Wednesday, February 26, 2014

fractions on number lines

Last week after introducing plotting fractions on number lines, I was worried.
Like, very worried.
The kids didn't seem to "get it" very well.
I literally spent two days hearing, "I don't get it" and "I'm confused."
I even showed them the "draw a square shape connected to the number line and shade it according to the fraction you want to show" trick...
A represents 3/4. {source}
But even that visual just didn't do it for some.

This morning, after our long weekend, was not a great morning in AmandaBaby Land.
The little things were adding up, you know?
So I was extra worried about the lesson I had planned to start our day.
Here's what we did:

I (pre)made 7 sets of index cards with various proper and mixed fractions on them.
Today I asked the kids to arrange themselves into groups of 3 and I handed out a set of cards to each.
Their job was to put the fractions (index cards) on a number line.
That's it.
Some groups got out white boards so they could better understand the task.
Some got really creative and were lying out rulers to show the line so that they could properly space the fractions.
Others put flip flops equally spaced and labelled them 0, 1, 2, and 3 to represent the whole numbers.
(This was the coolest one to see and I, of course, didn't get a photo!)
All of this was a great time for me to rotate and ask groups questions about what they were doing and what I was seeing.
This in turn brought out some misconceptions, and more often, helped the kids recognize these straight away.
I was so pleased because... they got it!

After the number lines were complete, the groups did a gallery walk so we could critique the work of others.
Discussion ranged from "Something I saw that was wrong was..." to "We need to be sure we respect the work of other groups. We weren't asked to fix anything..."

The best part? 
After this activity, I actually heard kids saying things like "Fractions on number lines is fun!" and "I like doing this - it makes fractions seem so easy!"
Overall, the lesson was a huge success and was pretty much riddled with the Mathematical Practices!
I totally recommend this one and you can easily make up the fraction cards in a few minutes.

Friday, February 21, 2014

into this... horses heaven

From a couple of lovebirds comes the so-lovely, must-hum-along-but-don't-want-to-sing-along-for-fear-of-ruining-the-beauty, Vermont
Listen for more; you'll not be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

visible thinking: see-think-wonder

I've just started Harvard's Making Thinking Visible course online as part of our Professional Development program here at ISM. I'm really excited about learning some new strategies. We've actually used several visible thinking strategies in the classroom already, as I've had the book checked out from our library all year (because I'm a book hog...shhh): 
Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners

Today I thought we'd do another See-Think-Wonder with the goal of having students recognize some connections between their prior and acquired knowledge with our inquiry into energy. I added a Connect box to the activity to help students get there, so it didn't seem so superficial. I made up 7 posters with images related to energy in the center
Displaying photo.JPG
and sections around the image labelled "I see... I think... I wonder... I connect..." (not so easy to see as I just used a class iPad to get photos this morning).

We revisited the See-Think-Wonder format on the Activ Board by discussing synonyms and sentence starters for each term so I could (hopefully) help students get to some deeper thinking when they set off and give my ELL friends some vocabulary to use:

(let me tell you, some of this was like pulling teeth...)

and then we did an example together:
Clearly, we have some work to do ("I see colours" ???). 

Then the kids roamed around for fifteen-twenty minutes to add their thoughts/comments/questions to each poster.

As I circulated to hear the students talking about the images (and various other things, like cats, recess, Pixel Gun, dance parties, "songs that are awesome".... that's a regular morning, right? So much for accountable talk!) and read some of their comments, it was amazing to recognize the different levels within my room. It was something like this:

"I saw a rainbow once." (Okaaay, I guess it is a connection...)
"This looks like coal, which is a fossil fuel and that's bad :(" (Now we're talking!)
"What if the picture is upside down?" (Um... hmm. Relevant?)
"I noticed that this is hydro energy and that's connected to our energy inquiry!" (Hurray!)
"My connection is that [the electrical wires] looks like a cat because you can sort of see ears." (I know, deep.)

Afterward we shared as a whole group, which is when the discussion started to get so much better and the beauty of See-Think-Wonder began to come alive. It's pretty great when a comment like, "I see a white car" can turn into discussion about the type of fuel the car uses and whether the owner could use a biomass source, like corn, if it's available. True story - that conversation happened!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

renewable vs. non-renewable energy: community snapshot

As our inquiry into energy unfolds, the kids have jumped deep into learning about various renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Today, I shared with them this book, which is a great mentor-text based on a true story:

It's all about the Danish island of Samso and their pursuit of energy independence: from a big idea to the persuasion of the population to the implementation of major energy-reduction technologies. The author does a great job of bringing these big ideas down to the kid's level to explain how the island now uses solar, wind, and biomass energy to power their communities - producing more energy than they are consuming! They've changed their ways, abandoning the use of fossil fuels, when the rest of the world seems to think this is only a dream. It just goes to show: big changes could happen!

Afterward we watched these videos and the class was Amazed to realize Samso really is an actual place in the world! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

chia pudding

This is my new favourite healthy snack: Chia Pudding.
This one with mango and dark chocolate, but it's delicious naked, too!

1/3 cup chia seeds
1.5 cups milk
2 tbsp coconut syrup (because brown rice syrup is so far impossible to find here and because we unknowingly let our maple syrup go moldy - fyi you can boil the mold right off... who'da thought? But no. Any liquid sweetener will work.)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Shake it all up in a container and put in the fridge. I shook it a few times after that and then let it sit overnight. Yes, it's so great for breakfast!

Our little one is getting big, just like my appetite!