My 2ndish attempt at using provocations

I would like to think that I teach through Inquiry.  I really try to keep all of my work about the kids and their thinking; however, I do find myself still leading discussions more than I would like.  Then I learned about provocations.  WOW! I know that I have previously blog about this subject but since that time I have tried to use them more.  Today in science I did just that (at least I hope I did).

Here is what I did:

1) I got a bunch of experiments working on air and water

Center 1: AIR

Center 2: Water
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(note: some of these items were for other provocations)
Center 3: Water Cycle
Center #4: Pollution
I then broke them into groups had books and iPads at the centers and asked them what do they observe?  Wow, I couldn’t believe the talk, the focus, and  the engagement.  Take a look at this shot:
Here the students were so engrossed in what was happening that they didn’t even notice me.  They were saying, “cool look its raining!”  They were also using the vocabulary that we have been building before this through our watercraft project.
What did I learn?

1) Inquiry (true inquiry) is allowing planned exploration.  Students really need time to explore and make observations about the subjects.
2) This takes a lot of planning.  I been planning this for some time now (many thanks to my amazing PLN for their help in this).  As I have been planning I had to think about questions, get all of the materials ready and even think about possible misconceptions.
3) True assessment.  I was amazed at what the students had absorbed through previous books, the Watercraft project and our discussions.
4) Its a lot of fun to watch the joy and engagement of true learning
So if you haven’t done provocations before, give it ago.  Its a lot of fun and you would be surprised at what you will learn about your students.


Water Craft Our new inquiry Part 1

I am writing this blog post as a documentation of a cool new inquiry project that my teaching partner Keri Ewart and myself (though more my teaching partner), called Water Craft.  The purpose of this inquiry is to design  new version  of Minecraft called Water Craft.  The students must include three of the big curriculum expectations:

  1. Assess ways in which the actions of humans have an impact on the quality of air and water, and ways in which the quality of air and water has an impact on living things
  2. investigate the characteristics of air and water and the visible/invisible effects of and changes to air and water in the environment
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which air and water are used by living things to help them meet their basic needs
Now this project has been a spur of the moment (which to me are the best kind) so we will see how it goes.  The hope is that the grade twos will be designing their own game system that answers these three questions.  So far we have started by introducing our language centers which will give the students opportunities to explore the game, the writing portion and science.  
We have also had the students play inside of the game and discover different components of MineCraft.  The next stage is to start asking guided questions that students will have to answer in order to complete the big ideas and the actual making of a video game.

So what does this project look like:

1) This project is first linked to our science curriculum.  The learning goals of the game is to teach these three big ideas above

2) It is also linked to reading, writing and our language centers.  Students will be researching within their centers about water usage, conservation and characteristics.  Each center is based on building toward the future; designing a game.

3) Lots of exploration.

What was needed to get this type of project started:

1) Lots of planning and forward thinking.  Even though we decided on it at the last minute, my teaching partner and I have had to rethink through our curriculum needs and figure out how to interconnect all of tech into the curriculum.

2) We also had to give our students a lot of exploring time. I have found that whenever you introduce something new for the first time, students just really want to explore, so we did just that.  The first day was all about exploration.  The students played with mindcraft, they read and played the center apps and discussed as they went.  We were also very lucky to have some grad students in from York to help use problem solve and work through playing the game.

3) we gave time to ask questions and answer some of them.  After the student explored on the game, we had them come up with a list of questions that they would have to explore.  The hope was that this would spur more inquiry and make the children think about what they are working towards.

 Each week I hope to document the learning that is happening and reflect on the process.  In the mean time if anyone has any other suggestions we welcome any advice or help.  Stay tuned for more.

Unusual Animals

Thought I would share a great science project that we just completed. In grade two the students learn all about life cycles of animals and differnent animal groups. As a team we decided to give the classes a culminating task where they had to make their own animal.  Students had to first decide on an animal name, the describe what group the animal was from using the characteristics that we had been working on, then tell us it’s habitat, and physical and behavioural adaptations.  Students then recorded their presentation using educreations and shared them with the world.  The kids were really engaged in this lesson and loved creating their own animal.  Here are some samples of the students work:

Hands on Learning

 We had a lot of fun this week with some great hands on learning.  Sorry no pics my hands were full of crisco…  Confused, let me tell you about it. Part of the grade two science unit is learning about how animals change in order to survive. It doesn’t go into too great of detail as in grade four but the students learn that their are adaptations that animals need in order to live.  We talk about how some of those adaptations are physical and some are behavioral. To help with this we did two experiments with the kids this week.  

The first is call MACKI Hunters: For this game the students became hunters of macaroni, which I had about hundred or so in different colours.  I threw these MACKIES onto the field and told them that in order to survive they had to get at least ten in two minutes.  Of course they all survived.  We talked about why that would be and what could possibly make it harder.  The next time, I split the groups up into the three colours (red, blue, green) and then told them to get ten.  This ended up having some of the students not surviving. The last time I did it I had three of the students become hunters of the children.  All of the students only had to get five but they couldn’t get touched and had to make it back to me in order to be safe.  This ended in only three of the students surviving.  We had some great discussions about how animals survive and what animals need in order to survive. 

 The next experiment was understanding physical adaptations.  For this experiment you need Crisco, gloves, ice and two buckets of water.  You first put the ice in the water and put the crisco in one glove.  Side Note: I do find it easier to put the Crisco in a ziplock bag and then another ziplock bag over top of this.  This way the child’s hand just goes inside of the clean bag.  However, the kids have fun getting messy.  Next the students have one hand in the ice water and one hand in the crisco bag/glove and that is in the ice water.  Students soon discover how cold one hand is versus the other.  They start to make the connection between how polar bears have blubber to keep them warm just like the Crisco does to their hands. As you can tell I couldn’t take any pictures as my hands where also covered in Crisco; however, it was a lot of fun and worth the experience.

Using pasta for a butterfly art project

 Thought I would share this really cool art activity.  After having a pretty cool talk about our butterflies and their life cycle, my students had to do an art activity with dried pasta.  I never thought that pasta would apply here but it certainly does.  All you need is the butterfly pasta, the small rice looking pasta, macaroni and curly pasta (apologize for butchering the names).  Each of these pastas represent a stage in the caterpillar/butterfly’s life cycle.   We used small paper plates and the kids broke them into four sections and decorated these areas anyway they wanted.  Here are some samples: