I really enjoyed this week as it was a nice balance of classroom and administration. The classroom felt settled and successful and the students were engaged in the lessons. In my administrative role I achieved a lot - planning, paperwork, phone calls, supporting teachers, and observing lessons. I've given a couple of lengthy explanations today in case you would like to replicate the things we've done in your own lessons.
Fun This Week
Skilling with Textiles
We launched into some skill development with textiles this week. I conducted an online survey with students (using Tiger Survey) to determine students' prior skills with knitting, sewing, crochet etc and to find out what equipment they had access to. I asked students to volunteer to be coaches if they classified themselves as experts with particular textile skills. Students then selected which groups they would like to join to develop their basic skills. As we didn't have quite enough equipment for the first session, some students created God's Eyes and then brought in some extra equipment for additional sessions.
The knitting coaches were a little nervous about starting their group as they weren't sure how to cast on. At recess, in the staff room, I found out that our librarian knew how to cast on and had some time that she was willing to share to teach it to the coaches. While she explained it to them I recorded the explanation using my mini camcorder so that they could revisit it later if they needed to. They practiced during their lunchtime and were ready to start after lunch. I was amazed by how well they remembered the instructions and were able to teach the others.
Students were allocated an area and then the coaches ran their sessions with minimal support. They were responsible for ensuring their materials were cleaned up and their areas tidy at the end of the session.
As students complete one skill area, they are welcome to move to another group to try out a new skill. At this stage the emphasis is more on trying new skills than on creating a finished product.
That said, the students with the weaving looms have successfully made beanies and scarves; the sewing group have made little cushions; the crocheters have made snakes and lizards (from a basic chain); and the knitters are well underway with knitting rows. Mid-week another group started up with french knitting using cardboard rolls and paddle pop sticks.
I've been impressed to see that the kids are loving it all so much that they are even doing it during their lunch breaks and asking to take it home. Two students have already created textiles projects at home and turned them in. It's great to see their enthusiasm.
We are preparing students for a Touch Football Gala later in the term, so after our Maths sessions we go down to the oval to do some skill-building. Some of the boys are particularly keen about this and they are grabbing a ball to continue practice during lunch. We are hoping to get some mini games started next week.
Munching in Maths
For one of the Maths lessons I bought a bag of apples and used them to help students apply maths to everyday life. I must say that I was particularly lucky as the numbers kept working in my favour.
We weighed one apple (125g) and then students tried to calculate how many apples there should be in a 1kg bag. Some worked it out by adding 125 repeatedly and keeping a running total. Some worked it out by doubling and tracking the number of apples. And others worked it out by dividing 1000 by 125. As it turned out, for whatever reason, there were actually 9 apples in the bag instead of the 8 we calculated mathematically! We also discovered that it was possible that the scales weren't so accurate.
We then created a new word problem that required students to determine how much one apple would cost if the whole bag was $4. I passed out some calculators for students to use to assist them. Students were a little boggled by the decimal result they got 0.44444 and thought it must be wrong. One of the students worked out what it meant and explained it to the class. So then I asked students to work out how much 2 apples would cost; 3 apples; 6 apples; 5 apples and we discussed how to work out the answers mentally. Then I flipped it around the other way - how much would half an apple cost? A quarter? As you can see, the numbers were very favourable as they were easy to multiply and divide.
One of the students called out "Can we EAT the apples?" So we launched into yet another problem to be solved - How much apple can each student have? With 9 apples and 25 students, there weren't enough for one each, so we would have to divide them into halves. Students calculated that we would have 18 halves - still not enough pieces. But then we realised that if we cut them into quarters, we would have spare pieces. I demonstrated this on the board as an example of division with remainders (which we learnt earlier in the week). 36 pieces would give us 1 quarter each, then 11 remaining pieces. One student decided that they didn't want any apple, so then we were looking at 24 students and 12 remaining pieces. While they munched on their apple I asked students to think about what they know about the relationship between 24 and 12. One student pointed out that 12 is half of 24. So how does this help us with dividing up the remaining pieces? Another student realised that we could cut the remaining quarters into half again to make another 24 pieces. So what would these pieces be called? One student worked it out and another explained how they came to the answer. They then worked out how many eighths they had had altogether.
You could feel the energy in the classroom as students buzzed from one calculation to another and solved the real-life problems.
We explored anger through our dancing this week. We told students the story of a farmer who was angry because some of his workers broke the machinery. There were three parts to the dance music - the angry farmer who stomps and shakes his fist, the trembling workers and the broken machinery. Students explored these roles through dance and then worked in small self-selected groups to create and present their own dances. I was captivated by the way they told the story through dance.
We had a school assembly to recognise and welcome in the new SRC and Enviro Squad for the second half of the year. Students also received certificates for their achievements in the Computer and Science competitions.