Highlights of the Week
There were a lot of events going on in Week 17 and Grade 2 had the opportunity to be part of them. Here are some of the highlights.
The EC3 class had their Science Exhibition and invited the Elementary Grades to attend. We listened to the EC3 students’ presentations on a chosen sea creature and asked them questions about their projects.
Grade 2 were invited to the EC1-2 class drama of their version of ‘The Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolves’. We enjoyed the adaptations the EC1-2 class made to the original tale and it was highly entertaining!
It was ‘Hour of Code Week’ and the Grade 2 students did a few different coding activities. We first learned a little about coding and tried following a few instructions that we wrote out on the board. We discovered that we sometimes forgot to put in instructions such as ‘turn left’ or ‘turn 180 degrees’, but in the end we could all follow the instructions. Later we tried using coding on the computers with different websites such as ‘Disney’s Moana – Wavefinding with Code’ and Code Monkey’. We are going to keep revisiting coding and find out how it can make some technology work.
The students were putting the finishing touches on some of their projects for the Unit of Inquiry. We also had reflective sections on the project sheet so some students decided there were ways to improve their projects or to make their games easier to understand if they changed them.
The class started a new Unit of Inquiry – ‘How We Organise Ourselves’. In this unit the central idea is… “Climate affects the way communities are organised”. The students brought in clothes that they had worn at one time or another on holiday and they discussed with a partner why it was important to wear the clothes in the country they had visited. We also did a gallery walk observing various pictures of places, the foods they eat in those places, the clothes they wear, the culture, types of housing and so on. The students worked in groups to discuss how some of the places were similar or dissimilar. Then we recorded our comments on a poster and tried to connect our ideas. Later we came to the conclusion that our new unit would be on climate. We came up with some inquiry questions and we posted them on our Key Concepts wall. We will continue investigating how climate affects our lives in our local area.
We are almost there!
Typing out our playdough flowcharts onto the computers
We are trialing a rubber inner tyre strap to help students use movement in class while learning
Investigating what is symmetry
Checking whether the shapes we created have more than one line of symmetry
Morning puzzle – ‘Which shapes have more than one line of symmetry?’
Creating then drawing (concrete to symbolic) our own symmetrical designs
Revising some of our UoI project designs
UoI project work
UoI project work
UoI project work
Motivation and Language Learning
There are a lot of skills and learning connections students need to make along the path to literacy and since every student is different the learning activities teachers put in place also need to be varied. It is a bit of a balancing act to figure out what activities teachers need to set to ensure the students are getting individual, peer assisted, small group activities and whole group mini-lessons to ensure the students are getting different opportunities to learn how language works. However, there is another component teachers need to be aware of and that is the students’ prior knowledge. This is often an assessment that teacher sometimes gloss over, but it is a highly important factor and learning consideration.
At our school we recently had a teacher give a language presentation which settled on factors of language acquisition and part of his presentation connected to the students’ prior experiences and their prior knowledge. Imagine a student from a foreign country arriving at an English speaking school with no English language – no understanding of the English language phonetics, letter recognition, letter to sound (graphophonics) or in some cases, language in context. Add to that situation a student who does not see the purpose of learning English. Some students are very happy to speak in their home language and are proud to write in their home language script. A child’s first language, or mother tongue is the language he or she first used to communicate to other people, it is the language parents give praise to when the child learned to speak and the language which helped facilitate communicative learning to occur. Such a student may not see the purpose of learning English when such successes and personal experiences are strongly connected to her or his first language.
This is just one scenario a teacher may come across with English language learners. However, there are certain aspects teachers need to be aware of when students learn language that connect to student motivation. First, the students need to know that teachers are interested in their students’ learning of language. Achievement is another factor because students need to feel they are making gains in their language development. As well, teachers need to get to the root cause of attitude towards language learning in the class. Students need to be part of the decision-making so they feel they are part of a learning community. Lastly, teachers need to provide not only a variety of activities, but a balance of them so that they allow students to develop as readers, writers, listeners and speakers within a context.
Gaining prior knowledge of students gives teachers a lot of information on what motivates the students to learn. Knowledge of a student’s cultural, social and learning needs and abilities helps the teacher to plan and sometimes tailor learning opportunities that encourage learning. Gaining prior knowledge and ongoing reflections from students are therefore important assessments that teachers need to be aware of to ensure they are setting up communicative learning opportunities tailored to the students in the classroom.
Students working individually and as a group to correct the ‘Morning Message’
Peer editing and revising to help develop writing skills
An opportunity to share our writing with the class
Creating sentences and pictures with a partner to learn homophones
Students writing a flowchart on “How to Make Playdough”. This activity is moving from the joint construction phase to individual construction.
Typing and formatting the flowchart text and pictures on the computer
Researching facts on 3D shapes
Adding what we know about 3D shapes onto a class poster
Consolidating our understanding of subtraction with regrouping
An impromptu investigation on how a sun dial works (measurement and time)
An activity with expanded numbers
Unit of Inquiry
We found different human and material resources at school and gathered materials for our projects
A school walk to find simple machines
Investigating how a lever works
Experimenting how the angle of an incline plane affects the forces on an object and the amount of work required to make the object reach the top of the plane
Experimenting on how to lessen the amount of work needed to move an object up a series of stepped inclined planes
In Indonesian Studies the class made local jelly treat, agar-agar. This was in connection to the language text type, flowcharts.
In Language Arts the class have been moving from creating flowcharts with the whole class to doing them more so with their peers or on their own. This is a skill we continue to develop so we are having mini-lessons to go over points and to improve our writing skills
Individual reading time
Working on our flowcharts
In Mathematics the class have been going over their addition facts and learning making connections to the same math strategies when they do subtraction. Counting on, counting back, using doubles and rainbow facts are just some of the skills we have been using in class. We have also started to investigate 3D shapes. Some of the students have made connections between 2D and 3D shapes and we are going to make a poster to note what we know about 3D shapes. We will continue our investigations in Week 15.
Going over our basic facts with a partner game
Investigating the properties of 3D shapes
Creating thinkboards for subtraction
In our UoI lessons we have been having discussions about how people make things. There are a lot of materials that are made that are made of composite materials or the materials are changed through heat or chemicals. We have also started work on our projects and we have been listing the properties and functions of the materials we wish to use. In Week 15 we will also investigate simple machines and see if there are any connections to our projects.
Working on our UoI projects
Unit in Diversity Day
EARCOS Teacher Weekend Workshop – Learning Technologies
As a teacher I am always happy to attend professional development and learn more about how I can improve my teaching and learning skills. We had a busy two days finding out about the importance of digital citizenship for people of many ages and how technology enables teachers and students to engage in worthwhile collaborations. I personally look forward to investigating my own interests in technology in education and continuing my own learning journey.
Teaching and Learning
Recently the teachers at BIS have been doing activities aimed at teaching and learning at our school. Since the BIS teachers are having these discussions on what we do in teaching and learning and how we can improve upon it I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some thoughts on the main pedagogical theory elementary teachers use at our school.
The main theory teachers in elementary use is the constructivist theory. It is made up of a few different thoughts towards pedagogy, but it basically claims that people construct meaning and knowledge from their experiences. At BIS the teachers do have curricula they need to cover so you may be asking yourself, ‘Why use the constructivist theory when teachers could teach the students the concepts, test them and continue doing this until all the curriculum is covered?’ The constructivist theory is mainly utilised because it allows for enduring understandings to occur. In other words the learners will take away understandings and skills that they will continue to use for their whole lives.
For the constructivist theory to allow learners to have enduring understandings the learning should connect to real-life experiences. This is the reason why teachers at BIS aim to make “hands-on” activities, involve problem-solving opportunities, experimentation and authentic learning episodes. This is another reason why PYP schools use ‘Units of Inquiry’ (UoI). The learning should happened in an active, contextualised environment so the UoIs allow students to learn about big conceptual ideas through the unit. Teachers help maintain deeper learning when students learn through a unit because we use key concepts that are broad enough to incorporate learning across the disciplines and allow for deeper meanings and understandings. The teaching and learning also happens through a process that moves from understanding the students’ prior knowledge, to finding out more the idea, helping students to build on their knowledge until eventually the students develop their own understandings of the idea. Teachers consistently monitor and observe the students as they go through this process by listening and understanding the students’ understandings along the way. Teachers help them come to new understandings or build skills (scaffolding their learning) to help students arrive at new understandings. Throughout the whole process the students are continually reflecting on their understandings. They also use a variety of skills (transdisciplinary skills) of communication, research, self-management, social and thinking skills to help them deepen their understandings.
Although there is a lot more to the constructivist theory in PYP hopefully I have covered most of the main points. In essence, the constructivist theory believes people build on their prior understandings to come to new understandings through their experiences. It is the teacher’s job to help, guide and facilitate the learners through the process and help students to make connections to other disciplines.
Language Arts – using the writing process to help plan and draft our writing
Language Arts/UoI – After making oobleck the students helped create a flowchart of the experience
Mathematics – Using concrete materials to help us learn how to do regrouping
Mathematics/UoI – We made our own play dough in class and then used it to learn more about polygons
Mathematics – students involved in a challenge to create different sided polygon shapes
UoI/Language Arts – students following a recipe to make a material that is between a solid and a liquid… oobleck
Investigating is a lot of fun! Playing with oobleck
UoI – We are learning about how materials are used in our host country, Indonesia. Making janur, coconut leaf swords
UoI/Language Arts – Finding a craft activity we would like to make as part of our Unit of Inquiry project on materials, their properties and functions
A visit from the ‘Reading Pirates’. Luckily we were caught reading a book!
Individual reading time
Whole group reading time… one of many that week
Our mini books – We created a recount or our own story using the 8-paged mini books. We also made another book with facts about materials.
Reading our mini books to the whole class
BIS Theatre – Guest story reader sharing the story of ‘Riki the Rhino’, a film coming out in 2018.
Sharing our favourite books from home
Reading our whole class story, ‘The Big, Big Book of Tashi”
‘Snuggle up and Read Day’
Hot chocolate and marshmallows on ‘Snuggle up and Read Day’
Dressing up for the ‘Book Character Parade’
The class has begun investigating the language features and text organisation required for explanation texts. Our text type focus will be on flowcharts. The students sorted out a text on food digestion and then placed labels on the text highlighting the language features and text organisation used. Last week the class went on a field trip to Sapu Lidi and they learned how the traditional Sundanese pancakes, surabi, were made. We also made a flowchart this week titled, ‘How to Make Surabi’. On Friday, the class also made playdough and…, you guessed it; we will also make a flowchart on how to make playdough next week.
Ch and Sh digraph game
Sorting out the text for ‘Food Digestion’
Making a flowchart with the ‘Food Digestion’ text
Figuring out where the text parts fit into the sequence
Creating the text sequence
Making a flowchart, ‘How to Make Surabi’
The class was introduced to temperature in the Week 13 activities and how to read a thermometer. It opened up an interesting discussion about numbers below zero which lead to an experiment involving the Teacher Faculty staff’s freezer. We also tried to test the thermometer in hot water but found that elementary school thermometers were not made for such experiments, but we will see if we can find a high school thermometer to continue our inquiry.
We also did ‘Finding Out’ activities on polygons. We did research on a website and then recorded our findings on a poster. This led to other areas of geometry including horizontal, vertical and parallel lines as well as an investigation into 90 degree angles and angles that are less than or more than 90 degrees.
Researching information on polygons
Adding what we know about polygons onto a math poster
Our investigation into temperature begins
Checking the thermometer after placing it into the freezer
Checking the thermometer after placing it into hot water
Finding out about angles
Our investigations into materials, their properties and their functions continues. To start the week the class did some free investigating with sand to find out more about its properties. As well, they continued their investigation into paper and were given the problem of keeping one A4 piece of paper afloat for at least three seconds. Our maths’ investigation into temperature led into an investigation into the changing states of matter – gases, liquids and solids which we are continuing to investigate. The class students also showed an interest in things that are magnetic so we did an experiment on materials that are magnetic and non-magnetic this week. Our Language Arts activities are also connected to our UoI investigations as we discussed how some materials such as the surabi pancakes and play dough are made of materials that cannot be changed back once heat is used. We have also had a few students bring in some materials from home so they can discuss the materials, or its properties or what they use the object for. We hope to keep up the interest in this unit and further our investigations.
Language activities to help us learn UoI vocabulary – Change and Properties
Our investigation into the properties of sand
A student sharing an an artifact with the rest of the class
Student sharing an invention he made at home using various materials
Class investigation into materials that are strong but light
Class project – to make a piece of A4 paper stay afloat for over three seconds
Class making their own play dough from different materials
Here are some photos of Week 11 in Grade 2.
Peer reading of our stories
Going over our story checklist as part of our Language Arts reflection
Doing activities connected to our portfolios
Grade 2 portfolios
Measuring objects in class in centimetres
Mathsonline – Measuring in centimetres and metres
UoI – investigating materials
Listing the properties of a chosen material
Sorting out materials into different properties
Adding new questions about the materials, their properties or functions to our Key Concept wall
Partners going through each other’s portfolios
Writing out student comments for a self-chosen portfolio piece of work
Field Trip to Sapu Lidi
Grade 2 did a lot of typing on the computer (with a few small revisions and edits) but the class has now finished their stories. All the students have also illustrated their pictures so we will put the stories up for display next week. Our next text type is just around the corner so watch this space for more details!
Fabulous Friday – Practising intonation, volume and presentation for our speaking parts
Word study activities
Completing our stories on the computer
We did a few different forms of math over the week. First we did revision activities. We worked with partners who gave each other subtraction problems to do and then we peer corrected the calculations. You may think that this is an easy task, but it tells the teacher a lot of information. “Which students understand the subtraction process well enough to explain it to a peer? Which students still need the benefit of using concrete materials to help them work out the answers? Which students require more challenging problems such as working in thousands or with regrouping?” Second, we also revised what we know about doubles and near-doubles. Once again it seems like a simple task until we start discussing the applications of doubles. Such discussions helps give the math rigor. For example, doubles can be used for addition and subtraction, it makes it easier to figure amounts in jobs of science, banking, population growth and so on. Third, we engaged in an activity that challenged the students. They had to use one piece of paper, stand it at least 8cm tall and see how many 100s blocks it could hold for at least 3 seconds (and yes, this was a UoI activity). There is a lot of problem-solving, estimating, calculations (students doubled or quadrupled the paper thickness with folding so there was a connection to our doubles lesson) and other thinking processes. Inquiry is also about investigation and math concepts come to the fore when the time necessitates their use. Last, we introduced a new concept to the students. We did activities to find out what students already knew about shapes and we started to find out about polygons. Although it is the start of the unit the students have already given some information that will help guide the upcoming lessons. To sum, although there is a math curriculum to cover in Grade 2 there is also a balancing act of how the math concepts are covered. Teaching new concepts, revising and consolidating, applying knowledge and delving into math inquiries help balance the math the students cover over the year.
Measurement – adding our new understandings to the measurement poster
Subtraction – working with a peer on problems
Doubles and Near Doubles – visual representations of where we might see double and near doubles in real-life
Shapes – Sharing what we know about shapes and polygons
Shapes – activity encouraging students to describe their current understandings about shapes
We finished up our UoI based on knowing social and cultural gestures help people to communicate. We also started a new Unit of Inquiry based on materials, their properties and their functions. We did the ‘Paper Challenge’ activity, created mindmaps to show what we already know about materials and we did an ‘I See, I Think, I Wonder’ sheet so we could share our understandings about materials and ask questions about what we want to learn.
Tour of new BIS building – very exciting!
Practising our skits
Vocal practise outdoors
Script practise – “Can we hear your voices from across the room?”
Questions for our inquiry
Paper structure challenge
New UoI – What do we know about materials?
New UoI – completing the sheet, ‘I See, I Think, I Wonder’
Some activities in Week 10 were geared towards the Grade 2 Fabulous Friday at the end of the week. We practised our speaking parts, skits, ‘What Am I?’ presentations and non-verbal gesture charades. We also practised our song using sign language. Below are some pictures of the Fabulous Friday.
The Grade 2 students have finished creating their story drafts and all of the students are now typing out their stories onto computers. Although there are still some story revisions taking place most of the class students are well on the way to completing their stories. As well in Language Arts the class has been doing word study activities with digraphs. As usual the class also had opportunities to do speaking and listening activities in the morning and reading activities in the afternoons.
Word study activities
Story writing – typing out our stories onto the computers
The students did a recap lesson on bar graphs this week and had to answer questions relating to the graphs. We also did subtraction and addition activities throughout the week. The class also used two different attributes to help them measure in metres and objects smaller than a metre. The class also used a standard measure (a metre stick) to measure distances and the length of objects. It was a good opportunity for students to discuss why we need different measuring tools and the problems we come across when we measure with only one type of tool.
Measurement – measuring length with a metre stick
Problem solving – Can you figure out the pattern?
Measurement – measuring items with an attribute
Measurement – some students taking measuring length further by measuring the perimeter of an object
Measurement – measuring the length of objects larger than a metre using an attribute length
Unit of Inquiry
The class reflected on the different activities we did over the last six weeks for the Unit of Inquiry -‘ Who We Are’. We filled in a reflection sheet and wrote about what we liked, the new things we have learned, what we would like to continue learning and so on. This week we have also been doing a few ‘tuning in’ activities. The ‘tuning in’ phase allows students to show their prior knowledge, misunderstandings, beliefs and queries they might have before starting a unit. Our new Unit of Inquiry is ‘How the World Works’ and the Central Idea is: ‘The properties of materials determine their function.’ We also went on a field trip to IPTEK Science Centre as a lead-in to the unit. The students had a lot of fun trying out the various science exhibits and they also had a few questions about materials, their properties and functions.
UoI – practising our sign language song for an upcoming Fabulous Friday
UoI – filling in a reflection sheet for the UoI, ‘Who We Are’
UoI – Discussing artifacts we brought from home to help us tune in to our new unit
UoI Tuning In – Explaining our understandings of materials through a mind map
In Library class this week the students also did some ‘tuning in’ activities to help them tune in to the new unit, ‘How the World Works’. It was an interesting lesson filled with a variety of materials and opportunities for the students to explain their understandings.