Showing posts from March, 2013

The Island of Ablai (pt. 6)

Previously Pt. 1 Planning
Pt. 2 Creating the Environment
Pt. 3 Money Matters
Pt. 4 - Negotiating the World
Pt. 5 Natural Resources and Manufacturing

Pt. 6 Profits and Expenses

After a week off and a busy start to the new term, we got a little behind schedule.  We started the week with an art project that just needed to get done.  Our map was looking great, but we were still missing the city of Ablai.  After a brainstorming session, we came up with some ideas and off they went.  The final product is simply gorgeous   It is amazing to have this looking over us everyday, and it has shown me how beautiful artifacts can enhance attention.  Plus, they are so invested in this unit, as they have literally built an entire world.  They are proud of what they have made, and I am proud of them.

They keep noticing that little things are missing (train tracks to the oil refinery) but these will be patched up as we go.  For now, this is not a bad picture to see everyday.
Recursive Review
Since we were away …

8 Read Aloud Strategies

I love to read aloud to kids.  I put out a googledoc (please add more!) on twitter asking for good read aloud books for kids.  Tons of responses came back!  To be honest, I haven't heard of half of them, so I need to get studying.

Modeling visual reading is a worthwhile endeavor for any class.  However, when reading aloud there is always the chance that kids will be left behind, uninterested, unengaged, or lost in the plot.  Particularly with ESL students in the class.  How can we make the read aloud more visual? There are many strategies to help guard against these problems (bearing in mind that a book may not capture 100% of the kids imaginations, no matter what) and to help keep everybody on the same page.

Here are 8 that have helped my group.

1) Slow-down, model, discuss
When reading aloud, it is beneficial to stop, especially after something important has just happened.  This is easier to do if you have read the book that you are reading, but it is also fun to read a book tha…

Embodied Mathematics Review

Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being is a book by George Lakoff and Rafael Núñez.  I have written before about Lakoff's work around metaphors and what affordances they may bring forward for language instruction.  This book is a continuation of his work on linguistic metaphors, but it situated solely in the domain of mathematical understanding.

They claim:
- Mathematics arises from our bodies and brains, our everyday experiences, and the concerns of human societies and cultures
- Metaphor is both what enabled mathematics to grow out of everyday activities, and what enables mathematics to grow by a continual process of analogy and abstraction
- Mathematics is not transcendent or out in the world waiting to be discovered (Platonic view)
- Math is a human creation, and thus was created uses the cognitive domains of linguistic experience
- It the result of human evolution and culture
- During experiencing of the world a connection to mathematical …

Week off

Time to disconnect. Spend time with family. Side projects. Personal inquiries. Read. Write. Recharge the battery. Reorient my mind. Enjoy life. Find time that didn't exist before.

No work.

The Island of Ablai (pt. 5)

Pt. 1 Planning
Pt. 2 Creating the Environment
Pt. 3 Money Matters
Pt. 4 - Negotiating the World

Pt. 5 Natural Resources and Manufacturing

Looking at our list of products and services, what natural resources do we need?

We started by doing an example as a group.  

Police will need uniforms (cotton), badges (metal), handcuffs (metal), lights for their bikes (glass), bricks for the police station (stone or clay), bars for the jail (iron), etc.  We continued this example by looking at things in our classroom.  What is this table made of?  How many natural resources did it take to make it?  What does plastic come from (many of them were very surprised to here it comes from oil)?  

Next, the kids combed through all of the items we had agreed on and made lists on the natural resources we need for each one.  We came up with the following list:

Iron OreStone
PlantsWoodSandRare Earths and Metals
I put this list into a gDoc and we went to the computer lab.
Recursive Before…

The Island of Ablai (pt. 4)

Pt. 1 Planning
Pt. 2 Creating the Environment
Pt. 3 Money Matters

Pt 4 - Negotiating the World

This section was challenging.  We took our categories from yesterdays activity, and we created a world with them.   To keep our world simple, but not too simple (the complexity is a major part of doing this) we broke our Economy (though I still haven't introduced this word, we keep referring to it as our money system) into the following parts:

Government Services
Goods (needs)
Goods (wants)

We went through each, one by one, and came up with some parameters to define and limit each.


I asked them to name me some major cities that they know.  New York.  Tokyo.  London.  We searched the populations of each of these on the iPads and found that these were huge metropolis.  The group decided that this would be too big, we instead we decided to model our city on our own city (much like they did with the weather and natural surroundings, int…

Guest Post: Complexity and Gaming

Amy is a classmate of mine at the University of Calgary. The other day she presented this reflection to the class. I loved the relationships of complexity, collectivity, playing and learning. I post it here with her permission, and a question to think about; what if schools were more like the games we play?

Looking back, I can trace my understandings of complex adaptive systems to starting an activity at age eight.At eight, I got to become part of a group of people participating in an activity that required me to: read a vast quantity of material at a fine detail level of comprehension, cooperate with up to 7 other people at the same time, learn to support others, learn to value the unique qualities and contributions of others, learn to put the good of the group before the good of myself,recognize that a group of people all aligned to the same goal accomplish more than they could alone, pull my own weight, ask for help when I needed itand offer help when it was time to reciprocate…

The Island of Ablai (pt. 3)

Previously Pt. 1 Planning
Pt. 2 Creating the Environment

Pt. 3 Money Matters

With the physical world in place, we were ready to start adding layers of human abstraction.  Before we continued on with that, we needed to develop a common language around money.  I needed to know what they knew, and how they perceived money.  The last thing I would want is to make an assumption about their ideas and then learn later that we were operating on different levels.

Prior to anything, I oriented the kids attention to the fact that we were ZOOMING OUT of our inquiry, and not talking about Ablai, but rather investigating what we know.  It was time for US (the people we are day-to-day) to think about what WE know.  Suspend the drama of the imagination.

We went through the following two provocations, kind of as a tuning in to what they think/know about money (I originally planned three, but after the quality of discussion had in the first two, I decided the last would be unnecessary, and we were ready t…

An Ode to the best Tech in my class

The best piece of technology in my class......

is mobile

is always there when an idea sparks

helps make our thinking visible

is beautiful

requires no upgrades

lets us share ideas

in real time

enables us to adapt to the ebb and flow of learning

with real people

is colorful

is a place for creativity to go wild

is a place we all share

that is also a map

that can live anywhere

and never breaks down.

The Island of Ablai (pt 2)

Pt. 1 Planning

Pt. 2 Creating the Environment

I wanted this world to feel as authentic as possible.  Creating an imaginary world is a pretty abstract task, since the world only exists in your imagination.  Everybody would perceive this world differently, that is just human nature.  However, I want there to be much more redundancy than diversity in how we view Ablai (students gave different sounds and then rearranged them into new words, this is what won).  Therefor, this needs to be as VISIBLE as possible.

We brainstormed a list of natural landforms and wrote them on the board.  Then, we decided which one we didn't want.  The class was pretty unanimous in that this would not be desert, and it would not be a tropical island.  A temperate island like our own was what they wanted (like Japan but smaller).  Though one boy pushed very hard to have a chasm, the rest of the class agreed.

We broke off into groups and built this on the wall:

Next, we needed to get a grasp of what…