Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring Break Snapshot!

Spring break has already come and gone, and since we've been back at school the boys and girls have been hard at work. They have written a paragraph to explain what they did on their spring break!
This was a great writing activity that started with a hamburger graphic organizer to organize our thoughts. We discussed topic sentences, conclusion sentences, jot notes, editing paragraphs, writing good copies, and many other writing topics in the process. The students started with a hamburger graphic organizer and we wrote down our jot notes for each sentence (what our sentence was going to be about in one or two words). After we had completed our hamburger it was time to put our jot notes into sentences to make our rough draft. The students were great at adding describing words to make their sentences "juicy". We then conferenced one on one to revise and edit our writing, so we checked for capitals, periods, correct spelling, missing words, etc. After our editing was complete it was time to make our good copy using our best printing. I was so happy with how well they turned out. The Grade 1's did an excellent job of using their nice neat printing and copying from their rough copy. The illustrations that were added brought our spring break paragraph to life! Enjoy looking through our work!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring

With the changing of the seasons we've made some wonderful poems called Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring! The students brainstormed a list of ideas that we were saying "goodbye" to as winter was ending and "hello" to with spring on the way. Check out our list of ideas and how beautiful the poems turned out! I love the artwork that was added to the poems to make them extra special!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

2D Shapes & 3D Objects Video

Miss Dyck, our student teacher, has been teaching us all about 2D shapes & 3D objects.  While I was away at the Awakening Possibilities conference last week, Mrs. Caldwell showed me how to use the ChatterPix Kids app to "animate" pictures.  This week, when I was back to the classroom, I worked with the Grade 1s to create this great video showcasing their knowledge of 2D shapes and 3D objects.  It was a big hit at our Celebration of Learning open house and I know many more people will enjoy watching it online!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One Hour, No Power - We met our goal!

We have been working on reducing our energy consumption through the One Hour, No Power challenge as part of our Classroom Energy Diet.  Students chose to aim for 10 hours without power to achieve the highest level for this challenge.  For this challenge, the description stated "One hour of no power is defined as one classroom not using power for one hour. That is to say, if you have two classrooms participating for one hour each, that will equal two hours of no power. If you have three classrooms participating and they all complete three hours, that would be nine hours of no power."  When I read that description, students had some ideas of how to meet their goal...

 In order to meet our goal, we got other classrooms involved in the challenge.  Students decided to reach out to classrooms via Twitter and also ask the other classes in our schools to participate.  We tallied our results today and we were able to accumulate 11 hours without power!  I am really proud of the Grade 1s for their great work and for their efforts to encourage other classrooms to get involved in this challenge!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inspiration and Insight from Steve Dembo

The Awakening Possibilities conference kicked off with an engaging keynote from Steve Dembo @teach42 
Here is what I'm taking away from his presentation:
  •  In education, we should want to be first.  Be like the "line leaders" at school!   Be the first to try new things and blaze the trail, so we can lead the way for others and make changes that will positively impact teaching and learning.  
  • Technology often goes through phases of acceptance.  First, people think a new technology is "crazy" and most people reject it (ie: seriously, 10 years ago, who thought we'd pull out a camera, take a photo of our food, edit it and post it online.  Now, people do that on Instagram all the time!). Despite resistance from many, some people start using the tool and eventually we're all using it!  All the more reason to try new things and try them soon!
  • We live in a multimedia society.  Schools and educators need to think beyond traditional schoolwork (like essay writing, for example).  Students should be effectively using audio, video, images, podcasting, moviemaking, blogging and more! 
  • Creating and sharing are so important for our learners.  We need to teach students how to share with an audience and effectively communicate their ideas!  

"I skate towards where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." 
 - Wayne Gretzky
To be great, our schools and teachers must "go to where we WILL be". 

DiscoveryEducation: resources for education
WeVideo : Online video creation tool


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tips from Kathy Cassidy

As a part of the Awakening Possibilities Conference, we attended a great session by Kathy Cassidy @kathycassidy  Her presentation links are here

Kathy's ideas for using Skype and Twitter in your classroom:
  • Mystery number Skype
  • Reading buddies via video conference
  • Readers theatre performances
  • Measurement - predict which is heavier/lighter and find out with Skype buddies
  • Bringing in an expert or an author
  • Learn from other classrooms via Tweets
  • Write a collaborative story using a Twitter Hashtag
  • Live Tweet an event or presentation
  • Challenge others:  Kathy's class did a snow clothes challenge to see how fast people could get dressed in their winter clothes!

How we have used Skype and Twitter in our classroom:
  • Presentation from an expert: During our Olympics project, we had an Olympic torch bearer from the 2012 games as a guest speaker via Skype.
  • Collaboration:  The Grade 1s work with the OLCS Kindergartens throughout the school year.  We complete projects together, do learning activities together and share things we are proud of! 
  • Making Connections:  During our Olympics project, we could interact with real Olympians!  We really enjoyed asking them questions, seeing their pictures and messages and learning more about them.  We also interact with other classrooms.
  • Sharing:  We Tweet all kinds of learning: students write math story problems and wait for our Twitter friends to answer, we summarize key points from our reading, we ask questions to find out more. 
  • Making Changes:  We encourage others to take action when we are working on a project to make a difference (for example, our Twitter friends are helping with  Track Your Trash and One Hour, No Power ).

Kathy shared useful resources such as:
Projects By Jen
Skype an Author
Skype in the Classroom

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Track Your Trash Challenge

Our latest Classroom Energy Diet Challenge focuses on tracking our garbage and finding ways to reduce the amount of trash we create in our classroom.  We are learning about measurement right now, so measuring the amount of trash fit well with our current math goals.  Our class is good at using a balance scale for comparative measurement, but we had to learn to use a different scale to measure the amount of garbage in our classroom garbage cans.  I purchased a new bathroom scale to try, but our garbage was too light to register on the scale, so we had to do some problem solving and try different scales.  The best tool for the task turned out to be a kitchen scale and our garbage weigh in was 1044g. 

The next step was for us to decide how we could reduce the amount of trash we create.  Students had a lot of suggestions for how we could accomplish this goal:

Follow us on Twitter @MrsObachsClass for updates on our trash reduction goal!  

Day 1 went really well with our changes resulting in a BIG decrease in the amount of garbage we generated.  We only had 280 grams of trash and our recycling bin was overflowing!  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tree Of All Seasons

Today we spent some time making a tree that showed the four different seasons! We decorated our tree branches and used recycled toilet paper rolls as the tree trunk. Have a look at all the beautiful trees in our classroom! 

Our latest project: The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge

Our latest project work has a little different twist than our usual project based learning format.  If you are a teacher using PBL or considering PBL, keep in mind that a challenge or contest can be a great way to incorporate a project into your teaching!  We have been participating in the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge, which is a contest for K-12 students that encourages energy awareness and energy-saving actions. 

There are key components that I like to include in our projects and this challenge includes a number of those elements:
Student Choice:
  • Students decided to be a part of the competition (I didn't sign us up and tell students they had to do the challenge).  When I received an email about the challenge, I explained it to my students, we held a class discussion and our class decided it was an activity they'd like to take part in.
  • Each challenge has different point levels for different actions.  We discuss these options and students choose the point level they are aiming for (which is also a great goal-setting activity!)
Students Making a Difference:
  •   The actions that students are taking impact our school and community.  For example, we turned off energy-consuming items to save energy as a part of the Do you really need it? challenge and we are aiming to reduce the amount of garbage in our classroom our latest challenge.  
Going Beyond the Classroom
  • Students worked at home with their families to identify energy-consuming items that they could turn off to save power.  
  • Via email, Skype and Twitter, our class has invited other classrooms and schools to help save energy by participating in our One Hour, No Power challenge.  (We'd be happy if your school, classroom or workplace could help us with this challenge - contact us or comment to participate!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Project Based Learning Webinar

I was pleased to be a presenter for the Microsoft in Education webinar on Project Based Learning.  The evening presentation which I was part of was not recorded, however you can view the similar morning presentation here. Project based learning has become an important part of my approach to teaching and learning.  I really enjoyed hearing from the other presenters, Michael Gorman and Suzie Boss, and it was nice to share what I've learned and experienced with PBL. 

Some of the key ideas which resonated with me were:
  • The best projects are the "main course" - not dessert!  
  • PBL needs to focus on both skills and content.  This requires balance and teacher judgement.  
  • Projects often lead to a cycle of  in-depth inquiry: students ask questions, research and then new questions are generated.  
  • Audience is important: good projects go beyond the classroom and are seen by the community, an online audience or others.  
  • Projects need not be confined to one subject area, even if you teach only one subject.  
  • Good projects involve student choice and student input - I've witnessed the engagement that results when my students make the choices about their projects!
  • Time management becomes less of an issue with PBL because you can integrate subject areas easily and students often spend time learning outside of the classroom.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Is Here!

I am so happy to be completing my last student teaching placement at Hamiota Elementary School with this wonderful Grade 1 class! We have been busy learning about spring and now that it feels like it's finally here we can show off some of our hard work!

We've spent some time measuring our heights with string and are proud to display them on our bulletin board outside the classroom; check out how our garden GROWS!