Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Fun

It has been quite some time since I wrote any Friday Fun posts. Generally, my school has had other ways to share learning with families, thus I haven't had time to double up. At my current school, I started writing up weekly reflections for families, which highlight the main learning in the grade level, some class specific items, information about events coming up, and some snapshots. This takes a bit of effort to put together each Friday, and needs to be left fairly broad in order to cater for all Year 3 classes. When I do Friday Fun posts, I like to add more detail, and give a better sense of the task, its purpose and how we went about doing it. In doing so, I hope to make it interesting for students and their families, as well as the teaching community. I make no promises in terms of whether this will return as an ongoing feature, but I thought I would give it another go this week at least!

Reconciliation Week
This week we launched into our new Inquiry unit, "Why Say Sorry?" The central idea of this unit is that Indigenous culture changes over time. Given that Reconciliation Week is this week, it seems very good timing on someone's part - though I think there was quite a bit of luck involved this time! 

On Monday I read Idjhil by Helen Bell to my class. This story shows the connection Indigenous Australians have with the land and tells something of the impact of European settlement in terms of loss of land and the stolen generation. I chose this narrative to give students a glimpse of these concepts through the eyes of a boy of their age. 
Once we had finished reading, we used a modified version of the thinking routine "Step Inside". Students imagined they were Idjhil and wrote down the things they thought he knew and believed. They then wrote down the things they thought he cared about. A second column labelled "What makes you say that?" prompted students to give evidence from the book for their ideas. I moved around the room marking student work, and those who finished early glued their sheet in and illustrated the border with symbols and images that were important to Idjhil. 
To conclude the lesson - we played "Hot Seat" where one student took on the role of Idjhil, and others asked him questions. It took a few questions before everyone engaged in what was happening, but by the end we were getting some well thought out questions. 

On Tuesday we read Walking for Reconciliation By Beth Hall. This followed on nicely after our story of Idjhil, and helped students to gain a better understanding of what Reconciliation is about and why it is necessary. We followed this reading with another thinking routine called Making it Fair: Now, Then, Later: Finding Actions. We talked about the stolen generation and students discussed how things could have been done differently in the past to make things fair, what we can be doing now, and what could be done in the future. Students used Google Docs on the desktop computers to record their ideas. I was a bit frustrated by some of the nonsense I got when students were contributing anonymously and had to keep on top of everyone to ensure they weren't erasing each other's ideas.

On Wednesday we looked at our Google Docs list (teacher edited) as a class, and everyone chose one idea that they would like to expand on. They wrote their individual responses in their Inquiry books and wrote the steps that would need to be taken in order for the plan to be enacted. These ideas were shared with the class and we sorted our ideas into things that could be done now, and things that could be proposed for the future - both for the school and for our city.

On Thursday students worked in teams to put forward their proposals. One group focused on writing a letter (using Google Docs simultaneously) to our local government about how we would like our city to celebrate at NAIDOC week, one focused on a fundraising proposal for our school and two focused on proposals to our SRC. The ones for our school used Explain Everything on iPad as we felt that a video presentation would be more appealing to the student audience.

On Friday I gave feedback to students and helped them to edit their proposals. I still feel that some need a little reworking to create a more professional product, however I'm impressed with the quality of their efforts and technical ability.

This week students learnt how to work out their three times tables mentally by taking the double and adding one more group. Students practised their three times with a friend. We then worked on times tables using an erasable multiplication chart and songs from the Mathletics website. Some students were extended to multiply two-digit numbers by three, and also to investigate the divisibility rules for 3. We will continue with this next week.

We also returned to some fraction work that we began earlier in the term. Students practised writing fractions along a number-line. In our computer time, students completed fractions activities from Mathletics including Rainforest Maths.

We revisited Idjhil by Helen Bell, and discussed:
  • What was the author's purpose?
  • What does she want us to take away?
Students then wrote their personal response in their books using the prompts:
I think the author wrote this to...
I learnt...

It was definitely a busy week, particularly with parent/teacher interviews in the afternoons and planning for school camp. I look forward to seeing how things progress next week, particularly as we further explore our Inquiry unit of work.

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