Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Fun - 3/4/09

Fun this week

This week was packed to the brim with exciting learning experiences.

Communication - Assessment Task
Students began this task last week. This week they finished preparing their presentations and presented them. Three groups chose PowerPoint presentations, two chose role plays and a talk, and others chose posters (with or without a talk). It was very interesting to see how students organised their ideas and cooperated in their teams. As this was the first time I've given my students this level of student direction with a task, I learnt a lot from the process. This time I gave explicit details about what the presentations needed to contain - in the way of a rubric - but I did not give students a tool to help them organise their information and plan their presentation. Fortunately a very experienced relief teacher was in the classroom with me at the time and was able to throw something together to give students more direction. This is something that I will remember for next time.

We got to play with angles again this week in our Maths lessons. Miss Eschauzier (an intern who will be with us for eight weeks) took small groups out to work on ordering acute angles and measuring them with a protractor. I worked with the rest of the class exploring angles with compass directions and clock faces. Yet again, students loved playing with angles and learning how to name them. Students also completed a test to determine areas of strength and areas for development from this term.

The Ridge
We finally started our ridge project this week. Doug and Jenny from the Park Care group, came to speak to students about our school's previous involvement with the ridge and start a project with this year's Year 4s. They showed us pictures of some of the plants to look for, and some of the weeds that we will be responsible for pulling out. It was really enjoyable to learn from people who are passionate about plants and maintaining the natural environment on the ridge.

Part-way through lunchtime, we walked up the ridge to see it all for ourselves. I chose a few people to be our photographers, and other students had the option of bringing notepaper and pencils to record information. The following slideshow is a collaborative effort from students and myself.

A few students discovered the magic of moss in a drought-stricken land. The following video shows their discovery.

When we returned to class students worked in self-chosen teams to "graffiti wall" all the things that they had seen and learnt. Each student had a different coloured texta. They worked simultaneously to record their ideas. Most of the groups filled a huge page in just 15 minutes!

Our project on the ridge will involve students in taking responsibility for the care of their local community through protection of the ridge. We hope that students will develop a greater understanding of and connection with nature in the local region.

Students performed for parents this week to celebrate their learning this term. Students from the Fife and Drum Band performed five songs and Readers' Theatre people performed four plays that we learnt throughout the term. I was really impressed by how well the students read and played. They looked really professional and seemed so confident. Parents were invited to stay for light refreshments, and many commented that they had enjoyed the performance.

This term students have had the flexibility to work with a Homework Matrix. We encouraged students to choose at least two activities during the term and do quality work in presenting these. Activities chosen relate to the Higher Order thinking strategies of Bloom's Taxonomy and Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. Students have chosen a range of activities to explore and demonstrate their learning. One student created a video about friendship and welcoming a new neighbour. Another student created a lego animation of one of the scenes from Rowan of Rin. Please visit his blog and leave an encouraging comment.

People who support us
After exploring some introductory resources on "Support", students considered people who support them at home, school, and in the wider community. They used Kidspiration to create a diagram of these connections and wrote about how these people support them. Students got off to a great start and their mind-maps were very detailed. They will have the chance to finish them off at the start of next term. We hope to add these to the student portfolios. Once students have finished, I will check if someone is willing for me to share their diagram here.

Next week we will be having three-way interviews. These involve the student, parent and teacher coming together to discuss the student's progress. We prefer for students to do most of the talking in these interviews. Students have been reflecting on their development in their "reflective journals" since the beginning of the year. Each week they write about their challenges, successes and plans. They used these reflections and their recent maths test to decide what they will share and discuss in their three-way interview. I haven't done three-way interviews with students this age before, so I am keen to see the result.

Rowan of Rin
I will not be posting about Rowan of Rin this week, but instead will include a final Rowan of Rin entry next week.

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