Posts

Showing posts from April, 2013

So much more than four walls...

Image
I am into the last unit of the school year.  I will be leaving this classroom at the end of the year and heading off to a new adventure in Germany.  My family and I are incredibly excited.  And busy.  Those of you who teach in international schools know what I mean.  Boxes, forms, contracts, stuff, stuff, stuff.... I will miss this classroom.  I grew immensely as a teacher and a human being.  These kids have taught me so much about learning, playing, knowing, and being in the moment.  Our classroom is so much more than just four walls.   This space has changed a lot over the course of two years.  It feels like a home.  We are all comfortable here, we can share our feelings, celebrate our victories, and reflect on our defeats. Looking at pictures, the class seems like a mess.  Truth, it is.  It is like a tangle of branches, wrapping itself around an abandoned building.  It is not neat, it is not clean, it is not organized.  To me, it represents the best of thinking in actio

The Island of Ablai (pt. 14)

Image
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 Pt. 7 Setting the Price Pt. 8 Profits and Growth Pt. 9 Supply and Demand Pt. 10 - The Role of the Buyer Pt. 11 - Personal Inquiries - How does google make money? Pt. 12 - Tying in all Together Pt. 13 - Sharing your learning Pt 14 - Summative Assessment I will start by saying that I have issues with this term.  The word summative makes it seem that it is over, finished, the end.  How can learning have an end?  I understand the need to place a final assessment on a topic before moving on to a new one, but it seems like an artificial construct of school. A term that educators made up to fill some area of need. I used to plan big, elaborate, complex, summative assessments.  We would have been working on a book, or a magazine, or movie, and that artifact would stand as the summative piece.  However, I found it har

The Island of Ablai (Pt 13)

Image
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 Pt. 7 Setting the Price Pt. 8 Profits and Growth Pt. 9 Supply and Demand Pt. 10 - The Role of the Buyer Pt. 11 - Personal Inquiries - How does google make money? Pt. 12 - Tying in all Together Pt. 13 - Sharing your learning From the previous lesson, I asked them how they could share what they learned about responsible consumers and responsible business.  I gave them a blank slate.  Kind of. Planning Day The constraint was that there would only be an hour and fifteen minutes to complete the entire project.  But, they could take as much time as they wanted today to make plans and make sure that tomorrow they were ready.  I broke it down into checkpoints, and each group went through the points.  I must admit that this is not my favorite way of organizing things, but the structure helped them to get 

Great Read Aloud: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Image
Wow.  My students loved this book. The plot is simple, easy to follow, and linear.  There is a big chunk of the book that is told via a narrated story (flashback), but other than that it unfolds sequentially.  Instead, of plotting the book, we decided that we would visualize the characters and their connections to each other.  The author went to great care to explain how everybody knew everybody else. It was also great for making inferences.  There was a lot of intrigue in this book, and things left unsaid.  What is the Plan?  What does NIMH stand for?  What will happen to Mrs Frisby's house?  Who was Jonathan, and how did he die?  Who are these rats?  Where did they come from?  The author does a wonderful job of teasing you with pieces of the puzzle, one little piece at a time.  You may or may not find the answers to all of your questions. I love reading a class a book that I have never read before, but I recognize that it can sometimes NOT work.  I have started book

The Island of Ablai (pt.12)

Image
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 Pt. 7 Setting the Price Pt. 8 Profits and Growth Pt. 9 Supply and Demand Pt. 10 - The Role of the Buyer Pt. 11 - Personal Inquiries - How does google make money? Pt. 12 Tying it all Together This week was about bringing ideas together and seeing where we are, and where we have come from. A River Ran Wild This is one of my favorite books by one of favorite authors. Lynne Cherry has written a ton of amazing books on ecology and the environment.  They are all picture books for kids.  This one is about environmental destruction and rebirth.  I didn't mention why I read it, just as a way to get us thinking, wondering if anybody would connect to it in the following activities. Phrase Dissection I have done this before with individual words, or two word phrases, but never with an entire sentenc

The Island of Ablai (pt 11)

Image
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 Pt. 7 Setting the Price Pt. 8 Profits and Growth Pt. 9 Supply and Demand Pt. 10 - The Role of the Buyer Pt 11 Personal Inquiries - How does google make money? We have been collecting some really great questions over the course of this unit.  With a couple days left in the 5th week of the unit, and the final weeks focus finally clear*, I thought it would be a good time to work on some personal inquiries and share what we have found. To backtrack a little, this is something I have struggled with this year.  Half of the kids in my class need nothing more than a well phrased question and they are off.  They will research, synthesize, and present their findings in a creative way with little to no support.  The other half needs structure.  I feel that if I give too much structure, I shut down those that don't

Fraction Flags

Image
This is a great activity that I found in an academic article by Brent Davis .  It is very wide open, lets kids see different ways to represent and see fractions, and creates some great conversation.  The one thing I noticed, even though some groups were struggling, was how rich their mathematical language was.  The activity put them into a situation where they needed to use the language of fractions without even being aware of it. 1) Class work through I put a flag on the board (picture the Italian flag but red on the sides and pink in the middle) to start the class and asked how much of the flag was red.  This was easy, they knew it was 2/3.  It was a visual experience that they understood simply.  I asked them if they could show me that answer mathematically.  We came up with 2 ways: 1 - 1/3 = 2/3 1/3 + 1/3 = 2/3 From this we gather that our whole (1) was the entire flag, and the pieces were the fractions.  It may seem like a small detail, but I would argue one of the major p

The Roles and Principles of Creative Leadership

Image
I have just finished Out of our Minds: Learning to be Creative by Sir Ken Robinson .  This is the third time I have read this book, but the first time I have read the second edition.  It is hard to consider this the same book as the first edition.  It was completely re-written and makes a much stronger case. One of my favorite sections was the section in Chapter 9 on the Roles and Principles of Creative Leadership.  Though many of his ideas are directly taken from business and the corporate world, I see these principles as having great potential in schools.  They occasion a powerful environment for a culture of learning and personal growth. Principle # 1 - Everyone has creative potential A school should believe that every member of its community has the potential to be creative, and to contribute creative ideas to the whole.  Students, teachers, administrators  caretakers, parents, grandparents, coaches, etc.  Not only should they all feel that they have creative potential, they