Showing posts from October, 2012

Where do ideas come from?

I was over at Authentic Inquiry Maths (one of the best math teacher blogs on the internet), reading a post about ideas for inquiring into 3D shapes.  Great stuff.  As I was reading, a new idea struck me so I left a comment:
Imagine you live in a 3D shape.  Design the interior.  Perform a mime for the rest of the class describing what life is like inside this shape.  The rest of the class guesses what shape you are living in.
I have no idea where that came from, but I want to try it!

Where do your ideas come from?  Do you know?  Do you care?

Visible Thinking; Growing Definitions

This is a strategy that is not in the book or on the website (note: it might be, but I haven't come across it yet).  I first heard of this from a poetry workshop with Larry Swartz about three years ago.  We did it for the word Poem, but it can be done with any word.  I am calling it Growing Definitions for now.  Also, I am still wondering about what thinking moves (word in blue on the poster0 would be best for this routine.  Obviously, defining must stay.  Not sold on the other two.  Any ideas?

Context: Studying bias in the collection of data; for example surveys

1. Show the word (we were Bias) and have each student write a personal definition for this word.  This was tough for my kids.  They kept wanting to use the word bias in the definition of the word.  I let them look at a dictionary to get help with how definitions are worded.

2. With a partner, write a new definition.  This was fun.  At first they tried to cram them both together, but we stopped and reflected that that might n…

Let the Bag decide... random groupings in the classroom

A while ago my wife (who is quite the seamstress and crafter) was experimenting with a new type of canvas she bought and she made this bag as a test prototype for something larger.

[caption id="attachment_1340" align="alignleft" width="240"] The Bag[/caption]

She was unimpressed with this design but it sparked ideas for something else.  I have always been a garbage hunter my whole life, so I took this bag into my class to find a new use for it.  At the beginning of the year I found it in the bottom of my desk and decided to use it for our random groupings bag.  On a math hexagon, I wrote each students name and places it in the bad.  I had originally planned on using it every once and a while to assign random groups for projects and possible seating arrangements.  I had no idea it would evolve into what it has become in our classroom.  The bag has become a supernatural being.  It decides arguments.  It makes groups.  It assigns seats.  It chooses what to do …

Visible Thinking; Looking Ten Times Two

This one is not in the book, but was recommended by a good friend from the Visible Thinking website.  The flexibility of this routine allowed a very interesting conversation to emerge, one which I had not planned for.  This is what I love about VT, it allows a space for emergence to take place, and expands the scope of what you are doing to new and exciting places.  Also, anyone who knows me well enough or reads this blog could predict that I would eventually use the VT routines in a Math class. Took me a little longer than I thought it would, but here it is....


Context: Starting a new math unit on Data Management

Quietly Look - this is an important step for tuning into the diagram.  I had 30s on the template above, but it was more like a minute.  I have no idea what they are thinking about, but I tell them to try and look at the whole picture and just feel it.  We meditate daily in my class, so I think they are getting a sense of this feeling that I talk about, which is impossible to…

Visible Thinking - Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate: Concept Maps

Another really great day with a VT strategy.  Despite having the worst possible name for a classroom routine (who is going to remember that?) it provided for some real critical thinking opportunities, and dovetailed nicely into our topic of the day.

Context: we are starting a new Unit of Inquiry into healthy living and the choices we make

What is a concept map? - This was their first introduction to the specific term concept map.  We came to a basic understanding that it was like a mind-map, but a bit more organized.  One of my key focuses of this unit is developing scientific models, so I am comfortable with a little fuzzy thinking around the idea of a concept map.  It will come.

Generate - This step is easy, list words, phrases or ideas that relate to the main topic (in our case the main topic was simply the words Healthy Living).  Still, it is amazing how off topic they can get in just a few steps.  One child says healthy foods, another says bananas, and then another says palm trees (…

Teapots sent

Finally, the teapots are done and sent. This has been a wonderful project. We covered the entire geometry curriculum in a single project, and more. We took our time, we zoomed in and out of the project, working on it for a bit and then taking a break to practice other skills. Engagement was never a problem, everybody was eager to learn because they wanted the box to arrive safely. Now, we wait. The recipients in Hawaii, Bandung (Indonesia), and Idaho will soon receive their boxes. Where will they go next?

GoogleMap Showing the Teapots Tracking

Visible Thinking; The 4 C's

I like this one.  This led to an amazing class discussion and caused some real cognitive dissonance with the kids.  I think that text I chose was perfect, and that really pushed the conversation forward.  It was deep, with lots of room for different ideas and interpretations.

Henry Climbs a Mountain is a book about the one night that Henry Thoreau was put in prison for refusing to pay taxes to a government that recognizes slavery.  I needed to fill a couple of content holes before we started to make that everybody knew what government, taxes, illegal, and prison meant.  After some explaining, I felt that we were all on the same page and we continued on with the routine.

Connections - I found that during this stage the kids needed support to make deep connections to the topics.  Most of them were comparing some aspect of their lives to Henry.  We both like drawing.  We both like to walk or hike.  We both get in trouble.  Yes, well why?  Do you both to like to draw for the same reason?  W…