Saturday, 27 June 2015

Science week

This week we set aside our usual learning plans, literacy and numeracy to engage the children in a week of hands-on science intensives. Our objectives were to learn about chemical change. So I undertook the teaching of bread making, something which I've personally been doing for years, but never really bothered to understand the chemical principals of. What resulted was in depth learning on my part, which I thoroughly enjoyed passing onto the children in years 4 - 8. 
We began the day by probing some of our prior knowledge about liquids, solids and gases and how things are formed by using this image from Cartoon Concepts: in science education about liquids. 

In particular I wanted the children to gather the understanding that whipped cream changes it's volume and shape by the whipping process where gas is added to the liquid. 
Using this diagram also enabled me to cover any misconceptions that they children had, and uncover their prior knowledge all while building their vocabulary and confidence in scientific discovery. 

Following this intro we went about making bread using Building science concepts book 56: Bread: The chemistry of bread making as a guide for my lesson planning. Refer to my gbsparker class blog post on our bread making discovery.  

I wanted the children to explore raising agents in several ways and understand that the raising occurs by a chemical reaction between the ingredients in which carbon dioxide is developed. We used baking soda, and yeast to prove this theory in several different ways throughout each morning. More so, I needed them to understand the nature of yeast being a living organism. I found a great narrative in Yet more everyday science mysteries. Stories for inquiry-based science teaching*, which supported children in exploring this concept and determine that yeast reacts differently from baking soda; requiring time and warmth to create the chemical reaction required to develop the carbon dioxide.

As a teacher the process of planning and teaching this unit reinforced the 'teacher as learner' immensely for me. Even though I thought I knew a lot about bread making, I too learned so much during this process. I enjoyed teaching it and my learners enjoyed being a part of the discovery process. 

This blogpost relates to RTC: 
4.iii) initiate learning opportunities to advance personal professional knowledge and skills. 
6.ii) Through planning and teaching, demonstrate knowledge and understanding of relevant content, disciplines and curriculum documents. 
8.i) enable ākonga to make connections between their prior experiences and  learning and their current learning activities. 
9.ii) Select teaching approaches, resources, technologies and learning and assessment activities that are inclusive and effective for diverse ākonga. 

*Konicek-Moran, R. (2011) Yet more everyday science mysteries. Stories for inquiry-based science teaching. NSTApress p. 93-97

Knowledge and transfer

Yesterday I was delighted to see that my students had grasped, retained and applied something they had learned a few weeks ago. Particularly because at the time I wasn't sure that they had really understood. 

The concept was figurative language, similes and metaphors. We had been reading a narrative and were discussing the similes and narratives within. The students had been asked to create their own metaphors afterwards with limited success. 

Yesterday I was reading a picture book after lunch and I came across a wonderful metaphor where the soldier lived in a grimy prison. When posing the question to the class, one of my boys who had struggled with concept earlier, confidently identified it as a metaphor. What followed was an awesome class discussion about figurative language, led by the learners. 

What a great way to end the week. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Engaging in maths with digital resources

Being in a digital classroom I often find it difficult to incorporate digital tools into maths learning. When I watched this video, I initially thought the children would find it 'boring' and not be engaged. But their intrinsic motivation to learn had them ALL engaged and motivated to listen actively and learn the new strategy. 

Today in maths we learned a new subtraction strategy using an analogy about a policeman and a robber. This strategy helps us to subtract numbers by making the number we are taking away into a tidy number. Then we also need to change the other number the same way... watch this great video to see what to do. Once you are finished try the problem below. 

There are 54 apples in the fruit box. 
We eat 27 at morning tea. 
How many are leftover? 

Even my stage 6, early 7 learners enjoyed using this strategy as a smarter one than the partitioning they had previously. I ran this lesson because I noticed it was a gap in their learning, and was overwhelmed with joy at how engaging it was for them all. 

The replay-ability of this tool was great. Some of the learners chose to come and work with me in a workshop going over the strategy again, while others just chose to re-watch the video to get the hang of it. 

Other digital tools I use in my class include which runs basic facts drills and IXLmath which has practice drills (free for 5 minutes per day). Let me know if you have other great digital math resources.