Friday, September 27, 2013

kids are funny

Just thought I'd share some things that made me laugh out loud today:
Found this notepad in the bottom of the cupboard today. "Dear ms phillips, I am really sorry that I took this . Next time I will ask you before I take it. David {sad face}"  
Awesome. Didn't even know it was missing!


These addition regrouping problems are apparently a little terrifying for some.

We did a CSI about grade 3 in our learning journals: If you had to choose a colour, symbol, and image to represent grade three, what would they be? This "green" from one of my ESL cuties. "I choose this because color green makes my mind fresh. Sometimes, when I think about green, I feel trees are eating trash in my haed." 
How beautiful?

If only this were the case.... 
When asked to explain in words how he came to the correct answer when solving a Math problem: "I don't think I am rong beacuse MR.S PHILLIPS teach me so how it can be rong."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

black, white, and neon all over! {some classroom pics}

A few classroom photos to tide me over in the too-busy-to-blog time :)
We have had some very dark and dreary Manila days here with the typhoon circling around us, but I tried to get the brightest shots I could.

We've just started up the 100 Book Club in class and I like the visual of tracking with beads. Plus the kids seem really excited about this "program."

We've done a lot of talking about active listening.

Yes, it drives me a little crazy that I didn't think to measure out the spaces between each set of coloured paper.

I have a few students already fluent in many Math concepts, so this is a board full of extension questions that focus on the standards being addressed during lessons.

MATH rotations. The white boards look ugly, yes, but it's so easy to switch students in/out of groups and to rotate groups through.

Jobs board

One of my new favourite parts of the room: Wonderings Wall. With the Inquiry curriculum I've started student I-Time (read more about that here - it's an amazing time jam-packed with student engagement), and this is a space where students will put up their Post-It questions. There are no questions up at this point because we hadn't yet talked about the difference between Thick and Thin questions - it looks a bit messier now with their ideas posted, but that's what learning's all about!

This is a shot of one of the courtyards at our school. It is such a peaceful place to be (when the high school students are not switching classes haha).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

off the bookshelf - Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lose Her

When I lived in Korea I read this book:

Something about it totally caught me, and I really liked it. I liked the nerdy ghetto kid who really wanted to be in love. What I liked more, though, is the way Diaz moved the story away from him to share stories of the lives of his mom, grandparents, friends, and sister, and moving the narratives from the US to the Dominican in a way that gives some context to his upbringing.

And so, I thought this summer that I'd read his latest book:
This book also stars characters from Oscar Wao, and does keep a focus on Yunior's fragile relationships and how these become so consuming. It's basically a set of stories from the people that Yunior meets and knows, and I like the sort of loose-connectedness that the stories all lend to the overall theme. Diaz's writing also has this very smooth accent-vibe, making you, if you're like me, feel like you could hear the attitude of the character's words.

I enjoyed Oscar Wao more, but there's something haunting about the new stories that really did stick with me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

the ladder of feedback

When we were first meeting teachers at our school, they all at some point mentioned something like this:
"This place gets very busy."
"When the year gets going, it's like a freight train that just rolls on through."
"You may, at times, wish you could pull the blinds in your room and take a little nap."
After this week, I know what they meant.

We are lucky enough to have had PD sessions this week with an Inquiry guru, Kath Murdoch, and man, does she have amazing things to show and tell.
I learned and considered so many really though-provoking and new things - it was great to be a student.
One of her suggestions was to video tape students working in groups.
And so I did!

We've been studying The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey in our first Inquiry unit, Learning to Learn.
Yesterday, as we explored the final habit, Sharpen the Saw, I asked students to work collaboratively to categorize picture/word cards into the headings mind, body, heart, and soul, as mentioned in the Sharpen the Saw story.
Of course, there were many pictures that could be categorized into more than one.
I videotaped their conversations as they decided, and found the recording was really valuable.

Today, I introduced the ladder of feedback, which is a tool I know we're going to refer to and use OFTEN in our room - it's awesome.
It's just such a great way to get kids thinking about framing feedback to their peers in a positive way.
(In fact, I think we could all take a look and examine the way we provide feedback - not just with students but in all of our relationships!)
Afterward, we watched one video of a group "working together" and step-by-step, used the ladder to provide feedback.
I'm telling you, it was like a breakthrough. Simply amazing.

I'm definitely looking forward to watching the rest of the group interactions, evaluating student cooperation, participation, and general input, and using the ladder of feedback as a guide.

I made up a super quick reference poster to give out - it could be given to individual students, taped onto grouped desks or at meeting areas, shown on a projector, etc.
I'd love to know if you've used this or if you do use it, how it goes.
Click the picture to download.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

this is ca-razy!

Things that might be said while watching this:
"I feel like I don't know which body party to watch because they're all doing separate things all the time."
"Did you see the way he..."
"I want to see him in real life. It's the only way I feel I'll believe it's happening."
"I wonder how much his body hurts afterward."
"His Wikipedia page proves Wikipedia is not a reliable source: His brother, Danny Hartmann, lives in Germany and is one of the richest men all time."
"I wish I could dance."

Monday, September 2, 2013

mental math activity

Today in Math we were talking about mental math strategies.
We did some sample questions and then talked them out in pairs and small groups.
26 + 10 =              26 + 12 =               36 - 10 =            You get the drill.
My kids had some really different ways of answering the equations.
We did a few of these simple ones, and most of their addition and subtraction skills seem in pretty good shape!
(After that I pulled out the toughies... 250 + 70      300 - 18     90 + 40     etc.)

When I started to see their attention slipping, I knew we had to break out the individual white boards.
Off the top of my head, I came up with a great activity that got everyone moving and practicing some mental math.
For some reason, "in the middle of lessons" seems to be the best time for me to come up with fun little activities - I guess I'm just more in the zone at those times.
We called the activity "The Quiet Math Game!"
Oddly, I find a lot of kids like the challenge of nonverbal communication... happy teacher!

Give each student a small white board.
Ask each to write a mental math problem on the board. (We used addition and subtraction questions only since I know some of my students are not familiar with multiplication and division concepts, but this could easily be adapted.)
They do NOT write the answer on the board, but they do figure it out and memorize it.
Next, they walk around with their white board and marker silently finding a "partner."
Jack will look at Jill's question and calculate it mentally.
When he knows the answer, he will write it in the corner on his own white board for Jill to see.
Jill will check it and give a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Then Jill will look at Jack's question and calculate it mentally, same as above.
When they are both correct they do a little high five, erase the answers in the corner, and find a new buddy.
It was a lot of fun and I loved the little "math brain" buzz in the room!