Happy New Year to all my friends and family. To celebrate a whole group of awesome bloggers and teacher author's are having a sale. Just click on the image above to visit my store. Be sure to shop til you drop...nothing like a little retail therapy to help beat the January blues...and get you ready to go back!
Sunday, 14 December 2014
|Meg over at the The Teacher Studio is hosting her Loved that Lesson Linky again! Be sure to click on the image above to find out what some other amazing teacher bloggers have been up to.|
As most of you know, I teach gifted students in an elementary classroom. These students bring a range of strengths and abilities to the classroom each day. It is my job to keep them engaged and learning in ways which meet their unique strengths and needs. About 8 years I was looking for new and interesting ways to integrate technology into the classroom experiences of my students. I had been out of the classroom for over a decade working as an elementary science and technology consultant, so I called on a friend who worked in the math department to get some ideas. Caroline suggested I try the dynamic computer software "The Geometer's Sketchpad" with my students.
I was eager to get started but first I had to have our IT dept. remote install the software on all the computers in our school. Once this was done, we were ready to go! Caroline came to my school and showed my students and myself the essentials of Sketchpad and we were all hooked.
Here is a simple 5 minute video that shows a little bit about the tools in GSP.
My students were hooked, and I have used GSP ever since to teach the majority of my geometry curriculum in both grades 5 and 6.
This year I wanted to do something a little different. We had covered all of the basic shapes, points, lines and angles as well as triangles. I was flipping through my math curriculum document to see what still had to be covered in geometry and realized that students needed to be able to construct nets from three dimensional shapes and they also needed to be able to recognize three dimensional shapes from nets they are shown. My brain got to thinking about having the students use Geometer's Sketchpad to create the nets, and use it's unique ability to animate sketches to have the students transform the nets into their three dimensional counterparts.
In between our first and second visit to work on the animated nets, I realized that students also needed to be able to find the volume of prisms. As I had already taught my students how to find AREA of shapes using GSP, I decided to see how they would do with finding the VOLUME of a square or rectangular prism (again this expectation came directly from the curriculum).
I challenged the students to create a square or rectangular prism for their second animated net, and then increased the challenge by asking them to find the volume of their shape in TWO ways. Geometer's Sketchpad will allow students to select a shape and "measure" the area, volume, length, angle, etc. I like to have students use a traditional algorithm as well so that they can see the two measurements must match, therefore their calculations are correct.
It was great to see the students working diligently at creating their shapes, nets, and calculating volume. All of the students were able to create the shapes, animate them and discover something about their measurements. Some students needed more coaching than others, some needed more time, and some needed the ability to work with a peer, but everyone met with success. Their next challenge will be to find the surface area of all of their shapes!
I love when I can turn a lesson that could be dry and theoretical into something hands on and engaging for ALL my students. If you have never tried Geometer's Sketchpad you can download and experiment yourself for free. There are tons of online tutorials and lots of pre made curriculum materials and student activities. Once you start using it with your students, you'll all be hooked.
|For Getting Started Tutorials click on the image above to go to the Sketchpad Learning Center.|
Sunday, 9 November 2014
My friend Meg over at The Teacher Studio hosts this awesome linky each month. I always find such amazing ideas from other fantastic teacher bloggers. This month I decided to do a bit of a throw back and write about a lesson from last year. (You can read more about how I used the novel Wonder HERE.) I love the novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Last year I wrote a blog post about all the fantastic things we did before, during and after reading the novel. One of my favourite projects was making "Character Trait Images" using Tagxedo.
You've never heard of Tagxedo? I love this program. It allows you to make sophisticated word clouds via the Internet. Using Tagxedo is super easy. Want something to use with your students? You can find an easy to follow tutorial in PDF HERE.
Go to the Tagxedo homepage and click on CREATE.
You will see a page that looks like the one above.
Click on LOAD. Here you (or your students) will add text. For our Wonder assignment, the students brainstormed character traits about each of the characters in the novel.
Next, click on SHAPE. You can choose from a variety of shapes which are pre-made OR you can click on ADD IMAGE. This is how my students were able to create the Character Trait images from the novel. The students created sketches of the characters from the novel. I uploaded them to a site on our school server so the students could access them easily. They were able to upload the images to Tagxedo and create custom word clouds.
Finally you can change aspects of your image by clicking on color, theme, font, orientation, or layout. Students were encouraged to experiment and choose designs they found visually appealing.
Next you can save your images as JPGs or PNGs. I had the students create a folder and download all of their individual images. I then taught them how to use the on line photo editor Picasa.
We downloaded the program to our computers at school and showed students how to create collages using their Tagxedo images.
Below you can see some finished student work. I was really proud of how well my students persevered to complete this assignment. I think their Tagxedo collages turned out brilliantly don't you?
If you are reading the novel Wonder with your class, or if you would just like a great FREEBIE...click on the image below to download the bookmark I made for my students. I printed them on card stock, cut them out and laminated them. I love the sentiment expressed by R.J. Palacio...imagine what the world would be like if we all "choose kind".
Thanks for reading. Feel free to message me if you have any questions about how we completed this project.
Sunday, 12 October 2014
School has been back for six weeks and it has been a whirlwind! Getting to know my fantastic fifth graders has been fun and interesting. We have accomplished a LOT in a short amount of time and I know this class is destined for great things this year! I switched grades from sixth to fifth and I am loving the change in curriculum. It is a lot of work to find new and engaging activities but I love it when I find things which are new and fantastic.
One of my favourite units when I taught fifth grade a million years ago was called "Mystery Powders" and it involved the exploration of properties of matter. Fast forward to 2014 and the unit in fifth is called Properties and Characteristics of Matter. I love hands on investigations and so do my students. There is something about collecting all the materials and setting up stations for the students to explore that make me wish I was in fifth grade again myself! We started our unit with a fantastic set of stations from The Science Penguin.
|Making a density column using kitchen materials|
|Analyzing some data and writing explanations|
|Matching pictures with definitions|
|Reading and recording what we have learned.|
|Checking out Study Jams from Scholastic.|
To help control the flow of the stations I assigned the students the iMatter project from The Science Penguin as well. If they finished a station before the rest of the class they were able to work independently on the project, which they have put into their science notebooks.
As part of the unit, we were fortunate to have Scientist Sophia from Scientists in School come into the classroom and conduct a variety of hands-on investigations which I would not be able to do with the students myself. Scientists in School bill themselves as Canada's leading science education charity for kids.
"Founded in 1989, Scientists in School (SiS) is a dynamic Canadian charity dedicated to helping Kindergarten to Grade 8 students to become 'scientists in their school', catalyzing long-lasting interest in science, technology, math, environmental stewardship and engineering and potentially encouraging future careers in science-related fields. Our investigative workshops give young scientists the opportunity to interact with ecologists, physicists, engineers and more, and help make even the most reluctant learner enthusiastic. Our goal is for every Canadian child to have multiple opportunities to be sparked by science during their formative elementary school years. Annually, more than 630,000 children and youth in more than 23,000 English and French-speaking classrooms in 290 communities across Ontario and Southern Alberta experience a half-day SiS workshop each year. In the last 25 years, over six million children and youth have become scientists in their schools. Today, they're Scientists in School. Tomorrow, they're our leaders and innovators."
Scientist Sophia came to school early and set up a variety of exciting, hands-on activities for the students to explore. She gave an excellent introduction which reviewed the vocabulary and essential terms for the unit. She also explained in detail what the students would be doing step by step during each investigation. During the remaining half- day workshop students explored solids, liquids, gases and changes in state while playing the role of detectives seeking clues to the mysteries of matter. For their first investigation, my class was challenged to discover the difference between physical and chemical changes by investigating whether all plastics are created equal. Next, they participated in an evaporation race using mouthwash, water and baby oil and then they were invited to carry out some “cool “chemistry in a Ziploc bag which utilized acids and bases. Students got to experience an exothermic reaction first hand. Finally, they were tasked with finding the identity of a mystery compound using their prior knowledge, some further experimentation and clues gathered during this chemical adventure. Scientist Sophia was wonderful and she kept the students on task and thinking the entire afternoon. I would highly recommend that all Ontario teachers book a Scientist in School presentation.
|Students testing a variety of "mystery powders" as the culminating investigation.|
|Student recording in the booklet provided by Scientists in School|
I know my post covers more than one lesson, but I just couldn't pick what I loved most the past few weeks. The kids loved the stations, demonstrated understanding of concepts with the iMatter project, and put it all into action during our Scientists in School presentation. I hope you got some great ideas you can use in your classroom, or you will book a Scientist in School to come and work with your students!
Saturday, 11 October 2014
Thanksgiving. This is a time of year I love. This week my students wrote about their favourite holiday and I explainined to them why Thanksgiving is mine. We celebrate Thanksgiving much earlier here in Canada than our friends in the U.S. do, but it is still a very special time. Fall has finally arrived. The leaves are changing, the days are cool and the nights even cooler. Pumpkin spice EVERYTHING (David's tea latte being a recent fave) becomes the rage, and most importantly of all, there is turkey.
I love all things about turkey time.
We had a great kick off to the long Thanksgiving weekend at school on Friday. Each year, we have a huge pot luck luncheon and everyone pitches in. This year, I brought my favourites, homemade cranberry sauce and homemade turkey gravy. Who knew how complicated it is to make turkey gravy without a turkey! I went out and bought turkey wings, roasted them with some root vegetables, put them in the stock pot, (actually Jay did all the roasting and stock making for me) made a beautiful turkey stock, then created a roux and finally had turkey gravy! Three hours! I have to say though, it was totally worth it because it tasted so much better than the alternative...making it from a package! We are also going to visit J's family on Monday and I get the chance to have another turkey dinner...I really love Thanksgiving meals!
As many of my readers know, the past few years have been really rough on my family. Lately, I have been thinking to myself how very thankful I am for all the blessings I do have. Jay is wonderful partner who ensures that each day I feel special and loved, my lovely daughter Madison is doing really in transitioning to high school, my class of 20 fifth graders challenge me and make me smile each day, my new Nissan Murano is the car of my dreams, I have a roof over my head, and I have wonderful friends who will take the time to read this post and know I am thinking of them this weekend.
Speaking of friends, a fantastic group of Canadian bloggers have banded together to bring you some Thanksgiving goodies in the form of a sale on Teacher's Pay Teachers. The sale officially starts tomorrow (Sunday) so fill up your cart and grab some great deals. I just got a wonderful fall art activity from my friend Jennifer who writes the awesome blog, Runde's Room. I am going to be using it with my class this week.
|Click on the image above to purchase from TpT.|
Check out all the stores listed for more great Canadian ideas you can implement this fall in your classroom! Happy Turkey Day!