Saturday, February 13, 2016

Feeling the Love

This week has been full of love with a variety of Valentine's Day celebrations. We embraced many different science and engineering projects this week as a small mini-unit. Not to mention the traditional Valentine themed fun!

We are serious experimenters! We tested candy hearts in three different liquids to see what would happen. We began with a candy heart in water to test if it would sink or float. We predicted our class thoughts and students completed his/her own prediction. Based on our previous experiments with wood and pumpkins many friends predicted that the candy heart would float. To our surprise the candy heart sinks! But then a friend had a thought: "Will the candy heart disintegrate?" So we tested this new science question overnight! Sure enough, the candy heart disintegrated and the leftover heart sugar was floating on the surface of the water.

The next day we tested candy hearts in water, soda, and vinegar. Our tests didn't work perfectly but we decided to let them sit for a little while and see what happened. That is when we observed the soda candy heart moving up and down in the soda due to carbonation. The vinegar heart started to break apart within an hour. The coolest part of these experiments was that students worked collaboratively in groups of three. They had to discuss roles, a plan, and observations.

We were so lucky to have four fantastic volunteers come in on Thursday morning with some Valentine craft projects! Students had an opportunity to complete four different creations in a center format. It was a testament to the commitment of our families and the love we feel everyday! Thank you to Shea, Patience, Ashley, and Gwen for coming in and being so wonderful. Also, thank you to Mika for organizing this awesome day!

On Thursday afternoon (after doing some Valentine math with Mrs. Potter including using candy hearts as a measurement tool) I posed a challenge for students: "Here is a bucket of Legos. In a group of four make a heart." Without any other discussions students worked in their groups to try to get this challenge completed. I was so amazed by the conversations, the conflict resolution, and the resolve of these small engineers. After awhile, I gave a hint to get the heart started and then the groups took off!! It was truly an example of 21st century learning and skills (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity -- also known as "The 4 Cs"). 

On Friday we delivered all the kindness and love with our Valentines. Students took their bags to a special place in the classroom and opened up their cards, notes, gifts, etc. From across the room you could hear "Thank you Edie", "Thank you Zach", "Thank you Kip". The gratitude and kindness poured out! It was a lovely way to cap off a terrific week of learning and set us free for February vacation! Happy Valentine's Day everyone! 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Guidance Adventures with Kelso and Mrs. G

For the last couple of guidance classes we have been focusing on being small problem solvers. Using a very widely and recognized program, Kelso's Choices, Mrs. G has begun to illustrate the various strategies students can used when faced with a small problem.

We identified several different small problems in one of our earlier guidance classes (and of course as they come up in our classroom). I like to refer to these problems as "Student Solvers". Mrs. G then introduced to Kelso's wheel of choices. We then investigated which choice might be a good fit for the problem. 

Students worked in whole group and small group to discuss the different strategies, what it might look like, and what students might feel in each role in the small problem scenarios. This guidance unit is huge for our little learners and social navigators. I hope it is language that is helpful to you at home as well.

Don't forget to visit Mrs. G's Guidance Blog for more information!

Good Writers Label

In our How-To Writing unit we have been focusing on making our pictures truly non-fiction. In order to that we need to have labels that teach! We explored several how-to books and found that the labels weren't just on "sun", "sky", "grass"... Rather the labels were designed to help the reader really follow the steps. 

Using a very good sport, Lucas, we illustrated a way we could label. Of course this is just a visual reminder of what good writers do and we wouldn't necessarily need to label a person in our how-to writing. 

We then wrote a class book on "How-To Show Someone Love". Using a great graphic organizer students planned first, next, last and wrote about some very sweet and kind ways to show someone love including inviting them to play, saying hi in the hall, or giving someone a hug. Love! 

Adding to Addition

Addition is such a large concept when little learners first get introduced. The first, most important part is for students to understand equal. In order to illustrate equal I used a balance to show that equal mean balanced or the same. I explained to students that when we add we are making sure that a problem is balanced with the answer. A fun character like Squeakel the Equal doesn't hurt to drive the message home either.

We then began illustrating different ways to make numbers. First we used two different color unifix cubes and explored varied ways to make the same number. We talked about the differences between 4 and 6 and 6 and 4. We then created our own chart for ways to make 6. This was a great visual way to see that groups changing but still staying balanced or equal to 6. This is where we were introduced to Gus the Plus. The plus sign tells us that we are going to be putting the numbers together and counting up.

We then created our own craftivity using the book The Day it Rained Hearts (one of my favorites if you don't have it). We then illustrated several different ways to make 10 using two different colored hearts. We included this in a story problem and wrote out the complete number sentence. This scaffolding of addition really helps show a variety of ways that one can solve addition problems and the different ways addition can look.


As a math challenge last week I put out a very abstract "Think Bubble" (which is in all our morning messages). I told the kiddos "The answer is 6 cookies. What is the problem?" I had the students stop and think for a second before raising their hands. I was blown away by the responses!! Several students thought in subtraction but when given the prompt to "think about it in another way" the students began giving answers that incorporated addition.

We are certainly a group of budding mathematicians!