Thursday, November 27, 2014

inquiring into probability

Today was an introduction to probability.
On the board, I had typed this sentence, "We are about to start talking about probability."
From there, some interesting conversation that started with the whole class asking "What's probability?" down to "I think it's about making predictions" and "It's talking about what the chances are that something will happen," which is pretty good!
All from one student noticing that probability has the same beginning as probably.

Without really going any further, we went through some examples and I jotted down their responses.

After a few, we stopped to define probability as a class. They were getting it!

The next step is where it got interesting. 
Each kid wrote down one a "What are the chances..." question in their notebooks.
As they finished, they stood up, locking eyes with another person that's also standing, becoming instant partners. (This was Great!)
Partners shared their question and wrote down the responses found, free to find a new partner afterward.

The interesting part (you can't really see it well as I just used the class iPads to snap photos during the math block) is that although we had so many different responses as a class to the question I posed about snow in Manila, when they responded to one another, they ALL used percentages!

So we sat down as a class. I asked some people to share two of the responses they got from their classmates. Just responses.
Then I asked simply, "What did you notice about the response?"
They said things like, lots of people said 100%, 4000% is not a real amount, etc. 
It started dawning on them that all the responses were number based...
So in partners, they were challenged to figure out the "language of probability" using a number line.

They came up with so many descriptors!

Next up, experiments to test some predictions we might make using our understanding of probability. Vague, yes... Let's see what they come up with.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

jimmy fallon makes his thinking visible

Just finished a weekend workshop with Ron Ritchhart, working toward "Creating a Culture of Thinking" in the classroom.
Turns out, all the cool kids are into Visible Thinking:

Jimmy Fallon (sort of) hashtags the I Used to Think, Now I Think routine. 
(Important note: the word "But" as it's listed on the Project Zero site is actually not a useful word to include in the routine. Using the word in a sentence negates all that was said before it, which is definitely not the message we want to be sending our student thinkers!)

Tomorrow Ron and my grade 3 team will be observing some thinking in my class! My head is swimming with considerations, including the precision of language I use with my class, the modeling of thinking that's done, the opportunities for interaction and think time given... As someone who doesn't love public speaking, I'm surprisingly excited for that part of my Monday.

Friday, November 7, 2014

off the bookshelf: flora & ulysses by kate dicamillo

Our latest grade 3 read aloud is Flora & Ulysses, the 2014 Newberry winner:
We finished up No Talking before our holidays, and the kids absolutely loved it!

This time they voted between this and Wonder, and I'm glad this one was chosen because we only have 6 weeks to read it before our winter break early in December.

This story is light-hearted, funny, and a truly wonderful example of voice. In it, Flora, our heroin and "natural-born cynic," finds Ulysses the squirrel after an almost-tragedy - saving his life and proclaiming him a superhero quickly thereafter. Your class might enjoy this book if they'd like to read about a superhero squirrel and a quirky main character. Of course, your class might also enjoy this book if they have a strong dislike for romance novels!

Mine has a space to write down their thoughts collectively, and so far they're really loving it!

There are comics and illustrations throughout, so I read with the document camera ready to go so the kids can see the story as it unfolds. A very engaging read!