Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Buddy Up!

My school encourages each classroom to have a "buddy room" in the building which with to do projects.  I've spent the last five or so years working with the same kindergarten class, and as the years have progressed, we've gotten quite strategic at our projects, with the kids (both my 4th graders and her kinders) having a blast as they get to know their buddy!

We try to do something connected to the month, or if that isn't feasible, we make connections to our current unit of study for PYP (Primary Years Programme.)  One of my favorite projects that we do is a buddy book, where the 4th graders and kindergarteners look for things that they have in common, and then write (4th graders) and illustrate (kinders) a book together.

This year, in November, instead of doing the usual Thanksgiving project, we added a technology twist!  The Kindergarten room has four iPads, my class has four iPads, and we were able to borrow eight additional iPads from other classrooms.  The kids had to illustrate something they are thankful for using the special paper from International Dot Day.  From there, they got to bring their "dot" to life using Augmented Reality!  It was SO cool!
One benefit of these projects is that as the year progresses, the kinders get more comfortable with talking, and the fourth graders get more comfortable with asking questions, and learning how to help the little ones learn how to have conversations.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gridding the Classroom - Part 2: Geography

My student photographer actually
got a decent shot of me!

The start of our map.

As a part of our mathematical morning that fated day after Halloween, we extended our math play into geography, which was a natural connection to our PYP unit - Where We Are in Place and Time.

We compared the grid lines on our floor to the longitude and latitude lines on a globe an map.  From there, we used coordinate pairs to determine where to add features on our map - including natural and human characteristics.
Students used chalk to add features - buildings, rivers, etc.
As we drew, and our map grew, we transferred that information to a grid map on the Promethean board which made it simpler to print out maps for those that were absent. (the rest of the Thinkers drew it on graph paper.)

The last thing we did that day was travel from location to location on the map.  Simple, right?  Nope. Not when you're using directions (N-S-W-E) and distance (1 block, 2 blocks, etc)  Definitely not simple, but definitely, DEFINITELY fun!

One of the best tools we have!

A student map in progress - our dry erase
boards double as writing surfaces!

Adding roads was a team effort!

A completed map!

Moving from place to place.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gridding the Classroom Part 1

They walked in and this is what they saw.
The looks on their faces were priceless!
The day after Halloween in an Elementary school is never a fun one.  The kids are too fidgety, too tired, too "hungover" from all the sugar and the likely late night trick-or-treating.  This year, instead of "fighting" it, I went with it. 

We turned the classroom into a giant grid, and spent the entire morning "playing" math.  And geography.  And reading.  And even a little writing.  It was, as some of the kids said, "the best math day ever!"

Let's see…. we covered columns and rows, coordinate pairs, reading a grid map, creating a map (post for another day!) arrays, median, mode, range, directions, and distances.  I try to make movement a regular part of the day, though it doesn't always happen.  This time, though, the physical movement helped make a lot more sense of the data concepts that seem so arbitrary on paper!

Of course we had to start the day playing…. 

Then the kids walked around a bit, before
we moved into columns and rows - and moved
in each!

Moving like rows…..

Setting up for graphing - favorite Halloween Candy!

Flipping the boards to find the median.
We also used the grid to sort geometric figures
 by number of sides.

Then, of course, we had to calculate how
big the grid was in the first place!
Students came up with a variety of ways
to show how they solved it.
This was a great way to practice the "over up" of
coordinate pairs.