New Unit of Inquiry.

Our new Unit of Inquiry started today.

1. Brainstorm on what is History? Kids were struggling trying to understand the difference between story and History.

2. We come up with an easy definition that explain what History is.

3. I asked the children to name a specific event in History they would like to investigate. They decided on bombarding during the war. This is a topic they are, with some respect, kind of familiar with, because grandparents discussed it with them.

4. I asked them where they could find information. They, obviously, began with internet, tv, videos, books and then newspaper, to move then into original newspapers from the period of the events, or even letters and diary.  I have then split them into three groups, told them to copy the 15 ideas they come up with and sort them.

5. They were very good at it, sorting the into Primary and Secondary Sources, of course without knowing that they were doing it.

Tomorrow I will ask them to justify their sorting and luckly we will be discussing Primary vs. Secondary Sources.

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Reflections on Maths

Wow, you can tell it is the holidays because I have had time to do two posts in one day. 🙂

Last week, the children put together their final presentations on place value.

The task:  In groups of 3-4 the children were to put together a presentation to explain the aspects of place-value.  These were the lines of inquiry: The base-ten number system; numbers up to 100,000; multiplying and dividing numbers by 10, 100, 1000; rounding to 10, 100 and 1000.

So, the positives:

The children were completely engaged.  They used iPhoto, iMovie, Smartboards, posters, blocks, place-value boards, place-value blocks and so on.  They worked cooperatively and presented their ideas in a variety of ways.

The negatives:

With so much scope on how they could present their learning the children’s focus shifted from presenting their learning to the presentation itself.  As a result, the children did not present full information, even though during lessons they were able to clearly explain and demonstrate conceptual understanding.

Final thoughts:

It is fortunate that I keep detailed formative assessment notes during the unit.  Next time, I will limit the scope of the assessment to help the children focus on the learning instead of the cool ways of presenting it.

Any thoughts to contribute?

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From the perspective of a student

I have recently started taking German lessons.  I won’t go into the reasons because they have nothing to do with this post, but I will briefly discuss my experience and how it is influencing my practise in my own classroom.

In my first lesson, my teacher, “Polly” began by finding out what we already knew, why we were there, and what we wanted to find out.  She spent a lot of time working on the very basics – Ich heiße Nic, etc, through to Mein handynummer ist… and gave us time to build a connection with my peers in the course.  Polly spoke 95% German.  She used a wide variety of non-verbal cues to help us understand what she was saying.We played games to practise our new knowledge and vocab, we spent a lot of time talking with our peers to practise.  We reflected on our learning and made connections between the different parts of German vocab and grammer, and connected all of this to English.  When we made errors in pronounciation or grammar, we discussed links between English and German phonics and grammar.  Small errors Polly never corrected, she simply modelled the correct way of doing things and gave us the opportunity to connect the learning ourselves.  I walked away from the class feeling comfortable with the learning I had done, part of the group, and eager to practise and go back for more.

Then came week 2.  Polly was sick.  They asked another teacher “Jan” to cover for the class.  Now, to be fair, Jan is not a teacher, so what I say I do not mean as a criticism toward her, just a learning experience for me.

Jan lectured.  She made us practise saying and writing by rote Ich heiSe Nic.  Mein name ist Nic. Ich bin Nic. And a number of other sentences.  We had two new class members who sat there completely confused, while maybe 3-4 were furiously note taking, and then myself and another class member, “Sam”, who had learnt German previously sat there bored.  It was the LONGEST two hours of my life.  Mistakes were instantly corrected, often over and over.  When me or Sam answered we were told to be quiet because we were dominating the conversation but noone else wanted to answer – they weren’t sure so were afraid of being told they were wrong.  I walked away from this class feeling frustrated, and very sorry for the people who couldn’t follow what was happening.

What an amazing learning experience!!!

From here I reflected on my own class and came to the following conclusions:

1 – differentiation is VITAL! I do this anyway, but in some settings I could be doing more.  This brings me to my next point,

2 – inquiry and constructivism are VITAL!!! Giving the children, in ALL learning situations, the opportunity to connect new learning to prior knowledge.  Planning based on the goals of each child.  Giving the children the chance to reflect on their learning in order to make connections.  The inquiry cycle we use at Southbank has ‘connections’ as the initial phase of the cycle – this is important, but making connections to prior learning needs to happen at all phases!!!

3 – a safe learning environment where all children can contribute.  I hope I have this, my class are certainly very good at sharing.  But I have noticed that some kids do have more to say than others, and I need to make sure I have a system that is safe for children to contribute, even when they don’t know, and that children who are being extended can also feel free to contribute with out being told they should sit back and let others learn… they should ALL be learning.

I must say though, that this last week we had Jan for a second lesson and she was very well prepared and the lesson went very well.

Food for thought, huh? 🙂

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Exploring part 2


ImageChef.com Flower Text

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Exploring part 1

ImageChef Word Mosaic - ImageChef.com

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New Teaching Tools

After a day on the internet, these are the web I found and I am looking forward to use them with my classes

www.wallwisher.com

www.answergarden.ch

www.wordle.net

www.glogster.com

www.memoov.com

I hope you will find them useful!

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New Teaching Tools?

I was just serving on the internet( yes, I love doing that when my children are out with daddy!!) and I found this new (to me) tool that seems very interesting.

http://prezi.com

I am still trying to figure out how it works and how to use it in the classroom. Any ideas?

Do you know any other tool I could use? Thank you.

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