Classroom Learning – Feb. 9 – 13, 2015

This month has been flying by as its been full of short weeks filled with a lot of activity! My students have been hard at work but we also made some time for celebrating the work and learning we have been doing.

Language Arts

We are well into our read aloud Wendell The World’s Worst Wizard. We have learned about the differences between gnomes, elves and trolls as well as wizards and witches. The students have been reflecting on their connections, inferences and predictions as well as other criteria as we move forward into this story. They have each chosen either a specific character from this book or a type of character and started brainstorming their profiles so that they can create depth for their character when we begin their narrative writing pieces next week.

This week we discussed juicy adjectives and descriptive words. Students researched a variety of words and then applied those to their peers in our Friendship Adjectives Hearts:

Each student left a descriptive adjective about themselves and their peers on their heart.

Each student left a descriptive adjective about themselves and their peers on their heart.

Students have also started their book clubs! I have never seen more excitement and enthusiasm for reading in all of my years of teaching so watching them jump for joy when books where distributed was wonderful! I credit this in part to the fact that they all chose their own books based on interest and abilities. They all decided within their groups as to how much they will read before providing reflections. Each group also created a collaborative Google Doc which they will record their questions, comments and information to share with me and the classroom.

Here are some photos from their meetings:

Reading!

Reading!

We use a variety of tools and resources. We read, converse and record our learning.

We use a variety of tools and resources. We read, converse and record our learning.

Mathematics

We are nearing the second loop of feedback for the student’s Resort Reports. I have asked that they each work on them this weekend whenever possible so I can provide them with additional audio feedback. They will be given more time next week to listen to feedback and apply to complete their work. I have loved using the add on Kaizena for the audio feedback!

Science

We completed a brief experiment together on growing crystals and students were able to observe their findings from last week’s  solutions.

Verifying our hypothesis and updating our observations.

Verifying our hypothesis and updating our observations.

Social Studies

The student’s jot notes and research skills are moving forward as they continue to research the two regions of the Arctic and the Great Lakes LowLands. I assigned each student a google doc for jot notes and one for a bibliography. They are loving using the add on Easybib to create their works cited. They are using both text and online resources and have learned how to cite each resource. They then also created two separate Google Presentations focused on each region of Canada and will compile their research into a personal presentation with a focus on guiding questions.

Starting our region research, creating our jot notes and answering our guiding questions!

Starting our region research, creating our jot notes and answering our guiding questions!

Students are required to use a variety of text and online resources for region research.

Students are required to use a variety of text and online resources for region research.

Art

Our Falling Backwards pieces have turned out amazingly! Some students are still finishing up and we will begin Dragons next week!

Some of our self portraits falling backwards...can you guess who we are?

Some of our self portraits falling backwards…can you guess who we are?

Valentine Buddies

This week we also gathered with our Grade 7B buddies to work on our collaborative art. We decided that this would be an awesome time for us to make our buddies some Valentines and they created some for us in return. We also set-up all of the treats brought in from both classes and shared while working on art together. It was so heart-warming to see them so excited in making, distributing and receiving Valentines. I truly believe one is never too old to celebrate love, kindness and friendship.

Distributing our Valentines and reading them!

Distributing our Valentines and reading them!

Our collaborative murals are coming along quite nicely!

Our collaborative murals are coming along quite nicely!

Cheers to lemonade, good friends, goodies and school!

Cheers to lemonade, good friends, goodies and school!

Skiing

We received some high praise from the ski instructors at Rabbit Hill Ski Resort on Friday. Two instructors approached myself and Mrs. Krefting at the end of the day with huge smiles on their faces and asked us if we were with the students from Greystone. We said yes, and they began to say how absolutely wonderful our students were. They said they have never had such an incredible group of kids who listened and were so respectful. They were so happy with them that they wanted to give them something and so they opened up another area for them that they normally never do. They wanted us to let our kids know just how much they were thankful to have worked with them today and they also said please bring them back anytime!

To say I am proud would be an understatement!

I tried to capture some photos of everyone skiing, however most were so far up on the hills that I was only able to capture a few in action.

Skiing at Rabbit Hill!

Skiing at Rabbit Hill!

Exhausted from a day of skiing but so very happy!

Exhausted from a day of skiing but so very happy!

We have had a great week! I can’t wait for the next!

Classroom Learning – November 24 – November 28, 2015

November has flown by in our room and we are looking forward to bringing together all of the incredible projects and learning we have been doing this term.

The following is an update on the activities happening in LC5B!

Language Arts

We have started a group read- aloud on the book “Out Of My Mind“. Its an incredibly powerful story of an 11 year old girl diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and the social and academic challenges she faces. The students have made some deep connections with the main character and are learning how to express empathy and understanding. I am reading this book to them and together we are discussing our thoughts and feelings. The students have also started to blog their own questions and understandings.

We are continuing with our daily reading and ensuring every student has access to reading materials reflective of their interests and ability. Please do let me know if students are not bringing any material home for additional reading time when possible.

Mathematics

We are shifting our main focus to multiplication now, however place value and estimation will still be a continued focus year-round to ensure understanding. The students are also meeting in three smaller groups for two periods a week with Mrs. Krefting’s class to work on combined skills and we continue with our problem of the week every Friday.

This week’s problem was called Grasshopper Jump Fest and I was so proud to see everyone just dive into solving it in their own ways. Students have now built the confidence to attempt problems without fear or hesitation from the work we began at the start of the year. We are working now on how to explain our thinking and how we are actually solving problems. This involves a strong understanding of one’s own strategies and how and why they applied those.

We all have our own strategy for solving the problem!

We all have our own strategy for solving the problem!

Students showed a lot of pride in their demonstrating their understandings.

Students showed a lot of pride in  demonstrating their understandings.

Focused and enjoying the level of difficulty of the problem!

Focused and enjoying the level of difficulty of the problem!

Chose to use Google Draw to work through her problem!

Chose to use Google Draw to work through her problem!

A few of the students were so proud of their process and in demonstrating their understandings that they asked me to video them solving the problem. As you can see below, some succeeded and the ones that didn’t during this taped version, continued on despite that fact and then refined their process with the feedback from myself and their peers. At the end of our lesson, they had all achieved success and began their reflection blogs.

Science 

We are wrapping up our units on Electricity and Magnetism. The students are working on their final projects which is to build a mechanism that features a working circuit and an element of magnetism. They have all done their research and will begin to plan their experiments this week. Our next unit is weather which will be a year-long focus as weather is happening every day around us. We have started watching and interpreting the weather radars on the weather network as well as tracking weather systems heading our way and globally. The students were fascinated by the extreme snow conditions in Buffalo, New York last week and began to question how being surrounded by lakes causes a Lake Effect. They also started to make connections between that and our location in Alberta versus British Columbia.

Social Studies

The students are now working on putting together their presentations with the information collected from you about their histories and heritage. They refined their questions and understandings last week and started exploring different presentation options. They were provided with a few technology tools as well as poster and paper options and were asked to choose which style worked best for them to represent their families’ story.

Art

We love art in LC5B! Its never an easy task but it allows for students to demonstrate their own creativity. We worked on the use of chalk pastels and the aspect of defining space. Students are often asked to fill in every piece of a project and not to leave any white spaces, however with our chalk pastel pieces, that white space helps to define texture. Students were pushed and directed to actually colour outside of the lines and to make their images rough and not refined.

These are their scruffy Woozles:

Taking ownership and hanging their art pieces!

Taking ownership and hanging their art pieces!

Working together to display their work!

Working together to display their work!

Nadine's combination of colour and texture wowed us all!

Nadine’s combination of colour and texture wowed us all!

Really looking forward to this week!

Miss D. Ariss 

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?

 

Classroom Learning – October 16, 2014

Building community within a group of diverse learners is not a one time lesson or activity; it is an on-going and continuos conversation. As we get to know more about who we are as a team and how to work well together, certain themes continue to arise:

  • Demonstrating respect for one another
  • Showing care and understanding for one another’s needs
  • Taking personal responsibility for our actions
Sharing our promises to our learning community.

Sharing our promises to our learning community.

We took some time in the morning to review these conversations and to express what we are each bringing to the team. Students the shared out loud to the class to demonstrate ownership of their contributions.

In Math, we started to learn about estimation and rounding strategies. The three we are focusing on this year are Front-End, Compatible and Compensation. Students are learning how and when to use each strategy and the reasons behind why estimation and rounding is so important.

In Language Arts, we continued to read The Fourteenth Goldfish with our Global Read Aloud and make predictions. We also located a large Google world  map that had been started by a participating classroom detailing locations of all of the classrooms reading with us.

Students trying to figure out what the map is about.

Students trying to figure out what the map is about.

We then located Spruce Grove and placed our pin amongst the hundreds of others. Students immediately wanted to differentiate themselves and had figured out how to re-create the pin icon in Maps. We changed it to a fish, but in doing so….we accidently also changed everyone else’s! We hope they like our icon…

We changed our pin to a fish to represent The Fourteenth Goldfish!

We changed our pin to a fish to represent The Fourteenth Goldfish!

The afternoon was focused on Science as we learned what a circuit is and how it works. We worked through The Blobz Guide To Electric Circuits together and wrote the important information we would need to know when it comes time to building our own circuits and electrical inventions.

One of our classmates has a deep passion for creating and building electrical devices. He had brought in a fan he had built using batteries, wires and a computer fan. Once our discussion led to the use of batteries, negative and positive charges, the students asked him to show us what would happen if the batteries were not placed properly in the circuit.

What will happen if the batteries in a circuit are not positioned correctly?

What will happen if the batteries in a circuit are not positioned correctly?

Last week I had brought in a MakeyMakey that a teacher friend of mine generously let us borrow to experiment with. The students were absolutely fascinated by the intricate details of the circuit and after learning how circuits operate, we decided to try it out. No one knew how to operate it, myself included, but that was what made the learning more fun and authentic.

Working together to find out how we can build a working circuit.

Working together to find out how we can build a working circuit.

We figured it out together!

We figured it out together!

We used carrots that one of the student’s had grown at home, along with my laptop, alligator clips, the MakeyMakey and connectors. We finally got it working due to the student’s perseverance and sheer excitement to make it work : ” Try this!”, “It’s that cord!” “No, maybe this way?” until we saw the cursors on the laptop work through the circuit we built!

It was a great day full of learning! Students have been asked to find the electrical mains in their homes as well as research different ways we can use a MakeyMakey.

Do you have any suggestions or ideas for us in creating circuits?

Classroom Learning – October 6 – October 9, 2014

Here is a quick review of the week that passed and what to expect for this upcoming week!

Mathematics

We are continuing to work on problem solving and we started the week with this visual map of a Ghost in the Mansion. I posted the visual on the SmartBoard and students immediately tried to figure out how to manoeuvre from one area to another while also discussing how and why they would choose each route.

Working in groups to find strategies to move through the mansion.

Working in groups to find strategies to move through the mansion.

As students worked together to find the best routes, I decided to make it trickier. I wanted them to apply their thinking beyond the problem written on a piece of paper. I told them I was providing each group with a roll of tape and wanted to see if they could re-create the map on a larger scale and then manoeuvre themselves through it.

Now this brought up many more problems for them beyond the mathematical application as they needed to work together effectively to produce a common group outcome. We decided to move out into our pod and use the carpet space provided.

IMG_8313

Starting to figure out how to apply skills on a larger scale.

IMG_8314

Getting past the struggles to create their models.

Working in a group proved to be a huge challenge for most as each had their own idea and vision for how their models would look. Some groups worked much more effectively and were able to listen to group member’s ideas and ensured that all were involved. Others hit major communication roadblocks which hindered their progress. This activity transformed itself from a math problem to a social and group work problem and some very valuable lessons were learned. I was very proud though of each group for being honest about what their struggles were and in trying to apply strategies to solve. In the end, some groups decided to part ways and others remained in tact. Students also wrote individual reflections for me regarding what challenges they faced during this activity and how it affected their ability to move forward.

Now that the blueprint is created...how do we make our way through it?

Now that the blueprint is created…how do we make our way through it?

I was really amazed to see them work their way through their larger scale models. It was much harder for some to visualize the map while also moving themselves through it. Just a simple transformation of a problem, allowed them to view it much differently and made for a different set of strategies.

This week, we will review this problem again and reflect on our learnings. The students have also completed a mini review of place value and all have shown their knowledge and so we will be moving forward with estimation strategies. We will be beginning a project based on real-life applications of place value and estimation focused on purchasing property in Alberta.

 Social Studies

We have been learning about our heritage and who we are. Our theme for this year is ” Who Do You Think You Are?” as we also focus on Canada as a country and its foundations. We had a lot of discussions about where we think our ancestors came from and how they may have come to Canada. One of our starting projects was the one sent home with the students this weekend. To prepare them for asking deeper questions that transcend beyond the “what is your favourite food?” and more along the lines of “where is my family from and how and why did they come to Canada?”, students were paired up to interview one another. One student was the interviewer, another was the interviewee and a third was the question collector.

Interviewing one another!

Interviewing one another!

We brainstormed together just how we could transform the what, where and when questions into deeper why and how questions. Then we paired up with student’s from Mrs. Krefting’s grade 5 classroom to watch an episode of the show “Who Do You Think You Are?” where actor Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory discovers his heritage by asking deeper questions to lead him on his quest for finding the answers.

Collaboratively applying our interviewing skills.

Collaboratively applying our interviewing skills.

Students from both classes brainstormed a variety of open-ended questions while collecting their favourite ones in either a google doc or in their social studies duo tangs. Working with peers from outside of our classroom really helped them to connect and express their ideas more openly. They also re-met with Mrs. Krefting’s class on Wednesday and had the opportunity to hear Mr. Dahliwal speak about his family’s journey to Canada and ask him questions. Following that interview, they practiced a cold-call interview with me where I didn’t provide my family’s story until they asked me the questions that would lead them to their answers. It was wonderful to see the realization in their faces when a one-answer question was asked and it didn’t provide them with what they needed and in fact allowed them to re-process and re-ask it in a different format.

This week we will review their findings from their home interviews, discuss deeper questioning and fill in gaps as needed for interviewing at home before beginning to piece together the information.

Science

We are learning about the connections between electricity, magnetism and static. Students each received a balloon, a variety of different materials and provided with an outcome but not with the “how” or “why” to experiment with their findings. Some  of the outcomes were:

  • Make the balloon stick to the wall without using anything else for help
  • Make a cereal pendulum swing/bounce without touching it, blowing on it or shaking the table

  • Make the cereal jump/move without touching them, blowing on them or shaking the table

  • Turn the tap on so that a small stream of water is running out, make the stream bend without touching it or blowing on it

Students recorded their findings along with how they did it, why they think it worked and any questions they had regarding it. Some of the ways they came up with for moving their materials through static electricity were absolutely incredible.

Video – She decided to crush her cereal and use her balloon as a magnet

Video – Using the cereal to move her balloon

Video – Realizing how she could move the balloon with her leg

Instinctively using balloons to create static electricity!

Instinctively using balloons to create static electricity!

This week we will be focusing on electricity and circuits.

Language Arts

We are participating in the Global Read Aloud with the book The Fourteenth Goldfish. Students have been making predictions and tweeting their thoughts via our Twitter account. We have been connecting with a variety of classrooms online about the story and what we think is going to happen. Students have also began to utilize their blogs for reflection on the story and a variety of other topics.

They were overjoyed to see their parents leaving them comments last week and interacting with their learning. They immediately wanted to read not only theirs but their peers’ blogs too. They have been reading, reflecting and providing each other with comments and feedback and welcome you to join us!

They will be blogging daily and we look forward to connecting with you!

This was a long review due to parent conferences last week but I sincerely appreciate your time and feedback. Please let me know below in the comment section your thoughts!

Some questions to ponder and discuss with your child and in the comment section below:

  • How can you apply problem-solving strategies at home to help your child?
  • Where do you use place-value and estimation strategies in your daily life?
  • Have you discovered something new about your family or enjoyed sharing something with your child about their heritage this weekend?
  • Where in your home do you have electric circuits and can you share these with your child?

We look forward to hearing your feedback as a class!

Miss D. Ariss

Classroom Learning – September 30, 2014

Science lends its self very well to the process of inquiry and we have been working very diligently on asking questions and fostering the conversations that arise from our wonders.

We are learning about electricity and its applications in our world. Students have discussed how electricity impacts their lives on a daily basis and the importance of safe practice. I pushed their thinking and we brainstormed a variety of questions we had about electricity ensuring that all questions asked would be honoured.

The start of our electricity discussions.

The start of our electricity discussions.

One question that arose sparked a heated debate (no pun intended) “Is fire the same as electricity?” Students were so intrigued by the abstract qualities of this question that we separated into groups and students were asked to ask more questions but also provide reasonings for why they did or did not believe they were the same. Most groups decided to create two separate lists and write down the similarities and differences, which then led us to these deeper questions:

1. Is electricity hot?

2. What about lightning? Is it hot or cold?

3. We can get burned by fire, and also by electricity, but is it the same?

Debating whether electricity and fire are the same.

Debating whether electricity and fire are the same.

Their discussions were rich and lively, which began the process of connection for them with our inquiry unit into the impact that electricity has in our lives.