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Monday, October 22, 2012

The Sights and Sounds of Student-Centered Inquiry: Scientific Method (6th grade)

My husband watched the first video below and said that he did not remember ever having an experience like this in science where kids were able to talk, experiment, and do...and have fun. He commented on the activity level and noise level right away. I found his response interesting. The system is set up for teacher-centered learning. Who is doing the learning is the question I ask myself as I plan lessons. I try to think 'student-centered' and push myself to set up opportunities for the kids to DO.

The kids had time to choose, create, and write their own experiments by themselves or in groups of up to 4. These two videos are from the day they actually carried out the experiments. The student-created experiments using a WIDE variety of things including, but not limited to, the following: Skittles, chocolate, marshmallows, hammers, cars, timers, M&M's, bubbles, straws, bubble gum, water, beakers, and graduated cylinders. Wow! The experiments are more relevant to each kid (differentiation) than any one experiment I would set up for all of them.






Here is a student talking about his experiment! :)




Here is a picture from one of the M&M experiments! Interesting how the color swirled off the M&M! Science can be beautiful!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Community Service Strange but True Multimedia Story: 6th graders!



Strange but True: This is what can happen when adults set up opportunities for kids to serve the school and community within the school day. I vow to focus on this this year!
  • Tell 11 year olds to clean their rooms and you get long faces, sighs, and often uncleaned rooms. (Impacts only the child and parent/teacher)
  • Tell 11 year olds to go outside the school walls together (social) and pick up as much trash as possible to keep it out of the streams, rivers, and oceans and well, you get get kids exploding out the doors with energy, enthusiasm, and vigor. Say what?
           (They can impact more than just themselves and parents/teachers. They can interact with their classmates and talk,           
            observe, and problem solve; participate in an event that impacts others; find 'biggest' piece of trash or most trash.)

Watch these VIDEO clips of my 6th graders to see for yourself. You might get a chuckle out of this.
Note the level of enthusiasm and effort by kids. There's something good about serving others. We need to set up more of these opportunities for kids at school. (Is it a TV or a MONITOR? LOL)



GenerationOn website  We picked Operation H2O from the Teen tab as the inspiration for the community service. There is a stream in the woods by our school. We have not started the actual service learning part of it yet. Students will be choosing service learning projects from here 3rd quarter (classroom set of iPads starting 3rd qtr) and taking off on them. They can choose projects around topics that matter to them. 

Generation On Service Certificate for kids I print these for the kids as we do service.
I created a service club for my school on GenerationOn.org. I log our total hours and more data. 

We will move from doing COMMUNITY SERVICE to SERVICE LEARNING by doing some of the following:
  • Separating trash into biodegradable vs. not, organic vs inorganic, plastics #1-#7, and more.
  • Mass of trash
  • Volume of trash
  • Observe/note path of water erosion on property
  • Set out a piece of trash and mark it. Plot where it ends up each day. What forces moved it there? Why did it go THERE and not elsewhere?
  • Talk to school district and news reporters about findings
  • Create PSA's
  • Create a plan for keeping the stream in these woods clean year-round.

Pictures from our five 30 minute service sessions in September and October.
Posing after trash pickup on day 1 out of 5 so far! (Went out 2 days in September and 3 in October so far.)

Coming up the hill and out of the woods with their haul! (September 2012)

Look at all the bags of trash in just 25-30 minutes. 2 barrels in one day. Look at the smiles; pride in helping and BEING a part of this activity.

Is it a TV or a monitor? LOL
The trash haul after the 1st two days (30 minute sessions) of trash pickup on school grounds; serving the school! Yes, there is that 1988 Commodore monitor. LOL



There's a helmet in here! (October)


They found a dented bat! They used this as a tool to pry a tire out of the ground.

Check out the tire the kids pulled out of the ground in the woods; first of 3 tires they've found.

Wow. Big haul.

Lots of plastic (that is made to be used once and then recycled or into landfills) and also metal mattress springs.

We filled 2 more barrels in 30 minutes (October). The kids will be calculating total volume for the 5 pickup days via  Mr. Rhode, our math teacher, during 1st hour! Team teaching with both classes and teachers. (Math and Science) We will see what else the kids want to record, calculate as well.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Beginning Edu-Tweeter? Watch 3 hashtag streams here for a few minutes! Find RESOURCES, IDEAS! (#edchat, #edtech, #satchat)

Image: Brad Currie, @bcurrie5
Image: @cybraryman1,
Jerry Blumengarten's
outstanding website
You can scroll through these strong educational hashtags and 'see' one way to learn from Twitter--mining from hashtag streams. I did this before I ever tweeted or replied to anyone...and I still do it. I can't imagine life as an educator without Twitter and the WORLD of ideas out there.

If you want to interact with people, jump on at the times listed above. You can reply and hear back again from educators right then. It's awesome, cool, and fun. Oh yea, you learn and grow, too!

Variables, Bubbles, and IdeaPaint: Engagement in a 6th grade classroom



The setup: The kids did a bubble exploratory lab the last day with our 'old' science tables. I posted a bunch of open-ended questions on the projector. They explored and they oohed and ahhed. This was the setup for the variables lesson and the upcoming scientific method experiments they'll be designing.
"I can make bubbles on my arm and connect them!"

"Look at the colors and how they swirl."
                                                    
"When two bubbles join,
a flat 'wall' forms between them instead of a rounded 'wall.' " Hmm.

"Bubble inside of a bubble!"
"Hey, you could actually measure a bubble after it pops instead of before it pops! Look at the table!"
                         

The 1st Science lesson with the new IdeaPaint tables: A first for the kids and for me as a teacher: I introduced the idea of the Independent Variable (IV) and the Dependent Variable (DV) to everyone. I told the kids: You will be creating your OWN bubble experiments soon. To do that you need to have one variable you change and one you measure. Student tasks today at tables: Brainstorm things you could CHANGE (IV) and things you could MEASURE (DV) in an experiment about bubbles. DO THIS ON YOUR WHITEBOARD TABLES!

These are the benefits I see (after only one week) with the IdeaPaint tables:

Working on IdeaPaint tables vs Paper:
--I hear kids 'talking' science with each other as they're writing on the tables;
--Each child has something to DO while talking & working in the group and this something involves color and creative CHOICES on the table--choices with color, size of space, organization format, and more.
--I hear kids answering questions, helping each other, practicing social skills
--I see visual expression along with writing--drawings, sketches, arrows connecting ideas, metaphors
--I see fun moments occur between kids/teachers; increased social interactions and chances for new friendships
--kids peer edit writing and comment on work/writing on tables--and they don't balk at it
--IdeaPaint tables are gross motor, hands-on, interactive compared to paper's fine motor, individual
--I see kids smiling and laughing; they are animated while expressing themselves on the 'canvas'
--I see kids not wanting to erase their work/art/display/creation, taking pride in their work. I take pictures this semester and kids with phones may do the same. Next semester kids will have iPads and can take pictures and KEEP their work/art in digital portfolios!
--I see kids WANTING to write, draw, and express themselves and their thinking on the tables. The cool thing is that they don't care if it's paragraphs or sentences or metaphors! They just want to DO/CREATE on the tables and talk it over at the same time.
--Writing on the tables is motivating and engaging and relevant to kids.
--We will still write on paper and on the computer at anytime, but brainstomring, drawing maps, drawing metaphors, and starting rough drafts (not to mention doing math!) is FUN, engaging, and hands-on on the whiteboard table spaces! It's an amazing new tool to be able to differentiate with!

We need more markers and cleaning spray! Wow!

I send home notes to parents in our daily news asking for donations of markers either to their own kids and/or to the class. It won't be long and our markers will be DONE!

Kids are starting to bring in their own markers sets so they have many color choices!

I set up Mrs. Gilchrist's Donorschoose account with the help of NKC Schools counselor, Carol Cobb (@mommacobb), to help get the markers and cleaning spray we need!

Any one donating can type in one of these matching codes, and the donation will be doubled:
mall10 or HoraceMann12


Picture Time!
See how the learning 'looked' during class.

 Here are some pictures from their brainstorming on IdeaPaint tables instead of paper. 
This group of 4 worked together on different parts of the table as a whole.
Colorful; complete chart; BUBBLE LETTERS (ha!),
pictures of bubbles















Lots of ideas here! 


Bigger writing; bold! Black and red.


Black and blue. 
Measure and change instead of DV and IV.


Pictures to go along with ideas


This group planned a theme; sectioned their table into triangles!

Here is another view of that table!
They added a Spongebob to each section. We had some laughs. :)


Neat and tidy. Two colors.


Lines drawn with ruler. Neat. Orderly.
Black and red. Free form.
Extra time spent making it stand out. :)

A student's note about IdeaPaint in our classroom. 
You mix THIS into THAT to paint the tables! You can see the reference to it here. :)