January 16, 2013
When we got back after the winter break, we found a twitter message from KinderPals, our Twitter buddies in Abbotsford, Canada, thanking us for the Japanese New Year cards we had sent. We responded by sharing some exciting New Year news: Willow and Nathan had joined our class. KinderPals tweeted back. It turns out that they have a Nathan in their class as well!
KC were curious to know what KinderPal’s Nathan looked like so KinderPals promised to send us a picture. A few days later we recieved this picture of Nathan in KinderPals class, via twitter.
We tweeted KinderPals a picture of our Nathan.
We have been recording the children’s growth on our door. This sparked a conversation about how tall the KinderPal’s Nathan was. Several of the children thought that the two Nathans would be the same height because they were both called Nathan. Other children disagreed; they did not think that the two children would be the same height just because they had the same name. The KC children tweeted KinderPals to ask them how tall their Nathan was.
Michelle, the KinderPals teacher, and I emailed each other to see how we could extend this authentic inquiry into measurement. We have decided to suggest to the children that they measure their respective Nathans so that they can share this information with the other class. We have planned that we will not give the children much guidance initially; we are interested to see what tools and strategies the children come up with as this will tell us what they already know about measurement. I am intrigued to see how this inquiry unfolds!
October 8, 2012
Recently the children have been engaged in a student initiated inquiry into the moon, sparked Otsukimi.
- Jaiden: It’s a light that shines at night.
- Scarlett: The moon gets smaller and smaller every night and then one night there’s no moon.
- Yungi: The moon gets small and then it gets big again because I saw it.
- Aiden: The moon goes around the earth.
- Angus: The moon is in the middle of all the planets -it’s a big rock.
I gather up a collection of resources to support and extend the children’s spontaneous inquiry. I assume that not all children will be interested in exploring the same materials. The children learn in different ways so I try to find resources that will cater for different learning styles.
The children have opportunities to construct their understandings about the moon using clay, wire, paint, pen and pencil drawings, books, touch screen reference apps and youtube video clips.
A moon inquiry from tasha cowdy on Vimeo.
The children are engaged in questioning, building, inventing and connecting. They share findings, dispute ideas, test theories and revise their schemas in the light of new information. They are using scientific processes to construct new understandings about the world around them.
August 26, 2012
For the first few weeks of school, our focus is on building a sense of community amongst the children and the key adults they will be working with. The quote below is from “Starting the School Year Right” by Thomas Guskey in The School Administrator, August 2011 (Vol. 7, #68, p. 44)
“The first two weeks are the most important time in the school year for all children … What happens during this critical period pretty much determines how the rest of the year will go.”
It is important that the children have time to get to know their new classmates and to explore and develop relationships. The children need to feel safe in their new environment in order to learn. They need to trust and respect the members of their learning community so that they can develop as risk takers and experimenters. Throughout the year they will learn with and from each other as they conduct their individual and group inquiries. Time spent now building a strong learning community and developing a culture of collaboration will stand us all in good stead as the the year progresses.
May 15, 2012
As part of our unit of inquiry into the properties of materials, we have been exploring ways of combining and changing materials. Recently, some of the children have been showing an interest in laboratories and scientists. I emailed one of the Middle/ High school science teachers and asked him if he could help foster the children’s interest. Mr Midgley came to visit, armed with some interesting looking equipment and materials.
He began by explaining that scientists think carefully about how to stay safe during experiments and gave the children lab coats and goggles to wear to protect their clothes and eyes. (The materials were perfectly safe but we thought the children would enjoy dressing up and we wanted to introduce them to good practice right from the start.) Then the experimenting began…
Mr Midgley left us with test tubes, pipettes, lab coats and googles so that the children could continue their explorations.
The children would like to set up their own lab. We are planning to visit Mr Midgley in his lab, so we can learn how to organize our classroom lab and get some more ideas for experiments.
Thanks, Mr Midgley!
February 8, 2012
Playing cards are a wonderful way of developing children’s mathematical skills and thinking, from Kindergarten all the way through to Upper Elementary. This link shows some examples. Personally, I don’t call the games ‘War’, and I find the child in the video is developmentally a bit young for these games, but the link gives some idea of the versatility of playing cards as a mathematical tool.
Today I introduced the children to playing cards for the first time. I was interested to see what the children already knew about the cards -what prior knowledge and experience they were bringing from home. For this engagement, I asked the children to choose their own partners, but to work with someone they had not worked with today. I invited them to play with, organize or sort their cards any way they wished and told them that they should be prepared to share what they had done when we met together at the end of the session.
Below are some of the observations the children shared at the end of the session
- I noticed that some cards have faces and those ones have letters instead of numbers.
- All of the faces are different; all the ladies are different and the mans.[sic]
- I noticed that as well, some have numbers and some have letters.
- Some numbers have more than one.
- Because there is four of everything.
- There are different shapes like clovers and hearts and aces.
- I know these at home.
- There’s a A and two Js and K.
- K is for king. And there’s a queen with a crown
- There are dot shapes the same as the numbers, like on the three is three shapes like hearts.
My observations tell me that many children know quite a bit already about playing cards and how they work. This exploring session has given the children a chance to look closely at the cards, and to observe carefully, compare, question and hypothesize. This will be a good foundation for the number strategizing work we will do with the cards in the following weeks.