Showing posts from February, 2013

A Vow of Silence

It seemed like such a simple idea.

No talking for an entire day.  The kindergarden teacher said that she did this with her kids for 45 minutes (or 1 hour, can't remember) and they loved it.  They rose to the occasion and thought really hard about how they could do this.

If they could do it for an hour, we could do it for an entire day, right?

The day before our Vow, we wrote a pre-reflection on our blogs (google sites).  I asked them to make a table and fill it in.  I also asked them to chose an image from FlickrCC that spoke to how they were feeling:

Some very interesting responses, but browsing over the entries I see a certain darkness.  I don't want to call it fear, but.... 
The previous day I had them blindfolded for 40 minutes, walking around the first floor of the school and doing tasks (put this book on the piano in the multi-purpose room, water the plants, get a drink of water from the fountain, etc).  They loved it.  Some of them went home and tried it there.  The ref…

The Vitruvian Man, or Thanks Bruce

I am always quite inspired by the posts made at Authentic Inquiry Maths (even though he puts an 's' at the end of math when there is clearly no need for one).  I read them whenever they popup in my google reader (Feedly for the iPhone is awesome) and bookmark many to do later.  It never happens that we are studying the same thing at the same time.

The other day a lovely post about Da Vinci and the Vitruvian Man.  Bruce made a wonderful list of Da Vinci's observations about the human body:
- a palm is four fingers
- a foot is four palms
- a cubit is six palms
- four cubits make a man
- a pace is four cubits
- a man is 24 palms
- the length of the outspread arms is equal to the height of a man
- from the hairline to the bottom of the chin is one-tenth of the height of a man
- from below the chin to the top of the head is one-eighth of the height of a man
- from above the chest to the top of the head is one-sixth of the height of a man
- from above the chest to the h…

Animate it

I love RSA Animate.  My first experience with it wasKen Robinson's Changing Paradigms.  The combination of visual and audio was more comfortable than a Ted talk, and easier to understand than a podcast.  I've wanted to try it in the classroom since I first saw the video.  What better time than now?

The kids got into class this morning and found a letter waiting for them:

I didn't tell the kids that I wrote the letter, I used the mythology of the situation to make it appear real.  When they pushed me on it I kept deflecting it back to them and insisting that this was real.  Most of them knew that it was me, and happily played along with the drama... My purpose here was to create a sense of urgency and stress.  Recently we have been going slow, taking our time, and trying to think deeply.  I still want deep thought, but I want them to feel the pressure of a deadline as well.  I want to compare the two feelings.  How did it feel to have someone breathing down your neck and dem…

Lessons from the ski slope

A parent, whose daughter was skiing for the first time provided my favorite quote of the day:

Feels like we wasted an entire morning on lessons and instructions. She learned so much more in the afternoon by being thrown onto a hill that was too hard and trying to cope.

Finding out is so much fun

We have been working through our Inquiry into Inquiry.

The first stage was Tuning In.  We looked into famous paradox's.  We got a sense for what we know what else we need to know.  We were ready to start digging and investigating.

Next, we started our Finding out stage.  We have been stuck here for about 3 weeks.  Not because we are failing to Find out anything, but because finding out it so much fun.  I guess stuck is a bad word.  We have been reveling in this stage.  The thrill of learning new things, of using our hands, of researching.  We can't stop asking questions and there is so much more we want to know.

We will eventually start sorting out, but for now, let's just enjoy this feeling while we can.

The thrill of the hunt.  The high of discovery.

Let's just hang out here for a little while longer.

Conjectures in the Math Class

We have been practicing mental math in grade 5/6.  We are working on ways to divide by one digit divisors in our heads.  A great place to start was dividing by two.  The kids realized, very early on, that when you divide a number with an odd number in the ones column, you will get a remainder (57, 31, 77).  Most of them were using a chunking or splitting strategy.

84 ÷ 2

is the same as

80 ÷ 2 = 40
4 ÷ 2 = 2

40+2 = 42

Today, we moved onto dividing by four.  After an initial discussion on the differences, we were all the same page about how to do it.  Dividing by 4 was dividing by 2 and then dividing by 2 again.  I wrote a couple of problems on the board and asked them to try.

Something wasn't fitting with their previous knowledge this time.  One chlid noticed that when he did 54 ÷ 4 he got a remainder.  Why?  I thought that when we divide by an even number we get no remainder?

Note: My role during what proceeds was to capture what they were thinking on the whiteboard, and to ask for cl…

Inquiries into Spoofs - Scientific Literacy and the Media

A colleague shared a video with me recently that really made me think.

It got me thinking about Scientific Literacy and the Media.  I watch this video and I see spoof.  No questions.  When I showed it to my kids, 3/12 thought it might be fake, and the rest were entirely convinced that it was real.

Videos like this are a powerful way to delve into this topic.  And there are many more out there.  They van open up many roads of inquiry.  From this one here a couple that came to mind:

- Are these rides even scientifically possible?
- What is it about the scientist that makes you trust him as a person?
- Which was attracting your attention more; the quality of his science or the impressiveness of the visuals?
- What media conventions do these that make this so realistic?

I have started a gDoc to start collecting more of these types of inquiries.  Please email me if you would like to contribute to building up a database of science/media resources.…

The Many Ways to Research

My class has been absorbed in the Finding Out phase of our inquiry into light and sound.  We began by asking some questions, sorting them into categories, and then each choosing a questions that we would research.

While we are doing our inquiry into light and sound, we are doing an inquiry into inquiry.  Part of this is discovering how we research.  We brainstormed a list of methods of research.  We put them into a googledoc, and we put our initial thoughts down about the pros and cons of each.  Then, we chose a question and a research method that we would use.  The only catch, we could only use one method.  If you decided to research with books, you were bound to only the books we had present.  If you chose wikipedia, you had to only use wikipedia.

The Research
Before we started, we agreed on some criteria for our notes:
- they had to be organized - they had to be in our own words - they had to have pictures and words - they had to focus on the main point - they had to be easy to unde…

Slow Blogging, or Blogging Slow

I am thoroughly enjoying blogging recently.
I am writing more but I have


Instead of having an idea and
a post,

watching as the learning
my eyes.

It feels like an inquiry into how I teach inquiry.

Our inquiries are more
more skill driven,
more conceptual, and

Blogging has always been a part of my practice.

And always

But blogging slow, or
slow blogging,
has afforded me a
way of
looking at my practice

slow down
look harder
be more critical
and make new connections
new and exciting
ideas and spaces