Sunday, February 22, 2015

Next Inquiry...

The snow has been piling up around the chalet!
Sheesh! Good thing there's a great furnace working hard inside! Oh, and we're working hard too, but having some fun at the same time.

This past week my Grade 4 students had a new object to investigate.
It's quite beat up and only one bar resonates because it's held up by an elastic. The kids have begun researching what the instrument is (they found out it's a glockenspiel, not a xylophone). Next I'm challenging them to find out how we can repair it. They're pretty excited. I'm excited to see where their findings take us!

In Grade 2 Science, we finished up our unit on Mechanics, so as a final activity we created a mural of "Things that move" or, "Les choses que bougent" I love how it turned out!

These drawings remind me of Dr. Seuss's illustrations in "Green Eggs and Ham".

This was loads of fun for the students - and myself! Have a fun day at school tomorrow, everyone!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

     Bonjour! Yesterday was Family Literacy Day, and also Pyjama Day, so kids could snuggle up with a good book at school. Parents were invited to come and read with their kids, and even to be special guest readers. It was a lot of fun, and I LOVE a day when I can wear cozy pyjamas to work!

     My copy of "Inquiry-Based Learning Using Every Day Objects" by Amy Edmonds Alvarado and Patricia R. Herr arrived on Monday!
This book is really inspiring! I'm just beginning to read it, and had tried out an idea from it before I got the book - because I'm a keener, I guess!  I brought a larch conch shell in for the students'  first object inquiry. They began practicing their questioning skills, and using research skills to find answers.  The students came up with all kinds of questions about it. Some were for quick surface knowledge, like, "Where did you get it?", whereas other questions were openers to deeper learning, like, "Why is there a colour pattern on the shell?",  "Why is it a spiral?" and "Why does it sound like a toilet flushing?". That one was my favourite!

     Today they researched patterns in conch shells, which led to so much more. One group learned the anatomy of the conch and its stages of development. Another group found a video on how to play a conch shell as a wind instrument, and they tried it! By the way,  it's not as easy as it looks! Yet another group discovered that the conch is an endangered species because of overfishing, and that it's a food source for sea turtles. The kids began to link this to their knowledge of Canadian endangered species, and the need to protect wildlife.

    The students were very excited about what they were finding! They were super engaged and were becoming the experts. This inquiry was a first run at what I'll be doing more of. I have set up an Inquiry Centre in the class, where the object of inquiry can be seen and touched.

The students can write their questions on a phone template card, and place it in the Ipense.
 I read their questions each day to note their questioning, then give them back so they glue them into their "Je me demande" notebook. They also write their discoveries in this notebook, so this way I can track their questioning skills and learning. Woohoo!

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy New Year!!! My goodness, I've been away for long time! My family went through some challenging times, and I didn't have it in me to blog here. It's a new year, and I have been inspired by my friends and colleagues' ideas and passion for teaching. So I'm back!

Two weeks ago I was at the ETFO ICT conference in Toronto. I learned so much! By the end of it I was ready to jump into using tech more in my classroom. The presenters were fantastic! The amazing Natasha Feghali (@NEFeghali) gave a fantastic workshop on using Twitter, Skype and blogging in the classroom. She had a very cool exit card board that looked like an iPhone. The Apps on the phone were pockets for us to leave our feedback cards in. It was entitled iConnect. Super cute, right? So I decided to make my own for my class. Here it is...

 I can't wait to use it on Monday! I will be using the book "Inquiry-Based Learning Using Everyday Objects" by Amy Edmonds Alvarado. My copy has been shipped from Chapters, so I hope it arrives quickly! 

I'm working on asking better questioning of my students, to promote deeper thinking. I am also going to use the techniques in the book to help my students develop their own questioning skills. Each week, I will bring in an interesting object (i.e. rotary phone, loom, seashell) for them to observe and ask questions about. The students will be coached to ask questions that lead to deeper critical thinking. Then they will write their questions on their exit cards, and slip them into one of the App pockets. I will collect their cards to keep track of their progress. Natasha Feghali gave me the cute iPhone exit card template she gave us in her workshop. Merci, Natasha!  I'm super excited to see how this plays out! And it just so happens I have a loom.

Have a spectacular Sunday!