Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Thoughts on "Thinkin' Things 1"

During my computer lab duty last week I did some playing with the software our school already has access and licences for. I came across Thinkin' Things Collection 1. While I'm not sure how much I would be willing to pay for this program, it was a great find for something we already had. There are six different activities for students to explore thinking skills and creativity with music, patterns and shapes. Levels can be modified according to desired challenge.

My students enjoyed exploring this software and experimenting. Partway through the session we paused with our playing to share the things we were discovering. Everyone was buzzing with excitement and loved the opportunity to get creative.

In particular, I enjoyed playing the chicken xylophone (which plays clucking sounds!) and also trying to play Oranga Banga's instruments after hearing him play them in the dark.

I'm looking forward to trying our Thinkin' Things Collection 3 during my lab duty this week!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Friday Fun - 19/3/10

I feel as though I turned a corner with my class this week. It seems that we've got to that comfortable zone where we know enough about each other to be able to relax a little, even let down our guard and enjoy a bit of fun together.

Fun this Week

Tower Building

This week all the Year 2 students completed a technology project to design, make and appraise a tower using 10 sheets of newspaper and 50cm of tape. The tower needed to be free-standing and to hold a ping-pong ball at the top. Students considered different ways of manipulating the newspaper to increase strength, stability and appearance. When they were
finished, we conducted a "gallery tour" where students walked around and jotted down constructive feedback for one another on a sheet of paper next to each tower. In a couple of weeks we will be having a "Build-A-Bridge Day" where students will have a chance to use recycled materials to design, make and appraise a bridge.

Year 1 Assembly
This week my Year 1s spent quite a bit of time in with the other Year 1s preparing for the assembly they hosted on Friday. They sang two Peter Coombe songs and showed some of their mini-beast artworks. The Year 1s did a great job and it was nice to see them up there with all their other Year 1 friends.

Beatrix Potter Books
During our visit to the library on Tuesday, I read my class one of the little Beatrix Potter Books. It's been a while since I've picked up one of these classics and found I needed to spend quite a bit of time clarifying the meaning of words which are no longer commonly used. Quite a few of the girls enjoyed the story and decided to borrow some of the other Beatrix Potter books. The librarian said that they had been coming up on the 'at risk' list in a cull she is required to do to remove the books that haven't been borrowed for a number of years. Guess their safe now for a little longer!

Money, Money, Money
In Maths we focused on recognising coins and adding and subtracting with money. One of the groups worked on team problem solving using the canteen price list, another worked on finding how much change students would get from a dollar if they spent different amounts. My group worked on calculating totals using 10c and 5c coins and also finding different ways to make up 80c. This is one of those maths concepts that is an important life skill to develop and easy for parents to practise with their children at home.

Students in 2P and 1/2R surveyed one another about their favourite bridges and created a bar graph to show student preferences. Students found it lots of fun and a little challenging, particularly when it came to keeping track of who they had already asked.

In Cricket this week students learnt how to bowl with straight arms and practised bowling at wickets. It has been great to watch them developing these skills a little more each week, and we look forward to the mini-game they will get to play next week.

Story Writing
Last week my class read the big book The Greedy Goat by Faye Bolton. One of the things we discussed together was the role that mice often play in stories: while small, they often make the biggest difference. Examples include The Lion and The Mouse, Who Sank the Boat, and The Mitten. As I had a copy of Jan Brett's The Mitten on hand, we read it for a bit of fun. So this week, when selecting my big book, I found The Old Man's Mitten retold by Yevonne Pollock. After reading this with the class we used a Venn diagram to compare Pollock's version with Brett's. (You can find other follow-up activities here.) Students then created their own stories with a similar plot.

Paper Planes for Friday Fun
I've been trying to stick to some kind of sciency theme in my room during Friday Fun and, not being particularly sciency myself, it's not always easy. This week I decided to do some exploration of flight using paper aeroplanes! We watched some eHow videos to learn how to make a couple of different designs and then took them outside for some test flights. Students then made modifications to their planes and we tested them out again. I think we all had a lot of fun playing around with planes and experimenting with the best way to get them to go the distance.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friday Fun - 5/3/10

It's hard to believe that we've just made it past the halfway mark of first term. Where does the time go? We're now well into the swing of our routines and it was great to have so many parent helpers flowing into the classroom during the week. We really appreciate the help that parents can offer in the classroom and it goes a long way in helping students to consolidate their learning. It also frees teachers up to be able to target specific students and support them with their needs.

Fun this Week

Maths - Groups Of
In my Maths group, I worked with students on the concept of 'groups of''. We particularly looked at groups of 2 and 2 groups of _ because it connected with our work on doubles from last week. We also looked a little at groups of 5 and practiced counting different objects by multiples.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Students in 1/2R read a big book version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. In this version, each line is marked in one of four colours and students join in by reading their allocated colour. This was a great way to get everyone involved with the reading, and after a couple of times, all students knew the story well. On Friday students worked in small groups to retell the story through drama. They practiced a couple of times before performing it for the group.
We also used this text as a springboard for adding adjectives to our writing. Students began by choosing a creature eg. rabbit, and added adjectives to build the description.
For example: The fluffy rabbit.
The fluffy, white rabbit.
The fluffy, white, cute rabbit.

Famous Bridges
Each class selected a famous bridge to find out more about. We learnt some facts about these bridges and the elements that make the structure unique. Students from 2P and 1/2R used trundle wheels on the school oval to get a sense of the length of the bridges they were investigating. Next week students will be placed in groups with members from each of the four classes, to teach each other about the bridges they covered in class.

Literacy Rotations

While 2W and 2D have been doing Literacy Rotations for a couple of weeks now, 2P and 1/2R got started this week. We organised ability groups across the two classes (2P and 1/2R) and selected a variety of activities suited to students' needs. These include Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Listening Post and Computer activities. We made an activity work board so that
students can see which activities they are supposed to work on, and in which order. We also organised boxes for each group which contain their books and the worksheets that they will require. Our activity stations take place between recess and lunch on Wednesdays with an additional hour on Thursday mornings. They worked really smoothly this week, particularly due to the support of parent helpers.

We had the first session of our Cricket clinics this week, during which time students practiced throwing a tennis ball and catching it in cupped hands (or one cupped hand). They also developed skills in aiming, by trying to hit cones at various distances.

Walkathon Rev-up Assembly
After lots of singing practice and script run-throughs, we hosted this week's assembly. We performed "Octopus' Garden" and led the school in singing "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes". There were lots of other announcements in the assembly, including a Year 5/6 skit to rev everyone up for the walkathon, and an amazing violin performance by a teacher who tutors violin for interested students. It was great to see so many family members who made it along to the assembly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Basic Word Processing

I don't like to spend too much time teaching the basics of word processing, but I know it's something that my students need to learn. Here's an activity to teach a few things in one hit and produce a book that students can take home to learn about their classmates. I did this with students in a Year 1/2 class. I demonstrated all steps (except the printing and saving process) before sending students to work. Skills covered are written in red.

Who Am I? Book

Preparation: Upload photographs of all students to a location they can easily access. Ensure all students have a folder to save their work in.

  • Step 1: Log onto a computer and double click on the Word icon.
  • Step 2: Choose a larger font size (we used 26 because we didn't have to scroll down to select it!)
  • Step 3: Students type 5 clues about themselves eg. I am a girl. I have long brown hair. I am in Year 1. I am good at tennis. I like riding my bike.
  • Step 4: Teacher circulates and demonstrates how to right-click on spelling errors underlined in red, and select the correct spelling. Teacher corrects misspelled words where the correct option is not given.
  • Step 5: Students select Word Art following the path Insert/Picture/WordArt. They select the style they would like to use and type into the box: Who am I? (After pressing OK, they can resize the text by dragging the edges/corners of the text)
  • Step 6: Students press the Return/Enter key to move to the second page and then follow the path Insert/Picture/From File to find and insert their photo.
  • Step 7: Below the picture, students type: I am (insert name)
  • Step 8: Teacher demonstrates how to print and save.
  • Step 9: After checking with the teacher, print the document.
  • Step 10: Save document into folder.
Completion: Collect up student work and bind pages or insert into a pocket display book. Students can then read this in class or take turns to take it home to read with family.