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Sunday, October 7, 2012

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. :)

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