed in our room. Students have begun to fill it up with all of the books they have read and rated. Our goal is to have it overflowing by June with all of the books we have read!

Mathematics
We are working on our multiplication strategies with integrated division strategies so students can make the deeper connections between the two with a focus on fact families and deep meaning and understanding of multiplication and division. Students are also working in groups on Tuesdays and Wednesday with Mrs. Krefting‘s class to strengthen their mathematical understandings. We also are continuing with our Problem Of The Week every Fridays and students will reflect on their processes on their blogs.

This term we have also started participating in the Math Photo A Day Challenge with other classrooms around the world. Students are provided with mathematical prompts daily and they are to find and represent their understandings through a photo. We have begun to tweet our photos on Twitter using the hashtag #MathPhotoADay and I will curate all of their photos monthly and post them to this blog for you!

We are also learning how to use charts and graphs by integrating our understandings with an upcoming Science unit of Weather. Students will be graphing weather trends globally.

Science
We began our Classroom Chemistry unit and students have started learning about the States of Matter : Solid, Liquid and Gas. We have watched a Bill Nye video and they have implemented their jot note skills on the states of matter. Students will begin experiments this week with key learning features: mixtures, crystallization, properties of matter and chemical reactions.

Social Studies
Students have worked so incredibly hard on their family history presentations and we are all so honoured to learn about one another’s ancestries and family backgrounds. They began their presentations to our class this week while at the same time received feedback from both myself and two peers. They have been using an assessment tool and interactive feedback document in their Google Docs which allows them to leave and receive peer and teacher feedback. As a student presented, two peers were leaving them feedback and everyone else was practicing their jot note taking and picking out the most important features of their peer’s presentation. I have never been more proud of the hard work and dedication they are demonstrating!

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Presenting, providing feedback and taking jot notes!

Working hard on our presentations and our feedback/assessment documents.

Working hard on our presentations and our feedback/assessment documents.

Providing feedback and taking jot notes, working on our 1000 piece Map of Canada puzzle and presenting!

Providing feedback and taking jot notes, working on our 1000 piece Map of Canada puzzle and presenting!

We will be meeting with Mr. Kolody and Mrs. Krefting’s class this week and re-presenting our family histories in small groups and making connections between the histories of one another.

This term we will also be focusing heavily on the Regions of Canada. There are six regions:  Atlantic, Arctic,  Plains, Canadian Shield, Great Lakes St. Lawrence and The Cordillera. We will be diving deep into the Arctic and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence regions and then collaborating with our peers in  Mr. Kolody and Mrs. Krefting’s class to make the connections between the other four regions. Students will research and participate in a variety of activities to deepen their understanding of each region. They will then write a persuasive argument for one of the regions and present to the LC 5 groups in a Socratic Circle.

Students who are participating in the Minecraft region creation can continue and share their building as they go.

I will continue to update you on our learning adventures as we continue!

Miss D. Ariss

Igniting Innovation Week 5

Drafting her proposal for coding a Science-based video game for kids.

Drafting her proposal for coding a Science-based video game for kids.

Innovation Week 5 planning at Greystone Centennial Middle School (GCMS) began Friday morning for all students in our school (grade 5 – 9)  interested in inquiry, project-based, problem-solving and the innovative creation process. We have a unique opportunity at GCMS to implement this incredible week-long program that challenges students to question, investigate, process, create and share in teams on areas of deep interest.

This video created by our Assistant Principal Jesse McLean from previous Innovation Weeks held at GCMS showcases the incredible things that can happen when students are provided with the opportunity to explore their curiosity for the world around them:

The theme for Innovation Week 5  is “How Do I Learn?”. Innovation Week allows students to take away a greater understanding of themselves as learners and how sharing their learning while being open to receiving and providing feedback will allow for growth. It ties directly with Alberta’s Cross Curricular Competencies. Innovation Week provides our students with opportunities to experience one or more of the following competencies:

  • Know how to learn
  • Think critically
  • Identify and solve complex problems
  • Manage information
  • Innovate
  • Create opportunities
  • Demonstrate good communication skills and the ability to work cooperatively with others

Knowing just how powerful of a learning experience this would be for our students, we worked together as a team to learn. Students who wanted to work in groups split themselves up amongst their peers’ classrooms and teachers worked with individual groups.

Teachers then guided them through the Design Thinking process to create a proposal based on the following criteria created by our Educational Design Team at GCMS starting with our Inquiry Process:

The Inquiry Process Wheel

The Inquiry Process Wheel

  • What is your guiding question?
  • What is your plan for the project?
  • What will you do to prepare for your project? What research or preparation will you need to do? What resources will you access?
  • Will you connect with an outside expert? If yes, who will your expert be? How will your expert assist you? How and when will you connect with your expert?
  • What will you need to move from the preparation to the action phase for your project? How will you move from research to actually creating your project?
  • Materials you will provide
  • What will you create as a final product?
  • Who is your audience and how will you present your learning?
Working on their proposals!

Working on their proposals!

This may seem like a straightforward task, however it was quite a challenging prospect for students to think outside of the box and in most cases to think like the box doesn’t exist. Some knew what they wanted to explore, create or learn more about but found it difficult to explain the why and how.

To assist them with this process, upon completion of their proposal, students were guided by teachers through the Ideation and Prototyping stages. They used the guiding question they developed and were challenged to come up with 100 ideas to help answer it in a constrained set of time.

This is what happens when time constraint is used in a manner in which to fuel learning and processing for the first time:

So much intense pressure to push our brains!

So much intense pressure to push our brains!

Challenging enough for the students remain engaged and enjoy it!

Challenging enough for the students to remain engaged and enjoy it!

The ideation process was so intense to watch that I knew I had to take some video to demonstrate just how powerful the right amount of pressure to generate as many ideas and solutions can be:


At the time we had about 15 students in the room and the grand total of ideas geared towards their projects in 10 minutes of ideation was an outstanding 852!

The number of ideas generated in 10 minutes of Ideation.

The number of ideas generated in 10 minutes of Ideation.

The power in this was that it allowed the students to tap into their brain processes. They focused on generating more and more ideas with a guiding frame of “Yes, and… ” instead of “No, but…”. I found that the time constraint helped to break through the barriers. Some used strategies of movement, others spoke out loud while partners furiously wrote, others wore headphones and tapped into their own minds.

We then went back and reflected on the ideas. We knew that some were going to be silly or not very applicable, but there were many that would be useful. They then drafted a prototype of their project, which along with their circled top ideas, lists of ideas generated and proposal, was submitted for approval.

I am so excited to see this process go into action as Innovation week officially begins the last week before our holiday break from Dec. 15-19th. All participating students will spend that entire week working in teams with teacher and expert guides on their projects. Students will be blogging reflections on their learning process and our theme of “How Do I Learn” daily to share with the world and on Friday Dec. 19th, we will host an open Gallery Walk to showcase their projects to family, school and community members.

If you’d like more information or want to see previous student projects and learning from Innovation Week, please visit Jesse McLean’s Blog – http://jessepmclean.com/tag/innovation-week .

Implementing Our Electricity Understandings

We have been working very hard in LC5B learning about electrical mechanisms, circuits, batteries and just how electrical circuits operate.

This is a fairly in-depth unit and the students and I have approached it with inquiry in mind. We are surrounded by electricity, but just how does it work and how dependent are we on it? LC5B had come up with so many questions which we have taken the time to research and learn about what we wondered.

Last week we had failed attempts at implementing a working circuit, but our focus at that time was on the process and how to continue to try alternatives when coming face to face with a failed attempt. This week we focused on applying the skills and knowledge we had learned about functioning circuits and attempted to put them to test with our circuit boards.

Students chose partners they felt they could work best with and each group was provided with an operating circuit board and the cell batteries students were asked to bring at the beginning of the year. I didn’t provide them with any further instructions other than to make their circuit operate. We had built the foundations of what an effective circuit requires in order to function, and now they had to apply this knowledge. This was the best piece of assessment of learning as students were quick to begin and were incredibly focused and determined on getting their circuits to operate, and they applied their understandings of insulators, conductors, switches, cells and voltage. They were also 100% comfortable in explaining how and why their circuits were or were not working, which allowed me to see their understandings in a natural setting.

They explored, they pushed, they clipped, unclipped and re-clipped….and may have burnt some bulbs…but they were learning!

I hope you can see and hear their excitement below:

What happens if.....

What happens if…..

Let's see what this does...

Let’s see what this does…

So excited about his group's completed circuit!

So excited about his group’s completed circuit!

Is this going to work...

Is this going to work…

Concentrating in their groups

Concentrating in their groups!

We think we got it!

We think we got it!

Thumbs up and all smiles!

Thumbs up and all smiles!

Success and pride!

Success and pride!

What happens with more voltage?

What happens with more voltage?