Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Discovery Tubs Weeks 4 & 5

Time seems to be speeding up as the closing weeks of our school year fly by.  We've been working hard to continue learning and developing our skills in Grade 1.  Discovery learning continues to be an important part of our learning.  Here are our discovery tubs from the last couple of weeks:

Discovery Tub Contents:
Playing card mats (printed from First Grade School Box blog)
Decks of cards (I included some with numerals only/no "dots" to count)

Students at this tub can: find cards to make the number sentence true, work with "fact families"/related facts/turnaround facts 

Questions to ask: What card could go here?  Can you use different cards to make that number sentence true?  Is there another fact you can make with the same cards?  What other facts would be in this fact family? 

Discovery Tub Contents:
Domino addition mats (printed from First Grade School Box blog)

Students at this tub can:  practice addition using the dominoes, record number sentences to match the representation on dominoes, create their own addition sentences and draw new domino combinations to match 

Questions to ask:  How did you know that ____ + ____ was _____? , What would your domino look like to match your fact? 

Discovery Tub Contents:
Label cards for a variety of shapes (rhombus, triangle, square etc)

Students at this tub can: replicate a variety of shapes, combine shapes to create a design, "freestyle" design, identify shapes within their design

Questions to ask: What shape did you create?  What shapes are in your design?  How many squares do you see in your design?  How many rectangles can you make on one board?  

Discovery Tub Contents:
Pattern blocks
Shape blocks
Pattern Block/Shape Block puzzles (such as these

Students at this tub can: solve puzzles provided, create a design and trace around their blocks to create a new puzzle, identify shapes

Questions to ask:  What block would fit there?  Could you use a different block in that spot?  What shape is that?  Can you create a puzzle? 

Discovery Tub Contents:
egg cartons cut into tens

Students at this tub can: practice addition and subtraction with blocks, create addition and subtraction sentences to represent their work, count by 10s, work with multiple addends, count by 2s, practice grouping 

Questions to ask: How many blocks do you have altogether?  How can you count your blocks?  What do your egg cartons show?  How do you know?  How many numbers can you add together?  Can you show me subtraction?  

Discovery Tub Contents:
3D objects stamps
label cards for 3D objects (pyramid, sphere, prism etc)

Students at this tub can: create a pattern, identify and label 3D objects, extend a pattern, translate a pattern, discover the names for new objects by examining faces (ie: hexagon faces on a prism = hexagonal prism)

Questions to ask:  What is your pattern?  Can you translate your pattern?  What is the name of that objects?  Can you extend your pattern?  What would come next in your pattern? 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mystery Number Skype

We have used Skype in our classroom throughout the year, but recently we've been doing something new and exciting called Mystery Number Skype. After attending Kathy Cassidy's presentation at Awakening Possibilities last month, Mrs. Caldwell and I were excited to try out this new learning activity with our students.  We also tried this activity with Miss Turner's K/1 class in Treherne today!

How We Do Mystery Number Skype:
  •  Each class chooses a mystery number.  Teachers and students can decide on a range such as 1-100.  
  • Classes connect via video call on Skype. One class goes first, and asks the other class yes/no questions to narrow down what the mystery number could be. 
    • Some great questions are being asked in our classes right now:
      • Is it higher than __?
      • Is it lower than __?
      • Is it between __ and __?
      • Is it in the thirties? forties? etc. 
      • Is it even/odd? 
      • Does it end with ....?
      • Does it start with...?
  • Once the first class guesses the number correctly, the other class takes their turn.
Helpful Tools
We have been using the interactive hundred chart in SMART Notebook to keep track of the numbers we eliminate. As it is narrowed down, students "erase" the numbers on the board.  If you don't have access to the interactive hundred chart, a copy of the 100 chart to cross off guesses could be shared by the class or used individually by each student. We also use our Front Row audio system microphone to pass around, which helps to amplify student voices so they are more easily heard during the conference call. 

A friendly competition...
To make Mystery Number Skype into a bit of a competition/game, our classes have competed to see who could solve the mystery number in the fewest number of questions . Students kept a tally of guesses and so far the OLCS Kindergartens have asked fewer questions than us, so we are working hard to ask really smart questions in hopes of winning next time!  It's a fun and motivating element that encourages us to eliminate the most numbers we can with each of our questions.

Important Learning
Mystery Skype has led to much learning.  We've discussed decade numbers and learned about even and odd.  Students have the opportunity to think about numbers and formulate good questions.  I'm very excited to see the math learning that is going on during these calls!

Mrs. Caldwell has shared a great post about her perspective on Mystery Number Skype too - check it out!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

More on Daily 5 Math

Following our Microsoft Expert Educator webinar last night, Mrs. Caldwell and I checked out #mbedchat on Twitter for some additional PD.  These weekly Wednesday night chats are archived on the Manitoba Ed Chat website for interested educators.  I found that many other teachers were interested in the Daily 5 Math activities that we are doing in Grade 1 and I referred them to my post about starting Daily 5 math last year.  I also decided that I'd share more details in this post, in hopes of helping other teachers.

Daily 5 Math in our classroom includes five different independent activities that students can do to practice their math skills while I am teaching math to small groups of students.  My aim is to provide meaningful opportunities for students to apply their math skills, engage in math thinking and have fun while I am directly teaching other students. 

The Daily 5 Math choices in our classroom include:
  • Math with a Partner
  • Math by Myself / Math Problem Solving
  • Math Writing
  • Math with Technology
  • Math Practice
You can read about how we do Math with a Partner, Math Practice and Math with Technology in my original post

Math by Myself / Math Problem Solving:
This Daily 5 Math choice involves students working independently to solve math problems.  I create a variety of different math problems, varying in difficulty and color code them.  In our problem solving binder, each student has a 9-slot sheet filled with 9 different problems to work on. (The sheets are designed to hold trading cards and you can find them at the dollar store).   Students pick which problem to work on and glue it into their math journal.  We've already learned a variety of problem solving strategies, so students may draw a picture, use a number line, use an addition sentence, count on/count back or use manipulatives to solve the problem.  They record their work and their answer, then move on to another problem if time permits.  You can download some math story problems in my Excel template - feel free to use the problems or to create your own problems using the template.  

Math Writing:
This Daily 5 Math choice involves students writing about math.  Students can write addition or subtraction stories or model their writing after a math book. I ask that students writing math stories provide an answer for their work.  Often we will share our stories in our classroom or on our class Twitter account @MrsObachsClass and give other students the opportunity to find the answers. 

If you're a teacher thinking of starting Daily 5 math, my weekly tracker is available here for you to use.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Discovery learning: Take 2

Last week in Grade 1, we tried out something new.  Discovery tubs were a big hit and both students and teachers learned a lot!  This week, Miss Dyck and I made a few changes.  For one, we decided to set up four tubs instead of three to make more "spaces" available and avoid "traffic jams" when there were students ready to change tubs and no spots available at the other tubs.

This week's tubs are shown below and also pinned on My Discovery Tubs board.

Discovery Tub Contents:
Book collection related to the seasons
Seasons cards showing seasonal pictures
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter labels
Construction paper cut into cards
Magazines for cutting

Students at this tub could: sort the pre-made card by seasons, play seasons concentration game, cut and paste to create new cards.    

Questions to ask:  Why did you sort this card here?  How do you know that picture belongs in ____________?  What season does your card show? 

Discovery Tub Contents:
Mini marshmallows
Sample 3D object created from toothpicks and marshmallows
Optional: label cards depicting 3D objects and 2D shapes

Students at this tub might: create 2D shapes or 3D objects, create a unique design or model (ie: one of my students designed a model of a catapult)

Questions to ask:  What shape/object have you created?  What shape are its faces?   How many vertices does it have?  How many faces does it have?

Discovery Tub Contents:
tangram sets
tangram puzzles 
paper for tracing new designs

Students at this tub might: solve pre-printed puzzles or design new puzzles by tracing around their own arrangement of tangrams

Questions to ask:  Where does this piece go?  Is that in the right place?  Does this piece go here?

Discovery Tub Contents:
Copies of nets for 3D objects such as cube, prism and pyramid
Model of a 3D object created from the net

Students at this tube may cut out nets and create a 3D object, create multiple objects and put them together (ie: a pyramid stacked on a cube) or cut out 2D shapes they recognize in the nets.  

Questions to ask:  What object/shape did you create?  How can you put it together to make a ___________?  Where should you fold the paper?  What will it look like when you are done?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A New Approach: Discovery Learning

Inspired by two wonderful teachers, Connie Lowe and Devon Caldwell, I set out to introduce discovery learning in our Grade 1 classroom this spring!  I had a great conversation with these two ladies the evening before the Awakening Possibilities conference.  (Our conversation helped me "get going" on this idea and it was a reminder that sometimes the professional development happens outside of the official conference sessions - just talking with other teachers gave me some very useful ideas.)  

Next, I did some reading and exploring online to find out more about discovery learning, ideas for discovery tubs and how to organize these activities.  Some resources I found helpful included:
Miss Dyck, our student teacher, and I designed 3 discovery tubs related to our math learning about 2D shapes and 3D objects.  Once the tubs were set out at 3 separate work areas, I explained to students that there could be 5-7 people at a tub, they could choose which tubs to explore and when to change activities.  We discussed sharing, being kind and focusing on discovering new things.  Then, we got started!  Miss Dyck and I observed as students tried new things, worked together and created.  We took lots of photos and I put many of them into students' Evernote files to document their learning.  I took note of a few comments:
  • "I'm making something."
  • "Hey, watch this!"
  •  "Try this"
  • "Do ladybugs have antennae?" then, after an internet search and a close look at a ladybug diagram "So should I curve them (the antennae) a bit?"
  • "Give me the cylinder."
I heard lots of math language and many interesting questions.  I saw enthusiastic, engaged students working together or alone, creating new things and designing, learning and discovering!  After we cleaned up, students gathered at the carpet to share questions and comments. I asked for some feedback and it was overwhelmingly positive "It was fun" and "It was awesome" and even, "It was the best thing I've done at school".  Judging by our first experience, I think we're going to have to continue with our discovery learning! 

Discovery Tub Contents: 
2D shapes 
3D objects 
household objects that are cylinders, prisms, cubes, spheres etc 
2D shape & 3D objects label cards ie: cylinder, prism, square, circle, rhombus, hexagon 
Blank cards 

Students at this tub experimented with different 3D objects to create towers and they also sorted 2D shapes using the label cards.  

Discovery Tub Contents: 
2D shapes
shape "tracer" templates made from cardstock,
variety of paper 

Students at this tub created different designs by tracing shapes or cardstock tracers and they put shapes together to create pictures.  It was the most open-ended tub and it was interesting to watch what the students discovered when there were so many possibilities for them to explore!

Discovery Tub Contents: 
sample "shape bugs"
shapes copied onto construction paper (circle, oval, rhombus, rectangle)
blank construction paper

Students at this tub replicated the shape bug in the tub using preprinted shapes and/or shapes they cut out, created a ladybug shape bug and/or created other new designs using various shapes.

These tubs, along with those I will create in the future, are pinned here.